Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Little of This and A Little of That

I love purses. I collect purses like other women collect shoes. I'm not exactly sure what it is about purses that I like so much. Perhaps it goes back to my early years when I would happily organize my brand new school bag and school supplies before each new school year. There was something so exciting about knowing you were organized. I think that may be why I love getting a new purse. It's not the purse itself that I find thrilling, but rather the idea that I will be able to move all of my "stuff" from one purse to the other.

In any case, I must admit that I don't typically carry that much in my purse. The following is exactly what I have in my bag right now.

My Wallet
A light pink lip gloss
A roll on perfume
A cheque book and pen
My keys
A few crumpled receipts from a few outings
A notepad
Anti-bacterial wipes

That's it. Have a great weekend.


Friday, January 30, 2009

An Inventory of Oddities

Let's see...

- Notebook (full of mostly-indescipherable scribblings).
- Lucky pen (why lucky? I honestly don't know).
- Card case with business cards (which, last time I looked for it for almost five minutes so that I could actually give someone a card, I could not for the life of me find).
- Polished purple crytal which I think belongs to my friend Simon (why do I have this again? I should give this back. Weird.).
- Make-up bag (with which I must wrestle mightily to either open or close - note to self: clean out make-up bag. Why on earth do you have 3 tubes of mascara?).
- Tube of Lash-Grip eye-lash glue (no, I am not in the habit of wearing false eyelashes - obviously, I have three tubes of mascara, remember? It's left-over from when I was the Trophy Queen at the last World Rock Paper Scissors Competition... er... I've said too much).
- Frankenberry (this is what I call my newly acquired Blackberry).
- Frankenberry charger ("It's alive! Aliiiive!!").
- Cat-hair (various lengths and colors).
- Shiny new purple iPod Nano (containing, among other things, the awesome "mix tape" playlist my boyfriend created which I listen to while I write. It's like a soundtrack to my books and, hilariously - if you've read WONDROUS STRANGE - includes songs like REM's "Me in Honey" and Ben Fold's "The Bitch Went Nuts" which I suppose is a pretty dead-on anthem for Queen Mabh!)
- Various/numerous pots/tubes/sticks of lip balm (I live in Canada, okay?).
- And, (lastly...) more cat-hair.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Wonder Purse

I come from a long line of women obsessed with their purses. My grandmother is the worst. Her purse is like a tank, and she won’t let it out of her sight. Ever. Even if she’s sitting on the couch, in her own house, she has to reserve the seat right next to her for her giant purse.

I used to be one of those tiny-pursed women, who didn’t care too much about her purse at all. Then I had a baby. Just after my oldest son was born, I bought this amazing purse. It is big without being too big; it has lots of neat little pockets, so I can separate my cell phone and my keys from all the extra baby stuff I started carrying around. It’s a shade of tan that goes with almost anything, and it has a cute soft little pink lining.

But then a few months ago, during a cross country trip to Philadelphia, my son had a little accident, and, needless to say, my purse got peed on. I was devastated. I searched high and low for another, similar purse. I even bought one that was close, but something about the color and the shape didn’t feel exactly right, so I took it back.

Then it occurred to me to wash the purse. In the washing machine. I turned it inside out, put it on the gentle cycle, and hoped for the best. It came out perfectly, looking (and smelling) brand new, and I sighed a huge sigh of relief. (It also confirmed my suspicion, that this truly is the wonder purse!)

So you might expect that, what, with my love for my purse, the inside is super-organized and efficient. Ha! Here’s what I have in there right now (I’m actually taking inventory as I write this post!):

--The usual: wallet, car keys, cell phone, blue tooth
--2 tubes of Alba Cherry Un-Petroleum Lip Balm: I’m not sure why I have two, but I really can’t live without this stuff!
--Purell: Necessary to combat my slight germ-phobia.
--A Toy Story diaper wipes pack: a necessity when toting two kids to any store/restaurant.
--One diaper: I’m not sure why I bother – There's no way I would be able to change my son when I'm out. (He's not a big fan of lying still right now!) But it seems like I should have one anyway.
--Circular Rattle/Teething ring & Sally car action figure from the movie Cars: Great kid distractions while out shopping/at the library/at a restaurant.
--6 crumpled receipts from various stores: I’m sure I stuffed them in there at some point while trying to hold onto two kids and my bags.
--3 Benedryl Perfect Measure packs & 1 epi-pen: My son has food allergies.
--1 tissue: It is crumpled and has clearly been in there a long time, but it is, thankfully, not used!
--2 pens & 1 pencil: It’s good that I have 3 writing utensils and no paper!
--3 expired Target coupons: I’m sure I had these in my purse when I was in Target, and they were not expired, but I had no idea they were there so I didn’t use them.

