DEPRESSION IS DEPRESSING

solitude

 

I don’t write much about depression because it’s, well, depressing, and most of the time, I’m trying to run from it rather than acknowledge it. When I’m depressed I tend to hide from the world and embrace my bed like a long-lost lover come home. I sleep. A lot. Because it’s an escape from the disturbing thoughts that obsessively bombard my mind.

The holidays tend to exacerbate this ugly beast of burden. There’s something about them that bring feelings of loneliness and unhappiness to the forefront. Right now, there are many posts on Facebook giving out the Suicide Hotline phone number, urging people to call if they become desperate. But many won’t. They’ll continue to suffer in silence.

For those who don’t have a problem with this illness, it may be difficult to understand the mind of a depressed person. Just like I don’t understand what it’s like to have cancer, or be paralyzed, or lose a child. I don’t pretend to. I would no more tell them to “buck up,” or “look on the bright side,” or “get over it” any more than a “positive” person should to someone suffering depression.

One word: Empathy. A quality many lack, especially when they don’t understand something. Empathy is “the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other being’s frame of reference, i.e., the capacity to place oneself in another’s position. Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another.”

I personally believe the more sensitive and creative a person, the more prone they are to depression. They see more, feel more, and ponder more. About everything. But this can often lead to a downward spiraling of mood. Depressives are ruminators. They start with a negative feeling or thought, and they overthink it to death. They beat it until it’s nothing but a bloody pulp. Is it learned behavior, a default switch, in a sense? A chemical imbalance? Hereditary? Who knows, who cares? The important thing is realizing how dangerous and serious depression is.

I’ve been dealing with depression for over 20 years. I was never a depressed teen, but then again, I was partying way too much to feel anything. It wasn’t until I came down with CFIDS that I became depressed. Think about it. A healthy, outgoing 26-year-old actress living in NY, doing what she loved. Now imagine her getting sick with mono. Imagine it NEVER going away. Imagine all her hopes and dreams buried in a dumpster full of rotting food behind Denny’s.

Now I know there are people out there who get their legs blown off in Iraq, come home and start a foundation to help people like them, get married, and have a great life. There are others who are raped and tortured, write a book about it, and go on to counsel other survivors like themselves. I get it. Strong people turning adversity in to a positive. Rah rah for them.

But I’m not one of those people. Wish I were, but I’m not. I can blame it on my dad for yelling at me my whole life, telling me what a worthless piece of crap I am or I can blame it on brain chemistry. Bottom line? It is what it is.

So. Here’s an example of how my depressed mind works: I completed the first draft of my novel on Tuesday. It’s 90,000 words. That in and of itself is something to be proud of, right? And I was proud of myself. For the rest of the evening. The next day, I sat in front of my laptop, a little lost because every author says you should wait like 6 weeks before you edit, and I thought, Okay, WTF am I going to do while I’m waiting? So I start researching who I can shop my novel around to once I have a final draft ready.

Now, mind you, I’ve published 2 romantic comedies already, but decided to write a dark erotic romance. Why? I have no idea. I don’t read that much erotica. Hell, I don’t even like erotica all that much. So why did I write it? Come to discover the market is saturated already, and very few agents want to represent it. As for legit publishers, there is 1 for me to choose from. 1.

 

First thoughts: I just spent a year researching and writing a novel that I won’t be able to sell. Why didn’t I stick with my chosen genre, so I could have a better chance of building a following?

Second thoughts: Most erotic authors self-publish. I don’t want to learn how to self-publish. It’s too much work that I don’t have the energy for. I’m such a fucking idiot.

Third thoughts: Just like everything else in my life, I never think things through. Instead of furthering my career, I’ve stalled it. Something I can’t afford to do because I have a kid to feed.

Now by this point, I have a tension headache, my chest is tight because my breathing is shallow, and I start worrying about how I’m going to pay my rent next month. And afford $100 bucks to enroll my son in soccer. And renew HostGator for my website for $150. And pay property taxes. And buy soccer cleats, and…and…

And the worrying starts to spiral out of control. Depressed people don’t just think of the problem at hand (In my case, writing a ms that won’t sell). They remember every. single.  problem they’ve ever had since birth.

If only I were smarter, or married, or healthier, or skinnier, or richer, or my mother had breastfed me…fill in the blank.

And

I shouldn’t have married my abusive bf from high school, gotten into the car with that frat boy, done that line of meth, driven while drunk, picked up that hooker who turned out to be a guy, gotten that awful nose job…fill in the blank.

And

I should have gone to grad school, never quit that high-paying job even though it made me miserable, stayed on the Pill, kicked my husband out 5 years before, gotten my breasts done a long time ago, checked her license to see whether she was of legal age…fill in the blank.

And

My father, mother, old boyfriend, best friend was right. I’m a train wreck, a fuck up, stupid, ugly, fat, a douche canoe…fill in the blank.

And

I’m going to be 80 years old, poor, single, unhappy, fat, my cats will eat my dead body, no one will come to my funeral…fill in the blank.

 

This is how the depressed mind works. Or at least how mine does. Cognitive therapy helps if you’re willing to do the work. Meds only do so much for a while. Many lose the battle, because once that desperate hopelessness sets in, magnifying the feeling that nothing will ever change, that you’re going to feel this miserable torturous mindfuck forever, suicide seems like the only relief in sight. People usually don’t commit suicide because they want to end their lives; they commit suicide because they don’t want to feel the pain anymore. That’s an important distinction, and it truly breaks my heart. Because we’re not bad people. We’re not weak. We’re usually nicer and more successful than we think. And although I’ve had close friends accuse me of being negative (I’ve even lost best friends over it), I believe it’s more about their own self-centeredness in not wanting to be brought down. Again, they’re lacking that empathy factor.

I, on the other hand, because I’ve gone through so much hardship in my life would never berate or shun a person for being down, or negative, or suicidal. I’ve had strangers talk to me for hours, telling me all their problems or admit they’re wanting to commit suicide. Why? Because I genuinely listen, so they feel safe. I don’t judge them or tell them to turn that frown upside down. How many people can genuinely listen to the pain of another without judgment or telling them what to do to make themselves better? I’ve only met one or two.

