Category Archives: Inspiration

Happy Thanksgiving!

Things For Which I Give Thanks:

♥ My health
♥ My family
♥ My writing
♥ My job
♥ My home
♥ My daughters
♥ My husband

What are you thankful for? Tell me what things you appreciate most in your life. Today is a day for sharing and giving. And right now, I need all the positivity we can muster, guys.

So hit me with it. Tell me why you’re giving thanks today.

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A Writer’s Self-Worth

Yesterday I read this fabulous post by Cassandre Dayne about Sexy Lingerie and the effect it has on a woman’s sense of well-being.  She’s right, you know… buying pretty things isn’t just about pleasing your partner – it’s about making yourself feel better too.  It’s about the effort to pamper yourself and tell yourselfthat yes, I am worth it.

But she got me thinking (which we know is always dangerous) about my personal situation and the whole concept of sexy.  Different women are always in different situations, so what may make one woman feel beautiful might destroy the self-confidence of another.  Case in point:

Me.

I can tell you from experience that when you’ve just passed the 7-month mark in a pregnancy, looking at pictures of beautiful women in skimpy underwear is a bit depressing.  Not that I wouldn’t enjoy having something pretty to wear, but when you look like you’re smuggling a basketball under your shirt, it’s hard to think sexy thoughts.  I’m not really all that fond of looking at me right now, so I can’t imagine anyone else would either.  Aside from the obvious belly-rubs and oh-aren’t-you-just-the-cutest-thing grins.  [insert sarcastic eyeroll here]

Well what about after the baby is born, Siobhan?  You could wear the pretty things then!

True… but I’m also not one of those gorgeous women in those catalog photos.  While I’ve been careful not to gain much weight so far, I know that what’s coming in the next few months is going to destroy whatever shape I might have once had.  Not that my shape was the most impressive anyway.

No, I’m not putting myself down.  I’m being realistic.  As a woman on the lower end of the plus sizes, I’m not what society deems beautiful right now.  Two hundred years ago, I’d have had men falling at my feet, but today?   Nope, sorry.  I’m just not into the anorexic look, thank you very much.

But that’s an earlier rant, and not the point of this discussion.

So no, right now with the steadily growing baby and my increasing appetite, sexy is not at the top of my how do I feel list.  Exhausted, hungry, misshapen… yes.  But certainly not sexy.

And as a romance writer, feeling un-sexy is not a good thing.  If I can’t feel it, I don’t want to write it.  Don’t even want to think about it, as a matter of fact.  The romance part, sure… but the inevitable conclusion?  No, thanks.

That’s what got me into this situation.

So while unable to even consider putting characters in a private setting, I’ve been exploring other methods of romance.  In one story, my female lead is about to be abducted for use as sacrifice.  My hero really gets to be a hero, too…he has to figure out how to find and save her before she becomes a paranormal kebab.  In another, a girl who has made a dirty deal has to find redemption.  And in a third, I have a girl who has to save the man she loves from herself.

The concept of redemption really strikes a chord with me.  I’m not sure why, but I’m really digging this idea of clawing out of a self-dug pit in search of a better life.  It’s a non-sexual way of boosting self-esteem.  If I can take a girl who traded her life for what she thought was a better one and teach her that superficial things aren’t the key to happiness, then my work is done.

Everybody knows the story of Beauty & the Beast.  I’ve created a slightly different twist on that – the character I’m using is in the story, but only for a moment.  She’s the sorceress that condemns the Beast to his life as a monster.  But even she has her problems.  Much as the Beast had to learn to love himself and be loved, Seraphine won’t have peace until she learns to accept the things she cannot change.

And who knows…she might even fall in love.

Saturday, Coffee, and Friends

The most wonderful part of living near a city as large and eclectic as Charlotte has to be the strange little places it contains.  There’s a French coffee house here named Amelie’s, and I would go so far as to consider it a hidden gem of the city.  The walls are stripy and the furniture is mismatched.  The coffee is very French (meaning strong and bitter), but the Chai is out of this world and the pastry cases are absolutely to die for.

Me, I’m partial to the salted caramel brownies.

Because this place is over an hour away from home, it’s rare that I get to come up here.  When I do, it is almost exclusively on Saturdays when my husband has made plans with his best friend to go and do boy-things.  (Get your mind out of the gutter!  I don’t mean actually doing “boy” things… I mean going out hiking or on day-trips in the car… stuff like that.)

