Dear Future Writers or My Two Cents

I have always kind-of wanted to be a writer. I say “kind of” because It’s not a full time devoted desire, it comes and goes. Sometimes I also want to be a Marketing Director or the Chair of a Foundation, occasionally a Barista, but writing is the one I always come back to.

I sometimes come across bloggers who, as far as I can tell, have never published anything and yet offer sage advice on how to succeed. Then they get all manner of comments from other hopeful writers who compliment them on their insightful views and add their own bits of wisdom. I’ve read so many that I decided maybe I should throw my own 2 cents into the ring!

Therefore, drum roll please… My advice to anyone hoping to become a published writer is this:

Only take advice from published writers.

That’s it. I have no other advice for writer hopefuls. None. Zilch. How could I? I’ve never gotten anything published, really.  Who am I to give advice? Why would you listen to anything I say. My mailman might have better insight on the publishing basics and he is all about reality TV.

I can tell you how to start a blog. It’s not difficult and has more technical instruction than words of wisdom. Maybe you haven’t noticed, but any idiot can write a blog (present blog included). When it comes to advice on being a published writer, I’ve got nothing.

In college I got an essay published in a school quarterly paper. I had planned to keep copies, I didn’t. I don’t even remember what it was about. Then on the NPR North Texas Regional website years ago I got an essay published as well. It wasn’t published so much as put on the website with a bunch of other This I Believe’s. It was about perspective and for weeks I would check the website to see how many people had clicked on the page. Let’s just say the numbers weren’t increasing their monthly website traffic fees. At all.

I, too, wish I could grab hold of some gem of advice about writing.  Some bit of wisdom that would make the neurons in my brain suddenly fire only Pulitzer prize-worthy text with every type of the key pads. The only people really capable of giving great advice though on getting published are those who have been successful writers. The ones who are paid too well to want to dole out words for free. I think we should all begin a writing campaign that harasses them for their advice. However, I’m sure their success also qualifies them for an assistant that will promptly toss all those letters in the garbage.

Last year I published an essay in an small Austin magazine. That was a big deal to me and I bragged to anyone who would listen. It was also the only thing I’ve submitted to anyone since the NPR thing. Maybe the best advice is just to submit something, somewhere, to someone on a regular basis. But then again, what do I know?!

Dear Santa

October 17, 2013 Leave a comment

Dear Santa,
We, the children of Liberty Lane, have put together a petition requesting harsher consequences for those on your Naughty List. To deter bad behavior in today’s world, the historical practice of leaving a lump of coal is no longer effective.
We are too often today exposed to many violent television shows, the internet and YouTube. It is not uncommon to see my nice neighborhood friends wandering the block on Christmas Day wearing smudge marks left behind by a chunk of coal that a Naughty child carelessly pelted in their direction. What’s worse is that coal has an amazing shelf life. It can be re-pelted again and again. It hardly seems to even be a punishment to these children of Naughty inclination. Their happy cackles can be heard for blocks each time they make contact with another forehead.
We know you are busy with preparations and may not have time so late in the year to reevaluate this critical situation. We on the Nice list want to do our part, so we have come up with what we think you will find is a very good solution.
Research has shown that small volts of electric shock do not cause long term damage, even to small children. Local police officials frequently use this method to encourage Naughty adults back onto a Nicer path. Why not get them used to this practice when they are children? You would be helping the child, local police and the entire community.
With the increase in coal prices over the last few years, we estimate it will be less expensive to manufacture these devices in house. They are also likely to be much lighter in weight than coal and could possibly decrease your overall delivery time. And because each time the Naughty child picks up the device they will receive another zap, they are less likely to be thrown at Nice children.
Now I know what you are thinking. Tazing children may sound harsh from your jolly world up there in the North Pole surrounded by candy canes and singing elves, but we feel it is warranted and necessary down here in the real world.
I assure you much time and thought was put into this idea and we do not take electrocuting children lightly, but let’s be honest, some children simply need that little extra nudge to send them down a nicer path and a brighter future.
The Nice List-ers of Liberty Lane

Losing My Imaginary Friend

June 30, 2012 1 comment

Nora Ephron once wrote that she had imaginary conversations with several chefs she hoped to meet. Whenever she cooked, she would talk to them about what spice she should add, what side dish to put with her main course, their thoughts on a particular sauce.

I, too, have an imaginary friend I speak with regularly. For about 10 years now, I have had imaginary conversations with Nora about movies I see, books I’ve read, friends and not-so-much friends, day-to-day activities, where we should eat the next time I am in New York and the list goes on. I am positive we would have been incredible friends, you know, if we had ever actually met.

