Tag Archive for women

My Writing Process Blog Tour.

Long time! Oy. Day job and June, in general, were rough. Many highs and a couple lows. I owe an explanation in another blog post but for now….THIS. I was invited to participate in The Writing Process Blog Tour by Scott Springer, another Sacramento writer. He kindly wrote about me and my little ebook in his Writing Process blog post. His new book, Bound by Blood, comes out in September! Thank you, Scott. (And I’m sorry I’m posting this late!) x

Bound by Blood

My Writing Process is an ongoing blog tour in which authors blog about their own processes by answering four basic questions and then pass the baton to other authors. The questions and my wordy answers follow.

What am I working on?

In truth, I’m working on procrastinating but I have been working for a few, slow years on a book I wrote about my experience in beauty college. I’d been working in a government job I heavily disliked and at the time, my mom was nearing the end of her eight-year battle with colon cancer. I knew that I didn’t want to return to the dirty, lonely cubicle I had been in for 14 months when I lost her and decided to do something drastic: I enrolled in beauty college.

My dad’s reaction: Hey! Great idea!

My mom’s reaction: What.

My girlfriends’ reactions: I will be your model!

My brother’s reaction: Whatever.

My guy friends’ reactions: Will you introduce me to your single classmates? (I was too old for them, apparently.)

My coworkers’ reactions: I’m so jealous.

Anyhow, I told my disapproving mother that I was going to write a blog about my year in beauty school. Every day, I would write. It would be just like Julie and Julia, the blog turned into a book and then into a movie. I was going to write my first book. Mom was dubious, all the way up until I lost her. I could never tell her why I did it, though. I didn’t want her to know her impending death was tearing me up inside and I needed a change.

To quote a favorite book of mine, “My mom was the love of my life.”

Ugh, tears.

So, anyhow…working on Draft #3218 at the moment of Hair AmErica. First, an ebook. Next, Oscar-winning movie with Jennifer Lawrence playing me with fantastic hair. I may write a romance into the screenplay though because the only love affair I had in beauty college was with my State board final preparations. It ended with a happy divorce.

(Tangent: I do have an outline for a picture book based on my experiences grading student exams about ten years ago and the silly answers the kiddos would write that would deserve high marks but didn’t receive them based on stupid educational standards. And an intermediate fantasy book about SLEEPING. The idea works, I’m telling you. You just have to wait, though.)

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

Ehhh…I don’t know really how it’s different than others in its genre except that I haven’t read anything else like it. I write what is called creative nonfiction or narrative nonfiction. Or…memoir. I learned recently the different between “memoir” and “autobiography,” actually. (You’re about to learn something useless here.) A memoir is written work about a period of your life, not your entire life. That would be an autobiography. So, I’m currently writing a memoir about my year in beauty college. I can just see all the heterosexual males lining up to buy my first copies. Truth: my dad read the entire blog as it was happening. He loved it, and he’s also biased. When writing a book, you’re supposed to do some research first. You’re supposed to find out if others have written what you’re wanting to write about. You might find some competition or learn that it’s been tried and failed. I have only seen one other mainstream book written about beauty college, and that was Kabul Beauty SchoolI started reading it years ago, and while it was good, I didn’t finish it. It also takes place in AFGHANISTAN. My book takes place in SACRAMENTO, so I think I’m golden, that is, if I can ever get this book finished. And this is still a work of nonfiction. I am writing about myself. But it’s not a “how to” book. That’s why it’s called creative or narrative nonfiction: it reads like a novel. So I’d like to think.

Why do I write what I do?

I have no deep answer for this. I even Googled other writers’ responses to this question to get ideas.  It should be easy to write about myself; my books are memoirs. However, I write what I know, which is about things that have happened to me or things that I have done. I have difficulty answering questions about why I write these things, and the only thing I can think of is that quote I see people post often on Facebook by Toni Morrison:

“If there is a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.”

She was probably referring to literary fiction, but I’ll take it. I can’t say I’ve ever wanted to read a book about beauty school, but I think people can relate to being stuck and looking to something else for happiness. This book about beauty school also deals with death, grief, cancer, volunteerism, politics, love, friendship, and grace…though that description may make the book sound way better than it actually is. That is my biggest fear at the moment, that no one else will think it’s great. It will be dedicated to my mama, so that makes it superb.

