JUDGMENT AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

There is a ton; I’m talkin’ a mother-cluckin’ boat-load of judgment out there. And when I say out there, I mean on the Web, on the TV, on the street, at your job, your school, your neighborhood, in your own house, among your family. EVERYWHERE. We’re so quick to judge celebrities, authorities, teachers, parents, other people’s kids, our own kids, races of people, enemies, strangers, and even friends.

Why?

Is it because it makes us feel better? Not me. I’ve instantly regretted saying something negative about someone else the moment it left my lips. But I’m certainly guilty of it. I’ll admit sometimes my lips move faster than my brain and I speak with out thinking. SORRY if I’ve ever said something that has hurt your feelings! I am not a mean-spirited person and meant no harm. I’m also guilty of going up to complete strangers and telling them I like their shoes, haircut or fabulous outfit. My daughter says “it’s creepy”. Whatever.

So, is it because we’re stupid? Okay, maybe that’s a bit harsh. Is it because we’re ignorant to the effect our words will have? You say, well the person, be it online or on the street that you pass in a car, can’t hear what you say. What about the person we are saying it to? Does that encourage them to do the same thing or worse? Or does the negativity swirl and fester and carry on to other things throughout the day? I think it does.

How about self-judgment? Sometimes that’s worse than how we judge others. I know it is for me. My skin’s too pale, my hair’s too frizzy, I have ugly feet. Now don’t be checkin’ out my ugly feet the next time you see me in flip-flops!

So why are we so apt to tear someone up rather than build someone up, including ourselves?

Because it’s easier.

Anger comes quick and easy. I have a hot temper. I know right, who’d a thunk it! Anger is an easier emotion to handle. Anger keeps you from accessing a situation properly. I have found, with things that really matter that are out of my control, anger keeps pain from getting too close. But it has its downfall too. Anger keeps out love, peace and happiness.

It takes work to be happy. It’s a choice. Even when life sucks it’s still a choice.

I was recently accused of having a happy life. It’s crazy but I felt like I needed to defend myself. It’s true; I have an amazing husband that after 22 years of marriage I’m still stupid-ga-ga in love with. I have two teenagers who are not only NOT strung out on drugs but are A-students, healthy, beautiful loving people who I truly love to be around. My husband and I both have jobs, we own a house, cars, clothes and we can put food on our table. We usually get to take a vacation once a year. Is there room for improvement? Hell yeah! After three years we’re still renovating the damn house! LOL. I also have a crazy French Bulldog who had to see a psychiatrist recently—don’t ask—and there’s never enough time in the day to get everything done.

I am blessed and I am grateful but no one gave me this life. I’m not a trust fund-kid. It has been hard work. It’s still hard work. And I have skeletons in my closet just like everyone else. What’s that saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence until you get there and they have the same overgrown weeds you do and big holes that need filling and snakes in the Pachysandra and a deck that’s not done and huge puddles when it rains.” I actually may have just made that up, but just go with it.

There is, however, a real quote that a lot of people post: “Don’t judge me. You have no idea what I’ve been through or where I come from.” Isn’t this true of all of us? I’m partial to the other version: “Don’t judge me. You have no idea what I’ve been through or where I come from and I have no problem punching you in the face.” LOL!

When you look at someone, before the judgmental words tumble out of your mouth, think about this:

Are they struggling with an eating disorder? Do they go home to a mother that’s high on drugs? Are they being physically abused? Mentally abused? Do they have scars that you can’t see? Are they an alcoholic struggling to stay sober?

The kid that’s being a pain in the ass in your kid’s class… Is his mother working two jobs because she’s a single parent trying to provide for her children?

The check out person at the grocery store who’s a nasty bitch…Is her father a drunk? Is her boyfriend beating the crap out of her?

The neighbor that won’t talk to you or is just flat-out rude… Is he/she suffering from a mental illness?

The person that just cut you off…Are they rushing to the hospital or a job interview because they’ve been out of work for a year? Now, if they’re texting, and you friggin’ texter-drivers know who you are, by all means show them your finger. What? I meant thumbs down. HAHA!

We all face challenges in our lives. Trust me, I’m no saint, but I know from my own life; you have no idea what I’ve been through or where I come from. Don’t judge me. Happiness and the pursuit of it is a choice.

PEACE

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My List of Ten Books…

Thank you cousin Oni Thalheimer and Mark Radzin for nominating me to name 10 books that inspired me or had some kind of impact on me.

I felt like I needed to explain some of them so what better way than to BLOG IT!
Okay so first of all, I have NOT always been an avid reader. I can hear you all gasping so let me explain. I flat-out hated reading when I was a kid. Enough with the gasping already. Sheesh.

All I can remember about reading was reading comprehension tests. I was a slow reader so therefore did not do well on those tests. I felt like a stupid failure or maybe a better way to say it is, I felt stupid and like a failure. I still have an aversion to polka dots because of those tests.
On top of being a slow reader I had a bad case of living in my own private fantasy world. While the teacher would drone on about the required reading assignment, from some boring book I hated, my mind would take me to far away places where I would be the princess in a beautiful castle beatin’ the crap outta the dragon. I was the kind of girl who wore dresses and ripped tights from climbing trees and rocks. I’m still that kind of girl but now I’m an excellent climber…I hardly ever rip my tights anymore.

 
So I made my way through school as a B/C student. I’m not advocating for these kind of grades, I’m just stating my truth. This went on until mid way through Junior year in high school. As luck would have it, I had bunion surgery. Bunions are not lucky. Quite frankly they suck. But because of the bunions the town wouldn’t let me go back to the public high school for fear of someone stepping on my enormously bandaged feet and them getting sued.

The lucky part came in the form of a tutor, whose name I am ashamed I can’t remember and my mother was sleeping so I couldn’t ask her. I couldn’t daydream in front of the tutor. It was just me and her. In a room. For four hours a day. No distractions. Game on.

I became a straight A, honor roll student in high school and in college largely because of this tutor. The first great thing I can remember reading was:

#1. The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart and The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allen Poe. This was one creepy-ass individual and I dug that about him! He inspires me still.

The rest of the books that I’ll mention are not really in any order.

2. Oh The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read this to my children and have given it as a gift. It is incredibly insightful. A lot can be learned from the simplicity of the messages in children’s books.

3. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I was scared to death of this book because of its sheer fatness. When I looked at it, I thought, good God, it’s going to take me a decade to read this sucker! But since its one of my Aunt Minnie’s favorite books, and I adore Aunt Minnie, I finally gave in. I’m happy to report it did not take me a decade to finish and it became a personal triumph as well as one of my favorite books.

