Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Best of 2007, Part I

You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.

Jill and I got up to go to the bathroom at the same time while on an international flight recently. When I got to the toilet I looked over my shoulder and my wife was no where to be seen. I went back to our section of the plane and found her, sprawled out in the aisle, her foot caught in the earphone wire that I had hung on my armrest. For some reason I got into trouble for this.

After untangling herself and visiting the loo, Jill commenced to reading a British tabloid. After some time she looked at me and confessed to reading the paper with a British accent.

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.

Jill, Meagan and I were watching the news when they did a segment on eye surgery. Meagan grossed out and started talking about the kind of medical conditions or procedures that make her nauseous. She asked Jill which, if any, disturbed her. My wife’s answer? “Beheadings.” I’ll say.

Devoting a little of yourself to everything means committing a great deal of yourself to nothing.

The person who pays an ounce of principle for a pound of popularity gets badly cheated.

There is no greater love than the love that holds on when there seems nothing left to hold on to.

Things I’m going to teach my grandchildren to do:
1. Be 20 minutes late for anything and everything.
2. Leave shoes all over the house.
3. Never rinse your dishes.
4. Listen to your music loud enough that no one else in the house can hear anything.
5. Wait until the last minute to share important information.
6. Impose only on your parents, never your friends.
7. Keep your plans a secret until the time when revealing them will wreck other’s plans.
8. Beg shamelessly for money, even when you have some of your own.
9. Look in the refrigerator and identify what are essential ingredients for the night’s meal. Eat that for a snack.
10. Leave sticky fingerprints in conspicuous places, especially in the guest bathroom.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Best of 2006 Part III, and Baby Girl Drives

My neighbor, his friend, and I, had lunch together the other day. My neighbor and I have daughters, his friend, boys. His friend got caught checking out the waitress. My neighbor and I agreed that having daughters changed the way we looked at and thought about women. His friend asked why. My neighbor summed it up beautifully. He said, “When you have a son you only worry about one penis. When you have a daughter, you worry about all the penises.”

Teaching is the art of raising good questions and challenging students to think differently through considering hypothetical scenarios. It is not a license to stand on a soapbox and indoctrinate a captive audience.

Last night my neighbor and I watched our wives dancing on the kitchen counter. We easily agreed the martini shaker was a worthwhile investment.

While taking photos at a friend’s house she showed me her new pet, one of those ugly hairless felines, like Doctor Evil’s cat, Mr. Bigglesworth. “Touch it,” she said. I did. “Feels like a penis, doesn’t it,” she said. Realizing this was a trick question, I asserted my rights under the Fifth Amendment.

Driving home from dinner I looked over at Meagan and she was sniffing her loafers. Huh?

On the same trip, I saw a Chihuahua hanging her (wearing a pink fuzzy collar) head out the car window, barking at its reflection in the mirror. It reminded me of a time when one of Meagan’s girlfriends came running back to the table to tell us how she saw a girl in the restaurant bathroom wearing the same dress she had on, only to realize a minute later it was her own reflection in a floor-to-ceiling mirror. “I did that once,” Meagan said. Must be a girl thing.

Second-best Quote (Caiylyn, Meagan’s girlfriend, as they were getting ready for our dinner out on the town): “Shoulders back, boobs out.”

And on a realtime note, I took Linley out on the far back country roads to begin her driving lessons yesterday, just as I'd promised her I would do. The little critter drove 45 miles without major incident and only four near misses, quite a feat, I think, it being only her second time behind the wheel outside of our neighborhood. No sooner than I'd said "avoid small towns and the police," we turned a corner and found ourselves at a red light in the middle of a small town, stopped alongside the police station. I once heard someone call such things "ironical." Thank God I didn't warn her to take care and not run off the shoulder of the road, which is exactly what I did the first time my Dad put me behind the wheel of his old puke green pickup truck way back in 1975. Lordy, Baby Girl won't be a baby much longer.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Best of 2006, Part II

Meagan had a little talk with me about posting the details of her bodily functions. I promised not to identify HER bodily functions in the future. In the future, if it is necessary to write about a bodily function, I will attribute the function to Somebody, who could be anybody.

