Wow, what a ride

Last November marked the end of a wild, fun, poignant, indescribable, unmatchable ride for me. But with many more adjectives. In the wee hours of the 16th (also my birthday – thank you, Summit) I sat in a dark theater and watched the final cinematic moments of the Twilight Saga. Tomorrow that movie comes out on DVD and then I guess it’s official.
SUITCASE::SOB::
Going back to the beginning of this journey will echo others I’ve heard since that time, but it’s my story and my blog so bear with me. My friend gave me that book with the hands holding the apple for Christmas of 2008. She was a little apologetic but she knows my taste so I got around to reading it about a month later. Then the next one (during which I cried while reading because it hit too many nerves), and the next one (which I threw across the room because really, how could she kiss that woof?) and the last one (which I actually liked for the clever plot resolution).
All were read in less than two weeks time and then I lucked out catching the blue-tinted, low budget flick at a bargain theater before it went to DVD. The movie was underwhelming at first, but the lead actor — um — had potential.
Then I found the websites. Many people who were oddly obsessed with the books and movies spilled their passion into cyber space and I read them all. Eventually I found “my people” at Twitarded — a bunch of crazy, smart, funny women of all ages who accepted their inexplicable interest in the series, while tossing around profanity like so much confetti. I loved them and that led me to interact with them. And tweet and email and talk with them. (And maybe stalk a few of the more clever ones.)
While following blogs, I kept hearing about the phenomenon called Fan Fiction. I refused to sully the books by reading take-offs and re-imaginings of Stephenie’s world but I finally caved when someone posted an excerpt of Wide Awake. Holy shit, these people could write!*
Long story short (funny, I know), I came up with an idea and eventually wrote a novel-length fan fiction with my own little twist. The process was eye-opening and educational and a total blast. The Family Business led to even more friendships with people from around the world that I’ll cherish forever.
Those friendships led to the logical decision to travel to Forks, Washington (Cullen territory) in September of 2011 so I could meet many of the Twitarded Tribe in person. That was a weekend that should have been blogged about (and maybe will be if I can remember all the details).
Fast forward to now. (“For the love of Edward, Suz, please do move on”). I went to see “Breaking Dawn Part 2” at that same bargain theater a couple of weeks ago, which was probably my last large-screen-time with the Cullens.
::SOB::

Excuse me but I want to be alone now with my books. And DVDs. And magazines. And full-size Edward pillow...

Excuse me but I want to be alone now with my books. And DVDs. And magazines. And full-size Edward pillow. And, and… ::SOB::

What a crazy, unexpected, wonderful journey it’s been. I’ve referred to Twilight (and my imaginary love affair with the lead actor) as my mid-life crisis, but as it winds down I find very little to be embarrassed about, much less regret.
Thank you, Stephenie, Robert, Roseanne, Twitardia and all the rest of my lovely enablers. I wouldn’t change a thing.

*Fan fiction became common knowledge in the past six months or so, thanks to a certain series of color-coded books. My thoughts are ironically not black and white so I’ll be posting them in the near future.

Contentment comes quietly

Some days the bliss arrives unexpectedly and by the simplest means of transportation. Today is like that. My house is still a scary mess, my kid still won’t listen to me or help dry the dishes after telling her 14 times, and I’m still not sure how I’m paying the mortgage this week.

And yet I just did a systems check and found that they are all ‘Go’ and the atmosphere is relaxed with a forecast of hope. Amazing. How did this happen, and more importantly how long will it last?

Work is good right now. I’m busy on our current project and it’s even feeding my creativity which isn’t always possible at a newspaper. You’re constantly reminded that your brilliance – whether it’s a well-written story or eye-catching ad – is bound for the recycle bin within days of its culmination. But I enjoy my job and my boss gave me a big hug on Thursday to let me know she enjoys me too. Bliss.

It’s been a great summer break for my daughter due to a set schedule of family and activities. She needs that structure – hell, we both do. She’s discovered a passion for horses and her toy versions have opened up a social life for her at summer care. Girls and horses: you can’t go wrong. Bliss.

But as school approaches faster than I would have believed, I wanted her to work on some writing skills. Reading I’m not worried about, she’s as bad as I am. So I challenged her with a reward if she writes a page in her notebook journal each day until school begins in a few weeks. By the next day she had several pages of an exciting story where wild horses are captured. Granted, it’s one long, red-ink, run-on sentence and the word captured is spelled differently each time it appears, but SHE’S WRITING! Bliss.