4. The Bible by God. There is some amazing history in that book! Sure, its taboo to talk about it, but a little taboo is okay. I enjoy my freedom to read and believe anything I want and I respect yours to do the same.

5. The Diary of Anne Frank. I actually read this in Jr. High while studying the Holocaust. My maiden name is Thalheimer. Half of my family was in Germany during this time. My grandmother told me a story about my Great-Grandfather speaking out against Hitler in a pub and how the SS military beat him to within an inch of his life and how they came and took over their house, forcing my Great-Grandparents and Aunt to cook and take care of them. This was horrible, yes, but it could have been so much worse as I found in Anne Frank’s Diary. This book put a face on evil for me at a very young age.

 
6. Are You There God? It’s me, Margaret by Judy Blume. This book belonged to my cousin Heidi, who probably never realized I stole it from her. I liked reading this book because I thought I wasn’t supposed to read it and of course because it’s fabulous!

7. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. ‘Nuff said.

8. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. When my daughter (who’s now 16) started kindergarten I went back to school for writing. This was the first thing I read that convinced me, without a doubt, that I am a writer.

9. Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini. This book has great significance to me. I met Kim a few years ago when this book, her debut novel, was coming out. I didn’t know this at the time, how bat-shit-crazy a writer’s life is when their book is coming out, which makes this even more special to me. A mutual friend put us in touch with each other, and by that I mean I got her email and stalked her till she wrote back. LOL! And even though she had that bat-shit crazy thing going on, Kim graciously took me by the hand and led me down the newbie writer path. This book represents what I can attain. Kim, as a person, represents the kind of author I hope to be. THANK YOU MY SISTAH!

10. Mother Teresa’s Everything Starts from Prayer arranged by Anthony Stern, M.D. My love for Mother Teresa was cultivated by my Oma (grandmother in German). Mother T was one wise, wrinkled woman! You don’t have to be Catholic, or even Christian, to dig this lady. Mother Teresa said, “People throughout the world may look different or have a different religion, education, or position, but they are all the same. They are the people to be loved. They are all hungry for love.” Her mission was to love everyone regardless of race, gender, wealth, place in the world, or anything else you can think of. I have learned a tremendous amount from her.

You don’t have to be a writer to love reading. You do, however, have to love reading to be a writer. I read EVERYTHING! Young adult, new adult, adult, mystery, romance, paranormal, fantasy…if it’s got words…I read it! I don’t love everything I read but I usually learn something from it all.
So that’s my list. What’s yours?

PEACE

A request for revisions is not a rejection.

First, if you would please join me in a moment of silence for my dear departed “Mini”, mini-van that is!

After eleven years and one month of faithful service Mini died tragically on the side of Rt 25 with a car full of teenagers on our way to Fan the Fire 2014. Mini went out dramatically in a cloud of thick black smoke and high pitched engine screams as the transmission gave up its fight to keep on keepin’ on, while my passengers and I belted out Fancy, by Iggy.

Much to my dismay, the tranny could not be revived.  So, after 113,000 miles we bid our sweet farewell to the Mini. May all your roads be curvy and super exciting in that big highway in the sky!

My daughter, who just got her drivers-permit, is not so unhappy with the untimely demise of my Mini. Pfft, whatever.

Wow! Where did the summer go?? Sorry it’s been so long since my last post; a whole month!

I’ve been busy visiting, lollygagging, movie watching, ice cream eating, sun loving, long strolling, beach going, pool hopping, brain storming and REVISING. Which brings me to today’s topic:

A request for revisions is not a rejection. You bet your big booty it’s not!

In my last post I told you guys I was chosen as a finalist in a twitter pitching contest, #Pitcharama. I went to the editor round and was asked to submit my full manuscript!

There was dancing, fist pumping and screams of joy. These guys were really enthusiastic for me!

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There may also have been quite a bit of chocolate eating… Cause that’s how I roll.

After the full submit the editor, Katie Teller (@KatieTeller1), from Curiosity Quills Press,  sent me an email asking for some revisions and a resubmit. Now, some people might take this as a negative. I however, do not.

I am lucky enough that this editor is also an author. I think that gives her a unique view of the process. She gave me a full page detailing what she thought was “brilliant” and what she thought needed to be “cleaned up”. So that’s where I have been for the last month, happily revising.

Her one page is like gold to me. It is very specific yet short and to the point. Everything Katie said made perfect sense. Each time I sit down at my computer I reread her email before I begin.

I have been very blessed to be part of some amazing groups, SCBWI, Eastern, NY Shoptalk, The RedLiners and the New England SCBWI Crit Group in Lower Fairfield. These workshops, conferences and critique groups have been instrumental in getting me to this point in this process of seeking representation for JESSICA MARCO, PI. THANK YOU GUYS!

As much as a request for revisions is not a rejection, it’s also not an offer of representation…Yet! So check back with me in a week or so –you know how it is—to find out how it’s going.

PEACE TO ALL YOU BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE!

PITCHARAMA CONTEST UPDATE & BEYOND…

Life is a crazy roller coaster ride…so grab a fist full of your underpants and hang on!

As I said in my last post, I made it to the final round of #PITCHARAMA, hosted at http://www.aussieownedandread, thanks to my friend Mel @MyInnerMG, for telling me about the contest and Cassandra Page, who chose me for her team. It may have been my creative way of getting the words “goat balls” into my synopsis or that there was no one else left to pick from, but nonetheless…Cassandra Page @CassandraPage01 you-da-bomb forever in my book!

For a few days it was all—WOO-HOO! and YAY BABY!

Then on June 27th , while on a road trip with my family, the editors made their picks. I watched the twitter feed. I stalked my entry http://aussieownedandread.com/2014/06/27/30-jessica-marco-pi-na/. NO requests—NOT ONE.

My happy dance turned into a wailing-flailing-crying hot mess that went a little like this: “NOOOOOOO! Wahhhhh! and WHY? FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY, WHY?? “

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This roller coaster ride of highs and lows dove into heartbreak hill, twisted around vomit lane, chugged up frustration tower and rolled to a stop at pissed-as-hell. I settled into suck-ville and ate lots of ice cream over the course of the next day.

The twitter feed posted to keep a look out for late requests as some editors were still lurking about. I stayed hopeful for a few more days, checking my phone on vacation constantly until I got yelled at by my two teenagers. Imagine that? My kids were yelling at ME to put down my phone! So I did.

Turning the phone off was easy. Turning off my mind? Not so much. I knew I was going to have to blog about this epic fail because I had opened my big mouth to tell everyone that I was a finalist in Pitcharama and hey look at me, I’m so great in my finalist status. Shit. Shit. Shit.

