Archive for July 2009

NaBloPoMo ends...woo!

There's been a discussion over on Darcsfalcon's blog which started about leaving behind toxic family members, and then morphed into personal boundaries and expectations. Last night I was all gung-ho about continuing the discussion here on my blog, but the moment has passed. I'm not feeling particularly analytical or reflective today, but if you're interested in these topics, go on over to Fal's place and add your two cents.

So today is the last day of NaBloPoMo in the month of July. It was an interesting exercise, and I'm absolutely amazed that I managed to come up with something to talk about every day. Here are some interesting tidbits I've come away with.

  • It's funny how the little throw-away posts can garner the most discussion. I guess when I touch on a subject and throw it out there, it generates more thought than if I impose my ideas on my readers.

  • I simply don't have any interest in creating long, article-style posts. That's not what this blog is about, and it's not what my readers expect. I feel like those blogs are more legitimate than mine, but I don't know where I got that idea. The blog is not the only place I limit myself by arbitrary "shoulds", so hopefully I can take that lesson and apply it to other areas.

  • Posting 31 days in a row did little for my daily hit count. The same posts get all the search engine traffic, I don't think I picked up any new regulars, and my old regulars visited only slightly more often, as far as I can tell.

Those little tidbits add up to one thing: I can relax and have fun on my blog. Duh.

Thanks for hanging around for my experiment. Now I'm taking off the month of August!! Not really.
Friday, July 31, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy peace

Got to sleep in this morning, and it was nice. The kids are old enough to occupy themselves until I get up (though whether or not they choose to occupy themselves is another story) so if I need an extra hour I can usually get it. Usually I feel rushed the rest of the day, but today I feel like I'm floating on an ocean of good feeling, where worry and strife is waving from yonder shore. My dreams last night were normal; don't know why I feel so peaceful. Maybe it's because I've been delving into Buddhism more lately.

I guess I need to go to yet another town to find some scent-free items. Maybe I'll try K-Mart first, but if that doesn't pan out the next step is the big city, 40 miles away. It's also school clothes time, that's always fun. Well, that was sarcastic, but this time it might actually be fun, because DH got a little bonus at work. We might be able to buy things the kids like instead of whatever's left on the $3 rack.

Maybe that's what I'm feeling today. Monetary ease. I'm going to let the feeling sink in and carry it around with me forever.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

My favorite fragrance-free products

I've been in a lot of public places lately, which means a lot of fragrance exposure. I'd relaxed my defensive efforts--nose filters, mask, short excursions--because it seemed fragrance's hold was lifting. I have tight, burning eyes and sinus pressure regardless of whether I go out now, and my short trips to the store and the longer outing to my friend's place...Well, it seemed like those things weren't making the symptoms worse like it used to. I thought my body was recovering.

I still think it is, but I'm finding out that repeated exposure can still build up. I've left only a day between each exposure over the past week or two--library, casino, grocery store, school enrollment, pizza place--and it has sure been taking a toll. I need longer rest time in a neutral environment between each outing to allow my body to metabolize the toxin. It's such a relief to get back to my home, the most neutral environment I've found.

I've avoided making a list of fragrance-free products I use, because of laziness, yes, but also because until now I hadn't tried enough of them to settle on a list of favorites. These products work as well as the ones they replaced, and in some cases better.


  • Clorox Green Works Natural dishwashing liquid, Free & Clear. I love this stuff. I also put it diluted in pump bottles for hand washing.

  • Soapopular hand sanitizer is completely inoffensive

  • Simplicity Hypoallergenic Non-toxic automatic dishwasher sachets

  • Borax is an excellent grease cutter. Nothing better for getting grease off appliances.

  • Ammonia

  • Vinegar

  • Water. Seriously, do you need to use a chemical everytime you wipe the crumbs off the counter?

I have yet to find a suitable replacement for toilet bowl cleaner, so I just use ammonia or vinegar, whatever I'm in the mood for, but they don't really get rid of the water stains. I'm still looking. Be wary of trash bags, because they often have fragrance added.

Body-care products

  • Earth Science Fragrance Free Shampoo and Conditioner

  • Aveeno Active Naturals Skin Relief Body Wash, Fragrance Free (I prefer the store brand version of this, because it doesn't seem to have as much of an odor and it's cheaper, but this will be more easily found.)

  • Dove Sensitive Skin bar soap. Make sure it says "Fragrance Free" on the package and not merely "unscented."

  • Dove Sensitive Skin antiperspirant. Again, make sure it says "Fragrance Free" on the package. "Hypoallergenic" or "Unscented" doesn't always encompass it.

  • Almay makeup contains no fragrance ever, as far as I can tell.

  • Lubriderm Daily Moisture for me, and Suave Natural Oatmeal Moisturizer for DH

  • Olay Complete All-day Moisture Lotion, Sensitive Skin.

Be wary of any feminine hygiene products, because they do not have to list any added fragrance. I once bought a package of Carefree panty liners and was surprised with fragrance, so I avoid all their products, just in case.

Along my journey through the house listing all my products, I found a couple of scented products that sneaked past me. One was the Dove "unscented" soap, the other was my husband's hairspray, both of which don't list fragrance in the ingredients. I assume they list the actual chemical name of the fragrance, but the research to find out which one would be a couple of hours. And it doesn't matter, anyway, because they have to go. These could be the reason for my constant eye and sinus irritation, and also the reason for the decreased stamina outside of the house. I've put that soap on my face every single day for a couple of weeks.

