It seems like a simple concept, right? However, I think asking for what you want isn’t so easy. It’s a skill that needs to be learned. When I was in high school and well into my twenties, I had a lot of trouble asking for things. I didn’t know how to. For instance, the first time I went to college, I had no idea that I could speak to a counselor, get financial aid, and generally get help navigating my way through the system. I didn’t know how to ask. If I had asked more questions, I probably would have gotten the help I needed.
I have since learned to ask questions or ask for help in a more productive way. Whereas before ‘adults’ would intimidate me, I now muster up the courage to feel like one of them, and ask intelligent questions. The second time I went to college (I went back when I was 32), I asked every single question I could possibly think of. Instead of being intimidated, I forced myself to seek out answers and ask for help when I needed it. This might be why my friend Soky nicknamed me ‘Angry White Woman Always Gets Her Way’, but that’s another story.
I am trying to teach my daughter to do the same. Last night, she began talking about her English teacher and how he has ‘favorites’ and she doesn’t understand why. “Ask him,” I told her. “You can find out a lot if you just ask a question.” I am always encouraging her to ask for help and use her teachers as resources. “You might be surprised at how much they’ll help you, if you just ask.”
How about asking for what you want in your relationships? I think this is difficult for many people as well. Recently, a friend complained to me about some issues she was having with her husband. “Did you ask him for what you want?” She hadn’t and I think a lot of us don’t ask and don’t even know how to. I am lucky that I learned this skill early in my marriage and I always ask my husband for what I want. The worst he can say is no, but at least I’ve asked and most of the time we find common ground.
Why did I even start thinking about this? Well, the other day I saw a necklace that I thought was beautiful. If you know me, you know I do not wear a lot of jewelry, nor do I have anything too precious that I didn’t inherit from my grandmother. I rarely buy any jewelry at all, and the necklace I loved was pricey for me. I took a chance and emailed the jewelry designer. I told her how much I loved the necklace but that it was out of my price range. Did the jewelry ever go on sale? She immediately answered that they were about to have a Mother’s Day Sale and she would sell me said necklace for 40% off. If I hadn’t have asked, I never would have known.
From little things like getting the necklace you want, to greater satisfaction in relationships, try asking for what you want and it could pay off.
My darling friend Mariel suggested we write a guest blog for each other. She provided me with a topic: cheese. How random is that? Cheese? I tried to think about cheese and how it relates to my writing because my blog is generally about my writing career (or lack thereof).
When I was a kid, the only kind of cheese I wanted was Kraft Singles. The yellow squares of deliciousness were what I thought of as the perfect food. They were neatly wrapped, edible on their own, and marvelous in a grilled cheese sandwich. Why oh why couldn’t I just have Kraft Singles? You see, the only kind of cheese that existed at our house was what my mom and stepdad called ‘real’ cheese. It was horrible. It came in a block that they had sliced at the deli and inevitably the slices were uneven. You had to peel them off one another. They didn’t look like Kraft Singles, nor did they taste like them. It was just another hardship my sister, brother and I had to endure.
Our parents were ‘hippies’. They were also ‘foodies’, a term we didn’t use back then. We didn’t have soda in our house (water or milk only), we never had white bread, and we certainly weren’t allowed any sugared cereals. And, horror upon horrors, we had to eat natural peanut butter. This was beyond imagination. What could be worse than natural peanut butter when there was Skippy? I don’t think my mom ever bought Twinkies, Ding Dongs, or anything of that nature. Needless to say, there was never anyone who wanted to trade lunches with me. I felt extremely unlucky.
At the time, we thought we had it rough. My stepdad would cook elaborate meals, but all I wanted was Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. I used to spit my food into my napkin and flush it down the toilet.
Well, guess what? Now I have a daughter of my own. She eats wheat bread, real cheese, natural peanut butter, and no sugared cereals. I grew up to be a food scientist and now know how to decipher a food label. I have a greater appreciation for the values my parents instilled in me, particularly in regards to eating ‘real’ food, and respecting the world around me.
How does this relate to The Energy Crusades? Well, the Crusaders in my book must understand the nutritional value of food. They eat based on what their body needs for optimal performance. I wish I was as good about doing the same.