And when I do come up here, it’s always with one of my best friends in the world, Lexxx Christian.  Her husband is my husband’s cohort, so when they disappear, we get to play with each other.  (Out of the gutter… yes, you.  You know who you are.)  Amelie’s has sort of become our weekend writing haven.  It was introduced to us by the fantastic Dahlia Rose, and we sort of ran with it.  We even have a tendency to drag others along with us.  When others are around, we get very little done for the eating and the chatter, but just the ability to sit with friends and be silly is worth the drive.

The music in Amelie’s is a little eclectic (read: SCARY AS HELL), and fits well when writing murderers, so I suggest taking headphones and another source of music if you don’t like French Cabaret and Michael Buble.  I also suggest getting there early, because while there are lots of tables, they fill up quick…especially when you need to be near a power outlet.

The atmosphere in this place is wonderful, though, despite the musical stylings (they’re playing BB King right now, and it’s so wonderful to hear something NORMAL for a change), and they’re open twenty-four hours.  Large portions of my stories have been written in this building, drinking this chai, sitting next to Lexxx, and to be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In fact, I feel very blessed to have such a good friend alongside me in the chaos that is an author’s world.  She understands the insanity in my head.  She doesn’t look at me funny when I talk about all of the people screaming in my brain at one time.  And she gets it when I get impatient waiting on cover art or want to complain about a set of edits that made me mad.  There are a lot of people that don’t have that sort of companionship, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t know what I’d do without her.

I just wish our friend, Amy, lived closer so we could hijack her on Saturday mornings and bring her with us.  I don’t think we’ve managed to get her up here yet, and I know she would love it.

As much as I love this place, I do have one complaint.  There’s a lamp hanging next to me that’s made from driftwood and chicken-wire.  It has this little crystal finials hanging from the bottom, and they’re all unevenly spaced.  And Lexxx won’t let me fix it.  She keeps telling me it’s part of the artistic style of the piece… but it’s bugging my poor, little OCD brain to no end.

Needless to say, productivity is out the window.  I’ve written a grand total of 450 words on the current WIP, but I have scheduled posts for both upcoming dates (Six Sentence Sunday and Tuesday Tales), so that’s good, I guess.  I’ve also waited in line for ridiculous amounts of time for the restroom (this being pregnant thing means having to pee constantly, and that’s no fun).

It’s 3:30 now, so that means I should probably stop babbling into the internets and get back to work.

In closing:  If you live in the Charlotte area, come to Amelie’s.  If you’re here on a Saturday, there’s a good chance you’ll find Lexxx and me and our computers… and a whole pile of cups and dishes.

 

How to Chop and Change

Have you ever felt the need to put real people in a fictional setting and then do absolutely terrible things to them?

I wish I could say I haven’t, but I have.

In fact, while feeling rotten last night, I sat down with my notebook and pen and started writing.  And I am now at the point where said coworker’s brain is being replaced by a computer so that her actions and functions can be controlled by someone who is actually capable of intelligent thought.

Sort of a Frankenstein meets Stepford thing… Steampunk-horror, of course, because how else would you find the crazy doctor willing to transplant a computer with a brain AND know how to hook up all of the wires to the right nerves so that the body continues to function?

The names have been changed so not to call out the guilty, but I still don’t think I’ll be able to rightly publish this story without it being so obvious that I’d get blasted in court for Libel.  Honestly, the person in question would freak out and accuse me of Slander while not knowing the difference, so maybe I’d have the ability to weasel out of whatever lawsuit arises by (1) putting the FICTIONAL CHARACTERS disclaimer at the beginning and (2) calling her on a definition-based technicality.

Unfortunately, this chick is the type that no matter how high you throw her, she always manages to come down easily and land on her feet.  And that makes me absolutely, completely, and totally in-freaking-sane.  People like that make me want to smack them repeatedly just for being so lucky.

And yes, the whole thing stems from something that happened last night.  And the fact that on the way home I was listening to the Black Keys song.  A lot of us talk about music as inspiration, and while the story has nothing to do with the song, it was the motion and the mood of the music that did it.  This has become one of my favorite songs, and it shows up on almost every playlist I have.

Along with the working-title track, I have the following, for your amusement:

Stigmata Martyr – Abney Park (Yes, the Bauhaus Cover…it’s freaking awesome)
You – Candlebox
Withered – Atomship
Enjoy the Silence – Depeche Mode
Uprising – Muse
Dunce – Voltaire
Golden Years – David Bowie

And on a final note… those of you that I said I owed stuff to… check your inboxes.  I think I only have one person outstanding, and that’s because I just got it yesterday.