There are other little things like my online community of friends, or as I like to think of it, the coolest damn quilting bee (minus the quilt) ever. The conversation was flowing last night like a rich, red zin among women who ‘get’ me and each other. One of them even thanked me this week for supporting her writing, while another read my fanfic story and reviewed it so enthusiastically I got a little choked up. Bliss.

The birth of this little guy at the Virginia Zoo this week only added to my bliss. I looooove giraffes!

So it’s a hot Saturday afternoon and I just finished the dishes, accompanied by all my favorite songs on my iPod. There may or may not have been wild, carefree dancing involved. The kid still won’t help, there’s still no extra money floating around for luxuries like water and electricity, and I just read that the Republicans and Democrats still won’t work together (assholes), and yet…

Bliss.

If I was a character in one of my own stories and I was this obliviously content, I’d probably walk out the door and get hit by a bus or taken out by a sniper.

Taking a deep breath, the character decides to risk it in search of more bliss. Reaches for door knob.

Go find yours today. It’s probably closer than you think.

The Big Five-OH-MY-GOD!

If age is just a number, then my upcoming birthday is definitely doing a number on me. Yep. This November I turn half a century.

B-b-but I was just 40 last week...or so.

Swigs wine before continuing.

I don’t want to say that I’m taking it hard, but there may have been more than a few tears several months back when those bastards at AARP sent me a friendly – albeit early – reminder to join my fellow senior citizens in denial.

Honestly, the previous milestone birthdays didn’t bother me a whole lot, with the possible exception of 25. Pffffft! I was in love and lust at 30, and ten years later I was preparing to adopt a baby so I hardly felt ancient with such a wondrous journey ahead of me.

Snorts at the irony.

The 40s have surpassed most of my expectations. Not only did I become a mother, but I moved back to Colorado where my heart has always resided, opened a dream business, made a million friends and went on to enjoy another dream job when the art gallery had to close. Every day I do work that usually feeds both my bank account and my soul – not everyone can say that.

Then a couple of years ago I fell headlong into my mid-life crisis. No Botox or Porsches for me. Instead I fell in love with a much-loved/maligned teen book series. Since reading the first breathless word, that guilty pleasure gradually evolved into a wide, crazy circle of friends around the world and adventures I never would have imagined. The books and the friends also helped to renew my passion in fiction writing and I eventually wrote my own book.

Granted, I can’t publish it, but I. WROTE. A. BOOK.

I may have a few battle scars and a LOT of gray hairs to show for my 40s, but I wouldn’t change much. And speaking of gray, my formerly blonde hair has begun to turn dark with a rapidly developing silver-ish streak of hair on one side. Think an older version of Rogue from the X-Men. Yes, I plan to fully exploit this comparison with middle-aged geeks as long as they’re rich and no longer live in their parents’ basement.

It's a little scary how much we look alike. Form a straight line, boys.

So a few weeks ago, one of my twitter friends wrote a blog post about the new trend in bucket lists: 30 before 30, 40 before 40, etc. Sue’s turning 50 in four years and wanted to start working her list of things to accomplish now.

It got me thinking.

Most days, I don’t feel old but this birthday has definitely freaked me out a little. So I had some more wine and wondered what if I just embraced it? After all, the 40s kicked ass so who knows what could happen in the next decade?! To help motivate the enthusiasm, I decided my own list was in order. As of today, I only have four months instead of four years, so a trip to Italy or marrying my much younger Imaginary Boyfriend are probably off the table this time around. Nevertheless, I managed to come up with 50 attainable (I think) goals.

I’m not going to list them all here because some are too personal and most would bore the hell out of anyone but me. And hopefully, with each item I cross off before November 16, that intimidating number becomes just a number, baby – not a definition of me: middle-aged, hopelessly romantic, brave, silly, sometimes weary, often hopeful, always growing woman.

I’d love to hear your goals and dreams as the years tick by and I appreciate the encouragement as I tackle this list.

Oh, and if you’d like to call me Rogue from now on, I’m cool with that.

1. Write a blog post about turning 50 – CHECK!
8. Go to Forks, WA – It’s the land of sparkly vampires and Twitardia. Why wouldn’t I go?

Some of the crazies I plan to meet in September. #42 - CHECK!


