Pink

I’m not talking about the singer–though I love her stuff–I mean the color. Pink. All over my head.Cotton Candy

This year I’ve taken to coloring my hair. For my anniversary, in February, I went blonde. It was a difficult change. I had to muster all of my courage. Then it was very difficult to get use to. I’ve been a brunette of one shade or another for all of my life. When I looked in the mirror, it wasn’t me. As the months passed I came to enjoy the blonde. The reason why they have more fun is because they get tons of positive attention. I had more come hither smiles from men in the five months I was blonde than I ever did as a brunette.

After I found the courage to go blonde, Hubby mentioned how he would be interested to see what I would look like as a redhead. To be honest, I was a little curious too. I picked up the stuff and did my hair for father’s day. I chose the wrong dye. The directions said rinse until the water runs clear. I kept rinsing and it kept coming out. Then, instead of the deep raspberry my hair should have been it was pink cotton candy with streaks of the old blonde with brunette roots. Ack!

Upside? Hubby thinks it’s cute and doesn’t want me to change it. Unfortunately, that is also the downside. I’ve got cotton candy on my head for Pete’s sake. When he actually caught me pouting (I haven’t pouted since I was ten) he said for me to do whatever I had to so I could be happy.

At least I work from home; otherwise I would have to call in sick until this is resolved. The day job would have an absolute bird.

The problem now? I have to go out in public to get the stuff to fix it. Do I wear the insanity proudly or do I put it in a bun and wear a ball cap?

Reading during a storm

My most favorite reading place as a child was under the dining room table.  My parents bought a ninety-year-old house when I was eight, just after my father left the military.  It was the fixer-upper of which they had always dreamed.  One thing about living on the southeastern coast of the US, the summers are hot and humid.  In a ninety-year-old fixer-upper there is no central air.  Window units in those days were large and expensive.  We couldn’t afford to put them in every room in the house.  We had one for the downstairs that cooled the living and dining rooms and two upstairs for my parents’ bedroom and my father’s computer room.

My brother and I slept in the living and dining rooms for the summers.  My brother got the room with the television.  I got the one directly under the air conditioner.  As an asthmatic, I loved the chilled air, and the noise drowned out the television so I could read.

When hurricane season hit I still slept and read under the dining room table.  I have fond memories of reading a fantasy adventure story with rain lashing against the taped windows, the storm providing excellent sound effects for my imagination.

To this day, I look forward to snuggling up with a book during a storm.  These days I’m just as likely to be writing as I am reading, and I’m content to work at the table rather than under it.

We are likely to lose power in the next day or so.  The talking weather-heads say that the power outages could last for days.  If that’s the case, I expect to make substantial progress on the sequel to Creatures of the Moon, though my children and husband may go through gadget withdrawal.

May all of you weather the storms in your lives, be they actual or metaphorical, and come out the other side whole.

Dealing with Criticism

Since I was young, I have learned to accept criticism.  Constructive criticism, as a prominent figure in my childhood used to call it.  Given my youth, and who the criticism came from, I took these as instructions on how to do better.  I lived and died by those criticisms.  I longed for the day when this person would simply say, great job and that would be it.

As I grew up, I learned that the awesome thing about criticism is I can take it or leave it.   When I began to write paranormal romance, this person had concerns because it wasn’t what he thought of as a prominent genre. Because I chose to ignore that opinion, I have published one novel and have my second on the way.

I also learned that it’s all right for someone to disagree with you.  I like paranormal romance.  It’s all right if others in my life don’t.  I write, and will continue to write the novels that speak to me; to tell the stories that I enjoy hearing.

Which leads me to the last thing I’ve learned, you can’t please everyone.  This is something echoed often these days in politics.  Someone running for office should be clear about where they stand and not change it depending on who they are talking to.  A novelist can’t write something that appeals to everyone.  It’s impossible.  Even breakout books like “50 Shades of Grey” may not appeal to someone who reads only horror novels or sweet religious mysteries.

I have grown to find criticism valuable.  I will continue to ask the person from my youth his opinion.  I also have several other people whose opinions I value.  They don’t have to agree with me.  Even the harshest criticisms may hold something I can learn from.

The trick to dealing with criticisms is to remember:

  1. It’s not personal – For all that we as writers pour our soul into our books, criticisms of the books are not directed at us.
  2. Criticisms, critiques and reviews are opinions – Just because someone believes something is the best (or worst) thing on earth doesn’t make it so.
  3. You can leave the opinions you don’t agree with – Unless you want to make a suggested change, it’s not necessary. (unless the change is from your editor, then that’s another ball of wax entirely)
  4. It’s okay that people won’t like it – I don’t like honey-boo-boo, but that girl and her family are making money hand over fist.  (good for them)
  5. You can’t please everyone – this kind of goes with #4.  The point I want to make here is, the only one you should be worried about pleasing is yourself.

