Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I Beg Your Pardon?

Transcript of a conversation I had with a Sweet Old Lady today at work. For this to make sense, you need to know when I get tired, my voice gets hoarse at odd moments. Sort of like a teenage boy going through the Change but without the squeaks. Today, I was tired:

Me: *sets plate of food in front of SOL* Here's your chicken pot pie. Do you need anything else right now?

Sweet Old Lady: Oh, thank you. Actually, I want to ask you a question.

Me: Sure.

Sweet Old Lady: How many times do you get mistaken for a man?

Me: *blinks for a second in silence* Um ... I don't understand.

Not So Sweet Old Lady: A man, dear. Someone of the masculine persuasion.

Me: I know what a man is.

Crossing A Line Old Lady: So? How many times?

Me: Never. *wants to ask how many times old lady gets mistaken for a jackass but really good insults are wasted on the mostly deaf*

Dancing A Jig On My Last Nerve Old Lady: Never? Oh, I can't believe that.

Me: *speaks through gritted teeth* Really? Why is that? I look like a man to you?

About To Meet Her Maker Old Lady: Of course not, dear. A man has much stronger shoulders.

Me: How comforting.

As Good As Dead Old Lady: But, you have a very masculine name, dear. I'm sure people mistake you for a man all the time.

Me: *tries to understand the logic* So ... you think C.J. is masculine?

Devil's Handmaiden Old Lady: Well, dear. If you want to be feminine, you must not use initials.

Me: So the fact that I don't LOOK like a man or SOUND like a man wouldn't clear up the confusion?

The Witch: Oh, well, dear. I wouldn't say you don't sound like a man.

Me: You caught me. I'm C.J. Monday-Thursday but on the weekends I'm known simply as Fred.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Can Yell, I Can Paddle, But I Can't Do Math

10 Facts About Me As A Teenager:

1. I used to drive a black and white striped '79 Dodge Caravan to school. Orange interior. Funky transmission--had to drive with one foot on the gas at all times. If I ever got the combination of gas & brake wrong, the van would backfire--something subtle...along the lines of a sonic boom. Twice. It was the sort of vehicle that made semi truck drivers worry I might slam into them and send them flying. My friends and I called it the Land Barge and joked the military would swoop in one day and reclaim it as their secret weapon in a ground war.

It's gone now. I'm guessing Homeland Security has it as a sort of mobile bunker for the President in case things go south.

2. I was a cheerleader. For two years. By accident. No, really. I went to a small private school and was one of the only girls in junior high who didn't spend her lunch hour practicing cheers. When tryouts for the high school squad came around, none of those girls tried out. There weren't enough girls trying out period. One of my friends said she was going out for it and asked me to come with her. I did. Next thing I knew, I was on the squad.

I totally sucked at dancing or coordination of any kind but I could perform every jump better than anyone and (Hang on to your teeth, folks, 'cause this is a shocker.) I excelled at yelling.

Weird, I know.

3. I entered high school one year ahead in math. This was because I was really, really good at every other subject (I know, you hate me.) and it was inconceivable to the teachers that I wouldn't be just as good at math. Took me two years to prove them horribly, spectacularly, irrevocably wrong.

I think my algebra teacher still has the eye twitch he gained from trying to teach me concepts that simply refuse to take root in my brain.

Turns out all that bunk about needing advanced math later on in life only applies to situations where I have to help my kids with their own homework. It's like a vicious math cycle.

4. I once slammed a ping pong paddle into my gym teacher's family jewels. By accident. It didn't endear me to him.

5. I was never popular. I wasn't shunned, but I was never "cool." Or, if I was, I managed to be totally oblivious to it.

Since I highly doubt the cool kids actually had it any better, I don't mind.

6. I never tried drugs or alcohol. Given my later experience with Everclear laced cake (Hello, floor!) and Tylenol Cold (Wow! How many heads do I have?!), I think this was a wise decision on my part.

7. I was a "Pick-a-Little" lady in our school's production of Music Man. I was also prisoner number #6 in our production of "Hiding Place."

8. I played clarinet in our marching band. We took awards all over our district. I once played in the state honor band as well.

9. I missed being salutatorian by 5 tenths of a grade point. The class that cost me that honor was P.E. For reasons why I didn't get an A in P.E., see #4.

