300WP: Something I Bought Used

300-writing-prompts

I got one of those books as a gift that offers x number of writing/drawing/meditation/etc. prompts. I’m going to try to use these as blog post prompts. Feel free to blog along with me, if you are so inclined. I will randomly open the book and then choose a prompt for the blog.

Today’s prompt is: Write about something you bought used.

We just moved into a new house a month ago. My husband and I laughed about how nearly all of our stuff is secondhand. It felt all grown uppy and adult to get ALL NEW appliances for the kitchen. We haven’t bought any new furniture yet but here’s a list of the major pieces and where they came from:

Living room couch and armchair: Used, Purchased off Craigslist for $400 in 2007. I got it from a couple who’d ordered it sight-unseen from a catalog and vastly underestimated the size to space ratio. They’d only had it for four months so it was practically new.

Dining table and chairs and grandfather clock: Used: inherited from Husband’s grandmother

Sharper Image Massage Chair: Used, purchased off Craigslist when I was pregnant.

My desk: Used, purchased off Craigslist (originally from Ikea)

Our bed/mattress: New, bed from Ikea, mattress from Amazon

Poang chair: Used, Craigslist (originally Ikea)

Dressers in our bedroom: Used, one was my mom’s, one was a friend who moved and didn’t want to take it with her

Dresser in the boys’ room: Used, it was mine when I was a kid

Dining room mirror: Used, bought at an antique shop when I moved into my first apartment

Husband’s desk: New, made out of a butcher block countertop and Ikea desk drawers

Boys’ beds: New, given as a gift when they were born

I grew up in a family of reusers, upcyclers, wear-it-outers. We drove cars until the wheels fell off. I check eBay and Craigslist before I look for new stuff. I love consignment stores, thrift shops, yard sales. The newest cars I’ve had are our current vehicles: a 2007 Ford Edge (We inherited it from Husband’s grandmother in 2013) and a 2014 dealer demo Prius we got in 2015.

We didn’t have a ton of money growing up, so we had to use things up, wear them out, make them do, or do without. I never had stylish clothes.

I laugh at a home builder commercial on the radio. The woman is HORRIFIED that people live in “USED HOUSES.” I admit, it’s a stroke of marketing genius to suggest that only a brand new built home is somehow better, but it’s also a load of bullshit. Our “new” home is 117 years old and I couldn’t be happier about that.

 

An email from a fan

I got this email the other day, via the “contact us” link on my website (www.saraothompson.com).

superfan

SO I guess I better get to writing something interesting, huh? SO MUCH PRESSURE. Next time, Essie, please tell me which posts were especially interesting to you.

Then I remember I DID write something not boring.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to post and respond to every goofy email I get. I think this one is funny though. Clearly, she’s read ALL my blog posts and just wants MOAR BLOGS PLZ.

Let’s see. What have I got to write about?

I’m pretty much divided like this, timewise:

  • Work (I have a day job at a major health insurance company)
  • Family (Twins, and my husband is a critical care nurse)
  • The Book (Releases in just over two months so I’m doing marketing, etc.)
  • House (we just moved and I’m still unpacking, organzing, hanging stuff on the walls)
  • Other (gym, improv practice, hanging out with friends, reading, etc.)

That’s about it. I don’t have kooky neighbors to write about. I’m not interested (and neither are you) in musing over my own mental health (or lack thereof). You won’t find a bunch of smarm about my kids or motherhood or what have you (privacy, y’all). I might write more about the marketing parts of the book, but that will be in a separate post.

So here is some random brain-bot-generated items for your consideration.

I had Kool-Aid (cherry) yesterday, for the first time in decades. It really took me back to my childhood: hot Kentucky summers when my sister and I would bum around the house and our neighborhood and I made gallons of the stuff.

I’ve become someone who complains about the grocery store and actively laments not being able to shop at the one we went to before we moved, which is now too far away for convenience.

I don’t like vests (I mean sweaters or jackets without sleeves). I get the point of them…I guess… But I also hate shorts (trousers that stop at the knee, rather than carry on to the ankle). And vests are shorts for your torso. I look terrible in shorts so I only wear them to do sporty things. So maybe that’s why I hate vests? I hate torsoshorts.

Our new house? Is in the dodgy end of the neighborhood.

I really want to be a famous enough author that I can justify the eccentric look from this site. And to afford stuff from here and here. Oh, and to make enough to quit my job and write all the time.

Patreon. I’m considering it.

That’s it for now! Being serious though, I will try to post more often.