It rained yesterday and was cold, too. I was driving around town with the windows closed up tight and the heater going to keep the interior warm and toasty for all. Somebody farted and nearly killed me.

Meagan has informed me you can tell if you are sick or not by the sound of your poop splashing in the toilet. Says it’s something she learned on Oprah. I hope she remembers her homework, too.

Jill and I landed Saturday evening reservations at one of Atlanta’s hottest new restaurants, a gourmet Mexican place. She loves Mexican and southwestern food. Saturday afternoon I went with her to a medical appointment, one that had her bit nervous. Being a good husband, I rubbed her shoulders and went through some relaxation techniques with her, including visualization. After she said she was good I asked her what she had thought about. “Guacamole,” she said.

Somehow Linley and I got on the subject of how we would want to die. We agree that passing in your sleep is the best way to go. Number Two would be in an explosion, because it would be quick, and we both like fireworks.

I’ve learned that if the conversation with your daughter lulls, ask what’s going on in Desperate Housewives. She’ll talk so much you’ll want to take a nap afterward.

The funniest thing about watching reality television is hearing the stuff people will say without realizing they will have to live with it later. Just the other day, after escaping a scary experience, some church lady said “I just crapped a big load of turds.” Nice, grandma.

I took the kids to Target to buy a pack of pencils and two 3-ring binders. How did we manage to leave with that and three CDs, game software, mascara and a new bikini? All I got was a pack of mints.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Best of 2006, Part I

I have four book proposals out and am working feverishly on a fifth, so to save time I'm posting a few of my favs from the archives:

My wife insists that ice is a rock, thus explaining the term “on the rocks.” This is why I do all the cooking at our house.

“How does deja-vu work?” Meagan asked.
“It’s a neurological glitch, when the right and left hemispheres are not synchronized when encoding a memory,” I explained.
“What?” Linley asked, as Meagan rolled her eyes at me.
“Memories are stored on both sides of your brain. Do you know what that part of the brain that connects the hemispheres is called?”
“Juicy stuff?” Meagan said.
The badulla,” Jill interjected.
I rolled my eyes. “No, it’s the corpus callosum. It connects the hemispheres and coordinates the transfer of…,” I continued.
“I prefer to think it’s magical,” Jill said.
“Yes, it’s magical!” Linley shrieked.
“You’re such a freak, Dad,” Meagan concluded.

Linley damaged her cell phone so badly it hardly worked, so we replaced it. She’s a bit forgetful and promptly lost it within a week. She searched for it for days, but to no avail. Jill and I decided not to replace it, thinking a lesson needed to be taught. Last night I dropped myself onto the couch for a bit of relaxation watching television. I landed between the cushions, my butt pushing them apart somewhat. A shooting pain went through my spine. Guess what I found.

Why does it always take 20 minutes to fill a prescription, even if you are the only customer in the pharmacy?

I turned 46 today, and Meagan cheerfully announced that I am now more than half-way to 90!

“Good, that hot waiter is here.”
“Is that why you picked this restaurant?”
“Do you think he notices me?”
“How can he not, you’re prancing around for him.”
“I’m going to tell him I want to have his children.”
“Tell him before we order, perhaps we’ll get extra calamari.”
“How much are you going to spend on my birthday?”
“I don’t have to think about that for another two months.”
“Well I do, I need to pick stuff out.”
“You don’t think I can pick out something?”
“You have no fashion sense. By the way, what are you wearing to the parents’ reception at school tomorrow?”
“I thought I would just stay in my pajamas.”
“Freak.”
“Just write your phone number on the table. If he’s interested, he‘ll call.”
“I just farted. Do you think he heard me?”

