"There's no point in spending your life in the pursuit of something that's easy." - Alice Kuipers

Friday, August 31, 2012


Today my darling sister is getting married, so you're on your own! See you on Monday!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

No TV Makes Melanie Something Something

Lately I've been trying to cut down on my TV watching, in an effort to garner more time for reading and writing. Since I was small, I've been a complete TV zombie. I love it. Especially anything animated and funny. Even now, my husband has to literally shake me from my comatose state whenever the TV's on just to get my attention.

So, I guess it should come as no surprise that since my TV reduction, I've had a non-stop playlist of Simpsons quotes and opening TV show themes running through my head.

"And how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain. Remember when I took that home wine making course, and I forgot how to drive?"

"Me fail English? That's unpossible."

Homer: "So what do you think Marge? All it needs is a title. I was thinking along the lines of 'No TV and No Beer Make Homer something, something."
Marge: "Go crazy?"
Homer: "Don't mind if I do!"

These are just a few of the many that have been playing on repeat for the last few days. I guess I'm going through TV withdrawal. And yet, whenever I start to feel weak and long to turn the TV back on again, it's a Simpsons quote that keeps me from doing it! The quote comes from when Bart is trying to use his imagination to entertain himself and comes up with nothing. Frustrated, he exclaims that TV has ruined his imagination. What better motivation does a writer need? So, I'm keeping the TV off, and my imagination in tact.

What vices get in the way of your writing time?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Advice for my Twelve Year Old Self

There is a prompt in The Writer's Idea Book by Jack Heffron, in which you picture your twelve year old self and come up with a list of questions they would ask you about the future and your future self. Next, you're supposed to answer those questions. It's a really neat prompt, and I had a lot of fun with it. It also got me to thinking about what kind of advice I'd give my younger self if I got the chance. So, I wrote it down. I highly suggest you try this exercise for yourselves (as well as pick up The Writer's Idea Book and give it a try), but in the mean time, here is my own list of advice for my twelve year old self.

1. Start saving money. Immediately. The world is going to get way more expensive, and it will be a lot harder to get started. Start saving for your down payment now, because fourteen years from now you'll have a mortgage, a dog and a job that doesn't pay as well as it needs to, and you're going to wish you had a lot more money put aside.

2. Don't listen to your auntie when you tell her you want to be a writer and she tells you they don't make any money and that you should do something else. The other careers you end up in don't make any money either and they don't make you happy. Stick with writing, you're going to end up there anyway. Your love of the written word doesn't fade over time, it just keeps growing. It's okay to follow the impossible dream.

3. If the popular girls don't like you, you're doing something right. I know you already know that, but I just wanted to let you know that you're proven right later on. Because you have a wonderful husband and a great life, and they're knocked up with multiple strangers' babies. Or in rehab.

4. Be ambitious. Don't look for the easy career, the quick fix or the simple answer. Dig deep. You have a lot of potential, so don't give up, tap into it!

5. I know everyone thinks you're lazy and that you have a bad attitude, but you're not and you don't. Well, it's kind of true (and that doesn't change), but not when it comes to the things you really want. Figure out what you want and go for it! Believe me, you'll work yourself near to death for the things you love. And if you start now, there's no limit to what you'll accomplish.

That's just a few pieces of the advice I'd give my younger self. And you know what? They're applicable now, too. What would you tell your younger self?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Blush

Ah, another Friday has arrived. And this time, no illness! At least I hope not. I better knock on wood just to be sure. Last weekend sucked. I was sick for almost the entirety of it, was utterly miserable and got nothing done. I'm hoping this weekend turns out a lot better. Last weekend sure didn't set the bar very high. Anyway, as you know, Friday means more than just the weekend. It's also time for another round of Five Sentence Fiction. If you'd like to find out what it's all about, or give it a try, please visit Lillie McFerrin Writes. This week's prompt is blush.

She could feel it creeping up under her cheeks like fire, making her face radiate with heat. The brambles and twigs poked and snagged at her skin, but she didn't move, not a muscle. 
She watched with wide eyes, unwilling to look away as naked skin moved against naked skin, the moans of delight cascading over her ears, making her sweat. 
Her mother had been right. There were a lot of interesting things to see in the forest.

 Did I make you blush? Well, I hope you enjoyed this one, and I hope your weekend is filled with good times, good health and good sleep. If you're still hankering for more Five Sentence Fiction, just check out the links below. See you on Monday!

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Night
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Distance
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Victory
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Perseverance

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

I'm sure you've heard the old saying, "one step forward, two steps back." (And if not, well, you have now).

