That Side of Town

I’m sorta perplexed. (I love that word. Can you tell? I get perplexed often, and there’s no word that even comes close to being precisely what I am as “perplexed.”)

Tucson has two Borders. One on one side of town, and another on another.

Every time I mention the one I usually go to, I get a sniff and a “that’s not my side of town.”

I don’t get it.

To me, this side of town looks nicer. The other does seem like it could have been nicer, years ago, but this one definitely seems nicer to me now.

I suppose in Cleveland, there was the West Side and the East Side. But here, the two don’t seem to be delineated in quite the same way. But then, I don’t really know Tucson that well.

And it’s funny: if you ask, people hem and haw. They explain “between the words.” I never get messages between the words. Just tell me like it is and we can deal with it. I hate all that hinting crap. It frustrates me, because I’d rather we just all talk about it.

Not that it’s a pet peeve or anything.

Does your town have two sides? What makes them different?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Musings |

It Costs Nothing

A friend I know and like tends to see every other business in her field as the enemy. If you even mention another business’s name, she’ll get livid; she’ll tell you that you cannot even mention their name in her presence.

This perplexes me on so many levels.

I was first a musician. As a musician, it is your civic duty to get friends gigs and pass their names along. Colleagues are not your enemies: they’re an inter-dependent network. The better you’re doing, the more gigs you have to turn down, the more gigs you find your friends, the more they turn down, the more they give you, and the better everyone does.

The same went with teaching. When you have to turn a student away, you send them to your colleagues. In fact, I used to give every student a list of three of my colleagues right off the bat, so they could compare and choose rather than blindly commit to the first teacher they found.

In the book world, it’s the same way. Friends recommend friends’ books because it’s not a zero-sum game: one person’s gain is not another person’s loss. A reader will buy books from more than one author or magazine or publisher.

A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.

I just discovered that quote two days ago, and I love it. It’s one to live by. Besides, when one candle lights another and two wicks join, the flame burns larger and brighter.

Don’t you love the writing community?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Writing Biz |

Stop the Presses!!!!!!!

It’s National Punctuation Day! OMG! It’s National Punctuation Day! I had no idea that punctuation had a holiday!

I want to celebrate, but I don’t know how to. I can point to my recent post, The Great Typo Hunt. Or a post a couple years back about Gertrude Stein: Passionate about Punctuation.

image I thought about featuring my very, very favorite writing book: The Art of Styling Sentences, which taught me my very favorite sentence form: A Compound Sentence with Elliptical Construction.

OMG. Just saying that.


*fans self*

Let me say it again.

A Compound Sentence with Elliptical Construction:

A red light means stop; a green light, go.

Just. Look. At. That.

I think we should have a moment of silence for the beauty that is punctuation.

Writing is the expression; grammar, the clarity; punctuation, the art.

Just look at how the punctuation in that sentence renders the meaning of the words so clearly! Without repeating the verb! Isn’t it gorgeous? It’s the height of elegance: so simple, so perfect, so classic.

I mean, wow.

Happy Punctuation Day! What’s your favorite punctuation mark? Do you have a favorite sentence pattern involving punctuation?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Writing Craft | Tags: ,

Fall Premieres!!!

So what are you watching this year? Yesterday I had the flu, and there’s really no better time to have the flu than fall premiere week. (But you guys know how I feel about TV: I’m pretty much TV’d out for a month now.)

So what did you think of the premieres?

Running Wilde is my favorite new show this year. It’s about a hippie sort of mother (Keri Russell!) who’s raised her daughter in the rainforest, and the spoiled rich man who wants to win her back. It’s told by the daughter, who’s charming. When she finds out they can stay in the treehouse by the mansion, the girl says “Great! Let me get my thing!” (Get it? “Thing?” Instead of “things?” Right up my anti-materialistic alley!)

Chuck was awesome! It did feel heavy on the season set-up, but I don’t mind. I’m thankful that Chuck will still be a computer tech by day at the Buy More, and I love how the relationship between him and Sarah is developing and deepening. I love how they infuse the geekiness and comedy with real heart and lots of action. Pretty much the perfect show, in my book!

Cougar Town is on Hulu today! I can’t wait!

UnderCovers is also on Hulu today, and I’m looking forward to giving it a shot. Did you see it? What’d you think?

I watched five episodes of Covert Affairs yesterday (out of sheer boredom). It definitely grew on me, but I don’t love it as much as Chuck or Burn Notice.

Castle was okay. I do love the series, and I thought it was a sweet episode.

Parenthood annoyed me the most. Here’s a mother dealing with two autistic kids all day (one a friend’s son), and she has to take them out for dinner so the dad can have some peace and quiet when he gets home from work? He redeemed himself by joining his family, but that doesn’t change the fact that—hello—she just spent ten hours working her hiney off and I thought HE should be giving HER a break. Otherwise, I love the show.