I licked my wounds, drank wine with good friends and decided, GET OVER IT! Dive Bouteille.jpg

You made it to the final round and that’s pretty frickin’ cool. I stopped stalking the twitter feed and enjoyed the rest of our vacation except for the four hour traffic jam on the New Jersey Turnpike. Oh. My. God.
People do some CRAZY shiznit when they’re stuck in traffic on a hot day.

An old man peed right next to us – did not turn away, just hung it out there for all to see, and whizzed. Dude, nobody wants to see that. We saw whinny kids get yelled at, brothers and sisters beatin’ the crap out of each other and some YA’s smokin’ weed. I’m not judging. It coulda been medicinal marijuana.

I’m thinkin’ no, but hey, you never know. And driving and smokin’, not the best choice. I’m just sayin’.

After we got home I decided to forge ahead and query like a mo-fo.

Then on July 3rd my husband and I were having coffee and I get an email from the Cassandra saying, “Hey, just wanted to make sure you saw the late request.”

My heart started to pound and I started to sweat- the really unattractive sweating- not the girly Keira Knightley glow. I checked my entry and there it was! A glorious request to see more of my manuscript from Andrew Buckley at Curiosity Quills! Thank you Andrew! Check out Andrew at http://www.planetkibi.com

I checked Curiosity Quills submission guidelines, curiosityquills.com, and sent my query and first three chapters. *Note: Whenever guidelines ask for three chapters, they mean your FIRST three. I once sent an agent chapters 5 thru 8. Needless to say, I did not hear back from her.

Four days after submitting to CQ, Katie Teller @KatieTeller1, Acquisitions Editor, requested to see the full manuscript. YAY!!! Thank you Katie!!

VALIDATION! Someone, besides my mother and Cassandra, liked what I wrote. I’ve experienced this feeling one other time when I sold my first short story for fifty bucks. Best high I’ve ever had; truly intoxicating!

Let me just say, I write because I love to write. No real revelation there. It’s the same with all writers. There are stories inside of me that I have to tell, notebooks of notes, napkins with words I’ve been searching for that happen to find me at Dunkin Donuts, and snip-its of dialogue that I’ve only spoken to my French bulldog so far because I have yet to put it all on a page. But I am also addicted to that intoxicating feeling of someone telling me they liked what I wrote, that it made them laugh, that it touched them in some way.

I will write no matter how much success I attain from it. But, getting this far in Pitcharama, is just about the best thing ever!

I’ll keep you posted on JESSICA MARO P.I. and when it can be purchased 😉

Now I’m off to write the next story.

PEACE. Peace my friends, until it oozes from your pores like an infection and spreads like the plague!

*all images from http://commons.wikimedia.org

#PITCHARAMA, JESSICA MARCO PI

#PITCHARAMA

Hi All! This post is for a twitter writing contest. You can find the details at aussieownedandread.com and on twitter #pitcharama.  You can also follow my progress on twitter @jeannieintrieri. Good luck to all participants! This is my story and here’s my pitch:

 

Title:                     JESSICA MARCO PI

Author:               Jeannie Intrieri

Genre:                  NA

Word Count:      59,000

SYNOPSIS

Jessica Marco, a twenty-four year old private investigator, is working on a kidnapping case when she discovers her sister’s piece of shit husband is the kidnapper. He unfortunately gets away by throwing Jess off a small cruise ship where the transfer of money for victim was supposed to happen.

While on the kidnapping case, Jess gets a call from a friend who runs a local funeral home where Fat Sal’s arms and legs have been stolen two days before his scheduled wake. Everyone knows you can’t pull off a wake without arms and legs. They’ll be screaming, serious freak-outs and old ladies fainting at the casket. Who the hell needs that? Jess takes on the case to save her friend’s funeral home from ruin.

Her personal life is just as crazy as her work-life with a mother who steals her laundry, a sister who’s done too much plastic surgery, a grandmother who’s paranoid about the “chill” because that bastard’s always trying to get someone sick and a hot cop/sorta boyfriend.

Her life goes from bad to total goat-balls when her investigation ties both cases together and puts her in the middle of a medical black-market organization that’s killing people for their skin and organs. With millions of dollars at stake, they also have no problem killing anyone who gets in their way.

If Jessica is successful in solving her cases, everyone, except the piece of shit husband, gets to live happily ever after. If she fails, she and everyone she loves will lose their life…and their skin.

NEW ENGLAND SCBWI SPRING CONFERENCE 2014

Create Bravely: Make Your Mark
PART 2

Whoa, phew and holy canoli! Shameful, just shameful!

Sorry it’s taken so long to get part 2 of the amazing SCBWI spring conference blog done.

Life got in the way, as it tends to do sometimes. Quick summation: It was bad (dad had emergency appendix surgery), better (dad is home healing), AWESOME! (Niece’s wedding), talented (both kids were in recitals/concerts and killed it!), mundane (day job, laundry, groceries, cleaning, cooking, and taxi driving). On a side note; a cleaning lady is first on my list when I can afford it!

Anyway… *trumpet blast* onward!

The keynote speaker for the second day was award-winning author Laurel Snyder; Seven Stories Up, The Longest Night, and Good Night Laila Tov, just to name a few! You can check her out at laurelsnyder.com.

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I was shocked to hear Ms Snyder say that this was her first keynote speech. She was eloquent, poised and honest. She appeared totally at ease, no matter what her insides were doing. I was immediately engaged and thought, this is a chick I’d like to have a cup of coffee with. Coffee is big in my world, so please know that is a HUGE compliment. LOL!

She spoke the hard truth: “It’s not enough to just produce something. The world is full of books. Produce something worthy of publication.” My interpretation of this is, don’t just write a bunch of crap. Don’t settle for “it’s good enough”. We writers need to hold ourselves to the highest standards. Good enough, is, well, NOT good enough.

Be spectacular! “You can struggle to make work that matters or you can struggle to make work that doesn’t matter. Either way, you’re going to struggle.” Amen to that, sistah!

She also said, “Don’t write a book about vampires because that’s what’s hot on the market right now. If you try to be something you’re not, it’s not authentic and it shows in your work. Everyone is unique with their own personality, voice and experiences. Become who you are. Figure out what is it that YOU have to say that no one else has to say. Make YOUR mark. That’s your book.”

Inspired yet? Wait, it gets better!

“Draw on personal emotions in your writing. Not that you have to write about every painful experience, but you can use those emotions in all of your writing. If you dig deep down you’ll find the things in you that make you brave. Be brave because it will put your best work out in the world.”