10. I once stuffed my bra with socks to make myself look more curvaceous before heading to the grocery store with a friend. (Because if you want to look curvaceous, the grocery store is the place to do it!) I didn't realize until I returned home that the socks had shifted during my drive and therefore my curves looked like gravity and a good strong wind had played tag with my boobs.

Turns out that was just a harbringer of things to come.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Don't Look Now, But She's Blogging Again!

1. The last two weeks were a blur.

2. I packed a new, full-time work schedule, running a two-week online query workshop, dealing with the flu (for everyone but the Scientist), and writing another 5k on Lilli's story into those two weeks.

3. Side note: Lilli's Story is now tentatively titled Casting Stones.

4. One thing I did not successfully fit into that two week framework was blogging.

5. Castigate me, attack me with slander and calumny, and smite me with a wet noodle.

6. Feel better?

7. Today I've been interviewed at MeanKitty! Stop by and say hello.

8. Starshine walked into his karate class the other day, looked at the assembled peeps, and yelled, "Greetings, Conrads!"

9. He also asked a few in-depth questions regarding the day of his birth (not at the karate class. In the car on the way home.) including such gems as "Did it hurt?" "Why?" And "Wouldn't it have been easier to just have me cut out of you?"

10. He then followed up that discussion with the following observation: "Well, it's good you aren't a bat!"

11. Me: "Why?"

12. Starshine: "Because then you'd have to give birth while hanging upside down so gravity really wouldn't be your friend."

13. That's an interesting silver lining.

14. I'm now offering manuscript critiques ($30 for 25 pages or $1.20/page for a whole manuscript) and have two clients so far.

15. The fact that both of these clients also took my query workshop and so know the kind of in-your-face honesty I provide either speaks well of their thick skin (Though I'm not unkind, I must stress.) or their determination to bring their writing up to the next level.

16. Speaking of writing, here are a few things I've researched for Casting Stones:

*Audi R8

*How fast a flock of chickens can run. Oh, yes. It's been clocked.

*The Smoky Mountains



*Borderline Personality Disorder

*Lawn Gnomes

*Remington shotguns

You know you want to see how all of that comes together. ;)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Deep Thoughts -- Or Something Sort Of Like It

Here are a few gems gleaned from conversations recently with my boys:

Scientist: You know, if you go to hell, I bet it isn't the heat that gets you. It's the humidity.


Starshine: Hey cool! A toothpick! Now I'm all set if I get arrested.

Me: Why?

Starshine: Because I can pick the lock on my handcuffs with a toothpick and then use it as a weapon!

Me: I'm sure every cop in this county is disturbed to hear that.


Starshine: I'm really glad you haven't been guillotined yet.

Me: That makes two of us.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Blog Topic, Blog Topic, Where Art Thou?

My hubby informed me I needed to blog again. He's absolutely right. The only problem is, between churning out Lilli's book, working, and running my online query workshop (Plus my weekly obligatory attempt to take over the world ... oh, it's going to happen. Brace yourselves, peeps.), I've been too busy to think of blog topics.

And, for once, my spawn haven't wreaked mayhem and destruction upon middle Tennessee so I can't even fall back on that for inspiration.

Plus, THANK YOU GOD, no one has recently seen fit to spit food into my gaping mouth.

So, you see the dilemma. I need to blog but I have nothing to say. I mean, I'm sure I've got plenty to say but rather than nonsensical ramblings, I'd like to present myself in a somewhat coherent fashion. Ergo, I need a topic.

Although, I've done pretty well blogging about not having a topic, yes?

Here's where you come in. Various peeps on Twitter jumped into the fray and tossed ideas my way. Some have merit. Some ... well, you'll see. I thought I'd put every suggestion (both from Twitter and culled from the somewhat scary depths of my own stream of consciousness) into a list for you, my faithful blog readers, to vote on those you'd like to see turned into a post. You can vote for as many options as you like and can even add a topic to the list via the comments section if you feel tremendously inspired.