17. Go on a date – It’s been a while. I need to exercise the muscle that makes it possible for me to function in public.
18. Start journaling again – I did this for decades and just stopped for some reason.
24. Finish first draft of Leadville novel – This book is tired of being in my head and needs to find its way to paper.
28. Find an eager teenager to babysit at my beck and call – This could help with general sanity and item #17 specifically.
29. Set up my bills to pay online
32. Submit one short story, somewhere, for pay or contest
36. Wax my lip – Again, see #17.
38. Host a party at my house – I wasn’t Martha Stewart, but I used to love to entertain.
41. Take a digital sabbatical for at least 24 continuous hours – I took this from Sue’s list. I’ll probably end up in rehab with Lindsey Lohan before the day is up.
42. Meet at least 5 more twitter friends in person – This will occur with item #8.
43. Write a letter to my parents, thanking them for raising me and being there for me – Also borrowed from Sue’s thoughtful list.
46. Make a cake or cookies for my daughter for no reason at all – It could tarnish my reputation as Worst Mother of the Year, but hey…
50. Say farewell to the 40s with wine, women friends and Edward! – Breaking Dawn, pt. 1 in theaters Nov. 18. Don’t judge – it’s not pretty;)

Cheers to half a century, well-lived.

Moving Write Along in ’11

Welcome to my New Year’s post for 2011! The next blog entry will be an in-depth look at procrastination and the havoc it wreaks on our society. In the meantime, simply pretend it’s not almost February and I’m not still mulling over edits to my 2009 New Year’s resolutions.

A bittersweet memory of the amazing space I once created. The hot chick on the right looks vaguely familiar. I think she used to drink all my wine.

In (belated) reflection, 2010 was a very transitional year for me – some good, some bad, all necessary. I closed my business in ‘09 and thought I had mourned its loss as briefly as possible, when in fact I had knit a cocoon the size of a doublewide trailer and
didn’t emerge for months. I had really tried to keep the momentum going and looked around for a new space, hosted an art show, made promises I couldn’t keep. I ignored how drained and demoralized I was until a few people and circumstances kicked my ass while I was already down. The cocoon was reinforced and a lovely therapist was enlisted to put up with my emo ass.
I was incredibly fortunate to already have a good part-time job while running my business, and my duties and hours at the newspaper expanded as I burrowed. My beautiful, smart, funny daughter also provided good reason to get up in the mornings. Then a funny thing happened early last year. My crazy community of Twitards migrated to Twitter and I gradually had new friends — friends who didn’t care what failures I was still bleeding over — friends who shared a glass of wine with me from six states away — friends who helped me give birth to my first novel. Priceless friends.
It’s too hard explaining fan fiction to someone who’s never heard of it, not to mention someone who thinks the craze over Twilight is incomprehensible (it is, actually, but after two-plus years, I’ve stopped worrying) so I’ll just direct you to their site if you’re not in the know. Long story short, I wrote a Twilight based story with an original premise called The Family Business. I finished it last November and I’m not going to spew false modesty: I’m really damn proud of it.
Writing that story was one of the best experiences of my creative life. It was a learning tool, a loving community project, an exercise in discipline and obligation, and most importantly, it was a catalyst for a new journey.
This new tease wooing my muse is the written word. The writer within me has flirted shamelessly throughout the years but I’ve studiously avoided considering it a serious suitor. Let’s face it, everyone thinks they can write and the statistics for being published are probably right up there with maintaining a profitable art gallery in the middle of a killer recession. *cough*
Besides The Family Business, I wrote a few other Twilight stories and came up with a half dozen interesting outlines for straight fiction. I returned to the novel I abandoned three years ago and am now approaching it differently, based on my experience. I’m writing more articles for the paper and I recently got a cool – albeit unpaid – blogging gig back in my former world of regional arts and culture.
I’ve since unraveled most of the cocoon and decided I’m still not strong or passionate enough to open another art gallery in the near future. That door isn’t locked but I’ve discovered that being responsible to my daughter and myself — emotionally, financially, and otherwise — is the best I can do right now.

Not the slippers I had in mind, but inexplicably inspiring. (Source: etsy)

Maybe a smart person would have licked their wounds, then went in search of a good secure position with 40 hours and benefits. Yeah, so I’m probably not smart, but I am creative. I write, I draw, I imagine, I tweet, I read YA fantasy, I revel in my kid and I most definitely do not color within the lines. I’ve unceremoniously tossed most of my resolutions in the dumpster and am focused on one: to someday soon work successfully and happily in my slippers. Cute slippers, without a hole in the toe like my current fugly ones.

Write on, 2011.

The Family Business is growing up

Two months ago I published the first chapter of my twisted little fanfic version of the Twilight tale. After posting chapter 10 last night I decided a celebration was in order. I drank the champagne by myself but all of my readers were there in spirit, honest! At one point I had the desire to follow suit with other writers and update my (non-Twilight) blog with teasers, song lists, art and fic rec’s. Being very busy, lazy and punctually challenged, it never happened. So in addition to my bubbly hangover, I’m celebrating my tenth chapter with an update.