Anyway, that's my list. Here's an interesting interview I tweeted yesterday about toxins in personal care products if you're interested in such things.

Update: So guess what? I didn't use the soap or a new antiperspirant, and I feel tons better. It's like night and day. I'm so happy I could scream. :)

Another update: I re-checked the packaging on the Dove soap, and it does say "fragrance free" on there. Guess it was just a red-herring after all. That's why this is such a stupid problem. It's possible something besides fragrance in the soap is irritating my eyes. I really need to make some more soap.

Enrollment day

No writing dreams last night. The themes seemed to be travel, freedom, and fun. Nice.

Today's enrollment day. It's such a huge milestone that I blog about it every year. It's interesting to look back over posts of years past to see where I was then. Every year I think I'm going to have more writing time.

My Busy Day
Okay, so I'm not much of a schmoozer

Watch out, I'm about to get prolific

Last year the noose did loosen a bit, since I had afternoons free. Too bad I was also going through the biggest writer's block of my entire life, so I didn't take full advantage of it. This year, as I said before, I'll have the entire day free. I also have my own vehicle now, which will help immensely when I need to freshen my mind.

I think I should get done enrolling fairly easily, since we have no new students this year. The noose loosens further.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Writing dreams

I've had lots of dreams about writing and books lately. In last night's, I was an established author. I met a handsome, dark-haired agent named Nick-something who asked me out and cried when I told him I was married. When I comforted him he started reading my mind, telling me things about my life I kept hidden.

Later in the same dream I had a young man showing me his work. He was clinging to me, looking for approval while showing false confidence, and the other published authors were watching with veiled interest. A quick glance through the manuscript revealed typos, misused words, bad formatting, and just a general mess. I said, "I'm going to be brutally honest with you. You won't thank me now, but you will in a couple of years." I told him that no one would take him seriously with all those mistakes in his book, and he needed to practice grammar and typing, learn the nuts and bolts before submitting anything. The boy put on a brave face, masking pain and tears, and started making excuses for why his manuscript was messy. My peers' veiled interest became veiled approval, and I returned to my seat, knowing I could do no more for the young man.

The other night I dreamed I was living the plot of a book. I got lots of good ideas. Too bad I can't remember any.

My mom had a dream I won an Oscar (presumably for an adaptation of one of my books) and my step-dad dreamed he went to my book signing.

Over the past month fully half of my dreams have had a book/writing/publishing theme. This happened about the same time last year, too. I wonder if it's a seasonal thing. Or maybe the dreams are preparing me for a future of fame. That's what I prefer to believe.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

I just thought you should know I'm crying right now

Sitting here watching Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. I never watch this show because it's WAY too emotional for me. I cry at the drop of a hat, so I'd rather just avoid extremely emotional shows. For some reason my strong and silent husband settled on Extreme Makeover instead of the usual sports show or documentary, so I've been crying off and on for almost an hour. I don't think I can finish it. Of course the strong and silent husband is sitting on the other couch eating pizza, dry-eyed.

Oh, crap, here I go again.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

I hope this counts

Oh, crap! Just remembered I didn't post this morning. I know you guys were waiting with bated breath for my post to pop up in your reader. I did write a post, but I deleted it.

So, let's see...What did I do today? Cleaned the car, inside and out; watched Watchmen ("Who's Watching the Watchmen?"); ate a dessert which my 10 year-old created from her little mind (puff pastry squares with canned strawberry frosting)...All in all, a good day. Tired now, ready to relax, and I guess that's what I'll do.

This post counts as a post, doesn't it?
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Back-to-school = freedom

Well, folks, the beginning of our school season is less than a month away. I will enroll the children in four days, and then it's school supply madness, along with a frantic search for clothes from last year which still fit, and much disappointment when there are none. Then we'll go into (more) debt buying clothes, which I could have bought at the end of the season last year, but thank goodness I didn't, because all three children became giants over the summer and nothing would have fit anyway.

This year, all three children will be in school all day. What does this mean? It means I can try writing full-time. I can take the kids to school (or put them on the bus an hour earlier), get a cup of coffee, and write. My biggest challenge in all this lovely writing time will be to make writing the priority, and not try to live up to others' expectations. This might mean taking a notebook to the park or taking a long bike ride to clear my head instead of dusting and vacuuming. I just hope I can get the hubs* on board. Maybe the bigger concern will be my acceptance of his being on board, if that makes any sense. Not to feel guilty about living the life I want while he's in a freezing/boiling warehouse all day. That'll be hard.

I plan to try writing full-time for a month or so, see if I'm able to be more productive, then weigh my productivity against earning a paycheck. So I may end up with a real job soon; we'll see what happens.

*Speaking of the hubs, I dreamed last night that three of my ex-boyfriends were in the same movie theater as me, and DH was coming to pick me up. It was just a coincidence they were there, but I was nervous for him to see them. The movie was a crude thing about men using women and laughing at how stupid the women were. Oh, now that I think about it, the movie's subject matter probably came from watching Two and a Half Men yesterday. I don't know about the ex-boyfriend thing. They were sitting together, talking about me--they aren't connected in real life in any way--but I couldn't hear what they were saying.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius
Tag :

Blogging rocks.

I'm not beating myself up over my blogging style. Really. It's fine. It just looks so easy when other people write articles instead of rambling, so I think, I can do that!

The attitude came from my upbringing, of course. If something needed to be done, Mom did it. Fixing cars, chopping wood, raising gamecocks--Mom just jumped right in and made it happen. She taught herself how to make bumper stickers, to silk-screen t-shirts, to write, to reload shotgun shells for her husband, to cast sinkers on the kitchen stove, and so much more. Whatever she learned, so did I. She said to me over and over, "Well, you could do that. Doesn't ______ sound like fun?"

