Clarissa Johal: June 2012

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Where Do All the Bread Crusts Go?

You know what I’m talking about, those crusts that parents have been cutting off their kiddo’s peanut butter and jelly sandwiches since they were toddlers. At what point do the crusts “not” get cut off? Personally, I’ve been eating the crusts since I was…I can’t remember, actually. I don’t think I ever had a choice about crusts when I was a kid. I do know that my 10-year-old still nibbles her sandwiches down to the edges. And there the edges will sit, to be passed onto the dog, the birds outside, or sometimes even the pet rats if they give me that cute and fuzzy stare.

I was pondering crusts the other day and wondering how they felt about being so rudely forsaken. There’s Mr. Crust, hanging out with the rest of the squishy bread, waiting to be eaten when, pow! He gets tossed onto the plate like yesterday’s garbage. Poor Mr. Crust.

Mr. Crust is kind of like a bad sentence. I’ve done that, thrown a sentence away because it just doesn’t taste good. It was there in all its glory, sitting on the page and trying to be impressive. But no; I highlight and delete you, bad sentence, you are unwanted. My latest sentence sat there for a good two days before I decided it was just too dried up and unappetizing to keep. Off to the rats with you, dear sentence. You no longer appeal to me. When I look at it like that, I no longer want to fuss at my kiddos for tossing the crusts because I understand completely. Crusts are brown, bitter, and the texture is off. They don’t fit in with the rest of the sandwich.

The other day I saw in the grocery store that they now make a crust-less bread. Or perhaps it’s removed afterwards, like a bad sentence. I proposed the idea to my 10-year-old and was met with a resounding, “no way!” For some reason, the idea of buying bread that had been messed with in such a fashion was just unappealing. I had no arguments for her because it was white bread, which is just gross anyways. I guess it’s the same with unappetizing sentences. They have to be there to begin with, otherwise, the reader can’t enjoy the sentences that end up tasting good.

But somewhere in the Universe, the souls of bread crusts sit in an unloved pile, waiting to be eaten. You know it’s not going to happen, though. They will sit until the end of time.
Is it the same with unappetizing sentences? Perhaps. In some cases, they do have the luxury of being rearranged. Tossed up in the air like a salad and set onto the page to create something better. But mostly, they too, sit in an unloved pile somewhere in the Universe. Waiting to be used and waiting until the end of time. I think of those sentences sometimes when I have a writer's block. But, I shrug my shoulders and move on to create sentences that taste better.

So, I have made peace with bread crusts in my household. Removed without a backwards glance, I take solace in the fact that at least the dogs enjoy them. I’ve made peace with bad sentences too. They’re there, but for a reason. In order to enjoy and appreciate the good stuff in writing, bad sentences must be created--and then removed. And they must be removed without remorse. It feels wasteful, but perhaps I’ll toss the dogs an unwanted sentence or two next time and see how that goes.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Guest Blogger Friday

I'd like to introduce you to Stephanie Campbell, a fellow author with Musa Publishing. She will be sharing a post on strong women and her newly released novel, Hot Wheels. Enjoy!

Women, Evolving
By Stephanie Campbell

Due to my latest release, Hot Wheels, where my main character, Lindy, has to face a confusing high school world in a wheelchair, I am writing about strong women—and how we have gotten stronger. 

Times are changing. Even just fifty years ago, girls were expected to be the perfect, Leave it to Beaver mothers. Career based women were considered strange. That is no longer the case, and it has begun to show more than ever—with books and movies changing with it. Even cartoon movie classics. Disney used to bring out books based on fairytales like Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. Both of these movies involved being "rescued" by a man. In the last three years, it’s the movies with strong women that are influencing girls. Tangled features Rapunzel but with a unique twist. She is the one in charge. Sure, at the end she still needs Mr. Handsome to come and save her, but she's pretty darn tough with that frying pan. And now the number one movie on the list is Brave, another story celebrating the strength of girls. 