If you need someone to listen and you have no one to talk to with a sympathetic ear, please, please, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255–24/7. Or message me here. You are not alone.

Happy holidays

WRITING, MEN, INSANITY, AND CHAOS

crazy-bitch

It’s been forever since I’ve posted, which makes me feel bad about myself because I used to post much more frequently. On the other hand, I’ve been working on my book and that has taken up all my time and energy. Writing a novel is all-consuming in that it becomes the only thing you think about morning, noon, and night. It’s like having an obsessive crush on someone who feels only Meh about you. If they show you any positive attention, you’re on top of the world (much like one feels when writing goes well), but most of the time, they could care less about you, leaving you feeling unfulfilled and frustrated (much like one feels when they think what they wrote that day stinks, or they haven’t written a single word at all).

I’m not going to lie. It’s freaking tough to write when you’re a single parent. My writing needs to be done while the boy is at school or it doesn’t get done. I remember reading an article about Jacquelyn Mitchard, the author of The Deep End of the Ocean whose husband’s sudden death left her needing to come up with a way to support her kids. She wrote that book sitting at the kitchen table with her kids running all over the place, amidst chaos and confusion.

So I tried it the other night. Writing amidst chaos and confusion. I sat my ass on the couch, Friends reruns on the TV, with my son sitting next to me, constantly interrupting to show me asinine YouTube videos he finds hilarious. The fact that I was trying to write a sex scene is neither here nor there. I wrote 2 sentences and then gave up. Even now, while writing this, the boy is in his room, blasting rap music and shouting at his Xbox. I know I’ll be lost once he gets older and moves out, but at the moment, it’s a picture this lover of peace and quiet is having a hard time imagining.

Sometimes novels and all the research that goes in to them are wonderful for self-realization. One of my main characters is bipolar, so I’ve done a crapload of research on bipolar disorder, only to come to realize I’m 99% sure my father is bipolar, which is why he’s been such an insane asshole all these years. Not that people with bipolar disorder are insane assholes, but left untreated and choosing to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, a lot of their behavior is very asshole-y.

You would think I’d have some revelatory A-ha moment and feel sorry for him for having an illness he can’t help, but I don’t. Truth is, he’s known he’s had a mood disorder for many, many years. God knows his entire family has told him as much. But when he went to his Beverly Hills physician years ago to discuss his “possible” mood disorder, the doctor excused it by telling him he was simply a Type-A personality and intense, and every Type-A person was like that.

He came home so proud after that, like a peacock strutting his colorful feathers, because he had gotten validation from a “physician to the stars,” and therefore, he didn’t have no stinking problem. Hey, here’s a heads up. When family and friends don’t want to be around you more often than not, if your moods go up and down like the strength tester game at the county fair, if your wife threatens to leave you every time you go through a particularly intolerable heinous period, then you got a stinking problem!

But it’s not my problem anymore, plus I’m out of the will anyway.

So, what else is going on? Well, I’m still single. I tried dating someone casually, but that didn’t work out too well. I went in to it stating, “I don’t want a serious relationship” (meaning You will never be my priority), but he took it as, “I hear what you’re saying, but I will eventually wear you down.” Ah, men and their love of challenges. I get it though. The first (and last) time I pursued something with a man who, straight off the bat said, and I quote: “I don’t want a relationship,” I completely ignored those words, too. Because after all, who wouldn’t want a relationship with me? I’m fabulous.

Turned out he did in fact want a relationship. Just not with me. He ended up marrying my son’s elementary school principal, and is now happily living in an all-White neighborhood where everyone makes six-figures (despite him being a tatted-up Hispanic custodian).

Anyhoo, back to this guy. After a few dates, he said to me, “I’m wearing you down, aren’t I? Tell me you’re not falling for me just a little bit” to which I responded in all my blunt honesty (since I don’t know how to be any other way), “I’m really not, and I meant what I said from the get-go.”

But he still kept at it. The situation reminded me of Gary Larson’s Far Side cartoon: What we say to dogs versus What they hear. The owner points to his dog, saying “Okay, Ginger! I’ve had it! You stay out of the garbage! Understand, Ginger? Stay out of the garbage, or else!” But the dog only hears, “blah blah Ginger blah blah blah blah blah Ginger blah blah blah…”

So, since we always seem to refer to men as dogs, I’m guessing what this guy heard was pretty much the same thing.

In all fairness to him he dodged a bullet, because I’m certainly no prize. I have my hands full with an ADD son who randomly sneaks up and attacks me much like Cato does with Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther movies, which has turned me in to a woman “on the edge” at all times, a 6-year-old diva dog who still pisses on the one remaining carpet whenever she feels like it, and a bulimic cat.

Then there’s me who, while you’re talking, is thinking about how to solve that plot problem, instead of listening to you.

 

What’s new with you?

VANILLA, BDSM, WHO CARES?

cage/whip

I finally started a new novel. It’s an erotic romance, which is a complete departure from the 2 romantic comedies I have written. But my muse writes the story. I find I have very little control over which way it goes.

Unfortunately, the writing has been very slow going because the muse has chosen to add certain facets to the story I am completely unfamiliar with, resulting in me having to do a crapload of research. One of my heroes is an artist, another is a pediatric neurosurgeon. My heroine owns horses. She teaches Gothic architecture at a college. I know of none of this stuff. Write what you know, they say. There’s a reason for that. You get your book written in half the time.

But my muse is stubborn and her ideas are firm. She wants elements of BDSM. I groaned when she first informed me of this. “No, no, no, there are enough Fifty Shades of Grey knockoffs, for goodness sake,” I complained. But the bitch wants what she wants.

Now, researching the BDSM lifestyle is interesting because it has obviously exploded since the 3 Fifty books came out. I understand the BDSM community has felt misunderstood in the past, that outsiders think it’s all about abuse, and Fifty is in no way an accurate representation of an authentic Dom/sub relationship.