By the way, my mom always talked about how she wanted to write a book. A mystery. She lacked the confidence and time, though. This is why my pseudonym includes the original spelling of her maiden name, is now attached to my first book, a book about online dating. I feel like online dating is a bit of a mystery…as in you never know what you’re going to get. x

How does my writing process work?

I don’t have a process. Clearly. I just write when I can. I save every draft by dating them so I know which version is the last one I worked on. I do have some whiteboards with outlines on them that have half-wiped clean accidentally during the four moves I’ve made in four years. My desk is a mess, as is the living room coffee table which adds to my procrastination, I know. I sometimes write for other websites for free with the promise they will send people to my blog and then book for purchase, but that has not proven to be fruitful, so no more…for now. I have been trying to submit a few query letters a week for representation for the hair book. I am about to do the same for my now award-winning ebook based on my online dating experiences in a blog called So Many Tools in the Internet Shed. Anything to leave my cubicle farm. I think the dating book makes an excellent bathroom read.  xx __________________________________________________________

I’ve invited two writers to participate in this tour thingy. (It should have been three but had a difficult time hearing back from people and I owe poor Scott a blog post!) You may want to follow them. They’re pretty interesting and diverse.

Josh Fielder writes as Hack Kerouac. (Just select the link there so you don’t have to spell “Kerouac.” You’re welcome.) I met Josh in an interesting way. He wrote an amazing post not long after the Newtown shootings that was shared endlessly throughout Facebook. I stalked him and added him and then won a dog collar from his side business for a dog I never got. He had gained many fans (and stalkers…real ones…and not me) and started blogging about his experiences as a cab driver, gaining MORE fans. That blog is about to become a book, and he’s about to embark on a national tour in his RV with his sidekick dog, Izzy. Check him out.

taxi__________________________________________________________

Edward Medina. I met Edward in a writing group on Facebook, and he’s done a LOT. Lemme just post this from his profile because I couldn’t say it any better.

Amazon bestselling author Edward Medina is a native New Yorker who was raised by his mother and grandmother to believe that life is an adventure best lived to the fullest. To that end he has lived his life on the edge of creative possibility.

Well, that doesn’t exactly say what he’s done, but I had to include a line about his mama and his grandmama. Trust me though, his canon is full of creative goodness. Okay, here’s a little more:

Amazon bestselling author of high fantasy, dark horror, and epic steampunk adventure novels, short stories, and poems. Find Edward HERE.

by Edward Medina

by Edward Medina

Nutcracker.

I’m reminded of a line from a movie my mom loved: “The lyin’, cheatin’, sack of shit is here.”

That movie is Something to Talk About. Julia Roberts’ character found out her husband, Dennis Quaid, had been cheating on her, and her sister, Kyra Sedgwick opened a door to greet him after Julia told her to keep him busy while she got ready in another room.

Kyra kicked him in the nuts. Dennis fell to the floor in immense pain.

Julia screamed at her sister.

“You said to keep him busy. He’s busy holding his nuts.”

Sometimes, I feel like kicking some nuts online.

While on the dating sites, there were handfuls of married men looking for flings. They were up front with their needs, and most said to not even bother sending a nasty message, that if they were not interested, to keep moving. I recall one guy who messaged ME, and his profile would appear “disabled” RIGHT after each time I received a message from him. Peeking outside his bedroom window into the neighbor’s window and then quickly drawing the blinds before he gets caught, taking that peek.

I ran into a few guys I knew, guys I KNEW had girlfriends. One didn’t even pay the extra $5.00 or so a month to enable anonymous browsing, and before I’d even noticed him in my visitors list, he’d sent me a message, telling me he could explain. He tried to make light of it, and said he was only looking because he and his longtime girlfriend were having problems, but to not tell anyone.

This was a middle-aged man, and an esteemed professional. Ugh.

Online dating has made it easy to cheat. Even opening an account, just to look, could be cheating.

