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Alt Country Mix Nov 14

Remember my post about the Luke Bryan song “Play It Again” a few weeks ago?

Well, here is the mix CD that song inspired, along with my commentary and select YouTube clips where appropriate.

1. Play It Again – Luke Bryan

All the reasons for this song can be found right here: http://imnotstalkingyou.com/2014/11/11/oh-my-god-this-is-my-song/

2. Under The Light of The Texaco – Lisa Stewart

This is a country song from 1993. It is a song that I have tried hard over the years to remember the title and artist. According to Wikipedia, it never charted. Which is why it is hard to remember much about it. But that summer, I watched a lot of music videos on TNT and CMT. This video was in heavy rotation, and featured a very brief cameo by Davey Allison. I was impressed by this because I had just begun to watch NASCAR races (Shout out to Jeff Gordon!). Also, Davey Allison would die that same summer in a helicopter crash.

Under The Light of The Texaco on YouTube


3. Boom Clap – Charlie XCX

Love this song. Good beat, good lyrics, great to crank up to the max in the car and drive.

Boom Clap on YouTube

4. All About That Bass – Meghan Trainor

I am a little over this song now, but included it on this collection anyway. I was impressed with how original the sound was when I first heard it on the radio on our vacation to Gettysburg in August. I feel like it is the kind of song my best friend in high school and I would have run out and bought the cassette single of.

5. Don’t – Ed Sheeran

I got so excited when I heard this song on the radio. I was like, “Oh, one of my favorite American Idol alums Blake Lewis finally has a hit song that all the stations are playing.” Then I discovered it was actually Ed Sheeran who sings it. If some white boy was going to sing this song, it should have been Blake. He was robbed.

6. Cool Kids – Echosmith

I like this. Very me in 6th grade.

7. Habits – Tove Lo

This girl has a life I could never imagine living.

8. Yeah – Joe Nichols

I like Joe Nichols because I always think that he sounds like George Strait, although not so much in this song. This song is very similar to “Play It Again.” Hence, why I did not put them right next to each other.

9. God Made Girls – RaeLynn

This is a really sexist song, with lyrics such as:

Somebody’s gotta wear a pretty skirt,
Somebody’s gotta be the one to flirt,
Somebody’s gotta wanna hold his hand so God Made Girls

Somebody’s gotta make him get dressed up,
Give him a reason to wash that truck,
Somebody’s gotta teach him how to dance,
So God made girls.
(Written by RaeLynn, Nicolle Galyon, Lori McKenna, & Liz Rose)

And the girl’s voice annoys me because it reminds me of the girl who plays Scarlett on ABC’s Nashville. If these are truly the reasons why God made girls, then I am a complete failure as a girl.  But it has a good beat and sounds like classic country, so I included it.

10. Girl in a Country Song – Maddie & Tae

This would be the antithesis of the previous song. And the next song. Which is why I LOVE that these three songs appear together in this order on this CD.

I love these lyrics:

Well I wish I had some shoes on my two bare feet
And it’s gettin’ kinda cold in these painted on cut off jeans
I hate the way this bikini top chafes
Do I really have to wear it all day?

Aww no, Conway and George Strait
Never did it this way
Back in the old days
Aww y’all, we ain’t a cliché
That ain’t no way
To treat a lady
(Written by Taylor Dye, Maddie Marlow, & Aaron Scherz)

Any song that references classic hit-makers like Conway Twitty and George Strait is number one in my book. And they totally have a point about the bikini tops and Daisy Duke shorts. And they manage to spin it into a very catchy song.

Girl in a Country Song on YouTube

11. Cruise – Florida Georgia Line

Cruise was released to pop radio as a mix with rapper Nelly, and was a huge hit. A few years ago. Yes, I am behind.

This song is exactly the type of song that Maddie & Tae were just rallying against. The girl is in her bikini top, riding along silently in the man’s pickup truck, traveling down a dirt road she doesn’t even want to be on. I love these songs as much as the next person (I did include it on this CD, afterall), but does EVERY country song have to sound like this?

iNsTaBiLiTy: a poem

I want to cut this pain
right out of me.
Take a sharp knife
and set it free.
There is no reason for this agony.
It is just my body
choosing to wage war
Against the everyday monotony.
And you can’t see it.
You can’t try to understand.
I hide the rolling sobs.
The hyperventilation is reserved
for my hiding place.
You only see the aftermath–
the red-rimmed eyes
the loud, ragged breaths.
You might be inclined
to want to help.
But you can’t.
There is no fucking way.
I have internalized
all of the bad in my world.
It boils inside of me,
robbing me of
my time
my youth
my sanity.
I want to roll up in a ball–
coccoon myself–
let the world just pass right over me.
Because I would rather feel nothing
than to feel this
instability every day.
–JLS 11/20/14

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I might as well start by admitting that my literary choices do not always match those of the rest of the world.