So I have the idea that I could do anything. I've only recently learned that while I could do almost anything, I'm not actually suited to all those things I've tried. Like choreographing a high school show choir. Or writing confession stories. Or being a housewife. Or selling things on

So the thing is, I have to try things out to see if they suit me. Otherwise, how will I know? You know?

This post went in a completely different direction than I planned. Which is my style, and I embrace it!
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Blogging sucks

I found something else about myself the past couple of days. Yes, Sherri is Blossoming right and left. The thing is: I hate blogging! I hate REAL blogging, with the declaring of opinions and the researching my topic and linking to relevant articles. I think I mostly hate it because I'm not very good at it and it takes me a really long time. Or maybe it takes me so long because I hate it. I don't know.

I end up sorry everytime I try to mess with my system, which consists of blabbing on until I've hit one hour or I run out of blabb, whichever comes first. And every time I tell myself I'll never try to be a "real" blogger again--it'll be anecdotes and silly observations from here on out--but I always compare myself to others and feel I should try harder, which leads down that road. And doing a post every day is just magnifying every tiny problem, and I am really thinking of taking a day off. My hand hurts from typing.

This template is growing on me. I know it's missing the bright color of my old one, but I think I want to be subdued for a while. I can change the header later if I feel the need. I miss having two sidebars, though. Having one sidebar is very clean, but people have to scroll down to get to some stuff I want them to see. I haven't even bothered to put all the widgets on there yet.

My daily hits have evened out since the switch. I'm getting 40-50 per day pretty steadily. I LOVE being able to track all my stats, something you can't do with I hope I'll be able to continue the hosting, because I sure as hell don't want to have to go through all this crap in reverse.

Okay, ran out of blabb.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius
Tag :

Is one book enough?

It rained last night, but I don't think we got as much as other places. This year an odd trend has emerged, where the radar shows a line of storms heading right for our little dot, but as they reach the dot they either weaken and die, or they weaken and re-form just on the other side of our dot, or they split and go to either get the idea. So last night's rain was welcome, but I'm sorry I missed it.

Yesterday's post spurred some interesting comments, so I thought I'd address them in a new post. I referenced a post by Rachelle Gardner, in which she says it's better for an unpublished writer to have more than one book under her belt, in a couple of ways. The part of the post that struck me was where she points out that it takes more than one book to learn how to be a writer, and that's the part I blogged about yesterday. I was grateful for her honesty. It helped me appreciate my journey over the past year. I took it as a helpful and honest glimpse into the mystery that is the agent.

But others saw it as arrogant or judgemental. So what if you have only one book. Is that book a good one? Why wouldn't they give that single good book a chance? (A quick Google search brought up this post and this one about one-book authors.) Would today's market have room for great books like Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird or Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind? Marta mentioned Sylvia Plath, but I'm not sure I'd put her in this list, because she was already a published poet when The Bell Jar was published.

So here are my thoughts on the feeling that the system is unfair. With Mitchell, yeah, she wouldn't have been published today, because she never even submitted her manuscript! The editor came to her, something that would NEVER happen in today's market, and neither should it, because they have plenty of books to choose from. Mitchell is a great--if extreme--example of why it's a gamble to work with an author who has only written one book. The pressure of her success crippled her. Yes, she made everyone involved with her single book oodles of money and notoriety, but like I said, that's an extreme situation. Most authors will never reach that level of fame, and yet still find the pressure to be too much. That's where the "learning to be an author" part comes in, I think.

As Rachelle said in her post, "Any editor will tell you that no matter how fabulous an author's first book is, it's rather scary signing a contract with someone who's never written more than the one." And I think that's the point, and here's an example. Patrick Rothfuss is a guy who published a really popular first book, and he had trouble producing the second book. The post I linked to explains why, but basically he had a lot of personal stuff happen to him, plus the pressure of his new-found "popular writer" duties. (I really appreciate his being so open about his reasons, because it gave me hope during a very dark time.) Now, I don't know if The Name of the Wind was his first novel ever, or just the first to be published, but his struggle illustrates why publishers are nervous about debut authors and why they want to be as sure as they can about an author's ability to produce work.

With Lee, I think To Kill a Mockingbird WOULD be published today. Agents and editors do take chances on very good first novels. White Oleander is the first contemporary example that comes to mind (yeah, it's a little old, but it was still acquired under the system we use today).

I've had this discussion several times over the years, but I still don't really understand the frustration with the "gatekeepers", i.e. agents and editors. I understand being frustrated with wherever I am on the path, like receiving a form rejection letter, but I don't have a problem with the form rejection itself, understand? Overall, the system makes perfect sense to me. Do a few publishable books fall through the cracks? I'm sure. But overall I think the system keeps the quality of the books we're offered to a higher standard. If I have to jump through their hoops to prove my worth, it's okay. It sucks, but I accept it. Does that make me weird?

Dang, writing a real post is a lot of work. Let me have it, people. Rebut.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius
Tag :


Had a couple of breakthroughs over the weekend.

One is measurable: I've jumped the last hurdle with the 15 page synopsis I've been working on for five weeks. Does that sound like a long time to be working on 15 pages? Well, it's not as straightforward as that. I'd already written a short synopsis for my agent Sara to send around with the sample pages. The ending had been sketched out for the regular 3-page synopsis, and I planned to fill in the blanks as I worked on the book. I knew the basic structure would stay the same, so it was a safe gamble.