Life is made up of small adventures.

Take Sunday for example.  We woke to our dogs making a terrible fuss.   Our home is on one corner of our land, then there’s our driveway, and then there is a field that is adjacent to the road.  To walk the perimeter of the field is a quarter mile. The dogs were fussing at a truck parked on the road in front of our field.

It happens often enough that we didn’t think anything of it until the driver gets out and is pacing beside his vehicle.  So, my husband and I drive down to see if he needs any help.  As it turns out, the fellow was trying to call his hunting dogs back to him.  He had been hunting coyotes and he couldn’t get his dogs to return.

Please understand that where we live coyote hunting is necessary, because the population can get out of control and endanger humans and their pets and farm animals.  We wished him well, but asked him to refrain from hunting on our land.  (We’ve had more than one stray bullet embed itself in our wall.  Just a side effect of living where we do.)

Not that we didn’t trust the guy, but as I’ve said we’ve had issues before, so my husband and I pull on our blaze orange and set about working in the field.  We’ve been trying to create a hedgerow along the road to discourage four wheeling.

To that end, we relocate bushes that grow wild in the field to the row.  One of the more prevalent bushes has large thorns, but beautiful smelling flowers in the spring.  I have no idea of the name.

We move three.  He has a shovel and I’m using a hammer-like tool to break away any rocks.  My husband is doing most of the heavy lifting.  While I’m standing beside him I can’t help but look around.  I’m waiting for a coyote to bolt out of the woods toward us.  I’m on edge.

When I glance back at my husband, who is now setting the bush in place I see what appear to be flies all around him. (This can happen if you are working too close to road kill.  We know from experience)

“You are getting swarmed by flies,” I say.

He says, “That’s weird.”

I scan the tree line again.

Then he says, “Ow.”

My gaze darts back to him and I see the insects for what they really are, “Oh my God, they’re bees!”

Even as I shout he is already running, a cloud of angry yellow jackets swarming behind him.  Then they turn on me.

I hear my husband yelling for me to run and I do.  In my panicked mind, I didn’t want the bees that are chasing me to find him.  So I angle away.  Running for all I’m worth.  I hear him yelp again and I turn to see the cloud is gone, but his cream colored sweatshirt is dotted with black.

“I can’t get them off,” he shouts.

Without thinking, I run toward him.  He’s still swatting at his clothes.  I approach at a run, flailing at him with the only thing I had on hand…the bushes.  Steps away from him my boots catch on something.  I slide into the brush at his feet.  Rising to my knees, I swat at him over and over.  Knocking winged assailants to the ground with every blow.

Finally, the danger ebbs and we are left gasping for air.  My husband smiles at my choice of weapon.  “Pricker bushes.  I’m being stung by yellow jackets and you beat me with pricker bushes.”

I look at what are now merely thorny twigs in my hand and realize my other hand is empty.  “Good thing I dropped the hammer.”

The Haunting Allure of Shoes

I’ve never been a “girly” girl.  I rarely wear skirts or dresses.  I’ve worked on cars, butchered meat, snaked our drain from the clean-out, and cleaned up all variety of…well, let’s just leave it as I’m a mother of two and I own two dogs.

My day job allows me to work from home, and frankly, the ability to work sans makeup is a major perk.

Shoes from Zappos. Very close to the ones I fell in love with at the store.

This past weekend I took my kids school shopping and we ended up spending an inordinate amount of time in the shoe store.  My daughter apparently received the “girly” inclinations I lack.  After she tried on a few pairs of shoes, something strange happened.   I began to ooh and aah.

We aren’t talking the shoes from the discount warehouse store.  These were slick leather and soft suede.  Rich colors and enchanting smells.  What’s more, I looked great in them.  They spiced up the jeans I wore and made my rear look amazing.

I wasn’t expecting this reaction.  This week our budget is slated for back to school.  So, unfortunately, we only purchased the school shoes we needed.

However, the shoes are still calling to me.  The tan strappy pumps.  The blue suede wedges.  These really neat slipper-like house shoes that had a sole so I could wear them when I walk to get the mail.  They are whispering over the miles, “Come and get us.  You know you want us.”  I think I’ll have to return next month to get a pair of them.  Okay, maybe two.

My husband loves it.  He pretends to be impatient, but I think he enjoys watching me struggle with the unexpected excitement.

I don’t know where this came from.  Or why is it that, out of nowhere, the bling that never interested me before is suddenly calling to me?  Last month I began painting my nails pretty metallic shades.  They are currently an awesome frosted green.  This month it’s shoes.  If I start wearing dresses or putting bows in my hair, I think I’ll have to see a doctor.

Have you ever developed a passion for something unexpected?