The intelligence of girls has grown, too. Girls score nine percent higher than boys on educational tests. Girls are leaving boys behind so much that is has become a worry to some educators. At colleges, the averages are forty five percent male and fifty five percent female. Sure, ten percent doesn't appear like a lot, until you examine the amount of students that is.
 In short, girls are getting stronger and smarter at an alarming rate, something that is being celebrated through multiple forms. Hopefully, women will continue to grow—and change the world with it.

Author Bio:

Stephanie Campbell is a novelist in Ogden, Utah, where she lives with her family and too many dogs. Her interests include history, traveling, classic movies, and biographies. She published her first book at seventeen and has continued to write with the goal of being a career novelist. She is the author of the novels Poachers, Dragon Night, Tasting Silver, Keeping Freedom, Late but not Never, Case Closed, Icy Tales of Draga, E is for Eternity, Specimen X, and P.S. I Killed My Mother, all of which are being published or have been published by traditional houses. She has been interviewed by All Romance e-books, Hobbes End Publishing and Night Owl Reviews.
Her blog is

Book Bio:

Lindy thinks her life is defined by her wheelchair, but one secret admirer sees more—he sees Hot Wheels.

Lindy Harris is a quiet, studious high school student who’s in love with books. When she sees a note written in her favorite poetry book to “Hot Wheels”, she’s in disbelief. That’s when she realizes the book belonged to the sender—Mark Ferry, the student body president. She’s all but convinced when she finds out that he, of all people, wants to go out with her.


It was quiet and dark in the library, the best place in the world for Lindy Harris. She hated the hustle and bustle of regular high school, where everyone always laughed at her. It wasn’t that she was ugly, mean, or dumb. It was because she had been born without the ability to walk.

At her old school, where everyone had known her since the third grade, it hadn’t been a problem. They knew she was nice and liked to go where everyone else did. It was only when her father got a job transfer that she had a problem. She had to leave all of her old friends and move half a country away to a place where people avoided her eyes and giggled when she went by them. It was hard to imagine that anything would ever change for her here.

She rolled over to the shelves and selected her favorite book. It was a poetry book, the one that she read every day when she finished with her homework. She was stunned by the atrocity that had occurred there. Somebody, she didn’t know who, had written underneath her favorite poem in big, bold, nasty handwriting. To someone who didn’t love books, that wouldn’t have been a problem, but she had been taught to respect literature and instantly felt angry at the perpetrator. She looked up at the plump librarian, wondering if he would know who had done this.

She looked back down, noting not just the text now, but the writing itself. It said:

Dear Hot Wheels,
You are beautiful. I just wanted you to know that.
Your Secret Admirer

Hot wheels? Lindy wondered, feeling shy. She shut the book and looked both ways, as if expecting the person who had written the note to come falling out of the woodwork. She went over to the librarian and showed him the book, and then she felt very hot in the face when he read the message and then stared her straight in the eye. One thing for sure, this had never happened at her old school.

She had never even had a boyfriend in her natural born life, as embarrassing as that was.

What surprised Lindy even more so was when the librarian said, “Do you know what the odd thing is about this entire ordeal? This isn’t even our book.”

“Huh?” Lindy asked, eyes wide. “Of course it is. I’ve been reading poetry from this book for the past month. It’s the same one. I remember the first poem because it was my absolute favorite.”

“Look,” the librarian said, bending behind the high desk. Because Lindy’s wheelchair was seated very low, she was unable to see him for a moment. When he resurfaced, he had the same poetry book, except that this one had a white sticker with a barcode on it. “This is ours. No one has written in it. I have no idea who owns that poetry book, but it certainly isn’t one of ours.”

“But how could somebody know that I’ve been reading this? It isn’t like I checked the book out. I just read it during lunch.”

The librarian smiled. “I don’t know. Maybe somebody has a bit of a crush on you, Lindy. You are in high school, you know. Is it so surprising?”

Lindy lowered her eyes and flushed. Inside, she thought, Yes, it is.

