About Cyn D. Blackburn

Cyn D. Blackburn is addicted to love. And caffeine. She lives with her husband (of 20+) years, three children, two dogs, two guinea pigs and one terribly outnumbered cat. She knows that nothing eases the difficulties of life--and falling into love--more than a little humor.

It’s beginning to look a lot like–

Poop. Christmas? Already?

Yes! Before Halloween, even. Dis-gusting, I know. But, it could be worse.

Shortly before Christmas last year, I was contracted by Entangled Press to write a book for them.  It wasn’t a book of my own creation, but one they’d outlined. It was up to me to flesh it out.

It was–rather, I should say is–a Christmas-themed book.

When I first started writing Santa Maybe, carols played, lights twinkled, and everyone was merry and bright. But, as usual, the holiday passed. The air grew warm. The Easter Bunny came and left. Flowers bloomed. And I was still writing that &#@!*$ Christmas book.

Baseball season began; my son played first base while I sat in the car with my laptop, melting and cursing Christmas. By this point, I was channeling my hero, Justin. Justin loathes Christmas, mostly because his dad was killed during the holiday. It’s not his happiest time of year. (Understandably.) That little character “thing” made the book that much harder to write. Depressed heroes are not fun–or funny. (Did I mention this was supposed to be a romantic comedy?)

Finally, I finished the first draft and in May I sent the book to my editor. (If I could have flung it at her, I would have. By this point, I did not love this book. I mean, seriously. Santa in the Springtime is just plain wrong.) Worse, she sent the wretched thing back. For revisions. In August! I had to wonder how they can stand Christmas in Australia; it was hard to write (or think) sentimentally about snow, sugar cookies and the scent of balsams when you’re gulping iced tea and slathering on sunscreen. (I considered sticking my head in the freezer a few times to get in the right mood…)

You know, I even had dreams that it was Christmas, and it was muggy and there were leaves on the trees (and shrimp on the barbi? Which was really weird because I live in Rhode Island, USA), and everyone looked at me like I’d gone insane. Because I kept asking, “Where’s Santa?” And–of course–because it was the Fourth of July. Insanity! Holiday chaos!

Finally, after a summer full of Christmas, the book was completed, the final version was approved, and a release date was scheduled: November 13th.  Hurray! And you know–I’m kind of looking forward to Christmas this year. At least it won’t be beach weather. 🙂

Here’s a little video that gives you an idea of poor Justin’s story. I can promise you that in the end, he loves Christmas at every time of the year.

About Cyn D. Blackburn

Cyn D. Blackburn is addicted to love. And caffeine. She lives with her husband (of 20+) years, three children, two dogs, two guinea pigs and one terribly outnumbered cat. She knows that nothing eases the difficulties of life--and falling into love--more than a little humor.

Fairies and Bogmen and Distractions…oh my!

Being a writer makes a person curious, about a lot of things. You start off doing research on one thing, like…say…fairies. Suddenly, you’re immersed in all kinds of lore, and not so lore. You’re on the yellow brick road, kids. A path to knowledge, a Quest to Learn.

Your whole life is a journey into research of all sorts. It makes you excellent at Trivial Pursuit (if people still play that) or at Trivia Crack. You know stuff that no one knows. (Except other writers.) It makes people think you’re smart. (In my neck of the states, that’s pronounced smaht. But I digress.)

Sometimes your research becomes detrimental; it consumes you and you want to delve deeper and deeper into a subject–but you know you’re only delaying the inevitable: having to work on your current manuscript. (Eww. Work!) Life is full of wonderful distractions that make it hard for you to get to work–the internet is an especially wonderful distraction.

So many memes! Oh the memes I have seen… 

 

 

And GIFS. Good Lordy!  (I’d insert some, but then I’d have to look for them and I’d get distracted. Which–really–is the point. It’s easy to get lost in the research. And the finding. Especially when there’s Sam and Dean. But once again, I digress.)

Back to the fairies….

