One of my last year's resolutions was to read more in 2013. I have both succeeded and failed. I read more than I did the previous year, yet I failed to reach my goal of 50 books. Reading one book a week is a reasonable goal for me. I have been known to devour several tomes a week. If left alone, I can spend the whole day reading.

My parents have told me I learned to read before I entered school. I have trouble remembering the early years. It is a blur of swings, recess, and The Billy Goats Gruff. Thus I have to trust their memories are accurate. Since learning to read, it has become one of my favorite ways to pass the time. Summers were spent at the library losing myself in different worlds. The love I have for the written word is no secret. I have boxes upon boxes of books and many electronic files on my computer and smartphone.

The first book I read in 2013 was Cold Days by Jim Butcher. Harry Dresden is a character I adore and I can't think of a better book to start off my new year. I read the first book of Dresden Files series after hearing many friends rave about them. They were right. Butcher is a talented story teller and I read every book in the series with gusto. In 2014, I want to read his Codex Alera series.

As for the last book I read in 2013, it is likely to be Killing Kennedy by Bill O'Reily. I enjoyed reading Killing Lincoln earlier in the year. The story is unfolding as I thought it would. But I was surprised by one thing, how close The United States was to nuclear war. I knew about the Cuban Missile Crisis before reading the book. I just didn't realize the gravity of the situation.

The books in between the two. are an eclectic mix of fiction and non-fiction. Some were good, some were bad. I read "new to me" authors and old friends, like Neil Gaiman. (disclaimer, I do not personally know Neil. I have read all his books and his work is familiar to me) My reading tastes are varied. I read YA, urban fantasy, literary fiction, woman's fiction, non-fiction, ect. This is reflected in the books I read during the year.

Next year I want to read 50 books as well as write a couple of my own. A writer reads. Said simply, but nonetheless true.
shay_writes: (Default)
( Dec. 18th, 2013 09:33 pm)
Watching movies and reading is difficult for me. Being a writer and having seen lots of movies and read lots of books, I have become brilliant at predicting how stories will end. Not much surprises me any more. I applaud the story teller who captures my interest, holds it, and thrills me with an ending I never saw coming. (This is the part where I give examples, but my mind is old and full of holes.)

One thing writers learn when they begin their journey into the literary world is every story that can be told has been told before. The trick, we are counseled, is to do it uniquely. How does one take a story which has been told through the ages and make it their own? If I knew the secret to this, I would be a best selling author by now.

What would I do? It is a game I play every time I encounter a tale unfolding. "Well, if it were me, I would..." I'm not always right, I have to admit. But I do get it right enough times to believe I have become jaded.

I called my cousin the other day to discuss a book. I didn't think the character acted appropriately. I know if I woke up one day to find I were a pixie and green, I would react with a bit more excitement than this character did. In my story, she would scream a bit and maybe try to wipe the green away. But the catch is, it wasn't my story and the author told it the way she saw it. Who am I to say if she got it right or not?
shay_writes: (Default)
( Dec. 17th, 2013 10:39 pm)
The past few days have not been productive. Various things kept coming between me and my December writing goals. Errands, headaches, and family commitments are just a few of the items which took precedence over the words. They were pushed to the back burner and not made a priority. This is a habit I want to nip in the bud as I prepare to write with purpose in 2014.

I have been thinking about my goals in 2014 and what I want to accomplish. First on the list is write at least 100,000 words during the year. A bit ambitious for me since I recently started writing again after an almost two year break. But I want to complete a second draft of my NaNoWriMo project and complete the first draft of the second book. I didn't start out to write a series, but it seemed natural to do so. The main character's story wasn't finished after one volume.

Which brings me to the second and third goals on my list; write the second draft of The Valiant and write the first draft of The Hunted. The plan is to rewrite a scene a day once I begin working on my second draft. In a perfect world, I would begin writing the first draft of the second volume at the same time, also focusing on a scene a day. With the turmoil which is my life at the moment, I doubt I will able to stick to this schedule.

