Friday Five

It's that time of the week again in which I regale you with five great things that happened (or will be happening by week's end).

We have book club this weekend. I absolutely ADORE the ladies in my book club. This month's pick: The Idiot Girl's Action-Adventure Club by Laurie Notaro. It's tickled my funny bone a few times and that's all I'm going to say about that for now.

I'm having dinner with J.P. tonight. (And I think I get new pictures of Alli and Red.)

I am loving So You Think You Can Dance so far. I haven't seen the person that I think will win yet, but I have seen some GREAT dancers. (Terri, are you watching it this year?)

It has been pretty calm at work this week. AND the new Master's level clinician started. AND when she gets trained to do her real job, she will be able to help me in my job. FUN!!! I know the offenders will be happy...they will finally have groups.

Regarding Whispers, I read most of the printed pages. I stopped for a legitimate reason. I promise. Now it is time for a break. I will be beta reading a friend's book this ucpoming week...and then I will back to Whispers. We'll see if I can make the next draft sing.

OH! I can't believe I almost forgot this is a BONUS...I am an admitted San Antonio Spurs fan. When the Oklahoma Thunder plays the Spurs, I cheer for the Spurs. (Hey, I'm a Texan) If the Spurs aren't around, I have no problem given the Thunder mad props. They are a great team after all. Well, I will give the Thunder mad props now...despite the fact that they beat the Spurs (3-2), and grabbed the NBA West Conference. Congratulations OKC Thunder.

Hugs and Encouragement AND DFTBA!

Art and Fear: I Ain't Scared (Okay, Maybe I Am. So?)

What separates artist from ex-artists is that those who challenge their fears, continue; those who don’t, quit . . . More often than not, fears arise in those entirely appropriate moments when vision races ahead of execution. 
--Art and Fear, pg 14.*

As a psychologist, I talk to clients a lot about fear. Fear of change. Fear of staying the same. Fear of abandonment. Fear of relationships. Fear, fear, fear . . . In short, fear is a hot topic.

There are a few things to keep in mind about fear. First, fear is an important emotion. It kept our ancestors alive when they lived amongst hungry, carnivorous creatures with large teeth. It keeps us alive in current day as we live amongst alligators trapped in toilets, snakes found in closets, and people toting concealed guns. How does fear do it? Simple. First, it narrows our focus, so we can determine the appropriate response--fight like hell or run like hell--with minimal distractions. Second it doesn’t wait around for reason and logic to show up to the party. You perceive a threat, you respond. It all sounds great when you’re facing a life threatening situation. But most of us move smoothly from one day to the next without a life-threatening fear presenting itself. Yet, fear is ever present. The kind of fears that tunnel-vision will prevent you from seeing a myriad of options and possibilities. The kind of fears that logic and reasoning are powerful weapons . . . and I would dare say, poison to said fears.

So, this takes me back to the quote above. As a writer, I must recognize that fear is part of the human experience. It is part of the creative journey. I may not know how to get the image in my head on the page. Just like my ancestors didn’t always know how to get an animal onto the dinner . . . uh . . . stone. But here’s the thing . . . I’m not a cavewoman. I’m not wrestling a predator. I’m wrestling my mind, my perceptions. I have to take hold of the fear. I have to see the options and possibilities, and I have to use reason and logic.

Because in the end it comes down to this: Fight or Flight?

Which do you choose?

*Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking. Bayles, D. & Orland, T. (2001).


Friday Five

It's been a while sense I shared some of the awesomeness I experience during the week. I have many a great thing happening in my life. I promise it has not all been writerly-angst. Honest. So without further ado...

Just in case you missed it, my dear friend Terri-Lynne DeFino had her second book, A Time Never Lived, hit the Amazon and Barnes and Noble shelves on May 26, 2012. Although I read the story in its infancy...or rather...adolescence (Terri is an amazing self-editor) I am not being biased when I say the story is just as amazing as Finder. There's dragons. There's love. There's betrayal. There's action. There's mystery. And lots of love. No, it's not a "kissing book," but it does have some kissing.) So clicky here and purchase it.

I only worked four days this week. (Now, it was a CRAZY that made me wish I was a drinker. But alas I am not.)

We had bad weather this week and my city did not suffer any damage. This means Sophie (my new Camry) remains hail-damage free. Whooohooo!

I purchased a new pair of jeans in a smaller size.

I made some progress on Whispers. Fourty pages of progress to be exact. The story needs a lot of work, but if I can stay the course, I can get it done.

Hugs and Encouragement! (And DFTBA)


A&F: Ordinary People

As I said on Monday, I’m coming back. I think I said that about a month ago…but I mean it this time. And for the next few Wednesdays I’m going to drag you guide you through my thoughts as I read Art and Fear: Observing the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland. (The book was sent to me by one of my writing cheerleaders: tracyworld.) I hope some of my thoughts affirm your own…or give you something to ponder…or provide proof that you are in fact the only sane person on the planet.