So I looked up fairies. I found out where the lore on fairies originated:

While most of Northern Europe lay under a thick canopy of forest, bogs did not. Half earth, half water and open to the heavens, they were borderlands to the beyond. To these people, will-o’-the-wisps—flickering ghostly lights that recede when approached—weren’t the effects of swamp gas caused by rotting vegetation. They were fairies.
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/europe-bog-bodies-reveal-secrets-180962770/?utm_source=onesignal

There’s enough in that article for a whole slew of stories…if I do the research.

About Cyn D. Blackburn

Cyn D. Blackburn is addicted to love. And caffeine. She lives with her husband (of 20+) years, three children, two dogs, two guinea pigs and one terribly outnumbered cat. She knows that nothing eases the difficulties of life--and falling into love--more than a little humor.

Boo! I’m a ghooooost…writer.

It’s almost embarrassing to admit it, but yes–I write books for money.

Oh, the shame…

It’s like telling people you’ve decided to sell your children for cash.

Worse, you can’t even tell them what the title of the book is, or the name under which it’s been published, because–you don’t know. You make this little baby book, wrap it tenderly, place it in a basket (or inbox, I guess) and then turn and walk away without looking back.

Several days later, money is deposited into your account. And then, you never hear from your baby again.

You keep the draft, like a hospital photograph. It’s a secret. You’ve give up all rights to this baby, and you’re not supposed to even acknowledge its existence. If you ever showed it to anyone, you could be in violation of your contract. It makes you sad. Even though you knew that your ties to this child of your imagination would be severed, you still couldn’t help but think of how pieces of you were threading themselves through it, and that they’d still be there once the strings were cut.

You wonder how your baby is doing. Are people being kind to it? Are they heaping it with praise, or are they being harsh and cruel, giving it one or two stars? Is your baby reaching its full potential? Is it being nurtured through generous marketing? Or is it lying on the bottom of an Amazon list, unwanted, unread, and unappreciated?

You know you didn’t put too much into your baby. At times, you too were practically thoughtless as you sat, forcing a word count onto it even though you knew less could be more. You made your baby fat and even ugly in places, just because you knew you could make more money.

The guilt.

You think of your other books, the ones that have your name on them. You took so much care with them. Each word weighed and measured, tasted and tested. You played with those babies, poured your heart into them. You thought about them, planned for them. You shared them with others–happily, in fact–in the hopes of making them even better. They took months, even years, to write–instead of only days (and sometimes only hours) like your secret books.

Funny thing is, you know you’ll probably never make as much money on those books as you did on the ones you sold away.

It’s a conflict. You tell yourself you’re selling those babies to benefit your “real” children. But still…you can’t help but wonder. Have I done the right thing? Shouldn’t I try to keep all my book babies for myself? Why should I pour any time at all into this…this…prostitution of my words? You resolve not to write anything for anyone but yourself, ever again. You will keep all your books. And you will self-publish and build an empire!

And then…it happens. Something comes along. A request in your inbox. “Are you still ghostwriting? We’re looking for a 20K book about… And we’ll pay you…”

You try to ignore it.

But…

You’ll make more money with this book in this single sale than you might make if you try to publish and market the book yourself. It’s a sure thing. Ca-ching!

It’s like selling my soul. My art!

Stop being so melodramatic. And besides…you don’t write art, you write romance.

But…it’s still from my heart, a part and piece of me.

So is this blog, you egocentric nutcase. Sign the contract. Write the book. Take the contract…

But…

No buts. Bucks.

It’s so sleezy.

Boo-dy freaking hoo. It’s called making a living.

All right. Boo. I’m a ghostwriter.

About Cyn D. Blackburn

Cyn D. Blackburn is addicted to love. And caffeine. She lives with her husband (of 20+) years, three children, two dogs, two guinea pigs and one terribly outnumbered cat. She knows that nothing eases the difficulties of life--and falling into love--more than a little humor.