A girlfriend of mine found that her boyfriend of five years had created a free OKCupid.com account. She saw his “sent” messages and found he’d been speaking to a woman. They appeared to not have met yet.

My friend confronted her boyfriend, and he said he was sorry. He’d had weight loss surgery and was finally slim, and needed validation from other women that he was attractive, something he’d never had until he met my friend as an obese man. This is what my friend told me, anyway.

I thought what she did next was genius, though. She created her own account, and then she showed him ALL OF THE MESSAGES SHE RECEIVED. She was, after all, a beautiful plus-size model. She asked him how many he received from women who had initiated contact, and he said none.

They both closed their accounts and as far as I know, they’re still together. Though it had hurt, she told me.

Not too long ago, I saw a male coworker on Tinder. A male coworker with a girlfriend. Online dating came up later in conversation, and I told him I saw him. He’d been embarrassed but said he hadn’t known how to close down his account.

Mm-hmm.

EvR

Don’t Stop Being Nice.

I had a little cry last night. A “man” who’d contacted me a few months back online and whom I stupidly gave my number to suddenly decided to reach out in the worst way.

Tuesday evening, he texted me to see how I was doing. I’d never met him. But we’d texted about our jobs and religion and cancer and our parents and then nothing happened last January. Not unusual.

He also lived two hours away, which I hadn’t known when we first started talking.

Well, apparently, I didn’t give him enough attention on Tuesday night, so all day yesterday, he texted me. How are you doing? What are you doing? Oh, I guess you’re busy. Are you home yet? I guess you’re not home. Why are you ignoring me?

I’d actually responded to a few to say I was busy. I really had been busy. I also was not interested in this guy. We’d added each other on Facebook (the best background check) and his “fit” pictures were from 2008, according to the truth-telling date stamp attached to every pic posted on Facebook until the end of time. He didn’t match his most recently posted pics.

When I got home yesterday and wanted to eat my Subway sandwich and then work on my book, he asked if I was busy. I said, “Yes, Joel.”

And that was it.

I was suddenly “patronizing,” “rude,” “self-centered,” and a cunt.

He said he knew why I single and why no one wanted me.

And those were the nice comments.

In the case he reads this blog, as he knows my author name and book title (and my website is on the first page of my ebook), I’ll spare you all the rest. But he sent text after text after text. Novel-length. I barely looked at them as I deleted them the second I got them but my eyes did pick out a few words here and there: bitch, whore, loser, cunt (again).

At around 11:00pm, he called me. I ignored it. And THEN I figured out how to block him on my phone thanks to a friend.

I’d already blocked him on Facebook. He’d texted me about that. He couldn’t believe it. That I would actually block him on Facebook after the garbage he was texting to me.

Maybe he was calling to apologize but I DIDN’T FUCKING CARE. YOU DON’T HIDE BEHIND THE INTERNET TO HARASS PEOPLE.

You know what, though? I know why he’s single.

Besides being rude and scary, he’s clingy.

I canceled my online dating accounts in March 2013, not long before my dating book came out. I even talk about it in the book. I’d canceled because of a guy who’d threatened me when I turned him down. I was living with my dad, and he insisted I cancel all of my accounts. I didn’t blame him. We were actually a little concerned about the last guy.

Out of boredom and loneliness, I signed up again over the summer. I was on and off since but canceled all accounts in February.

And then this guy confirmed my decision. The TRUTH about online dating is that it is largely unsafe, scary, and has ruined dating.

I know folks disagree and there is a handful. Only a handful who have found love online (compared to the number who actually use the internet to date), but fuck it all.

A male coworker of mine who online dates offered to mess with this guy on Facebook for me. He asked for his name.

While it was kind of thoughtful, one, he’d be doing the same thing this guy did to me, and two, you DON’T MESS WITH CRAZY.

I cried a little bit last night because I was scared, but I also cried because I can still be surprised at the cruelty of folks to each other. For no other reason than it’s fun.

I can usually keep it light and laugh this crap off. But I want to be pissed about it a little longer.