I’ve been reading tons of blogs. I’ve talked to both men and women involved in the lifestyle. I’ve joined private groups on Facebook, and followed many pages of Doms, Dommes, subs, and littles. Private groups on Facebook, and even certain blogs on Tumblr portray the lifestyle pretty accurately. Their main objective is to provide accurate information, which is vital so participants don’t get taken advantage of, or worse, injured.

The public fan pages on Facebook mystify me though. Obviously, erotic authors have professional fan pages with provocative photos and/or relevant articles related to whatever they’re writing about, but this is done to sell books. I can’t figure out why any Dom or a Mistress would create a fan page just for the hell of it. Entertainment? A creative outlet? Ego? And they have tons of followers, mind you. We’re talking thousands. It’s like they’re celebrities.

Dommes post erotic photos (within FB guidelines), which are like the clean version of porn stills, so the comments are all by middle-aged to older men wishing it was them being stepped on with spike heels or paddled or walked outside with a leash. “Yes, Mistress,” Please, Mistress,” “I love you, Mistress.” But Mistresses make it clear they’re not to be solicited for business.

Dom pages are even worse, because women as a whole seem to be particularly vulnerable to men who come across as assertively sexy or provocative. Doesn’t matter that these women have no idea what the man looks like. Hell, he could be posting while sitting on a dirty, ripped couch in stained underwear, swigging a Bud, but if they portray themselves as sensitive and in touch with women’s feelings (while being DOMINANT, of course), women swoon like prepubescent girls paging through Tiger Beat Magazine.

“Oh, Sir, if only I could find a man like you.” “Sir, your words hit me right in my solar plexus.” “Sir, Sir, Sir…”

It feels a little cult-like to me. Why should a stranger call someone they don’t know “Sir” if he’s not your Sir. No one addresses a “Daddy” as such. It’s way too personal a title. Another thing I’ve noticed is a lot of middle-aged Doms prefer emotionally-broken 20-somethings. I’m not sure if this is because they feel they can save them or mold them, or what. And FFS, does every Dom have to be a polygamist and an exhibitionist? Seems like their most important pastime in life is going to dungeon parties, picking out a new, young impressionable thing, getting her up on a St. Andrew’s cross and going to town on her.

It’s bad enough practically every single kinky picture involves young, thin, and firm. (Isn’t this what “vanilla” people complain about all the time?) In a lifestyle claiming diversity and open-mindedness, where the fuck is the diversity? Where are all the middle-aged, thick women? Surely, there are plenty. And in a community that preaches non-judgment, they’re pretty freaking judgmental when it comes to a vanilla lifestyle. If a couple wants to have vanilla sex and it’s satisfying to them, who is anyone to judge? Just because someone enjoys being whipped or humiliated or tied up doesn’t make them any more edgy than someone who prefers being vanilla. (Oh, how I despise that banal term.)

I guess what I’m questioning is the need for some people to have their sexuality right out there in the open. Is it really anyone’s business what their kinks are? Why do they feel the need to share them with the rest of the world? If I came out as a lesbian, I don’t think I’d start a public Facebook page and only post things regarding homosexuality. By making it your sole identity, it goes against what gay people ultimately want—to be like everyone else by not having their sexuality singled out.

I dunno. Maybe I’m just a cranky, private, introverted, non-exhibitionist monogamist.

I’d love to hear anyone’s views on the subject.

UNFUCK YOURSELF

Struggle

I don’t know how many of you are writers, but this blog post I came across by Chuck Wendig can apply not just to writing, but any pursuit in general: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2012/01/03/25-things-writers-should-stop-doing/?subscribe=success#blog_subscription-2

I’m acknowledging Chuck’s brilliance in this piece because it resonated so greatly with me. I’m not going to lie—I suffer from each and every one of these dreaded mindfucks. Well, all except for one: I don’t chase trends. If I did, I’d be writing about vampires and handcuffs, or vampires in handcuffs. But I do ALL 24, which is why I know I need a complete lobotomy—metaphorically-speaking. And I plan on performing one on myself just as soon as the boy starts school in 12 days, 14 hours, and 22 seconds.

I’m tackling 7 of the 25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing (in my own words). I can only stand to admit a few at a time. I’ll tackle the others in the next 2 weeks. (My propensity for self-flagellation over these heinous habits is already at an all-time high.) Please read Chuck’s piece though. I cannot do it justice.

1. STOP ONLY FOR COPS, HEART ATTACKS, AND COOKIES WARM FROM THE OVEN. In other words, don’t stop writing. Too late. I’ve already stopped. My present ms had been edited by another; I proceeded to go over it another 2 times even though I couldn’t stand the sight of it anymore. Then I happened to read this article on Editors’ Pet Peeves, and they listed passive verbs as being a major one. Surely I couldn’t have THAT many, could I? So I took a little looksie and discovered I had pretty much written my entire story in this offensive manner. Back to the drawing board I went only to discover was and looked and felt and watched…UGH! I knew I had to go over this mofo yet again, line by line. There was no way it was going to happen at this point in the summer. My concentration is shot. I stopped at page 35, ready to tear my hair out. I will resume once the boy is back in school. (Really, I will.)

2. DON’T WRITE AS IF YOU HAVE MULTIPLE PERSONALITY DISORDER. No copycatting; Be unique. Have you ever read a book you loved and started writing in the cadence of that author? I do it all the time with 2 of my favorite authors, Jennifer Crusie and Janet Evanovich. They both have such a distinctive, memorable style about them, I’m not even sure I do it consciously. In any case, I AM conscious of plagiarism, so I’ve learned to keep myself in check with this by never reading these guys while in the middle of a project.

3. DON’T BECOME MY POLISH GRANDMOTHER (i.e. Don’t Worry). This is like telling Anthony Weiner not to sext, or the Kardashians to go away. It’s not going to happen. I worry about finding the time to write; I worry my lifespan will be shortened because I sit for hours while writing; I worry when I don’t write that I’ll never, ever write again. However, I can try to control it to the point where I don’t give myself an ulcer or a stroke. (I hope.)

