The Happiest Place on Earth is NOT Disneyland

So.

This post is going to be a little more personal than usual but it eventually will end up about writing. Long story short, there’s been several deaths in the family, several births, very large and painful secrets divulged, there’s been separations and divorces, my husband lost his job and I had to find one after 10 years of not working.

It’s not a complaint-fest I swear! It’s a bit of a story actually. Surprise, surprise 😉

When my husband lost his job it was right around the same time I was looking for my own employment. His employer hadn’t been paying the workers on time and that sent up a huge red flag that something was going down. The kids were older and I knew we all could handle me getting a part-time job now. Plus, it was going to be necessary.

So I went online and did the whole “job recruiter” thing. I sent out half a dozen applications a day and waited anxiously. Target called me right away for an interview and I was excited. Not to work there but about being called back. This was easy! I trotted myself down there and waited on a bench with two other beefy guys. Haaaaa…

I did everything wrong apparently. I wore jeans to the interview for one. I was so far out of the game I didn’t realize that was taboo. I was a mom for Christ sake, looking for a stocking job! Who needed to be fancy?! I was too honest in my interview and said the wrong kinds of things. Like, “What is one quality your employer would say you need to work on?” and I replied with “Speed. I’m a perfectionist so I go slow and do things right.”

*FACE PALM*

They trap you with those questions, I swear! What is the LEAST BAD thing you can say about yourself that won’t impact your job performance? Seriously. And being a perfectionist isn’t bad! Ugghhh. Needless to say I didn’t get called back. I’ve been much less inclined to shop there suddenly. Hmm. Back to the apps.

Now, I don’t know how it is for you lovely people out there in WordPress Land but there has always been a job or two that I’ve ALWAYS wanted. I don’t aim high for employment so it’s not like I wanted to be a CEO or anything. I’m perfectly happy working in retail (a rare trait, might I add.) One of those jobs I had before I got pregnant with my first daughter. I wanted to work at a craft store. Michael’s hired me and I stayed there until a week before my kid was born. I was never able to go back since I got pregnant again right after my first was born. But I got to live one of my “dream” jobs!

It was wonderful! I helped kids with their art projects and I helped a young couple memorialize their deceased babies in a beautiful ceremony with reminder bracelets. I knew alllll the tips and tricks for the artsy things and I could whip out a full custom frame job in an hour if need be. I felt energized by helping people and my bubbly personality made their shopping experience better. No grumpy employee here! It was a mutualistic happy relationship I had with Michael’s. 

I did apply there first, actually. My mom works there now and my cousin worked there for many years off and on. I knew the managers by name and many of the employees knew ME because I practically lived there, shopping for one crafty project or another. It would still be a good job for me and I knew I would benefit the company.

However.

There was one “Unicorn Job” I’ve wanted since I was 18. I applied every year and always seemed to just miss the cut off. I was there almost every day of the summer in middle and high school. It was my salvation away from an abusive step father.

Can you guess that it might be? If one half of me is crafts, then the other half iiiiisssssss……??????

C’mon you can guess! I made a blog specifically for this kind of thing!

Nothing? Not a clue?

Alright, fine. I’ll tell you.

My unicorn job is Barnes and Nobles. It was and is MY happiest Place on Earth. Screw you Disneyland with your long lines and screaming kids. *shudder*

Yep! All those lovely dead trees printed with stories and facts and information. MMMM!!!!!! I knew I would be a good fit in there too if I could just get my foot in the door. I am well-read and I’m a pleasant and helpful soul. So once more, with a hope and a prayer, I tried one last time. I filled out the application and sent it in. Then I waited three agonizing days before taking my mama’s advice and going there to show my face. She always said it was better to go and let your physical presence be known to potential employers. It showed initiative.

Well. I was terrified. My interview went so badly with Target I got tongue-tied when I saw the store manager. My mind went blank. This was my unicorn job! I had to keep it together! I fumbled my way through introductions and could barely spit out what I came to ask. I was shaking and near tears. I was a mess.

She took pity on me, thankfully. I think my trembling chihuahua bit softened her and she arranged to have me contact her assistant manager to set up an interview. I walked out of the store, zombie-like, and stood by my car, in shock.

Did…did that just happen? Was that my foot going into the proverbial door of my dream job? OMG. OMG! I threw my arms up and screamed “YES!”

Well, I’m happy to inform you I am the newest part-time employee at Barnes and Nobles. YES! I did it! I didn’t get the book seller position I wanted BUT I got something much better suited for me. I joined the work force, which is basically stocking shelves and organizing, my two favorite things to do to books besides read them. I get to see all the newest titles pass through my hands and glean information here and there about what publishers are pushing out these days. My Good Reads account is slowly starting to fill up.

