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22 June 2010

Hello! My name is Jen and I'm Chronic

Hi guys! A big hello to my new followers! *waves* I'm constantly amazed by the wonderful people I meet through this fabulous journey of blogging. You guys are all spectacular and I consider you all friends.

Unfortunately, I haven't been that great of a friend lately and for that I do apologize. I have missed reading and commenting and catching up on your lives. I've been battling some interesting health issues lately that make concentration and typing a bit of a chore.
Yesterday, I got to put a name to a face so to speak. The doctors and staff at the center I went to pretty much confirmed what I'd suspected. It was nice, though, to have a professional opinion.

I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Not really a shocker, at least not for me. Now that I know what it is, I am better able to fight it. The treatment options they offer are a bit financially steep, so I'll be battling this on my own. They did, however, recommend a book (their exact words: "even if you do nothing else, read this book!"). It was written by the medical director of their facility and it is fabulous. I'm making my way through it slowly simply because I keep stopping to exclaim (out loud), "YES! That's exactly how I feel!!". The doctor/author offers nutritional and supplemental guidelines and dosages and I know enough people in the natural/herbal health industry to get hooked up with the right stuff. It's a long process to get back to "normal" and some of it will be life long. Yippee!

I say all of this to let you know I'll be taking a bit of a blogging break. I don't want to, but the brain fog that's a part of this has severely limited my ability to put together a coherent blog post in quite some time, not to mention it keeps me distracted and unable to truly digest your marvelous posts and comment accordingly.

If it was up to me, I'd quit work, rest and recuperate and keep on blogging, spending my wee bit of energy on the things I love. But that's just not possible at this time. Sadly, blogging is one of the things I'm having to put on hold. Again, I don't want to. I love it and I miss it terribly when I'm away. But I don't like putting up half hearted posts and half hearted comments even less than I dislike having to press pause on this wonderful part of life. That's not fair to you, dear readers.

For now, I'll say goodbye for a couple of weeks. After July 05 for certain. Don't forget about me, dear bloggy friends! Thank you all for your understanding in this. Here's hoping I'm back to my "old" self again soon (or should I say, new self?).

Cheers and best wishes,
Jen

(If you like, you're more than welcome to shoot me an email! I'm still stuck in front of the computer at work and I get emails all day long. I'd love to hear from you - jstantonchandler (at) gmail (dot) com. :)

17 June 2010

ON-LINE WRITING CONFERENCE

Yes indeedy! At last, it has happened! Some intelligent and super creative folks banned together to create a conference for the rest of us. You know, those of us who are (at the present) unable to take off a week or weekend and fly off to fabulous, exotic locales and attend a writer's conference.

Go here NOW: WriteOnCon. Take a look around. Make the decision to take part. Registration doesn't begin until July 01 but I'm gearing up already. I think it's a terrific idea!

I heard about it HERE.

It's for all writers BUT because the creators are kidlit authors, the information will be geared in that direction. It's rated MC-18 (main characters 18 and under...LOVE IT!)

So what are you waiting for? Check it out!

16 June 2010

Addictions & Writing

I thought I'd continue our little discussion on addictions. I find it fascinating. Again, I'm not talking about the kind of addictions that can get you killed, arrested, or worse. I'm talking about the things we love, can't do without, don't want to do without. You know, things like coffee, chocolate, books.

And writing.

Are you addicted to writing? Am I? Do I think you have to be addicted to writing to create something meaningful, brilliant and publisher-worthy?

No. I don't think so. It sure helps, but I don't think it's necessary. I think you have to be committed to writing. The difference? One you do because you can't help it, the other you do because you must. Like I said, addiction to writing can definitely help the unpublished get published, the floundering to find solid ground. But it takes commitment, sold out, unwavering commitment to the craft to get there and stay there. Why?

Because no one likes writing all the time. And writing isn't just about putting words on paper. It's about editing and polishing and editing and rewriting, and cursing the day you ever decided to write a novel. It's about having others read it and listening to their critiques unflinching. It's about crying at midnight because you just lost 1200 pages when the power went out and you just knew you could type that next paragraph before you hit the save button. That's commitment. Commitment is about quality; I believe a writing addiction would be more about quantity.

What you DO have to be addicted to is STORY. You have to be consumed by your story in order to write it, stay with it, edit it, throw it out, start over, rewrite it, and spend the grueling months (years?) sending out query after query after query. You must believe in this story, believe in the characters, their actions, their reactions, the good, the bad, the ugly. Especially the ugly because that's what get criticised the most.