Glee totally rocked! I was surprised how much I liked the Beiste. I have no words. Glee it just the most fun TV show I’ve ever seen, and is up there with Alias, Star Trek TNG, DS9, and Voyager as one of my all-time favorites.

And I can’t WAIT until Kurt goes out with the new quarterback. Rumor has it that they’re going to be a power couple, and I love it.

And I LOVE the new girl, Sunshine:

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Pop Culture | Tags:

Oprah Book Club Picks

M.J. Rose has been keeping track for years now. It just boggles my mind that a woman who seems to stand for female-empowerment seems to only connect with male-authored books in the last 7 years.

As M.J. Rose accounts:

Since Jan 2005, Oprah has picked 14 books for her club.

All of them have been by men!

If you go back, since 2003 she’s picked 20 titles.

18 of them are by men.

What do you think of that?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Musings | Tags:

Be Brave, Little Girl…

My brain is odd. I can’t get the show tune, “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” out of my mind. You know the one?

You wait little girl on an empty stage
For fate to turn the light on
Your life little girl is an empty page

(Okay, we’re just cutting off the part where it says a woman is an empty page until men write on it… ‘cause you know, that’s doggy poo.)

My brain kept changing the lyrics:

Be brave, little girl, it’s an empty page
For you to type the words on.


And lately it’s been like a skipping record:

Be brave, little girl—
Be brave, little girl—
Be brave, little girl—
Be brave, little girl—

Yes, I think in musical.

Even if I buy chocolate at 9pm, it melts by the time I get home. I’m operating on a serious chocolate deficit. I think I’ve only had about three pieces all summer long. This is the problem with my life.

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Musings | Tags:

It’s Not Yours Anymore

When you publish a piece of writing, whether it be a novel or story or blog post, it goes off into the world and lives its own little life. Sometimes you watch with a sort of pride, like you would a student, and sometimes you want to remove your name from the cover.

Art is in the eye of the beholder. Once your writing goes out there, it becomes what your readers make of it.

And readers bring a lot to the table.

And sometimes I’m uncomfortable with how they change it.

As you know, I consider myself of the “kitchen sink compassionate” religion, to quote my Facebook profile. Mostly Wiccan with a little bit of most everything else thrown in. I really have respect for all religions, though I do get a little put off when people force theirs on me.

When Pseudie wrote a series set in a religious community, I treated the Christian element with respect and understanding, of course. But for me, it was simply setting, simply world-building, simply craft.

Not so for my readers.

I appear to have a number of readers who are the conservative Christian right. And this appears to be Pseudie’s best-selling series by FAR. That they may be drawing religious messages out of my stories totally freaks me out.

Not to mention that we’re talking about me, a bleeding heart liberal who’s mostly Wiccan, and my writing apparently resonates most with the conservative Christian right.

This is funny, right? Ironic?

Also disconcerting. I keep wanting people to buy my other series, the one that’s more me. My pub wanted to tag the series as “Christian” and I basically had a week-long panic attack. This was two or three years ago and I’m still not over it. Now that Kindle sales seem to be picking up, and this series is outselling everything else I write, I’m feeling the same discomfort.

I’m grateful, I am, really. I am glad it speaks to readers. And I’m so, so, so grateful that they’re buying my words and supporting me. It’s only that I feel it’s not me they’re liking.

I feel the opposite of Sally Field: “But I wanted you to like me!”

Ever have that experience? Of sending something out into the world, and people pulling something out of it that is pretty much the opposite of who you are?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Writing Biz |

Do You Believe in Love?

A friend just sent me a story of young love. (Very young love. Seven? Eight?) It was adorable and sweet and cute. These stories keep cropping up around me, maybe because I’ve been reading a lot of YA, or maybe because it’s been in the movies quite a bit.

kiss Somewhere along the way, I stopped believing in romantic love.

I keep watching and reading these stories, and I catch myself wondering if love can really be like that. If I reach hard, I remember what love was like when I was young.

Can it be like that when you’re older, too?

love Letters to Juliet seems to think so, but so many of the stories involve young teenagers. The Twilight novels captures love well, especially given its foundations in Romeo and Juliet and Wuthering Heights. These stories of romantic love have resonated with us humans since stories began.

Love is an odd thing. Having been adopted, I think I grew up with a keen awareness of the limits of love. Maybe that in itself precludes me from believing in unconditional love, or the type of love worth dying for, or a love whose loss we won’t survive.

The world is a hard place. Maybe we grow up and realize that we can, unfortunately, survive the loss of everything we hold dear. But should that realization diminish the feelings of love within us?

Lately, I’ve been yearning for a love that I’m not convinced is even real. And I avoid writing about it, simply because I’m not wholly convinced of the kind of love that finds its way into our stories.

