Pollination

    62572449_10211128159879117_3492421234761662464_n I have about five tomato plants. I bought them as seedlings and they have grown tremendously. One is even up past my knees. I don’t eat tomatoes but I wanted to grow something. I got into a discussion with a friend of mine about tomatoes and made a deal. If I grow them then she will eat them.
    Now, I have five healthy tomato plants. They’ve put out a few blooms but when it comes to bearing fruit only one plant out of the five has managed it. The tomatoes are also smaller than what they should be. That week of hot weather we had probably has taken a toll.
     I talked to my mom about it and we are going to give them some more plant food to see if that helps, but she also mentioned the lack of bees. I mean I’ve read the articles and everything, I know that bees are endangered and that it is a very bad thing for the entire world. It was even mentioned in a Doctor Who episode once. Its why I have a random pot of wildflowers growing near the back fence that I just leave alone and let do their thing. Yet, I cannot actually recall seeing many bees this year. Maybe a bumble bee or two but none of the honey bees that usually buzz around the clover.
Now, as I look at my tomato plants I am saddened. When I first got them I actually worried that five plants would produce too many tomatoes for me to give to my friend and she would grow tired of them. So far I’ve managed only three and one of those we laughed about because it was so small.
I set out to grow tomatoes but now as I look at the plants on my porch steps I realize I unwittingly grew an environmental science experiment instead. I must say I am unhappy with the findings.62638278_10211128162319178_1378712552447410176_n.jpg
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To Sleep…

Little-dreamer-daydreaming-30420185-500-375There are usually a couple of reasons I can’t sleep. Very rarely is it because I am not tired. The more likely reason is that my thoughts are too loud.

I will lay there in the cool dark with the ceiling fan stirring the air, and instead of just enjoying the peaceful silence my mind starts to wander. I think about work and the kids. I think about all the things in life I could be better at. I feel guilty about the things I didn’t get done that day or the fact that I am making the dog stay outside in the back yard because she keeps peeing in the floor. (She will be out for hours and then come in and pee on the floor for no reason. I really don’t understand why.)

Depression closes in around me and I just continue to spiral downward for hours until I finally pass out or it is time to get up again. To bypass this, I often read before bed. However, this is a double-edged sword because I have a problem putting a book down once I start. So if I am not careful I will not sleep for reading too much.

There are over the counter sleep aids that I can take but I usually only go with those if I don’t have to get up early. Even if I try to go to bed early I am still groggy the next day. Often I end up feeling the same as if I haven’t slept.

I also have an autistic son that likes to wake me up after I’ve been asleep for a couple of hours. It is usually because he needs something so I feel guilty getting annoyed about it, but it is just so hard to go back to sleep once someone wakes me up. It feels like it is twice as hard as just going to sleep to begin with.

I am having trouble sleeping right now. I thought maybe writing a few words would clear some brain space for sleep. Here’s hoping it works. Sweet dreams everyone.John_George_Brown_-_Sleeping_angel

Lost and Found

rain-2538429_1920I’ve not been writing much. Honestly, I’ve not been doing a lot of anything that isn’t strictly necessary. Last week I read a lot and watch Good Omens when it was released to Amazon Prime on Friday. (It was awesome.) Sunday I went to the movies to watch the live action version of Aladdin. It was pretty good.

I’ve paid my bills, I’ve gone to work, I’ve made sure everything or everyone I’m responsible for has been fed…but it has all been just me on autopilot. I suppose I could blame the unseasonably warm temperatures or depression, maybe even a combo of the two. Anyway, I didn’t even notice that I was on autopilot until Friday.

The book Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman has always been one of my gofavorites. I took a course on British Literature in college and as a final project, the teacher had us choose a work by a British author and do a presentation on it. There were the usual picks like Chaucer or Shakespeare that the rest of my classmates went with but I waited after class to ambush speak with the professor in order to convince him to allow me to use Good Omens. (The only rule he had given us was that the author had to be of British origin.)

At first, he was hesitant because he wanted us to do a project on something he was familiar with. However, I had come prepared. I gave him a copy of the book I just happened to have on hand and told him a short synopsis.

