Thursday, January 24, 2013

No Place Like Home

Those of you who are following me on Facebook might already know about the chaos the Creepy family went through this last week. For those of you who don’t, I’ll try and make it short. 

I was rushed to the hospital early Friday, January 11th with unexpected haemorrhaging. Turns out, I probably had a minor placental abruption (when the placenta pulls away from the uterus and causes bleeding) but the doctors also suspected a tear in the amniotic sac. Thankfully, by last Friday the bleeding had disappeared completely and the results for the tear came back negative. So they finally released this Creepy chick back into the wild, after an 8-day stay.

‘Scary’ and ‘Lonely’ don’t even begin to describe the week of hospitalization, even though I was reassured that this baby would make it to term one way or another. After the morning spent in the Maternity Emergency ward (where they prepped me for a possible emergency c-section, stuck me with steroids for the baby, and kept me for observation after I had an allergic reaction to one of the antibiotics they’d stuck into my iv), I was finally moved to a hall for at-risk pregnancies / laboring patients. And that’s where I basically lived from Friday-Friday. 

Even though the staff was very kind and reassuring, and I knew that I was in the best possible place if there were any further problems for me and the baby- the truth is, I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there. There was no wifi or direct internet access, and thank God I at least had my phone with 3G so I could keep in touch with family and surf the net. 

The food was, well, let’s just say I didn’t know food like that existed. There’s always the stereotype about how poor hospital food is, but that had never been my experience when I gave birth in the U.S. or at the private clinic here. 


Not until I’d been admitted into a public city hospital, did I discover the true source of the ‘hospital food stereotype’. I’m pretty sure a lot of what they served had to have been in powder form at one point or another. No salt, butter, herbs, or sauce. And when they did happen to add sauce, you kind of wish they hadn’t. After the first couple days, a slow deception and anxiety would build in my gut as they delivered our trays. Gone was the usual fervor and excitement I once felt around mealtimes. That said, I ate everything I could out of sheer hunger, but still ended up losing weight for the first time during my pregnancy.

And it was a struggle getting used to the hospital bed, which- no matter how much I played with the up and down switches, was either sunken or stiff in all the wrong places. -The kind of bed that makes you wish you could remove your arm for a couple hours just so you can get some sleep.

In any case, when they gave me the green light to discharge- I practically grew wings and flew out of there. Because not only did that mean the baby and I had a good chance of making it all the way to March without further incident (if we follow doctors orders and take it easy, of course), but it also meant I could see my kids first thing in the morning and kiss their sleepy heads, (something I missed most while in the hospital. That, and tucking them into bed at night. Always got a little teary around bedtime.) eat food that tastes like food, and enjoy a bed that doesn’t make me want to remove random limbs.

In the end, there’s no place like home!

Have you ever had to endure the joys (or lack thereof) of hospital life? What sticks out most in your mind about  your stay?It’s good to be back! I’ll be picking up my regular Mon/Wed posting schedule this week and I’m looking forward to catching up with you all!


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Social Media Just For Writers

I’ve never done a review for a non-fiction book before, but Frances Caballo’s Social Media Just for Writers perked my interest and I figured it might be an interesting source for the writers in our blogging community. 
You wrote your book and sold copies to family members, friends, and colleagues. Now you want to reach readers around the state, across the country, or on the other side of the world. But how? With social media, you can build your platform and reach markets you never imagined possible before. In this book you will learn how to: create your Facebook fan page and initiate active engagement with your readers, use a myriad of Twitter applications to help you economize your time while expanding your tribe, optimize your LinkedIn profile with keywords, tackle Google+ with renewed confidence, build Pinterest pinboards and use them to promote your books and blog, and round out your online strategies with offline marketing techniques.

My Review: I especially liked how Caballo gave each social network its own personality, comparing it to well known authors and classic literature and providing details into the history of each.  Her book covers the biggest social networks used by writers including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, Picasso, Pinterest, and the world of blogging. As someone who’s familiar with Facebook, Blogger, and Twitter, I was impressed with how much I didn’t know (um, which was a lot). 

Caballo gives an easy-to-understand run down of the purpose each network serves, basic usage and then expands into more detail; providing little known (at least to me) settings and applications that can help you promote you, your brand, and your books, and especially keep track and stay organized in who/how your work is reaching its audience, not to mention the various useful applications that can be employed by each network. 

The only concern I had while reading was that, while Caballo’s detailed instructions and images are definitely helpful when it comes to learning about each network, and how to engage and develop your settings- I’d be afraid with the rapid and incessant way many of these networks (like Facebook and Twitter) are changing and evolving every day, some of the information could become quickly out-dated. 

Also, the wealth of information could be a little overwhelming at times, but then again, I’m not at a point in my career where everything sited in each chapter is useful to me (yet). That said, I really liked how Caballo was careful to explain how each writer really needs to find what programs, networks and apps work best for them- taking into account their time constraints, preferences and personalities. 

When I’m at the point where I have a book to promote (thinking positive here:), I’d say Social Media Just for Writers will be an absolute asset since it provides a clear and in-depth source for anyone who wants to expand their audience using social networking.

What social network do you use most? How long did it take you to master your favorite network? Did you take measures to get the most out of the network professionally?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Reading 'Trendy' Books

I’ve always been hesitant to read ‘trending’ books. In high school and college, it was because I was on a constant classic literature kick and thought the only things worth reading were listed on a syllabus somewhere.

