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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A to Z

I wasn't planning on having a theme for the A through Z Challenge, which starts this Sunday.

I was going to wing it and come up with something spur of the moment to write everyday.  But then as I thought more about it... that might turn out to be a little hard.  And it's already a bit daunting to remember that I'm going to blog everyday in April.

So I came up with a plan. It's quite cheesy and dorky, but that fits my personality perfectly!

I sat down with a dictionary, yeah the big, fits in your lap kind. I know many of you probably don't remember paper dictionaries anymore. It's so easy to just type the word you're looking for into Google, and wham-shebam, there's your definition.  But my quest was a bit more daunting. I was looking for words, not just definitions. Since each day on the blog is devoted to a different letter in the alphabet, I thought it would be fun to pick a random word to go with each letter and that is the word that will inspire my blog post that day.  It will at least give me something to write in the title of the post!

And it was so much fun! No really, it was fun to skim through the pages of a letter and plunk my finger down at a random time to choose a word. There are 4 words on my list that I'd never heard before, so score 1 for new vocabulary! 5 of them are really wacky and funky and I already have hilarious posts writing themselves in my head. 10 of them are pretty simple, and that means they will be challenging to write about, but I'm excited about the challenge! I also learned that the letters C, P and S have the most words in the dictionary, who knew!

So starting Sunday, come to my blog everyday to learn a new word, or learn what crazy thing it inspires me to write about!

I thought about posting the list of words here beforehand, but I think it will be more exciting if there's some anticipation.

I will give you a teaser for Sunday though.... April 1st is the letter A, and the word my finger landed on has 12 letters and begins with AN...  Can you guess what it will be?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Growling at the Window

My dog Cleo is amazing.

Besides the fact that she's cute and funny and so much fun to play with, my favorite part about her is that she doesn't bark. I hate barking with a passion. It is one of the most annoying things in the world to have a dog that explodes with rage every time a leaf blows, or a car horn goes off.  So the fact that Cleo is practically mute is magical to me.

No, I'm serious.  In the 9 months she's been alive, I think we've heard her bark a whopping total of 10 times.

The first time she barked was hilarious. She was about 3 months old and let out this whimpery little explosion. (Imagine what it would sound like if a baby goat tried to bark).  She scared herself more than anything with that, looking around the room, and at us.  "What the hell was that?"

Now the main time she barks is when we lock her up in the bathroom when we go to work.  She really hates being left alone.  And while we don't blame her, we keep explaining every morning that if she wants to keep up her addiction to dog food and toys, we have to go to work.  But even that barking is few and far between. Most of the time we just get the pathetic "You're so mean to leave me here when all I want to do is love you" look.

So last night Ryan and I are in bed, light just went out, ready to fall asleep. Cleo is on the floor by the sliding glass door to our balcony. She likes to poke her nose through the curtains and let in the evil light.  I am a vampire and hate light of any kind while I sleep.  She knows this and specifically opens the curtains so the glare from the streetlight slips across my pillow and torments me.  Anyway, I'm not bitter about this or anything.  Well last night, just as we're about to fall asleep, Cleo starts growling, then barks several times! Ryan and I both sat up immediately.  This dog doesn't growl.  She doesn't have an aggressive bone in her body.  When other dogs or cats or scary people are around, she immediately rolls onto her back exposes her soft underbelly and whimpers in fear.

If my submissive dog is growling that means danger is coming. Ninjas are crawling over the roof.  Samurais drawn, ready to reek havoc on our house. Surely that is the only explanation!

Or maybe my dog is just crazy and decided she's angry the door was closed.  Who knows?

Actually I'm pretty sure that if ninjas attacked, Cleo would wait for them to kill us and then jump up begging to be played with now that all the carnage is over.

Oh, and on a side note, I got a full request!  At the same time as my 4th rejection!  Woot Woot!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

3 Rejections and Counting

This is the first time in my life that I've been excited by rejection!

We've all experience it at some point in our lives. (If you haven't, then the rest of us hate you). I have to admit, I've done pretty well on the rejection spectrum so far. Most of the guys I was interested in gave me a try, most of the jobs I wanted worked out eventually. My life is really pretty peachy. Maybe that's why it's a little easier to handle my 3 rejection letters from agents.

There's a little voice in my head that keeps reminding me rejection is bad, but all I can think about is that...