Suddenly I had to fill in those blanks-- blanks that I had not only neglected, but avoided like the plague. And to tell you the truth, I needed those blanks to be filled in to continue working on the book. Thank God for this exercise which forced me to finally make those decisions. I feel free.

The other breakthrough is immeasurable: I learned something about how I work as a writer. I want to be an utterly confident and steady producer, the kind of person who works best during Nanowrimo, but apparently that's not how I work. My usual MO is to write until I come to a problem I can't immediately figure out. I'll keep figuring until I'm in a corner, there's no answer. I'm done, I can't do anymore, I suck. Finally, I'm so upset I throw it down and stop thinking about it. When I get back to it, I'm more relaxed and the answer just...comes to me.

This has been happening my whole writing career, but I never thought to work with it. Pretty dumb, huh? I guess I just work better in fits and starts. So this last problem I had, I allowed myself a lot of breathing room, and it worked. I knew what I wanted to happen in the ending, but I had never figured out the motivation. Yesterday this huge question of motivation was solved, with a tool I'd already written into the story.

Here's an interesting post by Rachelle Gardner ( in which she says,
I work with a lot of first-time authors, because that's part of what I love to do. But something I'm learning is that we may be doing you a disservice if we contract you when you've only written one book. Yes, writing that book was a huge accomplishment. And if your very first book garnered positive attention from editors and/or agents, that's even more of an accomplishment. It's terrific!

But it's not enough. The hard truth is that it takes a lot more than one book to really know "how to be a writer." So if you get contracted after that one book, over which you slaved for years, and then you're under the gun to produce another book on a deadline, what's going to happen? You are going to have a very, very difficult time.

When I read this several days ago, I tweeted the link immediately because it hit me so hard. I think that's what's been going on with me. I've been writing for a long time, but always on my own time. I didn't know a person had to figure out "how to be a writer." Although I don't have a deadline, per se, people are ready to leap into action when this book is finished. The self-imposed pressure was surprisingly crippling. I've had people get very upset with me because of this. "You have an agent, you ingrate. If I had an agent, I'd be set." Well, sorry to burst the pre-agent bubble, but having an agent isn't rainbows and roses. It's a business. It's work. It doesn't solve all your problems and, as in my case, can magnify some.

My expectations are about 50 times higher for myself than they are for you. I build boxes around myself and then stay there, so for me the key is to relax and allow other possibilities into my consciousness. There's so much advice we hear all the time: to write every single day, no matter what; to write our way through rough patches in our stories; to set goals and stick with them. For someone like me, with a corncob up her butt already, this advice is to be avoided at all cost. I wish there were more advice to relax. Please pass this advice along.

So, yeah, I'm pretty excited now that I finally figured out how to be a writer in my own way. Have you figured it out yet? How has it opened up your writing?
Monday, July 20, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Lazy Sunday morning

The hubs is makin' bacon while I type. It smells delightful. The British Open is on TV--we're rooting for the old guy. The coffee is especially good this morning

DH and I got up before the kids and witnessed a cicada emerging from its shell. It had fallen onto its back and writhed, helpless, with its wings stuck to the concrete stoop. I righted it so it wouldn't stick as it dried. It was glad.

I guess that's all I have to say this morning. I may post about writing later, depending on how procrastinatory I feel. I hope your Sunday is a peaceful one.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

It's about quality, not quantity

I've been putting off writing this post for a couple of hours, now. Not because of the subject matter (obviously) but because I feel quiet. There's no room for quiet in NaBloPoMo, only constant chatter, and that sure does get old. It's fine for testing myself, but I don't think I'll do it again. I don't like spending 1 to 2 1/2 hours per day (depending on how often I'm interrupted) blabbing about nothing. I've gotten a couple of gems out of it, maybe, but I may feel they're gems only because of the shit which surrounds them.

Bloggers get advice to write posts regularly to draw readers, but you know what? If I come across a blog I like, I subscribe to the feed. I know if there is a new post I'll be alerted. It's not the frequency with which they post that keeps me reading. In fact, if the posts come far enough apart, it's a nice surprise when they do show up in my reader.

I feel the same way about NaNoWriMo. It was a good exercise I don't feel compelled to repeat. The pressure to produce words over meaning is ultimately destructive, for me, at least. It's a really cool idea, and I'm glad a lot of people have enjoyed the experience, but I do hope those people are actually thinking about whether or not it's right for them, rather than just getting caught up in the enthusiastic atmosphere as I did. I did it two years. The first book is sitting half-finished, abandoned, and the second one I'm still trying to straighten out. Not only did I fail both years, adding to my guilt, but I actually created a huge amount of extra work for myself. Hindsight.

I know some of you really believe in NaNoWriMo, and a lot of you have participated in NaBloPoMo. What did/do you get out of them?

(This post took only 20 minutes. The day I feel the least like blogging was the easiest. Hm.)
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius
Tag :

Pushing talent into the world

My brother's a writer, too. He gave me his newest manuscript to read in rough draft form, because he needs help with plot holes, so he says. What he really needs help with and doesn't even realize it, or maybe he does, is insecurity. I wasn't going to tell him I'd started reading it, but then he called and was like, "What's up?" What can I say under that kind of grilling? :)

The thing is about my bro is that even though he's been writing for 20 years, he's never seriously pursued publication. This is something I didn't know about him. There were years at a time when we didn't speak directly to each other, so until we started talking all the time a couple of years ago, I'd always assumed he was learning the same things I was. After all, he's much more prolific than me. His stories come out fully-formed, and his edits consist of tweaking the language. It's incredible how far he's come with minimal study and no contact at all with other writers except me and our mother, just from writing his ass off. He has a natural gift which can't be denied. And here is where I waffle on whether to include a sample of his work without his permission. Just a small one. No? *sigh* Okay.