After that, she took the book back from the librarian and went back to her usual table, only she could barely concentrate. The librarian had told her to “hold onto the book for awhile.” She wasn’t sure what the point was in doing so. Wouldn’t the book be better off in the lost and found? It had been a goofy message, a love note, but that was all. Maybe it hadn’t even been for her eyes. Maybe there was somebody in the school that really, really enjoyed rollerblading, for example.
These thoughts tangled in her mind even as the bell rang to go to class. She stared at the shelf and then at the book that she held in her hands. What should she do? If she kept the book, then she would have to admit that the note was to her. If she put the book back, then that would confuse the librarian as well as the person who had sent the note. If she put the book in the lost in found, then that felt almost like a refusal in her mind…

She gave the book one last look and slipped it into her backpack, rolling off toward her American History class.

Hotwheels is available directly through Musa Publishing

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Swearing on Paper

I’ve been working on my next novel these past few weeks and the days have positively flown by. This is a good thing, of course, because eventually I will hit a wall and fall into a heap of burnt-out exhaustion. But for now, the writing is flowing. What has been interesting to me is the direction this latest novel is taking. Characters that were intended to be protagonists, have turned evil, the storyline is spinning off into some bizarre but wonderful tangent and there are times my fingers can’t keep up with the chattering in my head.
In addition to that, there happens to be (gasp!) swearing.

I’m usually quite conservative when it comes to swearing in my novels. In my YA fantasy Pradee, there is no swearing for obvious reasons—it’s YA literature. In Between, my paranormal fantasy coming from Musa Publishing, I found that I enjoyed a bit more leeway as far as how my characters expressed themselves. Still, you simply won’t find an f-bomb in that novel. It just never came up.
I’m definitely not a prude. I have no problem with my daughters expressing themselves freely at home, as long as they are mindful in public. I, myself, have been known to have quite the mouth on me when I get angry. But for some reason, I have a very hard time typing out...swear words.
However, the line has been crossed in this latest work. And I swear (no pun intended) that it’s not my fault.

First, let me say that this novel has taken several twists and turns and has gone into a direction I hadn’t intended. That happens sometimes, well, a lot of times actually. I always tell people that my characters tell me what to write, not vice versa. And apparently, the characters in this novel have no issues with dropping four-letter words here and there. It hasn’t been excessive, but they keep popping up on my page, unbidden. Last week, I found myself deleting these expletives, but gosh darn it, they kept coming back.

I was thinking this morning about why it bothered me so much to type those verboten words. It’s not like it bothered me to read them in other people’s novels. Perhaps it stemmed from my upbringing. My mother was pretty strict when it came to language. If my dad or I slipped up with a “damn it” or “crap,” I was immediately punished and my dad got the silent treatment—sometimes for hours. My mother always said that a lady never swore and neither did a true gentleman.  She was a bit old-fashioned. I am a lady, but yes, sometimes I swear like a sailor.

Just not on paper.

But here I was, swearing on paper and feeling guilty about it. There was one particular instance where I typed out a four-letter word and deleted it five times before it fell out of my own mouth and I just left it.

Why are swear words so taboo? They’re just words, after all, and they all seem to be in the dictionary. I decided to look up the history of profanity and came across this; “Swearing and cursing are modes of speech existing in all human languages. They perform certain social and psychological functions, and utilize particular linguistic and neurological mechanisms.” Well, there you go. I have a minor in Anthropology, I should know that. I was performing a social and psychological function by allowing my characters to express themselves as freely on paper as they were expressing themselves in my head.  I also read that, “Swearing is a widespread but perhaps underappreciated anger management technique.” My mother did have some issues there, maybe she just needed to swear more (I’ll get struck by lightning for that one, I know, I know). I went onto to read that the Bible, Shakespeare and the earliest known writings also contained swearing. Icing on the cake, boys and girls. If Shakespeare did it, I’m in. I do remember reading Shakespeare in university and coming across quite a bit of colorful language. It just happened to be language we no longer use.