Friday, October 17, 2008

I luv u 2

I mentioned a few posts ago that I’ve been reading two humorous books: “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” and “Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies.” Both are laugh-out-loud funny and were quite helpful as I was completing the final edit of TREES. Both authors made the point that email and text messaging have done a great disservice to American punctuation and grammar usage. Let me offer an example (an exchange between Meagan and me):

Meagan: what does it mean when ur eyelid wont stop twitching
Me: Just a spasm not enough sleep
Meagan: its been doing it for 2 days n I’ve had lots of sleep
Me: Mine does it 2. Nothing 2 worry about.
Meagan: K sweet. Ps how’s ur hearing
Me: What?
Meagan: Your hearing duh
Me: That was a joke
Meagan: Dad that would only be funny if we were talking. We’re texting.
Me: Oh the irony
Meagan: Hahahahaha omg you r a faREAK. How is it 4 real
Me: No change
Meagan: Ugh lame at least you’re not blind
Me: Or stupid
Meagan: That’s debatable. We should learn sign language that would be so BA
Me: BA?
Meagan: Bad Ass DUH
Me: DUH
Meagan: Woohoo 92 on my poli sci midterm
Me: cool
Meagan: Calm down n get control of your excitement
Me: ???
Meagan: Sarcasm Eugene
Me: Who?
Meagan: You
Me: You what?
Meagan: Wait what? Now Im confused
Me: Me 2
Meagan: DUH
Me: I luv u
Meagan: U 2. Ps feel free to send a care package sometime soon

Good news – an Acquisition Editor has agreed to read TREES. The only words sweeter than “I’ll take a look at it” would be “We’d like to offer you a (insert nearly any six-figure dollar amount here) advance for the right to publish this amazing book.” I can daydream, can’t I?

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Trees: A Synopsis

Welcome to my blog, a public diary chronicling the joys and frustrations of writing for a living, and a few points of interest along my life's meandering journey.

I write inspirational stories about relationships that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories in which the reader might find hope, guidance, rekindled affection and a reason to smile.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

Now on to today’s post~

I’ve finally gotten TREES ready to send out to publishers, thanks in large part to the help of my sweet neighbors/critical readers Heather and Deanne, and the lovely wife Jill. With their input I’ve developed a few characters, filled in some gaps, increased some drama, and added an additional 6,000 words. Now I’m working on improving the pitch letter, which in its current form is as follows:

Love is ecstasy, but love is painful. Love is bold as thunder, and delicate as rain. Love in any manifestation is but the unique song each lover sings in his own heart while he waits for that special person who will understand his voice.

Kyle Montgomery, a young attorney living in Atlanta, and Nicole Fischer, his girlfriend, both hindered in their quest for love by the scars of their pasts, struggle to keep their cobbled together relationship from falling apart.

At a time when the tenuous bond they share is most vulnerable, Kyle’s former fiancée Shawna suddenly reappears and fuels the anger and self-doubt that has driven Kyle since their breakup. When faced with keeping promises to Nicole or proving to all that he is a more capable lawyer than he is given credit for, Kyle comes home to tell Nicole that he cannot go with her to visit her grandmother during a long holiday weekend.

The fact that he must face Shawna as opposing council raises Nicole’s suspicions and Kyle’s mother’s hopes that her son will return to his former lover.

Nicole, a woman tough as nails on the outside but lost and fearful within, keeps Kyle at a safe emotional and physical distance. Haunted by the harsh lessons of her deceased, embittered mother who never recovered from a failed love, Nicole sees herself fulfilling the tradition of her mother and grandmother, fiercely guarding her heart and living according to her own terms, never compromising herself in the name of love.

Traveling alone to visit her grandmother, Nicole begins to learn a lesson or two about overcoming the obstacles life throws in one’s way, finding hope and offering forgiveness, and falling in love for all the right reasons.

Trees is a southern tale set in an old inn in the Appalachian foothills of western North Carolina. It unfolds against a back story of the grandmother’s role in founding the Joyce Kilmer National Forest, and a few secrets she has kept, one secret so powerful that when it is finally told, Kyle and Nicole’s lives are forever changed.

Trees is the quintessential love story about a lasting bond and a lover’s promise that even death cannot put asunder.