Fourth on my list of 2014, is send the finished second draft of The Valiant to willing beta readers. This goal is by far the scariest on the list. I haven't shared my fiction often. Fear holds me back. I'm afraid of failure or someone will tell me I'm not a writer. I think all writers are a bit afraid. Having the courage to share a story with others deserves respect and kudos. Our stories are like our children and it is frightening to send them out in the world. What if no one likes them?

Last on my long list of writing goals for the coming year is to write a query letter to an agent. I have never attempted to write a query, let alone mail it to someone. If I am serious about writing, then it is the next logical step in the process. My palms are getting sweaty just thinking about it. What is the worst that can happen? I get rejected. But I have to try. I can't let all the words I've written in my life time be for nothing. I have to try.



What are your goals for the coming year?
shay_writes: (Default)
( Dec. 14th, 2013 10:09 am)
Being a writer has prompted me to become a dilettante in a variety of areas. One of my favorite parts of the writing process is research. In order to create a believable story, a writer must spend at least a portion of their time assembling facts on the pertinent details of their tale. Hemingway couldn't have created such a vivid book about bullfighting without first learning as much as he could about the craft.

A few topics I am researching for my current story include: The Atchafalaya Basin, yurts, RFID, and the physics of superheroes. Out of the things I've listed RFID and the applications of RFID have been been the most interesting. The prospect of using it to track products and create checker-less supermarkets blows my mind.

Back to the topic at hand, in order to create a believable world for their readers, a writer must commit to doing research. This can involve searching the internet, reading books, and talking to experts. The truth is in the detail. (this idiom can be traced back to the saying "God is in the detail," a fact I learned from research) The right details can enhance a good story, the wrong ones can break it.

This week, I have been creating a list of topics I need to research before starting my rewrite in January. My list is formidable, further pointing out the fact I jumped into my story without much forethought. The words "research this" enclosed in brackets can be found throughout my first draft. My favorite instance is following a scene where the main character is suppose to make every blood vessel in a antagonist's brain explode. I have no idea what this looks like in reality. Thus, the importance of research. (and becoming friends with a doctor)
shay_writes: (Default)
( Dec. 12th, 2013 10:47 pm)
My story began as a dream. I woke up in the morning and said to myself "That dream was freakin' awesome, it must be a story." Like most people who write, I keep a list of story ideas. I used to write them on whatever piece of paper was available at the time. Now, I have a file on my smart phone entitled, aptly of course, Story Ideas. After I was awake enough to write a coherent sentence, the idea was filed away for future use. The fact I was on a hiatus from writing didn't matter, the ideas keep coming whether I use them or not.

Along came life and I was given free time to write again, if I chose to do so. Without much hesitation, I plunged back into the world of writing. It was October and I was going to participate in NaNoWriMo in less than a month. The story idea I dreamed about months before seemed perfect for my re-entry. It didn't matter I had no clue who the main character was or what the plot would be. All would be revealed as I progressed.

The main character was born during my first free writing session. I wrote a scene from when she was six years old.The more I wrote about her, the more real she became to me. At times, I can feel what she is feeling, the pain and frustration of living with a gift. (or curse depending on who you ask) Half-way through November, she stopped talking to me. I couldn't find her voice anymore and it showed in the writing. My MC went from being strong and stubborn to whiny and emotional.

How do I find my way back? I am instructing myself to write more back story and create a journal for her. If all else fails, I can "interview" her and try to recapture the qualities that made me create her in the first place. I only hope when she begins to talk again, I am listening.
Today I am in the throes of a dilemma. To kill or not to kill, a character. The person in question is my main character's mother. I feel her death does little to push the plot forward, beyond hurting the main character. After many minutes of indecision, I turned to Google for the answer, as I do often.



During my Google search, I came across a blog/website, Brain Pickings. There I found literary advice from a selection of the greats. Kurt Vonnegut instructed "Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them-in order that the reader may see what they are made of." I'm sure he would vote to kill the mother. Faulkner would've been with him based on his "kill all your darlings" quote.

