The Sweetie Chronicles

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth

Idolizing Retouches: Kim Kardashian's Cellulite Debacle

Here's what bothers me. For decades, we have all been looking through magazines (men and women alike) and seeing these almost perfect women with their tanned and toned bodies, thinking, "Yes! That's what a woman should look like!" Girls and women take those pictures and then try to look like them. When they don't, even after dieting and exercise, they feel defeated and ugly. Their body might look hot, but what about these pimples? Or these freckles? Everything might be amazing, except that little bit of cellulite on their legs, and it tortures them. It tortures US!

Men constantly compare women to these photos, whether they realize it or not. These models and celebrities have set the bar against which we are all judged from then on. Proportions are all decided on by pictures in a magazine. And when we fail to meet this incredible ideal, we may not be thrown to the side, but you can bet that inside his head, your boyfriend is wishing your body was a bit more like that model he saw in Maxim.

I try not to think about it too much. I still look in a magazine (Bridal mags these days), and feel like shit compared to the beauty of these women, but I try to put it in perspective and be happy with my life and my figure. Then I see something like this. Comment magazine was doing a feature article on Kim Kardashian, the famous socialite with curves. On accident, they released her "UNTOUCHED" photos first, then recalled them and replaced them with the official photos. Just look at the difference.
The real Kim is darker in skin tone, has a splotchier complexion, thicker waist, more of a bulge beside her breast, and much bigger legs with ... the dreaded cellulite. Her hair has even been retouched on her forehead to look smoother. Her outfit has been retouched to look better. Shine has been added in certain places and taken out in others to accentuate her skin tone and her curves. THIS is our ideal of beauty? The one on the left, I would applaud. She's real! But the one on the right is completely unattainable. Here's dead proof. It takes computer software like photoshop to make her look that good.

Basically, most men and women are holding up an ideal that is computer generated and completely impossible in reality. And that sad part is that even though we know now, and have for years, that photos are often retouched, we still look in the magazines and wish we could look like that. Who is it that decides Kim on the left is not beautiful enough? Who decides what are "flaws" and what aren't? We do, I guess. After all, we're the ones buying the magazines right? Then rushing out to buy the products we think will replicate the look? Something to think about.

Brainstorm

Last night when I was reading a book my critique partner loaned me titled, "Goal, Motivation, & Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction", I had an idea pop into my head of how to make my own novel's plot sizzle just a bit more. Although I have been relatively happy with my new book, I still have felt that compared to other Silhouette Desires, there just isn't enough conflict between the two main characters.

Changing the plot to this new idea would mean a slight revamp of the synopsis and first four chapters that I have written, so that's where my question and doubt starts to come in. One of my biggest problems as a writer is getting stuck on a section because I write and rewrite and rewrite again rather than moving forward. I don't want to get stuck in that cycle again.

On the other hand, I would really like to put my best foot forward on Sunday when I meet with the other Desire author. I was planning to bring a fresh copy of my work thus far just in case she offers to read it and give comments. I don't want to hand over four chapters and a synopsis and then say, "Well, I'm completely changing the plot here, I just didn't want to rewrite it until the whole thing was finished."

My plan, then, is going to be to spend a couple of hours this morning revising what I wrote in the past to match this new sizzling plot idea. But, I am only going to give myself today to do it. Tomorrow, I have to keep writing and moving forward in the story. Maybe if I stick to that rule, I won't get stuck in the cycle of rewrite after rewrite. For me, this will be a valuable exercise on the road to learning when enough is enough as far as rewrites are concerned.

FEAR

I realize this is an old game. It first came out something like 2005? It's a First Person Shooter game for PC that pits you as the newest member of F.E.A.R. - First Encounter Assault Recon.

Basically, it's scary as hell. G and I play games all the time, but it's usually EQ2 or something like Guitar Hero/Rock Band. Every once in a while, though, I get the urge to pull a random single player game out and play for a few days. I tried to install "Obivion", but after downloading patches and trying all sorts of things, I still couldn't get it to work. It would just crash and give some error message before I could even get to the start screen. So I remembered FEAR.