A bunch of years ago I had an accident and hurt my back. Now, I’m not going to write a story about how I fell on a treadmill and broke my ass. BUT, I am going to use those same emotions to write a scene where someone is in pain. The subject matter can be different as long as the proper emotion gets across.

Ms. Snyder made another good point; “Who are you writing for? It’s not just that you have something to say, but you want someone to hear it. Picture the person you are writing for. The listener defines the voice of the speaker. The listener will shape the way you write.”

Very true. I am going to use language when I’m writing for a middle school person that’s different when I’m writing for a senior in high school.

Then, Ms. Snyder cleared something up for me personally. Okay, I know she didn’t write it for me, per say, but it spoke to my heart.

“How do you know when to listen to yourself and when to listen to what other people say?”

When you’re a writer you have to have critique partners. You need an opinion on what you’ve written that isn’t from your mom, sister or neighbor; I don’t care how honest you think they’ll be. It’s great if they like what you wrote but their view is going to be tainted, slanted and sometimes just plain wrong. No one who loves you is going to actually tell you you suck.

BUT, what if you get some feedback from a crit partner that feels off to you? Ms. Snyder said, “You have to check in with yourself about how you react to what other people say, and ultimately you have to have the final say.”

For new writers, here are some fun facts that she mentioned:

– Kids don’t read down. A senior in high school is not going to read a middle grade book so when you write to an agent and you mention who your audience is, be mindful of this.

– Publishing shuts down in the summer.

– Querying during the holidays is useless.

FIRST WORKSHOP

Writing in 1st Person with Nova Ren Suma, author of 17 And Gone and her new book, The Walls Around Us, coming out Spring 2015. Congrats! You can check her out at novarensuma.com

 

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Ms. Suma spoke about some of the reasons writers use first person point of view. Sometimes it’s for story reasons; why the story can only be told through this character. It may also be to illuminate the character so that the reader can get up close and personal. “A writer should take advantage of the narrow scope in which first person tells a story. It should be used as a tool not a fall-back.”

The positive possibilities for using first person:

-The story can feel more real and authentic. The reader can know deep secrets only that character can tell. In first person you can “write with authority, bringing the character to vivid life.”

-Some of the challenges for writing in first person and things to consider:

-You have to be distinct not generic. You can’t write in generalities.

-If you are writing from more than one point of view, you have to make it clear who is speaking.

-You have to describe your character/narrator physically. Nova said, “NOT looking in a mirror! It’s been done to death.”

-Make sure your character knows only what they can know.

-Is your narrator’s voice likable?

Nova also reinforced what I’ve heard at all of the conferences I’ve attended: Show don’t tell. “Instead of having your character say, I’m angry, I’m hurt, I’m out of control—show it. She read an excerpt from Miles From Nowhere by Nami Mun to demonstrate this technique.

Ms. Suma gave us some tips on finding your narrators voice:

– Journal as your main character.

– Make a list of character’s stuff; room, clothes, music, images.

– List character’s painful memories, make a to do list, write a letter he/she would write.

SECOND WORKSHOP

Beyond OMG; Writing Authentic Dialogue for Teens with Sashi Kaufman, author of The Other Way Around. You can check her out at http://www.SashiKaufman.com and on twitter @sashikaufman.

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Ms. Kaufman said, “Writing good dialogue comes from hearing voices in your head.”

“Listen to the dialogue going on around you.”

I love to write dialogue! Here are some helpful suggestions from Ms. Kaufman on getting it done:

“The use of dialogue is to reveal characters, NOT to advance the plot. Remember that your characters are people first and foremost. Do NOT use dialogue for a plot dump!”

“Everyone needs a voice – Not the same as everyone needs a stereotypical role.”

“When you’re writing for teens realize they are one body in two worlds; not children any more but not adults either. Embrace the contradictions.” I LOVE this accurate statement! I have a sixteen year old and a thirteen year old…I live in contradiction-land 😀

“Make your dialogue do the work.”

“Dialogue reveals characters through conflict.”

If your characters are sitting around having coffee and everything is hunky-dory, your story goes nowhere. If your characters meet at the coffee house to discuss fictitional-Joe’s new head growing out of his arse, well now you’ve got everyone wanting to be at the coffee house.

“With dialogue, less can be more and remember you can never go wrong with IDK.”

“Don’t overuse dialogue tags,” she said knowingly. Dialogue tags, like adverbs, should be used sparingly and thoughtfully. (Love Sashi’s humor!) “Unless you absolutely need something for connotation or sarcasm, a simple he said or she said will usually do it.”

When slang works:

– It’s part of voice.
– It’s carefully researched.
– It’s originality.

When slang fails:

– It’s dated.
– It’s meaningless.
– It’s overused.

For those of us who write YA – How to stalk teenagers:

Starbucks, food courts and movies. Sit near them and listen.

 

Twitter    Instagram   

Google+       YouTube 

And other social media venues.

Drive a bunch of them some place. (I can totally attest to this one!)

It’s important to note that Ms. Kaufman takes no responsibility if you get arrested. LOL. 

A few Truths from Ms. Kaufman:
– Teens don’t stand still to talk. You have to get them moving.
– Teens are emotional creatures. They think with their heart first then their head.
– They are universally self conscious about EVERYTHING.
– Avoid stereotypes.
– When writing parents into the story, keep them clueless.

 

AFTERNOON WORKSHOPS:

Six Steps to a Killer 1st Page with Patricia Newman, Regional Advisor for SCBWI. patricianewman.com

 

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“Your first page has some heavy lifting to do. It has to be so compelling that the reader won’t put it down. Your first page is your thirty-second pitch to an agent.”

That statement is SOOOO true! Who hasn’t gone shopping for a new book, picked something up off the shelf, read the first page, and either bought it or put it down? Agents do the same thing. Ms. Newman surveyed a panel of agents for this workshop and shared her findings, which I found t be super useful.

Agents:      Scan the cover, read the submitted pages and IF they like the pages, they read the synopsis. The first page must communicate tone through language and style, character and plot, description and setting.

To accomplish what the agents wants, ask yourself these questions:

Who is your character?

Start with people. Show emotion. Focus on a single point in time; setting, relationships, action. Establish the main character’s voice and age. And the end of the page informs the beginning.

Agent Says:      Grab me! Intrigue me. Ground me. I can usually tell within the first page if it’s a yes or no.

Where are we?

Give a physical location. What’s the weather? Give a hint to the time period. Include senses; talk about textures to refer to touch, color to sight, and what does it smell like.