But does it exist? Am I just missing it? What about you? Do you believe in love?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Musings | Tags:

Know Your Rights or Lose Them

Do you know your five freedoms? The First Amendment Center makes a “State of the First Amendment” survey every year in time for Constitution Day.

Happy Constitution Day!

In 2010, 33% of respondents could not name any of the freedoms in the First Amendment. Here it is:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Thankfully, only 17% believe that the Constitution goes too far in the rights it guarantees. You might be interested that in 2002—a year in which many of our freedoms were limited because of fear—an incredible 49% believed the Constitution goes too far in the rights it guarantees. (It generally hovers between 10% and 19%.)

Freedom of Religion

Every year the First Amendment Center surveys the knowledge of our freedoms, and then explores one freedom in depth. Religion was the hot topic this year, but only 23% of respondents could name this right. 66% of U.S. citizens believe the Constitution clearly separates church and state, but

53% mistakenly believe that the Constitution somehow ‘establishes a Christian nation.’

No. No, no, no. It does not. The establishment of a national and federal religion is specifically prohibited.

28% say that freedom of religion does not apply to extreme or fringe groups. Gene Policinski expressed well-founded concern:

“Americans clearly defend individual expression of religious views, but fewer are willing to extend the First Amendment’s protection to faiths that they see as far removed from their own,” said Gene Policinski, vice president of the First Amendment Center. “I’m troubled that nearly three in 10 people in a nation founded in part by ancestors who fled countries where their faiths at the time were viewed as ‘fringe or extreme’ are not willing to defend religious liberty for other faiths in similar circumstances today.”

Freedom of the Press

18% could name this freedom in 2010, which is more than any year since 2010. The First Amendment Center surveyed this freedom specifically in 2009 in the 2009 State of the First Amendment. (News release here: more easily digested.)

Freedom of Speech

Thankfully, 61% could name this freedom in 2010. It is always the most easily named freedom.

Right to Assembly

Only 14% could name the right to assembly and association. If you remember the Republican National Convention in 2008, you might remember a video of a large group peaceably sitting in a public park all being arrested. Not only did the protestors not know their rights, but it seems the cops didn’t either.

Right to Petition

Every year, the right to petition the government is the least known right granted. This year it was at its highest: 6%. Ironically, it is highly likely that the Revolutionary War would not have happened if this right had been granted to the colonists: they were repeatedly ignored by King George when they petitioned him with their grievances.

So how many could you name without looking? Do you celebrate Constitution Day? Will you take a moment today to be grateful for our First Amendment rights?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Politics | Tags: ,

Aging Boldly

I’d love to be Meryl Streep or Diane Keaton someday, and I definitely want to embrace aging, and I’m totally going to be one of those old ladies in the hot pink hats, but just for this period of six or so years, I’d like it to slow the freakin’ heck down.

This birthday coming up (not until the sixth of October) marks the first birthday that I’m nervous for. Whew! nervous. My stomach is churning with butterflies. I’m a little emotional about it, actually, although I think my hormones are going freaking nuts. It’s like they’re banging at me going, “Babies! Babies! Babies! Babies! NOW! NOW! NOW!”

Last year I changed my career after 26 years. (Musicians start young, and I started late for piano.) This year? I don’t know. My best friend said I needed a motto, so I’ve chosen “live boldly.”

No matter how hard life gets or what crap I have to go through, I’m just going to have fun this year, take advantage of every opportunity that comes knocking, and enjoy every person I meet.

Honestly, this age is pretty awesome. I love life more than I’ve ever loved life. I can’t get enough of it, I love life so much! I’m so enthusiastic about everything, and I’m happy–so happy. I’m so lucky in so many ways. Sometimes I think of the people who’ve helped me change my life in the last year, and I’m just so grateful I want to cry.

Life isn’t even close to perfect or even where I want it to be, but I’m still very happy and loving every moment of it.

The late thirties are totally awesome in that way.

I’m also enjoying people so much more at this age. Even the weird ones. Pretty much I figure that if you managed to get through the first thirty years of your life, if you managed to even semi-survive it, I’m impressed. I mean, life is no easy cake walk. The fates can be rather cruel. I sort of expect us all to have little quirks and bits of crazy. How could we not have?

So I feel more compassionate and loving and accepting of people. Maybe it’s the working alone, but when I get out, I just love talking with and interacting with people. We’re all walking miracles, really.

While staring at thirty-seven, I’ve decided it’s going to be the best year of my life thus far. And more than that, I’m going to make it so myself, and I’m not waiting for any person or anything to make it happen.

I’m going to jump off every cliff and take every risk, no matter how much they scare me. At this age, what have I got to lose?

So what about you? Do you remember an age you were nervous for? Ever feel time breathing down the back of your neck? Was there an age where you said “Fuck it! I’m going for it all!”?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Beautiful People,Musings |

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