Tag Archives: guest blog

SMILE AND BE A VILLAIN by Colin Falconer

Standard

Today my fellow blogger and wana minion Colin Falconer has agreed to share with us his thoughts on villains, because every good story needs a great villain.


That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain;
(Hamlet, William Shakespeare, 1.5.105)

When I wrote VENOM friends who read the book asked me how I could dream up such a thoroughly evil man. Because they knew me, they wondered aloud at my devious mind.

In life I don’t consider myself devious at all; there are two reasons I managed it. One, it was based on a real character: Michel Christian is not Charles Sobrajh, but his life was the inspiration and I borrowed his MO.

I also wanted to write the story because I knew how close I came to being one of his victims when I was backpacking through Asia in my twenties. Our paths crossed several times and in several places.

But I believe it’s Michel Christian’s character that makes the book; it not serial killing that fascinates me, it’s charisma. Because true evil is irresistible – until it’s far too late.

I wrote VENOM as an edge of the seat thriller; when it was released in the UK I treasured the letters blaming me for a bad day at work. I was up to 4am finishing your damned book!

But my ambition was to do more than this. I wanted to describe the kind of man, or woman, that we should all learn to treat more warily; the charmer, the beauty, the charismatic life of the party. They are either the most loveable – or the most lethal – people in the world.

The loner who preys on society is dangerous but unsurprising. If you don’t hitchhike or jog in dark places they can be avoided. But we are all prey to the Michel Christians of this world.

One of the most laughable things you hear after a serial killer has been caught are his neighbours telling journalists that he/she seemed so nice. So normal. BUT OF COURSE THEY DID!!! Most of us cannot imagine outwardly warm and charming people committing crimes; this is why they get away with committing them. It is the first chapter in the defence lawyer’s manual.

Charm is the monster’s most basic weapon. It can be entirely manufactured, in the way that conscience and integrity cannot.

As any introvert will tell you, becoming sociable or even charming is something you can easily learn. You will never be a true extrovert. But it’s still an acquired skill and as such should be used responsibly.

Serial killers and predators of every kind – including wife beaters and paedophiles – rely on the fact that people will take them at face value. But face value is just that; something people do with their face.

In Groningen, in Holland, some ground-breaking work is under way at the moment to explore this phenomenon. Scientists are learning to measure individual levels of empathy in the human brain; because empathy is what makes us human.

Show someone a picture of a crying or injured child and most often certain circuits in the brain will light up; it is the empathic response. Most people want to help or to comfort.

Yet in certain individuals that response is completely absent.

Most often such people become aware of their difference to others at an early age and learn to mask it. And it is in the successful disguise – the joker – that you have the making of the true monster. You have Michel Christian.

(Read more on the Groningen experiments here: THE EMPATHY EXPERIMENTS)

As well as being sexy and attractive, Michel is courageous, resourceful, determined – there is so much to admire and be seduced by. Yet he feels nothing but his own pain.

The real danger in such people is that they are irresistibly drawn to those who have the most empathy, because they cannot comprehend its absence in someone else. They completely misread the sociopath. They ignore the things that don’t quite fit, the things they do that should serve as warning. It happens every day, from email scams where people lose their money to romances gone bad where people lose their lives.

How many of us reading this have been duped by the man or woman who smiles and yet remains a villain; and further, have then discovered how pointless it is to warn others, for they only see the smile and yearn for its warmth to shine on them?

Find Colin Falconer at LOOKING FOR MR GOODSTORY
Find VENOM here: VENOM

Advertisements

Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful

Standard

Because I am out of town Kassandra Lamb, a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer, has agreed to post today to keep all of you entertained. So give Kassandra a warm Arm Chair Adventures welcome!

“Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful”

Are you old enough to remember the 1980’s Pantene shampoo commercial that made this line famous? Or perhaps it resonates because of the lyrics in Keri Hilson’s much more recent “Pretty Girl Rock.” Actually I could have sworn that Elizabeth Taylor said it first, but, after a quick romp around the Internet, I was not able to prove this.

Unfortunately, for all too many of us, the answer to that line would be “I don’t hate you; I hate myself because I’m not beautiful.” And sadly there are a lot of people in our society, especially women, who would say that even while those of us around them are secretly envying their beauty. Not only has physical attractiveness become the main criteria for okayness in our society but most people actually see themselves as a lot less attractive than they actually are.

