Thursday, July 12, 2012

Can't I Just Be Myself?

All these people keep telling me, “Writers need to be brands,” “You need to be your brand,” and “You are not just selling books, you are selling your brand.”
So, now that I'm a published author, I need to have a brand? When I think of my favorite authors, the last thing I think about is a brand.
Brands are for potato chips. Or purses. Or the initials ranchers burn into the flesh of cattle. And the last time I checked, I don’t have anything tattooed on my ass.
But supposedly, this isn’t negotiable. To be a successful author, I have to come up with a BRAND (capital letters because it’s so important). 
Hmm… I write in almost every genre. I can’t help it. I read in all of them, am inspired by all of them, so it is only natural that I write in all of them. Urban Fantasy, paranormal romance, mystery, comedy, women’s literature. 
Dang it, I don’t think it will work. Wait, I feel an inspiration coming on…wait for it…hang on…a little longer…okay, this might take a while so go get something to snack on while you wait…
I GOT IT!!! I’ve been inspired by my favorite brand of chips!
Doritos!
 I am going to be like Doritos. Everyone likes Doritos, right?

First there was only nacho cheese flavored. Then they branched out with spicy nacho cheese, really spicy nacho cheese, and burn-your-face-off nacho cheese. And then they started getting really creative—guacamole-flavored and sour cream flavored chips to ease your palate, or for those who don’t like too much heat. But the piece de resistance—the scoop shape, marketed as the best way to avoid double-dipping in the salsa bowl. Make your friends like you again by scooping one enormous pile of diced tomato, jalapeno, onion and cilantro into your very own little corn bowl you can shove in your pie-hole. Brilliant.
So here goes: Lauren Stewart is a Dorito. She started by releasing a spicy paranormal romance, then the first book in a burn-your-eyes-out dark urban fantasy series. But to ease the palate, or for those readers whose tastes don’t run quite that hot, the next project will be a comedic mystery. Mix in a few variations like YA fantasy and women’s lit in the form of free short stories.
But my piece de resistance is that all of my work is scoopable! While it may not make you more likeable to your friends, everything you read by me is cross-genre. Why not, right? Why not have a little bit of everything in every bite—I mean, in every story. Elements of comedy, satire, romance, suspense, mystery, paranormal, women’s issues.

Go on, taste it. You might just love it. You might even discover your new favorite brand.

Oh, and feel free to double-dip as much as you’d like, I won’t mind a bit.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Why I Want To Be Like My Kindergartner When I Grow Up

This will be a re-occurring segment on my blog. Why? Why not?
My kindergartner is way smarter than I am.

I want to be free to give everyone “Air Hugs” whenever I feel like it.


For those of you uneducated in the technique of “air hugging”, I’ve included step-by-step instructions.

*** This writer holds no responsibility if you hurt yourself or anyone around you while trying this.

  1. Place your right hand on your left upper-arm.
  2. Place your left hand on your right upper-arm.
  3. Make eye-contact with the person you wish to “air hug”.
  4. While gently squeezing your arms, say the words “air hug”.
  5. That’s it! You’ve done it! Wasn't that fun?


The world would be a better place if we all did this more often. No mess, no bodily contact, just good lovin’. What’s not to like here?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Rain, Baby, Rain

It was as dark and stormy of a night that is possible at one o'clock in the afternoon in South Florida. The rain pelted my windshield in huge drops. The wipers, not being able to move at light-speed, were useless. I drove slowly. As slowly as a senior citizen on the freeway.

In the moments I could see, immediately after the wipers had bravely done their duty, before the downpour made everything disappear, I saw a woman next to the bus stop twenty feet from my car. She stood with her back to the wind and was holding . . . have to wait for the wipers . . . something white in her arms, covering it with as much of herself as she could. . . Wait for wipers. . . Oh my god, she's rocking it! Her gentle bounce and loving gaze were only interrupted by a . . . wipers . . . make that two quick glances up--probably searching for any sign of an approaching bus.

I had just enough time in between wiper swipes to check the backseat. Yep. I think my daughter's currently vacant carseat was the kind that could hold a child between 5-65 lbs. I would save them! If only the cars ahead of me would move a little faster, I could get this poor mother and child before they melted. . . Come on . . . Come on . . . A little closer now . . . Come on. A little closer.

I swung the car into the bus lane, slammed on the brakes, and threw on my hazard lights, hoping that the senior citizen behind me wouldn't get too confused, panic and plow into the rear end of my car. I slammed my finger onto the automatic window control (what did we do before those?) and the passenger-side window lowered, allowing the rain to drench my car's interior.

"Get in!" I shouted to the woman with the baby.