I had this game when it first came out, thinking it would be awesome since it's a shooter combined with a horror story. It was something like $50 or more, and I couldn't get it to play on my piece of crap laptop. THe game was super choppy and then after I'd get a short ways in, it would just crash. Well, last year, I was thinking about the game and decided to check ebay for it. I won it for $5. Basically, since then it has just sat on my shelf.

Until last night. G was working on something on his side of the room, so I decided to try it out. After downloading a 20 minute patch, I was ready to play. Let me just say that this is a very fucking scary game. Everything in the game world is interactive, and of course, you're in first person... so if it's totally quiet and you're trying to move around the corner, it's totally possible that you will accidentally knock over a paint can at your feet, scaring the shit out of yourself with the noise. Then things sometimes randomly fall off shelves. And rats run out of little hiding places. Creepy little zombie people run in the shadows. It's freakalicious.

I only got through the first 2 parts last night, but I ended up staying up past 1:30, which this week was supposed to be a no-no. So here I am like a good little girl, up at 8:30 and ready to get to work... Except that now I'm scared to be here alone. Especially when it's raining and overcast outside...

Lunch with A Mentor

I am so excited I could cry! An author who regularly publishes in the same line at Harlequin that I want to publish with has agreed to have lunch with me this Sunday!! She publishes at least 3 or 4 books a year with Silhouette Desire, and she has a brand new book coming out in April that has already gone up for sale on the eHarlequin website.

I have been reading a lot of her books lately, and she really is one of the best authors at Desire (imho). She puts conflict on every page, making the reader sit at the edge of their seat, wanting to know what is going to happen next. Her plot lines are twisty and full of passion. The characters in her book are always people you start to care about by the end of the first chapter. I know I could learn so much from her, which is why it's so exciting to me to be having lunch with her.

Part of it, too, is that I know if she likes me and my work, she could have a positive influence on my career. They say the "slush" piles at NY publishing houses like Harlequin line the walls, three feet high all the way around the room. One word from a reputable author could mean that my manuscript is put on the editor's desk rather than in the slush pile. I'm certainly not going to expect that right now, but I'm certainly going to hope for it! Now I'll be looking forward to Sunday for the rest of the week!!

Taking Life by The Balls

How many times have we all said we were going to change our lives? New Year's Resolutions; Diets; Quit Smoking Programs; New jobs; Going back to School.... The list could go on and on. But how many times do we really stick with it and make real changes? How often do we stay on that path to our true dreams?

It's easy to keep it up for a day, maybe even a week, but anything longer than that starts to get tedious. All kinds of little voices pop up in our heads saying, "You don't have to do that today. You're so tired, you barely slept at all. Go ahead, just once cigarette, you deserve it." or "You can eat that chocolate cake, you were so good last week, it's just one piece." But every time you break down, that same voice is there in your ear saying, "Ha! I knew you couldn't do it. You ALWAYS fail, and here you are again, doing the one thing you said you weren't going to do. You're so lazy and you'll never be able to change your life."

If we choose to listen to those voices that are constantly rationalizing the pathway to our demise, we will never change. We will wake up ten years from now exactly the same as we are today. Broke. Fat. Lazy.

The things we most want to change are always going to be the things those voices rise up against the hardest. If you want to lose weight, the voices in your head are going to whisper sweet nothings about all of the food you have sworn off during your diet. If you want to stop smoking, you will suddenly start craving a cigarette like there's no tomorrow. You will notice everyone else who is smoking and you will make up a thousand excuses why now is just not the time to stop. ("I'm just too stressed out right now" etc.)

I don't have the answer to how to overcome it yet, because for the most part, I too have been caving in to those little voices for the better part of a decade now. But the thing is, I'm so tired of being less than what I know I can be. I'm so tired of knowing that the only thing holding me back from the life of my dreams... is me. I'm slowly realizing that the key to beating those voices is simply to be ready for war. It's time to see those voices as the enemies they really are. Every little thing you do in a day is not going to make you happy. Immediate gratification is the hymn those voices sing to us, but the truth is that nothing worth fighting for ever comes easy. If you want to lose weight, you have to forget about immediate gratification and keep your eye on the goal ahead of feeling better, having more energy, and looking amazing. Honestly, if you look at that pizza and then you think about the "YOU" after you've lost weight, which is more appetizing?