"This means I'm actually taking that step and asking agents to love my book as much as I do!"

It's been a loooooong road getting here. I was in such a whirling tizzy while I wrote the first draft that all I cared about was the story. I did absolutely no research into how one actually gets their manuscript made into a real life, on the shelves, book. So when I thought I was finished, I was ready and raring to start sending that puppy out! Ha Ha, I'm giggling about that now.  I was so dumb. I had no idea how much work goes into revising, editing, beta reading, critiquing, querying, writing a synopsis, doing agent research, etc...

So fast forward a year and half later... now I've done all the legwork and I really think it's ready. That feels amazing! When I sent that first query to the agent of my dreams, who (ahem) still hasn't responded, it felt like I'd been standing on the shore for the last year, dying to get my feet wet and I had finally taken those first steps.

I'm sure the rejection count is actually higher than 3. I've sent about 12 queries so far and a lot of agents won't even respond if they're not interested. But with each one, I had a surge of happiness because it makes me feel like I'm really doing this. I'm trying to be a professional writer.

Ok, so in another two months when that number has doubled or tripled, I might be a little less happy.  But for now I'm just gonna revel in my rejection and keep writing!

By the way, for any writer friends reading this... ever had trouble with emails getting rejected? (Yes I've triple checked spelling) I've had a slew of them recently and I'm wondering what's going on. Is this something the agents do if they're not accepting submissions?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Back to reality

Coming back from a vacation is always a little hard. It's difficult to pry my fingers from the rest and relaxation and jump back into my busy life. But at the same time it's invigorating. So invigorating in fact, that I was up till 2 am last night trying to convince my mind to go to sleep.

Scotland was amazing. I'm not talking about Disney world amazing, I mean soul calming amazing. I keep forgetting how hard it can be to live in Egypt. It's like my brain goes numb after awhile and I forget, or don't notice anymore; all the little things that wear me down day after day. None of it is huge, but little things add up. Don't get me wrong. I love my life and the incredible experiences I'm getting because of living in a foreign country. But there's a growing part of me that wants to whine "this is too much" whenever I come back to Cairo.

Anyway, Scotland, focus... This is what you get with only four hours sleep.

We started our trip in Glasgow, but only stayed there the amount of time it took us to get the rental car and head south. My husband Ryan is a freak for football, and his favorite team is in northern England. So we headed to Carlisle and spent two days there so he could watch a live game. Luckily they managed a win and our trip was off to a great start.

While in the area we went to Hadrien's wall. It was blistering cold that day, but the view of the valley and farms was amazing. We also visited an abbey and tramped around the woods a little bit. It was wonderful to feel my boots sink into mud and smell the clean air. I could literally feel myself unwinding. And I will admit that one of my favorite things was seeing all the baby lambs frolicking in the hills around Hadrien's wall. Ryan and Matt were walking through ruins and talking about the history. I was chasing after lambs with my camera.

And the breakfasts... oh the breakfasts. Have you ever tried a traditional English breakfast? It is simply fabulous. First of all they have beans, which I love! Then there's the bacon, oh the bacon. I almost cried over my first piece that morning in the Cherry Grove B&B. Margaret, I know there's no way you'll ever be able to read this, but you make the most amazing breakfast! We had this just about every morning, with varying degrees of tastiness, but the Brits love their pork and I was happy to oblige them by eating as much as possible. Sorry Wilbur, but Some Pig is very tasty!

Then began the "almost" part of the trip. We almost made it to Lindesfarne in time to see the castle, but it's set on an island and you have to leave by a certain time or the tide comes in and you're stuck. Well we arrived at the site about 25 min before the tide was set to come in, so we raced around the little town, but didn't have time to make it to the castle. After that we went to Roslyn Chapel (remember the DaVinci code). It didn't look anything like the movie, but it was a neat little place with a great historical explanation.

The next two days were spent in Edinburgh, where we walked until I thought my legs were going to fall off. We saw Edinburgh Castle, walked the royal mile, ate in a little pub, bought shortbread and gifts and once again almost make it to Holyrood Palace. It closed about 30 minutes before we got there.