Why is that? If being beautiful, handsome, adorable, is what makes us valuable, than why aren’t we all clamoring that we are beautiful, handsome, adorable? Oh, if only the connection between self-esteem and body image were that simple.

The reality is that if we feel poorly about ourselves, for a variety of reasons, than we are going to perceive our package as not okay, no matter how beautiful we are. One quote that I did find for Elizabeth Taylor, who was drop-dead gorgeous and an incredibly talented actress, was, “I don’t like my voice. I don’t like the way I look. I don’t like the way I move. I don’t like the way I act. I mean, period. So, you know, I don’t like myself.”

Interestingly, she did admit that, “…when I was a little girl, my father was abusive when he drank and seemed to kind of like to bat me around a bit.” Could explain the low self-esteem.

On the other hand, if we perceive our bodies as less than attractive, in our society at least, this tends to undermine our self-esteem. I am one of the few women, amongst my circle of friends and acquaintances, who actually sees my body fairly accurately. Until my late thirties, I was, and perceived myself as, a reasonably slender, moderately attractive woman, with nice hair, warm brown eyes, a cheerful smile and less than perfect skin. I liked my appearance basically, or at least I wasn’t displeased with it.

Then I developed a problem with my thyroid and experienced the onset of middle-aged spread in a huge way (and I mean that literally). In less than a year, I ballooned from 125 pounds to 160, and suddenly I found myself feeling insecure–a feeling I had not experienced in the last 15 years! I was shocked that my self-esteem, that I had always assumed was grounded in my intelligence and other talents, was that easily shaken by a shift in my appearance.

Over the next decade, I slowly came to grips with the betrayal of my body, which is a good thing, since I gained another 15 pounds before the doctors finally got my thyroid problem under control. Now I’m pushing sixty (hard) and I’m back to thinking I don’t look half bad for my age, since I still have the hair, eyes, smile combo going for me. But a lesson was definitely learned about how fragile our self-esteem can be, in the U.S. of A., when our bodies are less than perfect.


This whole issue of body image and self-esteem has been on my mind lately because, in my book that just came out, Family Fallacies, the protagonist, Kate–a woman of average attractiveness–is being wooed by a very handsome guy. He’s six-five, 240 pounds of mostly muscle, with gold flecks in his hazel eyes and an easy-going, sexy grin.

*stopping to fan face; must be having a hot flash*

Her good friend, Rob, is very uneasy about this budding romance, and it takes awhile for him to realize that the disparity in their appearance is the reason for his distrust.

That brings me to the next and, I think, optimistic point. Research has found that people tend to be attracted to those of a similar level of attractiveness. This is good news for those of us in the butt-ugly to moderately attractive range. There is someone out there, probably several someones, who will find us cute, or at least will be relieved that we’re no prettier than they are!

The reader discovers, as the book progresses (with mysterious things happening; well, because it is a mystery after all), that Kate’s suitor wasn’t always a hunk. He was a late bloomer.

Which brings me to the last of my points about this complicated interaction between body image and self-esteem. The body image we develop in our teens may very well continue in our brains long after we’re grown. I had a male colleague who was quite thin (naturally; he was not anorexic), and yet he admitted that he still tended to see himself, in his mind’s eye, as chunky because he had been a chunky teenager, until he grew into his weight during a late growth spurt. That’s where I got the idea for my character’s body image issues. At one point, he confesses to Kate that he often does a double-take when he walks past a mirror, because his internal self-image is of the short, scrawny sixteen-year-old that he once was.

Do you know anyone like that, whose body image is dictated by something other than reality? Does any of this resonate for you? What are your thoughts about the link between body image and self-esteem?

Thank you so much, Alica, for your hospitality!

And to show my appreciation, anyone who comments below will automatically be entered in our contest to win a free e-book set of the first three books of my mystery series. And if you go to www.misteriopress.com and comment there, your name will go in the hat twice. The winner will be announced this Friday, here and on misterio press. You can also pick up an extra chance or two of winning by commenting at the two stops left in my little romp around the blogosphere.