Without further ado, I give you:

The List Of Potentially Entertaining And Moderately Enlightening Blog Ideas (TLOPEAMEBI for short):

1. Darth Vader vs. Lord Voldemort: Who wins?

2. So You Think You Can Dance: A review from someone who just doesn't get it.

3. The time in junior high when I caused an irritating boy to become mysteriously tangled up in his folding chair seconds before I sent his skinny patoot flying across the floor.

4. Various uses for the bedazzler: It's not just arts and crafts!

5. Did Tom Cruise really need to be in a hospital gown for his eye exam in Days of Thunder? An esoteric discussion on the merits of presenting aesthetically pleasing gratuitous samples of man candy just because we can.

6. Liverwurst: Meat by product? Or nuclear waste in a tube, guaranteed to cleanse your colon for you whether you like it or not?

7. The top ten strangest items lying around my office. Trust me ... there are some WEIRD things in there. And I'm not just referring to myself.

8. Get Me Started 2009: Commenters give me a first sentence and I turn some of them into a piece of creative writing on the blog.

9. Why I would make an excellent reality tv star.

10. Q & A session: leave me a question in the comment trail and I'll answer them all in a separate blog post. Naturally, you may ask me about anything except the details of my not-so-secret machinations to take over the world.

Get voting!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Grossest Thing Ever

Today at work the grossest thing ever happened to me.

I do not exaggerate.

I mean I do, but not this time.

The. Grossest. Thing. Ever.

I was leaning close to an elderly man, trying to hear what he was saying to me, when he accidentally spit food into my mouth.

He spit food into my mouth.

Yes, dear reader, I gagged out loud right there in front of him.

Also, I retched, though thankfully without results.

I then went back into the kitchen area where I proceeded to gag and retch every time I thought about it. One of my co-workers is pregnant, and just the sound of me gagging had her gagging too. Then, my manager started up and it was like a chain of dominoes.

Gagging dominoes.

I asked for peroxide, mouth wash, or at the very least, hard core bleach with which to rinse out my mouth. In the absence of those items, I settled for gargling with Coke. I've heard it eats oil and rust off a car engine. Surely it killed whatever old man germs were lingering in my mouth.

And yes, dear reader, I've been gagging--miserably and with volume--the entire time I typed this post.

Off to find some peroxide.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

All In A Day's Work

Me: Hi! Welcome to Cracker Barrel. Can I start you off with some sweet tea?

Woman: I'd like coffee. Starbucks, please.

Me: *laughs for a second before realizing woman is serious* Um. We don't have Starbuck's coffee.

Woman: But, it's my favorite!

Me: Yes. But you're in Cracker Barrel. We have Royal Cup coffee.

Woman: But I don't want Royal Cup. I want Starbucks.

Me: I realize that. But you're in CRACKER BARREL.

Woman: Well, you really should consider getting some Starbucks coffee in here. Everybody loves it.

Me: Do I really need to explain the concept of franchising to you?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Professional Critique For Hire

I'm now offering a professional critique of your first twenty-five pages! If you want the kind of feedback that will help you hone your plot, strengthen your sensory detail, flesh out your characters, edit your grammar, and streamline your pacing, this is the critique for you. Plus, I help you figure out if you've started in the right place. :)

Go here and check out the sidebar for the details. If you purchase a critique, you'll get an email from me with instructions for sending your twenty-five pages to me.

Winner of the Rewrite! Twilight Contest!

Entry #5 by Nikki is the winner! Nikki, you've won a free first chapter critique from yours truly. Please contact me via cjredwine01 (at) yahoo (dot) com for further instructions.

The top five entries qualifying for the 50 page critique drawing are:

#5 by Nikki

#7 by Joanne Huspek

#1 by Jennifer Parker

#8 by Keri Stevens

#9 by Heather Zundel

Wild Card entry picked for 50 page critique drawing: #6 by Sue Ann Mason

Tune in later this month for another contest and more chances to win a free critique!

Friday, October 2, 2009

My Life Is A Sitcom

Really. It is.

Case in point? Yesterday afternoon.

Yesterday was a big day for me. I was meeting my fabulous agent Holly Root at a downtown bookstore in the evening. Now, I've already signed on the dotted line, she has full access to this blog, and she's seen my Twitter feed. If she was going to go running in the opposite direction, she's had ample opportunity.

Still. One wants to arrive at the first meeting with one's agent with a basic resemblance to a mostly-normal, fully-functioning humanoid.