So, I will continue to let my characters have their freedom and will try my best not to cringe when they toss something out there that causes my fingers to freeze and stutter.
After that, however, I promise to make them go stand in the corner for not behaving like ladies and gentlemen.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Guest Blogger Friday

I'd like to introduce to you Marci Boudreaux, a fellow author and editor with Musa Publishing. She will be sharing the video trailer to her new novel, Unforgettable You and answering a few questions. Enjoy!

Video trailer to Unforgettable You by Marci Boudreaux
Coming November 23 from Musa Publishing 

Desperate to keep her ailing mother-in-law, Doreen, in the woman's family home, Carrie Gable has agreed to board a handful of Hollywood's most elite actors at the manor which is now a bed and breakfast. Despite her resentment of the demands being placed upon her, she can't help but be taken in by actor Will Walker.

Will, in a last ditch effort to save his failing career, has agreed to a project he has no interest in. The more time he spends with his egotistical co-stars, the more drawn he is their hostess. Long nights spent talking with Carrie about the paths their lives have taken make him realize he'd rather have a simpler life, but his ties to L.A. aren't quite as willing to let him go.

With the temptation of stardom pulling Will in one direction and the obligation to care for Doreen tugging Carrie in another, the couple struggle to find middle ground and the happiness they were missing until finding each other.


Where did the idea of Unforgettable You come from?

Unforgettable You was initially going to focus on the relationship between Carrie Gable and her mother-in-law, Doreen.  I wanted to write about a relationship I had never explored before.  Carrie, after the death of her husband, is left to care for his mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s after his death.  In doing so, she realizes that Doreen has blown all the money that had been set aside to care for her in her retirement.  Carrie becomes desperate to keep her in her home, she agrees to take on a group of A-list actors while they are filming in town.
This brings Will Walker into the picture and the book immediately becomes a romance. I can’t help it.  No matter how my books start, someone is going to end up falling in love.

How long did Unforgettable You take to write?

It took me over a year to finish this manuscript, but I had several things going on as I wrote this book.  I was still in school full-time, working as a book editor, writing for several local magazines, and being wife and mom. After it was done and before my final edits, I sold a manuscript under my pen name, Emilia Mancini, so had to focus on that for a while.  My hands were full! 

What one thing do you always have in your refrigerator?

Right now, Lunchables.  The kids are on summer break and in order for me to be able to stay home with them, I put in a lot of hours freelancing.  But, part of that means there are some  days when I don’t have ability to take a break right when they decide they are hungry, so I can tell them to grab a Lunchable and everyone is happy.

Who would you want to be stranded on a tropical island with and why?

My husband.  We don’t get to see nearly enough of each other these days. 

Do you have any advice for other writers out there that may be just beginning their career?

Really do your homework on the publishing company you are signing with.  Just because they offer you a contract, doesn’t mean they are a good fit for you.  I have learned so much working with Musa, as an editor and a writer.  Things that I had never thought of, never considered important, or never realized that I could do. I so appreciate every person I’m working with, on the administrative side and other authors.  The people within this publishing house really look out for each other, that makes it a great fit for me.  

What does your family think of your writing career?

My husband is so incredibly supportive, he always has been. Now that I have publications under my belt, he is constantly telling people to go download my books.  I think he’d make a great agent!  I’m not sure I’d have the courage to actually throw myself out there if he weren’t cheering me on. 

It hasn’t always been like that though.  When you say you want to be a writer people tend to smile and say things like, ‘Oh, that’s nice,’ in a way  that comes across as very condescending, perhaps not intentionally, but it’s there. I used to get that a lot and I let it hold me back, even derail me completely for a while.  It seems like no one believes you have the talent or ability to follow through when you tell them that’s what you want to do.  That makes it hard because it is such a brutal feeling to get rejected and you really need the support of people pushing you forward to try again. 


