Are you more like Elizabeth Bennett, Anne of Green Gables, or the Chocolate Factory building genius, Willy Wonka?

You know that friend who tends to blurt out exactly what you’ve been thinking?

How do you feel when your friend does that?

It makes me feel really, really happy when that happens.  

I like it when someone “gets” my personality/opinions, because I feel less like a weirdo who no one relates to and more like a validated human being.

That's how I felt after I took the "(Jung )Myers-Briggs" personality test.

The test gives you some basic information about your core personality and then offers explanations as to why you may think and react in certain ways.  

The first time I took this test, I confess that it left me in tears (tears of relief, not sadness) because sometimes I feel like no one understands me.  But after taking the test I quickly came to the conclusion that I’m not a freak show…I’m just…well, I’m a twenty-first century version of Anne of Green Gables.

What am I talking about? Trust me, you’ll understand after you take the test : )

The personality test is here:

Enjoy!  And if want to throw a “Yay! I’m-Not-A-Weirdo-After-All-party!!” let me know and I’ll bring the dip.

A YA writer’s confession …  July 18, 2012

Last week, I was editing a wedding and started getting really sleepy. So, I decided to switch over to and briefly watch something funny to help me wake up and get back to editing.

There was Hell’s Kitchen.

Nah, I thought, decidedly scrolling past it, Too reality-showish.

There was The Real Housewives of Orange County.

No, no, no and…N to the O.

Then, I saw it for the first time. Jane By Design.

I know, it’s an ABC Family show so it’s a little, shall we say, cuteish. But… I …LOVE IT!

I can’t believe I somehow missed this until recently! First of all, I adore Ugly Betty-like shows about girls (and guys) who start off as the underdogs of their community and then roll up their sleeves to make their dreams happen! We need shows like this because, at heart, most of us feel like underdogs. Most of us get kicked around by life kind of a lot and on top of dealing with the roller-coaster ride that’s life, there’s dealing with the types who’ll listen to you shyly talk about your dreams and then frown as they say, “ Well, that’s unrealistic. Maybe you should try living in the real world…with, like, the rest of us.” Yeah, having to repeatedly hear that kind of negativity is painful. But the antidote is the positive message offered in funny little shows like Jane by Design (Especially, when those lovely little shows feature Rowley Dennis. That helps too. Sigh…  ).

After every episode of JBD I’m re-inspired to keep writing my YA stories because you know what? We all start off as underdogs, we just have to keep dreaming and keep honing our skills! (I hate that word honing, but it is important to “hone”. So, “hone” away we shall! Ugh…I still hate that word) If we keep it up, before we know it, we just might experience this moment …  

What to do when life gets tough and chocolate is unavailable…

 July 11, 2012

There are times when puffy white clouds, butterflies, and dancing kittens are scarce*.

Yep, at some point in life, we all stumble through a couple of rough patches.

During these difficult days, our brain may tell us, “Oh, come on! Toughen up, it’s not the end of the world!” while our heart screams, “Ecck! This is it!! All is lost!!”

With such an argument going between mind and heart, even our well of inspiration (for writing and other art forms) may dwindle until it’s nearly gone dry.

So, the question is: How do you get through a rough day?

Honestly, I have no idea.

The End.

LOL! Just kidding ; )

 Here are a few things that help me to not only survive through, but actually kind of enjoy, those rougher days:

  1. Follow @AnnTran on Twitter and read her inspirational tweets at various points throughout the day.
  2. Watch a short clip of something funny on youtube ( like this )
  3. Get up from whatever chair you’re sitting in. That’s right, get up… oh, wait, COME BACK! Please come back so you can finish reading this first, then get up. OK? OK, so anyways, get up from wherever you’re sitting. Go outside. Now, look up and stare into the sky. (Warning: Do Not Look Directly At The Sun…but you probably knew that.) Stare into the sky for at least 60 seconds. Even if it’s raining, I find this relaxing.
  4. Send one of your besties a funny ecard with a note describing what you appreciate about him/her. Feel kinda of cheesy? It’s okay. You ARE cheesy, and that is a good thing (who, except for the lactose intolerant, doesn’t like cheese?!). I love friends who send me cheesy ecards! They’re the best!**
  5. Write a short story about a character who is having a bad day and gets through it successfully.
So, those five little tricks save my day quite often and if the rough patch lasts longer than just a day, I think the key to surviving lies in managing to keep our spirits up just one day at a time. This can be done by every day, focusing on today, not anxiously worrying about the future, but finding the positive in today and in setting a small goal that can be accomplished for today.

I’m curious, what are your tips on how to stay positive through rough times?

 Please click here to send me your tips and I'll discuss them in my next journal entry!

*I’ve heard some refer to this as “reality”

**Don’t feel like sending an ecard? Try this:  Put on your best fake British (or Australian) accent. Call one of your besties and have an entire conversation with them in your fake British accent. If your friend has a sense of humor, they’ll think this is hilarious (as long as you don’t drag it out for too long) and so will you. If your friend doesn’t have a sense of humor, they will recommend a good psychiatrist. See? Benefits come to you either way! Improved mental health by laughter or by prescription! You’re welcome.

What do you think of this picture?

Aside from the fact that this is Johnny Depp, I’d say it’s a pretty scary image.

It’s an especially frightening reminder to the writer who suffers from one of the following quirks: (1) laughing manically or (2) rocking back and forth with glee as s/he gets to the really “good part” in whatever story they’re writing.

I mean, even the mildly eccentric laughing/rocking writer, doesn’t want to end up looking like an unwashed nutter*.

So, this is where having friends who care can really save the day.

What I love about best friends is that they’re not afraid to tap you on the shoulder and quietly ask,

“Hey, Paula do you want to, like, comb your hair before we go to the movies? Other people might feel more comfortable around you if, um, if you combed it …at least a little.”

That’s nice, isn’t it?

Seriously though, sometimes, as writers, we allow ourselves to wander aimlessly in the dream world we’re writing about and we almost lose perspective on how reality works. This causes problems not only in our social life, but in our work.

When we write about characters who are very different from ourselves, we, of course, need to clearly understand what motivates them to speak and act a certain way.

The cool thing about having close friends is that we get to observe (and, when appropriate, even outright ask our friends) why they think and act the way they do.  Keeping other people close gives us insight into what makes them tick and into why, despite their flaws, we love them. This enables us to write about realistically flawed characters who are also likable.

I’m finding that a good way to keep friends close has very little to do with Facebook and more to do with picking up the phone and calling them. Even though it’s hard for a lot of writers (who somehow balance a full time job plus their writing work), maintaining a social life is important.

Setting aside at least one day each week to hang out with friends, and spending a couple of minutes, each day, calling the people who matter to us most, is just as essential as writing a little bit every day.

How do you balance work, writing, and managing a social life?

*Did you see how I used a British word right there even though I’m not British? Ack! Help! Before you know it, I’ll have morphed into  Europia’s* biggest star, Madonna.

*Europia is a nonexistent country, uninhabited by celebrities who think they are British, when in fact, they are not British. At all.