I really wanted to tell my dad last night. Because I was a little nervous. But I didn’t want to worry him. If this guy had shown up at my place, my cats would have welcomed him inside with open meows and then stood under the bag of cat treats on top of the fridge, hoping he would knock them down for them. And then sleep.

To the nice guys, don’t stop being nice. (But don’t be clingy!) x

EvR

 

 

Nerves and Things.

I just read aloud from my book for the first time. Didn’t pass out.

I attend a monthly writing marathon session at a place called Thinkhouse Collective. It’s referred to by the owners as like “a gym membership for office space.” Last month, the owner told me during a break from writing that since I write creative nonfiction, I should check out the quarterly open mic for nonfiction writers called True Story. Every third month of the year, four featured speakers read their work for 10 to 12 minutes, and then there are five-minute opportunities for anyone else to read. Anything. ANYTHING. Anything that is true and happened to them.

How exciting! I went straight to their website. And this is when I saw the pic of one of the featured speakers from the previous event. This man has a distinctive look and sent me a nasty message on OKCupid a few years earlier. One that jarred me and caused me to send his picture to a friend who works for The Sacramento Bee still (where I used to work) to see if he recognized him; his dating profile indicated he was an investigative reporter. My friend didn’t recognize him, but that’s okay NOW because I know who he is. The dummy had used the SAME PICTURE.

He still works there. At The Bee.

Earlier last week, it hit me that the open mic was that Thursday. I had no idea if I would read or not. I had no idea what to READ even.

I put out feelers to my friends via text and Facebook, friends who had actually read my book. I asked them what I should read. I got a few generic suggestions, such as: one of the first chapters in your book. Or one about one of your dates.

Ooooookay. Thaaaaaaanks.

I’m also realizing folks seem to like the first half of my book better than the second.

I was looking at chapters that focused on specific dates but couldn’t get anything to under five minutes. I’d timed myself reading aloud, trying to sound like David Sedaris or Amy Schumer. Not only was I worried that my work was NOT that funny, but how would I SOUND? I am 37. I sound like a teenager.

I found a chapter. It was about my very first experiences with the dating websites and the profiles. General, but I thought it was funny, AND if I read it at just the right speed, I could get it to 5 minutes, 15 seconds.

I took a draft of the chapter to work on Thursday, the day of the reading. I eliminated a paragraph and a few sentences and some adjectives. I got it to just UNDER five minutes. BOOM!

And I still didn’t know if I was going to read it. I mean, these open mics…there are people with advanced degrees in writing and who teach how to write. I’m a state worker who went to beauty college and wrote a book about online dating. My next book is about beauty school.

But you don’t need advanced degrees to write. You need advanced degrees if you want to collect some debt, however.

I got permission to leave work an hour early so I could make the event at a reasonable time to get onto the open mic list, but I ended up leaving at 1:30. I was fed up at work. Fired off an email to the Deputy Director about my unit’s sad state of affairs and said SEE YA. I’M GOING TO READ ALOUD FROM MY BOOK.

Got home. Took a nap. Hadn’t done laundry in about three weeks (I own a lot of underwears) so took a hot minute to figure out what I was going to wear. Something I didn’t have to adjust in front of a lot of people. I’d remembered the event’s organizers said that they had about 100 people at the last event in January.

I was aiming to look a little more professional than how I look when I go to the karaoke bar. You know, looking like I have at least a little credibility as I read a chapter about my bitter experience with online dating. Not like I’m about to sing Journey.

I fed the cats and headed to the venue. My bottled water spilled a bit onto my papers as I took some sharp corners and I immediately regretted not putting them in a folder to look more professional. But then I was headed to coffee shop to read, so I figured the wet/weathered paper look would make me look more authentic. Or just really clumsy.

The venue looked kind of empty. They’d just put out the empty open mic list and a man I know at the acquaintance level from other networking meetings put his name down first. I was second. I was going to really read.

I found a seat at the end of a row of tables. Somewhere easy to get up and read or get up and pee or get up and LEAVE suddenly should I realize it was a very stupid idea.

I was glad I wasn’t the first open mic reader, too. I figured this was a very serious event, and I was going to read a chapter that is basically me bitching about online dating. I could still possibly drop out if I felt I was out of place.

