Friday, September 28, 2012

Maine: A Place of Healing

Life has always been a place where my arms and legs get severed, my heart has been ripped out of my chest, and I'm in the process of bleeding out...

Then I run away to Maine...and start stitching myself together. I ran away after High School to this place, and it was a hard adjustment. I thought my roommates were whores, I was super awkward (wait a second, I still am...)...and I got home sick. I missed out on Central Michigan University's Basketball games, I missed my sisters, I left Baxter with my aunt and uncle in Massachusetts, and I hated my major (medical biology, which I sucked at).

College was rough, so after I graduated, I moved to North Carolina. But last year when I found myself going through another blender (ha, that's actually kind of true), I sought one place as a refuge. The wonderful state of Maine.

In the process of dying, I chopped my hair off...
I look happy, but I sure wasn't...

For those of you who have never been here, part of the reason why I love it is because it really does get all four seasons.

Pumpkin picking!
When it's Fall, the bite in the air creeps into your bones and makes you put on a hoodie. The leaves turn neon. There are countless places that have pumpkin picking, apple picking, and overall wonderful-ness.

The smell of falling leaves engulfs your nose wherever you are.

While the stars don't quite compare to the southern sky, it is still magical to curl under a blanket with a cup of hot apple cider and watch the sky hoping for a shooting star.

I do not take pictures while driving...
Then the cold gets...colder. Suddenly, you've found yourself in a blizzard.

People who live here warn you about Winter. They tell you to brace yourself, and have warm clothes. Most of us have spare flashlights and candles, especially after that ice storm in 2008 (I think it was that year), and an endless supply of blankets (usually an emergency blanket in our car, too).

Sometimes, the snow piles will cover your vehicle. Sometimes, you'll be knee deep. Many mornings you'll have to go out before you brush your teeth, start your car, scrape off the ice that's accumulated, and then go inside to finish getting ready and pray your vehicle will be warm by the time you get back to it.

But one thing is for sure, if you're in high school or college, you'll be guaranteed at least one day off of school.

Snowball fights are magic. Snow angels are great when you're a snowboarding instructor and teaching several seven year olds.

Don't live in Maine if you don't appreciate Winter, because this season teaches you how to be a kid again, to go sledding, to throw snowballs, and get your car stuck in parking lots after a huge snow storm. Your vehicle will slide all over the road, but it's awesome. You feel like a race car driver...until you see a semi-truck coming...:/

It's warm, but not too warm
As the snow melts, you find yourself in Spring. By this point, chances are you've almost forgotten what warmth and sunburns feel like. Your memory comes back quick, though.

It rains a lot, it's still cold most nights, so while you wear shorts during the daylight hours, you find yourself in sweatpants and hoodies while you sit around campfires in the darkness.

They days smell good, like a mixture of fresh dirt, cut grass, and budding flowers. While Winter froze most of everything the grass turns green as if by magic, you see life again...and suddenly, while you thought Winter was so much fun, you start looking forward to Summer, and the beach, and running after a long hiatus.

You can swim as the sun sets, because some nights...
it's that hot.
I think people forget to tell you that Summer exists in Maine, and that it comes full force. If you don't have fans, or air conditioning, or a house that lives in the shade of a large tree, you're kind of screwed, because it is not immune to heat waves.

In Summer proper attire is shorts, a t-shirt (maybe wife beater or tank top), and usually a baiting suit underneath  because you never know when someone will say, "Hey, let's go to the lake/river/ocean." If you work in air conditioning all day, and walk outside, it's like getting sucker heat. You've got to get out of it!

But if you wait it out, soon enough an entire year has passed. Fall will comes again, and if you're anything like me, you'll find yourself itching for snow.

A very large portion of my heart and being reside in Maine. When I grew up in Michigan, I found myself wanting to go (t)here (possibly because all the water bottles said, ME Bottle Deposit, 5 cents and I thought I could get rich). So, I moved and found myself here for college for four years. Then moved to North Carolina, and when I died last year, there was only one place I knew could heal me and make me sane again.

Now a year later, I'm recovering...
And my hair has grown back :)
So what about you guys, where do you go for healing? What's your favorite season?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Books I Could Not Stop Reading

Before I delve in to the intense topics, I figured I'd spam you with book suggestions :)

J.A. Bennett does mini-reviews every month. They're small, they're cute, and they make me want to read whatever she read last month. I did one of my own called, "Books You Should Read" in August, and thus this one shall be Books I Could Not Stop Reading. It also kind of fits into YA Highway's Road Trip Wednesday asking, What was the best book you read in September?