Thursday, I’ll be talking about getting A Check-Up From the Neck Up with some tips for maintaining good mental health at Ginger Calem’s cyber-home, http://gingercalem.wordpress.com
Friday, I’ll be chatting with Jennifer L. Oliver about writing, eating and puppy dogs (no, we’re not eating puppy dogs) at http://www.small-escapes.com

Hope to see you there, and good luck in the contest!

Kass Lamb

Thank you Kass, it is very interesting how much the number on the scale can effect how we feel about ourselves!
You can find Kass’ book Family Fallacies at B&N and Amazon

Popcorn, Ninjas, and Ginger Calem

Standard

Today the lovely and inspiring Ginger Calem is going me today!

California Girl turned Texas Woman. Wife to one Superhero. Mom to three pieces of her heart. When she’s not keeping the house-natives happy and fed, Ginger can be found at her CrossFit gym or at her desk, writing about the characters clamoring in her head. Her favorite things are wakeboarding on long, summer lake days out in the boat, anything that causes spontaneous laughter, and living room dinners of sushi and wine.

1- We all have favorite books, ones we nag our friends to read, buy our loved ones as gifts, and the biggy, the books we read over and over again. What books have you read more than twice?

This was an easy one for me because I reread all of the Harry Potter books. The characters in that series feel like my friends so I have to hang out with them from time to time. Oh, and I’ve read Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander at least three times. How’s that for opposite ends of the spectrum?

I haven’t read Outlander, yet, but I adored the Harry Potter series.

2- Everyone seems to complain when their favorite book is made into a movie or mini series. What is your favorite movie based on a book?

Had to think about this one because the obvious answer would be the Harry Potter series. But I also loved the old TV mini-series based on The Thorn Birds. Wow—it was so good! Also, my husband and I just saw Hunger Games (midnight showing with our 3 kids) and I have to add that in here because I was extremely impressed and can’t wait to see it again!

Thorn Birds was my mom’s favorite mini-series! She loved anything with Richard Chamberlain.

3- When the zombie apocalypse comes what is going to be your weapon of choice?

My running shoes and I’d run like hell.

Running is a great skill, one I don’t have.

4- If I was bitten by a zombie I have a list of people I want to bite. Who’s at the top of your list?

The first politician I saw. Since they are so intent on biting and scratching at each other, I would have done my job to get rid of them all.

Very good plan, but would we be able to tell if they have been turned??

5- What do you think werewolf musk smells like?

Having just finished Kait Nolan’s RED (which was awesome!), I’d say pretty good … kind of like a visceral aroma of earthy attraction—raw pheromones lingering on sun-warmed skin.

What a great descriptions! And I agree Red is a wonderful book!

6- If you were to write yourself into your book what kind of character would you be?

Oh, that’s easy. I’d be Mai, the main character in my Ninja Chick book, which is my current project. She’s fiercely loyal, sarcastic and funny, and she gets to spend a lot of time with hunky and adorable Oliver. Oh, and she gets to be a Ninja, which I secretly am, but you can’t tell anyone. Sshhh!!

You’re secret is safe with me! I would love to be a ninja
!
7- What is the geekiest thing about you?

I’m still waiting for my acceptance letter from Hogwarts.

Wait, that’s geeky? Are you sure that won’t happen? *Looks for owls out the window*

8- Who is your arch nemesis?

My inner-critic. None of my Ninja-moves seem to thwart her! But, I’m working on some new moves and she better watch out.

I know that enemy!

9- What mad ass survival skill do you have?

You mean besides the Ninja stuff? Ok, seriously, I’m extremely resourceful and I’m ornery enough to survive to prove it can be done.

Never under-estimate stubbornness.

10- We’re all supposed to be eating healthy, but what naughty treat tempts you the most?

Anyone who follows my blog or knows me from Twitter and Facebook know that I’m a healthy eater and a fitness geek. But—this girl can’t pass up some movie popcorn. I can say no to almost anything but I walk into the theatre and I smell that warm, crunchy, yumminess! No added butter to make it soggy, no flavored salts or crap, just hot, just-popped, popcorn. In fact, I make them scoop it out of the freshest spot.

Okay now I’m hungry!

11- How old were you when you stopped believing in the Easter bunny?

I don’t understand the question. Who doesn’t believe in the Easter Bunny?

LOL- true is you don;t believe you don;t get goodies.