 

*Author’s update/edit: Someone pointed out that I shouldn’t post anyone’s personal info. This is true. I wasn’t worried about that in this case because that is clearly a bot sending the email. However, to be sure and just in case and covering my bases, I have omitted the bot’s sender’s name in the screen picture.

 

 

 

 

January News

Well. Here we are, in 2017.

Just to catch you up, this is what’s going on since you last heard from me:

New house We relocated within the city and now my morning commute is SEVEN MINUTES (versus 25-30 from the old house). It’s a pretty 116-year-old home with creaky floors and lots of natural light. We love it. Our family study/office is in the added-on part of the house and is therefore not level. If I’m not careful, when I’m sitting at my desk in the rolly chair, I will drift toward the windows. I really hope NOT to have the same neighbor problems we’ve had in the past, but if we do, I’ll definitely share.

HOLIDAYS We moved 4 days before Christmas so instead of one big tree, I got 4 table top size trees (one for each of us) and put up the stockings, called it a day.

Book launch prep WE ARE THREE MONTHS AWAY FROM THE BOOK BEING LOOSE IN THE WORLD OMG OMG OMG. I’m having a freak out about this. There are so many things I can’t do until these three months, so I’m nervous!!!

Sick friends On a serious note, I have several friends who are dealing with serious illnesses. These are people my age, not “old” people, and it’s scary. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

More about the book:

I’m going to organize a Thunderclap campaign for the cover reveal and the launch. I’ll post more about that in the coming weeks.

You’ll be able to get the book in three formats: physical copy, e-book, and audio book. Hooray!

If you haven’t done so, I’d love to have you sign up for my newsletter if you want more book-related/word-nerdery. It’s out every other month or so, and I won’t sell your email address unless someone offers me a million dollars for it.

I hope you are well, and that 2017 brings you everything you hope for!

 

NaNoWriMo 2016

It’s apparently been 6 years since I did National Novel Writing Month. I’ve been working on book 2 of my urban fantasy series since the beginning of the summer and it’s been… I don’t like to call it writer’s block. It’s more of a writer’s constipation. I know the story is in there, but it just won’t come out. (Yes, I’m aware that I just compared my writing to poop. It’s what we in the biz call a ‘metaphor.’)

You’re supposed to start NaNoWriMo with a blank slate. No words written until November 1. I’m totally cheating. I had about 33k written and couldn’t get past that. I thought this would be a good challenge, a kick in the skirt to get those last 50+ thousand words down on paper.

I’m up to almost 38k as of this morning and it’s not entirely crap. I must keep reminding myself that it’s okay to write crap. It’s easier to shape a big pile of words than it is to shape and edit 250 blank pages. The trick is in the editing.

In the midst of all this, we are about to move. We’re staying in Louisville, but moving closer in toward town/our friends/things we like to do/my family/my job/better schools/this really great bagel shop. Plus the holidays are coming up. I would love to get this draft done and out to my beta readers by February but I don’t know if that will work. I still get up early and write before the boys are up, still do research and thinking throughout the day, and sometimes write a few hundred words at night.

Still working on getting my newsletter out in a timely fashion so if you haven’t signed up, you can do so here. The archive isn’t updated but it will be soon. I plan to add some short videos, too. You can also like my Facebook page, if you are a Facebooklet.

That’s all for now. Next post will (I hope) have more fun details about the Book.

Book Reports: Eighth Grade

Forever_JudyBlume

Ok, so, I went to a private Catholic school from kindergarten through eighth grade. My favorite class was always English, and its permutations – Literature, Language Arts, etc. I could diagram a sentence in 20 seconds. My spelling was on point. My vocabulary was HUGE. (Just ask my fourth grade teacher. She gave me a low grade in Language Arts because, and I quote, “Sara often uses words she doesn’t know the meaning of.” Which is utter. Total. Complete. Bullshit. She never asked me if I knew the meaning of those words, and I was using them correctly. But I digress.)

In the eighth grade, we did book reports. One per month. We had a class period in the school library where you picked your book and then told the teacher the title. I suppose this was so you didn’t repeat books from month to month, or read a little-kid board book. (I mean, who DOES that?? Who DOESN’T want to read a book?? I didn’t get it.)

The librarian was newish to the school. She took over when Mrs. Wolff, who was the sweetest woman, retired. The new librarian’s two kids went to our school and she was pretty cool. I don’t remember her name… We’ll call her Mrs. Smith.

I browsed the paperback rack of choose-your-own-adventures, classics like The Witch of Blackbird Pond and (my favorite, but I’d already read this for a prior report) Island of the Blue Dolphins. It was getting toward the end of the hour we had allotted to pick a book.