My friend M.R. Jordan wrote a blog post for me. I gave her the topic: Eyelashes. I thought it was so easy. Here is what she wrote:
So, author Luke Everest asked me to exchange blog posts. That is I write one for him and he writes one for me. And then I had a thought. Why am I not doing this with Valerie? I like her a lot more than Luke… sorry Luke, but us gals stick together. Okay, that is a pretty sexist justification. The truth of the matter is, you just like some people more than you like others. For example, when I suggested we exchange blog posts and also commanded Valerie to write about cheese, I liked her a lot. I liked her a little less when she commanded me to write about eyelashes. This is a reenactment of the thought processes I’ve been going through ever since:
Indignant headvoice: Eyelashes? What the !@#$ am I going to write about that?
Whiny headvoice: Cheese is easy. This is totally unfair.
Clint Eastwood headvoice: Would you like some cheese with your whine? Stop being a pansy author and write about eyelashes!
Time wasting headvoice: Let’s look it up on Wikipedia. I love reading stuff.
Clint Eastwood headvoice: Stop being a pansy author and man up.
Me: I’m not a man
Clint Eastwood headvoice: Good point. Woman up.
Me: I am woman hear me roar… about eyelashes.
At this point I threw myself onto the floor. If you read my blog, you know why. If you don’t read my blog than this probably requires some explanation. Unfortunately I can’t explain it. However, someone happens by. On this day I happened to be in Wal-mart in the eyelash aisle. Have you ever tried to get to that place? Me too. It’s pretty much impossible.
So there I was on the floor, racks of fake eyelashes and glue, thinking about what happens if you used super glue and accidently glued your eyes shut, when along comes a manager on a forklift. He sees me sitting on the floor. He looked down at me. I looked up at him. He set the pallet down at the end of the aisle, the forklift going down slowly, slowly, slowly. And without a word he drove away.
Not much later, some cashiers showed up to restock the eyelash shelves. Without a word, they stepped over me to hang more fake eyelashes. And glue. Lots and lots of glue. As I watched them restock the shelves I decided to buy my first set of fake eyelashes.
Okay, so all, part, or none of this really happened. But I finally did write something about eyelashes. Tada!
Are you superstitious? Do you have a favorite number? Do you have to do things in a certain order? Superstition, ritual, or compulsion—who can explain why we do the quirky things we do?
I’ve always been drawn to the numbers 7 and 2. My birthday, for instance, is a series of sevens and twos. My address also has sevens and twos in it and my door faces north (important to me). One of my Aunts tells me she has a particular fondness for the number 3. Her son was born on the 3rd day of the month, in a year that ended with a 3. Three has always been her lucky number.
When I was a kid, I did lots of silly (or stupid) little things—like lifting my feet any time I drove over railroad tracks. Many of my friends did the same. I’m not sure why, it was just something we did at the time.
I have (or have had) other quirks. When I was first married, my husband worked nights and I worked days. We lived in this big scary house which sat in the middle of a large lot. The nearest neighbor was too far away to hear me scream if someone broke in (that’s the way my brain worked). So when my husband left for work, I would go around the house putting half full glasses of water on all the window sills, and tying strands of my hair around the doorknobs and tucking them into the closed door. Why? Well, because if someone tried to break in, I would hear the water glass fall. If a ghost was in the house, I would know if they drank any of the water, or opened any of the doors. My night became an endless loop of roaming the house, checking the level and position of the water glasses, and ensuring all strands of hair were unbroken. It was exhausting.
I also have issues with other people’s things. There have been times when my husband has found a ring or other piece of jewelry– nothing precious, but pretty enough, but he couldn’t find the owner. He’d bring it home to me but I could never wear it. I am afraid of unknown energy. For this same reason, I don’t like used clothing when I don’t know where it came from. I don’t want to inherit anybody’s negativity. I did inherit most of my jewelry from my grandmother, and I love wearing it because I know her energy. I remember how the ring I wear once looked on her finger and that makes me very happy. So it isn’t that I need ‘new’ things, it’s that I need to know what kind of energy I’m attaching to my body. It all makes sense to me, at least.
I see some of this ‘quirkiness’ manifest itself in my daughter. She won’t, for example, sleep in the guest room of our home. “It’s haunted,” she informed me. Is it? I wonder why the ghost stays only in that room. Curious. But, hey, who am I to judge?