I really REALLY loved Twilight. The WHOLE series. I have never read any books as many times as I have read those.

But it is not because they are great works of art. It is because I find them entertaining and enjoyable. I like to read about hot vampires and werewolves. I especially liked how Stephenie Meyer’s writing style reminded me of reading something my best friend would have written.

And I KNOW that you are groaning. But, sorry to say, millions of people around the world agree with me. The money don’t lie.

Everyone always talks about The Perks of Being a Wallflower as if it is some super-great book that I must read. So I did.

PERKS-cover

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

WTF?

I read the last page, closed it, and said, “That book sucked.”

I am sure many will disagree with me. Maybe part of it was that it was from the viewpoint of a teenage boy, rather than a girl. But I had trouble getting past the writing style. It was written as a series of letters to an unknown friend. Sooo many things wrong with this. The letter-writing thing just felt hoaky and unnecessary. I felt as though the author was writing badly on purpose so that I would truly believe that Charlie wrote the letters himself. Except that I just found it distracting. And the so-called friend? It isn’t even anyone that he knows. And, at the end of the book, you STILL do not ever find out who he sends the letters to.

I did like that although it was recently made into a movie (I have not seen it), the book was actually published back in 1999, and actually takes place in 1991-1992 when Charlie was a freshmen in high school. I was a freshmen then, or close to it. That means the author must be my age. But Charlie did not listen to any of the same music or see any of the same movies of that time that would have helped me relate to his character.

I kept wondering if this kid was supposed to be Autistic? Then I wondered if he just was. There was even a bad child molestation and physical abuse subplot. I guess maybe that was supposed to be the plot? Or explain why the kid was weird? If it was supposed to, I missed it.

The best part of the book was when they stood in the back of a pick-up truck while driving through a tunnel. Incidentally, that was the best part of the movie trailer as well.

I never did figure out what the perks of being a wall flower were supposed to be. I could probably be considered “a wallflower”. There are no perks.

I bought this book specifically to study what other YA writers are writing about and how they are doing it. I thought I might be able to use this book to help me think of the heroine in my first book differently. But I just came out of it thinking, “If this book became a hit, maybe mine isn’t as bad as I think it is. Maybe it could be a hit too.”

Book Review: The Weirdest Family

I ordered this book from Amazon several months ago. It traveled around my house. I finally got a spot of time to read this delightful story.

Click picture to purchase

Click here to purchase

The Weirdest Family is a children’s chapter fantasy book that focuses on a family made up of Abby the mom, Charlie the dad, Tesi the teenager, and Eliza precocious little sister. This book tends towards supernatural flights of fancy, so it comes in handy that there is an unknown narrator to keep the story on track.

And I am pretty sure the author must like sandwiches and nachos and fruit. They are mentioned several times.

You might think that you cannot have a gratifying book that includes zombies, vampires, mummies, super senses, God, and a baby man-eating bat. There are also aliens, and an apocalypse. But, once Tesi gets a palace for her birthday, it all begins to come together. Because, after all, don’t the most unusual families live in palaces?

And just when you think the story has come to a close, you turn the page, start a new chapter and a new adventure. This book is truly fantastical.

I didn’t just stumble across this book. A good friend of mine, who happens to have only been 9 years old at the time of publication, wrote it. I could never have written anything this impressive (let alone long) at her age.

I cannot imagine being 9 years old and seeing my book that I wrote for sale on Amazon. (There was no Internet, and therefore no Amazon when I was that age.)

But I WANT TO. I hunger, thirst, ache, crave, yearn to have my writing displayed like that for the world to partake of. (Thank you, thesaurus.com.)

To sum up, the title says it all. This is, indeed, The Weirdest Family. I also found them quite entertaining.

Oh My God, This Is My Song

“Play It Again” by Luke Bryan is totally stuck in my head.  All day long.

It is the only song  I want to hear right now.  Constantly.

I scanned all the country channels my whole way home in the car looking for it.  Which is ironic, because that is what the whole damn song is about.   And if the girl in the song had a fully-charged cell phone on her with a strong signal, she could just play the song again and again. But that is part of the song’s charm.  It has a very traditional country sound.  The lyrics are pretty traditional as well.