12- What do you love most about you’re current book?

Mai’s voice in my head and the energy of her potential.

I love having strong character voices in my head.

13- What style of book do you secretly long to write, but are afraid to try and do?

What a great question. I have this idea about the lost city of Atlantis and the pole-shift and in my head it seems so cool but it’s so BIG that it scares me. I don’t want to rob the story of it’s magic by not doing it justice. Maybe someday. I have to manage these Ninjas first and they are out of control at the moment. 🙂

I LOVE Atlantis stories, I hope you write it some day!

14- As an author tells us three things that will mean success to you in your writing career.

I love this question! Ok—

1. Having my first book available for sale at Amazon and having people actually purchase it, people not related to me, who will love it (of course) and then review it kindly. I will do cartwheels down the street, on video, and post it on my blog when this happens!

2. Being contacted by readers saying they loved my book and can’t wait to read the next one.

3. Being invited to give a keynote address at a major writing conference.

Those are lovely goals for success! I can’t wait to read about Mai and her mad ninja adventures! Thank you so much for hanging out with me today. And for those for you who don’t follow Ginger- you need too! You can find her at her Blog and on Twitter

Remembering the Titanic with Marlene Dotterer

Standard

Today I have my life opposite with us. I grew up in the Bay Area then moved to Tucson AZ where I became a Natural Child birth coach! As you’ll read from her bio we probably passed each other on the freeway!


Marlene Dotterer grew up as a desert rat in Tucson, Arizona. In 1990, she loaded her five children into the family station wagon, and drove north-west to the foggy San Francisco Bay Area. To stay warm, she tackled many enterprises, earning a degree in geology, working for a national laboratory, and running her own business as a personal chef. She’s a frustrated gardener, loves to cook, and teaches natural childbirth classes. She says she writes, “to silence the voices,” obsessed with the possibilities of other worlds and other times. She is married to The Best Husband in the World, and lives in Pleasant Hill, California.

1.If you were to write yourself into your book what kind of character would you be?

I’d be the slightly nutty old lady down the street.

That sounds like a lot of fun.

2.What is the geekiest thing about you?

Have you seen my science fiction library?

Can I borrow books? LOL!

3.Who is your arch nemesis?

Anybody who thinks they can tell me what to do.

I like it.


4.What mad ass survival skill do you have?

I can cook and I don’t mind it if all I have is a campfire. Just don’t ask me to identify any plants. Oh, and in a pinch, I could help deliver a baby.

I’ve gotten to help deliver a baby, it’s amazing!

5.What is the best advice you give, but hardly ever follow yourself?

Do your Kegels!

I’m doing some right now.

6.If your book was turned into a movie who you play your main characters?

Well… I think Colm Meany would be great as Sam, my physicist. Emma Stone would be perfect as Casey. But Thomas Andrews – I don’t know. Victor Garber played him in Titanic, but he’s too old for the part now, especially since Tom is 34 when we first meet him in my book. The real Thomas Andrews was a very handsome man, but I can’t think of any current actors of that age who look like him.

7.Why write about Titanic?

I was very young when I first heard about Titanic, and it always made me feel sad. But I wasn’t obsessed with it, even after James Cameron’s movie came out. But about five years ago, I became curious about Thomas Andrews, who was the ship’s designer He went down with the ship. What kind of man built ships like that? How did he get started? Who was he? So I started researching, and I had the strangest reaction. I was heartbroken at his death, as if he was a close relative, and I just found out he died. Weird, I know – but everything I read about him showed that he was kind, generous, and happy. That he loved life and he loved people. Everyone who knew him, loved him. I had to write the book to give him a second chance at life. It’s my tribute to him.

Strong emotional attachments past events make me wonder about past-lives.

8.You’re going on the Titanic Memorial Cruise in April. What is it?

This cruise is to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of Titanic’s fateful maiden voyage. It includes the same number of passengers that were on Titanic (around 1300), and will have many experts who will provide lectures and exhibits about the ship. Many of the passengers are descendants of people who were on the original ship.

We’ll follow the same route Titanic took, except we plan on ending up in New York! On the night of April 14/15, we will be above the spot where Titanic now sits, and will have a memorial service out on deck at the time she sank, which was about 2:20 a.m.