4. BE THE TORTOISE NOT THE HARE. I am the SLOWEST writer. All I hear in the publishing world, especially the epub world is: If you want to make any money, you need to pump out 3-4 books a year. At least. So the readers don’t forget you. Um, yeah. Come November it’ll be a year since my book, The Accidental Cougar came out, and I’m not even finished editing my next one (see above).I need to stop beating myself up over this one, because I know if I were to churn out 3 books a year the results would be worthy of lining my bird cage and not much else.

5. UNLESS YOU’RE AT THE DMV, THE ALTER, OR DILATED TO ONLY 4 CENTIMETERS, DON’T WAIT. Chuck writes, “What the fuck are you waiting for?” I dunno. World peace, my son to go to college, a 20-pound weight loss? I’ve always waited for my life to begin. I’m one of those freaks that buy things in preparation for when my life will begin. A gorgeous dress for when I’m a size 4 again. A beautiful tablecloth for when I give dinner parties (right after I learn how to cook gourmet meals).A stunning necklace for when I accept the award for “Most Prolific Author.”

6. IF YOU THINK IT WILL GET EASIER, YOU’RE DUMBER THAN I THOUGHT. I don’t think writing gets easier the more you do it; I think you simply get better at it. My third book was harder to write than the first 2 put together. I have no idea why. All I know is it’s quite possible to write one outstanding novel and then follow it up with a piece of utter crap. And of course, I worry about that all the time.

7. IF YOU WANT TO BE KNOWN AS A BARISTA YOUR ENTIRE LIFE, KNOCK YOURSELF OUT. I have nothing against baristas. I spent a caffeinated chunk of my life as a barista, but you’d better believe I was working toward other things—acting, writing, something else. And I made sure people knew that. In my 20s when people asked what I did, I didn’t say, “I’m a corporate copy editor/proofreader.” I proudly told them I was an actress. And I received nothing but Oohs and Aahs. I’m proud to tell folks I’m a writer. I even tell them I’m a romance writer. When I took a social media class, there were a number of romance writers who were adamant about wanting to keep their personal identity a secret on Facebook. Especially the ones who wrote erotica. I don’t know about you, but if I had the choice of being stuck in an elevator for 9 hours with either an erotic writer or a phlebotomist, guess which one I’d choose?

Until next week…

WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO GIVE UP?

FAT CAT

I still stand by my statement that nobody can have it all. Those neurotic, Type-A women who say they’re doing it all and they’ve never been happier? The ones who claim they’re able to run their own business, work out, be an awesome mother, a loving and fulfilling wife, AND plant an herb garden on the weekend are fooling themselves. Or pilfering their kid’s Adderall.

It’s just not physically possible, is it? I have the job, kid, and working out part going on, and most of the time I feel like I’m going to drop dead from sheer exhaustion. I want 2 things more than anything in this world: for my son not to grow up to become a part of the penal system, and to have a lucrative career as a writer. So what am I willing to give up? A relationship, which requires work, energy, and persistence.

What am I willing to give up for staying in shape? Ugh, what a bitch that is. My entire life I’ve been able to wish away the pounds… or snort them away, or starve them away. Until I hit my 40s. Then, not eating for 3 days suddenly didn’t work anymore. Which meant I had to exercise. I hate exercise. Always have. But I was forced to do it, because I saw my body changing in ways I had never seen before. Ways I didn’t like, and it wasn’t pretty. So I started exercising regularly and whipped my fat ass back into shape. A boyfriend commented, “You’re so tight. How are you so tight?” I told him he could thank my obstetrician for that. “No,” he said. “Not that. Your body.” How? “I work my ass off, that’s how,” I told him. Even when I’m tired. Or hungover. Or feeling lazy.

A few years later, I stopped working out. Went through a winter depression and just didn’t care. Body parts became soft again. How bad did I want to get back into shape? Meh. Wasn’t high on my priority list. Much more important was my coffee with heavy cream and dark chocolate Lindt balls. Even more important was writing my novel.

Now, with the novel finished and summer here, my priorities have shifted yet again. Keep my son’s head from exploding from too many video games, and get back into shape. I’ve started swimming and running every day, because I can’t get away with only exercising every other day anymore. Not with a sedentary job. I’m almost tempted to work at McDonalds just to up my metabolism. Now I weigh the choice between 4 potato chips verses 35 minutes on the treadmill. How bad do I want those potato chips? Not enough to add another half hour of running into my day.

Today, as I was getting my son’s daily allotment of 3 Oreos, I just had to stick my nose inside the bag and inhale deeply. “It’d be really, really easy to eat 16 of these,” I said to myself. How badly did I want Oreos? I sighed. Then I cursed, and sealed up the bag. Not enough to feel like crap tomorrow.

What are you willing to give up?

SUCH A HOT MESS AND I DON’T MEAN ME

CAT NAP

I have 5 more pages to edit of this hot mess of a current manuscript. I’m embarrassed to admit I started writing it a year ago, which may not sound like a long time for a novel, but in the world of romance, I should have written 3 novels in that time. A Harlequin author on Facebook posted, “I have to write a book in 5 ½ weeks!” and I was like, Huh? I can’t even formulate an outline for a book in 5 ½ weeks much less write the damn thing.

This is the third novel I have written. One would think writing gets easier over time. It doesn’t. My first book was a young adult novel written in 2000, back when YA was actually written for teens, rather than adults. I wrote it longhand while sitting on the most uncomfortable metal chair you can imagine in the middle of an outdoor mall in San Diego. I worked full-time at a kiosk selling spiritual items, books, and $3000 Thangka paintings that the owner had brought back from Nepal.

