Alphabet Blogs, News, Self Promotion

My A to Z Blogging Challenge Ultimate Defeat

Congratulations to all those bloggers who successfully completed the April A to Z Blogging Challenge!  Sadly, I burned out about halfway through.  However, I did learn some things along the way.

First of all, I learned that while it has been asserted that one should write every day, it is important to start slowly and build up endurance.  You don’t start an exercise program by trying to run a marathon.  Writing is hard work, especially if you’re not independently wealthy with a full staff of attendants to take care of all the little details of life that don’t involve writing.  Like cleaning.  And children.

I also realized that I do a lot of writing in my head.  Everyone has their own method.  While some simply sit down at a computer and type away–editing as they go–without any sort of plan in mind, others use a storyboard, note cards, outlines, and innumerable drafts to plan, shape, and polish their work.  Even if I’m not physically writing on a daily basis, the story is still stewing in my mind.  For me, trying to write anything before the ideas have blossomed is simply a waste of time.

Finally, I learned that I have an incredible support network of family and friends that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  You guys rock!  Thank you.

While I didn’t complete the challenge, I still intend to finish the alphabet.  If I begin with a weekly posting schedule, I’m positive that by next year the April A to Z Blogging Challenge will be a breeze.  I am also working on a new eSeries on BigWorldNetwork.com, Kai’s Inquisition: The Blight of Shaddowfall.  The first episode was released yesterday, and all the following installments will be available on Sundays.  Please check it out, and don’t forget to let me know what you think.

Humor, Musings

A Tale About a Whale

A very good friend of mine once said, “It’s better to be a big fish in a small pond, than a small fish in a big pond.” He was referring to his Maui Wowi Hawaiian business, but I think it also applies to most anything. But it’s a funny thing about fish in bowls:  it isn’t necessarily true that a fish will only grow as large as the tank will allow.

Long ago, my parents once had a 40 gallon fish tank, in which – among the mollies, neon tetras, and tiger barbs – they kept the required bottom feeder, a Plecostomus. We called it the P-fish because we couldn’t pronounce plecostomus. It was tiny when we first brought it home from the pet store. Many years later, not so much.  In fact, my kids were able to re-dub the monster fish it had grown into “The Whale.”

Image
A reasonable facsimile of The Whale

I kid you not, this thing was immense.  At least a foot long.  It once jumped out of the tank and fell down a flight of stairs and survived. No, it thrived.  It outlived generations of fish, and probably ate quite a few of them toward the end.

When I inherited The Whale, it had to have been about 1000 years old in fish years, and it was way too big for the tank.  I contacted a local pet store to see if I could sell it or even donate it just to get rid of it. They weren’t even remotely interested.  They informed me that this particular type of fish will outgrow it’s tank every time, and I would be very lucky to find a new home for it. My only recourse? Release into the wild, serve it up for dinner, or wait for it to die. None of these options were very appealing.

I plead the 5th as to which route I took. However, IF I went with the first choice, I would have consoled myself with thoughts along the lines of, “It’s not like I released a python into the Everglades,” or “I certainly didn’t flush a baby alligator down the commode.” This thing was essentially a catfish that needed a bigger bowl, and IF I had it in me to do something as potentially illegal as introducing this creature into a foreign ecosystem, I would have taken precautions to be sure that its new home would be big enough to guarantee that we wouldn’t have a real whale to contend with in about 20 years time.  If I had gone with the second option, I would have consoled myself by thinking, “Everything tastes good fried.”  The third choice wasn’t really a choice at all.

I’m telling you this tale because, lately, I’ve begun to relate to The Whale. I’ve been feeling like a fish who has outgrown her tank, and been unexpectedly released into a much, much larger body of water (allegedly). Once I started writing, I was suddenly a minnow in an immense sea of bloggers, writers, authors, editors, and publishers.

It’s exhilarating – and scary as hell – even more so than flying had been at times.  Just like the proverbial “small fish in a big pond,” I’m going to have to learn the waters, grow, and just keep swimming – or, in my case, writing – so that one day, the sea won’t seem to be such a big, scary place after all.  Either that, or start eating mayonnaise so that I taste good on toast.

I have friends who tell me they’ve always wanted to write a book.  To them I say: “Come on in! There’s plenty of room and the water’s fine.  Just stay away from the mayo – I’m sure it’s gone bad by now.”