In order to reach my goals, I have to start thinking about long term gratification. Every choice I make today has an impact on my life tomorrow. I know that if I can consistently make the right choices today and every day, I will reach my goals. But if I listen to the voices that tell me today is not a good day to diet or that just one cigarette won't kill me, I've lost a day of my own happiness and my own dreams coming true. Today is the day I grab life by the balls and take control of my own situation. Wish me luck. No, even more than that, wish me the courage to deny myself gratification today so that I might have what I really want in the future.

Why Natasha Richardson's Death Matters To Me


This week, it seems everyone is thinking and talking about Natasha Richardson's tragic death. Personally, I check People's website at least five times a day to read celebrity news, and when I first read about her skiing accident, I was so sad to hear that she was hurt. Hours later, though, I read that she was walking and talking after her fall, so I figured they had just gotten poor news about the seriousness of her injuries in the first report. Two days later, I was shocked, though, to read that they were giving her zero chance of recovery.

Doctors call it the "talk and die" syndrome, because after some head injuries, you can seem totally fine and normal at first, talking and walking around. But somewhere deep inside your brain, there is a little bit of bleeding that slowly builds up and puts pressure on your brain. After a short amount of time you go from seeming normal to literally being brain dead forever. It's heartbreaking to even think about it.

In some ways, I wonder why I even care so much that she has died. Sure, I recognize her from films and tv, and everyone knows her mom and her husband. But I didn't actually know her in person. Why does her life and death impact me at all? I think I care simply because it's the story of a woman with so much talent and beauty dying so quickly when she has two young boys who are close to entering their teens and a very rough and confusing time in their lives. It's an actual Hollywood couple who has been together for more than ten years, which seems to show that they really genuinely loved each other, and any husband losing his wife that he loved breaks my heart, celebrity or not.

I think it also affects me because of how quickly she was gone. It proves to us all that even if you are the daughter of famous people and married to a very wealthy and famous man, and even if you have a Tony award sitting in your house and gobs and gobs of money in your bank account, death can still find you in an instant. Even if you are beautiful and your life looks perfect from the outside, you can still be taken away from this Earth at a very young age. It is scary to say the least. We tend to think of celebrities as being immune to such tragedy, but times like this we realize that they are just people like us....

My heart goes out to Liam Neeson and his two young boys. I can't even imagine what pain they are feeling right now. No amount of money or fame can comfort you when you lose someone you love. And one things seems clear about the beautiful and talented Natasha Richardson. She was greatly loved.

Complaining for the Sake of Complaining

Let's say you wake up tomorrow and suddenly have everything you think you want right now. For me, that would mean that an editor called and offered me a ton of money on a book I am writing (plus a contract for the next five or something crazy), then maybe Hollywood wanted to buy the movie rights, resulting in a several million dollar deal. I am already very happy with my love life, so nothing would really change there except that he would retire from his job and come home to spend time with me all the time now.

It would also mean being able to buy a nice big house with a three-car garage, a swimming pool, and a really nice, big office. Of course, we could afford to have someone clean the house and do our laundry. I would have a personal trainer who would help me lose weight and get down to the perfect size 5, 130 pounds I wish I could be. And next door, my friend T would move in with her boys and go to work as my editor / personal assistant, and we would work together every day writing while our men did whatever they wanted. (There would be a nanny of course, for the kids :P)

Okay, so let's so I woke up tomorrow and suddenly all of those things were in place. Then what? I have everything I want, so there's nothing to complain about, right? My life would be perfect!

Or would it? Right now, I already have a ton of things I always wanted. I have a man that is amazing and is everything I could have wanted and more. I am a full time writer who is very likely to sell a book this year. There really shouldn't be that much to complain about in my life. Yet, I am still complaining.

Last night, G said to me, "You complain, because you like to complain. When you run out of things to complain about, you make stuff up." And you know what? I think he's right. I think most of us look for something to complain about in our current situations. Sure, if you look hard enough, there always IS something worth complaining about. It usually isn't that hard to find if you're picky enough.