"Oh my God, thank you!" she shouted back, pulling the door open.

"There's a carseat in the back for the baby!"

"Oh, thank you. Thank you." She slid into the seat. Adjusting herself into the seat, she cooed, "See honey, we're all dry now." The woman held her baby away from her body and unwrapped the soaking blanket.

The baby's fur was all matted and stuck out in brown and black spikes all over its head. The fierce pride that had swollen my chest turned into a sneeze. The woman looked over at me.

"I'm allergic," I mumbled.

"What?" Her attention had already returned to her mangy-looking beast.

"Nothing. Cute dog."

"Thanks. She's my little baby." Then she started the baby-talk. "Awen't you, my pwetty ba-by?"

I pointed to the backseat. "You'd better strap her in."

"Oh, no. She can stay up here with us."

"Great."

Lauren, the hero. Saving the day and then rushing to Walgreens for some Benadryl.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lucky Me

My life is blessed. I have a wonderful family, amazing kids, a rewarding job, a warm home, and great friends.

While I don't want to seem ungrateful, lots of people have all of those things. That is why I am so excited about the other ways I'm incredibly lucky. It may be necessary for you to sit down, if you aren't already ... wait for it ... patience ... Okay, I can't wait any longer! Here's the good news!

Recently, I found out that an old friend might be searching for me and I can get "better" breasts online! I'm not sure how they knew that my breasts could be "better", but they did! Not only that, but I have two new messages on a singles website that I've never even visited! And, if I had a penis, a company selling a totally natural, herbal supplement could make it larger! And lastly, but please don't spread this around because I don't want everyone knowing, it seems like there's a windfall coming to me, all the way from Nigeria. I'm not going to mention a number, but I will say that with it I could probably buy a better family to go with my breasts!

I ask you: Does life get any better than this?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

How To Throw A Kid's Birthday Party for Less Than $5

I close my mouth and yell into the phone, “You want how much? For a bounce house? For two hours?”

As an ex-boyfriend of mine used to say at a restaurant, looking at the bill: “I just wanted to eat, I didn't want to buy the place!”

At our house, along with spring comes birthday parties. One at the end of March and the other just a week and a half later. It was bad planning on my part - I should have told their dad I had a headache. I mean, my son was only a year and 9 months old! What was I thinking? Saying "I'm not in the mood" for another 3 or 4 months then would have saved me a lot of frustration now.

So, now that the kids and I live on one income (that doesn't quite pay the bills), birthday parties have become a big issue. Throwing two parties in three weeks makes it that much harder. But, where there is a will, there is a way. The kids have the will, so I have to find a way. Cheaply.

Trick #1: Think of free games
Cost: Whatever paper, a bit of computer ink, and creativity are going for nowadays


“We are going to play games at your parties!” I tell them with as much excitement as I can muster.
My son looks up. “Oh, cool.”
Normally “oh cool” would be a nice reaction, but I know my child too well – he misunderstood me.
“Not video games. Regular games.”
Blank faces.
“Like pin the tail on the donkey!”
“Pin the what on the what?” they say, more or less in unison.
“Pin the tail on the donkey.”
“Hey, Zoe. Did you know another word for donkey is -”
“Okay!” I shout. “No time for vocabulary lessons. We need to plan.”

Trick #2: Activities
Cost: By using items you already have, activities can be free.


I hope all the little girls want to have their faces painted like Spiderman. Red is the only color lipstick I have left. I think I have an old black eyeliner around here somewhere too.

We made a pinata using an unused balloon found in the corner of my son's room, a newspaper stolen from a neighbor's recycling bin and old, green house paint. We call the creation: A Springtime Egg Pinata. I thought that was clever. As long as it's filled with leftover goodies from the other birthday parties we've attended, the kids won't care how it looks.

Trick #3: Decorations & Food
Cost: Time, some gas, and a few “thank you”s


We'll be visiting every Publix Supermarket from here to Orlando the day before the party. Did you know they give out balloons AND cookies to the kids? I'm figuring one cookie per kid, so we really only need to hit the closest 10 stores. That's not bad.

I found out last year that, for the life of me, I cannot decorate a cake. What started out as a ambitious design of Dora's head turned into a lopsided, black-and-pink-smeared pile of yuck. Not even the kids ate it. So, this year I'm making the kids do the hard part – they'll each get a cupcake to decorate however they see fit. I provide the frosting and sprinkles, they provide the artistic talent.

Trick #4: Goodie bags
Cost: If you do it my way, it's free!