If you have thoughts on the above, please share them!

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mermaids

The following is an excerpt from my book, "Daddy's Little Girl":

"Fran’s fondest memory of time spent with her dad is of when he took her on her first boat ride in the bay. As they leaned on the railing, wind in their hair, watching the waves roll past and the sun approaching the horizon, she pointed forward and announced she had just spotted a mermaid.

Her dad laughed, scanned the horizon and said he wished he had seen it, too. Once back at the marina, he took Fran by the hand as they stepped off the boat and together they walked to a nearby bakery. Looking into the glass case, they mulled over whether they wanted chocolate or hazelnut dessert. Unable to make up their minds, they closed their eyes and randomly pointed. With their surprise selections in hand, they sat at an outdoor table and munched on crème filled pastries, talking until the sun finally slipped into the ocean.

Although dad told Fran quite a few things during that evening and the many others like it that followed, he never told her there really weren’t such things as mermaids. It was her youthful innocence that he treasured, and he hoped they could hold on to it just a bit longer."

I remember well how much I hoped Meagan would be saved from learning one of the great cruelties of life, that she be spared the heartache and disappointment of a failed young love. I now have those same worries with Linley as I watch the 14 year old woman in my life begin to have an interest in boys, or as I sometimes call it, take her first steps into the brambles of relationships. I'm sure she will do well, she has three adults looking out for her best interest, but I'm not sure how well Jill is doing. It seems she is always on the verge of fainting whenever the idea crosses her mind that her daughter might be making sugar with someone.

And relationships are only the start of a long list of all things a parent fears for his child.

But the truth is parents should never save their child from the experiences of life: a child protected from life's aches and pains in all their forms is a child not permitted to grow up, a child unprepared for living when the parents are no longer able to provide shelter and rescue.

A mermaid is at her most beautiful when allowed to swim confident and free in the open sea. I have one mermaid now out in the ocean blue, and another on the way. She will stumble, she will fall, and one day she will set out on her own, able and sure.

OK, 'nough said. Now go out there and hug somebody!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Hump Day

Welcome to my blog, a public diary chronicling the joys and frustrations of writing for a living, and a few points of interest along my life's meandering journey.

I write inspirational stories about relationships that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories in which the reader might find hope, guidance, rekindled affection and a reason to smile.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

Now on to today’s post~

It will be busy in our household the next few days - two football games this week (Jill and I work the concession during one of them) and my photography show opens Saturday evening, plus I’m reviewing my novel Trees with a ghost editor later today. I wish staying busy made me skinny. At the very least I guess it helps keep my joints loose, although the older I get the more convinced I become there is a place for yoga in my future.

I went to Athens to see Meagan on Monday; it seems she misses her Dad more than either of us thought she would. It's nice that she's so close; I can dash over for lunch and still have dinner on the table when Jill gets home (baked chicken, creamy mashed potatoes and sautéed fresh green beans last night, Veggie quesadillas tonight) – she’s so spoiled. Linley and I went on a 45 minute safari yesterday in search of a bagel (she gets "urgent" food cravings right after school) but finding none, she settled for two donuts.

I pitched three new book proposals yesterday to HarperOne. It may be a week or more before I hear a reaction. The best case scenario would be “We’ll have all three,” but that’s being a bit too optimistic. I’ll happily settle for selling just one. I’ll plummet into despair if they say “We’ll have none.” This writing life – it’s like being evaluated at the end of each date, the probability of the next date occurring being directly proportional to how well you knocked her socks off with the last one. Geez, some guys get performance anxiety under such pressure!

My agent says I should write a book about dogs. Jill loves my agent. I really don’t like our dog. I think my time as a happily married man is limited, but Jill and my agent have a promising future.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Thanks Dad

A son needs a dad to teach him that family is more important than work.

When I wrote that statement for my second book, “Why a Son Needs a Dad,” I was working nearly seventy hours a week and much of that time was on the road. I was not committing nearly enough time to my relationships at home.