So as you can see, it may be the perfect purse, but the contents are only vaguely organized and sometimes useful. If I ever had the time or energy I could probably organize it, add more useful items. (This morning while I was out with the kids, I cut my finger, and then I rifled through my purse for a non-existent band-aid. I made a mental note to myself to put one in, which I promptly forgot about until now.) I could discard the old receipts, expired coupons, and the useless diaper. Actually, I sort of thought about it, as I wrote this post, but then I put everything back in, just the way it was, and decided that would be a project for another day.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Where's The Kitchen Sink?

I'm really picky about my purses. Before I buy one I have to thoroughly inspect it. I hang it off my shoulder, while posing in the mirror, to see just where it falls. Usually, they need to have a zipper in the top or a hangover flap that can be securely fastened. THAT'S BECAUSE MY PURSE IS ALWAYS BUGLING OUT OF SHAPE FROM ALL THE STUFF I PUT IN IT. Incidentally, today is January 28 and I'm just now changing over from my summer straw purse to my black leather, winter purse. Story of my life.

I never stopped to think about it until I saw this week's topic but I think I must be deathly afraid of being stuck somewhere without my most vital necessities.

As I'm unzipping my purse to inspect its contents, I am reminded of what happens every time I'm standing in the check-out line at the grocery store. Before I can get to my heavy wallet to get to my debit card, I have to first pull out my sunglasses. Next on the counter comes my brush. I don't actually take out the stick of deodorant or my bottle of coQ10 dietary supplements or the bottle of Allegra allergy pills - that would reveal too much about me personally - so I push those to the side and pull out my camera, my cell phone and my keys instead. Inevitably every checker person has the same look on his or her face. As I'm making my usual apologies, their eyebrows are usually arched and their bottom lip is normally curved up and to the side. Suffice to say, they're not amused.

It's so embarrassing.

Why don't you get a bigger purse, I'm sure you must be asking. I ask myself the same question all the time but the truth is I flat just don't look good carrying a big purse. And it's too bad because I love big purses but I must admit it's all about the look.

If I need an extra nickel or a dime, I have to dig through all my bottom feeders like pens, breath mints, my Orbit gum (Sweet Mint), my Loreal dark brown mascara, a small calculator, a stamp box, and a spare package of toe heaters, to make the change. I discovered this vital winter necessity while living in Vermont and now I keep them in my purse just in case my feet get cold.

A good purse has to have lots of pockets and side zippers. Mine hold several lipsticks, a small tin of Smith's Rosebud Salve, a tube of Carmex, my favorite blush, Clinique's concealer, a perfume sampler, Burt's Bee's hand cream and finally a small trial-size of Oral-B dental floss from my latest visit to the dentist.

Whew, that's a mouthful. And speaking of my mouth, I'm not sure why I don't carry a toothbrush.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My Life Is So Glamorous

There once was a time when my purse was filled with fabulous things, like lipstick, earrings and a flier for a new restaurant opening.

And then I had a kid.

Now? My purse is filled with random weird toddler-related stuff. Right now, I have: my wallet, a dead cell phone (thanks to my son pressing a bunch of buttons and making it go KABOOM!), a pen that has no ink, a baggie full of smashed-up cheerios, a friend's kid's birthday party invitation and a ton of McDonald's receipts from my morning coffee runs.

Glamorous life? I has it.

A few years ago, when I envisioned myself as the pre-published writer that I am today, I figured I'd have a cute pink Coach planner to track my publication tour, one of those digital voice recorder things (for all of the amazing and earth-shattering book ideas I'd get, natch) and some cool business cards all tucked neatly into my Brand New Prada Purse.

Well. I'm not going on a publication tour, I have a digital recorder but it's hiding somewhere in my apparently Bermuda Triangle-like closet and the only business cards I have are the ones for my day job, and I wouldn't really define them as "cool." And the Brand New Prada Purse? Sounds great, but I really don't need a several-hundred-dollar-purse-destroyed-by-toddler-with-sippy-cup incident.

I'll say it again: GLAMOROUS.

Monday, January 26, 2009

What's in MY Purse?