Sorry the pictures are dark
By: Scott Westerfeld
Rating on Goodreads: **** of *****

In 2011, I met Scott Westerfeld. He actually let me take a sip out of his wine glass, and though I hated wine, I did it because it was Scott Westerfeld and it was a pretty pink drink.

I was blown away by the ideas presented in Uglies. I felt like it was world building at it's finest. Though some parts of the writing felt weak, the overall feelings and horror this book brought out negated any simplistic writing. I could NOT put this book down and stayed up til 3am finishing it (in 24 hours).

I could relate a lot to Tally's plight. You're told one thing all your life (in her case it's that being Pretty will make life easier and better), and suddenly...maybe that isn't what you want or believe anymore.

By: Scott Westerfeld
Rating on Goodreads: *** of *****

The follow up to Uglies. Though it was still a good read, and fast read, it didn't compare with the first in the series. There was a lot of jumping (from high buildings, from hot air balloons), like, a lot of it, and it took me out of the story.

Plus, it seemed like Tally started getting a little full of herself by the end, which was frustrating. I LOVED Tally in the first book because she was fumbling her way through finding out what she believed in, and in this one, everyone knew Tally Youngblood. They feared her, they hated her, they loved her. She was no longer the Ugly girl I fell in love with.

This one got a three star rating because while it was still a good book with a lot of creative ideas, the simplistic writing was more evident, and I slipped out of the story more than I wanted to.

By: Scott Westerfeld
Rating on Goodreads: *** of *****

Specials is the conclusion to the Uglies trilogy. (I hear there is Extras, too, but for me this is where I stopped.)

This one lost a lot of momentum for me. I enjoyed the ending (when bombs finally started going off, and people started dying), but I felt like a majority of the start was dragging.

It was still a good book, I still loved reading it, but again, I had issues with momentum, being dragged through the story (or the woods). I still battled with the whole I am Tally Youngblood, which means I am better than everyone else, type of mentality...

What did you guys think of the Triology?

The Motion of the Ocean: 1 Leaky Boat, 2 Average Lovers, and a Woman's Search for the Meaning of Wife
By: Janna Cawrse Esarey
Rating on Goodreads: *** of *****

I got to meet Janna in 2011 at the PNWA conference. From her quirky presentation, and the helpfulness to baby-authors-in-the-making, I decided I needed her book. I bought it, brought it home, and it's been packed away for the better part of a year.

After reading Looking for Alaska, If I Stay, Where She Went, ( all of which I'm still emotionally recovering from), the Uglies, and other heartbreaking novels, I fell into a literary depression. I looked at the books I could read; more death, more sadness...I needed something upbeat.

And the Motion of the Ocean was the answer. It was a great read about sailing, finding love, questioning love, and finding yourself apart from your significant other. If you're looking for a nice beachy-feel read, this is the memoir for you.

Also, are you my friend on Goodreads yet? If not, you should be :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Harry Potter is Demonic

Welcome to the magical world

Sorry for the delay on this post, but my sister was a slacker, and the library still didn't have any Harry Potter books (crazy, right?). Nonetheless, here we go.

Holding the DVDs because I don't own the book(s)
Also, I live in a basement. Much like
how Harry lived in a closet...
As a young and impressionable youth, I found my footing in the world though the threshold of a church. I went to youth group every Wednesday, played tambourine in the church band, and attended church camp during the summer months. For a long time, I didn't swear, didn't drink, didn't do drugs, or have sex. Really, I was an all around upstanding kid (aside from that time I locked my friend in the basement...).

One day as I was walking in, the pastor's wife got my attention. (I can't remember exactly how the conversation went, so I'm going to use the CREATIVE portion of creative non fiction so you guys get the idea.)

She had soft wavy brown hair and large glasses that completely covered her eyes. "You like to read, right?" she asked.

"I do," I said. "I just heard about these books, Harry Potter, have you read them?"

A worried look crossed her face, and then she said, "I've heard of them, and they're demonic. You shouldn't read them. They have magic in them, and magic comes from the devil."

"Okay," I said, and I took the message home to my sisters. "Don't read Harry Potter, you'll go to Hell!"

So...rather than read the books, years later, my oldest sister took me to the movies, and from there I continued watching (most of) the rest of them (I still actually haven't seen the last one, though twitter and Facebook has already ruined the end for me). In 2011, though I wasn't a huge Harry Potter fan (yea, sure the movies were fun, but sometimes I lost interest) I drove to Orlando, Florida for Leaky Con's LitDay to meet amazing authors, and hear panels about the industry.