Am I addicted to writing? No. In fact, there's some days I flat tell myself I'm not going to write. Do I write every day? Yes, but not on my current manuscript. I just got that one going today. The idea has been bouncing around and I finally forced myself to type all day at work between phone calls. What else was I going to do? Oh yeah...blog... (Insert disclaimer here and apologize profusely for not reading and commenting on blogs in the past few days. Also insert a sad face. Those work too.)

So tell me, are you addicted to writing? If you are, I think that's AWESOME! I'll bet you can pull out some awesome word counts. Or better yet, you can look back at your plethora of written words and see progress that we less than prolific writers are able. Either way, why or why not? For me, it's simple: I get distracted. Not by life or by work, but by the story. I'll be sailing along, clickety-clacking away and suddenly, the story will go off in my head, I'll think of a later scene, and off I go, day dream mode, full steam ahead. And I forget about the writing. I'd rather grab some popcorn and see what my kids are going to do next. And then, when they're finished, they stare at me. "Um, aren't you going to write any of this down?" they ask. "Sure, sure," I shoo them back, "but not now. I want to see more? What's next?"

Ah yes, the burdens of a dreamer.

14 June 2010

Addictions

Addictions are funny. They can be disastrous, frightening, or down right weird. I think mine fall somewhere between quirky and strange. Borderline geek, that's me. I'm always interested in what others are addicted to. I'm not talking about Prozac or Jack and Coke here. I'm talking those little (or not so little things) that consume you.

Anyone who knows me (or who has ever been to our loft), knows I love books. I'm addicted to them. They follow me home from book stores, yard sales, thrift stores, my mom's house. If there's a book in need of a home, I'm sure I'll find a way to adopt it. I call them my children. They are many. At last count, I think I numbered upwards of 800.

Paper is another love of mine. Especially handmade paper. Old paper, found in old books (antique book store is a double dose of goodness). I love the way it feels, the way it smells, the sound of a pen etching it's clear face with pimples of words and sketches. They laugh at me at work because I take all my notes via notepad, still use sticky notes, and think the iPad is an overgrown iPod touch. I work for an I.T. company. Hence the laughing. At least when the power goes out, I still have something to occupy my time.

The ocean would definitely be one of my addictions. Salt water, salt air, the freedom that the seaside inspires. The goal, dear friends, is the live within walking distance of the sea. That is a work in progress, but my eye is on the prize.

Last but not least, Star Wars. Old school. Episodes 4, 5 & 6. TOTAL Star Wars geek here. I've been watching them for the past few weeks. I'll just pop them in and let 'em go. I don't have to sit and watch them (I know them by heart). I just like to have something going while I work around the house and the comfort of my childhood is piped out of the speakers through those films.

Our addictions define us, shape us. In the instance of things we love (collect, hoard, seek out), this can be a good thing. It can also help us in discovering our writing voice. The things we love are our roots. They ground us. You hear it said (too often) to write what you know. Why not take the things you're passionate about and see what fictional fodder can be found. Judging by what I've listed, I could write a science fiction tale of a book loving writer who lives by the sea. Or under it, Captain Nemo style. Or on another planet. Hmmm, there's a story even in my addictions it seems.

What are you addicted too? Have you ever written a story based on your addictions? What about a character with similar passions?

11 June 2010

Friday Rambles

First off, I'm really digging these new blogger "design" templates. I might just stick with this one for a bit. Groovy, huh?

No more aerial attacks from palmetto bugs. Thankfully. However, I did try doing yoga yesterday and I ended up falling asleep.

It seems I've been battling a bit of some chronic fatigue lately. That would explain the not feeling well for the past three weeks. I don't have a specific diagnosis yet, but I'm going to a specialist the end of this month. I'm hoping they just tell me I'm over stressed and need to take some time off. But, if it's a little more complicated than that, at least I'll know what I'm battling and I can better fight it.

In other news, I received an AWESOME prize package from the fabulous Elana Johnson yesterday (thanks Elana! You rock!! *waves*). My name was pulled out of the hat for her Ender's Game prize pack. Confession time: I've never read Ender's Game. Now I will and the shame shall be forever removed.

It's Friday (in case you lived under a rock and weren't sure of the day) and every week I say "it couldn't have come at a better time". And every week I mean it, but perhaps not as much as I mean it today. I hope you all have fabulous fun planned this weekend. Or just some much needed down time. Or maybe you thrive on adrenaline. If that's the case, go jump off a bridge. Just make sure the bungee cord's tied tight and you take lots of pictures!