I grew up on late 70’s & 80’s country. That is the sound I like best. This song might be the beginning of a Country renaissance for me. I haven’t listened to Country music regularly since 2000. That is pretty much when I discovered Kid Rock.

She was like, oh my God, this is my song
I’ve been listenin’ to the radio all night long
Sittin’ ’round waitin’ for it to come on and here it is*

How many days and nights have I been this girl? And how many other girls out there have been in the same situation? And how has NO ONE written this song years ago?

Watch the video on YouTube below…

* Written by Ashley Gorley

Trick-or-Treat

A Friday post? Gosh, I haven’t seen one of those roll through in a long time.

But, it is a special occasion.

Ah!  A ghost!  A Charlie Brown ghost.

Ah! A ghost! A Charlie Brown ghost.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

Avril Lavigne.  Best part is they are all my own clothes...

Avril Lavigne. Best part is they are all my own clothes…

And if everything is going according to plan, which it never does, I should be leaving work early and heading home right about now.

I think he might be a little scared...

I think he might be a little scared…

The weather forecast in Michigan could not be worse for Trick-or-Treating. There will be rain, wind, cold temperatures, and maybe snow.

...of my custom Mr. Ugly-Man pumpkin.

…of my custom Mr. Ugly-Man pumpkin.

Have a safe, fun night. I know I will be ending mine with a nice, hot pizza.

New Parent Recommendations

I had no idea about anything that I needed for a baby when I got pregnant. I didn’t have any younger brothers. Or sisters. Or cousins.

I had bought a few gifts for my friends when they had babies, but I bought directly off the registry and was pretty clueless.

And things change. When my crazy friend had her son, she had a special support contraption to help him stay on his side when he slept. Five or so years later, the recommendation was to have babies sleep on their backs instead.

When it came time to pick out items for my baby registry, I went with all the staples. I feel in love with some cutesy, expensive things. It always helps to remember that other people will be showering you with these things using their money, not yours.

One thing I fell for was the matching crib set. I found this super-cute woodland-creature themed set. Which was perfect, because my husband and I were waiting to find out if we were having a boy or a girl.

I believe I used giftcards to purchase the set of the matching crib sheet, comforter, bumpers, and dust ruffle. They were so cute to set up the crib with ahead of time. But they weren’t cheap.

Carter's Woodland Critters, or something like that...

Carter’s Woodland Critters, or something like that…

Waste of money. The dust ruffle became too much to bother with with frequent sheet changes (my son was a power pee-er). My husband banned the bumpers for fear my son would suffocate himself on them. The comforter is very stiff and not real good for a tiny baby. We use it now that my son M is a preschooler as a top blanket over something fuzzier.

In that same woodland design, we had also received the lamp, diaper holder, receiving blankets, basket, and fleece blanket, for which we have used all of them for varying degrees of time.

But the crib set. Man, there are better things to spend your money on. Things you would never even think about.

Like hearing protection.

“What?” you say.

Last year, when my son had just turned three, I wanted to take him (OK, really I just wanted to go) to a monster truck show. So, I went online, did lots of research, and ordered him a pair of hearing protection muff things.

They worked great for the monster truck show.

Watching Grave Digger

Watching Grave Digger

And for fireworks the next July.

Chicks did boys with hearing protection

Chicks did boys with hearing protection

And for dulling the sound of the yard blower and leaf vacuum last weekend.

No more crying when Daddy starts the leaf blower.

No more crying when Daddy starts the leaf blower.

For around $15, I was able to get something for my son that, while I don’t use it every day, when I do need it, stops him from being upset, having extra anxiety, crying, and possible hearing damage. Here is a link to the ones I ordered: 3M Peltor Junior Earmuff Blue #970239

Two tricks to this being useful:

1. You have to buy ear protection that fits.

I ordered mine off of Amazon.com, and I carefully read all the reviews for each model I was interested in to try to get the perfect size. Sometimes how the manufacturer describes it is not how it actually will fit your child.  Some are made for adults, some for teens, some for tiny babies.

If you shop for them in a hunting/sporting goods store, you might be able to try them on before you buy.

2. You have to predict when you will use them, and have them with you.

Some people are better at this than others. Pretty much, I am just obsessed with getting $15 worth of use out of them before my son outgrows them. So, I am always thinking, “Should I take his ear muffs with us?”

It might seem silly, but I know that if we wanted to go to a concert or something, we can just grab them and M and go.