Uncategorized

A to Z Blogging Challenge 2013

The very first thing I did in 2010 when I started blogging is a series of A to Z posts.  I tend to write only when I’m inspired and having a plan of sorts helped keep me consistent and focused.  It also dampened my fear.  For me, writing requires that I expose a bit of my soul, and that continues to be a source of anxiety that I must overcome.

Last year, I found the A to Z Blogging Challenge and decided to re-blog all of my original alphabet posts because I had met so many new friends – other writers, bloggers, and readers from my work at BigWorldNetwork.com – that I wanted to share those posts again.  Thus, I did my own unofficial challenge and was able to concentrate on other writing projects.

This year, I am taking up the gauntlet and smacking my lazy, unprofessional, blogging habits upside the head with it.  I am officially entered in the 2013 A to Z Blogging Challenge and will post once a day – with Sundays off for good behavior – beginning April 1st with letter A. 

Since I’ve been feeling especially nostalgic lately for my days as a freight pilot, I’ve decided to  present an aviation inspired theme for the Challenge.  So, please stop by again and take a flight down Memory Lane with me.  You can sit on the cargo.  It’s pretty comfy.

News, Self Promotion

What Writing Means to Me and a Plea for Help

When I was about ten or eleven years old, I wrote my very first fictional short story.  It just popped into my head and I wrote it down.  To this day, I can remember the storyline and how it felt to write it.  I think it may have even been “published” in the school newspaper, but that wasn’t the point.  I had to write it.  I didn’t have a choice.  And I loved it.

Later on in high school, I wrote a research paper on dragons.  My parents worked at the University of Chicago and brought me to the library on campus so that I could find some of the more obscure information I needed that was difficult to find at a high school or even a community library.  That one silly English assignment was the highlight of my entire four years and not simply because I got an A.  I wrote it on Wordstar (yes, I am old) and I still have the disk even though I have no way of recovering the data.

In college, I wrote a paper for an Aviation Management class based on a Feasibility Study done when my municipality was considering purchasing and expanding our local private airport.  My professor had returned it to me with the words “You write well.  The only 100 I gave.” written across the top.  Almost 20 years later, I still have a copy of it in my office.

Yet even with these tidbits of encouragement coupled with a deep love of writing, it wasn’t until recently that was able to put the fear behind me and actually write… and now I don’t ever want to stop.

The person who has helped me the most on my journey is Jim McGovern.  If it weren’t for him and the amazing staff at Big World Network, I would not have had the courage to share my stories with you.  That’s where the plea for help comes in.  Big World Network’s Indigogo fundraising campaign has about 12 hours left and it hasn’t quite reached the halfway point to its goal of $5000.  Please share this link: http://www.indiegogo.com/bwn and do what you can to help Jim reach his goal.  Every little bit helps and they have some fantastic perks for your contribution.

It would mean a lot to me, because whenever I feel like that ten year old putting my imaginary worlds on paper while a cruel little voice buzzes in the back of my head insisting that I’m not good enough, all I have to do is remember that I was good enough for Jim and Big World Network.  And through that, I have become part of a wonderful community of writers, readers, bloggers, publishers, and fans to which I would never have been exposed had I not taken that leap.  Right now, the only way that I can think of to thank Jim for giving me back my childhood dream and the courage to make it a reality is to ask everyone I know to just give a little bit and share the link with their friends.

Please do it now – there’s not much time left – and the success of this fundraising campaign in your hands.  All I can offer you is my gratitude for doing this for me.  Well, that and more stories.  Thank you!

Short Stories

Otterbox

A friend challenged me to compose a complete story in 100 words or less which had to include the phrase “then Jen showed Tawn her otterbox.”  Never one to back down from a gauntlet thrown at my feet, I came up with the following micro-story.  Note: I did cheat just a little bit by not including the 6 word phrase in my total word count.  My entry comes to exactly 106 words.  Enjoy!

Giggling, the two girls scurried one by one up the gently swaying rope ladder to the rickety tree house. The wind had died down, easing the grownup’s fears that the structure – built by Jen’s grandfather – would not be carried away to Oz with the girls inside.

Eyes bright and breath labored in excitement, Jen secured the “No Boys Allowed” sign to the ancient green blanket they used as a door and turned with a conspiratorial grin.  Then Jen showed Tawn her otterbox.  Sunlight illuminated it through a gap in the roof.