I’m very excited about it, as are all of the passengers. We’re all getting to know each other through Facebook!

Also, I’ll be blogging about the cruise as much as possible while I’m on it. The BBC will be along, as well, so there may be an interview. Keep an eye on my blog for that, and for other “specials” I’ll be posting about leading up to the cruise.


That sounds amazing, I will be jealously following your updates.


9.Give us a super secret peek into what you’re working on next?

I’m working on Bridgebuilders, the second Time Travel Journals book. It’s got parallel universes, neutrinos bouncing around all over the place, a megalomaniac, a rebel alliance, a hot, young, high school teacher and the brilliant student who has a crush on him, which just may be reciprocated, but I’m keeping it clean…

Don’t keep it clean on my account- *naughty grin*. Seriously it sound like a great book.

10.What style of book do you secretly long to write, but are afraid to try and do.

Hey, if I want to do it, I’ll try it. Life is short.

Good for you!

11.As an author tells us three things that will mean success to you in your writing career.

A certain level of sales. Say selling thousands of a particular book over a one-year period. I don’t need to be the next Amanda Hocking, but I’d like to reach a decent number of people.

I’d like to qualify for membership in Science Fiction Writers of America. That requires traditional publishing, so I’m still working on that angle with some of my other books.

And third… this is the embarrassing one to admit: to be respected enough to be a panelist at Cons. I guess all this means that I want validation. I want people to like my books and if they like them, to let me know.

I am with you 100% on being invited to Cons. That is definitely on my list of success!

Marlene thank you so much for taking the time to join me on my blog.I can’t wait to read the posts of you’re cruise!
And for anyone else who wishes to follow Marlene’s exciting adventures, she can be found here-

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder

Imagine being there before the Titanic set sail.
Now imagine being there before she’s even built.

Sam Altair is a physicist living in Belfast, Ireland. He has spent his career researching time travel and now, in early 2006, he’s finally reached the point where he can send objects backwards through time. The only problem is, he doesn’t know where the objects go. They don’t show up in the past, and no one notices any changes to the present. Are they creating alternate time lines?

To collect more data, Sam tries a clandestine experiment in a public park, late at night. But the experiment goes horribly wrong when Casey Wilson, a student at the university, stumbles into his isolation field. Sam tries to rescue her, but instead, he and Casey are transported back to the year 1906. Stuck in the past, cut off from everyone and everything they know, Sam and Casey work together to help each other survive. Then Casey meets Thomas Andrews, the man who will shortly begin to build the most famous ship since Noah’s Ark. Should they warn him, changing the past and creating unknown consequences for the future? Or should they let him die?

The construction of White Star Line’s Olympic-class ships forms the backdrop for a passionate love affair between Tom and Casey, who must overcome the many differences inherent between an Edwardian Irish gentleman, and a member of America’s Generation Y. The fictional love affair grows alongside real lives from history: the Andrews family of Comber, Lord William Pirrie, Bruce Ismay, and the thousands of skilled men who built the remarkable ocean liners of the early twentieth century.

Buy at Amazon or Smashwords

Sci-fi romance with Frankie Robertson

Standard

I met Frankie Robertson at my RWA meetings, and she has been a wealth of knowledge and support. As I step into the world of self-publishing I am constantly grateful for her blog and that she still responds to my desperate freaking out emails! LOL!


As a reader, my first love was science-fiction and fantasy, but then I discovered the romance genre. Now I enjoy blending the two, writing romantic fiction with an otherworldly twist. With a background in property management, occupational therapy, and paranormal investigation, I bring a diverse experience to my stories. In fact, it was my time as an investigator with the Western Society for Paranormal Research that inspired one of the characters in VEILED MIRROR.

I live with my husband in the desert southwest and we have a back yard that’s regularly visited by hawks, bobcats, lizards, and quail, while the coyotes sing to us from beyond the fence.

How old were you when you fell in love with reading? Can you remember what book/ books it was that inspired you?

I was eight. My aunt sent me a copy of Lewis’s THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE for Christmas. (I still have it.) My mother started out reading it with me, but then said, “If you want to find out what happens, you’ll have to finish it yourself.” I did, and a voracious reader was born.

LOL- what a sneaky mom you have. I loved those books too, I read several in the series more then once.

