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If I wrote this into a novel, people would say it was unrealistic. What’s your worst commuter story?

Have you ever had “one of those days”? Well, the other day I had “one of those” mornings. Have you ever had a day when you just couldn’t get in to work?

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Description unavailable (Photo credit: camera_obscura [busy])

No, it was not the black ice. Yeah, I slipped a bit… but I listened to the news and avoided the roads that were closed or otherwise backed up.

Oh, by the way, that picture shows how people save their parking spaces after they “dig out” They put folding chairs (usually plastic lawn chairs) in the spaces so no one steals their hard-earned spot.

I was actually having an enjoyable ride in— until I got into the city.

City driving is never fun, even on the best day. I’ve run into trash trucks, handicapped busses, pot holes, school busses, double parked cars, and poorly-timed lights— but never at the SAME TIME.

Today I was cruising into the city, doing fine, until I made a right turn into a big pile of poop.  If you have never driven in the outskirts of Philadelphia, imagine rows and rows of houses glued together sprawling down the street on both sides… like one continuous townhome that is only cut apart by side streets. You are on a two-way road that is barely passable in both directions because the plows have mounded snow around the cars that are parked on the side of the streets. (Where are the owners of these cars, anyway? Do they take public transit until the snow thaws or something)

Anyway… Up ahead, on the other side of the road in a trash truck heading toward me.  No problem, right? He’s on the other side of the road.

Enter problem number two

On my side, one car ahead of me, a handicapped bus stops and opens his doors. Again, no biggie. Someone will get on the bus, and then we will start moving again.  Well, he closed the doors, and started moving. A guy comes running down the road, and the bus opens his doors, and the guy jumps on.  Great, right?  He should start moving now.

Ah, no.

The bus sat there for at least five minutes with the door open. Mind you, traffic has now piled up behind me. I can also see traffic piling up behind the trash truck that moves about a foot a minute toward me.

Eventually, the guy jumps off the bus. Good. We should start moving now, right? No. We still sat. Trash truck is still just inching toward me. Eventually, someone goes by me on the sidewalk, pushing a wheelchair.

Now, I have nothing against this person in a wheelchair at all… but did the driver need the wheelchair to get all the way down the street, and have to talk to him before he thought to open the handicapped doors and let down that insanely slow ramp?

The trash truck is still inching toward me. I’m trapped, and I realize that there is not enough room for me and that trash truck between the piles of snow.

Please get that bus moving!

About twenty minutes into this whole escapade, I had to pull up onto the snow bank in order to not get squished, and the bus then started to move.  Whew!

Then I turned down pothole alley.

Let me tell you, if you are tired, nothing wakes you up like a pothole that goes all the way to China… and this guy was having a party because 15 or so of his friends were lined up behind him ready to eat unsuspecting tires.

Okay, great. I’m through that mess. That’s when I hit the miss-timed lights.

Come on!

All this traffic cannot get through a light that is only green for thirty seconds!  Geesh!

Finally, I turn on to The Boulevard. The main road through this part of the city.

Dead stop.

Grrrrr. As soon as I made it to a side street that I knew would bring me to the back of the building where I work, I took it. Hurrah!  Way off in the distance I can see the sparkling water tower and brick walls of my office.

That’s when I hit the school bus.

Now, I don’t know what it was like when you were a kid, but where I grew up, if you were not at the bus stop on time you were toast. Even if the driver saw you running for the bus, they would not stop.

What’s with this sitting in front of a house with a closed door waiting for a kid to come out?

Are you kidding me?

Now, I have hit this before, but the drivers are at least nice enough to put on their yellow lights as a warning, and all the drivers can still pass until the lights turn red. Makes sense, right?  Well, this driver DID have his yellow lights flashing, but he was PARKED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD.  And I am not exaggerating on that.  You know that little dotted line that divides the road? HE WAS STRADDLING IT. And not by accident. That line was dead center between his tires. And we waited… and waited… and the traffic piled up on both sides.

Anything else?

When we start moving, I hit a car double parked, running, with no driver in it right in front of a traffic light— the same traffic light that was getting backed up by the school bus. So I had to wait for the entire light to funnel through before I could get around him (took two lights of waiting).

Great! Home free!  I can see the security fence around my building. I am almost there!

But first, I had to maneuver through what felt like a Super Mario Bros. game.  In the space of one block… Three more double parked cars, and two more “see all the way to China” pot holes.

Ugh.

Can I ask anyone who lives in the city… Why do you have to pull your cars out into the middle of the road before you clean off the snow?  Sorry, I don’t get it. Don’t you see or care that you are stopping traffic?

On the other side of the bridge, where I live, you’d get a ticket for half the offenses I went through this morning.

I guess to put a positive spin on it… There was a lot of black ice. For those of you who do not know what that is, imagine driving, and then suddenly for no apparent reason your car turns into a spinning whirly-wheel of a car. You have absolutely no control and there is not a darn thing you can do about it until you hit something to make you stop. Not fun.

Anyway… All this nonsense FORCED me to go slow. So thank you, God, for getting me here safely today.

And thanks for reading.

No. I will not be putting all of that in a novel to “torture my characters”.  No one would believe it, anyway.