 Look for Unforgettable You. Coming November 23 from Musa Publishing  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Writing on...writing

Bear with me this week because I really hit a wall as to what to post today. I spent a good fifteen minutes staring at a blank computer screen and imagining words just appearing there, as if by magic. 
Ironic, because I’ve had a really good week and the novel I’m working on is coming along quite nicely. Blog posts, however, are always more of a challenge. Especially now that I’ve decided to post every Sunday.
Last night, I gave up on my empty computer screen to stare out the window. Where did other writers get their ideas from? Not for their blogs, because they’re supposed to be easy, but for their novels. And since it sounded like a dandy distraction from writing my blog post, I decided to look up several of my favorite writers to see if they’ve answered that question.

Where do you get your ideas from?

Robert Holdstock, who wrote my favorite novel Mythago Wood, said in an interview, “Everything grows. I have an idea, I have some characters in my head, and when I get an idea of what it is I want to say, I start going for it. I do, I'm not afraid to say, write out of chaos.”
Garth Nix, author of Sabriel, states, “I think inspiration comes from all over the place...I doubt that it varies depending on what you write, in a sense. It's all raw material that goes into your head and you make up what you will.”
Neil Gaiman? (And yes, I always have to quote Neil because he’s plain awesome) Neil says, “I make them up, out of my head. You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we're doing it.”
I munched on these interviews for awhile and reflected on where my ideas came from.
Mythology inspired me. I love mythology, all kinds of mythology. The stories from different cultures are fascinating. Everything is there, the antagonists, the protagonists, the life struggles, the magic and intrigue. It’s like a treasure trove of ideas that have been filtered and passed down through the ages to be shared. 
Did I feel like writing a blog post about mythology? Eh, not today. I thought some more.
Sometimes, I’d get ideas that came to me “out of the blue.” You know it’s been an “out of the blue” day when I had notes scrawled all over my hands and arms because I never seemed to have paper when I needed it. I checked my arms and hands. Unfortunately, they were as blank as my computer screen.
There were other times when my dream people spoke to me. Have you ever had a lucid dream that stuck with you for days or even weeks? Those dreams are begging to be turned into stories. My personal challenge is when my dream people chose to speak to me in a different language. And yes, that happens often--since I was a kid, in fact. I know on some level it’s a language, but I can’t understand what the heck they’re saying. I usually spend the next day looking up words or a sentence that stuck in my head, spelling it phonetically (which doesn’t always work). The last time this happened, I spent hours trying to decipher a phrase and the closest I could come was, “pennipotenti es volatilis per parietis” which seemed to be Latin for, “the birds are flying through the wall.” Yep. My dream person must have been messing with me that night. (It did lead me to taking a free online course to study Latin, however. If you’re interested, I put the link at the end of this post.)
But if the translation of a dream phrase makes sense, a story could come from that. I thought about my last dream. Something about dyeing my hair blue and riding a train barefoot...we won’t even go there.
Reading interviews from various writers was interesting though. I was happy to read that, they too, shared days in which blank computer screens mocked them. Holdstock asserted that he liked to think of those days as a “writer’s pause” and not a block. “The world is there, but sometimes the words aren't. I don't try to overcome it.” Nice. I could relate to that.
Gaiman lucidly states, “Blaming “Writer’s Block” is wonderful. It removes any responsibility from the person with the “block.” It gives you something to blame, and it sounds fancy. But it’s probably more honest to think of it as a combination of laziness, perfectionism and Getting Stuck. If you’re being lazy, don’t be. If you’re being a perfectionist, don’t be. And if you’re stuck, figure out where the story went off the rails, or what you got wrong, or where you need to go deeper, or what you need to add to make it work, and then start writing again.”
Wise words and a nice kick in the pants. I’ll have to refer to that when I’m banging my head on my computer because I’ve deleted pages and pages of text while lamenting that I’ve wasted six hours of my life.
Or trying to come up with something to write in my blog.
Seriously, though, if I have a writer’s block when writing fiction, I usually sleep on it. By morning (or several mornings later) something comes and it all makes sense again. Jumping on my trampoline and running with my dog, those seem to work too but take more effort.
But it was Saturday night and I needed to come up with something now, I whined to myself.
I turned my attention again to the blank computer screen and began, “Bear with me this week because I really hit a wall…”
Tonight, my Latin speaking dream people will probably be talking to me all night long--and maybe next week my post won’t be as difficult.