What I Learned This Week – 10/26/14

Tonight I learned not to judge the middle-aged woman in her pajamas pumping gas at the gas station. She may have spent all morning trying to get the checkbook balanced, and after three hours had to settle for a 10 cent discrepancy.

One pair HAS actually been to yoga class...

One pair of mine HAS actually been to yoga class…

I learned not to judge the woman in yoga pants pushing the grocery cart around Meijer. It is quite possible she was wearing real clothes earlier in the day the first time she left the house. That would also be before she helped her husband pick up leaves, and got covered in dirt, rotting leaves, and dog poop.  Also, before the dog barfed up a combo of her own poo and grass in the laundry room.  Twice.

I learned not to judge the weary-looking mother staring blankly at the grocery store shelf. It is very likely that this is the only time she has been at the store without her preschooler in a very long time, and needs to take advantage of this by picking up gifts for him for his upcoming birthday and Christmas. She might just be racking her brain to remember what size Lightning McQueen he was most interested in three days ago when they were at this very same store together.

YEEESSSSS.....

YEEESSSSS…..

For all you know, that woman has worked for the last 6 days straight. She could have bitten off more than she can chew. She misses her family. She misses her dog.

I learned not to judge the woman with her hair quickly escaping her pony tail and no makeup out in public at 9:00PM. She knows damn well that she has no right to be out. But she also spent all of her day doing so many other chores, that she still needs to buy groceries, including supplies for her son’s lunch at daycare tomorrow. And when she arrives home, she still will need to put away the groceries, pack said lunch for the son, pack one for herself, and tuck the tiny night owl into bed.

Then eat some Halloween candy.

Then type up and publish a blog post.

Then start reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower as preparation to publish her own YA book, hopefully before midnight.

WEEK-candy

This week I learned that I am totally that woman. You can judge me all you want, but I am drained.  Stay-at-home moms always argue that the work they do is REAL work.  And I wouldn’t argue that point, having done it for almost 2 years myself.  But, it is DIFFERENT work.  For all the days when the house ends up more of a disaster at the end of the day than when you started, there are many more days than not where you feel a sense of accomplishment of actually finishing the dishes, making a semi-nutritional and/or delicious dinner, or spending an actual 10 minutes of quality time with your child.  Working full time makes those tiny accomplishments impossible.

365 Days

When I was a tiny child, a year was a very Very VERY VERY long time. In January, it would seem like Christmas would never come around again. Same with Halloween.  A year was just an infathomable amount of time for my immature brain. I knew that each day passed, and month by month, eventually we would get there. I knew this to be true. But it was just an eternity. I can’t even describe it. While so many other memories have faded, that one is still relatively clear in my memory.  The endlessness of time stretching out before me.

And from things my son says, I believe this is how he experiences time as well.

Here is an ugly picture that perfectly illustrates the topic of my post.

Here is an ugly picture that perfectly illustrates the topic of my post.

Maybe time moved so slow for me because as a child I spent a lot of time being bored. “I’m bored” came out of my mouth probably every hour of the day. I was bored in school. I was bored at home. I was bored in the car. I was bored at the grocery store. I was bored visiting my Gramma.

I look back now, and all that “bored” time just seems like such a waste. I could have been writing the books then that I don’t have time to write now. I could have hugged my Gramma a few more times while she was still here.

When I was in middle school and high school, time went faster than as a child, but was still very slow. And while the three months of summer vacation always ended way too soon, each individual day was slow and boring and painful to sit through. Sixteen hours of television a day helped a little. But even the Brady Bunch and The Dukes of Hazard can get boring after a while. Just like this post…

Here is a beautiful picture that perfectly illustrates the topic of my post.

Here is a beautiful picture that perfectly illustrates the topic of my post.

Now…Well, MY GOD.

I had my son yesterday. I went to sleep, and he is approaching his fourth birthday. Some of that is because my husband and I mentally block out a lot of the anxiety we had around his medical issues and surgeries. But even when I think about my previous employer, I CANNOT BELIEVE that I was there for over 12 years. (Especially because I didn’t really enjoy it, always wanted to do something more creative, and told myself if I was still there after 5 years, someone should shoot me. And now history repeats itself. I am always trying to do the responsible thing. I never learn. Enough of my whining…) I can’t even fathom how many books I added into their computer system. One that has now been powered down for good. I once calculated that in the year 2007, I allocated 15 million units of calendars as part of a three person team. (Yes, that is straight off my resume.)