His craft is ready, but he's having trouble getting past the insecurity, as most of us do. And maybe he isn't capable yet, because he knows nothing about the business end. But that's where Big Sis comes in. I have a fair working knowledge of the submission process, having successfully navigated it myself. Also of the critique process, having successfully landed an editing job. The first critique I gave him was his first real crit ever, but I didn't know that at the time. He confessed to feeling like I'd punched him in the gut while reading that first crit, but in a good way. He never knew what it was really about, that whole "getting a second opinion" thing. He did sub that story on my insistence--again, his first time--but ran out of steam after only a few rejections. I think when things settle down for him in the next few months he'll start actively submitting his first novel to agents. And I have no doubt he'll do well.

Any ideas how to encourage such a writer?
Friday, July 17, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

The country mouse in the big city

I'm so tired, but in a good way. I visited an old college friend last night. Maybe it's just a quirk of mine, but I always expect people to look completely different if I haven't seen them in a while, and I also expect them not to recognize me. As you might expect, she recognized me just fine, and she is still every bit as beautiful and gracious as she was in college.

It surprised me how much we had to talk about. We probably have more in common now than we did back in the day. We picked up some Starbucks and pizza to take back to her apartment and got a little silly as girls can do. Of course the evening wouldn't be complete without one of my trademark inappropriate remarks, but it made my friend laugh hysterically, so I guess it may have been worth it. I don't know why I do that. I don't have the balls to pull them off. Those remarks are why I have a love affair with my delete key. Wish I had one for my mouth.

But the night was great. Jen has a strength she may not recognize but which is quite obvious to me. She projects femininity and beauty in a way I wish I could. Her apartment smelled divinely neutral and so did she, and I hope to have many more evenings just like it. (Minus the trademark inappropriate remark).
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Virgos are the bill payers of the world

The bunk bed almost cost me over a hundred dollars more than it actually cost. I forgot I paid a humongous, gigantor electric bill a few days ago! Luckily, I'd just paid the water bill so I could get that check back from the nice lady at City Hall. Then I had to stop payment on the humongous, gigantor electric bill. So instead of $100+ it only cost me about $25. Never thought I'd be so happy to lose 25 bucks.

Maybe you remember a post a few months ago about how I couldn't pay my bills on time. Well I think the pendulum has swung all the way to the other side. Whereas before I put off paying the bills, now I pay them as soon as they come in. That sounds great, except sometimes the bills need to be juggled, sometimes a particular bill may need to wait until next payday. I'm still not giving it any thought, just blindly paying what's in front of me. I used to enjoy the juggling. What happened to me?

There is an astrological explanation. I was born on the cusp of Virgo and Libra. (As I get older, I believe more and more in astrology. I'm finally ready to admit it, even though some of my regular readers will scoff.) Being born on the cusp means I have an affinity with both signs, even though I am a Libra by a couple of hours. Looking back, I've identified more with the Libra side most of the time, but there was a period of about ten years where I was hard-core Virgo.

What does this have to do with paying bills on time? Well, Virgos are the bill payers of the world, that's what. Only I don't feel like a Virgo right now. Which is actually a relief, but that's for another post.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Thanks to my honey

I haven't had a chance to check the dryer for punk-inserted fish, but I'll let you know what I find. I'm loathe to take the dryer out of its hole. What a lot of crap work.

In case you're wondering, I still feel fantastic. Woke up at 6:48 this morning, couldn't believe it was that early, checked all the clocks, went back to bed, was actually wide awake and got back up.

We got a new bunk bed for the littler kids' room. Abby has her own tiny room, and Jonah and Maggie share. We rented till we bought this house a few years ago, so our furniture was never bought for the space, just forced into whatever odd space we had. Now that our family and residence will be stable for a few years, I'd like to start buying pieces that fit our rooms. Having the extra floor space has already made my life easier, and it looks SO much better than the 2-bed  configuration we had before. I'm almost 40 years old. I want a home that reflects my personality, which is orderly and clean(ish).

As for the discussion surrounding the purchase of the bunk bed, a personal note: I love you, Honey. Thank you for listening.

So I have a lot of housework to do today, and I actually feel good enough to do it. What have you planned for the day?

Update on the fish thing: The load I dried yesterday came out smelling fine. There must have been something in that one stinky load. I'm scared what it might have been; didn't find anything unusual in the clothes.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

I feel fantastic

Why is my dryer suddenly making everything smell like fish? There's been no fish anywhere near my house in months. And if there had been, why would it be in the dryer? Seriously, why?

I'll be visiting with an old college friend this week. I'm nervous and excited at the same time. Excited for the normal reasons, because I like her. Nervous for some normal reasons and some abnormal ones: I'm embarrassed at my behavior in college; I used to be hot and now I am not; I'm not involved in musical theater (or music, or theater) in any way, and I feel guilty leaving it behind; I hate accommodating the stupid fragrance allergy ("Please jump through these hoops for me. I can't guarantee it will be worth it.").