What’s your worst commute story?

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Raising The Bar-learning from your everyday read

This is a great article about learning from what you read, and working hard to make your writing dreams come true.

It is also one of the nicest reviews I have ever received.   Thank you JM!

Raising The Bar.

Did you send your first five pages to Breathless Press for critique?

It seems like all or most of the critiques are back now. Everyone is a flurry about the responses, and many who have never submitted anything before are scratching their heads thinking: “What does this mean?”

It all has me a little curious.  And I’d love it if you’d participate in a little survey. If you submitted two selections, please answer twice.  (Once  for each story) Of course, I’ll post the results in case anyone else is curious. Please choose only one response for each critique you received.

However it all played out, I hope it was an enlightening experience.

I’m wondering… Would you do this again if you had the chance?

Great opportunity! Get your first five pages critiqued by a professional editor

Dont forget!  today is the big day. Get those pages out there!

Great opportunity! Get your first five pages critiqued by a professional editor.

Why do we put up Christmas wreaths on our doors?

Don’t ya just hate it when your kid asks you a question and you think, umm, because we do, that’s why.

I never remember questioning anything when I grew up. We just did certain things at Christmas. I looked forward to it. But I never really asked “why”.

Did you as a lot of questions, or is this just a quirk of the new generation?

Anyway, this is the reason behind hanging a Christmas Wreath on a door, courtesy of our pastor. (I’ll paraphrase)

A Christmas wreath, in essence, is an advent wreath without the candles. it is a circle–without beginning or end, compromised of evergreen branches.  It symbolizes God’s everlasting love for us, and our hope in everlasting life with Jesus.

Wow. Pretty cool, huh?

So next time you see a wreath on a door, take a moment to remember the true meaning of the Christmas season.

Merry Christmas

Write a Story with Me #71: “Where’s the Baby” by Vanessa Jane Chapman

Write a Story with Me is a group endeavor just for the fun of it.  A different writer adds a new 250 words each week.  It is the ultimate Flash Fiction Challenge!

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Here’s this week’s excerpt.  We hope you enjoy!

#71 – Vanessa-Jane Chapman

Natalia leant back against the mighty trunk of the oak, grateful for its supportive strength. Her focus was on the skies; she scoured through the gaps in the web of branches high above her, desperate to catch a last glimpse of her daughters; perhaps if she could see which direction they headed…but it was futile. She slid down to the mossy ground, barely noticing the rough bark scraping her back as she passed over it. She clutched her son to her breast as his sobs subsided.

“I’m so sorry my precious little one,” she said. Her weak voice barely audible. “I’m so sorry for bringing you into this terrible world. I don’t know what will happen to us now, but I won’t let you down, I promise.”

Innocent eyes gazed back at hers. Natalia squeezed him closer. There must be an answer; somewhere there must be an answer. Could she call upon the true power of the fae now? To do that would mean trusting Morath, but how could she? And Yoran. Perhaps she should be patient and trust him to fix everything. Could he do that? The whirlwind of thoughts in her head picked up speed until she could no longer grasp a single thought, they seemed to meld together, they were a sea of white, and then black. Her head was full of blackness. And that was the last thing she remembered.

She awoke with moss and sharp twigs pressed painfully against her cheek. The baby. Where is the baby?

Want to read more?  See below for past excerpts.

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Parts One – Sixty-five Click Here

Part Sixty-Six – Joe Owens

Part Sixty-Seven – Shayla Kwiatkowski

Part Sixty-Eight – Anmol

Part Sixty-Nine – Norah Jansen

Part Seventy – Shannon Burton

Part Seventy-One – Vanessa Jane Chapman

Don’t forget to stop by next week to see what happens next.

Susan Rocan — TAG!  You are “It”

Write a Story With Me Contributors

shayla kwiatkowski gryphonboy Jennifer M. Eaton Vanessa Chapman
Siv Maria Sharon Manship shanjeniah Vikki (The View Outside)
Danielle Ackley-McPhail Richard Leonard susanroebuck Jenny Keller Ford
aparnauteur kaidamian Eileen Snyder Elin Gregory
Joe Owens anelephantcant mysocalledDutchlife Nicky Wells
norahdeayjansen Julie Catherine Ravena Guron
Anmol     jiltaroo 4amWriter mywithershins

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Learning to Draw Manga #8.5 – Walking Draft

This week I decided to take on some movement, and there is a lot of perspective to have to worry about when a character is walking toward you.

manga 9 walkI got bleary-eyed before I was able to finish, but here is where I am so far with it.

I started with seven lines to help keep all those body parts in proportion, and followed the directions very closely.

This is tough because her Right arm (and leg) are in a perspective that makes them look smaller at this point.

And the swinging left arm (on the right side of the picture) seems so long and gangly, but it should be longer, because it is swinging toward me.

Now it looks kind of goofy, but I’m sure when I sit down with a fresh set of eyes next time, it will all come together.

I’m also a little nervous to tackle realistic hands as well.

Even at the height of my talents when I was younger, hands seemed to escape me.

Wish me luck! Hopefully I will have a finished product I won’t be too ashamed to post next week. :-)

swish swivel squiggle

Interested in a slow stroll along the road of Manga?

