Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Memoirs, Light the Corners of My Mind

A couple of weeks ago, surfing around on Amazon, I came across  Will Love for Crumbs, by Jonna Ivin. It had an intriguing blurb, so I downloaded it. It languished on my Kindle behind a few other things on my TBR pile.  I started it yesterday, and finished it this morning...all I can say is "Wow". 

You know how sometimes you go to a movie, or finish a book, and you can't watch TV or even listen to the radio for a while, because whatever you just experienced is banging around in your head so loudly that you can't hear anything else?  That's what this book is like.  Here's the blurb:

"Raised by an alcoholic mother and without a father, Jonna learned at a young age to put her needs on the back-burner. After her mother dies of cancer, she goes on a spiritual journey looking for enlightenment and a purpose for her life. Eventually, she ends up as a volunteer in the relief effort following Hurricane Ike. There she meets a man that will forever change her life.

 In the swamps of Louisiana and the hills of Arkansas, Jonna follows her heart to build a life with an American hero - a 20 year veteran of the Army Special Forces. Only after uprooting her whole life, leaving everything and everyone she knows behind, do the pieces of this fairytale start to unravel. Realizing the man of her dreams is actually the stuff of nightmares; Jonna must once again go within and discover why she is a woman willing to love for crumbs."

It's always amazing to me that smart, seemingly self-aware women get into situations that baffle them...us.  I have a great life, but it's not perfect (shocking, I know!).  And without dragging any skeletons out of the closet for public viewing, I can say that there were some observations that Ms. Ivins made in this book that really resonated with me. 

Another memoir I love is Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott. I read it while I was trying to survive my first year of motherhood (the kid is 19 now, and I'm still not sure I've survived, but I still  contribute to his therapy fund on a regular basis). 

I think that people who can share the moments in their lives that shape them, and do it with humor, are people I want to be around...in real life, and in print. 

That's all! 

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Friday the 13th *SQUEE* for me!

I'm going to toot my own horn here, my friends.  I actually do, occassionally, actually write.  My crit partners, Mary and Dawn, encouraged me to start entering contests.  Which was kind of dumb of them, because that meant that I would be bugging them for more critiquing than usual.  So I have been whipping into shape the first couple of chapters of The Novel That Won't Get Itself Finished by Itself, aka Safe Harbor (which is not a great name, mostly because there are like 50 other romances with the same name out there).  
I entered the NEORWA Cleveland Rocks contest, and guess what?!  I'm a finalist in the Contemporary Series category.  How fun is that? 
I won't know if I'm the Supreme Writer of the Universe for a while, but really...it's an honor just to be nominated. Hey, I'm motivated to finish the next chapter now (really...all future editors and agents who might be reading this...I'm WAY farther along than chapter 3.  Like, I've almost got 4 done...really). 

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Right Words for Mama Drama

So. In my other life, I have a kid who is a a girl scout.  I sent someone an email last weekend, asking if maybe we could use a phone tree for communication because I missed an email about a cancelled meeting.

 I wrote,
"Maybe next time we have to cancel a meeting, we could use a phone tree, because I don't check my emails on the weekend."

I got six paragraphs back about how she (the person on the other end of the email, henceforth known as That Person) didn't have time for petty issues like this, and her brother-in-law is sick, and, as a business woman, I should know how important it is to check my emails.

So I wrote back, "It was just a suggestion, I wasn't trying to bust your chops".  And I got back three pages about how if I wanted to be in charge, I shouldn't have quit being the leader , and I have been critical since That Person started being the leader, and she's not going to be the leader next year because she's had enough of people like me who think they could do it better, and....

At which point I should have stopped responding, because I tried to defend my position, and it got even deeper: Apparently,  I made a mistake and I was trying to push the blame onto That Person, and was unwilling to admit that I should have been checking my email, and I am trying to drive a wedge between That Person and the other leader of this group...and we could both take a lesson from this exchange, specifically that I should be nicer and check my email more and not blame other people for my mistakes (no mention of what her lesson might have been).

Finally, I said, "I'm sorry for any miscommunication on my part."

And That Person said, "I accept your apology."

At which I wanted to say, "OH HELL NO YOU DON'T, NOT UNTIL I GET AN APOLOGY BACK!"  But I put on my big girl pants and I didn't respond.  Maybe I forwarded the exchange to a few people, to drum up support, but whatever.  

THEN, on Friday afternoon, I got ANOTHER email from That Person, apologizing for snapping at me--but if I wouldn't try to blame other people for my mistakes, and if I hadn't sent her so many derogatory emails in the past, (huh?  I can't seem to find the emails. I remember a difference of opinion about a cookie sale, but I don't remember it being derogatory. Or even heated), blah, blah blahblahblah, none of this would have happened.

And okay, I recognize that That Person is a little nuts.  Maybe a lot nuts. 

But I also recognize how incredibly difficult it can be to communicate with the typed word.  I was perhaps a little terse in my first email, but I didn't want to get into a whole thing about why I didn't check my email.  I just didn't.  It was Sunday, I was working in the yard. No biggie.  And then when I made the "didn't want to bust your chops" comment, maybe that came across as sarcastic?  I don't know.  I was trying to respond to That Person's message, not feelings behind it. 

I'm a writer...or at least, I'm trying to be.  Maybe I need to get better and using SHOUTY CAPITALS and Smiley Face Emoticons. 

Anybody else have any good stories about how not to go postal on someone when you are trying to get a point across? 

And for the record, Boy Scout dads are WAY easier to communicate with.  Their response would have been, "Yeah, that's a good idea, you organize it", or "Screw you.  Check your email."