I could have died waiting.   

In habits, Life Essays, quirks, writing on January 26, 2015 at 6:59 am

There were two things I remember wanting so badly I thought I would die when I was a little girl. The first was in the fifth grade. I wanted a tape recorder. I had to have it in order to tape the music from each week’s episode of The Partridge Family. And I got it, for Christmas. No it wasn’t the best way to get music, but I was ten okay, and yes in the background you could hear my little brother making car noises and the sound of my mother vacuuming, but I didn’t care, I could record music.

A year later my sixth grade class had a two week typing mini course, it was followed by two weeks of Gregg shorthand. I wanted to type so badly I could die. I loved books, I loved to read, but I took most of my allowance to the student store to buy pencils and pads to write on. Typing became an obsession with me. We didn’t have a typewriter at home, but I practiced on a cardboard keyboard the school had provided. I told everyone I knew I was learning to type, and when Rosalie, our neighbor across the street found out, she offered to loan me her portable typewriter to use for practice. I typed all of my homework, stories from books, pages from the dictionary. I was painfully slow, but I didn’t care. When I was watching television, or sitting in the car listening to my parents talk, I would ‘type’ whatever was being said on my lap, on the carpet, or the back of the car seat. I still do this, usually on my leg or with my hands in my pockets… sometimes on Hunky Hubby’s leg or arm, I don’t mean to do it, it’s become a habit, one of my charming little quirks.WP_20150124_14_11_12_Pro

Anyway, it was 1973 and I was eleven. I wanted a typewriter more than I wanted to meet Bobby Sherman (who I was sure would wait for me and marry me someday when I grew up). It was after Christmas, months until my birthday and I knew I would die if I didn’t get a typewriter. I know I was a weird kid, but hey back then a tablet was, well… a pad of paper and you wrote on it with pencils or ink pens, so a typewriter was cool. Okay, it probably wasn’t cool even then, but we had no sidewalks for skateboarding, and my parents didn’t think girls should play the drums.

I knew it would take me forever to save enough for a typewriter with my allowance of 50 cents a week, but I started saving anyway. About that time a babysitting job fell in my lap. It was my first regular job, babysitting after school every day. I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to play!

So I saved every dollar I earned. This was easier back then. I lived in a small town with no stores, no fast food restaurants, we didn’t have eBay or Etsy so I stuffed my money in my little pink jewelry box with the dancing ballerina and watched it grow. When the lid would no longer shut on my jewelry box I took it downstairs to my mother who was sitting on our gold crushed velvet sofa, which rested on the avocado green carpet, that matched the avocado green flocked gold wallpaper in the dining room, are you sensing a theme here? And, I asked to go shopping. We went to Sears. I bought an avocado green Sears Newport. I think I paid sixty dollars for it, but who knows, I mean I was eleven at the time, how do you expect me to remember what I paid for a typewriter.

I typed every story, poem, report and speech that I wrote through middle school and high school on that typewriter. I have no idea when I got rid of it, or how. Perhaps it was at a garage sale when we moved my senior year of high school. It could have been when I saved enough money to buy that brand new electric typewriter with automatic correction. And although I’ve thought of it fleetingly over the years, when I got my Olivetti typewriter with the daisy wheel and five hundred character memory, and a couple of years later when I got my first computer a 286 that the salesman assured me I’d never need to replace, I’ve always thought of it fondly.

So the point of my story is that although today I have a PC, laptop and a tablet, not the kind that’s an actual pad filled with paper, the kind that uses Wi-Fi, I missed my old typewriter. I wanted to feel the excitement I felt transcribing my handwriting from those notepads onto that first manual typewriter, how real it made the words on paper feel. Every now and then I search the internet to see if I can find it, or at least one like it. Last week I struck gold. There were two listed on one well known site for $165 and$250 dollars, and I was ready to pony up. I couldn’t believe I’d found an avocado green Sears Newport typewriter. Hunky Hubby even agreed it could be my Valentine gift. But before I clicked add to cart, I checked another site just for the heck of it, and found my typewriter for $15.99 plus shipping of course, in the last hours of the auction. In all there were three of them on the second site, all avocado green under $50 and two of the auctions were ready to end. There were no bids on any of them, which surprised me, because who wouldn’t want a vintage early 1970’s avocado green typewriter, right? I waited patiently until just before the auction was over, swooped in and placed my bid, and won my typewriter for $15.99 (plus shipping of course).