“Friend”ly Female Inspiration

My friend Lucy blogged about playlists yesterday, and it has me thinking.  I’ve been working on something music-related for a couple of days now, but it’s not ready yet.  In the meantime, enjoy her music!

She constantly amazes me.   I can see her now, scrunching up her face and shaking her head and telling me that she’s not doing anything special, but she is.  Every day, she lives the dream that I’ve had since I was a child.  No, it isn’t a glamorous life, but it’s still a life filled with satisfaction.

She’s a writer.  Lucy has published lots of books, and is still going strong.  She’s an intelligent, talented, beautiful woman, and I can only hope that when I grow up, I get to be more like her.

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It’s Thursday again, which means that tonight is my night to go play with Lexxx.  I don’t know what it is about sitting in Starbucks with her on Thursday nights, but for that span of time, I feel more creative, less likely to be an idiot, and… well…  like a writer.  She’s not afraid to verbally smack me and tell me that I’m being an idiot, and I like that.  She’s also pretty good at fixing my problems when I get stuck.

Lexxx is my sounding board and my cohort, and my partner in crime.  It is never, ever, ever safe to leave the two of us alone together for more than a few minutes at a time.  She shares my love of wine and cheesecake, and when we’re in north Charlotte at the little French place, she’s an evil enabler that lets me buy all those pastries.

I wouldn’t have her any other way.  Lexxx’s wicked imagination and sense of humor fuel my own.  She lets me be myself and accepts me for it, even with all of my faults.  She puts up with me… which is one of the best gifts she could give me.

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I am truly blessed to have these two wonderful women in my life, but there is one more that I absolutely have to talk about.  When I’m talking about my girls, I tend to save her for last because she has the best story, and in the past ten years, has really taught me the value of both friendship and hope.

She’s a cancer survivor.

Amy married my best friend, and I love them both like family.  She makes him happy… and that’s just one item on a whole list of reasons why I love her.

Anyway, they hadn’t even been married a year yet when she found out that she had developed breast cancer.  Then she told us, and it devastated Lexxx and me.  We were both shocked and horrified.  Neither of us knew what to do – we felt like we had to do something… but what?  They were in Charleston and we were here.

Through her treatments, she maintained a level of strength and grace that still astounds me.  She never once lost hope, even when she was so sick that she could barely move.  Even when she lost her hair, she simply threw on a hat and kept going (we tried to tell her that she was cute without it – she has the most perfectly round head I’ve ever seen!).

Even after her surgery while she was laid up in a hospital bed on good drugs, she was still smiling and laughing and showing off  what she’d begun to refer to as “Frankenboob.”

Rooster and I married in November of that same year.  She had just been cleared, and was even able to walk in my wedding.  She had a head full of baby-fine, fuzzy red hair, and she was beautiful.

This year makes four years that Amy is cancer free.  Every year with her is a new celebration.

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There are so many others as well… women who have come into my life and touched my soul, and made me a better person for it.  I don’t have time to name all of them, and I’d run out of space on the internet telling how they’ve affected me.

I love these girls.

But there’s one more I have to talk about, because to not do it would be a tragedy.

Raven.

She’s my daughter… step-daughter, actually, but I don’t let that title get in the way.  I’ve had a hand in raising her for the last ten years, and she’s a part of me.  I’ve watched her grow up, become independent, and evolve into the beautiful young woman she is today.  She’s so smart…and absolutely a riot when she gets started.   She’s open and honest and loving… and no a day goes by that she doesn’t change one more little part of me.

She has taught me patience and understanding.  She proves to me every single day that there is still hope for the younger generations.  She and I haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, (but what parent/child combination does?) but we work well together.  Yes, there are days when we make each other completely batty, but that’s to be expected, too.

She’s like a big ray of sparkly sunshine right in the middle of the room that makes everybody want to smile.  The girl has a quick wit and a sharp tongue, though, and she can cut right through a person without even realizing it.  I’m glad she can do that, because neither Rooster or I could when we were her age.

This kid has no hope of ever being normal.  She has, since birth, been surrounded by intelligent, sarcastic people that have shaped her into what she is today.  I feel honored that I can be counted among those people, because without her in my life, it would be a much, much darker place.

I love her, and I want the whole world to know it.  I’m proud of her every day, even as I sit here thinking that I need to be thanking her for making me who and what I am.

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So there you have it…  the four lovely women that make my life complete.  I would waste another thousand words talking about my mother, too… but I’ve already told everyone that she’s my hero and why.  What more is there to say?