The atmosphere was infectious. They were releasing the last Harry Potter movie, those in the audience were going to be the first ones to watch it, before the rest of America even got the chance. Everyone was buzzing with excitement, and lost in the mass of kids and adults dressed like they were ready to attend Hogwarts, I found myself getting excited, too.

Though I'd originally planned to bail out after the authorly panels were over, I found myself in a cushioned seat in a large room as the crowd hushed. Arthur Levine (the man who edited all of the Harry Potter books) entered the room. As he took the podium, cheers erupted, I'm pretty sure some people in the audience cried, and I looked at them like they were crazy (or, possibly, devil worshipers).

"When I met Jo, she looked hungry. As many of you know she was on foodstamps..." and from there he told the tale of meeting a starving author, with kids, with a lot to lose...She'd been rejected by several publishers and agents. No one believed in her story, but she did.

My sister. She is sad, too.
He told the audience about how Harry was hungry; he lived in a closet, was hated by the family he lived with, and he wanted food, and friends, and to belong somewhere. He was hungry for other people, hungry to actually experience life. The wizardry was just an added perk.

As he spoke, I had that Oh my God, moment. The one that tells me I spent x-amount of years missing out on something big because my church, a church I loved whole heartedly, told me those books were devil worshiping. I missed out on reading a great series, on being a part of something that truly moved people, and connected them to each other. Most of all, I missed out on something that got people and kids to read.

By proxy, my sister also missed out because I was a zealous Christian girl, upholding the word of God (nowhere in the Bible does it say don't read Harry Potter). (She is still kind of bitter about this one...)

All Harry wanted to was to be loved. In the end, I think that's what a lot of kids these days want. I know that's what I want. Well, that, and a nice package of mint oreos...

As I've been working on my memoir, I've been becoming increasingly angry with the things the church told me. For the record, I am still a Christian. I still pray on a daily basis, and love God (or my Higher Power for those of you who attend Alanon or AA).

Within the last year, I've become adamantly pro-choice and am becoming more vocal about it by the day. In College, one of my friends jumped from the Mackinaw Bridge, and I stopped believing suicides go to Hell. A boy who helped lead me toward God recently came out in the last few years, and thus, I stopped believing gays go to Hell, because he was the most passionate Christian I have ever met. The church taught me a lot about life, and I'm slowly starting to see that what I was told may have been vastly incorrect. (I'll be taking some of these topics on through this blog, hopefully you'll stick around through the journey.)

After Mr. Levine's speech, I no longer think that Harry Potter is demonic. Though I still didn't stick around to watch the movie with everyone, or attend the dance party, one of my life goals is to read the books, and at long last take part in something that has influenced my generation.

The moral of this post is: don't be afraid to read. Don't be afraid to be a part of something. Books are there to help you find what you're looking for, to test your beliefs (in a safe, non-cocaine type of environment), and take you on adventures the laws of gravity don't allow you to.

And for those of you writing the books, keep writing. Never stop pushing boundaries because your words may someday help save lives.

Happy Monday.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Next Big Thing

I'd like to thank Krista McLaughlin for tagging me in this. First of all, because these meme things are always fun, and secondly, because well...I was running out of things to blog about (while still trying to find a damn picture of me, or my sister, with Harry Potter.)

Just to warn you guys, I think next week may be a rather intense week where I'm going to tackle a lot of subjects that working on my memoir (newly updated!) has brought up. Brace yourselves. I'm already expecting to lose followers. Maybe for those of you who stick around, I'll try to figure out another contest, or something. (This is a HUGE maybe, I'm super broke right now.)

Anyways, as stated, Krista tagged me in the Next Big here I go!

What is the working title of your book? 
Which one? There's My Sister's Memories, After Elizabeth, and The Right to Live: A Christian Girl's Struggle through Abortion, Losing Her Mind, and Recovery.

Where did the idea come from? 
My Sister's Memories came when I was moving to Maine after North Carolina. I have a lot of issues with my memory, and was crossing a bridge and thought, "What if you saw everyone you love die?"
After Elizabeth was because I was still recovering from everything that caused me to move, and I really wanted to kill do it fictitiously
The Right to Live...well...came from my life, as it's my memoir :/
What genre does your book fall under? 
Two Contemporary Young Adults, and one Memoir (with a side of french fries, please :) )

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie? 
I actually hate this question. I hate when the books have the actors on the front cover before I read the book because then I just see the actor, even if the writer tells me the hair was brown, and the actor is blond. Hollywood does their job (casting, auditions, etc), I do my job and let you pick.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book? 
MSM: On her 18th birthday, Sarah's parents are killed in a car accident, leaving Sarah to become guardian of her younger, and now amnesiac sister.