I guess the question is why? I honestly have no idea. I guess if you had everything you wanted and world was everything you wanted it to be, then life would be pretty fucking boring. Utopia sounds beautiful, but it's completely unrealistic that we could be happy in a perfect society. Life needs its ups and downs to stay interesting and to help us appreciate the times when things are up. Goals need to be difficult so we have a reason to be proud of ourselves. If everything came easily, we would sorely miss the challenge of working hard to get what we want. Complaining, I think, is just a part of the deal.

More than 20% finished!

My word meter website that I use is down, so thus no updated word count meter on the right sidebar. Oh well, I will settle for just telling you the good news since it's 5:40 in the morning and I am almost delirious at this point anyway. I stayed up again tonight to write, which I think has been working pretty well for me so far the past few weeks.

Tonight, I started feeling stuck on one scene, so instead of giving up or trying to rewrite it a thousand times, I decided to just jump ahead to a scene that I was excited about writing and voila! Instant motivation!

I ended up writing over 2600 words tonight!! That brings my total word count up to 11,821 words!! Woohoo!! That's over 20% finished if I stick with the originally intended 53,000'ish words. I feel really good about the scene that I wrote tonight too. I know it needs work (as usual), but it's got promise! Hopefully this is just the beginning of what will turn out to be an amazing week.

Mythical!


Last night was a big night for me! I know how silly it sounds to be excited about a game and to consider it a part of your life, but anyone who plays WoW or EQ2 or any other MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) understands that online gaming is more than just a game. It's a community. There is an economy, a social structure, goal-setting, teamwork, and so much more.

When most people turn to TV at night, sitting in front of the tube like a vegetable, stuffing their face with potato chips or soda, I turn to my computer and to Everquest 2. It's not something my parents did, because games like this simply didn't exist back when they were younger. And because of its new-ness, some people want to judge it or laugh at gaming. They don't understand it or consider it important.

But the way I see it is this. It's almost like belonging to a club. Let's say you joined a scrapbooking club with 23 other people from around the country, promising to get together on a nightly or weekly basis to put together photographs. Over the course of time, you would develop goals as a group, get to know and love each other, and you would look forward to going there to be with these people and do something you enjoy doing every night. Gaming online is like that, only in a virtual world.

Anyway, in Everquest 2, there is a long and difficult questline for a weapon that is "Mythical". Each class (guardian, templar, monk, swashbuckler,etc.) has their own Mythical weapon, and it is by far, the best weapon for you in the game. Mythical weapons were first introduced into the game with an expansion called Ruins of Kunark, that came out November of 2007. After all this time, I still haven't been able to get mine. Since then, I have changed servers, brought up a completely new character named "Fiahla" on the Crushbone server (she's a brigand). Last night, however, I finally got my mythical weapon!

What's so exciting about it for me is that 24 of us had to work really hard to get the update for me. It's taken weeks for us to work our way through these mobs in order to update the quest. It's simply not something you can do on your own, it takes teamwork. And while some of the people there last night were not the best players in the game, I think G and I have found a good core of people to play with in our newest guild.

THe other fun part was seeing my name go up across the screen. When someone gets their mythical weapon, a message goes up in orange across everyone's screen across the world who is logged in to that server saying "Norrath is still for a moment, as Fiahla of
is granted the mythical Havoc, Blade of Treachery." As soon as that went up, I started getting private messages and it was really exciting. That's what this picture is of, my chat window with everyone saying grats and way to go! I wasn't the only one getting my mythical, but most of these messages right here were for me.

I can't wait to get on later tonight and try out my new weapon in another raid or group. I know it will make my character even better, making the game more fun in the long run. :)

My Brother and his daughter


This just blows my mind to see my baby brother holding his own beautiful daughter. It's amazing.

Less Calories / More Weight

I started my "diet" again, although I'm not going to really call it that. I have goals of how much I want to lose before our wedding, and even though we've already been engaged for eight months, I have only lost a total of 5 pounds. To be honest, though, I haven't really been trying.