Binging

binge, v. binj/

gerund or present participle: binging
indulge in an activity, to excess.
context: “I’m binging on a new show.”
synonyms: to overindulge, to gorge

Yep. It’s true. I’m binging.

It used to be that if you told someone you were “binging”, they’d ask you why you were overeating. But now, “to binge” has a new meaning–specifically, “to watch too much television”. Or–even more specifically–“to watch back to back episodes of a particular show”.

My husband and I are binging on The Great Food Truck Race. imagesWe started watching it on Saturday; today is Tuesday, and just a few hours ago, he said, “Oh! There are five seasons. Only one left!” So…seven episodes per season, each one about forty-nine minutes long, that means we’ve actually consumed about…well…many hours of tv. Too many hours.

Other things we’ve binged on are Blue Bloods (Tom Selleck only improves with age), and Kitchen Nightmares, download (1)with Gordon Ramsey. Ordinarily, watching cooking shows results in my husband wanting to become a chef; this means he starts making dinner every night and going to the market in search of “quality” and “whole” foods. (I’m not complaining. He’s actually a really good cook.) Unfortunately, binging on Kitchen Nightmares before bed after a day of binging on Rue Paul’s Drag Race also results in some rather strange dreams which include Gordon Ramsey dressed in drag and wearing a basket of fruit on his head. (No offense, Chef, but you make a horrific-looking woman, especially when you wear fruit, bright red lipstick and gold hoop earrings.)

One of the shows my kids and I enjoy binging on is images (1)Supernatural. Part of this is because it’s got a compelling story line, great and frequently unexpected dialogue and situations, wonderful characters and a close-knit group of actors and fans. It’s also got a shiny black car and an excellent soundtrack. But binging on this particular show is hazardous to one’s life–it’s run for eleven seasons; ten of which are available to watch. Twenty-one episodes per season (except for one season, which was cut short by a writers’ strike), forty-nine minutes per episode–it’s a show that can consume you whole for days. (Though to be honest, any one of this particular cast could probably get away with dressing like a woman and wearing fruit on their heads in dreams or real life.)

Once upon a time, books would absorb you into their worlds–now it’s television shows. As a writer, this makes me somewhat sad, but on the other hand, I appreciate the fact that I can share the experience of characters I love with family members in a shared watching of a show. Or, we can appreciate lessons learned, like running a food truck and using quality ingredients. In the end, when it comes to binging, I’d rather consume chunks of all absorbing worlds than actual food. At least, there are a lot less calories.

Do you binge? What are some of your favorite shows to consume whole?

About Cyn D. Blackburn

Cyn D. Blackburn is addicted to love. And caffeine. She lives with her husband (of 20+) years, three children, two dogs, two guinea pigs and one terribly outnumbered cat. She knows that nothing eases the difficulties of life--and falling into love--more than a little humor.

Looking backward, looking forward.

My nine-year-old son loves baseball.

He plays on a AAA team, which means nothing to me, but means something to my husband.

When he was nine–and for most of his youth into college and a little beyond–my husband, Billy, played baseball. He was a State Champion pitcher who got drafted into the majors at nineteen. But back then, there was no such thing as a pitch count for young players, and by the time he was twenty, his body was worn out. Even today, at the age of 47, he has problems with his rotary cuff. He did the thing he loved until it broke him.

Now Brady is playing. He’s not a pitcher–he’s a catcher. This is possibly by design (my husband’s) or maybe because Brady loves the position. It’s the most important position on the field, come to find out. He has to be aware of the positions of all the opposing players on the bags (that’s baseball jargon for “bases”–I didn’t know that either, once). If someone tries to steal a base, he has to see them and make snap decisions on where to throw the ball–and be on target. He can’t overthrow his intended baseman, because then the runner can move on to steal another base.

He also has to be aware when he can’t stop a pitch; when he goes running to get it, he also has to have eyes on the field to be sure to stop runners.