Joss Whedon would have no problem sticking it to the broad. He is famous (or is it infamous) for killing characters people have come to love. He has embraced the advice of Faulkner and taken it to a whole other level. Does it make him a better story teller? I have no idea, but I don't know if I can forgive him for what he did to Wash.

In the end, I decided to leave the mother's death in my story. Her death will warp my character into the person I need her to be at the end of the tale. The funny part is, I'm more torn up about the death of a secondary character who has a bit part than I am about the demise of one of the main characters. I knew he would die when I was imagining him. I guess you could say he was born to die.
shay_writes: (Default)
( Dec. 9th, 2013 07:09 pm)
If I didn't have a support system, I would have stopped writing years ago. Maybe I am lying. The stories keep coming to me whether I write them down or not. Regardless, having the support of family, friends, and other writers has helped me stay on my writing path. The road hasn't been straight or clear of obstacles. I have fought every step of the way. Someone once said, "Anything worth doing takes effort." (After researching this, I discovered it is based on a quote by Theodore Roosevelt. His version was "Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty... I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.")

During my journey, I have not walked alone. Writers have a way of finding each other. Hemingway had Fitzgerald and Stein. Dorthy Parker had the gang at the Algonquin. Ilona Andrews has Jeaniene Frost. Shay has her Yetis.(for those who don't know, The Yetis are my writing group.) I am fortunate to have found writing friends both in person and on the internet and for this I am thankful. As I have said many times over, writing is hard work. Having a group of people who share your interests and your pain helps.

My writing group has been supporting each other for the past six years. There have been times when I stopped writing or stopped going to meetings, yet they still support and love me. I wouldn't be the person or writer I am today if not for them. Chance brought us together and the love of the written word made us a family.
shay_writes: (Default)
( Dec. 7th, 2013 03:06 pm)
I fully intended to let the first draft of my current story sit for the entire month of December before I looked at it again. December was going to be for reading and relaxing a bit. The momentum of November was still within me and the next story was pestering me, so I took the time to write a loose outline with a few plot points. No harm in going forward right. Next I thought I needed a timeline so I could tell the pacing of the story when I reopened my document for revisions. The timeline was my downfall, along with reading several articles about editing. I went a full seven days without opening the first draft and picking at it. Today I lost the battle. I peeked.

First drafts are ugly. My first draft is hideous, with oozing festering boils. Looking at the mess made me want to delete the entire thing and start from the beginning. I didn't need to edit, I needed to rewrite the entire story. After a first sentence that invokes action, the rest of the first scene, chapter, spirals out of control. The tone changes a few times, and my MC isn't the strong woman I envisioned. A cute running gag I loved at the time seems silly.

Why didn't I wait? Why couldn't I just bask in the knowledge I wrote more words last month than I have in the past two years? Why did I think notes to myself in brackets were a good idea? The goal of NaNoWriMo is quantity vs quality, on some level. I took it to heart when I wrote my first draft. The suck is strong with my WIP.

In the end, I didn't delete my story. I did close the document and I'm not looking at it again till January 2014. The new year will be bringing many challenges and taming the wild unruly thing that is my first draft will be at the top of the list. On New Year's Day, when people are nursing their hangovers from the previous night's festivities, I will be opening up the first draft and tackling it head on, one crappy paragraph at a time.
In order to be more productive in the coming year, I signed up for a writing challenge. Staying focused and finishing projects have been a problem for me in the past. (this is one reason why I have five or six unfinished novels on my hard drive) Life would often rear its ugly head and get in the way of my writing progress. The coming year shall be different. I am making writing one of my priorities. This explains my eagerness to join a community focused on completing writing goals.

One of the sign up questions stumped me. "Strengths?" The following one, "Weaknesses?", was easy to answer. I sometimes forget to add needed description to my stories. Settings also trip me up. It is as if I just threw my characters in a room and recorded their conversations. Follow through is also a problem for me. I have completed two novels, but have yet to finish a second draft. I loath editing. Did I mention the five or six other half finished projects I have?