Cheers!
Jen

09 June 2010

Adventures in Savasana

Savasana: corpse pose. Easy, relaxing, anyone can do it. You lay flat on your back, on your cozy yoga mat, let your arms and legs turn out naturally and allow your entire body to relax. Aaaahhhh.

Right.

I set the timer for 10 minutes yesterday afternoon. My cat was already in his own version of Savasana (also what I call the "pet my belly" pose) so I pulled ye olde purple yoga mat up beside him and laid down gently. It was working. I was "relaxing into the floor" as we're told to do, letting everything fall downward, releasing tension. Then I heard a strange sound behind me, a soft clicking. I bent my head backwards to look and saw my cat run over to the pantry door. He sniffed and snuffled and looked at me. It was the cat equivalent of a shrug. I shrugged back and returned to my yoga.

"It was the plastic bottle I just put in the recycling bag, Colby," I told him. He came and sat back beside me. Not a minute later, I opened my eyes on a whim, and there above me, on the ceiling, was a palmetto bug (also known as a huge, disgusting, flying roach). Nice, I thought, as it scuttled above me. Suddenly, it didn't look so sturdy and the thought of a huge palmetto in my hair was NOT very relaxing. I leaped off the mat just as said bug slipped from the ceiling and fluttered (yes, fluttered) down to the floor.

Colby sprang into "croc hunter" action and went after it, chasing it behind the chair. I flat refuse to step on anything larger than my thumb nail so off I ran to the hall closet to obtain my bug weapon of mass destruction: all purpose cleaner.

"Where did it go, Colby?"

He pawed behind the chair.

"Chase it out, boy."

Behind the chair goes the cat, out comes the palmetto. Bleck!

"Stop, Colby! I don't want to spray you."

The cat stops, and I spray that sucker to kingdom come.

The cat is praised, the roach is dead, the timer goes off. All in all, a good yoga session :)

08 June 2010

Day One


Do you ever stop and think, "I don't need this added stress?"

Do you ever sign up for something and then immediately regret it?

I do. All the time. Why? Perhaps I have decision making issues. Perhaps I'm scared. Perhaps it's a bit of both.

I felt that way about the 21*5*800 Challenge. I signed up Friday. I blogged about it yesterday. Last night I thought, "This is crazy. You never finish these things. Why bother doing another?"

And this morning, I wrote 1100 + words. The most I've written in one sitting (aside from emails and blog posts) in a very long time. I'm going to be gentle with myself. My body is demanding it and I am finally listening. I'll be writing stream of consciousness style for these 21 days. I won't post the entire piece (stream of consciousness is never pretty) but I may post a few glimmers along the way. As for the yoga part, I'll be doing mostly Savasana. As I said, my body is demanding I be gentle with it. I've gone against that before (read: most of my life). It's not very smart to deny yourself rest when your body is begging for it. Not smart at all.

As I was spurting out words this afternoon, I began to feel a lightening in my spirit. I've carried so much junk around with me for so long: fear, confusion, double-mindedness. The book of James likens a double-minded man as being tossed "to and fro upon the waves". That's how I feel. Back and forth, back and forth, up and down, in and out. Inside out. Perhaps now I'm willing to listen. Or perhaps the stream of consciousness won't allow my inner critic the chance to edit and, you know, critique! That's a good thing. I got some things out on the table. I may work with it some more. Maybe a poem's hiding in there. Who knows?

Have you ever tried stream of consciousness writing? Did you end up with anything other than pages full of typos? Just curious.

Cheers,
Jen

07 June 2010

Challenge


Another post, and on a Monday at that. Have I gone crazy? I won't answer that. Not just yet.

First, let me explain.

Back in April I did a 30 Days of Yoga challenge. Marianne Elliott over at zenpeacekeeper hosted it. I could tell you that I walked away from it healthier and more at peace with myself, my goals and my life. That would, of course, be a lie. My fault entirely, not hers! However, I did give it a good try and walked away with some wisdom and a better understanding at what is going on in my life at the present.

I wander over to Marianne's from time to time and upon my Friday wandering, I discovered something very intriguing: 21*5*800

Hmm, mused I. Curiosity got the better of me and I blog hopped over to Bindu Wiles' blog and found THIS:

For 21 days we'll be doing 5 days of yoga a week
and 800 words of writing per day.

At first blush I thought, "Nope. Not me. Not again." Then I continued to read. I pondered. I pontificated. I even procrastinated.

I signed up.

So...