I'm pretty sure this saying was written about me, or if not, perhaps one of the good fairies said it while waving her wand over my crib as a baby. (Yes, I am making a Sleeping Beauty reference. I'm glad you caught that). For as long as I can remember, (which, granted, is not that long) my life has been an uphill comedy. I push the boulder up the hill, only to have to come rolling back down on top of me. And more often than not, it has to do with money.

I'm not what you'd call a financially minded person. I'm an impulsive, impatient, creative type that refuses to think things through or stand back and look at things from a strictly logical perspective. It's taken a long time, and a lot of 'avoidable but never avoided' bumps in the road for me to get my act together. And I'm still very much a work in progress.

This summer, I created a new budget. Not just any budget, a thoroughly well thought out, logical, easy to follow budget. And I was so very proud of it. I've made many attempts at budgets before, but they've never really stuck. But this time, I'd created a masterpiece. Why did I do this? Sure, there's the logical, financially responsible reasons. But the real reason, my true purpose, was for Paris. Next summer will be my husband and my fifth wedding anniversary. And I want to spend it in Paris. So, I was trying to look ahead, get our finances in order, and start saving for our beautiful, romantic get away. And things have been going really well. Until my husband found our ice cream melted in our freezer.

It seems our fridge is on its last legs. And although, in the grand scheme of things, it is a minor deviation. I can't help but feel deflated. Because this time it's the fridge. But next month it's the washing machine. And the month after that? The dishwasher. My husband and I have the worst luck when it comes to finances. No matter how hard we try to save, life always throws a wrench in our plans. But I'm trying to remain positive. I'm not going to stop with the budget. I'm going to keep saving. Even if we don't make it to Paris for our fifth anniversary, maybe we'll make it for our tenth. With all the crap that goes wrong in our lives, that's probably how long I'll need to save up for it anyway.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Life Lessons I Learned This Weekend

1. Never take your health for granted. You could be perfectly fine one day (say, Thursday) and wake up perfectly ill the next (for instance, with a truly sore throat and nasty sinus congestion on Friday morning).

2. Never complain about how poorly you feel, or how inconvenient it is. Things can go from bad to worse in the blink of an eye. (For example, you could wake up Saturday morning no longer with a cold, but spend the next twelve hours continuously vomiting and feeling so nauseous that every time your husband asks if he can get you anything you beg for a bullet and a gun).

3. Never mix cold medications. Ever. (Trust me. Just refer to number two.)

4. It's entirely possible to be hungry and hate food at the same time.

5. Never assume that you'll accomplish a lot on the weekends. Use the time you have, while you have it. Fate loves to throw a monkey wrench in all your plans.

6. Enjoy your food. Savor every bite that doesn't make your stomach rumble with warning. Tomorrow just the sight of it could make you turn green.

7. Never underestimate the comfort a loving husband or a good friend can bring you when you're feeling at your worst. There's nothing more soothing than a loving hand to help you up, or hold back your hair. Cherish those that are willing to do that for you.

8. Time, and some good 'bad' TV, heals all wounds. (And viruses).

9. Do the dishes while you're well. Because there'll only be bigger stacks of them waiting for you when you get better.

10. Never mix cold medications. Ever. (It had to be repeated. It was a big lesson.)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Night

If Friday were an island, I'd be a sailor who's been lost at sea for weeks. I just want to get down on my knees and kiss it over and over, thanking God I finally found it. I can think of no better way to celebrate the coming of the weekend than with Five Sentence Fiction. This week's prompt is night. If you'd like to find out what Five Sentence Fiction is all about, or give it a try, just visit Lillie McFerrin Writes. And now, on with the show!

When I was a child, we were often plagued by thunderstorms, especially at night. We'd be snuggled in our beds, listening to the boom of thunder, the flashes of lightning the only break in the darkness. The power would often be out until morning, and I've never since known a more complete darkness. That is, until I saw his eyes. Those black pools drew me in as strongly as mom used to tuck in the blankets, and I knew right then I was in trouble.

When I was little, I loved night time. I felt like the darkness had wrapped its arms around me and cocooned me in its embrace. I'm a little more leery now that I'm older and I know it can also hide certain kinds of monsters, but it still holds a certain kind of magic, doesn't it? I was so glad when I saw it as a prompt on Lillie McFerrin's website. I could probably write a whole collection just based on that prompt, but I hope you enjoyed this one. If you're still jonesing for more Five Sentence Fiction, just check out the links below. Have a great weekend!

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Distance
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Victory
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Perseverance
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Scarlet

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Fall is Coming...

We are officially half way through August. The days are getting just a little shorter, and the temperature just a little cooler in that oh so cruel reminder that summer cannot last forever. And even though I still have the same amount of hours in the day, it still feels as though they're getting shorter too. I can't seem to get everything done. I keep running out of time. And at the end of the day I'm kicking myself over the seemingly endless list of tasks I failed to accomplish.