Just don't do it. They got the random crap from the pinata, what else do they want?! Those goodie bags can be expensive! Cute little plastic bags and matching useless toys that will be their parent's worst nightmare 10 minutes after they get home are not necessities. Plus, all that plastic is terrible for the environment. So, in effect, by not giving them anything, I am really saving their lives.

Trick #5: Happy kids
Cost: Priceless


They are kids – put them together, give them something to do, and they are happy. Their parties are about them, not the stuff we surround them with. They will have a wonderful day and remember it for approximately one week – the same amount of time they would recall the expensive bounce house, visit to Chuck E. Cheese, or the guy dressed up like a Power Ranger making balloon animals. By the way, you can buy a “make your own balloon animal kit” at the Dollar Store for, you guessed it, a dollar. It even comes with directions. So what if all the kids get swords – you've just created another game!

The kids are happy and Mom is happy. Primarily because she didn't go into debt over a five-year-old's birthday party. She can breathe a sigh of relief knowing the debt won't come for 15 more years. My next article will be “How To Throw A Wedding For Less Than $500”.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Drugs

There are pharmaceuticals for every disease, addiction, disorder, and syndrome in existence. We are drowning in pills, caplets and extend-tabs for every possible problem. Except for the REALLY important ones.

.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.

Why have they not come up with a decent weight loss drug yet? One that doesn't make you *cough* all over yourself. No, not cough all over yourself - *cough* all over yourself (as in *cough* shit *cough*). I can buy something that will make my boobs bigger, but can't find anything to make my butt smaller. Who's in charge around here? Oh right - a man.

What about an anti-procrastination pill? Cocaine doesn't count, I'm talking over-the-counter here. Plus, how much could you really get done with your nose running faster than your feet?

For that matter, sleep in pill-form would help me out a lot. It would have to be better than the No Doz caffeine pills you can buy. Firstly, that's what coffee is for. And secondly, three hours after I take the pill, I crash faster than my computer. No, the new drug needs to knock me out so I sleep like a baby, and then be able to wake me up like a baby does (about an hour and a half later). Without the need of a diaper change, of course – that would be an unpleasant side-effect.

A cure for stupidity would have to come in an aerosol form. You know, like the ones you can shoot up your nose if it's stuffy. That way you could walk down the hall at work and spray in all directions. Can they make an aerosol strong enough to get from my window into the car next to me? We could combine that one with a dose of driving improvement.

What I really need is a listen to Mommy and do what she says tablet. In chewable form, or maybe gummy. It'd be the one drug I'd actually encourage my children to become addicted to. Especially if it's side-effects included inability to concentrate on video games and possible OCD-ish behavior with regard to cleanliness.

The bottom line is that before all of these life/sanity saving drugs can be developed, we need funding. Research and development, attorney fees, and kick-backs to the FDA all take money. So, while I start sketching out the grant proposal, you get to work on our product names. Use the comment box on this page to let me know what you come up with.

Come on, People. Let's do it for humanity.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I Can't Believe I'm Doing This

A brilliant writer requested I do this chain-letter-ish thing. Normally, I'd hit delete faster than I can drain a bottle of beer. But, seeing as I currently am on my second bottle, I seem to be doing it. Forgive me, Mom.

I'm supposed to answer each thing with a single word. One-word answers are hard for me in the best of times. Do hyphenated words count? Wish me luck. And if I respond with any embarrassing answers, I'm sorry, Mom.

Your cell phone: Appendage
Your hair: Messy
Your life: Messy
Your mother: Forgiving :)
Your father: Integrity
Your favorite food: Ice Cream (oops, 2 words)
Your dream last night: Forgettable
Your favorite drink: Pina Colada (oops again - 2 words!)
Your dream goal: Published
What room are you in: "Office"
Your hobby: Dreaming
Your fear: Giving up (2 words - couldn't help it)
Where do you see yourself in six years: Successful
Where were you last night: Home (boohoo)
Something you aren't: Speechless
Muffins: Chocolate chip (2 words - dang it)
Wish list item: Agent (really good agent - oops)
Where did you grow up: California
Last thing you did: Beer-run (kidding)
What are you wearing: Shoes
Your TV: Crap
Your pets: Heli
Friends: Generous
Your mood: Unpredictable
Missing someone: Always
Vehicle: Subaru
Something you aren't wearing: Taffeta
Your favorite store: Office Max (one place, two words)
Your favorite color: Red
When was last time your laughed: This morning (2 words, I give up)
Last time you cried: Sporatically
Your best friend: Liz
One place you go to over and over: Laundry room (one place, two words, multiple visits)
Facebook: Infrequently
Favorite place to eat: Sublime

We've just proven that I cannot follow directions, and, despite being on my third beer now, brevity is not a quality I possess. And I really was trying...really.