And then, there are other times when he just needs to be in the game and with the program. My favorite is when one of his team’s young pitchers are wobbly and walking batters; Brady looks so serious as he lifts his mask onto the top of his head and marches out the the mound to talk to them. He doesn’t take long, and he never fools around. Usually, he’ll pat the other player on the shoulder as he talks to them, and he looks right at them with such a grown-up expression on his face. Usually, this exchange works to calm the pitcher down and get them to throw strikes. Later, when I ask him what he said, he tells me things like, “I told him to take a deep breath and just play catch with me. Don’t worry about the batter.” Or, “I told him to follow through, just like we practiced.” Wise counsel from someone who needs reminding to brush his teeth and to use deodorant.

His coach has told us that he’s the best player in the league, and in fact, some of the “major” league coaches are scouting him. (Not the major majors, you understand. But the coaches of the older kids. My husband and Brady know what this means–I’m just in the stands, cheering when everyone else does.) Baseball has become something that means so much to both of them. Billy has volunteered to coach the young pitching “staff” and with amazing patience, teaches them the physical mechanics of pitching and how to strategize their pitches. Brady has  gained confidence and leadership skills he’s not even aware of, and has developed a focus that has helped him in school and other places because of baseball. And it’s something both of them, father and son, can share and discuss and analyze–man to man. More than a game, it’s a common link for the two of them.

As I sit on the bleachers, I’m  watching: Billy, looking backward through this current experience and reliving the golden, glory days of his youth, and Brady, looking forward and planning for his future in the game. Me? I’m just here in the present, looking forward and backward, and enjoying the view. I never understood what was so good about sports, but I think I’m finally starting to understand.

 

About Cyn D. Blackburn

Cyn D. Blackburn is addicted to love. And caffeine. She lives with her husband (of 20+) years, three children, two dogs, two guinea pigs and one terribly outnumbered cat. She knows that nothing eases the difficulties of life--and falling into love--more than a little humor.

I’m planning to fail. Several times.

“Fact: From quitting smoking to skiing, we succeed to the degree we try, fail, and learn. Studies show that people who worry about mistakes shut down, but those who are relaxed about doing badly soon learn to do well. Success is built on failure.” -Martha Beck

I really like this quote–it makes failure seem less frightening. In fact, it makes it seem like a positive thing. I’d never thought about failure as part of my success, but now that I have, I know I can deal with it.

One of the things I always tell my kids is, “We learn by our mistakes,” meaning that it’s okay to do something stupid once in a while if, in the end, you’ve learned something from it. For example, over the winter my nine-year-old decided he didn’t want to wear his heavy coat to school. Instead of fighting with him about it, I let him make that choice (though I did warn him I didn’t think it was a very wise decision). So he went to school and when he came home, he talked about how cold he’d been at the bus stop and during recess. But, you know, he’s never gone without a coat since. In fact, he’s sure to wear a hat and mittens as well as a warm jacket on cold days because he never wants to experience that level of discomfort again. No nagging on my part, and a lesson well-learned for him.

In a sense, this quote is similar. It gives me permission to fail and learn by my mistakes. It’s especially poignant for me right now because–for the fourth time in my life–I’m doing Weight Watchers. In the past, I’ve gone off the diet at a certain point for whatever reason, and then–because of my failure to stick with it, I consider myself hopeless and regain the weight I’d lost. But by using Martha Beck’s philosophy, I won’t give up completely as I have in the past. Instead, I can give myself permission to relax, accept the failure–briefly–and then return to my healthy eating and exercise plan.  If I do this, I’ll be able to succeed in spite of my failures.

How can you apply this quote to your life?

 

 

2012-08-22 17.19.33

About Cyn D. Blackburn

Cyn D. Blackburn is addicted to love. And caffeine. She lives with her husband (of 20+) years, three children, two dogs, two guinea pigs and one terribly outnumbered cat. She knows that nothing eases the difficulties of life--and falling into love--more than a little humor.

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