I get up now, I rush through my day, doing everything as quickly as I can, sometimes accurately and efficiently, usually not. At the end of the day, I realize that it is actually Friday. I lost the whole week. I am so tired that I go to sleep. I get up, eat breakfast, and somehow it is Sunday night already. I have to turn around and do it all again. My life is racing by me. I don’t have one second to sit down and appreciate anything.

I am afraid tomorrow that I might wake up dead. I am not kidding. People in my family do not have a very good shelf life. Sure, my mom survived terminal cancer, but she has the longevity of the Eatons making up half her genes. They only make up a quarter of mine.

I just need to hurry, to finish as much as I can before I expire like a bottle of Diet Rite at a gas station.* But, the more that I hurry, the more behind I get, the faster time flies. I just wish a had a stop watch, so that I could pause everything so that I could enjoy what I have while I have it. And I need to book that trip to Las Vegas, and Hawaii.  Because someday, I will not be here to do it.

* No one buys Diet Rite, and all diet pop has a shorter shelf life to begin with because of the artificial sweeteners.

What I Learned This Week – 10/19/14

Yesterday I attended ConTroll YA Under the Bridge, a Young Adult Literacy Conference.  The best thing about it?

It was held in ADRIAN!  Where I live!  Nothing cool ever comes to Adrian.

I was sooo happy that I didn’t have to drive to Ann Arbor or Toledo, or even Detroit to attend such an event.

Some sweet stuff I picked up at ConTroll YA

Some sweet stuff I picked up at ConTroll YA

The worst thing about it?

THE NAME.

“Con” apparently stands for conference.  The “Troll” and “Under The Bridge” parts apparently just have to do with that we are in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, hence, UNDER the Mackinac Bridge.  But, that is like 300 miles away.

Still confused?  It was a conference that brought eight Young Adult authors, both contemporary and fantasy, to the Adrian Public Library for panel discussions, a workshop, and a book signing.

This was the first year for this event.  It was evident, but everything seemed to run smoothly and I learned a lot.

I was kind of bummed that what was touted as a “Writing Workshop” turned out to be more of a workshop on traditional publishing.  This would have been very informative for my asbestos friend, who wishes to take that route.  Unfortunately, she did not attend.  I would have preferred a workshop on the actual writing process, or self publishing.  I learned about traditional publishing from the Ann Arbor District Library Emerging Writers Workshops that I attended, and from the 12 years I worked at the Borders corporate office.  Granted, Borders mostly taught me about the end of the writing process, where your book is published, reviewed by buyers, ordered, allocated, replenished, marked Out of Print, and returned.  That past knowledge was enough to convince me that traditional publishing is not for me.  And the information I received yesterday strengthened that fact.

There was one self published author there yesterday, Eric Priuska author of “The Fireball Rebellion”.  He offered up that he loved all the control he had with self publishing, but that the downfalls are that you have to do absolutely EVERYTHING yourself.  Ya, I kinda figured that.

Great tips from ConTroll YA:

- An outline should act as your story’s GPS, and that it is more important to know what your plot points will FEEL like, more so than what actually might happen.

- All writers are narcissistic to believe other people will want to read what you created, and also an insecure mess.

- To market your book, you must be PRESENT, as in you can’t be obnoxious, but you also cannot be a wallflower.

- You have to keep real yourself, and your author self separate.

- An agent only gets paid when they get you a publishing deal.  Don’t pay one out of your pocket.

- Don’t let in people who are not going to be supportive of your writing.  (Guess who?)

- Every scene should have conflict & every scene should be moving the story forward.

- For every character, you should build a history, then know what they want and what they are willing to do to get it.

Every change I thought up to make to my novel while I was at the conference, I had talked myself out of again by the time I got home.

For the first year, I think it went great.  I would definitely go back again next year.  The room wasn’t full, but there were enough people that with two entries, I couldn’t win a door prize.  And, as I sat in the seats listening to the authors in their panel discussions, I dreamed that maybe I would be up there next year discussing my YA book I am working on, The Wind Could Blow a Bug.

Books of the Authors who participated.  Thanks!

Books of the Authors who participated. Thanks!

Below are the authors who participated.  I have added the links to their home pages as well.  Please support them.  I did.

K.A. Barson – 45 Pounds (More or Less)

Eric Priuska – The Fireball Rebellion

Kate Bassett – Words & Their Meanings

Bethany Neal – My Last Kiss

Aimee Carter – The Goddess Test

Courtney Allison Moulton – Angelfire

Leah Cliffored – A Touch Mortal

Scott Tracey – Witch Eyes

I also learned this week that Jack Link’s Sweet & Hot Jerky and Planters Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Almonds are a great compliment to one another.

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