When I’m writing a scene I close my eyes and I ask myself, what do I see? What does it sound like? Is it hot or cold, wet or dry? What can I smell? Food? Cut grass? Cow poop? Whatever it is, I write it so that the reader can BE there with me. I have an interior design background so it’s a very visual process for me. BUT, at the same time, Ms. Newman said, “Don’t over burden the reader.” So for me, that means to hold myself back a little. She also said, “–ing words are passive. Get them off the first page.”

What engages us?

Unusual settings. Suspense. Mystery. Character’s voice. The time period. Artful prose (or verse). Read your first page out loud and record it.

I’ve heard of reading the page out loud before but I never thought to record it. I thought, hmm, how does it sound? Is it choppy? Does it flow? Does the voice come through clearly? Did I repeat anything? First page real-estate is precious. Don’t waste it by saying something you’ve already said!

Agent Says:      I have to be kidnapped by the language.

What is the Action?

Get your characters moving, put them in motion. Start with a plot point; conflict, question. Get your characters talking: Dialogue. Show vs. Tell. Skip exposition on your first pages. And remember that in YA and MG, parents stay in the background.

Agent Says:      Age? Who is this manuscript for?

Who Is Your Audience?

Know your audience. Picture your ideal reader. Do your word choices match the setting and time period? Know the word count for your genre. The child must solve the problem in the story. And lastly, white space is essential on page one.

Agent Says:    I want a sense of style on page one. Voice is key.

Does Every Word Count?

What is your language style; formal, conversational, regional? Is your use of vocabulary done well and more importantly, correctly? Use active verbs. Mind the white space! Find the words that suck and change them to ones that are FABULOUS! Every. Word. Counts.

“Make your language sing right off the page.”

Thank you Ms. Newman! LOVED your workshop!

 

LAST WORKSHOP:

English 101 for Authors with Professor Marvin Terban, author of a ridiculous amount of books! LOL. (see below)

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First I have to say, Mr. Terban is hilarious in his presentation. If you have a chance to listen to him speak, do it! You will be informed and entertained for the whole session. Mr. Terban said, “We write for children and therefore have a responsibility in doing it correctly.”

Three reasons why an author uses the best grammar possible:

1. The first person who reads it (agent/editor) does not want to fix it.
2. We write for kids and have a responsibility.
3. Modern day technology is ruining English.

If you send your work to an agent and she/he is looking at your query and someone else’s that is equally engaging, it may come down to grammar to make the decision on who to represent. It is extremely competitive in today’s market. Agents and editors want to work with authors that make their job easier. So even if your idea is good, but your paper is loaded with spelling and grammatical errors, they will pass on you.

 

Go here to see the top 15 grammatical errors that make you look silly.  http://www.copyblogger.com/grammar-goofs

 

English, and the learning of English, hasn’t changed. Look at some of Mr. Terban’s books, or all if you’re feeling confident your brain won’t explode from the awesomeness. Refresh yourself. Check on the things you think you know. Change all of the things that you have no frickin’ clue about.

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Schools can invite PROFESSOR GRAMMAR to visit their school by emailing him at mterban@verizon.net.

Like Laurel Snyder said, “It’s not enough to just produce something.”

Be magnificent! Be superb! Be brave!  Make your lasting finger print on the world. Be someone who wrote something that people can’t stop talking about. And then do it again, and again, and again…

Peace My Friends 🙂

*You can also find me on twitter @jeannieintrieri

 

NEW ENGLAND SCBWI SPRING CONFERENCE 2014

Create Bravely: Make Your Mark

Part1

What an amazing experience!! I have so much to tell that I thought it best to break this blog into two parts.

I left my house at 5:30 a.m. Okay, that’s NOT the amazing part since I’m not really a get-up-at-the-crack-of-friggin-dawn kind of girl!

The conference began with a welcome from the conference organizer, Kristin Carlson Asselin, author of Any Way You Slice It. Thank you Kris!! You did an awesome job!

Kristin said, “You have to be brave to get through the process.” So true.www.kristineasselin.com

Then they picked names for a door prize drawing…And I won this book!!

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The first keynote speaker was Peter H. Reynolds, author of Dot and Ish. Both of these wonderful picture books are about encouragement.

Peter said, “We get magnificence from just a little encouragement.”

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Both books illustrate this message beautifully for children. He also spoke about what’s going on in our schools, how art is the first thing to get cut when budgets are decided.

“Get rid of tests that stifle creative teachers from teaching creatively. This age of testing keeps teachers from actually getting to know their students which would enable a teacher to teach more individually.” Totally agree Peter!!

Art and creative writing teaches our students to expand their minds. Teaching to the test teaches our students to limit themselves to learn just what they need to know for the test. Common Core assumes that we are all the same and should all learn the same thing at the same time. Not true. We are not the same. Even identical twins, who may look the same, have a different voice, different interests, different abilities. We are all wonderfully unique. And that’s all I have to say about that…for now.

My first workshop of the day was Perfecting Your Pitch with The Book Doctors, http://www.theBookDoctors.com, a.k.a. Arielle Eckstut & David Henry Sterry, authors of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published.

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I LOVED these two! They were hilarious and super informative. They asked, “What is your book about? The answer is your pitch.” They explained how sometimes the only opportunity you get is to give an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is over in a flash, the same amount of time that it would take an elevator to get from one floor to the next.

Then there’s the long pitch, which is funny because it’s over in under a minute, two hundred and fifty words. That’s it. The people that we are pitching to, read/hear pitches all day long; be ready at any time to give your pitch. And it better be badass. Practice it out loud. If it sounds stupid or confusing to you – you who wrote the book – imagine how it will sound to a stranger.

David said, “Back story does not belong in your pitch.” He also said, “Show don’t tell. Don’t tell me it’s funny, make me laugh. Don’t tell me it’s sad, make me cry.”

Then there was a discussion on finding comp titles. That’s where you find something already out on the shelves that’s similar to your books. “Find out who the author’s agent is and query them. BUT, don’t pick a book that’s too famous. Pick something that’s like your book, has done well, but not so commercially known. This shows you know the industry.”

Great advice!IMG_0682

 

My second workshop was a Writing Intensive on Character Development with Aubrey Poole, Associate Editor, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky and Fire. http://www.sourcebooks.com

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Aubrey talked about using an ISTP (Introverted Sensing Thinking Judging) for character development. This relates to characters that have introverted sensing with extraverted thinking. She spoke passionately about Sherlock Holmes as an example of this type of character. She REALLY likes Sherlock! Me to Aubrey!!