We all have favorite books, ones we nag our friends to read, buy our loved ones as gifts, and the biggy, the books we read over and over again. What books have you read more than twice?

Lewis’s THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER is still one of my favorites. I’ve probably read it, or parts of it, half a dozen times. Having read Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy was a qualifying question for my husband. (He’d read it seven times, so he passed.) In romance, Jo Beverley’s HAZARD is one I’ve read four times. And something about Rachel Lee’s IMMANENT THUNDER really works for me. I’ve read it three times.

What is the geekiest thing about you?

I really love watching HGTV. Since I was a kid, I liked to draw houseplans.


We’re all supposed to be eating healthy, but what naughty treat tempts you the most?

Reeces’ Peanut Butter Cups. I debated the relative merits of the full size vs. miniature size cups with with Ozzy Osbourne’s drummer Randy Castillo over dinner at my brother-in-law’s house. We both agreed, the miniatures are best.

Yum! I think I need some now.

What is the best advice you give, but hardly ever follow yourself?

Be patient. Whether you go the traditional or self-publishing route you need to be patient. I have a mug that says, “Take my advice, I’m not using it.”

I need that mug!

Where is the weirdest place you’ve ever written?

The dentist’s waiting room.

I would be too nervous to write there. Even cleanings make me shaky.

Give us a super secret peek into what you’re working on next?

DANGEROUS TALENTS will be coming out this spring. It’s the first book of the Vinlanders’ Saga. It’s a romantic fantasy set in the alternate dimension of Alfheim.

As a 911 operator, Celia Montrose has been trained to deal with any emergency — except being thrust into another world. No amount of crisis management training could possibly prepare her for meeting the descendants of the lost Vinland colony or coping with their strange world. Only her innate courage gives her the strength to face kidnapping, murder, and betrayal, as well as magic and romance.

Lord Dahleven is trying to avert a war when he rescues a strange and beautiful woman from the drylands. Is she in league with his enemy, or will Celia be the key to saving his people?

I can’t wait for this to come out! As I’ve read your other books I know I’ll enjoy it.

Many thanks to Frankie for stopping by and answering my odd questions. I hope you’ll check out her Blog and visit Website for news of upcoming releases.


Jared Price is a Celestial, one of a race of beings often taken for angels. Exiled on earth, he’s offered a chance to return to the Celestial Realm. All he has to do is protect Cassie Lewis from a demonic assassin. A genuine psychic, Cassie can’t resist Jared’s Celestial aura, but she doesn’t trust him. He’s hiding something behind his strong mental barriers and she’s learned the hard way that what you don’t know can hurt you. But when a demon tries to kill her, Cassie has no one else to turn to. Then the stakes are raised even higher, and Jared must decide if Cassie’s love is worth sacrificing a dream he’s held on to for 150 years.


Beth Hart is alive and well and hunting for her killer. When her brother-in-law Chris and her twin sister Ellie die in suspicious accidents, Beth impulsively switches identities with Ellie to lure the murderer into revealing himself. Beth can’t rest until she finds the killer, and neither can the real Ellie who haunts Beth’s dreams, sometimes providing clues. FBI fraud investigator Jason Blackforth fell hard for Beth at Chris and Ellie’s wedding, but he left her as quickly as he found her—undercover work and relationships don’t mix. Now, grieving and believing Beth is dead, Jason is appalled to find himself fantasizing about the widow of his best friend. He wants to help “Ellie” through this difficult time, but she reminds him so much of Beth. Something just doesn’t add up. Can he discover what secrets the widow is hiding and find the killer before they both end up dead?


Elise Craft is a well-bred Victorian lady who would rather study the flora and fauna of England than play the social games of the ton. Then she makes an exotic, and erotic, discovery on the border between everyday England and Faerie.

You can find Frankie’s books here.

SJ Driscoll- Guest post

Standard

Hello everyone today SJ Driscoll has volunteered to guest post on my blog. I hope you all enjoy her post. You can check out her blog here

Beyond the Page
by SJ Driscoll

What has been most useful for writing in my life? No one thing I ever learned from writing classes, that’s for sure. The most useful things were the four experiences that taught me my limits as a human being.