I’ve saved money patiently, and impatiently for many things over the years, but that typewriter is the first thing I wanted so badly I thought I would die waiting to get it. I could write without it, and did, but with it my writing felt real.

It was delivered on Saturday. Right now it’s sitting on my dining table. It blends in pretty well with my sage green and cream décor. Every time I walk by it, it makes me smile. It also reminds me to put my behind in a chair and write, because that’s obviously what I’ve always wanted to do.

Do you remember the first thing you wanted so badly you were willing to save every dollar for? That you had to have it? How old were you? Do you still have it now? I’d love to hear your stories…WP_20150124_14_23_56_Pro

Just a note, if you click on Bobby Sherman’s name you can see photos and listen to the music I listened to in the 1970’s. I’ll be doing this all day today!

Words on Wednesday- When the Words Won’t Come

In books, writing on February 12, 2014 at 8:58 am

Today’s post was inspired by a question asked on the facebook page of O.C. Writers. Yesterday, Ryan Stansifer asked the group, “When the rest of your life has drained you so badly the mere thought of writing is exhausting, what do you do to get those word counts done?”

It’s a simple question, but I had to seriously think about it. Not being able to get words on paper isn’t usually a problem for me, but as I told you a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been separated from my manuscript for so long, that I’ve had trouble getting back in touch with my characters.

Some writer’s take a break from their manuscript, and when you have been living in your book for too long, a break from your work can give you a fresh perspective. I’ve done this before, but this time…..a break is what caused the problem.

Writer’s with a deadline (or very disciplined writers) often force themselves to put their butt in their chair and put down a certain number of words. This is a great technique, sometimes it results in pages of ‘junk’, but even that can get you back in the flow, and you can always go back and cut or edit what you don’t like later.

One writer suggested working on a new project, a short story to get your creative juices flowing again and give you the satisfaction of completing something. I haven’t tried this technique yet, I never let myself stray from the project I’m on until it’s completed. I’m always afraid I won’t come back to finish. This could be the best advice for me, just because I’ve resisted it. You guys will make sure I finish my current novel if I go this way won’t you?

What I usually do, and this was the advice I shared with O.C. Writers, is read a good book. Preferably, one written by an author that I know personally. A good book always inspires me and makes me want to write. When it’s someone I know, it makes the possibility of having my own book published more real, more attainable, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have met some inspiring writers and have some great mentors on this journey.

But there is one thing I haven’t done, that just makes sense. I haven’t read my own manuscript through from cover to cover like a reader. I

thought this would be the first thing I did when I got back to work on my book, but the minute I picked up the manuscript I started line editing. Not my intent, but my reflex, I had to edit.

So, my goal today and tomorrow is to read my manuscript like a reader, not a writer. I’m going to download it to my kindle, so that I’m not tempted to edit, and read what I’ve written from cover to cover. I’ll let you know next Wednesday how this worked out.

Thank you Ryan Stansifer for asking the question, and O.C. Writers for all of the inspiration.


What do you do when you need a gentle push….or swift kick….to get yourself back on track?

Words on Wednesday-Hunky Hubby & Tari’s Excellent (but Soggy) Adventure

In Life Essays, quirks, writing on February 5, 2014 at 7:37 am

“It Never Rains in Southern California…it pours, man it pours.” Albert Hammond


On Sunday there was a torrential downpour here in Los Angeles. No I don’t mean a wimpy little California sprinkle. I mean a heavy rain, the kind that floods roads and causes landslides (it’s true, part of California on the little peninsula we live on slipped into the ocean on Sunday!) yep, a real winter rainstorm. But I wanted to go to the Los Angeles Romance Authors Chapter of RWA’s monthly meeting to hear Jennifer Miller, a.k.a. Jennifer Haymore of the not just your typical author pseudonym split personality, but editor/author split personality…speak. Now, as I said, I live on a peninsula on the farthest south side of Los Angeles, and LARARWA meets in ‘like ya know’ The Valley. Which you may or may not know is north of Los Angeles.

So, my hunky husband, Paul doesn’t even hesitate, just says “Let’s go!” and ushers me to the car. The rain starts out as a ‘wimpy little California sprinkle,’ but as we hit the 110 Freeway, just minutes from our house it grows heavy…and everyone knows that we California drivers (hunky husband excluded) don’t know how to drive in the rain. Additionally, anyone who knows me well, okay who knows me for even a few minutes, is likely to know that not only am I a defensive (read paranoid) driver, but I also am a defensive (still read paranoid) passenger, and I’m not fun to be with in a car…not on surface streets, worse on the freeway, and even worse on a freeway driving through Los Angeles in a TORRENTIAL DOWNPOUR. Did I mention it was raining heavily?