Yes, I am well aware of my weaknesses as a writer. They beat me over the head. But when I was asked about my strengths, I drew a complete blank. Being the insecure person I am, I doubted any existed. To remedy the problem, I started calling, messaging, and texting friends who might have read my writing. (I know this is terrible, but I was desperate and needed something to fill the blank on the sign up) The first friend hadn't read anything of mine in such a long time, she couldn't help me. The next one hadn't read any of my prose. I think his writing is elegant and more refined than my own, so I refrained from sharing. My third try insisted I had strengths, everyone does, but when put on the spot couldn't name one. (to be fair she was busy and just answering the phone was a big deal) In the end, I put "plotting" as a strength.

My cousin, my best friend, my conspirator in writing, came through after the sign up was posted. Her response to my query was, "You are imaginative and good at descriptions."I love my cousin. I AM imaginative. If I wasn't, then I wouldn't be making up stories in my head now would I? On the subject of descriptions, I do not think I am strong. Cliches seem to creep into my pieces. I used to spend time at work describing things such as clouds to practice my description techniques. Unique descriptions are tough to create. It is easy to fall back on old standards.

Writers all have things which come naturally to them and others which take hard work and practice to hone. No two writers are the same. It is important to embrace your strengths and your weaknesses equally. They are what makes you distinct. Polish what comes naturally and practice what doesn't. Pretty prose isn't vomited on the page. It is often the result of much thought and elbow grease.
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shay_writes: (Default)
( Dec. 6th, 2013 12:36 am)
I have to dedicate this post to my friend, Alex. He achieved the zen we all strive for when we are working on our stories. We all know this moment, when all the elements of the bigger picture start to make sense and fall into place. It is similar to having your back scratched in just the right spot and your insides turn to mush.

Writing a novel, or even a short story for that matter, is akin to completing a jigsaw puzzle. You take a cast of characters, set them on a stage, add glowing description and torture them with copious amounts of conflict, ending with a coherent resolution. Scratch the puzzle analogy. Writing a novel is like baking a cake. The right amount of various ingredients and you have a beautiful and satisfying end product. Too much of one thing and not enough of another results in a culinary disaster.

Knowing how much of each component is the tricky part. Too much description and not enough conflict and your story is boring. Same for not enough action and pages of dialog. If you find the right balance of all the elements, your tale will jump of the page. This concept is one I am still working on.

My first writing efforts were comprised of wordy paragraphs filled with exposition. How proud I was of those pieces. Right up until the moment a good writing friend critiqued them. She taught me the value of white spaces in a piece and varying the lengths of paragraphs to control the pacing. Years after I began my writing journey, I am still learning and trying to grow as a writer. My big blocks of text are a thing of the past, I wish I could say the same for my telling instead of showing.

Back to the original thought behind this rambling post, nothing is quite as satisfying for a writer as when the writing goes well and everything works. Writers, hang on to those moments and remember them for the times when things aren't going as well and you are about to throw in the towel. To bad it is impossible to bottle feelings, because the accomplished feeling of a job well done is one I wish I could savor over and over.
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shay_writes: (bloody typewriter)
( Dec. 5th, 2013 03:14 pm)
The weather outside is truly frightful and not a tiny bit delightful. Winter is here and making its presence known in the form of freezing rain, sleet, and snow. I do not drive in snow or ice. My car is not made for it, being low to the ground and composed of mostly plastic. Today is a perfect day for staying in bed and working on writing endeavors.

A burning question being posed on a variety of writing blogs is, to adverb or not to adverb. Stephen King is strongly (adverb use intended for humor potential) opposed to the use of adverbs in writing, cautioning only to use them as a cook would a pungent spice, in extreme moderation. My natural style is filled with countless adverbs and a plethora of "had" and "that." Maintaining an adverb free zone in my prose is a challenge. It is so easy to say "The girl looked at him, lovingly" rather than show her love in a series of actions and responses.