For the next 21 days, I'll be doing 5 days of yoga. It's something I enjoy and need to put back in my life anyway. For the next 21 days I'll be writing 800 words a day (at least). That's over 16,000 words. Not too shabby for a gal who's been writing maybe, you know, 10 words a day.

And yes, you knew it was coming, and you were right. What do YOU think, my dear bloggy friends? Are you up for it? A lot of people hate yoga, and that's perfectly ok. She has a suggestion for that, too. Savasana: corpse pose. In other words, you can lie down and it's called yoga :). There's more to it than that, but I figured it was worth putting it that way to get you to take a peak. Sneaky, tricksy I am.

Now you know where the nifty new badge on my sidebar came from.
Now you know why I may be a bit more introspective over the next 21 days.
Now you know why I may spit out more writing (read: more blog posts).
And now you know that yes, I am, in fact, crazy.

Happy Monday!
Jen

Monday

I am not a fan of Mondays. I know Monday fans. Yes, they do exist. They are those coveted souls who do what they love for a living. I imagine loving Mondays. I imagine being excited about a new week, a clean slate to work on new projects and create. For now, it's a dream. Until then, I'll look to my cat for much needed wisdom. He sits on his magic carpet and imparts it daily:

Usually it's just a heart breaking cross between a "meow" and a "purr" that we like to call the "purreow". Loosely translated it means:

"Human, I am not concerned with your questions about life, the universe and everything. Of course I have the answers. All cats do. However, now I require noms! Feed me."
Ah cats, what would we do without them?

I hope you had a wonderful weekend, loves! Tell me, do YOU look forward to Mondays? If so, why? If not...what would it take for you to love them? For me, it would be the knowledge that I was waking to a full day of creative writing, crafting, cleaning, gardening, errand running and life living. Come on now, don't be shy!

Cheers ~Jen

04 June 2010

Linkage


(picture of Cornwall, England found HERE)

I LOVE discovering new sites. I'm a site junkie! I'm forever jotting down websites in random notebooks, forgetting where I put them, and years later stumbling across a list ten miles long of websites I've darn near forgotten about. It's like a treasure hunt [and kills oodles of time at work :)]

I've got three for you today. Maybe you've heard of them, maybe not. The links are all writer/book lover related (there, I've given fair warning).

Author Tech Tips - I am, by far, one of the most technologically uneducated blogger I know. This guy posts articles that help writers who are less than tech-savvy boost their blogs, their online presence, and their tech-know-how. This link is to his "Seven Blogs Every Author Should Follow" post. I'm sure you'll see some familiar faces.

Curled up with a Book - My oh my this site is delicious! From altered books to gorgeous new addition covers: everything from boxes that look like old, French editions to book covers that will shield prying eyes from you Twilight obsession. Not to mention where to buy old typewriters!!

Novel-T - I love baseball, I love books; this site combines the two. It's waaay too much fun to think about the literal (literary?) team that could be conjured through these shirts. Browse through both teams and find your favorite player :) I'm torn between Poe, Dickenson and Darcy! [PS: I found this site thanks to Curled up with a Book. See, I told you it was a great site ;)]

That's all for today, kids! It's Friday! Go enjoy yourselves!

Cheers,
Jen

03 June 2010

Imagination and What We Know

"Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless." ~ Jamie Paolinetti

After yesterday's post, and the comments that followed, I've been doing a lot of thinking about Imagination.

Imagination (n) -
1) the faculty of imagining, or of forming mental images or concepts of what is not actually present to the senses
2) the faculty of producing ideal creations consistent with reality, as in literature, as distinct from the power of creating illustrative or decorative imagery.

We don't need to be taught how to imagine. It comes naturally. All children have the capacity to dream, to see fairies in gardens, to hunt dragons in the back yard and hear monsters under the bed. As we grow into adulthood, however, we're told those are fantasies, childish. Are they? Are our most dazzling daydreams or haunting nightmares all that childish?

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand." ~ Albert Einstein

I think it's a shame to see adults who have lost their capacity to dream. No, life isn't a barrel of laughs. It's tough sometimes, most of the time. Sometimes it down right sucks. There are even children who learn early about the hardships of life. I'm not discounting reality. I'm not trying to preach a rainbow and bubble gum gospel.

I am, however, saying, quite clearly and belligerently: we need to reacquaint ourselves with our dreams. Writers, artists, and all creative types seem to have a knack for calling upon the "unknown". For some it's more work than for others, but we all have a gift for seeing things in our mind before we put them down on paper or carve them out of stone.