I missed seeing Nora Ephron give a speech in Dallas last year. Since that time I periodically search to see where she might be speaking next, with the hope that I could be in close proximity. Hearing about her death this week makes me all the sadder to have missed her last year, but sadder still to lose the hope of actually meeting her in person in the future or of reading more of her essays or seeing another of her movies.

The following post is one I did last year after having missed her at the luncheon. Goodbye Dear Nora. I will miss you and our wonderful talks, no matter how imaginary they were to everyone else.


My Brush With Nora – Feb. 2011

I first fell in love with Nora Ephron after watching When Harry Met Sally. In the beginning, I mistakenly thought it was Meg Ryan I loved. Meg is great of course, but over time I realized we were too different to make it work. Later I decided it was Rob Reiner I adored, and while Rob will always have a special place in my heart, I now see it was Nora all along.

If you haven’t seen or read something Nora Ephron has written, you’ve probably been living in a cave for thirty years and you might want to start with learning how to google. Nora has a way of pointing out obvious and yet overlooked humor in common situations. She is what a good portion of comedic writers today and all romantic comedy writers aspire to be.

I am not a fan of celebrities. I find recognizable people to be overly beautiful and intimidatingly stylish. They are, as far as I can tell, imaginary people. If I were ever trapped in an elevator with one I would have nothing to say, which is saying something. As a rule, I try not to talk to real imaginary people. I would break that rule for a very short list of famous people and Nora Ephron is one.

As I type this, I am missing my opportunity to be trapped in an elevator with Nora Ephron. She is in Dallas today, speaking at a luncheon. I had intended to buy a ticket, but I waited too long and they sold out. At the luncheon I would have been a tiny dot sitting at a table in the back, just barely on her horizon. That didn’t diminish my dreams of running into her in the bathroom and striking up a conversation as we washed our hands. Or maybe she would feel our connection across the vast luncheon room and from her podium she would call to me. “You there,” she would say, “in the back. Yes, you. See me in the hallway after.”

Published Essay!

April 26, 2012 1 comment

Parent Wise May 2011

I entered an essay into the Mother’s Day essay competition for Parent:Wise Austin Magazine. My “Mommy Clueless” essay was chosen and will be published in their May 2012 issue. As an added bonus, they are actually sending me money for my words. That has never happened before!

I’ve been published several times, but always in school magazines or on websites that haven’t so much as offered me free coffee. In all fairness, it had more to do with their struggle to survive than their lack of appreciation for my writing. I recognize now that it can be hard to pay a writer when you spend your spare time sneaking paper from open backpacks on campus, just to be able to keep printing your campus literary magazine. Also, I might need to actually submit my writing more often, instead of hoping they will find me.

The publisher and editor of Parent:Wise Magazine, Kim Pleticha, also attached a very nice note to my acceptance email. She said something along the lines of how much they all loved my essay and how the entire staff could not put it down and insisted on rereading it again and again. I am paraphrasing of course. She all but said she could relate to the wisdom in the essay and they were nearly in tears from laughing so much at my clever jokes. I think it was worded more like “we all enjoyed your essay” but I think everyone can read between the words on that one.

I humbly want to thank my parents and my husband and especially my children for giving me the inspiration to write such profound and thought provoking words that have hopefully amused and propelled at least one additional person to my blog. World domination is a slow and painful process, but I am happy to see that I am still on the right path! Never give up on your dreams, kids!

Thanks again Parent:Wise Austin! As far as I’m concerned you are the number one parent and local events magazine on the planet! And for the record, I think you are pretty-clever too!

Reluctant Gawker

April 24, 2012 1 comment

I am not in the habit of using my boobs as a pocketbook. I don’t store money, credit cards, change, pens, sunglasses, make-up or anything else that I can carry in my purse in there, even though they would probably all fit nicely and unnoticed.

Since about 8 months after my youngest son was born, my breasts have retired to a nice quiet decorative lifestyle. I come from a long line of boob pocket bookers though and I have friends that regularly ask their “girls” to safe guard their valuables.

Yesterday I whipped my car into a space in a crowded parking lot and since I was in a hurry, I glanced around quickly to ensure no one was walking nearby. I then rushed to adjust something about them that was not right. Maybe one was slipping out the bottom of its holder and when I tried to pop it back into place, it popped out the top. There is nothing more irritating than a misplaced boob (although misplaced undies might rank near the top of that list also) so I took a little extra time to ensure it was properly seated, with everything in place.

I assure you, it was more attention than I have given them in months, maybe longer.

As I grabbed my purse and hurriedly turned to exit the car, I looked up to see a twenty-something young man, possibly of Indian descent, sitting in the driver’s seat of the car parked directly in front of me. He had his hands on the key in the ignition, but sat frozen, mouth open, wide-eyed and staring.