Basically, I told him that the book is about the end of the world, they’ve misplaced the ertg3e54grantichrist, and the four horsemen ride motorcycles. (The motorcycle part was the important bit because I knew he rode as well.) Anyway, I got permission and passed the assignment with flying colors.  It was more difficult to pull the project together because there was less to work with.  The people who pick Hamlet or Canterbury Tales had tons of sources to choose from. I had a few pieces of fan art, the book itself, and some author interviews. But it was worth it because I got a chance to share something I loved with the rest of my class. No one else had read it, outside of the professor.

MV5BOTI5Y2M3NmQtNDg5ZC00OTQ0LWEzOGYtMjM4Zjg0YzY0M2I0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjkwNzEwMzU@._V1_So this past Friday I realized it was May 31, 2019. It caught me off guard. The date was etched in my mind because I had been waiting over a year for Amazon to bring one of my favorite books to life. I had high hopes because they had cast David Tennent as Crowley and I knew he would be able to pull it off. Yet instead of eagerly counting down the days, the day arrived without me noticing. That was when it hit me how much of a fog I’ve been in.

I sat down that afternoon and watched all six hours of Good Omens. The story unfolded perfectly and I was excited as I waited for each new episode to start. I felt for the characters when bad things happened, I laughed at the jokes, and I enjoyed trying to spot all the Doctor Who references they snuck in.  During those six hours, I shook off my fog and came back to life.

So here I am. Back to me again. I don’t like being lost like that. It’s a scary thing and I’d like to prevent it from reoccurring.

 

A Writer Reflects

Writer-once-upon-a-time-1024x576Earlier this week I was sitting a table in the breakroom at my day job, scribbling down story ideas. A random coworker approached and jokingly ask if I was writing a book. I answered straight-faced with a “yes”, causing him to look at me funny. With a sigh, I stopped writing and reached for my wallet to pull out a business card. I explained that yes I do write fiction, mostly fantasy, and had several things available on Amazon if he were interested.

o'connorI didn’t know this person. My day job is in a building with probably 400 people. I don’t know them all but I had seen this gentleman before in passing. The sigh was involuntary because I was being interrupted. Its the same as when you are trying to read or watch a movie and someone keeps talking to you. With a book or a movie often you can go back to the last line you read or rewind the film. When you are writing and someone interrupts your thoughts are gone once derailed depending on when they interrupt. In this case, everything was pouring out off the cuff and when I got suddenly got brought back to reality it was like someone turned off the water while I was drinking from the fountain.

Earlier that day I had been asked a question. I was stuck in a meeting with around sixty other people and happened to mention to one of my work friends that I have a new book of short stories out. This elicited surprise from those nearby, which confused me. I’m a writer. I don’t hide it. I thought I was quite obvious about it but it seems I wasn’t as apparent as I thought I was.

I was then asked, “If you are a writer, why aren’t you rich?”

I laughed because it doesn’t work that way. If all it took was to write and be semi-decent On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft by [King, Stephen]at it to become well off, the distribution of wealth would be much different than what it is. My answer was: “Because I am not Stephen King, and even he started off writing in the laundry room.” (I work at an appliance company so this was met with more amusement than average.)

non-fictionIt is intriguing to note that people still equate books with wealth. Once upon a time books were hard to come by and only the wealthy had them. However, even then, the people that wrote the books were not as well off as the people that read them. Unless you are one of the few who receive a lot of advertising and tend to be decently prolific, writing a book is not the way to fame and fortune. Which isn’t why most writers write anyway.

I mean, we wouldn’t mind a little of the fortune. We all have bills to pay and would love the chance to be able to do so without worry or the necessity of having another job. It’s just not the way things usually work; regardless if you go the traditional publishing route, go indie, or do a combination of the two.

There are some writers who make a good living. I hope to be one of them someday. I library-425730_1920think that is the hope of most writers. Those that are actually in it for the fame and fortune are usually disappointed unless they have very good marketing teams.