Before I torture you share with you, I need get you caught up. I’ll be quick…promise. Don’t give me that look. Okay . . . I wrote a book. I showed my friends. They loved it. I liked it. I wrote two more. My friends loved them. I liked them. I trunked them. I wrote another story. I loved it. My friends loved it. I sent it out. Agents liked it. Some liked it a lot. YAY! No one wanted to use it in a birdcage. But no one loved it. And no one gave me helpful feedback. By helpful I mean: “You split infinitives like it’s your job. Unfortunately, that is a job no one should have,” or “Molasses in January drips faster than the pace in your story.” For a self-confessed “fixer,” “perfectionist,” “problem-solver” . . . I was at a loss. I needed to know what was wrong. I didn’t want to make the same mistake(s). Worse yet, what if my story ideas were pointless? What if . . . blah, blah, blah, etc. etc, etc. Here’s the thing, I KNEW my thinking was illogical and pointless and fear based. I KNEW fear and self-doubt was backing me into a corner. (And no one puts Baby in a corner. (Best movie line evah!)) Yet, I felt powerless . . . lost.

And then I got tired of being afraid.

I confessed to my friends . . . the full truth. Not the vague, whiney crud I had told a couple of people. In order to put the bullies in their place, I had to come clean. I had to show'em who's boss. I’m not one to let fear get the best of me. (I work in a male prison for crying out loud.) My cheerleaders hooted and hollered and kicked. The bullies started backing up. But they’re still eyeballing me. No worries. I’m watching them, watching me. I’m shadow boxing . . . getting ready. (Can anyone else hear the music from Rocky?)  

So, I’ll get to it: Art is made by ordinary people. Creatures having only virtues can hardly be imagined making art. It’s difficult to imagine the Virgin Mary painting landscapes. Or Batman throwing pots. The flawless creature wouldn’t need to make art.—Art and Fear, pg 4.

Now, on an intellectual level, I know this. I mean, I am not one to get tongue-tied around celebrities (big or small). I know we all pull on our pants one leg at a time. (Unless you’re being a showoff and hop in to them.) Nonetheless, it is--at times--hard to keep emotions from overshadowing intellect when I read a GREAT book. In those moments, my thoughts are something like: “God, (insert author) is a demigod of words,” “(Insert author) is freaking amazing.” So it’s good to be reminded that no super powers are needed to pen a great story. (Nor do I need to sacrifice a chicken.)

Being me, ordinary-ole-me, is good enough. (Ha! Take that, Self-doubt!)        

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I know, I know. Long time no hear from. has been busy. My writing has been a bit...well...nonexistent. I've been going through an existential crisis in the writing area. No worries. I have slowly started digging myself out...very Shawshank-Redemption-style. Okay, maybe that is a tad dramatic. The reality is, I've had a few friends give my existential crisis a stern talking to. Anyhooo....My plan is to be around more. I will aim for Wednesdays and my Friday Fives.

But enough of that. I really wanted to say that I am alive and well. AND...AND. I FINALLY met Terri-Lynne DeFino. She exists. In typical Tracy-style I went on a trip, but my fancy camera remained at home. I know, I know. but many others saw her. Where? In Kansas City, MO at ConQuest. I'm happy to say that she is just as wonderful in person as she is on line. And I got a copy of her new book. Heheeheheheehe! Oh Happy Days! AND...AND...I met Frankie, the inspiration for Ethen Finder.

Yes, I bought books. I know, I know. But come on! It's a BOOK CONVENTION.

Now that I am home, I plan to strap myself to a bike or eliptical machine in the workout room until I work off at least half of the calories I consumed in the Panera cookies I ate over four days.

So tell me, what did I miss over the past week in your life? Are you having (Did you have) a good Memorial Day?

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Back To Share Some Love

This is such a GREAT commercial. You may have seen it's gone viral on the web. For all my friends, who are moms...I've told you this I don't know how many times, and I'll say it again. You have the hardest job. You Rock. It seems P&G agrees. (Make sure you have Kleenex handy before you watch video.)

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Question: Is It Me Or . . .

Have politicians in the USA completely LOST their freaking minds? *shakes head* I really try to stay away from political talk on my blog because it can be so . . . dividing, and at least half of my flist is NOT in the US. But I'm . . . I'm . . . just sick of all of it. I will admit that I am not as involved in this election season as I have been in the past.Part of me is ashamed of that truth. Part of me is not. The moments when my shame wins out, I turn on the news and I am quickly reminded why I'm not listening. I'm sick of all the 5-year-old behavior. I mean...COME ON! Why are congressmen sitting in a meeting and deciding female healthcare issues without female representation at the meeting? When did someone drop me in the 1800's? I mean, really? REALLY? And in an election year? SHAME. ON. YOU! *shakes head* That's like a bunch of women sitting around and discussing the pros and cons of Viagra...or male masturbation. Oh, wait! Congress women are attempting to highlight the stupidity of many of the laws that have passed in state after state that shame and violate women. (Click the link to see the latest response on YahooNews)

What is Congress thinking?