I had nothing to do for 8 straight hours but write. The kid in the kiosk next to me selling cell phone covers (which were a novelty back then) was waaaay busier. Needless to say, my boss closed up shop 5 months later, but I had an almost-completed novel and was pretty damn proud of myself. I polished it up and started subbing it, 9-11 happened, all things publishing halted, so I ended up shelving it. By the time I dusted it off again Twilight had been written, and since my YA had no vampires in it, it died a slow death.

My second book, The Accidental Cougar, which was published last November, was written under similar circumstances as the first. I was an office manager, alone all day, working for a company that was trying to sell a $30,000 piece of exercise equipment in a failing economy. It was very slow and I was so bored. I mean, there’s only so much porn one can watch on the office computer. I started writing, and the words flowed so effortlessly that I completed a first draft in 4 months. Because let’s face it, even when I didn’t feel like writing, when faced with another 8 straight hours of sitting on my ass, what are the choices? Porn, dusting (again), or writing. I chose writing.

I have come to the sad conclusion that in order for me to be able to complete a novel in a reasonable amount of time, I need to be working alone at a mind-numbing job for a company that will soon be going out of business. As it stands now, I work from home, where there are so many distractions it makes my head spin. Never before have I wanted to scrub a toilet more as when I have told myself I must sit down to write.

Manuscript #3 was excruciating to complete. It was like trying to give birth to a breech baby, or worse, being forced to watch a Keanu Reeves movie. Nothing flowed, and every day I questioned my ability to form simple sentences. The entire writing process from start to finish felt like Dana Carvey’s “Choppin’ Broccoli” skit, where he’s making fun of rock stars who write songs with insipid lyrics. If you’ve never seen this, you must. Right this second. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVGi7h2NTOg And while you’re watching it, think of me, sitting at my dining room table for a whole year, attempting to put together a story by pulling characters and motivations and words from my ass.

I think I’m going to print out all 286 pages of this hot mess, arrange it into a nice, neat pile and then stomp up and down on it like they do in the cartoons. Once I’m done stomping, off it will go to an editor. I can’t wait to be rid of it. I envision the euphoria will feel akin to how one would feel the day their freeloading, 36-year-old son finally gets a job and leaves the nest, or even better, the glee I would feel upon learning that Kim Kardashian has gone far, far away and will never be heard from again.

Have you ever despised a piece of writing or art, or any creative endeavor so much you wish you could have a funeral service for it and lay it to rest?

THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX

Being the social media slut that I am, I’m on LinkedIn. But if you were to ask me what LinkedIn was, being the woefully inadequate social media slut that I am, I’d tell you to Google it. I do, however, appreciate the writerly discussions on LinkedIn, specifically about marketing, because imo, writers are the most clueless when it comes to marketing their own work.

Example: I manage social media for an insurance company. I can come up with numerous relevant Facebook posts for them like there’s no tomorrow. My own author page however, consists of sporadic postings involving photos of half-naked men, quotes I’ve sucked off of other writers, and inane comments like, “Am eating my son’s gummy bear vitamins to satisfy a desperate sugar craving.”

One author on LinkedIn started this discussion: “There are a gazillion people with books out there. How does one stand out?” Everyone regurgitates the same old crap about how to market one’s book. She wanted to hear original ideas, crazy ideas, ideas that were outside the box.

When I think outside the box on how to market my book, it almost always involves something deviant or sexual—like, Hmm, if I do something to get arrested, I can give a shout-out about my book while being taken away in handcuffs, or Hmm, I can make a sex tape and somehow incorporate the reciting of passages from my book.

Another author on LinkedIn suggested standing on the street while naked between two sandwich boards advertising her book, so I’m not the only twisted one thinking along those lines. The problem is any idea involving sex isn’t all that original. The other folks who responded wrote about the same tried and true tactics we’ve all heard over and over again: hard work, luck, book trailers, door-to-door fliers, signings, writing crappy fan fiction without any knowledge of basic grammar. (Okay, maybe not the last one.)

Think outside the box.

The problem with cats is they think too much inside the box:

Kitty in box
They may attempt to venture outside the box:

Almost out

But mostly they remain inside the box, thinking of ways to kill you in your sleep:

PLOT KILL

Casting Charlize Theron in Monster was thinking outside the box. Gilbert Gottfried reading Fifty Shades of Grey? Pure fucking gold, as well as also thinking outside the box. James Redfield sold over 80,000 copies of his self-published book, The Celestine Prophecy from the trunk of his Honda. John Grisham who wrote A Time to Kill? He traveled around the South selling that baby from the trunk of his car, too.

This concept of thinking outside the box consumed me all week. I’m an Aquarian. I’m supposed to be unconventional and original. It should come naturally for me to think outside the box.

Sometimes I succeed at thinking outside the box in other areas of my life. Because I can’t afford to go on vacation, I vacation through beer. Sampling beer from different countries allows me to visit places without ever having to be strip searched or robbed by gypsy children. Now when anyone asks me whether I’ve gone away lately, I can tell them Denmark, for example, adding, “And their Doppelbock really knocked me on my ass.” I consider that thinking outside the box.

lottsa beer

lottsa beer

Since my first book, The Accidental Cougar is a romance between an older woman (41) and a younger man (25), I’m constantly wondering: Where does my target audience hang out? I’m a middle-aged woman, but the only place I hang out is the grocery store. I don’t really feel like standing outside the supermarket selling my book like the Girl Scouts’ sell their cookies.

So I went onto Facebook and searched “Cougar” sites and found one with thousands of followers. Now granted, most of the followers are probably men trolling for what they hope are horny, touch-starved cougars, but women over the age of 35 are invited to submit their photo for posting on the site. Special preference is given to those wearing this T-shirt: THE COUGAR CLUB

I don’t know what you’re thinking, but singlewritermom thinks she should pole vault outside that box right onto that FB page. All I would need to do is put on my Victoria’s Secret Miracle Bra, aka Wishful Thinking Bra, aka Fooled You Bra, the Cougar T-shirt, some lipstick, and with a genuine smile, pose with my book. They’ll post it, all the cougar women will see it, buy my book, and I’ll be instantly catapulted to Amazon Bestsellerdom.