A friend came. And I became friendly with the person on the other side of me. She’s a hynotherapist. She asked if I was reading, and I said I was. I told her my topic, and she laughed. She said a lot of people could probably relate, and then I calmed down a bit.

And then she said, “I think there is a theme tonight. I think people are reading about their reactions to 9/11.”

WHAT THE FUCK.

But she wasn’t sure.

I sat for a moment. Ehhhh…I didn’t want to wait until it was my turn to read to say, SORRY. I missed the memo that said everyone was reading about their memory of 9/11 tonight. I was going to read about online dating.

I found the open mic list lady and asked. She said she hadn’t heard that but she was going to read an essay about 80s music, so I was probably fine.

If anything, at least there was someone else who missed the 9/11 memo.

The first featured speaker was the event organizer. Her new ebook was debuting the next day, and it was about how to treat your own depression. She read the opening chapter. I think.

The next featured speaker. She was blonde with blue eyes. She wrote about her own beauty and how she uses it and appreciates it. I will say I thought I was missing the point that she is celebrating herself, empowering herself, until she started picking apart women who don’t dress up and overweight men she flirted with to make their day. She said it was her truth. I was uncomfortable. I looked around the room at the very women she was denigrating. The only laughter I heard was from her group of friends and a little from the group organizers. I mean, they had, after all, selected her essay to be read at the event. (Folks submit their work a few months in advance to be considered to be featured at the next event. It must have sounded better on paper.) After her speech, a person next to me said, “Not all tools are men.”

I laughed. The title of my book is So Many Tools in the Internet Shed. I hadn’t missed anything.

I know we should be supportive of what other people share. I thought she was mean, and she didn’t have to share what she did and how she did. I’d wanted to hug all the “frumpy” women in the audience.

But then my book about online dating can be mean. But it’s about guys who were mean first. 

The third featured speaker was a woman who owned a local yoga studio. She epitomized every generalization attached to a yoga studio owner: cheerful, tiny, flexible-looking, and whimsical.

She read about her miscarriage. And about how she found God and how even a miscarriage can be considered holy.

The man I know from the professional speakers meetings I attend read next as the first person listed for open mic readers. He read about his glaucoma diagnosis. It was poignant.

And I was getting nervous that here were these very serious and touching stories (except that lady) and I was going to read about ONLINE DATING.

The reader before hadn’t taken all five minutes, so it was suddenly my turn. I got up. Only then did I realize HOW full the venue had gotten. I was looking at about 100 people.

The few times I’d looked behind me earlier, it didn’t seem as full. I decided to keep looking down as I read.

I adjusted the microphone, fighting the urge to not break out in karaoke song. I was introduced with my REAL name, but I said I was going to read a chapter from my ebook about online dating, and that it was bitter, and that I write under a fake name because I write about real people.

I got some laughs.

We needed them.

I began my reading. I was trying to keep a steady pace, to make it under that five-minute mark. However, I was getting a lot of laughs!

I did my best to pause to let the laughter die down but I had a five-minute deadline so I kept moving.

I tried to look up a few times. The papers in my hands were shaking. I’d been glad I numbered the pages right before I went up in case I dropped them because they all looked the same.

I finally heard the four-minute warning and I said, “This is exactly five minutes so I’m going DO THIS!”

I was hoping this would let the timekeeper know that if by chance, that five-minute alarm went off, she’d know I was ALMOST DONE because the last two lines of my chapter were the funniest. I couldn’t leave those out.

I kept going. I know I was reading fast.

And then I finished.

I forgot to say, “Thank you.”

I walked off really fast but got a lot of applause and had gotten a lot of laughter. I was funny!

And I relaxed through the rest of the speakers.

The next woman read about recognizing an attacker in the newspaper. She kept reading past the five minutes, and I saw the organizers look at each other like………..well…..what should we do? And then she finished.

And then the next woman got up and was actually kind of funny as she read about a hike she took. She also went past the five-minute alarm…….got the same look from the organizers…and finished.

I could tell people were fidgeting both times the folks went past the five minutes. There was a list of people who wanted to read their stories. And every minute counted. The venue was only booked until 8pm, so there was some tension.