Could I be more successful than I am right now? Oh absolutely. I just need to get over my ingrained insecurities, stop sighing at people who interrupt my writing when they may be potential customers, actually finish the dozens of writing projects I’ve got in the works, and then tell lots and lots of people that I have books and they should read them instead of hoping for some kind of divine osmosis to happen where everyone just suddenly knows my stuff exists.

I’ll get there one day.

dream time

The Pain of Pancakes

I have a younger cousin in high school, who is a writer. She isn’t published yet as far as I know but she ended up with that creative gene that affects so many in my family. I don’t think that is a bad thing at all. It is actually comforting when one of us is experiencing one of those pesky writer problems and the other knows exactly what it feels like. This kid has such a bright spark too. Her life hasn’t been the easiest but I know one day she is going to take all of that and use it to do something fantastic.

fairy-1181702_1280My eldest child and this cousin are exactly one year and one day apart in age. If this were a fairy tale that would mean joining together on an epic journey to a hopefully happy ending. Honestly, if they ever decide to do comics or something, it could happen. My eldest is an artist. ( And yes, I realize there are more ways for a collaboration between a writer and an artist to happen other than comic books, but I watch Into the Spider-Verse last night and so comics were the first things that popped into my head.)

I am horrible at making pancakes. (Also know as hotcakes or flapjacks.) You are probably wondering what one thing has to do with the other, but stick with me please, I really do have a point.

This past week was filled to the gills with errands and appointments and I didn’t sleep catnapwell all week. I’ve been having trouble with writing because when I sit down to write I know I don’t have the time to just get lost in the words like I prefer. Everyday worries and responsibilities keep crowding in and I lose my focus. Also, I have just been so tired.

I take naps in my car on my lunch break at work because my head is too fuzzy to concentrate. I have trouble string words together coherently and the filter between my brain and my mouth isn’t working correctly either. This has been going on for a while. I’ve been depressed and frustrated with life and it only seems to get more difficult as the days go on.

Last week my annoyance levels hit the “to hell with it mark”. Often, that is a bad thing but it can occasionally be a good thing too. When I reach THWI, I can either go do something stupid or I can stop looking at all I can’t accomplish and start looking for things I can.

UndertowIn this case, I pulled up the poetry chapbook I have been fighting the formatting on for months. I sat down, added another poem, deleted all the pretty pictures I had plucked off pixabay, added some simplistic basic art instead (also from pixabay), and then spent hours adjusting and deleting things. I paid attention to what got me the result I was after and what caused problems when I uploaded my manuscript to Amazon. I came to the conclusion that I was an idiot when I realized I was causing one of the main issues myself. However, I kept plugging away and now I have a new poetry chapbook available.

(Right now I am also working on a book of short stories because I have had some complaints from readers who prefer physical copies. Once I am done, it will include all of the shorts I currently have up on Amazon and even more shiny new ones.)

Once I finished the book and ordered a proof of the physical copy, I got the oil changed in my car and then washed the poor thing. I started feeling better because I could see progress. I still had all of the other obligations that had been dragging me down but now I felt better about my ability to get things done and I managed to get a little more sleep.

This brings us back to pancakes. I truly am awful when it comes to making pancakes. pancake-640869_1920I have heard all the tips and tricks. I have watched carefully as other people make them but my pancakes still turn out barely edible if I am lucky. My kids beg me to buy the frozen kind that you heat up in the microwave so that they won’t be forced to endure my attempts at the homemade variety.

I usually listen to them, but a few weeks ago there was a sale at the grocery store on mixes. I picked up a packet of confetti style and a packet of chocolate chip batter mix. I smiled as I thought about getting up early on a Sunday and surprising the kids with a breakfast of fun pancakes and bacon. If one of the kids had been at the store with me, those packets would have never made it to the cart.

I know I am bad at pancakes but I still keep hoping that one day I’ll get it, that it will just click and suddenly I’ll be the pancake queen. I am awesome at grilled cheese so I don’t understand why pancakes are so difficult. I used to be really bad at scrambled eggs but my sister eventually fixed that, so I live in hope that I one day I will be good at pancakes too.