OR

I could take Dean Wesley Smith’s advice and stop wasting my time on social media, focusing instead on writing my next book.

What do you think?

IT’S ALL SO DAMN SUBJECTIVE

dr-seuss-be-who-you-are
“SUBJECTIVE” is the word I hear most when discussing the publishing business, and writing in general. At first I really didn’t get what that meant. I figured if I wrote a great book, everyone would like it. (Stop laughing!) Agents always say, “Write the best book you can. If it’s good, it will find a home.” (What they don’t tell you is that home is usually your own. Which is where it stays. Forever.)

Here are some excerpts from various agent form rejection letters we all know and love:

“In my search for clients I wish to represent only the manuscripts with which I feel a real connection. Ultimately—and for purely SUBJECTIVE reasons—this query did not spark that kind of enthusiasm.” (Which we writers interpret to mean, “Your manuscript sucks.”)

“We mold our client list from the many submissions we receive every month, and the process is both SUBJECTIVE and based on the direction of this agency.” (Which we writers interpret to mean, “Your manuscript sucks.”)

“Please keep in mind that mine is a SUBJECTIVE business, and an idea or story one agent does not respond to may well be met with great enthusiasm by another…” (Which we writers interpret to mean, “Your manuscript sucks.”)

Book reviews are also SUBJECTIVE. The most obvious example being the thousands of reviews for Fifty Shades of Grey. The reviews range from “If Heaven exists, it would surely be wallpapered with the pages of this trilogy, so we can all read this masterpiece for eternity,” to “I wouldn’t wipe my dog’s ass with the pages of this crap.”

SUBJECTIVE. SUBJECTIVE. SUBJECTIVE.

What the hell does this word even mean?

Based on (or related to) attitudes, beliefs, or opinions, instead of on verifiable evidence or phenomenon. Contrasts with objective.—BusinessDictionary.com

Proceeding from or taking place in a person’s mind rather than the external world: a subjective decision.
Particular to a given person; personal: subjective experience.–thefreedictionary.com

Based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes or opinions.—Dictionary.com

Do you see a pattern here? It means what floats one’s boat may not float another’s. What may be one person’s cocaine may be someone else’s bad LSD trip. One person’s kink may be another person’s therapy session.

Personally, I’ve found some of my female friends’ partners revolting. I pretty much think all of my ex-boyfriends’ wives are like, “Ugh.” To each his own, and even more so when it comes to writing.

I bought a book in Target a few months ago by a contemporary romance author I’ve wanted to check out for awhile. She’s been around a long time, has written a gazillion books, has beaucoup fan followers, and is a NYT bestselling author. And yet…

I picked up and put down this book so many times it took me forever to finish it. It wasn’t that this woman wasn’t a good writer; she was. But the heroine bothered me, because she was too adoring of the hero, so she came across (to me) as a sloppy puppy dog. There was too much conversation about feelings and too many internal monologues about feelings, which tend to bore me. I prefer more zingy dialogue. And there just wasn’t enough of a plotline to hold my interest.

But that’s simply my opinion. It wasn’t my cuppa. Hundreds upon hundreds of fans love her books, and loved this one, in particular. Does that mean it sucked because I wasn’t crazy about it? Of course not. It just means it wasn’t my cocaine.

If you were an agent, you’d want to sign someone who wrote a book that was your cocaine. Just like the person you marry should be your cocaine. And your passion should be your cocaine.

The next time you receive a rejection letter or a bad review, or get dumped by your lover, remember that damn word…no, not cocaine…SUBJECTIVE.

IT’S A GOOD THING MY FAVORITE SUBJECT IS MYSELF

I’ve been tagged by Menopausal Mama, who was tagged by Karen over at www.BakingInATornado.com (who was tagged by www.theadventuresofthefamilypants.com) to answer a list of questions from a game that originally surfaced on Facebook who knows how many years ago. I guess there are 45 questions in this game, but menopausalmama lowered it to 25 to save everyone’s sanity, and also combined various questions from both of the above bloggers.

If you haven’t checked out the site, menopausalmother, you need to, because she is attempting world domination (and succeeding) one blog at a time. She is very funny, has a great list of awesome bloggers, and she’s a very generous blogger, too.

Just when you thought you knew everything there is to know about me, there’s more…mwahaha, there’s ALWAYS more!

WHERE WERE YOU BORN?
Pittsburgh, PA—which is why I have a nonsensical loyalty to the Steelers. But because I moved to Brooklyn when I was one, I consider myself an abrupt, sarcastic New Yorker through and through.

T-shirt

WERE YOU NAMED AFTER SOMEONE?
My mother named me Tiffany, because she said I looked like such a jewel when I was born (awwww)—after all the blood and afterbirth was cleaned off me, I’m sure.

IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN, HOW MANY DO YOU HAVE?
One boy, but he has the energy equivalent of three boys. Lucky me! My house is the preteen party house, so two of my son’s friends are daily permanent fixtures. I’ve started growth charts on my wall for them. Sometimes the neighbor’s girls come over too, so it’s like The Brady Bunch at my house—if The Brady Bunch were Mexican, living in the ghetto, and headed by a single mother.

HOW MANY PETS DO YOU HAVE?
One Chihuahua too many! Thankfully, I’m down to three cats from seven, because they were eating me out of house and home. I have two parakeets that I thought would be chirping melodies from The Sound of Music, but in reality sound like heavy metal from Hellraiser 2. And of course, the diva Chihuahua, who never met a carpet she didn’t like to pee on.

dog

YOUR WORST INJURY?
A stitch in the chin when I was nine from being thrown onto a wooden table while wrestling with my Mom. Sadly, she refused to wrestle with me ever again after that. Other than the stitch, I’ve never broken a bone or been in the hospital, which is why childbirth was such a rude, obnoxious awakening.

DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT?
Sadly, no. I really wish I could wolf whistle or tie a cherry stem with my tongue.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING TO BAKE?
I probably shouldn’t admit this, because then I’ll NEVER find a husband, but I have never baked cookies from scratch, or a cake in my life. Whenever I feel the need to prove my domesticity, I bake already-made cookies so I can fill my house with the aroma and temporarily feel like Donna Reed. Other than that, I’d say my favorite thing to bake is a frozen pizza that only takes 9-11 minutes to cook, which comes in handy whenever we need to quickly get our asses to soccer practice.

FAVORITE FAST FOOD?
Hands down, In-N-Out, because they don’t use frozen fries, they put thousand island dressing on their burgers, and use real ice-cream in their shakes. Plus, the teenagers who work there hustle like nobody’s business. I also just learned today that there are subtle biblical citations on their cups and burger wrappers. Who knew? I love In-N-Out so much I referred to them a couple times in The Accidental Cougar. Sorry, but they are only in SoCal.

IN-N-OUT

photo by BrownGuacamole

WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP?
Twenty years ago, yes, but now I fear death and leaving my child an orphan. I used to ride on the back of motorcycles at 120 mph without a helmet on, take the NY subways at 2am, and travel Southern Italy alone. But now…? The biggest risk I take now is buying a scratch-off ticket.

WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE?
Whether they’re full of shit or not. I can spot a non-genuine person a mile away.

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED?
A few days ago, I teared up during an episode of Futurama—a silly CARTOON, mind you! And all because it showed a loyal dog waiting outside for years for his master to come back. His master was frozen in time, so he never did come back, and eventually the dog lay down and died. Seeing how loyal animals are to humans gets me every time, but still…it was a cartoon, for God’s sake! That’s like crying over a Hallmark commercial.

NEEDS

ANY CURRENT WORRIES?
None. Hahahahahahahaha! Just kidding. I inherited worry from my Polish Nana who lived through the Depression. I worry about my son turning into a drug-addicted hoodlum, or worse, living with me until he’s thirty-five; I worry about how I’m going to pay my over-priced space rent every month and how long before I’ll need a new water heater; I worry about turkey neck, crow’s feet, bat arms, and ostrich ass. I worry that menopause will be the death of me (or someone else will die as a result), GMOs will give us all cancer, and the world will be destroyed with one asteroid just like the one that destroyed the dinosaurs. I worry that I worry too much.

NAME 3 DRINKS THAT YOU DRINK REGULARLY
Coffee, coffee, and coffee. Maybe some water every once in a while.

happy=coffee

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE BOOK?
The Accidental Cougar! Hah! That’s my book, yessiree! Okay, okay, I wish I could say The Kama Sutra to sound interesting, but I’d have to say Wuthering Heights.

COVER- 30KB

WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE A PIRATE?
Absolutely! But only if I had access to a shower. And a dentist. And condoms.

PIRATES

photo by Mike Johnson-TheBusyBrain

FAVORITE SMELLS?
Sautéed onions and garlic, light cologne on a man, Elmer’s glue, markers, gasoline, jasmine and honeysuckle, pages of a brand-new book

WHY DO YOU BLOG?
Blogging once a week forces me to discipline myself and focus, which I have a tough time with. When my life is falling apart around me and I can’t seem to get anything productive done, I can say, “Well at least I got a blog post done.” Feeling a sense of accomplishment, however small, is very important to me.

WHAT SONG DO YOU WANT PLAYED AT YOUR FUNERAL?
Yeesh. I want to be cremated, but I suppose if folks want to view my dead body beforehand, I’d prefer to have the blues played—Billie Holiday, Buddy Guy, B.B. King.

WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF?
My CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) Without CFS I’d be able to be an over-achieving, perfectionist Super-Mom with clean floors and no toilet bowl stains just like everyone else; depression (which may or may not be caused by my CFS) Without depression, I’d be, gasp, happy—although it would probably suck to be happy all the time; and my wicked, explosive, not pretty temper, which no doubt, all my exes remember, thank you very much.

FAVORITE HOBBY?
Is writing considered a hobby if I can’t retire off it yet? You know when those non-well-meaning family members call writing books “your little hobby,” and ask whether you’ve gotten it out of your system yet so you can go find a “real job that pays real money?”

WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A FRIEND?
You can be a heroin-addicted, schizophrenic transvestite hooker and I’ll still be your friend. But the second you judge me with a self-righteous, condescending attitude without walking a mile in my shoes, you’re dead to me.

NAME SOMETHING YOU’VE DONE THAT YOU NEVER THOUGHT YOU’D DO
Attempt natural childbirth. What a fucking mistake that was. Because hospitals give me panic attacks, I went to a birthing center. They don’t do drugs; they do tubs. Whoever said going through labor in a warm tub is the equivalent of morphine should have their toenails pulled off one-by-one. Seventeen hours of back labor later, I ended up having to be transported in an ambulance to the very hospital I didn’t want to go to in the first place. I got an epidural and all was well. So well in fact that the anesthesiologist is in my will.

FAVORITE FUN THINGS TO DO
Play foosball with my son, or watch silly cartoons with him, go shopping at Marshalls (more orgasmic than fun), and Google time-sucking topics like: “Why won’t my husband have sex with me,” or “Ways in which kids ruin your life”

ANY PET PEEVES?
Grammatical and spelling errors in speech and writing. For the love of God, if you’re going to make a comment after reading an article online, spell check the damn thing, so you don’t sound like a complete moron, please. It’s “lose a war,” not “loose.” It’s “they’re,” not “their.” Learn the difference between “effect” and “affect.” Don’t say “I didn’t want nothing from him.” It’s “anything.” Arrrrgghhh, my blood pressure goes up just thinking about it.

WHAT’S THE LAST THING THAT MADE YOU LAUGH?
I saw these words on Facebook and it was like getting hit on the head with an anvil, but in a good way:stupid decisions

Hallelujah and Amen! I believe everything happens for a reason, but then again, there are a list of things that have happened in my life where I can bang my head against the wall until I’m seventy and I still won’t know the reason why they had to happen. The words “You’re stupid and u make bad decisions” is reason enough for me.