After Edinburgh we had long days in the car. The first day we stopped at Stirling castle on the way into the highlands. It was beautiful and the countryside was lovely, but personally I preferred Edinburgh castle. Stirling would be a great place to bring kids though, they had tons of interactive activities you could do. This was also the point where I learned that I can zoom on the camera on my iPhone! How did I not learn this before now?!

The rest of the day we spent driving through beautiful mountains and rugged terrain on our way to Inverness. Now the reason I wanted to go to this particular city is really stupid. Maybe if you're a Diana Gabaldon fan you might understand. This city is the initial setting for my all time favorite book, Outlander. I've always had a picture in my head of what it would be like, but that picture was completely wrong. Inverness is a lovely city, but much larger than I pictured.  And sadly there were no stones to sweep me back to the days of the clans.

That night we completed our sweep of the north in Loch Ness. And yes, I did see Nessie, she waved at me from the lake I  promise! If you squint you can just see her in the photo.  :)

The next day was my favorite of the entire trip. We drove west into more mountains and went to the Isle of Skye and then south to Glenfinnan. Personally I think this area of Scotland was the most beautiful of all the parts we saw. There were lakes and mountains everywhere, and even though the sky was overcast most of the time, it was breathtakingly beautiful. I think I started to annoy the boys with "can we pull over so I can take a picture?"

The trip ended back in Glasgow where we started, though we didn't really spend any time there. Instead we decided we hadn't seen quite enough historical spots (ahem) so we went back east a ways to some abbeys. My favorite was Melrose Abbey, where Robert the Bruce's heart is buried.

Scotland was beautiful, soothing, and a lot of fun. It's been one of the places to visit on my list since I was a little girl. It feels really "right" to have traveled there and seen so much of the country. I would definitely go back. In fact, I would live there if they'd let me. Maybe J.K. Rowling needs someone to do her laundry or something?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Leaving on a jet plane

I'm sitting in the airport in Cairo at 7 am waitin for my flight to board.

This morning we leave sand and sun for Scottish highlands. We're flying to Glasgow and I am so excited it's a little ridiculous. We've spent too much time in the middle east this year, traveling to Istanbul, upper Egypt and Jordan. Those trips were all amazing, but it starts to wear you down after awhile, the lack of greenery.

So I'm very excited and cant wait to eat a traditional English fry up breakfast, drink amazing tea, see men in kilts and walk through mountains and lakes. I'm already sighing in appreciation.

On a writerly note, I got my first rejection letter today! That exclamation note was purposeful. I'm actually really excited about it because it makes me feel like I've finally moved into the realm of being a real writer.

This excitement will probably not last very long as more rejections mount on my head, but for now I'm content.

Gotta get on that plane! To all my traveling Cairo friends, safe travels!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I support Kony 2012

Have you heard of Joseph Kony?

I hadn't either, and that's the whole point of this movement and my blog today.  Joseph Kony is a military leader in central Africa who abducts children from their homes and forces them to become child soldiers.  Over 30,000 children to date. Then as soldiers they are forced to kill, mutilate and destroy the lives of others. And that's if you're a boy. If you're a girl you can add sexual slavery, rape and prostitution to the list.

It is absolutely horrifying and despicable.

But that's not why I'm writing about it on my blog today. The reason I'm choosing to spread the word is because of the video I watched.  It's called Kony 2012 and I've linked it below.

It's 27 minutes long, but I don't regret a single second I spent watching it. And the reason it stuck with me so profoundly was not because of the tragedy. That we see everyday, it's one of the main reasons I don't like to watch the news. But this video wasn't about "let's feel sorry for the kids who are being mistreated" it was about...

 Let's do something about this.

And that is powerful. It's not often that I'm presented with a problem and a way I can help make it better all in the same breath.

The biggest way you can help stop Joseph Kony's reign of terror is by making him famous. Spread the word on your blog, facebook, twitter and whatever other way you can think of so that people around the world will know who he is and the atrocities he commits daily. If we keep his name on our lips then the leaders of the world won't be able to forget what he's doing and withdraw their support to find and stop him.

I think this is really important, and if you agree, please watch the video and show your support!

To learn more visit Invisible Children.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Chips are like stretching

I know, I know, you're all thinking what's gotten into that girl! This is the 3rd blog post this week!