Treehouse Tree

April 23, 2012 2 comments

The house hunt is in full swing. Last weekend we went to 12 open houses and if that doesn’t seem like a lot, you probably haven’t looked for a house recently. With all the rooms and details of each house, it’s difficult to take in each one.

We practically ran every where we went for several hours. We parked the car in front of the house, jumped out, ran up the sidewalk, walked through the door and immediately spread out. My husband headed toward the bedrooms, I went toward the kitchen, my son checked the backyard and my little one mostly touched their breakable stuff in whatever room he happened into.

Then we met back in the middle of the house, usually in front of a baffled real estate agent, and compared notes….

Were there enough bedrooms? Check.
Was the kitchen updated? Check.
Did the bedrooms have closets? Debatable.
Was the utility room big enough for something larger than Barbie’s washer and dryer? (Just kidding, ha ha ha,  can you see Barbie washing clothes? There is a dissertation in there somewhere.) Check.
Were the appliances put in after the Civil War? Check.
Did you see colored shag carpeting anywhere? Negative.
Did anyone notice any hideous pink wallpaper? No. (You’d be surprised at how often the answer is yes.)
Was there more than one bathroom? Check.

And the final and most important question… for the million bucks… can you tell me…

Is there a treehouse tree?

We would stare at my son, even shushing the agent if she was babbling on about foundation whats-its and neighborhood nosey’s, in anticipation of his answer. What would it be? The final peg. Would it work?

No? Cross it off the list and move on.
Yes? Write down maybe and move on.

This is a treehouse we actually saw at one house!A Treehouse Tree is a large tree in the backyard that would be suitable for holding a small shackled dwelling similar to a house in that it has four walls. It’s a tree that my son and I (with a whole lot of technical help from my husband) will use to design and build our most fantastic, awesome treehouse, after we move. It will create Norman Rockwell-ish memories and make my son never want to move away.

We have been wanting a treehouse since he was 2 and I whispered it into his ear every night, over and over again, as he fell asleep. Which works by the way. He believes the idea is completely his own, and he also thinks it’s the best idea ever, which of course, it is. Score! (Although, I’ve tried the same thing on my husband, replacing the word “treehouse” with “jewelry” for years and so far, zilch.)

OK, Get Out

April 19, 2012 1 comment

I was afraid this would happen. My husband has been spending more time with his elderly father lately to help get things ready for their move in with us. In the process, he has picked up a bad habit.

I knew there would be repercussions of them spending this much time together, I just wasn’t sure what they would be.

I thought it would be something along the lines of him deciding he wants to eat dinner at 4:30 or maybe he would begin a subscription for an actual newspaper. The one they print on giant thin sheets of paper, roll up and throw at your house in the wee hours of the morning. (This is still a real thing. You can call your local newspaper and ask for an old timey newspaper subscription. They will pass you around to a bunch of operators so that each one can ask if you are sure, and then eventually they will assign someone to sneak up to your house and throw stuff at it before you awake every morning.)

About two weeks ago we were going out for dinner. The parking lot was full and while looking for a parking spot, my husband suddenly stopped the car in front of the restaurant and said, “OK, get out.”

The kids and I looked at each other. What? Get out? Where? Here?

“There’s a car behind us now, hurry please, get out.”

So, we did what most people would probably do when a loved one stops the car and hurriedly tells them to hit the road. We grabbed our stuff and got out. Then we stood there on the sidewalk, looking at each other and wondering what to do next.

A few minutes later he ran up and said, “Why are you out here? Why didn’t you go in?”


“You don’t have to wait for me. Go in!”

That was the first time it happened. I was a little stunned and we didn’t even discuss it afterwards. We just ate dinner and I assumed he hadn’t been getting enough sleep.

Then last weekend it happened again and a third time last week. Each time with the expression “Get out.” So, on our fourth go around, I finally said, “Hold it! Why are you kicking us out of the car at the door, everywhere we go?!”

With a baffled expression he thought for a minute and then replied “So you won’t have to walk in from the parking lot.”

I stared at him.

At the bottom of this annoying new habit was a loving and kind gesture. I realized that he had been dropping his father off at the door whenever they went anywhere to spare his father and his father’s sore hip the trouble of walking in from the parking lot. Now, back with us, he was just extending this courtesy to me and the kids.

And so, with loving eyes I looked at him and said, “Well, knock it off! We are perfectly capable of walking in from the parking lot. In fact, it might do us some good!”

Now we are back to walking in from the parking lot and I am happy. I am still keeping my ears open for the inevitable whap on the front door some early morning, but I wish every bad habit we pick up through the years could be so easy to correct. God knows, most of mine aren’t!


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