Sources for interview quotes:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Guest Blogger Friday

I'd like to introduce to you today Dusty Crabtree, a fellow Musa author. She will be my first guest blogger and sharing her post about the lack of morality in the media and its effect on teens. Enjoy!

Where Have All the Morals Gone?

While shopping at the mall, 16-year-old Sarah strolls into Abercrombie and Fitch to peruse the racks.  On her way out, she passes a giant poster of a sexy couple caressing each other’s bare skin, with lips so close they’re almost kissing.  She drives home and parks herself on the couch, grabs a remote, and turns on MTV.  The song “Glad You Came” pounds through the speakers, and the music video flashes scene after scene of arousing images, all centered around the attractive male band members partying, finding a hot girl, making out or even showering with the girl, and, Sarah assumes, sleeping with her.  The looks on their faces the next morning reveal no signs of regret or negative consequences. 
After an Axe commercial, where bikini-clad women almost remove their tops, Jersey Shore comes on.  She witnesses drunkenness, sex, provocative clothing, materialism, and overall bad decision-making.  She knows it’s stupid but she can’t stop watching.  Once it’s over, she turns off the TV and heads to her room to grab the newest book in the Gossip Girl series she’s just purchased.  Mere pages into it, she is bombarded with tantalizing tales of young girls drinking, doing drugs, blowing money, and having sex.
What message is being hammered home to Sarah?  What does she think is normal and even acceptable for people her age? 

Sadly, immorality in our world has become so commonplace that we often don’t stop to think how it affects our youth.  Teens are assaulted on a daily basis with obscene images, lewd behavior, degenerate role models, and perverse messages.  Even media that isn’t blatantly immoral, like The Disney Channel, in the very least makes kids doing “bad” things seem normal. 
It’s no wonder sex is thought of by most teens as a casual act that is perfectly normal for someone still in high school or that drinking and partying is simply a part of growing up.  Being an adolescent and having drunken “fun” go hand in hand.

So what are we to do?  We can’t stop everyone from producing immoral media.  But we can offer them more positive alternatives.  True, there are books, TV shows, songs, and movies that have positive messages and that aren’t harmful for a teenager’s moral well-being.  But they are few and far-between, and many of them lack the intrigue that’s offered by the more inappropriate media. 

This dilemma was my biggest motivation for writing Shadow Eyes.  I wanted to offer our youth something positive they could emulate.  Something that offered an appealing reality that promoted healthy messages on relevant issues.  Something that revealed what was truly behind immoral behavior – evil.  The key to writing this young adult novel was that I needed to make sure it was still provocative and enticing enough for teens to be drawn to it and enjoy, while still keeping the story’s integrity and moral structure.

Based on the feedback I’ve been getting so far, I feel I’ve accomplished that.  To be honest, there are some questionable, even somewhat explicit, scenes, so I wouldn’t suggest children under 13 reading it.  However, all of the immoral behavior is shown in a negative light, in contrast to many popular young adult books on the market today.  As the main character, Iris, makes mistakes and finds herself in sticky situations, the reader identifies with Iris and inadvertently learns the morals and lessons along with her.

As a high school teacher and youth sponsor at my church, I have a strong passion for young people and the issues and struggles they deal with.  They need guidance.  They need positive role models.  And they need alternatives to what the media is currently offering them.

If you’d like more information on my young adult urban fantasy Shadow Eyes, the first of a planned series, see the synopsis below or find it on any of the following sites as well as other major book websites:

Also, watch the trailer on YouTube, check out my Blog or find me, Dusty Crabtree on Facebook or Twitter
Shadow Eyes Synopsis:

Iris Kohl lives in a world populated by murky shadows that surround, harass, and entice unsuspecting individuals toward evil.  But she is the only one who can see them.  She’s had this ability to see the shadows, as well as brilliantly glowing light figures, ever since an obscure, tragic incident on her fourteenth birthday three years earlier. 