Aubrey also said, “Characters shouldn’t be the same at the end of a story as they were at the beginning. They have to go through change.” Some questions to ask yourself when you’re working on your plot:

What does your main character want?
What is the price he/she will pay for it?
How will he/she achieve this?
What will he/she sacrifice?

Verythought-provoking indeed.

The Crystal Kite Award was given to Jo Knowles for, See You At Harry’s.

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This woman’s speech made me cry. She was so gracious and genuinely touched to receive such an amazing award. She spoke about knowing what it’s like to be an unknown author, conference attendee. She encouraged those of us who have not been published yet to persevere and stick with the SCBWI. Congrats Jo! And thank you for the words of encouragement. I truly appreciate them!

My next workshop was, Write What You Don’t Know; A Workshop on Fleeing Your Comfort Zone with Kendra Levin, Senior Editor, Viking Children’s Books, http://www.KendraCoaching.com, and Julie Berry, @julieberrybooks, http://www.julieberrybooks.com, author of All The Truth That’s In Me. AMAZING book! This workshop was two hours of frickin’-awesomeness!!

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This very hands-on workshop is the second workshop of Kendra’s I’ve had the pleasure of attending and the first of Julie’s.

One of the exercises we did was to write a conversation between two of our character’s where the main character learns something they didn’t know. After that we described the secondary character; looks, personality, feelings. Then we did the same exercise but made all the characteristics of secondary character the complete opposite. My opposite secondary character was very dark and angry. I kinda liked him that way! LOL!

We talked about what we already know about our own comfort zone.
What POV do you prefer? What kind of voice do you like to use? What kind of stories do you write; contemporary, fantasy, horror, sci-fi. Julie said, “If you always write in first person ( I ) try to write in third person (he, she, it). Or try second person (you). Pushing your boundaries makes you a better writer.”

The next writing intensive we did was to show your character discovering their true calling. I LOVED this one! I got a whole scene out of it.

Some of the books they recommended were, Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich, Creating Fiction by Julie Checkaway and The Art Of Fiction by John Gardner.

I would love to do another workshop with these two ladies!

Now after all that you would think the day would be done. NO!

The Industry Professional Panel on Publishing In and Out of New York featured:
Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, LLC.  http://www.marsallyonliteraryagency.com

Mandy Hubbard of D4EO http://www.d4eoliteraryagency.com
Emily Mitchell of Wernick & Pratt Agency  http://www.wernickpratt.com
Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger, Inc.  http://www.harveyklinger.com

All of the agents agreed that you do not have to be in NY to get published. Here are some words of wisdom from the panel.

“The writing sells the book. Write a good book and you will get an agent interested in working with you.” Mandy Hubbard

“Don’t give up. Perseverance pays off.” Kathleen Rushall

“Having an agent will not solve all of your problems. You will still have a lot of work to do.” Emily Mitchell

“Just because one of us passes on your book doesn’t mean it won’t sell. It just means it wasn’t right for us.” Sara Crowe

Phew! It was a jammed packed day, that for me, ended with a hot fudge sundae in my room 😉 Some of my fellow writers attended the poetry slam and others went to the peer critiques that evening. Day 1 of the New England SCBWI was well worth every penny!

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Day 2 coming soon!!

Peace party people 🙂

WHY ARE NUMBERS SO IMPORTANT TO US?

Numbers are everywhere connected to everything we do.

We use them to measure years, months, weeks, days, hours, and seconds. We count them in dollars and cents. We measure in feet, inches, meters and yards.

The food we eat has a caloric number attached to it.

 

We regard success and failure and distinguish ourselves according to the number of each. We age by ever mounting time. We calculate and distribute. We find comfort in the fact that 2 + 2 will always equal 4.

Numbers have definite effect on us, that’s for sure.

TIME

Time gives us a schedule, a placement, the ability to organize. It also gives us stress and can be more like a noose around our necks than a comfortable guide. But no matter if your day is great or the worst of your life, it will still be just a day, 24 hours, 1,440 minutes, 86,400 seconds. You can’t slow it down, stop it or reverse it. And it affects our emotional, spiritual state of being.

I’m up at the crack of dawn. I start my day job at 7:30 AM. By the time I’m done with work, driving the kids to various practices and jobs, cook dinner, write and exercise, I get done around 9:00 PM — That’s thirteen and a half hours running and doing. Some days it’s longer than that depending on my writing schedule and homework helping. Anyone in my house can confirm it’s best to leave me alone for at least thirty minutes or suffer my wrath.

I want more hours, minutes and seconds in the day. I never seem to have enough time to get everything done. I don’t want more hours for the day job, thank you very much, but more time to write, to love, to talk, to listen, to play? Yes please!

If I could get another hour, another five minutes, with my Oma (grandmother)- who was fitted for wings and a halo twenty-one years ago- I would do just about anything for that…but it just doesn’t work like that.

MONEYFile:Golden number 10000.png

If you make six figures you’re considered very successful by most people and your life is probably comfortable. Comfortable people tend to smile more. These kinds of numbers are good.

If you’re making minimum wage you are probably barely getting by and are stressed out all the time. Stress sucks. No one is walking around saying, “man I wish I had more stress in my life.” You’re counting every penny and calculating, by numbers, how you will live this fourth month of 2014. The six figure dude is doing the same thing, but it’s NOT the same thing.

When we go to the doctor they show us a chart and ask, “on a scale of one to ten, ten being the worst, how do you feel?” Here, unlike when you’re counting money, the higher number is bad. Take care of yourself and stay out of the high-number- zone!

WEIGHT

How many people look at the number on the scale and wish it would go down ten… twenty…fifty pounds? I’m right there with you! Women. We can be so dopey about weight. Now, if the loss of five or ten pounds would solve world hunger, then by all means, let’s worry about it and do it together! But it won’t. And losing five or ten pounds won’t solve anyone’s problems. Just ask the skinny people.

How about if you’re sick? The lower scale numbers will have an alarmingly different effect on you. We use the measurement of weight as a sign of health or a lack there of. When new parents go to a check up, one of the first things done is weighing the little peanut. The first thing the parents do when they leave is call the grandparents. And what’s the first thing they talk about? Yuppers, it’s the baby’s weight. Or was that just us because of the enormity of my babies? HA!

A person whose numbers on the scale go over what is considered to be a healthy weight, get a different kind of report. As far as the scale goes, how do we know what numbers are the good ones? We have charts and ratios, calculations and formulas, based on other numbers called percentages, and we categorize ourselves into groups of the majority, the minority, or some sideshow weirdness. I say that because I was always freaky-weird-tall in comparison to other girls my age.