AE: In the aftermath of her best friend's suicide, Claire turns to cigarettes, neon hair, and anger, rather than dealing with her feelings...until Andrew moves in across the street.

TRTL: Um, the little "A Christian Girl's Struggle.." pretty much sums this one up :)
Will your books be self-published or represented by an agency?
Agency. I don't care how long it takes. I wanna see my effin book in a Barnes and Noble, and get banned from libraries and schools.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? 
It usually takes me three to four weeks to do the first draft. There's a lot of coffee, energy drinks, and alcohol usually involved. 

Who or what inspired you to write this book? 
The need to kill off characters and use writing as therapy really pushed me to write the stories. Is that healthy?

What else about your book would pique the reader's interests?
There are always cute boys in my stories. Even in my memoirs :)

Oh, and um...I'm supposed to pass this on. So...Here we go:

1) One of my lovely Beta Readers for After Elizabeth, Ms. Suzi over at Literary Engineer.
2) A woman I met during one of the blog hops and on Twitter, who seems like she has her stuff together, Ms. Rachel Frost over at The Story of Her Life

3) A wonderful blog follower who always has excellent comments, Ms. Elizabeth Seckman at Use Your Words

4) Another great follower with great comments, Ms. Emily R King over at Get Busy Writing.

5) And because this guy also rocks with comments, and the precessors were females and I feel like we gotta try to balance this out, Mr. Andrew Leon over at StrangePegs


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Guest Post

As much as I'd love to chat your faces off (that sounds wrong), I'm not here today.

Help, help. I don't know where I am!

I'm over at J.A. Bennett's, because she just had a lil baby and her blog followers are here to keep her afloat while she adjusts to the new baby.

Congrats J.A.! 

Monday, September 17, 2012

The New Place

There's no trace of me...
The thing that people don't tell you about your early 20s is that you become an expert at being a ghost. You move into an apartment or dorm, put down a security deposit, and then a few months later, you remove every trace of you. Hair is taken out of the bathtub, that spot on the floor is buffered out, the piles of clothes get packed away in your car. Everything you brought in here, is taken out.

By the time you take the pictures of where you'd just inhabited (just in case your sketchy landlord tries to take you to court), your essence has already been Cloroxed out. You no longer exist here. But if walls have memories, your ghost will haunt this dwelling place. I hope my ghost haunts the places I've been, because for a time I've fallen in love with each place I inhabited.

I've mentioned I'm messy, right?
This is my 'living room'
I told you guys awhile back that I moved away from the crazy neighbors, but I haven't showed you the new place, or told you much about it.

Probably because I'm still going through an adjustment period. Probably, also, because I no longer have wifi at this new place so I sit in the Young Adult section of the local library, hoping that the voices of the kick-ass authors around me will help muse me. (So far it's been working, I think.) This means the blogs you read are usually posted a week in advance now (trying to utilize my time, you know).

Well, Baxter and I live in Poland, Maine now. We live with an older woman, her son, his wife/finance/girlfriend (I'm not sure which so fill in your own blanks), and their son. (That's right, three generations in one house, and me and Baxter.)

Because I'm neurotic and freaked out when they started eating my food, they gave me a mini-fridge to put downstairs (it's the black box on the floor in the picture below). I'm now like a vampire; dwelling in the basement, getting no sunlight. I'm awake at night, mornings are still awful, and I'm still a horrible roommate. To be proactive, I'm trying to keep my head low and just hang out downstairs or go running. If I'm not around you can't fight with me, right?

Look, over there on the left. There's a bed.
Not an air mattress! 
The drive is significantly less to work, so that's nice. They also let Baxter out to pee while I work long shifts, so that's a huge help, too. But my anxiety level has increased substantially. It turns out, I don't like to talk as much as I think I do. Sure, I've been calling my sister for hours every day to chat but it's not talking. I don't like the superficial, "How's your day? How was work/school/etc?" I don't like answering the same thing countless times, "Oh, you know, I hate my job."

It taxes my energy level, and I retreat to the basement to be antisocial. Tell me about important things; politics, the fact the Shell broke the ice in the Arctic and is now helping destroy the world, religion, changing the world...Don't ask me about my day, when it's the same as yesterday.

I know at some point I'll be moving again. I don't know where (especially since I didn't get into TFA), and I don't know when. But at some point, I would like to live on my own again. In the meantime, it's nice to know that while a million things keep changing...