But you know what? I feel fantastic. I think I may have gotten my fingernails under the edge of the fragrance/sinus/migraine problem. I'm meditating and avoiding fragrance and not dwelling on it. Wallowing in self-pity really does make it worse, and so does stress. I'm not saying it's not still a problem, but I have enough experience with it (almost a year) to know what to expect, and that makes it easier. I'm not mad about it anymore, and I think that's the main thing. Jen has been understanding about it, so for that I am grateful. Not that I expected any different. I remember her as a classy, friendly girl, and I can't wait to see her again.

I've only re-met one other college friend, and that was a few years ago. We talked and visited many times, got good and caught up, but fell out of touch as happens with people like Danny and me, and my last email went unanswered. He might have changed jobs by that time, because it was a work email. I felt like I should have tried harder to keep up with him, but finally realized that it was only half my responsibility.

I feel fantastic
Monday, July 13, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Writer guilt and that cursed word count

Posting every day isn't so hard; it just takes away the time allotted for excessive tweeting.  I hold myself to a very low standard. The funny thing is that even with writing to my very low standard, my posts end up sounding like every other post I ever wrote. What does that say about my blogging ability? Don't tell me.

Sounds like my writerly guilt is not unlike that of any other writer. Maybe we're wired to feel guilty from the beginning, because of those bastards who set their low-end production at ten pages a day and crow it to the world. The more average producers, and those on the slow side, talk less about how much they've done and more about what they've done, all the while feeling inferior to their steam-rolling counterparts.

It's bothered me for a while that there's not a good equivilent for measuring revision progress, which is where (for me) the time bloat comes.

We should remember that pondering has a place in writing, yet we assign no value to it. If you sit for an hour letting your thoughts wander through your book and never look at the page, have you not been working? I bet you don't feel like you worked. Because our legitimacy as writers is tied to the one thing we can definitively measure: words per day. Which happens to be the least important part.

I actually write more when I'm not keeping track. When I look back at my days work and can say I unraveled a knot in my story, that's when I get the most satisfaction. I'm going to work to remove a word count goal from my consciousness. Will you join me? (Those ten page a day bastards probably won't.)

Did you know there's a website dedicated to slowing down? Here's an article to make the slow writers feel fine about being slow: Join the Slow Writing Movement!
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius
Tag :

Saturday morning rambling

It's one of those blank-brain mornings. Hubs woke me early this morning, now he's snoozing and I'm wishing I was. Takes me a lot of time and care to get to sleep in the first place. I can't just "fall asleep" like he can. There's no "falling" about it. More like "dragging under." So it's not worth the effort. Since I didn't get to wake slowly on my own, I can't even remember my dream or I'd blog about that. I think it was interesting...

So what about dreams? On some list somewhere I read that people don't like to read about other people's dreams, but I like reading about them. Am I unusual, or was that list writer just a cranky old goat?

Do you know what I hate about writing? It's not how long the business process takes, not anymore. It's how long I take. It's always longer than I think it will be, and then I feel like a failure, even though I'm the one who set the bar on impossibly high pegs. I never adjust my timeline, either. Once the date passes, I just have a constant feeling of lateness. What a self-defeating attitude! To wake up every morning feeling like a failure already because I didn't meet some arbitrary goal and don't have the brains to realistically adjust it.

Well at least I finally realized what I'm doing. I'm always telling everybody else to take it easy on themselves. Well now I'm going to take my own advice, whether I'm feeling like the greatest writer in the world or a complete hack, I can only do what I can do, sometimes that less and sometimes more, but it's always adequate.

I think it's probably less about my goals and more about giving away my power. Putting other people's intentions for me ahead of my own. Trying to live according to other people's standards, even when I'm not entirely sure what those are. I've been doing it my whole life but only recently realized the full impact of it. I think if I can get out of that habit my whole life will open up before me. It's not even a habit at this point so much as a personality trait, I've been doing it so long. I don't have my own standards, I've been living by other people's for so long.

Is this what middle age is about? Finding out about yourself? Throwing off the mantle your parents and husband and friends and in-laws set on your shoulders in the first half of your life? If so, no wonder it causes crises, because I'm just about ready to tear off that mantle, stand naked if necessary before I wear someone else's mantle ever again.

It would be good if I could find a way to do that without bothering anyone.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Verite sans peur

I feel like a new woman this morning. The migraine time is truly lifting, hallelujah. I found a couple of new things to consider in my hunt for a migraine cure: low magnesium and low estrogen. (Thanks for the article, Fal.) Also, though by tonight it may be aching again, right now my bad finger feels pretty good. The husband's mood is on the upswing, always a blessing, and I had a nice, long convo with my bro yesterday. Yep, life is good.

While taking a break from writing last night, I thought it would be interesting to look up the meaning and origin of my surname, Cornelius. I already knew that the name Cornelius is first mentioned in the Bible, maybe in chapter 10 of Acts? Somebody correct me. Anyway, that Cornelius was a Roman soldier, or centurion, who became the first Gentile to be baptised in the Christian faith. Pretty interesting.

Since that first Cornelius was Roman, the assumption is usually made that I am of Italian descent, but as far as I know I have no blood ties to Rome. In my Google travels (gravels?) last night, I found that the modern surname Cornelius probably started as a given name, when children were named after that biblical Roman dude and/or the pope named Cornelius. (This explains it better.)