I did it. I can hardly believe it. I got my Unicorn job! I’m very slow, which is bad but that’ll improve with time. The holiday season is right around the corner and I need to be fully cognizant of the shelves before the crazy season begins. I adore all my co workers, who are welcoming and generous with me and my incessant questions. My managers are equal parts firm and funny. It is literally, everything I wanted.

I’m humbled working there too. I’m only a month in but so many things have been brought to my attention that I know I need to work on. For one thing, I have a poor diet of books in my library. Or rather, a very fantasy rich diet. Trying to recommend my personal selection of books to guests makes me feel like a toddler handing the “Good Night Moon” book to an adult. I need to get some meaty selections on my shelves! Some current events or some mysteries at least. I have all of my mother’s Lee Child books and picked up nary a one to read. So I’ll be working on that. 30% employee discount might help 😀

Another thing that has humbled me is looking at all the successful authors that have made it to the shelves. There are hundreds of thousands of authors at BnN. They’re the ones that have done the hard work and bled all over their manuscripts to make their dream come true. They WANTED it. They didn’t give up. What kind of writer am I to stop when the going gets tough? A punk ass one, that what.

I know that paper books are somewhat of a dying market. E-books are convenient, cheaper, environmentally friendly blah blah blah….I still don’t own a nook or a kindle or whatever. But I have a job at a book store. And I want to be traditionally published. I can only feel that me getting the job at Barnes and Nobles is a step in the right direction. I get up front information about what kind of genre and books each publisher is looking for. I can jump on trends and I can find endless inspiration on the shelves.

I am a blessed person. For all the shit I’ve been going through since the beginning of the year, I’m grateful I can still find blessings and my eyes are still opened to them. I’m excited for this new chapter in my life, even if juggling everything has been difficult. I’ve dropped a few balls but they’ll be in the air again. Once such ball has been my blog. I’ll be getting back into it again. I need to.

I’ve managed to manifest my dream retail job into my life so I can do the same with my truest and biggest dream as well.

I WILL be published. I WILL!

Take care everyone. Don’t give up. Find the blessings ❤

Conquering biblio-phobia, one afflicted at a time

(Image is Maka Albarn and Soul from the anime “Soul Eater”)

“I blame you, you know.”

This statement was directed at me three times this week from three different people. (When it rains, it pours, no?)

“Oh lovely. What for?” I ask with trepidation.

In a fraction of a second I’d listed ten possibilities for deserving blame. What a guilty and skittish conscience I possessed!

“I didn’t like reading before you. Now I can’t walk into book stores with money or I become the proud owner of section four.”

*Blink Blink* “Oh.”

HA.

HAHAHAHAHAHA! Double HA! <–this is the sound of my soul laughing gleefully and with much sadistic pleasure. Truly, is there any greater blame to shoulder than that of “forcing” books on people? I’m happy to be guilty of this. It’s shaped my life really. My mother read to me every night before bed when I was a kid and she was always reading herself.  Then I entered school and had the pleasure of choosing my OWN books from the library. Wonder of wonders! It took off from there. Words became my life.

I was the weird kid that wanted to go to the library instead of the park when we had a choice. I was only allowed to take out three books of one subject at the time, which was fair for most people. Three books in three weeks. HA. More like three books in two days. Mom started having to check out extras for me to last me the week until we could go back. Finally the librarians threw up their hands and let me get as many as I wanted. I was on a first name basis with everyone.

My sister was not this kind of person and it was through her I saw the other side of things. She was an action person. If she had a choice she would Energizer Bunny her way through everyday, eating on the go, sleeping on the go, going on the go… She had no patience or time for books. She got frustrated with the words she couldn’t pronounce and couldn’t understand and she was embarrassed to read aloud. She grew to hate it. When there were books as required reading for school she would have to seek out the large print editions to help her focus better and mom would have to sit for a grueling hour to get through one chapter. It was the most difficult task to sit, read and absorb. I felt sometimes she was Golem from Lord of the Rings:

“We will reads the books, but we HATESSS ITTTT!”

Complete with hissing and spitting.

Such an alien concept for me. She lived for reality and I lived for my imagination. Once my sister was out of school and she was free of books she ran away and didn’t look back for many, many years. Meanwhile, I was filling my shelves with paper goodness and plowing through my first writing endeavors.

She was one of the people who laid blame squarely on my shoulders this week for turning her into a book eater. She found a book at one of my library sales and she liked it so much she got the second one. And then the third. My sister willingly BOUGHT a book. With her own money. And then, be still my heart, she asked me for recommendations.

Yep.

*blink blink* Wha….?

I think I marked the day on my calendar. August something or other two years ago. (It was also the day my radiator cracked. It was a yin/yang day.)

The other two victims were no less shocking to me although in different ways.