Finally, I grabbed a Judy Blume I hadn’t read and got in line to tell the teacher which book I’d chosen. After all, I’d read tons of Judy Blume. Tales a Fourth Grade Nothing, Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself, Blubber, The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo.

Here I should perhaps mention that I was not curious about bodies. Or sex. My mom explained how babies are made, sure, but I really didn’t feel the need to know any of the squishier details. We certainly  hadn’t yet watched the childbirth video that would traumatize the entire class for the next decade.

If you have never read Forever, Judy Blume’s take on teenage sexuality, well… (SPOILER ALERT) It’s about a high school girl who has sex for the first time with her boyfriend, then they break up because she meets a sexy tennis instructor and she wants to do sex with Mr. Tennis Balls, instead of the guy who calls his penis “Ralph.”

I WAS SCANDALIZED.

I was also really embarrassed.

But THIS was the book I’d chosen. And THIS was the book I would report on. I was too embarrassed to tell my teacher what had happened. I mean, it was a Catholic school. She would have TOTALLY let me pick another book on the basis that I should probably not be reading this anyway.

We filled out worksheets with open-ended questions on the book. I’ve never turned in such…blank assignment.

Q: “Write a description of the book.”

A: “Katherine is a teenager who has a relationship with Michael. They break up and she begins dating Theo.”

Q: “What was the central conflict of this book?”

A: “A girl struggles with growing pains.”

Q: “What are some of the themes?”

A: “Growing up. Relationships. Feelings.”

I got a C on the report. But I didn’t care. DID NOT CARE. Because I didn’t want to explain any further than I did. I just wanted to put this incident behind me.

A few weeks after that, I was back in the library, researching for a different assignment. I made some comment about being surprised that such a book would be in our school library. Mrs. Smith knew exactly what I was talking about. She replied, “Some authors get to be so big, their publishers let everything they write go to print.”

We had an understanding.

My dad was a big reader, and that’s where I got my love of books and reading. My mom is not much of a reader, and isn’t widely read, so they didn’t bat an eye when I read Lady Chatterley’s Lover in seventh grade. (I know, I know, you’re thinking: She was outraged at Forever but didn’t know what the fuss was about Lady Chatterley? All I can say is, I am large. I contain multitudes.)

Though at the time I was shocked that a book like Forever would be in my grade school library, I think in retrospect, I’m glad we weren’t censored in that way. I was allowed to read what I wanted to, above and beyond my grade level. And sometimes I was shocked or embarrassed or I just didn’t understand the context of the literature. But I learned how to read, really read, and understand. So thanks, Mrs. Smith, and Parents of mine. For giving me free reign.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Only Happy When It Rains

Monday is typically my twin sons’ day at “school.” But since one of them has been throwing up since about noon yesterday, I am working from home. A home coated in old blankets and towels to catch all the goo.

I am happy to stay home on days like today. A few hours ago, my friends were all posting pictures of the sky – dark and ominous horizons, huge cloud banks rolling in, trees mid-whip in the wind. Yes, I thought. I’m happy to be home today.

When I was about five, maybe six, a storm like this began to brew. It was mid-afternoon. My mom had a clear plastic umbrella with a white tassel on the J-shaped handle. I ran outside with that umbrella and sat on the sidewalk. The umbrella formed a toadstoolish cover to keep me dry as the rain pelted down. I was fascinated, watching the ground around me form a perfect circle of dry pavement. I could look up and see the rain racing down at me.

“What are you doing?” My mom called from the front stoop.

I don’t remember exactly what I said. Probably a sheepish, “Nothing…” Which meant, I don’t know what it’s called but it’s making me happy.

Another time, not long after that, I walked up and down the short street on one side of our house. Rain pouring down, with that clear umbrella. My dad hollered from the back porch, “You look like the Morton Salt Girl!”

The truth is, I don’t love sunny weather. My English-Irish skin burns too easily. I hate being hot. I hate sweating and smelling bad. I’m not good at outdoor things like sports. Or tanning. I loathed summer vacation because I like a lot of structured time. When I was a kid, nobody had invented helicopter parenting, and we didn’t have a ton of money, so my summers were spent watching cartoons, reading, riding my bike aimlessly around the neighborhood.

Rainy days at school meant we did indoor things like coloring. YASSSS COLORING. I like indoor things. Board games and reading and watching movies.

I’ll go outside in the rain. I like umbrellas. I’ll run through the rain and splash in puddles. Everybody is good at that.

I’m not sure how I would do in a rainier climate, like the Pacific Northwest. But I’d like to visit. Just to see.