What do I think about adverbs? If you are intent upon using them, do so, in your first draft. Get it out of your system. Go adverb crazy, using them in every sentence if you have to. Then on your second pass, edit them out of your manuscript. Replace them with action. It can be done. Sometimes it is hard to give up every single offender. If the stray adverb refuses to budge, then it can be tolerated. In the end, your prose will thank you.

I would also like to say, as with anything you do in life, practice will make it easier. I know new writers get sick of hearing this over and over, but it is the truth. If you want to write better, then you have to keep writing, and writing badly. Writing is very much use it or lose it. (in my humble opinion of course) I think you must come to the table with some talent, but mechanics can be learned.
shay_writes: (Default)
( Dec. 4th, 2013 09:29 am)
Due to errands and babysitting, I wasn't able to work on my timeline as planned. By around eight o'clock my body was crying foul and my eyes refused to remain open. Just because I didn't open up the computer doesn't mean I wasn't working on my story. I was thinking about the supernatural elements and how The Order of the Valiant came into being.

People don't just wake up one day with special abilities. (Heroes excluded) These things have to come from somewhere or develop over time. There are no radioactive spiders in my tale, so I need to know where all these powers came from, how they are passed to others, and why the Order banded together in the first place. These things will be not mentioned in detail through blocks of exposition. But as the creator of my world, I need to know how things work in order to write a believable story.

After spending so much time yesterday thinking about my story, I dreamed about it last night. During the dreams, I think another book idea was formed. The result was I woke up excited and eager to capture the remnants of the dream in text so it doesn't disappear forever. I'm stepping back from the timeline today and devoting my writing time to creating a plausible back story for the series. Correction, a more detailed back story than the one I currently have.
shay_writes: (Default)
( Dec. 3rd, 2013 09:49 am)
Timelines will be the death of me. Or rather learning how to put together a cohesive timeline using Liquid Story Binder will be the death of me.

During November I consistently found myself forgetting what day or what time of day it was in my story. The events of the book take place over roughly a week to two week period. This has me worried about pacing. Did I plow through too quickly or do I need to add a few more days and subplots? See why I need a timeline? Before I get too involved with the outline of my next book, I need to know what day I'm on and where I'm at. I think it will cover a few weeks as well, due to the nature of the plot. (MC is hunting down ex-partner to extract revenge)

My tale has a subplot I dropped the threads of near the end. I mention an organization and when the character representing it met her demise, no further mention was made. The organization still exists. It didn't die with the character, so I have the job of creating a plausible explanation. The timeline will help me achieve this goal. (I hope)

P.S. I am experiencing a bit of NaNoWriMo hangover. I spent November hanging out with other writers logging words and writing prose. It feels weird not to have a word count deadline looming over my head. I don't know the cure, other than writing, of course. Maybe after I finish some of my planning and start writing again the restless feeling with go away.
shay_writes: (<3)
( Jun. 6th, 2012 06:03 am)
It's been two weeks and I'm still writing!

I'm on my way to developing a habit. This sounds weird to me in a way, since there was a time in my life when writing was as easy as breathing. It wasn't something I needed to remind myself to do. Illness and life experiences eroded my habits and writing hasn't been a major part of my life for almost three years now. I've thought about it often and have written things here and there, mostly in November (scoff gently please) But now it feels like it is time. Time to either shit or get off the pot. (though I can't imagine not creating stories)

To help cement my new writing goal of creating something daily, I am working on a new project. It is mainly for fun, and I don't see it leading anywhere. A query for it would make agents laugh and tell their friends. But it's my golden ticket. It is my entry way back to the world I love. It is helping me to move back to doing what I want to do with my life and not just existing. I vow to finish my silly little story with it's flat characters and far fetched plot. Then I will go on to edit a few of my more serious works, that have potential to be more than they currently are.

(talking about the silly story, there were a few sentences of dialog I was proud off, talking about the boundaries between black and white and the existence of gray areas)
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shay_writes: (Default)
( Jan. 1st, 2012 10:04 am)
Just in case a few of my newly found old friends find this journal via Facebook, I thought I needed a "sticky" post with instructions on how to gain access to my brilliant prose contained within this digital journal.