Although she’s learned to cope, the view of her world begins to shift upon the arrival of three mysterious characters.  First, a handsome new teacher whose presence scares away shadows; second, a new friend with an awe-inspiring aura; and third, a mysterious and alluring new student whom Iris has a hard time resisting despite already having a boyfriend.

As the shadows invade and terrorize her own life and family, she must ultimately revisit the most horrific event of her life in order to learn her true identity and become the hero she was meant to be.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Computer Savvy or How to Teach Yourself Computer Programming in 3-Easy-Steps

Some of you may know that I’ve recently signed a contract with Musa Publishing for my new novel, Between.  I’m very excited by this and spent the first day bouncing off the walls and blurting to complete strangers My Exciting News. I probably clear a path walking into the local grocery store now...but that could be my imagination.
After the initial excitement wore off, well, a little of it, I realized that my true work had just begun.  The writing?  It was work, but fun work and something I considered reasonably effortless.  The social networking and promoting?  Not so much.
So, I’ve spent the last week trying to upgrade all of my author sites; my website, my blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc., and have come to the conclusion that I will never be a computer programmer.  Ever.
It should’ve been simple.  All I needed to do was to add some social buttons sending readers here and there so they could be “in the know” as to when Between was being released.  Everything would be connected into one big, easy-peasy, social stream.
Or so I thought.
Social buttons.  Twitter, Blogger, Google, YouTube, LinkedIn, Flickr, there are hundreds of them.  Facebook has a button which sends the reader to a person’s page wherein the reader can “Like” or “Friend” that person with the ease of one click.  I figured I'd start there. I’ve seen it. I’ve done it. Not a problem.
For some reason, however, this simple task took me a total of 2 days to complete.  Apparently, computer programming is not my calling. 
I logically began my search on the internet for instructions on how to add a Facebook button to my website.  A website, I might add, that I suffered over years ago and haven’t touched since for fear it may just blow up in my face. 
My search led me to a plethora of helpful websites of which I chose one by eHow. The instructions read something like this; “Go to the website of Facebook, type in social plugin” (which I did immediately, so now I was on Facebook’s “How To” page). “There are two Like button implementations, blah, blah and blabbity-blah.”  Oh. Okay.  Well, I hadn’t a clue what “blah” or “blabbity-blah” meant but I was sure if I looked them up, all would be revealed. 
And off I went to do that very thing.
I found another website which thankfully, was only too happy to define “blah” and “blabbity-blah” for me.  It read something like this; “Blah.  Parses and renders the gabbidy-gook and can be used to send the blah to the hurpity-derp.”  Oh.  Of course. Why did I not think of that?  My attention at that point was starting to wander but after a quick swig of coffee, I was back on track.  I was absolutely sure that if I looked up the meaning of "hurpity-derp," I would understand what "gabbidy-gook" means.  It was that simple. 
And off I went to look for that.
Success!  I happened to find a webpage that told me exactly what “hurpidy-derp” means.  It was a mark up language for building a Facebook application.  Okay, that made sense.  Uh-huh. Except now I couldn't remember what I was looking for.  Oh yes, a Facebook button.  Maybe I needed to start over again.
I closed all my tabs with a furious click and typed;  “How to add a Facebook button to your blog." Maybe “blog” instead of “website” would bring up different hits and something would make sense.  I found the headline, “Adding Facebook “Like” Buttons to Your Site is Damn Easy” and since I was on-board with that sentiment, I clicked on it. With a sigh of relief, I read; “For the implementations of blah, blah and blabbity-blah and when one needs to use gabbidy-gook for the hurpidy-derp, one simply mumbo-jumbos the purple dinosaurs so they don’t fly at midnight.”  I was nodding and, wait, what? 
At that point, and in a fit of frustration, I closed my computer and gave up. 

I don’t need a Facebook button right now anyways.  Maybe Twitter will be easier. 