[caption id="attachment_1275" align="aligncenter" width="421" caption="Cornelius Coat of Arms"]Cornelius Coat of Arms[/caption]

So this is the Cornelius Coat of Arms, and the small image at the top is the family crest. Since this image is on several unrelated websites with no credit given, I can't give credit to the original. Likewise with the following descriptions:
The Crest consists of a hand extended from a cloud of smoke, grasping a battle ax or Greek cross, and resting on a strand of rope. This signifies martyrdom.The Coat of Arms consists of a shield on which is delineated the square and three balls, surrounded by a scroll of leaves and surmounted by a Crusader's helmet with closed visor; this all rests on a scroll foundation containing the motto Verite sans peur ("truth without fear"). The square refers to artisans and the balls signify the practice of medicine. The shield and helmet refer to military service and also indicate the time of the Crusaders. The banner with the name CORNELIUS is draped over a Crusader's sword. The shield also has the ermine indated [sic], which denotes royalty.

Being unable to find the origin of the description, there's no way to tell if this is accurate, but I like it. Especially the motto, Verite sans peur, Truth without fear. That's cool. One thing I don't like is that it's tied in to the Crusades.

Almost every etymological definition of Cornelius says it comes from cornu, the Latin for "horn," but I found one that said "war horn" and a couple of others that said "horn of the lion." Probably because the "-lius" part may have come from the Latin for "lion" (leo or leon). (I so want to make a horny lion joke here.)

It's funny; on both sides I have historically powerful names. McEwin was a rich clan in Scotland about 500 years ago, and Cornelius was a name associated with power around the same time. Somehow, both of these impressive lineages converged upon me: the least impressive person in the world, in the least impressive place in the world.

Friday, July 10, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Totally venting...Feel free to pass

The migraine cycle is like driving a Kansas highway at night. You can go for miles in a straight line, the road gently sloping up toward the sky, the night air growing cooler as you get higher. But you can't see the apex of the hill, it's so subtle, so eventually you realize you've passed your healthy time and you're going downhill again. It's too late to go back at that point, you're already rolling steadily into the next shallow valley, but you can't tell where the bottom is until you hit it. Sometimes it's an hour later, sometimes seconds.

Luckily, I'm on the upward slope right now.

Thank you all for being so supportive and kind when I complain about my bad health. I just feel like crap all the time, you know? I guess that's one reason why I stopped blogging so much (before this month). The only thing I have to talk about is how crappy I feel. My low vitality is related to one thing: my inability to have fun. I'm bored and stressed and have no outlet, really. Every corner of my homestead reminds me how much I have to do, yet going elsewhere for pure fun would require funds I don't have. Even if I could work around the fragrance thing.

Goddangit, I need to make some money! A job would give me something to do, even if it's not for fun, at least I'd be occupied. I just feel like my hands are tied. If I get a job, the constant headaches will undoubtedly come back. I have no skills that could translate to working at home. Besides writing, that is, and I've tried freelancing and it's definitely not for me. If I made even a little bit from my novels it would ease the noose. I contemplate going back to school, but I couldn't swing it, for lots of reasons. So I go around and around my few futile options and feel like there's something I'm missing.

Do you feel successful where you are? Have you ever been really poor? What do you consider "poor", and by that I mean personally, what is the line for you. If you ever came out of poverty, did you pull yourself up by your bootstraps, or was there some deus ex machina involved?

Wow, my head feels even better now that I let off some steam. I should do that more often.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Because I must post

I drive myself crazy trying to figure out what causes my periodic headaches. Is it the weather? I've been in a pre-migraine state as three weather systems have passed through this time. Caffeine? I drink way less now than I did a couple of years ago. Poor eyesight? I can see fine, until I can't--but it always precedes a migraine, sometimes, like now, a couple of weeks before.  Fragrance? It's the most likely culprit, but though I cast a suspicious eye toward my neighbor's dryer vent--constantly running this week--I don't have the clear cause-and-effect connection I prefer.

Although I can't tell what triggers the migraines, I know working on the computer aggravates them. I'm going to strictly limit my computer time today. Get my blood pumping with some strenuous housekeeping. Stop trying to figure out why and just figure out how to live with them, I guess. Tired of driving myself crazy.

Hope y'all have a great day.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius
Tag :

NaBloPoMo Day 7: You get what you pay for

You want a post every day? Then you get poorly thought out, ranty-type posts like yesterdays, which wasn't actually about personal frustration, but more of a "Why are we this way?" As far as the line about my life being devoid of romance, there wasn't anything wrong. I've just been contemplating love in general, watching things unravel for some folks around me, and gave myself a dose of reality, something I think a lot more people should do. I've been married for a long time and plan to keep it that way. No marriage is perfect, and I've expected mine to be for far too long.

So anyway, that topic is closed. Whatev.

Watched Sweeney Todd last night with the hubs. It's a musical, you know, so I expected him to call it gay and leave the room halfway through. But Tim Burton's darkness combined with Stephen Sondheim's strong, interesting rhythms made it okay for a strong, silent type like the DH. Oh, and don't forget all the spurting throat-blood and heaving bosoms. Made for machismo.

Back in the day when I was a misguided musical theater major, the songs of Sweeney Todd were a popular addition to the student body repertoire. I was surprised I didn't feel more nostalgia while watching the movie, and thought maybe I was well and truly over that time in my life. It has haunted me.

Then we watched the "making of" part, and that's when it hit me. There's no feeling like being backstage. I've always enjoyed being in plays and musicals and operas much more than watching them, and when watching, I get the most enjoyment from putting myself in their place. I've never been in a movie so I don't feel that tug with those, but anytime I see behind the scenes activity, costume changes or taking direction or vocal practice with the pianist, a stone settles in my sternum and an actual wave of nostalgia surges through me.