One was my long time friend from middle school. She was much like my sister; always go go go! She wasn’t as averse to books as my sis but she found most of them boring and predictable. If she was going to read something cover to cover, it had to be something beautiful and challenging, like Shakespeare or John Milton. She aced book reports and read perfectly outloud but there were much more interesting things to do for her. She teased me, ever the book worm, for always having my nose in a book.

We parted ways for a long time, going to different High Schools and then life taking us to different cities. When we reconnected later though, well into our adult years but still ‘forever’ friends. (One of those friends that, no matter how long you go without seeing, will always feel like no time has passed at all when you see each other again.) We set a date to meet up for dinner and drinks and after the shock of seeing each other fatter and wiser, we got to talking. As per usual with me, books had to slip into the conversation.

“That reminds me, ” she said. “While we’re here I need to try to find the last book in a series I’ve been reading. They don’t have it in the store near my place.”

*Blink* “Really?!”

I felt my ears grew like a cartoon character’s, engulfing our booth with their keen awareness of the words “Need Last Book”. MY friend. My PICKY book friend wanted a book. Joy of joys! I threw down my napkin and asked for the check. We did indeed find that book for her and we both left feeling satisfied. When she returned years later (under less auspicious circumstances) her visits became a regular occurrence at my house and she snorted at my “hoarding”. By this time I had three tall shelves double stacked with books and a pile waist-high on the floor, also double stacked. (Shhhh.)

Well. One thing led to another and soon her tote bag was heavy with inked dead trees full of awesome. I couldn’t help smirking. Two for two. We didn’t have the same tastes and that’s okay. I was at about a 50% approval rating from her but she managed to find her own interests amongst my shelves. Still a win. I deserved that smirk of triumph, dammit!

Last to lay blame was an unexpected person. He’s a very mature and learned guy. Well-traveled thanks to being in a military family, an Online School honor student most of his life, knowledgeable and healthy and active. He seemed to have the whole package from my point of view. But he had a fatal flaw. Yes, you can probably guess.

He was book poor. Owen, my darling, I love you but you’re on this list.

*GASSSPPPP!*

I KNOW! How does such a smart guy become this way?! His reasoning was entirely different from the other two afflicted and probably baffled me the most. His reluctance for literature was more that “he chose bad books.”

*Blink blink* HOW THE FU**——?!

AHEM.

I am ever a student of life. This was news to me.

Yes, he somehow managed to choose the exact wrong books for himself. Frugal to begin with, the thought of spending money had to be a careful decision for him. Then insert the millions of titles out there to peruse and no wonder my poor friend felt like hiding under a rock! And then finally to have the bad luck to choose novels that let him down…

Well. As a connoisseur of fiction, I offered to him the gentle hand of friendship and made him a list of my most favorite books. This seemed an acceptable form of research for him. He could do his own contemplation on them via the interwebz and decide for himself if it was something he wanted to buy in his own time. To further ease his anxiety about spending money on books I recommended he first try Second Hand stores. They were about half the price or cheaper for books at a chain store and there was less pressure from the sales people to make a purchase or push their recommendations on him. It was endless books and peacefulness with the smell of dust and old paper in your nose.

HEAVEN.

Much to our mutual delight, the first trilogy on the list was a success. I rejoiced with him for weeks as he delved in and grew more interested. We talked and laughed and shared quotes back and forth. It was a beautiful feeling. Not only did I have a new person to talk about my favorite books with but he now had a positive experience with a book! THREE of them!

It didn’t stop there, much to my delight. My second and third titles also caught his interest and he began to actively pursue acquiring them in preparation for reading. After this happened, he then had the confidence to purchase, of his own accord, an entirely new series I had not even heard of. He purchased them on Amazon and they came to him in the mail. He thus got to experience the agony of waiting and the mini Christmas celebration of getting packages in the mail.

~Deck the halls with books and shelves, Muahahahaha hahahahaaaaaaa…~

I’m 3/3 curing these beloved afflicted of their Biblio-phobia and I could not be prouder of us. There’s a great joy in sharing interests with people who are receptive to them. You create a rapport and a new thread of trust is formed, adding to the rope already connecting you.

I don’t mind giving myself a pat on the back for this. My purpose on this earth is to inspire and create. They are a living manifestation of my dream.

*PAT PAT*

To hopefully further this dream, I’m going to include a brief list of the books I have recommended to my family and friends that we’ve mutually enjoyed. These recommendations are  mostly fantasy based with some sci-fi and romance thrown in. Big thanks to Goodreads for providing summaries for these 😉

“Sabriel” , “Lirael”, “Abhorsen” (The Abhorsen Trilogy)–Garth Nix

“The Belgariad”–composed of 5 books–“Pawn of Prophecy”, “Queen of Prophecy” “Magicians Gambit”, “Castle of Wizardry”, “Enchanter’s Endgame“–David Eddings

“Daughter of the Forest”, “Son of the Shadows”, “Child of the Prophecy” (The Sevenwaters Trilogy)–Juliet Marillier

“Iron King”, “Iron Daughter”, “Iron Queen”, “Iron Knight” (The Iron Fey Series)–Julie Kagawa

“The Unexpected Dragon”–Mary Brown

“The Wee Free Men” (Discworld #30)–Terry Pratchett (READ ANY AND ALL OF HIS BOOKS!)