Anyone who would like to be "friended" and granted an ALL ACCESS pass to Shay, please comment below letting me know who you are. Once upon a time my journal was public, then along came a troll and I had to shut the door, only allowing a select few to enter. (I sound so very exclusive don't I?)

My entries are pretty mundane and are mostly about my family and writing.

*waves at new/old Facebook friendos*
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While my brain is processing a potential new story idea, I'm re-hashing the novels of writing days passed. Novel number one is a complete mess, so it shall not ever see the light of day. (except maybe an excerpt in one of those funny writing memes so you can poke fun at it) Novel number two might be resurrected with the appropriate amount of mouth to mouth. It has a complete awesome outline with many plot points. The prose needs to be spit shined a bit, but with the right amount of attention, it might be query worthy. (OMG, I used the "Q" word)

I won't bore you with novels three through seven. They will see their day in the sun eventually. I'm going to play with each one to see if I can breath new life into them. I think it would be a shame for all those words to just lie dormant on a hard drive, never having the chance to spread their wings and soar.

My writing goal for this year is to spend at least a hour a day writing. (if possible two hours) So far, I've been slacking, blowing my word wad on Twitter. (how I love it so!) This weekend I am taking positive steps toward my goal. Novel two has been printed and I'm going to search my many notebooks for the original outline. After I get Nate calmed down and in bed, I shall read novel two and take notes. (Novel two is Edge of a Dream, formerly Open Vein)

How many old novels do you have in your closet? :P
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shay_writes: (Default)
( Jan. 10th, 2010 12:35 am)
I want to read more this year. I'm not sure how much I read last year, because I didn't keep track like I usually do. 2009 was a rough year for me, with many ups and downs. I'm hoping 2010 is better.

One book I want to read this year is The Road by Cormac McCarthy. My friend Sara read it and said it changed her. I know it has the potential to be devastating, but I like that quality in books. (I need to continue with my Suzanne Brockmann reading too)

Are there any other books I must read this year? Please leave suggestions in the comments.

I like lots of different genres from literary to urban fantasy. (even non-fiction)

Nick complained about the many boxes of books he had to carry when we moved into the new house. I will be buying book shelves this month so I can unpack my collection.
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I was lucky enough to win a couple of ARCs several months ago, Captivate by Carrie Jones and Battle of the Network Zombies by Mark Henry. I've finished both of them and I come bearing reviews of each.

Captivate reached my hot little hands first, so shall it be reviewed first. It is the next installment in Carrie Jone's pixie series. (if you haven't read the first book in the series, Need, please go do it now!) These aren't your Disney pixies, these are much edgier. Zara is back, as are her close friends. They are facing a new challenge and a new group of pixies drawn to the area, including a pixie King determined to make Zara his Queen. Zara must make an important choice that has the potential to change her future. I zipped through Captivate, eager to find out what would happen next. I think Carrie has written another winner and I can't wait till the next book comes out.

Battle of the Network Zombies is the third in Mark Henry's Amanda Feral series. It has vampires, zombies, and yetis OH MY! Amanda is back and in dire straits. Her company is going bankrupt and she is having man troubles. Then along comes reality television, the answer to her prayers. (as if she would pray) When a snag threatens to derail Amanda's reality television debut, she takes the bull by the horns and saves the day. Henry hit my raunchy funny bone and I think this might be my favorite Amanda tale. (I am partial to yetis) I especially liked the mystery aspects and trying to figure out who did what and why.

I recommend both of these books as money well spent. Go forth and buy! Captivate is available now and Battle of the Network Zombies will be available on February 23rd.

P.S. Look for the review of One the Edge by Ilona Andrews coming soon.
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People who know me well are familiar with my stance on the holidays. I don't care for the season and the faster it passes the better.

This year was different.

This year, something strange happened.