I’m learning to draw Manga with my son.

Here are my posts on our progress so far.

swish swivel squiggle

Learning to Draw Manga #1 Rekindling hobbies you love (with your kids)

Learning to Draw Manga #2 3/4 view girl

Learning to Draw Manga #3 Front View Boy

Learning to Draw Manga #4 My own character (fail?)

Learning to Draw Manga #5 Profile View

Learning to Draw Manga #6 First Ink – Adult woman

Learning to Draw Manga #7 Adult 3/4 view

Learning to Draw Manga #8 Chibi Full body pose

Learning to Draw Manga #8.5 Walking draft

Related articles

_JenniFer____EatoN

A Review of “The Romance Novel Book Club” by Kastil Eavenshade

After crying my eyes out over the last novel I read, I REALLY needed a light fun read. I’d heard great things about “The Romance Novel Book Club” so I decided to give it a whirl. It ended up being a combination of everything I wanted, and also what I was trying to avoid.

Very mild spoiler alert: I will try not to give too much away.

“The Romance Novel Book Club” starts out as a whimsical story told in a great voice. We have a woman who reads a lot of Romance novels, and is looking for a whirlwind relationship like that in real life. The comparisons she makes to romance novels are truly hysterical, and for quite a long time I was reading with a smile on my face.

Then…. There was this shift.

Same girl. Same plotline, but after messing up her umteenth relationship, she begins dealing with an addiction problem that was a bit disturbing to me.

Addiction of every kind makes me want to yack. I find it truly sad that anyone could become totally dependent on anything. (Other than chocolate… that’s okay in my book. :-) )

Anyway… same great voice… same joking… but I began to seriously dislike the main character. At one point, she picks on a wayward waiter that she sets up as the “bad guy” – Normally I would have thought of this person as the bad guy, too… but I just ended up feeling sorry for him. I was considering stopping reading, until – quite to my surprise – the character admitted to her friend that she thought she might have an addiction.

For some reason, that admission – and also having the warm and fuzzy that the author MEANT me to have all those uncomfortable feelings, made me feel better. So I kept reading.

Thanks goodness that from that point forward, things started to get better. Once she had admitted to the addiction, she had the will to try to fight it, and I started to like her again.

So, yes, this is a book that will put a smile on your face, but it will also scare you a little bit. The author tackles a very serious subject. This is NOT a Romance novel. You might consider it an Anti-Romance novel. But there is a romance in it as well… and a happy ending, thank goodness.

Oh… and this is DEFINITELY for the 18 and over crowd.

Scratch that. 21 and over.

Maybe 25 and over.

Not for the kiddies. Get it?

JenniFer_EatonF

Learning to draw Manga # 8: Chibi full body pose

[[[Cringe]]] I’ve been afraid to try a full body anything.  Even when I was drawing regularly, bodies scared me.  I was never able to get the proportions right.

I was happy that the learning to draw book started out with a nice, friendly Chibi.

Chibi is a form of Manga art that is meant to be whimsical.  Large heads, and a body three heads high.

Here she is.

Manga Chibi tall

I’m not crazy about the legs, but this is nearly exactly what the example in the book looks like for the legs.  Things always look better when someone ELSE had drawn them.

I like to look at it like this.

Manga Chibi crop

She looks better without her legs.

Next time [[shivers]] more realistic full body poses—with MOVEMENT.  Yikes!

swish swivel squiggle

Interested in a slow stroll along the road of Manga?

I’m learning to draw Manga with my son.

Here are my posts on our progress so far.

swish swivel squiggle

Learning to Draw Manga #1 Rekindling hobbies you love (with your kids)

Learning to Draw Manga #2 3/4 view girl

Learning to Draw Manga #3 Front View Boy

Learning to Draw Manga #4 My own character (fail?)

Learning to Draw Manga #5 Profile View

Learning to Draw Manga #6 First Ink – Adult woman

Learning to Draw Manga #7 Adult 3/4 view

Learning to Draw Manga #8 Chibi Full body pose

What is the most popular YA Genre ?

Jennifer M Eaton:

What do kids really want to read, and where do they get their books? This is a great poll done by Jenny Keller Ford. Check it out!

Originally posted on Y.A. Scribbles and Scoops:

When I started my YA 101 series a month ago, I put out a request for readers, between the ages of 13 and 20 to take part in a not so scientific poll to find out what they like to read and what is their favorite genre.  The results surprised even me.  Below are the questions I asked and below that are my results.

Out of the following categories, what is your favorite genre to read:

  • Adventure (i.e.:  Island of the Blue Dolphin; Harry Potter)
  • Contemporary (i.e.:  Sarah Dessen novels; The Fault in our Stars)
  • Dystopian (i.e.: Hunger Games; Divergent)
  • Fantasy / Sci Fi (i.e.:  Eragon / I am Number Four)
  • Paranormal Romance (i.e.: Twilight, Beautiful Chaos)
  • Steampunk (i.e.:  Cinder; Leviathan)
  • Urban Fantasy (i.e.:  Percy Jackson; City of Bones)

How do you find books to read?

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