...Some things stay the same
If you're a Twitter follower, I said that I was blogging today about Harry Potter. Sadly, the library I'm at doesn't seem to have any of the books, and I like to have pictures on the blog, AND my sister had some issues with getting her picture to me. Stay tuned, the blog post will happen. Sorry if that's what you were expecting today.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Be Realistic II

It looks like this week is Running Week for me. Sorry, sort of. The posts will stop soon. (Maybe :) ).

In April I blogged about someone telling me to "Be realistic" about getting published. I was angry, (irate actually) but I tucked it away, choked on a smile, and continued along like they hadn't just stabbed me in my special places (you know, the heart).

As I said on Monday, I'm training for a 5K road race, and honestly, I'm scared shitless. I haven't seriously run since college, and even then it wasn't as fast or as intense as I should have done it because I'd had knee surgery as I used that like a crutch, allowing myself to slow down rather than push myself.

Well now I'm another surgery in, even more scared and apprehensive, and trying to beat my Iron-Man like sister's time (or at least landing somewhere in the 19 minutes).

Notice she's in running gear?
She's hardcore.

So I'm here to say that some goals...aren't realistic. Deep down, we know these things. Maybe for me that goal would be realistic if I stopped telling myself it's okay to slow down, but I'm sure you're aware, I like to nap. Slowing down is kind of like taking a nap while running.

But just because your goals may not be realistic does NOT mean that you shouldn't set unrealistic goals. I believe it was PitBull who said it best, "How you gonna tell me the sky's the limit, when there's f*&kers on the moon?" 

It's fun to shoot high. Owl City also tells me, "Reality is a lovely place, but I wouldn't want to live there."

So my SUPER UNREALISTIC GOAL for the road race less than a month away: Finish a 5K somewhere in the 19 minute range. (It can be as fast as 19:00 or as slow as 19:59, and I'd pee my pants with happiness.)

But just so I don't get crushed, my REALISTIC GOAL for the 5K is 21-23 minutes.

I think people should always have two goals. The one that says there are f@#kers on the moon, and why not keep aiming higher? And the one that keeps your feet on planet earth, and planet This is probably seriously what I'm capable of. 

So, what are your goals?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Things That Stop You

In a follow up to my previous blog, and in concert with the fact I seriously like to make lists for blog posts, here's another one.

It turns out I'm masochistic. Who knew? Okay, okay, I've known since I was in sixth grade...but really. Those of us who write set ourselves up for rejection, tears, and straight up heart break. So it only makes sense that I'd be a runner, too. Why? Because it hurts, because you run through pain, finish races sometimes crying (or if you were me in high school, with your lip bleeding because that's how you redirected pain...). But because I like pain, I run, and I write, and I submit, and compete, and...cry.

But that doesn't mean it's easy...ever.

Let's see.

The Top 5 Things That Stop You (From Being Epic)

5) Time
It's easy to forget to run. You wake up, make breakfast, (consider showering..) go to work, work an eight hour shift (eight and a half because you have to clock out for lunch if you're anything like me), drive 10-20 minutes home, do laundry, feed the dog (or the kids if you have them), feed yourself. By that point, maybe your knees hurt from standing. Maybe your back hurts from sitting. Running fades somewhere into the background. Plus, it's dark outside. Horror movies start this way. That mailbox sure looks cute and innocent in the daylight, but at night? That mailbox hosts demons, and ghosts, and OH MY GOSH WHAT WAS THAT? DID SOMETHING JUST MOVE? 
You literally have to go out of your way to run. You literally have to put time in, and make it a priority. Something else (like, oh...writing) gets cut out when you spend a half hour on the road.

4) Running Trails

At the old place, I lived in an awesome running area. If you went right out of the apartment complex, about a half mile later there were trails. If you went left, and left again, there was this place called Evan's Notch, which was beside a river. Very scenic. If you just went left, you cross a bridge, and run. Then, you could go straight, more bridges, more roads. It was full of options.
Where I live now, I can go right, which has a small road that usually eats up about five minutes of the run and has a LARGE and LENGTHY hill, and then a straight road. 
I can go left, which has a smaller hill (as you end), and I recently discovered a magical trail. But still, it's the same two roads over, and over, and over. Ever listen to a song on repeat? Ever just need to...stop listening to it?

3) The Lone Ranger

Running, like writing, is a solitary sport. Sure you can be on the track and field team, or the cross country team, but in the end YOUR times depend on YOU. Which means that if you're not part of a running club, or a team, you have to push yourself. You have to give yourself a reason to run. 
Half the time you won't be as fast as you'd like. Most of the time there is something better to do (see napping above). It's hard being your own motivation. 