It began the Tuesday before the big day. I was sitting in my car, eating lunch in the parking lot at work, like I do often, while reading my Twitter list. There in amongst the mundane hourly updates and LOL cat links, there was a tweet from my favorite podcast, TBTL. I followed the cyber thread and learned Luke, the host, was planning a holiday song dedication show.

An idea was born.

I would contact Mr. Burbank and make a dedication to my father. Then if my voice mail was lucky enough to be included, I would burn it for my dad and give it to him for Christmas.

Tuesday slowly ticked into Wednesday and the hours of Wednesday ticked by till at last the podcast was ready to be downloaded. It contained some great Christmas music, a mix of the rarely heard and the old standards. Twenty minutes in, after Mariah's version of "All I Want For Christmas Is You," was my voice begging the TBTL crew to play my dedication to my dad. Tears welled up in my eyes and as they say about our favorite fuzzy, green guy, my heart grew three sizes that day. I couldn't wait for work to end and Thursday to come. I was going to go shopping on Christmas Eve and buy gifts for everyone in my family.

My brain, famous for scathingly brilliant ideas, thought of a scheme where poor little old me could afford to give 20 people gifts for Christmas and not break the bank. There would be toys for Izzy, Nate, and Jacobii of course, and burned CDs for my dad. The rest of the gifts would be things gathered from the bargain aisle at Wal-Mart. I would wrap them all up and put them in a festive bag and let my relatives reach in and choose their gift.

I was giddy as pre-teen boy just discovering what his genitals will do. Bouncing from one foot to the other, I couldn't wait till the evening descended and our Christmas Eve celebration began.

Dad was the first to encounter my Christmas transformation. I presented him with the CDs and instructed him to play the one with the holiday music first. He was half-way listening, not really appreciating the Flaming Lips and their Christmas zoo song. I forced him to stick it out for Mariah, then the moment came. My voice echoed from the speakers filling the computer room. Dad didn't realize it was me. He chuckled about the girl's father's obsession with Elvis, not getting he was laughing at himself. The first notes of "Blue Christmas" began and he noticed the tears in my eyes.

"That was me dad. I called the podcast and dedicated that song to you."

He forced me to rewind the dedication, then hugged me close, telling me what a fabulous gift I had given him. It was all I could do not to have a full blown emotional melt down.

The grab bag session went well, and my family knowing me, enjoyed their bounty.

It was a Christmas miracle.
Where did the year go? Can someone please tell me? I blinked and the year was history. In fact, the decade passed quicker than I think it should have.

Ten years ago tonight...

I was celebrating 2000 with my neighbors and kids. We decorated the living room with blue and silver balloons and streamers. I made tons of finger food and my ex got so drunk he was passed out in the bathtub when the ball dropped.

I remember thinking all the b.s. about Y2K was b.s. I wasn't online then. I didn't even own a computer. I was writing though, putting my story ideas on obscure bits of paper.

I will not mourn 2009, for it was a trying year for me. I will embrace 2010 with open arms and hold it close. This will be my year. Last year, I finished a novel. This year I will edit one and maybe lose my fear of failure.

No resolutions for me. I always break them. Instead I will make predictions.

I predict in 2010, I will live a healthier life. The year will pass just as quickly as the previous one, but I shall shed copious amounts of weight.

In 2010, I the Great Shay see, myself writing a query letter to a variety of agents. This act will cause me much relief and much stress as I will begin obsessively checking my email for responses.

2010 will be a year of love for the Shay. I will embrace many, especially myself. No, I won't get back in the dating game, but I won't be totally against having dinner and a movie with someone. (they must be a pretty special someone cause I'm a pretty special someone)

There will be travel in 2010. I see Shay traveling great distances, possibly even to Georgia and maybe even beyond.

Laughter will ring through the walls of Shay's new home and everyone who enters will feel the warm of her heart.
(why am I talking about myself in third person?)

Feel free to add your predictions for 2010 in the comments!

Happy New Year Everyone!

P.S. I plan on bringing in the new year writing so that I will spend the entire year writing.
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