(If you doubt my inept pancake skills, I have had at least three different friends on separate occasions walk in on me during pancake experiments over the years. Each time they wore the same expression of horrified disbelief before they pushed me away from the cooking surface and took my spatula, then proceeded to churn out perfect pancakes from the rest of the batter. My friend Jessi could even make them look like cute little animals.)

cold-2722002_1920This morning the house was chilly because yesterday was lovely and sunny and I didn’t think to turn the heat on before bed last night. I slept in because warm blankets in a cool house are one of the best things in the world. When I awoke, I laid there in my warm cocoon and remembered the packets of pancake mix I had stored in the drawer. It was a perfect warm breakfast day.

After letting the dogs out and feeding the cats, I pulled together all of the things I would need and carefully read the instructions on the back of the package. My son walked in while the first pancake was in the pan and quickly requested something different for breakfast. I frowned but told him he could have what he was asking for along with the chocolate chip pancakes. (He is on the autism spectrum and it is hard to get him to eat different things.) Defeated, he left me to it.

craft-1423803_1920.jpgThe first pancake was black. I lost track of how long it was in the pan while talking to my son. The second one was less black but still overdone and with tiny bits of plastic stuck to it where the spatula melted. I cleaned the pan and switch to the metal spatula that I should have been using all along. This time I had better results. Still not good, but better. By the time I got to the end of the batter, I managed two reasonably roundish, lightly browned pancakes. I presented them to my son and ate a couple of the more promising failures myself.  We each ate about half of our pancakes because warm chocolate chips first thing in the morning turned out not to be the best idea.

Life is full of challenges like pancakes. It may seem like something simple that everyonevintage-1722329_1920 you know can accomplish without issue. That doesn’t mean you should be disheartened because it is difficult for you. It just means that it is going to take you extra effort to accomplish what seems easy to them. There are probably things that you do without a second thought that others find hard.

Something I hope both my cousin and my eldest child remember as they grow in talent and in life is that it is okay if the first try doesn’t work. It is okay if your repeated attempts don’t turn out perfect. Success is defined by the person who is attempting to achieve it.

In my case successful pancakes aren’t bunny shaped, they are just edible ones. One day that may change. Right now I know what I need to master first; the challenge that is in front of me.

Sunday Yard Sales and Writing

Right now I am sitting on my front porch with my computer open before me. It is pleasant and sunny with a strong breeze blowing the wind chimes. Two tables are set up at the end of my driveway with various items decorating the tops in the hopes of enticing some random person into handing over cash.  This was not my idea.

54514151_10210688318363354_3942095613344088064_oYesterday I went to a small convention in Chattanooga. Even though I was running on only a couple of hours of sleep, I had a good time. I picked up a couple of graphic novels and a nine-tailed plushy of a kitsune in glasses. It was fun. It was Metrotham Con’s inaugural year and I think I just may return for year two if they manage it.

My weekends are usually divided up into a day where I actually go out among the masses and accomplish things like socializing or grocery shopping, and a day where I stay home and pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist. Yesterday was my do things day. Today was supposed to be my stay home and do-nothing-unless-it-involves-a-creative-endeavor day.

Then my mom decided she wanted to have a yard sale. At my house. On a Sunday. At one o’clock in the afternoon. label-2016248_1280

She is having a bad depression day too which isn’t making life any easier. Signs weren’t put up to advertise her impromptu yard sale until 2 o’clock. We haven’t had anyone stop by yet but I am still sitting here waiting. She decided to run home and see if she could convince my dad to come back with her, so now I am temporarily in charge. I put a few of my books on the table with her stuff because, why not?

If she does manage to get my dad to return with her maybe I will cook dinner for all of us or something. I highly suspect that no one will return and in about an hour I will be packing away her yard sale. That is okay too, I guess.

So far this yard sale hasn’t generated any revenue unless you count words. I started a new story and have been fighting formatting for the new poetry book I’ve been trying to get out. I also managed to write this post. If this day had gone the way I planned, I probably would have never changed out of my pajamas and would have stayed inside reading. I consider that a perfectly reasonable way to spend a day off. However, this has maybe turned out better. Sitting out here is rather relaxing and peaceful. Duke