I also designed a banner for The Family Business as you can see here. I’m a graphic designer by profession and I’m blown away by some of the art, banners and manipulations I’ve seen in this arena. Luckily for us, The Precious* has a million versions of himself from which to choose and steal for our lusty purposes. I bow to the talent in the fandom and hope everyone enjoys my vision of Slayerward.

Speaking of the nickname for our hero, I want to thank TideRider for that. As a Twi-fic writer and reader, I knew I’d truly arrived when my Edward had been dubbed.

All right, enough rambling. Starting today and updating regularly until I catch up, I’ll post some art, a blurb or quote, and some other fun nonsense from each chapter. Then the blurbs should actually become teasers for unpublished chapters. (Aren’t good intentions cute?)

*For the record, I don’t actually picture Rob** as Edward in very many fics, but the set of photos from which I borrowed for the banner made me think of Slayerward immediately.

**I prefer to picture Rob in my bedroom, feeding me white chocolate and singing Snow Patrol songs. Among other things.

And here you go…

Chapter 1
Bowling Shoe Blues (Edward)

“I felt the warning vibe like a cold finger at the base of my neck. My family and I had been hunting and killing vampires for as long as I could remember and there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that I drew breath today because of my total respect for the vibe.”

Songs: Open Your Eyes by Snow Patrol; Breathe In Breathe Out by Mat Kearney
(I have a shitload of songs for future chapters and welcome suggestions.)

Favorite reader review of this chapter: “Oh please let there be a tiny thought in Edward’s head to call his friend Buffy to ask her how she handled being in love with the undead :). Forks as a hellmouth makes much more sense then Sunnydale or Cleveland!” – ladyspinning

Keep reading The Family Business if you want in on the 401k plan. And suck up to the boss by leaving reviews.

http://www.fanfiction.net/u/2155721/SuzsPetals

Opening the doors on The Family Business

If you’re visiting my blogsite via open invitation, then you probably already know I’m a Twitard, and usually proud of it. After giving up on understanding — much less explaining — my obsession with an imaginary universe created by Stephenie Meyer, a couple of mediocre movies and a British actor young enough to be my… well, let’s just say he’s young, I gave in and drank the Kool-Aid.

I was in good company.

I’ve found a community of 834,016 other women in my general age range (I counted, but they all lied about their age) who are just as crazy. And we don’t care. We’re having too much fun to worry about what everyone else thinks is surely temporary insanity in need of a good 12-step program. We’re enjoying the ride and have no intention to stop for non-believers.

One of the unexpected side effects of the Twilight addiction is fan fiction. In case you weren’t aware, there are countless writers out there re-imagining, supplementing or completely warping Ms. Meyer’s magical world. I reluctantly gave in and read one after seeing it mentioned on a daily basis. Wide Awake by Angstgoddess003 is commonly and affectionately referred to in the Twi-community as the gateway drug to all fanfic.

From there, I read a few (read: too many to count) others and was soon in awe of the level of talent out there.* They’re writing stories good enough to publish, for fun and for FREE. Why would they do that?! Being a serious writer *cough*in my head*cough* I knew I would never go there. I love the characters Edward and Bella and couldn’t imagine bending them to my literary will. I had scruples and a mortgage.

You can see where this is going… I got an idea that seemed pretty different than any other story lines I’d read. I wrote a scene or two. Then a chapter appeared. Flash forward a few weeks and I have almost seven chapters written, a full outline of approximately 20 total chapters, a fan fiction account and three amazing people who read, edit, proof, nit-pick and crack-wise on each page I write.

I call it The Family Business and I am having the time of my life. Oh, and so I can rationalize the time spent on a story that will never cross a publisher’s desk, I admit that I’m learning so much about the writing process. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I am creating it. (It’s actually writing itself, but I’ll save that for another post, another day.)

If you’d like to see what Edward and Bella are up to in my world, go to

http://www.fanfiction.net/u/2155721/SuzsPetals

I’ll be using this blog for teasers, artwork and song lists for the story, but I’ll also be writing whatever happens to interest me and perhaps post a few non-Twi stories I’ve written. *I may list a fanfic recommendation sometimes, but I’m warning you – I’m picky.

Summary: Edward Cullen meets the girl of his dreams but keeps her at arm’s length due to his complicated, dangerous family life. When cruel irony brings them together again, he’s forced to make a devastating choice: Save her from a fate worse than death or save her from the family business. Definitely AU (Alternate Universe) It’s not for the kiddies.