But before someone attempts to answer that question, answer this question, a question that in my opinion is WAY MORE IMPORTANT. Ready? Okay. WHY IN THE HELL IS FEMALE (OR MALE) REPRODUCTION THE MAJOR ISSUE? Don't get me wrong, as a female--a female living in a state that...*shakes head* passed a bill to force women to have a vaginal ultrasound prior to an abortion...a state that passed a bill allowing doctors to withold information regarding a fetus' developement, if the doctor believes telling the mother would lead the mother considering an abortion--as such a female, I am pleased that people get outraged about the continued condescending tone women receive about their bodies. This fact reminds me that I do live in 2012, despite what I see on the news.

All that being said...I don't think it should be the priority at the moment. Unemployment is still...disheartening. Millions of people are underemployed. Businesses are struggling and many are closing. Gas prices are the minute. Healthcare is still...let's be honest, crap. Food prices are increasing. Men and women (mothers and fathers) continue to fight and die in war. The world economy is precarious. Oh, I could go on FOREVER. But I won't. I just can't. I just....I just don't get it. No, that's a lie. I get it. All of this name calling, mud slinging, and pissing in the wind, keeps Americans frustrated and distracted. It fuels fear. It causes strife and division. As a result, voters don't pay attention to what our so called "representatives" in Washington are doing. I mean, who can stomach playground behavior 24/7? I can't. So...we unplug. So...I unplug. Then politicians get to ignore the real issues.

I'm on to you, Congress. I see what you're doing...what you've been doing. I'm all for discussing my uterus and my right to make decisions about what happens in it, when YOU start talking about how YOU'RE going to face and fix the issues that impact ALL AMERICANS: the money in my pocket, the food on my table, the gas in my car....Until then,Congress, stay out of my bedroom and my doctor's office!

So is anyone else in the USA fed up with all of this?


Question: I wish . . .

I love it when published authors share their Road-to-Publication story. Most mention the thing(s) they wish they would have known: "First drafts are not publication ready," "The number of drafts you think you will need to get a story into shape...double, triple it," "Writing is hard," "Revisions can be fun," "Seeing your book in bookstore or library is more surreal than you can imagine." I know I have experienced a few things (i.e., First drafts seem to not be as fun to write once you know what you're supposed to be doing.) that have surprised me on my journey in the writing world.

Dear Flist, I want to know:
What do you wish you would have known before you ventured onto the writing path?
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Friday Five

Okay, so . . . I didn't exactly come back full force this week. This training thing has really thrown off my schedule and creative juices. BUT...topping my Friday Five list is this very simple AND wonderful fact...

TODAY is the LAST day of training. Yippee! Whooohooo! YAYAYAY! I have learned that: 1) All offenders are trying to get me fired, 2) Any compliment from an offender is likely the start of the process to get me fired, 3) I have the authority of the State of Oklahoma behind me each day I walk through the prison, 3) My instructor tells "True stories" all. the. time. Seriously, before every story, he says, "True story..., 4) Hang Man is still great fun after middle school, 5) Eating a Subway sandwhich outside on a sunny, 70 degree, February day is ...well...unadulterated bliss, 5) The details that go into building, maintaining, and staffing a prison are inifiinte. (One of the activities required us to design and staff a prison), 6) I had a great group of people to work with this week, 7) I really like my job, 8) Driving 20 miles into the city and twenty miles to my job, are NOT equal. Oh, on the contrary. Driving to OKC takes 50 minutes, driving to the middle of no where Oklahoma, even with a few tractors on the road, takes 35 minutes, 8) I can't wait to get back and see all those wacky offenders who are trying to get me fired.

I already got my opening day movie ticket for Hunger Games. Ten of us are going. Bring on March 23, 2012!

I'm attending a bridal shower on Saturday.

I've lost five pounds. (This is one of those things that I hope to NEVER find again.)

The weather has been insanely beautiful. Insanely.

No writing on Whispers this week, but I do plan to look at the 170 page MS this weekend. Some serious slashing and moving must occur! It's time to get serious. It's time to create a ghost story that will spook me...and my friends.

Hugs & Encouragement & DFTBA


Question: Regression...

So, I'm attending two weeks of training for work. It's all about how all offenders are scam artists and are determined to get me fired. Yep, 80 hours of "Be aware! Be VERY aware." Sighs. occupy my mind, with all things of the nonparanoid variety, I found myself engaging in some...childlike behaviors. What are these childish behaviors? Well...uh...Hangman...Tic Tac Toe...uh...SOS...making a paper football...telling jokes and laughing at inappropriate times...passing notes. Yep, it was like I entered a time machine and stepped into 1986.

When was the last time you did something from your younger days...AND what was it?