Tawn gasped, “It’s beautiful! Can I hold it?”

Jen laughed, elated.

Alphabet Blogs, Aviation, Guest Entries, Humor, Musings, Pet Peeves, Philosophy, Self Promotion

Spam?

I noticed this in my WordPress Spam folder today:

“The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought youd have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you werent too busy looking for attention.”

Intending to callously delete this comment, I abruptly paused with my index finger hovering over the left mouse button.  What if this is legitimate feedback?  What if the glaring absence of apostrophes is because the commenter had been moved to point out my whiny, attention-seeking ways on their android phone, but lacked sufficient time to insert proper punctuation?

I realize that I am, indeed, a bit of a publicity whore.  From the beginning, I have spent a lot of time writing about myself and my pet peeves without so much as a infinitesimal thought of what anyone who might come across my blog might enjoy.  I have even “borrowed” the work of others when I was too lazy to post my own thoughts.

At times, however, I did believe I had something amusing, or interesting to say.  Whether this was simple narcissism – as the commenter suggests – or something else, I cannot say.  I imagine everyone believes themselves to be witty, gracious, and a touch philosophical.  I am no exception.  I would even go so far as to say that an author must imagine themselves to be all these things and more, else their foray into the hazardous (to the ego) and mysterious world of writing would end before it even began.

Sighing deeply, I returned to the task at hand and decisively clicked the button.  The self-reflection was fun, but I have to get back to writing.

News, Self Promotion

From Me With Love

Dear TotallyTawn readers,

I wanted to give you a little Valentine’s Day gift – my special short story released today from Big World Network:

Love Never Dies: A Zombie Love Story

Just click the image to go to the series page to read or listen to it for free.

In addition, I think it’s time for TotallyTawn to evolve.  I never really had a plan when I started blogging.  I certainly never thought that I would discover such wonderful writers as Snoring Dog Studio, Peg-o-Leg’s Ramblings, and A Song in the Desert who have been a great inspiration to me, both because of the quality of their work and their dedication to consistent posting.

I’ve come to realize that the latter leads to the former.  And so, I would like to take TotallyTawn to the next level by utilizing it as a vehicle to hone my skills.  Beginning next week, I will begin posting everything from rants to flash fiction with no holds barred a minimum of twice a week.

This is a step into the unknown for me.  Please keep me company.   Happy Valentine’s Day!

Musings, Philosophy, Poetry

Life’s Road

When I was a morose teenager, I wrote a poem I called “Life’s Road.”  Like most angst-ridden hormonal prose, it was never really meant to be shared.  It was just a method for me to purge some of my juvenile emotions.  Here’s what I can remember:

Life’s road is filled with many twists and turns

And from tragedy to tragedy, one never learns

That the potholes in the Road are meant to be

Small reminders throughout history

That we must pick ourselves up and dust off the dirt

And let no one else know how much we hurt

Else those we love and in which we’ll confide

Become strangers who leave us cruelly behind.

 Looking back, I hardly recognize that person anymore.  So many things have changed and shaped who I am today to led me to this point in my life.  I have been a Mary Kay consultant, flight instructor, and business owner.  I am a wife, mother, and aunt.  I have realized my dream of flying a Learjet, which I wanted to do ever since I first laid eyes on its sexy, agile fuselage.  And now, I even have the audacity to call myself a writer

The person who wrote that poem could not have even imagined that she would one day fly a Learjet at 45,000 feet and witness the spellbinding beauty of the Northern Lights illuminating the barely noticeable curvature of the Earth.  She did not know that not only would she have children of her own, but that each one of those children would be tiny pieces of her soul exposed to whatever Life’s Road may throw at them.  She never dreamed that she could ever write anything that anyone would care to read.

In this last year alone, I have learned so much.  I have very hesitantly shared my thoughts and have received more than my share of encouragement.  I have made new friends and re-ignited a passion for writing that allows me to share the joy, hope and gratitude that I never knew I could feel when I penned “Life’s Road.”

And the journey continues.  I am overwhelmed by my good fortune and so very happy that I took this fork in the Road.  Thank you for your friendship, your encouragement and for joining me on my expedition of self discovery. 

Now, buckle up.  We’re going for a RIDE!