As a sophomore in college, I thought Harry Potter was for children. But then, while stuck at my British aunt’s house for a couple weeks in between semesters, I happened upon the first three books and figured ‘why not?’

As you can imagine, I devoured them in days and faithfully read and watched every book and movie of the series.

I thought Twilight was a L.J. Smith cop-off and would never be as good as the original Vampire Diaries Trilogy I read in my early teens. But then my mother read the first book on a plane-ride over to visit me here in France and left the book behind with the recommendation that I give it a try. 


I’ll be honest. I wasn’t impressed. I thought the writing was clunky and the plot was first. But that didn’t change the fact I couldn’t put it down. And, as you may have guessed, I went on to read and watch every book and movie of the series.

Then comes The Hunger Games.  I really really didn’t want to read the series, mostly because I was on a ‘happy, upbeat romantic comedy’ kick and wasn’t at all in the mood for what the violent premise had to offer. I read the first chapter and hated it. It was too dark and dreary. 

But then I picked it up a couple months later when I was left with nothing else to read and made myself get through the first three chapters. And again, I found I couldn’t put it down and went on to read every book and watch the movie.

My husband brought home Fifty Shades Darker, the sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey, about six months ago. A client at the hotel had left it behind and he likes to bring home books in English for me whenever this happens (cause he’s awesome like that). However, when I saw the title, I grimaced and placed it promptly on my bookshelf, holding it by the rim like it was some kind of writhing snake and knowing that I’d probably never crack the cover.  

Oh hell no! 

You see, I was hell bent on never EVER reading Fifty Shades of Grey. The reviews from fellow writer friends had been terrible. Even my mother, who read every book, told me ‘They’re not good books. There’s really no value to be gained. But once you start, you can’t seem to stop.” 

But then, my kindle broke.

 And I finished all the hardcovers in my to-be-read pile. 

And I received the first book of Fifty Shades of Grey for Christmas. While I put it off, eventually, well, I ran out of books to read.

Which is how I now find myself in the middle of the second book. And I’ll probably break down and read the third, too. *sigh*

My mother was absolutely right. She often is.

Now, with books like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, it’s easy to see why they became trending best sellers. You can find everything you want in those books- good writing, characters, themes, plots, etc... 

But with books like Twilight and Fifty Shades, the draw is something completely different. Both good and bad things can be said. I think it’s hard to put your finger on, but when push comes to shove, I think there’s something highly addictive in losing yourself in someone else’s less-than-mundane life, even if their personality isn’t particularly unique or interesting. 

Why do you think some books achieve trending status? Is it different for every book? Or is there one steady must-have principle that keeps people coming back for more? Do you find yourself automatically reading trending books out of curiosity? Never read them? Or dig your heels but eventually read them anyway?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Baby Got Back

Oh, wow. So the kids are back to school today. *cue choirs singing hallelujah* But to be honest, this two-week vacation went by a lot faster than most, thanks to the holidays, which were wonderful chez the Creepy family.

The biggest change for me these last two weeks is definitely the discomforts of the final trimester that have finally settled in. Yes, weight has most definitely been gained this holiday season, though how much, I’ve been afraid to look. But there’s no denying the way my maternity clothes have started to cry uncle around my ever-expanding waist line. Or how my leg and arse muscles scream whenever I try to rise from a seated position or walk any significant distance. I almost can’t believe I still have a little over two months left, and am starting to get a tad panicked at just how my body plans to adapt further to this growing human. 

Not to mention I seem to be incubating a kung fu fighting champion with the bone structure of Wolverine.  This child, bless her, has already kicked the shit out of any muscle tissue I may have had left after my three previous pregnancies.

There are some advantages, however, to raging pregnancy hormones, especially for the writer in me. Vivid, crazy dreams have given wake to some pretty interesting book-premises. And the insomnia that inevitably follows when I wake up after said crazy dreams gives me plenty of time to jot things down.

There was the dream about a father who is framed for a crime he didn’t commit, gets out of jail, and then goes all super-spy-man in order to break his 15-year-old daughter out of the concentration camp/juvenile retention center where she’s being held against her will.

Or the one about a college student who uncovers a conspiracy in her university’s biological research department that begins with the discovery of a rare poisonous plant growing out of the football field. 

And then there was the one with a bunch of different cakes with mouths, singing and dancing and parading around the grocery countertop a la Beauty and the Beast, each one looking more delectable than the next...

Wait, yeah. No, that one was just weird...

Anywhoo, as I was packing away the last of our Christmas decorations the other day, I was wearing my usual Christmas-is-over pouty face. (I hate putting Christmas away!) But I also couldn’t help but wonder what my life will look like the next time I re-open those boxes. What will have changed? (besides the obvious addition to our family?) How will I have changed?  

I guess, like most people, I’m curious as to what 2013 has in store. Of course, I’d love for this year to be THE year—the one where I finally get an agent, a book deal or write THE story. But even if it’s not, I’m looking forward to the journey, whatever it may hold. 

What about you guys? Any big goals or wishes for 2013? Does putting away the Christmas tree and decorations bum you out at all or do you completely look forward to reclaiming your non-holiday living room? 


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