And yet I know it was not for me. I find now that I have little in common with very many of the people I knew back then, so reconnections with acquaintances, and some old friends, fall flat. It's a bit disappointing, but it's also a relief, in a way. It means I have grown up (sorta).

And now we are at the end of another poorly thought out, ranty-type post. You get what you pay for.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Love is just a hormonal imbalance

I couldn't sleep last night so I did laundry at 1 a.m. and watched a rerun of a Chris Titus Valentine special called "Love is Evol." Is it just me, or is Titus getting more handsome as he gets older? I love his jawline. Too bad he's so bitter about everything. Otherwise, you know, we'd have a chance.

I have rolling beliefs in the area of love, as in religion. Sometimes I'm a complete love atheist, like I am now. Romantic love is stupid. There's no such thing. Anybody who does anything for romantic love is a frickin' idiot. It's fleeting, a shadow, a hormonal imbalance.

Perhaps I feel this way because (aside from my own life being completely devoid of any romance, a state which will likely never end, I realized yesterday) I watched The Other Boleyn Girl last night. The acting was fan-freakin-tastic, the costumes were beautiful, Eric Bana was a h-h-hot Henry VIII (but increasingly pathetic and unstable through the movie). The storyline took a lot of license with the Boleyn's circumstances, but one thing is true: Henry VIII ruled his country based on his romantic whims. Mary Boleyn "loved" Henry, and what did it get her? Heartache.

See? It's stupid.

I wish I could balance it better. Love with reality, physical needs with intellectual ones. I was about to say physical needs with emotional needs, but emotional needs are physical. It's just a hormonal imbalance.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius
Tag :


So sleepy...Stupid people shot fireworks till 3 a.m.



and then it would change to


for a while, then back to the foom/pop. Geez. They started late because of the rain, but all-told those assholes shot fireworks for four whole hours. Who does four hours of fireworks? How much did they spend on that? I couldn't even watch because of the trees.

Around one I moved to the couch, where the ceiling fan muffled the sound, waking every so often, never going into a deep sleep. Then at 3:30 something(s) crawled all over my face. I shot up like a big screen girl after a nightmare, slapping my own face and neck in the dark. Something tickled my ear, so I rubbed it and found a small, firm lump in a crease, which I pulled off and threw across the room. To my credit, I did not shriek. Then I went to the bathroom and inspected my hair, neck and ears, certain I would find a billion gnat-sized baby spiders colonizing my hair, or worse, alien spiders colonizing my brain via my ear. I found nothing.

After inspecting the couch, my blanket and pillow, and the floor with a flashlight, I calmed down enough to notice the foom/pop had stopped. It took me a long time to get to sleep, what with my hair tickling my face and every itch an alien spider.

I finally did fall asleep, and that's when I dreamed of wandering through Pamela Anderson's house/amusement park/shopping mall searching for a bathroom. Whatever that means.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

It's the 4th, yo

Didn't get everything on my list done yesterday, but I had my reasons so I still feel I was productive.

We did some small fireworks last night, and I have to tell you, I hate 'em. I don't mind going to a show where it's somebody else's responsibility, where they have controls on hand, where I don't have to worry about all the things that could go wrong. Of course Maggie Rose burned her finger, and of course the yard is now littered with trash, and of course it's too dry to have fire, but do any of those things matter? Do I get a say? Nope. It's the 4th. We have to have fireworks. Every year it's the same effing thing. It used to be my favorite holiday. Holidays are stupid. Let's stop having them.

This evening one of my brothers may stop by and my mom and step-dad are coming. We're having hot dogs and the rest of the fireworks. My favorite gatherings involve very little planning. Somehow I got the idea that planning every aspect was the only way to do it, but as I get older and more defiant I'm surprised to find Miss Control Freak actually does better when things just happen as they will. Except when it comes to safety.

Happy Independence Day, friends. I hope you don't get bernt.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

NaBloPoMo and stuff

Funny that I declared on July 1st I would be writing a post every day, only to find out that this is NaBloPoMo! What is up with that? I hadn't heard it mentioned even once that I remember. I'm taking it as a sign that a post a day will be good for me.

I have narrowed it down to two templates on the new blog. One is colorful and bold (the one on the blog right now) and the other is simple and light and elegant (the one pictured here, only with double sidebars and a daisy header). I like the layout of the simple one, but the bold one fits my personality better. And since I am not in code mode, I really don't want to mess with massive changes to one or the other.

I've been unusually busy lately, what with writing this 20-pg synopsis, editing for Eternal Press, fixing my mom's computers, and now changing up the blog. Trying to stay off the social media, letting Twitter and email be my connections. Facebook is the devil, with its quizzes and flair and games and such, so I've limited that to once a day. Hopefully it'll be only another week or so until I knock out these projects and can breathe a bit easier.

Friday, July 3, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Your mind's default character

Today’s post will probably be a rambler. I’ve been out of bed for exactly 17 minutes, and my brain is still firing with the energy of the dream I just had. It was all about trying to get someplace, but losing my keys, almost missing the bus, and so on.

And there were a lot of black guys in it. I don’t know about you, but my default dream character is white, I guess because I am, or maybe because I don’t interact with African Americans on a daily basis. I deal with more Indians, but still not enough to impact my dreams. (I don't get out much, obviously.) So once I woke, that aspect stuck out at me. It didn’t in the dream.

In my stories I don’t really have a default character. They speak to me, and their voices tell me who they are. The details of a character always comes through dialogue. So I have a twofold question for you: What is your default dream character (presumably out of your control); and do you work different races into your stories, or just let them come as they will?
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

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