When I realized what this week's topic was, I laughed a little. I admit it. I haven't cleaned out my purse in a while, so who knows what lurks in it's depths. Ready to find out? Here we go...
  1. A Book: Dragon's Lair by Denise Lynn. The wonderful Denise Lynn is in my local writing group and she gave me a copy on Saturday. It's a book I've been waiting to read ever since I learned about it...but I can't start reading it until I finish the current book I'm reading.

  2. Another Book: A Handbook of Chakra Healing by Kalashatra Govinda. This was also given to me at my writer's group on Saturday. My current book has a heroine who can see auras, and my friend thought this book might be helpful.

  3. Some of my cover flats for A Taste of Magic. Just in case I run into some folks I want to show off my book cover to.

  4. Handouts from the amazing speaker (Heather Bradley) we had at Saturday's meeting. We learned about energy zappers and energy juicers--basically, what zaps our writing energy and what juices it up. Awesome presentation, btw.

  5. My wallet with various business cards, checks, credit cards, and the like. (No cash, though...I rarely carry cash around with me anymore.)

  6. A bunch of reciepts crammed into the bottom of my purse. Some are destined for the garbage and some are destined for my tax receipt envelope. Of course, I need to take the time to go through them to discern which is which.

  7. A pair of gets cold here.

  8. Chapstick, lip gloss, eye drops, a package of gum, and some Tic-Tacs.

  9. A Tide stick...cuz I'm pretty much guaranteed to need one with four kids.

  10. Pens...lots and lots of pens, and a small notebook

  11. Keys, naturally

  12. A couple takeout menus from area restaurants that have never made it into my takeout menu drawer in the kitchen.

  13. Sunglasses, handiwipes, ibuprofen, and sore throat drops from my last cold

That's it! Yes, I have a large purse...even larger when I share that at times, my mini laptop (netbook, I think they're called?) also fits into it.

So nothing too out of the least nothing I'm embarrassed by. So, what's in YOUR purse?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Say what?

Oh hi!

Yeah... I know. I'm supposed to post on Fridays. Blame the piskies in my computer. Or possibly the troll that lives under the blogger-bridge that kept eating my post. Now let us never speak of this again.


Character building.

Never done it. Don't know how.

In fact, I am somewhat in awe of writers who know anything about their characters before they start in on a story. And more than a little jealous. Sounds like it might make things a whole lot easier.

Early on in my writing career (and waaay before it could justifiably be called same), I tried using all the cool tools to come up with my characters. I tried character fact-sheets. I tried interviewing characters. Writing letters to me from them. Charts. Geaneaologies. Background dossiers. Free-writing in "voice". Cutting pictures from magazines. Basing character-traits on friends...

These attempts at pre-creating character versimilitude will never see the light of day. I have fed them to the fire. They are buried deep in the earth. Committed to the vast endless silences of the little wastebasket icon on my computer desk-top.

I just can't do it. I can't pre-write characters.

Some of the time, on those lucky rare occasions, a character will appear to me fully formed, leaping from my brain and directly into the story like Athena from the forehead of Zeus (often with accompanying headache!). That happened with all of Bob's scenes in WONDROUS STRANGE. I didn't have to do a dang thing!

Those are the happy few.

The others? Well, mostly, all I can do is sit there and commit impolite acts the like of which my mother told me never to do. I eavesdrop. I listen in on conversations between total (to me, certainly, and sometimes to each other) strangers... and I transcribe what's being said. Oh - not for real, Mom. I'm not sitting on the subway stretching an ear, for crying out loud. (In fact, private conversations in public send me diving into my knapsack to retrieve my iPod so that I don't have to listen!)

No - what I mean is, when I'm writing a character, the only way I can get to know them is through what they tell me as the story progresses. And the most useful information always comes in the form of their conversations with the other characters (especially when they're not necessarily saying what they're thinking!).

For me, once a character starts to speak, then the rest of the information starts to fill itself in. I gather and glean and sift and write back and forth through the manuscript and tweak and alter and build personalities as I learn about them through what they say to others.

That's about it. It never happens pre-story for me. For me, plot and characters are inseperable and - as I'm discovering in the edit process right now on book 2 - when something in the plot isn't quite working, it's because I didn't get something quite right with a character. And that means, I have to go back and - metaphorically speaking - pull up a chair next to their table at the corner cafe, and listen in just a little more carefully to those private conversations!

It all feels very naughty. But it seems to work for me!