I certainly had every intention of A) Not wearing my yoga pants with the gigantic hole in the nether regions and B) Staying away from substances that cause me to be more of a lunatic than usual (caffeine, alcohol, unlimited access to Hot Tamales).

Instead, I woke up with my left eye burning. Burning. Every time I blinked. Every time I didn't blink. Burning.

Not fun.

Also, not conducive to driving. Working. Walking with any sort of depth perception. Given my already shaky hand-eye coordination record, every step I took with my burning, refuses-to-work-right left eye was an act of unmitigated hubris for which I fully expected the universe to slap me into the nearest tree.

Halfway through the day, after countless eye-checks using mirrors, lights, and other people, I realized I couldn't handle it on my own. I would have to *gasp* go to my eye doctor.

I don't like going to my eye doctor. Not that he isn't a very nice man. He is. But he's an eye doctor. He thinks terms like corneal ulcer and retinal detachment are exciting conversational options. I get nauseous at the sound of someone rubbing their eye.

I can deal with puke, blood, and a host of other bodily functions but eyes totally gross me out. Why? Who knows? Remember, I'm the woman who's deathly afraid of moths. Do you really expect my other phobias to make sense?

After performing the sadistic "Hey! Here's a great idea! You sit very still while I shoot air into your open eyeball!" routine, he had me sit in a chair and try to read a tiny little chart of letters positioned approximately five miles away.

This is another sadistic routine. There's no way you can read the bottom line without the help of NASA's Hubble Space telescope. And why would you want to? It doesn't say anything interesting.

After failing to read the bottom line with my air-puffed eyeballs, the doctor had me rest my chin on a metal platform he'd recently pulled out of a freezer and look straight ahead while he scanned my eye with a magnifier.

He found nothing, and that's when the real fun began.

Because he needed a better look at my eye, he announced he would be A) dyeing my eye and B) rolling up my eyelid with a stick.

I informed him that I would not be showing up to my first ever meeting with my literary agent sporting an eye in shades God never intended.

Also, I informed him that the last time an eye doctor rolled my eyelid up with a stick, I nearly vomited on his shoes and if he was wise, he'd cover himself with some plastic.

He laughed, but grabbed the trashcan just in case.

Moments later, he'd dyed my eye a heinous shade of yellow. Not sunshine yellow. Not lemon yellow. Radioactive urine yellow.

And then he rolled my eyelid up with a stick.

Yes, dear reader, I gagged. Out loud.

He made several oohs and ahhs and then announced he'd found some sort of lesion on my eye. It had an official name but it was so nasty sounding, I promptly repressed my knowledge of it as soon as it left his mouth.

He then said he wanted to roll up my other eyelid for comparison. Um ... hello? Gagging? Retching? Really?

He was most insistent. He grabbed my eyelid, wrapped it around his little stick of torture, and it snapped back into place.

He thought that was sort of funny. I threatened to kick him in the shins.

He managed to roll it up correctly the next time *cue gagging* and then rhapsodized on and on about this, that, and the "Do I seriously care?!" for a few seconds until my feet starting swinging in the general direction of his legs.

Seemingly unaware that a girl who nearly vomits when her eye is examined might not be interested in a host of visual aids detailing the nasty lesion on her eye, he began discussing my condition with what I can only term indecent enthusiasm. He even googled it to show me enlarged images.

I refused to look.

Seeing that I was shockingly uninterested in revisiting the contents of my stomach, he told me the lesion would heal in 48-72 hours and I should put tears in my eyes (from a bottle, not from banging my finger with a hammer) every two hours. And then said I was free to go.

Wait, what? I'm meeting with literary agent in three hours. I have an eyeball that looks like radioactive urine. I. Don't. Think. So.

Of course, the only way to get rid of my radioactive eye was to flush it. I responded to this delightful procedure in much the same way as the eyelid rolling only with considerable more dialogue. None of which, I'm afraid, is fit to print.

In the end, I had two normal looking eyeballs again. And my eye doctor got his afternoon torture fix.

I wonder if I can just count that as my yearly exam and be done with it?

Harry Potter Trailer & More!

The final trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 has been released, and I'm not going to lie. I get choked up every ti...