There are others this way of seeing things isn't natural. In fact, it may seem impossible. Some people are predispositioned to see "hard facts" and "reality". They are black and white thinkers. For them, there is no grey areas. There's nothing wrong with this. If you're a black and white, we need you. Sometimes we need the blatant truth, no matter how much we'd rather have fluffy bunnies.
"You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." ~ Mark Twain

I encourage you, no matter how hard it is to conjure up castles in the sky, to remember your daydreams. Remember the things that bring you joy, that made you smile when you were small. Spend a few minutes remembering. And, as the feelings transport you out of the cubical, the laundry room, the disheveled studio, allow them to conjure up another reality all together. See where it will take you. You may find yourself embarking on a new artistic journey, humming a forgotten tune while you finish the house work (and finish it way earlier than you thought you would).

At the very least you'll be able to see those dragons in the clouds we talked about yesterday.

Indulge in the grey areas today. Don't be afraid to ask "what if?" and "why not?".

Dream on,
Jen

"I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge - myth is more potent than history - dreams are more powerful than facts - hope always triumphs over experience - laughter is the cure for grief - love is stronger than death." ~ Robert Fulghum

02 June 2010

Mythology as History

While reading Edith Hamilton's book "Mythology", I stumbled across a brilliant little blurb that said (in effect), mythology was science as well as entertainment.

Mythology as science. Interesting concept, but if you think about it, it makes sense. Before scientific research and development, before the splitting of the atom, before Newton got bonked in the head with an apple, people wanted answers to some of life's greatest mysteries.

Where does the sun go at night? Where does the wind come from? What is an echo, a reflection, a thunder clap?

And so they created. They told stories about Apollo and his chariot that towed the sun across the sky, of the chambers of the winds that were opened to let out the bitter North Wind, of Zeus and his hurling of lightening bolts to dole out judgment upon mankind (or just to show off).

The ancients told stories to explain the deeper truths of life. That resonates with me. We as writers do the same. We are post-Enlightenment beings. We have Stephen Hawking, Brian Greene, the Internet :), Starbucks. Our fingertips can put us in touch with more information, more "truth", than the ancient Greeks could have ever amassed in their lifetime.

And yet...we still create stories.

We craft tales of adventure, romance, horror and mystery. We attempt to explain human nature through strings of prose and poetry. Why?

Because we respond, at our most primal level, to the imagination.

I write myth based fantasy. I grew up entranced by the stories of the Greeks, Celts and Native Americans. I still consider dragons when I see mist rising from mountains or hear the grumble of waves against a rocky shore. The world's histories can be told through its cultural mythologies. If you're willing to put aside your contemporary brain and see through the eyes of imagining.

It's easy. Just like finding dinosaurs in clouds.

Cheers,
Jen

01 June 2010

Mixed Feelings

Long weekend with friends and family (and a few adventures along the way) - Huzzah!

Back to work with an aching arm - Bummer.

Checking your email and finding out you've won a FABULOUS prize package from the AMAZING Elana Johnson - SUPER HUZZAH!!!

***
Judging from my comments, I'd say you all had a pretty nifty weekend. We had some rain, some sun, a boat load of humidity and more hamburgers then you could shake a spatula at!

My mom returned from the great white north (aka Alaska) with tons of stories and photos. I can't wait to see them. Bless her she doesn't have a computer yet and isn't able to upload the pictures. That, of course, gives us a great excuse to have her over for dinner and check out the amazing scenery while teaching her to upload/download/happy dance through technology land :) Can I tell you how proud I am of her? This is the first time she's ever travelled without my dad, my sister or myself. It's been three years since Dad died, and they talked about going to Alaska several times but never did. For her to hop a plane (she hasn't flown in over 30 years) with an arm load of church buddies and set sail up the Alaskan coast is the bravest thing (I think) she could do! And when she reads this post, I know she'll blush and tell me I'm ridiculous for sharing all that. I'm not. I'm proud.

Slowly but surely I'm gathering steam for some more writing. I pulled out my old rusty trilogy yesterday and started doing some more research for future installments. As soon as I make a pit stop at ye olde office supply store, I'll have ink to spare and can print out those final pages to make those final edits. Whew. Editing. I thought I enjoyed the process until this monster. Necessary evils abound.

I'd write more, but my arm is making it hard to push the keys (tendinitis...fun times, let me tell you!). Have a brilliant Tuesday/Monday. On the one hand, we have a four day week. On the other, I'll keep thinking I'm a day behind until Friday afternoon.

Cheers!
Jen