2) It Hurts

Knee pain, hip pain, cramps, shin splits, twisted ankles, stress fractures, toenails that fall off... Talk to any runner and you'll hear an endless list of ailments that we run through. When I ran in high school after my first knee surgery, I made a deal with my body; If my knees made it through the race, I'd ice them later. Literally as I crossed the finish line, they gave out, and I couldn't get up. Teammates, sisters, or the boy I loved had to help me up and act as a leaning post until I could walk again.
A good run is considered a day where the pain is minimal, if not absent...but even still if we're not hydrated well enough, if we didn't eat hurts, and it hurts a lot. And we'll keep going.

1) Yourself
Let's face it, we all want to come in first place. Personally, I want to be fast enough to beat my sister again, who when she'd popped out her first kiddo, and while she was preggers with the second managed to run in the 19 minutes. (She is Iron Man.)
But I am Lynn(e). I've had two knee surgeries. I have hip problems. Sometimes my heart messes up. 
There's a point where you run, and you run, and you think, Why am I doing this? There's a point where your brain will think, You know, three miles is pretty far. Let's one. Or none. You know, let's nap. Screw running. 
And naps? Well, they rock. But the biggest obsticle is the block in your head that tells your you're not good enough so why bother trying.
Good runners fight that, waving a middle finger in the air saying, I don't care what you think Negative Nancy in my brain. I'm going to run because I love it, and I want to, and because it makes me feel good.

Most of this can tie into writing. We have to section time to write, and things (like children, husbands, wives, dogs, running) gets neglected. The Running Trails can be considered writing block, where you have to just step out, and find something new, some fresh material before you can start up again. We all know writing is a solitary game (hopefully most of you aren't Emily Dickinson-ing it up). And the rejections hurt. The death, and pain, and injuries of our characters hurt. Memoirs tend to hurt even more than that.

And we all try to sabotage ourselves, our works by saying that we aren't good enough.

So just as I told you to go Pick a Puppy, today's message is to Keep Running. Push through the pain, the self defeat. Find time. Keep going.

The finish line may only be a 5K away.

Monday, September 10, 2012

I Hate Running

The Crim Race in Michigan. Circa 2009, I think
As a sophomore in high school, I ran the 10 mile race
This day was a 5K
I've been a runner all my life. That's not to say I haven't taken hiatuses from it, but somehow, my running shoes magically jump back on my feet, and I'm off again.

Last November, I had my most recent knee surgery. Recovering from a train wreck of life, I had my first experience with percocet (and got knocked out for nearly 24-hours after being sent home from work), walked on crutches, fought with Baxter, and learned to walk...


Two weeks later, I was on a snowboard, terrified to fall because if I did it meant the end of the season. And the end of the season meant the end of money. The end of money meant nowhere to live, nothing to eat, and massive amounts of panic. 

As suggested by "My most recent knee surgery", it wasn't my first. It was my second knee surgery (different knee this time). The winter of my junior year (high school) I'd gone snowboarding, trying to keep up with college boys, and at the bottom of the chair lift, I fell. Hard. When I tried to get up right away, my knee buckled. Oh my Gosh, I can't walk, I thought. But they called my name, and I bit my teeth together and continued along like my knee wasn't screaming at me.

That night, my roommate had to take off my pants and my socks because I couldn't bend my leg, which had swelled to the size of a soccer ball. The following day, I switched stances and continued snowboarding (not my smartest decision). Two months later, when I finally went to the doctor, she told me she wasn't sure if I'd be able to run again. I sat in the dark office and cried.
Though my knee got tired a lot faster, I played soccer, did my dance recital, and a day or two later, I had an arthroscopic (holy crap, I spelled that right the first time!) surgery. The doctor discovered I had massive amounts of scar tissue, something that was turning in-and-out, and a partially torn ACL. She removed the scar tissue, fixed the thing that was turning inside out, and left the ACL saying, "If you tear it the rest of the way, we'll do another surgery, but it should be able to function like a normal knee."
Look! I'm running!

I had a check up with the doctor soon after, and asked, "When can I run again?"

She said, "When you can walk without a limp, you can start JOGGING again. When you can JOG without a limp, you can start running again."

I took that to mean that I was healthy enough. Once I got rid of the crutches, and started hobbling around, I waited another couple of days. The limp was minimal, but I went to the high school track, and stood there, the lines painted on the black rubber like surface staring back at me.

I set my watch with every intention of running a mile. And then I took my first step. Now, imagine slamming your finger in the door. Now amplify the pain by about fifty, and put that pressure and pain right below your kneecap. I literally screamed out loud. I took another step, the pain lessened. I took another, and there it was again.