“Archangel”, “Jovah’s Angel”, “The Alleluia Files”“Angelica”, “Angel Seeker” (The Samaria Series)–Sharon Shinn

“Neverwhere”–Neil Gaiman

“Men in Kilts”–Katie MacAlister

“The Devil Wears Prada”— Lauren Weisberger

“Eat, Pray, Love” –Elizabeth Gilbert

“In her Shoes”–Jennifer Weiner

Wanted: replacement for screaming banshee Editor in my head

I can’t enjoy books anymore.

I know. That’s a shocking statement coming from a bibliophile, especially from an author who WANTS to write books. And I should say that’s not entirely true. I CAN enjoy books…as long as they’re not bad.

HA.

Okay, so I’ve said before that I’ve been writing stories since I was like, 4 and reading since before that and one never really interfered in a negative way with the other. In fact, it improved my writing to read and I read a LOT. I wish I could go back to that lovely innocence. The pure white of an unabashed child who loved books simply to enjoy them. But see, I decided to go down the rabbit hole of “professional” writing and the darkness has tainted me. It grew in my head a tumor-like voice that whispers doubt and looks disapprovingly over my shoulder as I hunt and peck my way through my novel. You all know of whom I speak.

That red-headed banshee of an Editor that screeches about deadlines and bad character development and unrealistic dialogue. The one that, in times of no writing, will still murmur in your ear that the scene you wrote is too long and you know you need to edit it right NOW. That adding another side character was a bad idea and to kill him as soon as possible.

Well I’ve grown used to these seductive nay-saying mutterings. I’ve learned that plowing through a paragraph or a chapter regardless of the voice is much like Novocaine for the banshee Editor: it numbs her so she can’t speak. It makes me deaf and cold all over so I can’t be distracted except maybe by spelling errors or badly worded sentences. Wonder or wonders I thought I’d beaten her!

BUAAAHAHAHAHHA—

NOPE.

She came at me from left field, sneaky like a fox stalking a helpless bunny. Clever minx. She followed me to my den of sanctuary where I can turn off my writing brain and switch on my reading brain. I pick up a book at random and start to read….and like a fly landing on my arm, I feel a tickle. I wiggle my elbow to brush it off and it goes away. read a few more lines. And it comes back, now more like a beetle. More noticeable and equally as annoying. This continues all the way until chapter two until I feel the pressure of an imminent scream coming on and I cringe in anticipation. And then, like word vomit, it comes out in a stream of negativity from my lips:

WHAT IS THIS PIECE OF CRAP? YOU CALL THIS A “STRONG” HEROINE?! ALL SHE DOES IS TALK ABOUT THIS NEW HOT GUY SHE JUST MET AND IS SPILLING HER GUTS OUT TO. OH YES, THERE IT IS….HE’S HER SOULMATE. AND WAIT! WHERE’S THE THIRD POINT FOR THE LOVE TRIANGLE? AHHHH….HERE HE IS. POOR CHAP HAS NO CHANCE AGAINST THAT BADLY WORDED SAPPY DIALOGUE. lET’S SEE, THAT ENTIRE CHAPTER WAS USELESS AND DIDN’T DRIVE THE PLOT FORWARD AT ALL AND THAT PERSON IS ENTIRELY TOO PERFECT. WHERE’S HIS FLAWS? MY GAWD I HOPE JESSICA DOESN’T WRITE DRIVEL LIKE THIS OR SHE’LL NEVER HEAR THE END OF IT FROM ME…

oh. my. god.

I can’t even enjoy books for fun now! I’ve heard of the writer/reader brain developing, where one can’t help but edit novels silently in their head. But I never expected this violent outpouring of criticism >_< This happened to me three books in a row. I grappled to say something good about them to redeem a smidgen of my soul. All I got was:

“At least he portrayed a spoiled 15-year-old girl accurately; crying, whining, bitching and all.” 

Or something to that effect. One MEASLY little bone for a 300 page book someone toiled and cried and sweat over. And all I can think of was HOW DID THIS GET PUBLISHED? I’m at the point now where I live in fear of reading any book, even the ones I liked previously like The Abhorsen trilogy and Percy Jackson. I’m scared the red-headed screaming banshee will taint my beloved books and the tumor in my head will grow into cancer.

Please, someone, tells me this gets better!  If I don’t have books I’ll go insane in the membrane.