And my explanation will be long and convoluted, so bear with me... For all you FRIEND'S gurus (and aren't we all?) Remember the episode where Monica is making Joey an entire turkey for Thanksgiving and he comes in eating chips? She freaks out on him for ruining his appetite and he explains to her that he has to warm his stomach up, "chips are like streching".

Well that's what's going on with my blog right now. I'm stretching my writing muscle to prepare for next month and the Blogging from A-Z challenge. See that pretty poster to the right, click there to learn more. I initially got roped into this by my writer friends, but now I'm actually getting really excited about it. The basic premise is that for everyday in the month of April (except Sundays) I will blog to a letter of the alphabet. So the first blog will have to do with A, so on and so forth. Some people are coming up with giant scheming plans for themes and continuing stories etc. I think I'm just gonna wing it. You're very surprised, I know.

I'm getting excited about it because it will be a challenge (hence the title) and will force me to write everyday, which can be very hard sometimes. So I'm trying to gradually increase the frequency of my posts this month, in preparation. I'd hate to pull my writer muscle a week into the challenge and have to pull out!  ;)

The funny thing about the whole thing is that I don't blog like a lot of other writers do. In fact my kiwi friend, Jade, who is an amazing writer and has all sorts of awards and contests for me to follow on her blog, and the only response she gets from me on those is another questioning email whining "what am I supposed to do with this again?" And I'm not a tech novice (Don't tell anyone but technology is actually in my job title).  So what's the deal? Well I guess it's just that I blog for me and the people who are important to me. I blog because I'm a bazillion miles away from all those very important people and I suck at calling. This is a way for me to let them see what's going on in my life.

I'm not really into making my blog all about my writing, I'd prefer it be about my life. And my writing has become a big part of my life, but there are other things that are just as important.  Like Ryan and Cleo and travel, and talking about my stupid thoughts.

I apologize in advance for the slew of blog posts you will see over the next two months. Feel free to ignore, delete or even curse at my persistence. You won't hurt my feelings (as long as you don't tell me about it).  :)

Much love and happy blogging!

No really, it's fun you should try it!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lent sucks

I'm not a religious person. I am spiritual though, and full of intrigue about God and the purpose of life.

Why the hell am I following the tradition of Lent right now? (Ha Ha, I used Hell and Lent in the same sentence, do I get bonus points for that?)

 Oh yeah, that's right, because of Tessa.

Do you know Tessa yet? You should, she's a very cool person, don't let the ugly sunglasses fool you! Anyway, Tessa is a religious person, and decided that she was going to follow the tradition of Lent this year and give up reading. Are you aghast, you should be, I almost fell out of my seat when she said it. How can you give up reading? You might as well give up breathing and blinking and sleeping. I can't even imagine how hard that would be. But as Tessa explained to me, that's kinda the whole point. If you pick something that's easy to give up then there's no struggle, no sacrifice.

Well throughout many discussion about why people give things up, and how and where the idea came from, Ryan and I decided to join in. I'm not doing it for exactly the same reasons as Tessa, but I still think sacrifice is good to endure every once in awhile. Especially in this cushy world we live in nowadays. Ryan decided to give up soda (if you know my husband even a little you can close your mouth, you don't want to swallow a bug) Bill also decided to give up soda... well actually we didn't really give him a choice. If the rest of us were going to be sacrificing, then Bill needed to also, and soda is by far his biggest vice.

Don't worry he's almost over the shakes, though every once and awhile I walk into his office and he's caressing a coke can.

Strangely enough I didn't get to pick what I would give up either. The others picked for me, and then changed their choice a couple of times. They couldn't decide what would hurt me more. It went from candy, to desserts, to the current choice: Video Games

Let me lay it out for you. I'm not a crazy gamer. I don't wear a headset and live in World of Warcraft (Though I have played it thanks to Dr. Sieger!) But I do like games.  The Sims, Civ, and most recently on my iphone, the complete addiction called Triple Town. If you've never heard of Triple Town, look away immediately. Focus on something else, and whatever you do, don't look it up on the app store. I warned you!

So no games for me for 40 days. You have no idea how many times a day I pick up my iPhone and scroll through the apps with longing. But on the plus side, I've been reading a lot more. And I've started writing the sequel to AMPED, it's going to be called APEX, and I'm very excited about that.

 I think Lent will be good for me, as long as the soda withdrawal zombies don't kill me first.

Anyone else giving up something for Lent?