Why do we care about the percentile chart? Or the height and weight chart? Because, we all want to be part of the majority(another number) on the chart, the group that makes us feel normal, the calculated sweet spot. This area gives people a feeling of safety.

SUCCESS

We count them, mount them, stack ém, and keep track of them. The more success we can count up, the better we feel. And sure, why not. It’s okay to be proud of our accomplishments. Our successes become a private little parade in our heads with cheerleaders waving pom-poms and holding signs that say, “well done! Keep going! Awesome sauce! Don’t fuck this up!”

My little cheerleaders are edgy. They’re allowed to curse.

FAILURE

Ugh. We count, stack and keep track of these suckers too, maybe even more so. Failure is the glue on the bottom of your shoe holding you back. The numbers of failures we have make us feel bad about ourselves, which translates into, moodiness, hostility and depression.
Kick off the glue-shoes, learn from mistakes and move on! Have you ever heard the term, “chasing yourself in circles?” You don’t go anywhere in a circle except back to the same spots you’ve already been. Stop counting all your failures.

Wait. Let’s count all of them. Tick them off on your fingers, toes, brother’s and sister’s too if you’ve really messed up. Stack them up high until they become the Leaning Tower of Piazza and it’s about to crush you. Feel the shittiness, the enormity. Now, look at them one last time…flip ‘em the bird and let them go to their eternal resting place, a place I like to call, been there/done that. Set a mental bonfire and be done with it.

 

DISTANCE

Oh boy, I’ve really been feeling these numbers lately. My parents and a very dear friend moved away recently. *wails on floor like a fool* I have never felt the weight of stretching miles as much as I do now.

But then there are other long miles that make us feel fabulous; a trip overseas for vacation, a road trip to see something on your bucket list or (if you are into it) marathons.

Fun fact: The New York City Marathon is a 42, 195 meter, 26.2 mile race. The 2013 winner, Geoffrey Mutai, did it in 2:05:06. He set the record this past year running a 2:04 mile. Wicked fast!!

AGE

This one’s worse than weight! LOL
I remember turning ten and thinking it was the absolute bestest day of my life. Whoot hoot, double digits! Maybe that’s just because I’m the youngest of three and my brother and sister had been in the double digits for five years before I got there. I gotta say I’m not nearly as exited now about my double digits!

I wished away a lot of time back then. As soon as I turned ten I wanted to be thirteen. Once I was thirteen I wanted to be sixteen. At sixteen I wanted to be twenty-one. When my kids were babies I wanted to get past the not sleeping phase. When we accomplished that, I wanted out of the diaper phase. With maturity I’ve learned to stop wishing time away. You can’t get it back.

Age also marks places in time. We do ritualistic, traditional things based on age.

Why do we keep track of our age? Who said that was important?

One year olds usually have a big family party. Parents: skip the clowns. Trust me on this.

When you’re five you begin kindergarten.

At seven you make your First Holy Communion (if you’re one of my clan).

At thirteen, you have a Bar/Bat mitzvah or Confirmation.

Sixteen you drive.

At eighteen you graduate high school and you’re legal to join the military and shoot our enemies in battle. But you’re not legal to have a beer until you’re twenty-one…unless you live in Sweden in which case you can drink in a pub at eighteen.

I’m not against the military, NOT by ANY means, and I’m not encouraging underage drinking. I’m simply rambling as it comes to me. It happens. Plus my sixteen year old keeps reminding me she will be in Sweden for her eighteenth birthday.

 

 

 

 

I could go on and on about numbers, highways, routes, longitude, latitude, days and months.

Why is it so important for us to know where we are, what time it is, how long till the next thing we do, count downs, count ups, lengths, distances, spaces…

Does it really matter? I guess in some ways. I mean, if I don’t keep track of the hour the kids will be late to school and I’ll be late to work. Or, if I submit my work to an agent and my category is YA and my word count is not in keeping with my genre, then I look like an unprofessional ass. I try not to look like an ass of any kind as much as possible. So in that respect, yeah, it matters.

We need it to find point B from point A. Otherwise we might end up in the ocean.File:A plat of all the world - Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the BPL.jpg

Numbers are a universal language. Whoever you are and where ever you are, 2 = 1 plus another. If you’re human, you know this, and it works. I get that. I’m on board with that.

What I don’t want is to be defined by my number (age), charts(height & weight), location(longitude and latitude), my ethnicity(majority/minority), or my calculations(success & failures).

And I don’t want to define or judge anyone else by a poll taken or a survey done or a room full of some bodies that determined it to be a certain way based on what’s normal or acceptable.

Normal? What the heck is normal anymore?

I think we have to make our own normal. If you’re not hurting anyone, including yourself, and you’re leading your life by a moral compass– that should be the normal.

A moral compass does not have arrows pointing North, South, East and West, but rather, Kind, Loving, Generous, and Gentle, which equates to a multiplier of peace. I’d like for that to be my guide.

 

I’d like to find a way to make that a universal language. That sounds better than math to me!

PEACE out until next time!

Bullies. Mean Girls. Anger. Let it Go

Happy Hump-ish day! HA! Yeah, I probably can’t get away with that. I know I said Wednesday is my blog day, but believe me, you did NOT want to hear what I had to say on Wednesday. It would have been a lot of F-bombs and A-holes.  So… let’s dive right in. *adjusts bathing cap…3 steps…leap*

I was the victim of adult bullying Tuesday night. And ya know what? It still feels really bad.https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d6/Taunting_0001.jpg

This is what happened. I needed to get my son to lacrosse. I needed to get him there on time because I got him there late on Saturday and he got yelled at even though it was my fault. I felt like shit. But I worked all day on Tuesday and I needed to go home to give the crazy dog his medicine so he could stop being so crazy and my mother-in-law is in re-hab for a knee replacement and I promised I would go to the library to get her Florence Henderson’s autobiography. Don’t judge. That’s what she likes to read. As a fiction writer it makes me a little nuts that she only reads about real stuff. Go figure.