I found one limit while walking a bright-white hospital corridor at 3:30 a.m., waiting for a family member to die. He survived and is thriving, but that morning I discovered one real limit. There was nothing I could do to help.

I found another limit the night before I moved out of a house I thought I was going to live in for 30 years. The choice seemed to be to get out, go insane or kill myself. It occurred to me that keeping a house wasn’t as important as keeping my life and my ability to function. For me to want a house, there had to be a me to want it.

The other two experiences were training for and then walking the Honolulu Marathon, and sea kayaking.

The value of these experiences is that they’re so far removed from everyday life. Everyday life can be demanding, but not in the way of these experiences. Writing is also removed—way, way removed—from everyday life.

Now I know that writing is something I have control over, unlike my loved one’s cancer. My stories can’t be taken away, like my house was. I walked a marathon and was sad to get to the end, so I can finish a novel—or 26 novels. If I get tired five miles from my destination while paddling my kayak, there’s no cab to take me home, just like there’s no way I’m going to stop writing because of mental, physical or emotional discomfort.

If we stall on a project, maybe the problem has nothing to do with writing. Maybe it would be better to put the writing down for a while and train for a marathon. Think about how it would make you feel to experience something else that’s long-term and extremely challenging, something that’s also radically different from everyday life.

That way, when you go back to writing, it will be just another hurdle that you know you can overleap.

Wise, Witty, and Wacky Wednesday

Standard

Today I have a special treat for you, my new friend and blogging buddy Myndi Shafer is guest posting today to worn us of the dangers of an seemingly innocent frozen treat.

Popsicles. I love ’em. For so many reasons. So sit your butt down while I wax
poetic about the virtues of the rainbow colored family of frozen treats.

#1: They’re dangerous. You don’t think so? Listen to this: They’re cold. So cold,
that if you eat them too quickly, you run the risk of freezing your brain plumb off.
PLUMB OFF, people. I swear I’ve had this nearly happen to me multiple times,
and while in the moment it’s terrifying, after it’s over…whew! What a rush. The
danger factor is definitely a perk, especially for those of us who wish we were into
extreme sports, but aren’t. I never feel quite as dangerous as I do when there’s a
popsicle in my hand.

#2: Adding to the danger factor is this little fact: They melt. You have to eat
them quickly (running the risk of destroying brain matter), and if you don’t, they
melt. All over your hands, your clothes. Leaving you sticky and stained. You
walk a fine line while eating popsicles. Too fast, dead brain. Too slow,
permanently stained garments. Sure, your hands will wash, but facts are facts:
Red Cherry and Blueberry flavored popsicles stain forever. Some people think
that souls are the only thing that are eternal. I say souls, and popsicle stains.

#3: Danger isn’t the only thing that makes popsicles so attractive. They’re sweet,
but not in a heavy, ice-creamy way. Don’t get me wrong. I love ice-cream. I do.
But sometimes you just don’t want a creamy, sugary concoction resting in your
gut. Sometimes you want an artificially flavored, high-fructose corn-syrup
sweetened watery-frozen concoction instead. *raises hand and jumps up and
down a little* I do! I do!

#4: The thing that sets popsicles aside from the standard ice-cream cone is this:
The jokes. The popsicle takes the cake for this fact alone. Because the popsicle is
a giver. It doesn’t simply satisfy our child-like pallets, or our need to live
dangerously. No, the popsicle wants to invest in our minds by asking us
questions. Questions we have to wait to get the answers to until our tasty treat is
gone. Questions that not only make us think, but make us laugh. Oh, dearest
reader. This is the sign of a true friend.
Take a couple of these gems, straight from the sticks that I collected today (there
is a small chance this post was brought on by a four-month old fetus demanding
popsicles, and the sticks might be the evidence) as examples:
Why did the baseball fan give the house a pair of sneakers? Because he wanted to
see a home run. *ba-dum-bum*

What do you call a pony that surfs? A seahorse. *giggle, snort*

What did Mr. and Mrs. Steak name their son? Chuck. *snicker*

And so, my friendlies, let us all revel in the wonder that is the popsicle. I wish
you all happy weekends with dye-stained tongues, non-frozen brains, and new
jokes to share with your friends.

To find out more about Myndi check out her blog Myndi’s Awesome Blog

So what is your favorite popsicle? Mine the lime ones from Trader Joes.