There are other little eccentricities I have: I must always sleep on the same side of the bed, certain objects in my house must all face the same way, my tennis racquets must be stored in a certain order, stuff like that.
When I sit down to write, everything must be in the right place as well. Notebook and pencil bag to my left, glass of water on my right, back facing the window, etc. It doesn’t matter if I don’t need the notebook, or the pencils, or the water, I need them there. Otherwise, I can’t concentrate.
Am I the only one? Share your superstitions, lucky number, or compulsions that get you through the day.
For the past month, my cousin Lisa has been hospitalized with a serious illness. The truth is we almost lost her. It has been a devastating time in my life, spending huge quantities of time in the hospital, watching helplessly as my cousin fought for her life.
The upside to Lisa’s illness was that I also got to spend large quantities of time with her boyfriend Scott, my cousin (Lisa’s sister) Caroline, and Caroline’s ex-husband (Kenny) and their son (Ian).
Amelie Bennet was born to slay Crossworld demons, and she enjoys the challenge. She hasn’t been a model student at St. Michael’s Academy, where Guardians like Amelie are trained, but there is no denying she’s good at what she does. If she’s had a few mishaps along the way, that’s all part of the fun of high school, right?
But now, trouble is brewing at St.Michael’s and several instructors have been killed. To make matters worse, Amelie doesn’t have a date for the dance, and hasn’t bonded with anyone yet. As a senior in high school, she’s worried her time to find a mate is growing ever shorter. If she doesn’t bond with anyone, her future as a demon slayer may just come to end. She needs a bond-mate to keep her whole.
Everything changes when she meets her new trainer, Jackson Smith-Hailey. She is instantly attracted to him, and something funny happens whenever they touch. Amelie is certain that must mean something, but Jack feels nothing of the sort. In fact, he would like it if they never saw each other again. Or would he?
When Jack and Amelie are thrown together in a race against the clock to save themselves and the world they love, things get far more complicated between them. Throw in a hot vampire, a werewolf, and a prophecy that predicts Jack will die and Amelie will be the one to kill him, and the stakes become higher than ever.
Cecily White has written a fast-paced thrill of a novel which will keep you turning the pages in an effort to keep up. The dialogue is smart, and there is a definite energy that keeps the story moving along. It reminded me of a cross between Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones and Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, with a bit of Harry Potter thrown in. Readers of the genre will be glad they took a chance on Prophecy Girl.
About a year ago, I entered a small writing contest that I stumbled upon by accident through this blog: http://www.mr-jordan.net/ . I can’t even remember how it was I came across the contest, and generally I am way too lazy to even enter contests. But this one was cool. It was something like: write a story using 250 words or less and incorporate these words/ phrases into it– kimchi, beer, contest, Hurry up and wait!, and hullabaloo. Here is what I came up with:
Mr. Choi was crying again. I could hear him through the paper thin walls of my apartment, lamenting about how his wife had left him. He spent his days drinking beer and eating kimchi, until the reek of it was embedded in his very being. I could smell him from a mile away.
“You know Mr. Choi, it’s not a contest,” I yelled through the walls, meanly. “Nobody cares how much kimchi you can eat.”
“Hurry up and wait!” he yelled back at me in his heavy Korean accent. I laughed and banged on the wall. He didn’t know how to insult me properly in English.
“Hullabaloo!” I shouted, knowing he’d be more confused than ever. Was that even a word? He wouldn’t know, but he would sit and wonder if I was insulting him. Before I left, I shoved a five dollar bill under his door.
At the time that I wrote that story, I had just started sending out queries for The Energy Crusades. I didn’t even have a website. The contest inspired me to get one, and I’m very grateful to the writer who hosted it. I won the contest (yay! check it out) and have since kept in touch with the fellow writer– I credit her for giving me one of my first little boosts along the way.
So, what would you write? If you’d like to write a story using the same guidelines (250 words or less, incorporate these words/ phrases: kimchi, beer, contest, Hurry up and wait!, and hullabaloo), I’ d love to read it. Post your story in the comments section and I’ll pick a favorite and also give the winner a $25 Amazon gift card. You have until March 15th, I’ll announce the winner on the 16th. Happy writing!