It's possible that I'm only feeling rushed because it's getting darker sooner. It does tend to make the days feel so much shorter. But I can't seem to shake it. Even though I get out of bed earlier and go to bed later, I'm getting less done instead of more. Despite my To Do Lists, despite my attempts at efficiency, I'm still running behind. Fall had better stay away for a little while yet, I have way too much to do.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Stephen King's On Writing

Recently I read Stephen King's On Writing, and I have to say, I LOVED it. Not only was his memoir fascinating, inspirational and downright quirky, his advice on writing was excellent. It was simple and down to earth. Previously, I'd read The Right to Write by Julia Cameron, and although it was good, it was also a little too granola and new age for me. Stephen King was much less grand about the whole idea and easier to relate to. He's a realist, and I like that.

One of his main pieces of advice when it came to improving your writing was to just do it a lot. Simple, right? Well, he means A LOT. His suggestion was to read and write for four to six hours a day. Granted, it's not all writing, some of that time can and should be spent reading, but that's still a large block of time. When I first read his advice, I was rather intimidated. After all, I work full time. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn't that unreasonable. When I considered how much time I spend watching TV, it became rather obvious that I have a lot more time at my disposal than I'd first thought.

So, I'm going to try it. Actually, I started last week, and it went pretty well. There were two days when it just didn't happen, I was too tired, too busy and there just wasn't the time. But on the whole, I was surprised by how easy it was to fit it in. Once I turned off the TV, everything fell into place.

Yesterday was the beginning of week two, and I'm feeling really good. Knowing how much time I need to commit to reading and writing makes me feel more serious, more inspired. I highly suggest that if you haven't read On Writing that you do so immediately. And if you aren't a writer, read it anyway. It's worth it just for his memoir. Stephen King is a fascinating man and I loved reading his story.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Distance

It's Friday, and I'm a little behind. Normally, I type these up the night before, so they're ready to go for the next day. Instead, last night was a frenzy of activity followed by my immediate faceplant into bed, comatose. I completely forgot until I was at work this morning, which sucks because the web browser here is so old it doesn't really support blogger. Therefore, I'm unable to format properly, making it all look a little... blah. In any case, I didn't want to disappoint, so here it is. This week's prompt was DISTANCE. If you'd like to find out what Five Sentence Fiction is all about, or give it a try, just visit Lillie McFerrin Writes. Here we go!

Distance makes the heart grow fonder, at least that's what they say. I'm hoping it makes his heart grow colder, that each mile dims his memory of me, that he won't try and follow.
Not that he can, mother made sure of that. She took my hair, and she took his sight. He'll never see me again.

It's rather short this week, but I hope you enjoyed it. As always, I welcome all your comments, questions and suggestions in the comments section below. If you'd really like to make my day, you could follow this blog or come find me on twitter @MelanieKCole. Check out the links below to read previous Five Sentence Fiction Fridays. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Just a Dream

Well, it's Wednesday. That means the week is just about half over. At least it will be by the end of the day. I suppose it depends on what time you're reading this. Either way, Wednesday is kind of a transitory day, the gateway between the beginning of the week and the end. The weekend always feels so much closer on Wednesday evenings than it does on Wednesday mornings, wouldn't you agree? And to help ease you through this transition, I've written a little piece of flash fiction for your enjoyment. It's my way of making the time flow just a little faster. Enjoy!

Just a Dream

The phone rings in the middle of the night,  a loud, jarring sound. I sit up in bed, heart aching with the pain of waking so quickly from such a deep sleep. I fight my way through tangled sheets to the edge of the bed, desperate to quiet the awful sound.
 "Hello?" My voice is groggy, even though my heart is racing. Something awful must have happened for a call to come so late.
There's a pause, and the muffled sound of breathing before the line goes dead. I'm left with the phone in my hand, my mind still sandy with sleep. 
"It's probably just a wrong number."
I say the words aloud, although there's no one there to hear them. It's just me, and it has been for several years now. 
An hour goes by and my eyes are once again heavy with sleep before the phone rings again. It's less jarring this time; perhaps I've been expecting it. I find the phone easier, it's closer. I only have to reach out and grab it. 
The line is silent. A moment of hesitation before the audible click and the call is over.
I lie back and rest my head against the pillow. Sleep is already tugging at my eyes, fighting with the questions these phone calls are inspiring.
It rings a third time. Impatient. Insisting. I pick it up, cradling it against my face in the dark.
I listen to the words, eyes closed. The familiarity of the voice as pronounced as the corners of my bed, despite the impossibility.
I nod along, so tired I can barely stand it. I listen to the voice on the line, try to memorize the words, the directions. 
In the morning, I'll believe this was all a dream.