One evening while at the desk in my hotel room, I thought of my father as I began work on what would become a tribute book to him.

I remembered he worked hard to provide for our family, sometimes at two jobs to make ends meet. He pushed himself beyond his education to acquire the skills necessary for a better career. He traveled, too, and because of his efforts, rose through the ranks.

But he also made time to be with his five children, both together and one-on-one. He made sure the treehouse we built ourselves was sturdy and safe, that my mini-bike was always tuned, and once we were big enough to see over the steering wheel, each child got a chance to drive through the neighborhood in their choice of the station wagon or the old pickup truck.

With these memories in mind, I began to slow down. I traveled less and I turned down new and more promising, as well as more demanding, opportunities. No, I didn’t make a million bucks before I was forty and I never became the president of a company.

But I do attend every event at my daughters’ schools, cheer at each cheerleading competition, attend most of their medical and orthodontic appointments, and still have time to horse around in the yard. And not once while having a good laugh with my girls have I ever wished I was negotiating a quota busting sale instead.

No, I haven’t made that million, but I am rich nonetheless. I have my dad to thank for that.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Circumlocution

Welcome to my blog, a public diary chronicling the joys and frustrations of writing for a living, and a few points of interest along my life's meandering journey.

I write inspirational stories about relationships that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories in which the reader might find hope, guidance, rekindled affection and a reason to smile.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

Now on to today’s post~

A note I received yesterday: “Thank You for being my new favorite author. You and Mitch Albom are on the top of my list!” Now that’s good company (albeit a comparison I don’t deserve, it flatters me nonetheless).

I finished “To Kill a Mockingbird” last weekend and “The Great Gatsby” this morning, and while I’m tempted to read “Gods in Alabama” because I watched Jill laugh out loud so many times while she was reading it, I should face the fact that I am in the final edits of my own novel, “Trees,” thus instead must review “Eats, Shoots and Leaves,” “Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies,” “Rewrite Right” and “The Plot Thickens” to assure my own book is as polished as it should be before turning it over to an editor. Some might think that was a long sentence, but believe me I’ve constructed much longer ones; it emphasizes the rhythm of dialogue. And provides contrast to shorter sentences. See?

Mom’s Little Angel (don’t you love the cover?) is in the hands of the designers now and I should get a mock bound copy by the end of the month to review. I usually keep copies of the various stages of my books, from red-lined pages I printed at home to the Editor’s mark-up to the final product. I doubt I’ll ever be asked to donate my “papers” to a library, but at least the grandkids will have something to laugh about, and plenty of scrap paper to doodle on.

My photo show goes on the walls tomorrow with an official opening reception next Saturday; it will hang for a month. I’m showing 30 images from my Southern Allegories series. Regrettably, the gallery owner didn’t get the show listed in the Atlanta Celebrates Photography Guide, the big annual photography event in GA, and her website hasn’t been updated to announce my show, but who’s watching? UGH! Thank God for Jill who calms me with a few words, or dumps a bucket of water on me when cautionary words fail.

Last night we watched Linley cheer at a very exciting football game. She did a great job, our team won and it was loads of fun watching Jill cringe every time Linley did her tumbling routine, but the real agony was in the getting to and from. You see, my SUV holds 5 people and lots of luggage, or 7 people and some luggage. What it doesn’t do is hold 6 people, four gym bags, four loaded backpacks, five purses, two loaded ice chests and a grocery sack of chips and power bars. It was a crowd. And add to that all the uproarious conversations the girls were having with each other plus chatting with guys on their cell phones while singing too loudly to Bob Marley. I’m not sure which was worse, that or the blinding effect of driving home in the dark in a car full of girls each with her own with camera, flash blazing all the way home.

So back to Trees – I’ve added nearly 6,000 words, it’s up to 320 pages now and, I think, a better story than it ever was before. I so want to see this thing in print!

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Behold, the cover of the new book

Much is happening right now; will give an update tomorrow, just wanted to share the cover with you ASAP. More later!