(I wish to update that I have managed to add said buttons to this blog and similes of into my website.  I will not give up and continue to persevere. If any reader wishes to help me in this task, please send me instructions excluding all mentions of mumbo-jumbos and keep your purple dinosaurs to yourself)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Carpool Club

Some of you may know what I'm referring to when I say carpool.  You may roll your eyes and sigh because you know how horrible it is to sit for an hour (or more) in carpool waiting to pick up your little darlings from school.  Once retrieved, your little darlings usually greet you by grumping about the evil substitute teacher or the fact that little Jimmy threw up in the garbage and had to go home early, or....well, you get my drift.  It's one of the thankless parts of parenting.  Unfortunately, I have not only one carpool to sit through, but two; one for Elementary and one for Middle School.
So, what do parents DO in carpool?  Well, we read, we listen to music, we talk on the phone, we work, we stare off into space.  Some of us even fall asleep and wake themselves with their own snoring.  Not that I would know of course, but um...hypothetically.
So, the other day I was sitting in carpool, staring off into space, when I found myself pondering on the other parents sitting in carpool.  There was one on her cellphone who was twiddling her blonde ponytail and chewing gum, another on his laptop looking flustered and talking to himself, a guy in Adidas shorts and tank top who had left his car to go for a walk around the football field, and yet another broody-looking guy who was smoking.  It was like being in school all over again. The Breakfast Club, but older and set in their ways.
And we weren't in detention, but stuck in carpool purgatory trying to entertain ourselves.
The chick on the phone?  Cheerleader, definitely.  Sporting a tightly combed, blonde highlighted ponytail, pink lipstick and layers of mascara, she had yet to stop to take a breath from her cellphone chatter.  Oh yes, cheerleader for sure.  The university alumni sticker and "My Daughter is a Superstar at...!" on the back of her minivan was a dead giveaway.  Laptop guy?  Computer nerd.  Dressed in a nice suit and striped tie, he seemed to have all the the latest gadgets in tow. I figured out he wasn't talking to himself, but into his Bluetooth headset. Big relief there, there's nothing worse than a crazy parent talking to themselves.  Uh-huh.  I surreptitiously watched as he juggled his laptop and Starbucks while loosening his tie.  Impressive.  My gaze wandered over to the guy in Adidas shorts power walking around the football field.  He was doing some athletic stretches and looking quite sporty.  Good exercise, but oh my gosh, it was hot and humid.  Not my choice to go for a stroll in the sun, I thought to myself, but you go, Sporty Dude.  Which leads me to the Smoking Man.  Windows rolled up, unshaven and wearing dark sunglasses and a James Dean t-shirt, he was already on his second cigarette.  Bad boy.  I fleetingly wondered if he'd roll down the window and let his car air out before he picked up his kid.  Probably not.
I sat back and adjusted my own sunglasses.  Well, there you have it, I told myself, the cast of Breakfast Club. Thirty years later and sitting in carpool.  Interesting.  I fleetingly wondered where I fit into the group.  I tried to remember all the characters and the only one I didn't see was the weird girl played by Ally Sheedy.  I crossed my arms. Well, I'm not a kleptomaniac.  And I certainly didn't have the "problems" she had in the movie. But I was the shy kid dressed in black, I mused. I've changed, of course, I don't wear black (much). I can even carry on a conversation without feeling like I want to run and hide under a rock.  Shyness is a tough one to beat.  I sighed.  My car does have polka-dots all over it, though.  And here I was sitting in carpool making up stories about the other parents in carpool.  But it's what writers do, I rationalize.  Okay yes, I'm the Weird Girl.  I'll own that one.
Ten minutes tick by and the announcements from the school begin, they sound right before class is dismissed. Sporty Dude comes jogging back from his walk, sweaty but high on endorphins, Laptop Guy snaps his computer shut and manages to catch his tie in it, Smoking Man stubs his cigarette out on the side of his car and tosses it onto the ground.  I give him a dirty look for that and he grins all Jack Nicholson at me.  Jerk.  Cheerleader breaks the tension by loudly saying her good-byes into her cellphone and promising to meet for coffee later (kiss kiss!). We all start moving forward to pick up our darlings, another school day over for them.
And another day in the Carpool Club for us.