And one open mic reader didn’t make it in. There had been a list of five people, and only four of us read. The last featured speaker needed their moment.

She was a columnist for the Sacramento News and Review. I’d read her stuff before, and it was good. She had a book release not long before about love and relationships, and she read her introduction about her boyfriend and their break-up.

Between you and me, mine was the funniest of the night. And I knew this because I had people compliment me right after. I handed out some cards. People wanted to buy my book!

My friend and I left. I felt good. I got a milkshake from McDonald’s on the way home, to celebrate.

I hadn’t passed out. It wasn’t terrible.

I had a note the next day from an attendee that I was “fabulous.” Someone else “reviewed” the meeting and suggested giving open mic readers more time when there is laughter because “that poor woman reading about Match.com was hard to understand because she couldn’t pause to let the laughter die down.”

Someone familiar said he really enjoyed my reading, that “wit” was a serious understatement.

I should have gotten TWO milkshakes.

I can’t wait for the next one. x

EvR

P.S. The 9/11 thing? I saw on the website that if peeps didn’t know what to write about, they could write about a memory, such as their memory of 9/11. That is where the hynotherapist got that misinformation.

P.P.S. That featured reader who’d sent me the nasty message? He’d been on the “going” list. I didn’t see him, but I’d forgotten to look. I like to think he recognized me and took off.

You never know who’s writing a book about their dating experiences, dude.

 

 

A Thank You.

I was contacted last night by a guy I went out with once. I met him for coffee/hot chocolate downtown while on a lunch break at work. It was 2011. He worked for a local politician, and I for the State as Human Rights Analyst for a different agency than I’m at now.

He was very nice. Had the broad square shoulders like Robert Duvall in The Godfather. Again, he was actually nice, which I was finding a rarity in my other online dates.

I wrote about him in my book. Not because he was a bad date but because during our date, I saw two other guys within the vicinity of this date who’d either been set up with me by a friend or who I’d seen creeping my profile, a guy who worked two floors down from me and shared a place on a committee with me. One was standing outside talking to a friend, and the other eating at the table behind my date, facing me.

I kept giggling at this state of affairs.

Back to the square-shouldered guy, he was the one who talked to me about blogging. I’d heard of blogs but boy did they sound pretentious. People write about themselves and think people want to read about it? The only other blog I’d ever really read was my ex’s mom’s blog about herself and all her money and about her son (she never saw). Boring and bleak, that one.

This guy told me he wrote about his work within the community like ride sharing, gardening, volunteering with animals…

Wait, is he still single?

There had been no spark during our brief meeting. But it had been nice. He’d convinced me to start blogging and gave me the platforms that were popular at the time, like WordPress and Blogspot. He’d personally felt I would like WordPress better, and that I should definitely start blogging because I liked to write. And besides, it was free.

FREE! My own free website. Who knew.

The next evening, I was at PetSmart buying beds for the cats I would be picking up the next day from the shelter, and I got a text from him. He said he really enjoyed meeting me but that his ex-girlfriend reached out to him and wanted to get together. He wished me well and reminded me to blog.

It might have been a lie but I appreciated the finality of it. It’s more than I have done with people I’m not interested in. And he was almost ten years younger: 24 if I remember correctly. He was just so cool and collected and confident for someone so young, way more mature than so many others my age I’d dated.

And he thought enough to remind me to blog.

The next day, I picked up my cats from the shelter, and after they settled the eff down on top of my kitchen cabinets, I spent the rest of the day teaching myself both WordPress and Blogspot. And he was right: I preferred WordPress.

I couldn’t remember his last name. That is a common problem that goes along with a lot of online dating. So, I could never properly message him or even text him (no clue where his number went) when I published my first ebook based on a blog I started because of his encouragement.

In fact, I have five blogs. This is the only active one.

Last night, this guy said hi. I told him what I’d done. I told him he had a chapter in my book and then gave him a belated thank you for that one semi-awkward meeting we had at La Bou on a rainy day in 2011. On the eve of my second book being published, it was perfect timing. x

EvR