Menopausal Mama tagged like twenty other bloggers for this, but she is way more blogtastic than me. I am tagging three other bloggers, because I want to find out more about them without seeming like a creepy stalker. I hope they’re up to the challenge:

For some scary insight into what your restaurant server is really thinking, visit:

restaurantbastards.wordpress.com

For everything you wanted to know about sex, women, dating, and then some…

narcissistsblog.wordpress.com

For musings on writing, reading, film, and chocolate…

zenscribbles.wordpress.com

I’LL TRY MY HARDEST NOT TO LET YOU DOWN 2013

Usually I don’t bother making New Year’s resolutions, because I already know where I stand on any changes I need to make. I suppose if I made my resolutions more realistic, I wouldn’t fail miserably at them. For example: Drink more coffee; Exercise less; stress more. I would definitely feel a sense of accomplishment over achieving these.

But I’m feeling a little more optimistic this year, what with my first book having been published, thus proving that 2012 wasn’t a completely craptastic year for me, so I figured, why the hell not? I could stand some improvement.

I hate to be a cliché, but yes, I need to exercise more. Let me tell you why. A month ago something happened to my back that rivaled the pain of my 18 hours of back labor—one minute I was fine, the next I was in excruciating pain for days. It gave me a premonition of what it’ll probably be like when I’m old and decrepit, and it wasn’t fun. If I had been in better shape physically, I’m convinced my back would have never made me privy to what it feels like to be shot in the spine. The truth is I sit on my ass in front of a computer all day. This does not bode well for the body, as opposed to, say, farming or being a crossing guard, so I need to do SOMETHING more than I’m already doing (which is absolutely nothing).

I’ve also been trying for months to embrace my fatness, and I’m sorry to say it just ain’t gonna happen. I can try to admire this type of body:

rubens

I can even superimpose my head on her body and then stare at it every day with the hope of achieving a kinder, gentler body image. I can curse social media and the fashion industry for setting unrealistic standards for women. I can choose to actually believe the men who claim they don’t like stick women, but in the end, this is what I find sexy and attractive:

?????????????????????????????????????????????

I’m sure it stems from my unhealthy obsession with wanting to be a model when I was young, my various eating “disorders,” and a general shitty sense of self-esteem, but I don’t like being heavier than a size 6-8. I feel gross, unsexy, and like I swallowed 2 of my 3 cats, so…

Resolution #1    Exercise more!

It’s also time to get another tattoo. I think long and hard about tattoos. I look at my body in the mirror, and all I see is skin…a blank canvas needing art. I studied art history in college. Look Dad, I’m finally using my major! People always say: Imagine how your tattoos will look when you’re old. I say: Imagine how ALL of me is gonna look when I’m old! Saggy, wrinkled skin vs. saggy wrinkled skin with tattoos…both look like crap, in my opinion, and besides, I won’t be prancing around in a bikini when I’m 70. I. Just. Won’t. At the rate I’m going, the only one who will see my pruny tattoos will be my cats…and the diva Chihuahua, who will, I’m convinced, outlive me. Replace the Yorkie with a Chihuahua, and this will be me in 10 years.

TATTOOS

photo by stevegatto2

Resolution #2    Get another tattoo!

This leads me to matters of the heart…My heart is presently like this:

BROKEN HEART

photo by CarbonNYC

I need to start working on forgiving my son-of-a-bitch ex-boyfriends for all the pain and torment they’ve caused me, so my heart can heal and become whole again, like this:

PIZZA HEART

photo by woodleywonderworks

I need to visualize this lovely romantic scenario:

WOMAN WITH SWORD

photo by delam

instead of envisioning taking that sword and plunging it into any one of my exes’ hearts. Ahem. Okay, so a lot of work needs to be done in the forgiveness department. I used to have this poster on my wall in my 20s:

MERMAID

photo by deflam

That was how I imagined love to be. Here’s the thing: I love men; I worship men; I appreciate men—I just hate my exes, who have soured me on men in general; not to mention every man I meet nowadays seems to be a prototype of one of my exes, just with different eye color. Still, I don’t want to die a bitter old woman, so it might be nice to live happily ever after with a mate, especially when I’m a senior, if only so he’ll be able to dial 911 when I fall and can’t get up.

Resolution #3    Heal bitter heart!

I’m always striving to become a better mother. Case in point: my son wants to go to church, so I force myself to go to church. It certainly can’t hurt. I’m the first to admit needing more of this in my life:

PRAYING STATUE

photo by Guillaume Paumier

God knows, I resemble this way too closely:

DEVIL WOMAN

photo by DementdPrncess

So more of an effort needs to be made on my part for my own spiritual development. I also need to remember that going to church can be a bonding experience for my son and I, as can playing card games together. So instead of feeling this way when my son asks me to play the game, War, while I’m trying to write a sultry sex scene:

EMOTION

photo by Clearly Ambiguous

my mind needs to focus on the importance of nurturing our relationship, instead:

MOTHER AND SON

photo by linek

Resolution # 4   More quality time with son!

And speaking of spirituality, I really need to strive to be more like this in terms of my writing and my career:

MEDITATION

photo by HaPe_Gera

After The Accidental Cougar was released, I experienced post-partum publication blues.

BEAUTY AND PAIN

photo by rocketjim54

Instead of feeling proud of myself for all I had accomplished, I only looked at how far I still had to go, and how much further others were ahead of me. It’s tough to look at an author you admire—an author who already has an established career, having published 9, 15, 20 or more novels—and not compare yourself to them and feel like a failure. It’s also tough not to fall into a deep spiraling depression over this and consider chucking everything to move to Tahiti to make puka shell necklaces to sell on the beach. No doubt the life of a writer is tough, with many ups and downs. But if it’s the life I choose, then I need to suck it up and deal…in the most zen-like way possible, or risk having to write my next book from within the walls of an institution.

SCREAM

photo by llya Boyandin

Resolution # 5   It’s okay not to be Nora Roberts.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Previous Older Entries