Anyway. So I’m late. Again. I’ve got my son in the car giving me the worried eyes, the tension neck rub and the pained look. The look that says, “mom you’re screwing up again!” The look that kicks you right in the low belly and cuts you off at the knees. File:Anxiety.gif

I drive a little faster, not crazy fast, but a little faster. There is a big SUV in front of me going 5 miles below the speed limit. I’m checking my clock. Another two minutes ticks by. My son’s leg bobs up and down at warp speed. Panic tightens my chest painfully. I’m a little closer to the SUV than I normally would be. Everything in me is screaming, GET OUT OF MY WAY! No such luck. It takes every turn I need to take. Now my left leg is bobbing too.File:Nervous.gif

Oh, and as an added point of stress, I need to get my son to the field and get back to the house to take my daughter to an appointment, I’m just getting over the shingles so I’m not quite myself but still trying to do all the things myself needs to do, my mom is not well AND Ididn’t get picked for #PitchMadness.  So there’s that. *sigh*

The SUV is going to the same place I am but it takes the first turn into the parking lot. It pretty much comes to a stop as it’s making this turn. I look around it. No cars are coming. I go around and head into a different entrance. I park in a space and tell my son, RUN! Which he does. I’m catching my breath as I watch him get to his teammates when someone bangs their keys on my window so hard I duck because I thought the glass was going to shatter. I turn and the woman, who I happen to know, points a finger at me and yells, “I thought that was you.”

Now, because I know her, I roll down my window realizing she was the SUV in front of me, and start to say, “oh hey, I’m so sorry but-”

“You were right up my ass the whole way, Jeannie! What’s wrong with you? Right up my ass!!”

My mouth is stuck open in mid-sentence. She continues to walk away from me but mutters something, referencing a situation where her child was bullying my child, “It brings to mind bullying,” she spits out in a way that says she’s been waiting for the opportunity to say this to me. At first I don’t understand what the two things have to do with each other and then it dawns on me. They don’t have anything to do with each other. She’s got a problem with me because her child was bullying my child and was called into the principal. I had been backing out of my space. I pulled back in. Steam is shooting out of my head cartoon style. I’ve been known to have a bit of a hot temper. *family snickers in the back ground* My heritage is half Irish, half German, and, yeah, you get the picture.

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But I don’t get out screaming because I’m not thirteen any more and I’ve learned to contain it. Shaking yes. Screaming…not yet. I wait at her car. The muttering occurred as she was walking away from me, which, BTW, I friggin hate! If you have something to say, say it to my face so I have a chance to respond. Oh, and I’m gonna respond. You can bet your big fat left toe, I’m gonna respond. While I wait, I call my husband. Why? Because he’s my best friend and if anyone can calm me down, preferably before I get myself arrested, he can. And he does. He also confirms that there is a bigger problem going on.

While I’m on the phone with him, this woman goes over to two other women, who are now all staring at me because she’s got arms flailing and fingers pointing as she is talking to them. Grab your pitchforks and torches! Get her! Is what I hear in my head.

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There’s arm crossing and head shaking and I feel like I’m back in high school. Ironically, I’m standing in the parking lot of MY high school. I continue to wait. There’s more pointing. Now there’s a cop she’s telling her tale of woe to, who is also looking at me and I’m thinking, oh just shoot me now and put me out of my misery. But he doesn’t come over so maybe he thinks she’s crazy too.

I text my daughter we are going to be late for our appointment because there is no way in hell I am leaving with out talking to this woman. She sees me waiting but continues to rile up her “gang”. At this point I don’t know if she’s trying to wait me out or if she’s on a power trip, but frig it, I’m emotionally all-in now, there’s no turning back.

Finally, she comes to her car, because, well she has to if she wants to leave. I approach her and say, “Hey, so and so, I’m sorry if you felt I was too close to you and if I made you uncomfortable.” While I’m saying this she’s shouting about how I was “right on her ass” and some other crap about being on some committee, and blah, blah. I cut in, “Well like I said, I’m sorry about that, but there’s obviously a bigger issue here since you brought up the bullying, which clearly refers to the bus incident. So if you have a problem with me, I’d like to talk about it.”

Her: “I have no problem. You were on MY ASS! This close to me!”*fingers in my face to indicate the fictitious distance I was from her bumper*…BARK BARK BARK BARK!” because that’s basically what it sounds like now. So I put my hands up in front of me and lean back in a, woe, back-it-down-a-notch-sweetheart motion, and say, “Did you not hear the first thing I said when I came over? That I was sorry?”

Her: “Yeah!”

Me: “But you’re still shouting.”

Her: “I’m not shouting. This is my normal voice!”File:Scream crosathorian.jpg

Me: My eyebrows take flight up to my hairline. “Really? cause it sounds like shouting to me. I mean, if you feel the need, go ahead, but my driving and bullying don’t have anything to do with each other so there’s obviously another problem here.”

Her: “I’m on the committee for the safe zone! And I’m working with the police. And you were right on my ass!”

I’m not sure what to say to the “right on my ass” comment anymore so I just say, “Ahh..okay.” My staying calm made her outburst look even more ridiculous.

Her: “I’m late, I have to go.” And she storms to her car.

Me: “Okay,” I say as she goes. Mind you I’m still facing her. “But if you have a problem with me or the situation that happened on the bus, I’m available to talk about it.”

I turn to go to my car and as she’s getting in her car she mutters a bunch of crap at the BACK of my head! UGH!! Motherfrickafrackasaskasass!!!

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Wednesday. I wish I could say the next day I was fine and WHAT EVER, with a big finger W, but I wasn’t. It really bothered me that she besmirched my reputation, to two women that I don’t know, and possibly a cop, and there was nothing I could do about it. I hated being pointed at and God-only-knows what was being said about me. It made me feel powerless. That feeling sucks. Really bad.

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On any given day, I have a full time job four days a week, I have a second full time job as a writer, I am me, I’m a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a teacher, a cook, a housekeeper, a crazy-dog tamer because I’m the only one the little bastard doesn’t bite, the laundry chick and the list goes on and on. But hey, everyone is busy, that’s just life, it’s not an excuse. I’m not asking for special treatment but a little empathy would be great. And it’s not like I’m a constant screw up. For the most part I run a tight ship, even as I’m tap dancing a hundred miles an hour. But, admittedly, I am the occasional screw up.

Not gonna lie, when I began to write this blog in my head I planned to M-F that woman all over the page. But in the same way that I wanted her to think about what might be going on with me, stand in my shoes for a moment, I started to think what might be going on with her. Maybe her day sucked so bad that she was just looking for someplace to unload her emotions and I happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or maybe she’s just one of those holier-than-thou mean girls. I really don’t know. But what I do know is that being mad at her was friggin’ up my mojo. I don’t have time for that (see list above).  I don’t have time for high school nonsense or mean girls.

Forgive and forget? Come on now, I’m not a saint. And did I mention the hot temper? But letting it go for my own good? Yeah, I can definitely do that.

What bag a crap are you hangin’ onto that’s messin’ up your mojo?

PEACE. Keep it and keep your mojo in tact!

images http://commons.wikimedia.org/