Years later, if I step wrong (even while walking), I still get that pain. I still yelp. (At least now I can kind of anticipate it.)

So now, nearly a year after my most recent surgery, with copious amounts of pain, Icy Hot, Burt's Bees Muscle Mend, Max Freeze, and OsteoBi-Flex, I've taken up running again. Not just "Oh, I'm gonna go run a mile or two," but "Oh, I have a road race October 7, 2012, and I'm training for it with my Partner in Crime."

It hurts, every single time, but I'm doing it. I'm doing it to give myself something to look forward to (because I HATE October), to prove that not only am I recovered, but my body is, too. And so, each time I run, as I start cursing under my breath and saying, "I hate running," I'm going to keep pushing on. Because that October 7th due date is less than a month away. 

It's crazy how quickly people launch into motion...

 And dangit, I want to get a good time!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Beautiful Beginning

If you're here for GUTGAA, that post is HERE. If you're here because I no longer live with wifi and have to mosey down to the Young Adult section of the local library and schedule posts, well, welcome. You've found me (and I have a day off).

Last night, I was laying in bed with this monster:

Best. Cuddle-Buddy. Ever.
And I got to thinking. I blog about Baxter a lot. He even has his own page. But I've never told you guys our story. So, that's what this post is about. The magical day I met my best friend, who would save my life five years later...

Just Starting Out
When I met him, I didn’t mean to fall in love. I didn’t mean to take him home. My mom had driven me to Wal Mart to buy last minute stuff for my travels to Las Vegas. The following day, at the age of 18, I would board my first plane and travel across the country. I would be there, with my sisters, waiting the eldest’s wedding.
As we pulled in, I saw the sign that screamed Puppies and begged her to stop. "Mom! Mom! Can we play with the puppies?!"
“When we’re done shopping,” she said, probably rolling her eyes.
I nodded my head; we were here on a mission.
We shopped quickly, buying new socks, and random crap I probably didn’t actually need. When we were finished, as promised, she drove the car over to the small island with a minimal amount of grass and single tree then cement all around.
“You can’t take one home with you,” she warned.
I looked at her, appalled by her thought. “Dude, I know. I’m leaving for Vegas tomorrow.”
When we got out of the car, I took in the fence in the grass and the adorable swarm of brown puppies inside the barricade. I needed to be in there, to have them chewing on me, rather than on each other.
Close to six years later.
Some things don't change...
Skipping over to them, I found the owner of the balls of fluff. “Can I play with them?”
She let me into the fence, and I promptly plopped myself down, yelling out, “Puppies, come to me!”
Rather than coming to me, they ran the opposite direction, afraid of the 5’2” blond girl yelling at them with her arms outstretched.
They all ran, and my heart sunk. They all ran, that is, except for one who was bumped backward as his brothers and sisters fled.
His paws were bigger than his body, just like his siblings, and as he made his way to me, he stumbled a bit more before promptly crawling into my lap, making himself comfortable, and falling asleep as I stroked the fur on his small body.
The Twilight books call it imprinting, that moment where you see something/someone you love, and your heart swells and you know if you don't somehow meld your life with theirs, there's no point for you to even exist anymore. Dog usually do this, wolves especially. Not humans. But that's what that moment was like for me. I didn't want a puppy; I had anger problems, grew up in an abusive household, watched my mother beat her dog(s). Would I do the same thing?
“Mom?” I asked in an almost desperate voice as the all of ten pound puppy lay sleeping on me.
“Stephanie,” (real name, family members refuse to call me Lynn(e)) she scolded, well aware of what was happening.
“How much do you want for them?” I asked the owner, unable to tear my eyes away from the fuzzy mass on me.
“We’re asking $20,” the owner said.
I did the math and figured out that I was broke. As was is, Jacci, the sister who was getting married, paid for half of my plane ticket to get me to Vegas. “Would you be willing to take $15? I’m leaving for Vegas tomorrow...” 
Within a minute, the money was in her hand, and the puppy was in the car. Mom and I made our way back into the Wal Mart to buy the essentials; puppy food, a leash, and a collar, which was neon orange.