I hope you've enjoyed this latest venture into flash fiction. I did! As always, I welcome your comments below in the comments section. Please feel free to follow this blog and share it with friends. Don't forget to find me on twitter @MelanieKCole. Have a great Wednesday, everyone!

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Lake

Yesterday, my husband and I spent the day out at the lake celebrating his grandparents sixtieth anniversary. It was an interesting day for me, as I'm really not much of a lake person. Even as a child, while everyone else was down at the beach or out playing mini golf and riding dirt bikes, my mother just couldn't seem to expel me from the warm sanctum of our trailer into the wilderness. And that's not to say that I dislike the outdoors, or beaches for that matter. I find the wilderness peaceful (although not at the lake where only a few trees separate the crowds from each other) and I love beaches. It's just that the beaches I love are in front of oceans and belong to beautiful resorts sporting cabanas and pools with swim up bars. Not to mention my horror of what I find to be the lake's biggest downfall: the bugs. Since I was a child I've had a deep seated fear and dislike for bugs. Specifically, anything that could fly. Be it wasps, bees, horseflies, spruce bugs or mosquitoes.

In true nerd form, I preferred to stay inside, devouring my way through stacks and stacks of books. There were only two reasons I found suitable enough to venture out for. The first was when my stack of books ran out and I was forced to trek over to the dingy lake book store and pillage its shelves for more. The second was when the sun finally set and everyone gathered around the campfire to swap stories and conversation. Those times were magical for me as a child. More often than not, the conversation would be too engaging for my parents to keep track of the time and I'd sit quietly without notice long past my bedtime. I loved sitting in the flicker of the firelight, listening to the stories, the way they seemed to flow out of everyone like honey. Something about the fire bewitched us all, calling forth epic tales of triumph and failure; and stories so funny and rude they'd almost make you wet your pants.

Yes, I have some very fond memories of the lake, but very few of them actually contain the lake itself. What I remember most are the stories, both the ones I read and the ones I listened to. I'll never be a lake person, I don't think I'll ever truly understand the joy others get from packing up their things and escaping to rustic cabins for the weekend. But I'm still grateful to it. The lake separated me from the usual forms of distractions and let me bury myself in stories. As a writer, that's something I can appreciate.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Victory

Welcome to Friday and another episode of Five Sentence Fiction! Are you feeling as victorious as I am? I feel like this week was longer than most. As you've probably already guessed, this week's prompt is Victory. If you'd like to find out more about Five Sentence Fiction, or give it a try yourself, just visit Lillie McFerrin Writes. Enjoy!

I enjoy watching him sweat, his skin glistening as his eyes dart back and forth, his tongue sliding repeatedly over his chapped lips.
He makes his move with a trembling hand and I smile, reaching out to capture his queen the moment he releases it.
He walks away slowly, his envelope of cash resting in my pocket. Victory is mine.

There we have it! I hope you all enjoy your weekend, and if you're still in the mood for more Five Sentence Fiction, just follow the links below. Don't forget to follow this blog and find me on twitter @MelanieKCole.

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Perseverance
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Scarlet
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Composure
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Pirates

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite

"What do you mean they were spraying for bed bugs?"

I stared at my husband's solemn face as horror rolled through me. Nothing had prepared me for his news. The apartment building my husband had been replacing windows in for the past week or two had just had an exterminator come in that day for bed bugs. All week long my husband might have been bringing home something a lot worse than his dirty lunch containers.

Immediately, I began to feel itchy. My skin crawled as though a thousand tiny insect legs were walking all over my body. I felt ... dirty.

Bed bugs had been considered a thing of the past for so long, nothing but a creepy nursery rhyme to scare children with. But in recent years there's been a resurgence all over North America, occurrences steadily increasing. I'd heard it on the news a couple of times over the years but never paid much attention. Not anymore!

Suddenly, I became a google fiend, researching the disgusting critters on every source I could find. Next, came the cleaning. And oh, was there cleaning! Our bedroom has never been so spotless. I pulled out every piece of furniture, vacuumed every crevice, including every millimeter of our mattress. Every available surface and material was washed. Our entire house got the works.

And after hours of cleaning I can say with a fair amount of certainty that our house is bed bug free. But just to be certain, every day when my husband gets home, he strips and I wash all his clothes on the hottest possible setting while he showers.

It's amazing what you can take for granted without realizing it. It's been five days since my husband told me about the possibility of bed bugs, and I still get itchy just thinking about it. I frequently get overtaken by frenzied fits of cleaning and often find myself lifting the mattress just to make sure there's nothing hiding underneath.

I think it'll be a while before I sleep soundly again, but in the meantime I'm grateful for the little things... such as the lack of bloodsucking insects to bite me while I'm sleeping. I suppose I should thank them for making me a better housekeeper, but I'm not there yet. The paranoia will have to fade a bit first. About two years ought to do it.