Since we haven’t gotten very far yet I tell my wonderful hunky hubby, who is willing to risk life and limb, not to mention 45+ minutes in a car in a Torrential Downpour (really, I’m not exaggerating a bit) on the 110 Freeway with his slightly (read massively) paranoid wife, just to get me to a romance writer’s meeting…hmm, I forget what I was saying…oh yeah! I tell my hunky husband, “Maybe we should just turn around, go home and curl up on the sofa and watch old movies.”

“Not a chance,” he says in his deepest, ‘trust me, I’m a man’ voice. And so we continue to Studio City…where as we arrive at our destination in the Torrential Downpour (I know, but really it was…it made the news!) the car starts giving us trouble. We park the car to attend the meeting, hoping the rain will let up by the time the meeting is over…and my loving, supportive and of course hunky hubby sits through the entire meeting with me.

Luckily, Jennifer Miller a.k.a. Jennifer Haymore was fabulous. The topic was deep editing, something I’m heavily into right now, and I can’t tell you how much I learned on Sunday…well, I would, but I’ve spent so much time writing about the trip there that I’ll have to tell you more about deep editing next week. I will tell you that it was more than worth every minute of the trip. I can say that, now that I’m safely home sitting at my computer!

So we leave the meeting, the one I’ll tell you about next week, and the car starts up fine. The Torrential Downpour has yet to let up, and we decide to drive a little way down Ventura Boulevard to see how it will run. It doesn’t get too far before it starts acting up again, so we pull into the parking lot of the World Famous Carney’s Restaurant, and if they weren’t world famous before I’m sure they will be now, because I just blogged about them. Did I mention they’re in a train? So, I suggest we call AAA. After all, that’s why we pay for the card every year and pay extra so that they will tow us all the way from Studio City to San Pedro…which is currently falling into the ocean…. But, of course, my hunky husband says, “No. Let’s have some lunch and if the rain slows down, I’ll take a look under the hood.”

Now, hunky hubby really is an ace mechanic, but we aren’t in his garage. We are in The Valley during a Torrential Downpour (I’m not kidding, Torrential Downpour just like in a story!) and I am now not only massively paranoid (read certifiably paranoid), but I’m hungry, so I simply say, “Okay.”

After a burger, chili fries and soda…look, I know they’re famous for their hot dogs, but I wanted a burger…it is still raining heavily (Torrential Downpour I’m telling you) but hunky hubby still vetos AAA. So we spend a little time shopping in the nearby strip mall. An hour or so and a couple of credit card transactions later, the Torrential Downpour decides to let up, momentarily. The car starts and runs fine, so hunky hubby decides to try driving home. Paranoid wife, much to hunky hubby’s dismay, refuses to be on the freeway in Los Angeles in a potential Torrential Downpour in a car that isn’t running properly, so hunky hubby sucks it up and takes surface streets home…from The Valley all the way to San Pedro…which is still sliding into the ocean!

We don’t get far before the car starts acting up again, which hunky hubby maintains is due to driving too slowly on surface streets…and of course the Torrential Downpour returns. As we get closer to home…and out of some ‘not so nice’ areas of Los Angeles, we decide to give the car a break and stop at a grocery store to buy Thanksgiving groceries, because clearly I won’t be driving anywhere to shop after this. I start to fill my cart with groceries and the power goes out in the store. We continue shopping, and just as a store employee approaches us to tell us that we must leave the warm dry store, the power is restored. Phew! We finish the shopping, but the car still isn’t running right. Imagine that. But of course, we are nearly home now, so AAA just isn’t going to happen.

Wait, what does this have to do with writing? Oh, yeah, I went to the wonderful LARARWA meeting and heard the very entertaining and truly informative speaker Jennifer Miller a.k.a Jennifer Haymore, who you really deserve to hear about but will now have to wait until next week. Really, I promise to share some of her tips on deep editing.

(This column was previously published at Fact to Fiction, but it’s one of my favorite posts, so I thought I’d share it here as well. Coincidentally, Jennifer Haymore will be speaking again at LARA February 16th. I think I need to go…..as long as there is no rain in the forecast!)


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