I left the unnamed puppy with my mother when I left for Vegas. I was terrified that he’d be dead by the time I got home. She didn’t have the best track record care taking anything; animals, plants, children. I moved out when I was sixteen or so. It took her three days before she started calling around to figure out where I was. Her recent dog winced at any hint of movement that was a bit too fast.
In Vegas
Laura is hugging the bear, then Jacci (the bride) and Tammy are
at the bottom, I'm on the other side, and Justin (the groom)
is standing.
“You did what?” my sister, Laura, yelled when I'd arrived in Vegas.
“I got a puppy!” I told her. 
“Steph, (see family note again) that is the worst decision, ever! You’re leaving for college, in what? Four months? What are you going to do with him then?”
She was always the voice of reason. Where was she at the Wal Mart parking lot?
I responded the way I usually respond to her when I fail to think things through, “I’ll figure it out when the time comes.”
But after the wedding, and an extra day stranding in Atlanta, Georgia, I forgot such worries. I had a puppy to play with!
Upon my return home, I was pissed to find that my small puppy, was somehow smaller. His stomach, plump less than a week ago, now looked emaciated. I knew it, my mother had forgotten to feed him.
Immediately I took him to the veterinarian’s, where I was told he’d gotten worms. Still, it was my mother’s fault, because everything that goes wrong is always her fault.

The first night, I used a small cat carrier to try to kennel train him. Instead, after an hour of howling, I opened the gate that had been keeping him inside. Afraid to step in poo in the morning, I closed the door to my mother’s bedroom. (The room she hadn’t slept in in close to a month now.)
Just as quickly as the howling had stopped, it started again. I let the annoying little ball of fluff into the bedroom, assuming that at least here, the poo and pee spots would be contained. The whining momentarily stopped, only to start once more.
“What do you want?” I screamed at the terrified little guy.
He looked at me and whined again. 
With nothing else to do, I scooped him up and placed him on the bed with me. The whining stopped for the night as he snuggled next to me and fell asleep.
In the morning, I woke up to several pee spots on the bed.
“This is not going to work,” I scolded him.
He looked at me before trying to bound over, large paws causing him to topple over. I laughed, and we started our life together. 

We three Schmidt's
Getting published is a lot like getting a puppy. You go into the fenced in area, and throw out your arms saying, "Agents! Come to me!" and 90% of them flee. A few will approach hesitantly before running, but the one that crawls into your lap and falls asleep, that may be the best agent for you. (Okay, but if he/she really crawls in your lap and falls asleep, there may be an issue. Hopefully you get what I'm trying to say here.) There may be some peeing on the bed, some howling (you know, editorial stuff) but in the end, they may be the best friend you'll have for years to come.

Happy Puppy Picking :)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Meet and Greet

Welcome to the Meet and Greet for GUTGAA. If you don't know what's going on, you should head on over and check it out! Today, Deana Barnhart asked a few questions, and here I am to answer them!

Where do you write? 
Everywhere. On my phone, on napkins, on my laptop...when the idea strikes me, I hunt for a pen, and whatever can hold ink. From there, I write. Sometimes it's still legible by the time I'm able to type it up! 
If I'm in a project and trying to keep my word count going, I usually write in my bedroom, with my iPod on shuffle. But my bedroom changes about every three months because I move so much.

Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?
Well currently, I'm in the library. So to my left I see this:

But usually, it's a dirty tea cup, maybe some water. Some pens. Maybe crayons or makers. Or, you know, Baxter.

Favorite time to write?
At night. First thing in the morning I'm a bit of a monster, and can't function for a couple of hours. I have sleeping problems anyway, and my best ideas seem to come at 2am...which explains a lot of the nightmares and random dreams...

Drink of choice while writing?
Pepsi and ::cough:: rum. 
Or an energy drink. Or water. I think tea helps a lot. Especially because I just won a free year's supply! :)

When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?
MUSIC. I cannot function without music. (This library atmosphere is currently killing me, which is why I'm blogging, and not writing...)

What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?
My last manuscript was After Elizabeth, about a girl recovering from her best friend's suicide. I got the inspiration because I was (and am) still very bitter with everything that happened last year, and I felt like killing someone. When all was said and done, one of the last things I told those people was, "You're dead to me," and they continued what they did anyway, so it was like they killed themselves to me. So rather than murder, I had a character kill herself. I'm a lot like Claire...still recovering from the death of my best friends.

What's your most valuable writing tip?
If you're writing your first manuscript, finish it. I don't care if you decide to kill all of your characters, get them abducted by aliens, whatever. Just finish the manuscript. Why? Because once you finish one, you'll be able to finish another, and it'll be better. And your next will be better than that. 
Suddenly, that 60,000 word goal isn't so daunting.

Happy Monday!
(Also, this was a pre-scheduled post. If anyone comments, I'll check your post out, but sadly, I live by my work schedule and when I can get to the library currently. Sorry I can't hop around too much!)
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