But now that the wedding is getting closer, I know that if I want to reach my goals in time, I have to start working harder and get serious about them. I set a sort of mini-goal at 20 pounds by RWA Nationals, even though the truth is that I want to lose more by then. I have gotten off to a good start as far as calories and exercise, but when I stepped on the scale today, I gained a pound. I just don't even understand how that is possible. Losing weight can be so frustrating.

I guess it's a good idea not to step on the scale every day to check my weight, but I can't help it. I want to see some damn results for the hunger pains and the self-restraint. I started my calorie counting and such on Sunday, and right now I am sitting, somehow, at half a pound more than I was then... and a full pound more than I was yesterday. All I can do is keep sticking to my calorie count, drinking water, and exercising... and pray to God that by Sunday I have lost a pound or two.

Late-Night Writing Experiment

A lot of times, I get my best writing done late at night. Everyone always says that as a writer, you have to find your "process." Basically, I think that means you have to find out just how to operate at your most productive. Since I've had some luck in the past writing in the quiet of the early morning hours, I thought I would give it a shot this week and see how productive I can be.

Last night, I stayed up and wrote about 1500 words of my novel. Tonight, I started off at 5672 words and have just finished up at around 7238. If I stay on a good pattern of 1500 words a night, I could finish this 50,000 word novel in less than a month. I have a feeling, also, that some nights I will end up writing a lot more than 1500 words. Right now, I am struggling a little bit with how to write a certain scene and make it convincing, but I feel certain that once I get into the meat of their romance, the words and the scenes will flow a lot faster. Right now, it's hard to believe I am already about 15% finished with the rough draft. I'm honestly not sure the plot is moving fast enough to get everything I want to write in at a mere 50,000 words.

The good news there is that this is just a rough draft, so there will be time for changes later. The important thing for me right now is to just get my story written down so there is actually material to revise.

Anyway, I just wanted to explain why the blog posts might be a little off this week. I'll keep updating my word count here at the very least. The novel I'm working on is now tentatively called "The Millionaire's Scandalous Secret." Of course, that is it's fourth incarnation, so it's bound to change once or twice more before I send it in. I'm happy with my progress so far, and I'm doing my best to keep my eye on the prize: Publication! It's exciting to think that the words I write today may end up immortalized in an actual book sold in real bookstores and read by thousands of people.

Here's to a productive week of writing! Wish me luck!

Sad Weddingmoon Development


A while back, G and I picked out the room and the resort for our wedding/honeymoon. Our number one choice was the Sandals Royal Grande St. Lucian and our hope for a room was the swim-up honeymoon concierge suite. With airfaire, the price kept coming up to about $7000 for the entire round trip, 7 day vacation. At Sandals, everything is included, so that includes food, entertainment, room, drinks, everything (except shopping).

I have routinely been checking back for the prices on the website, and they have steadily been going down. I was getting more and more excited about the price, which was down to about $6220 last time I checked. In order to reserve the price, we would have to pay for airfaire (about $1100) and a $400 room deposit. Since we still aren't totally sure we can afford the trip, there was no way we could afford to put down a deposit, especially when the airfaire is not refundable.

Anyway, here's the sad part: On a whim, I thought I would go check it out last night before bed, but there was very bad news. The room is sold out! And not just for the week in October when we were getting married. It's sold out for many weeks. Booooo! I can't believe it! I never thought it would sell out this far in advance. Sure, there are other weeks and months later in the year when the room is available, but we still don't have the money to reserve the room anyway, so it will just have to wait until we do... and by then the only available time to stay in that room may be 2010!

Maybe it just wasn't meant to be our room, you know? There are penthouse conceirge rooms that are more than $1000 cheaper than the swim-up rooms, and it might have turned out that we never even used the lagoon. I'm sure that at a resort like that, all of the rooms are fantastic and way better than a normal hotel anyway. But for right now, I'm just sad to see that those particular rooms are selling out so incredibly far in advance.

Self-Sabotage

Have you ever had the experience of wanting something so badly you were almost afraid to try to get it? It doesn't make sense, really. Logically, if you want something, you do everything in your power to get it. But our actions aren't always logical. Or at least mine aren't.

I have wanted to be a writer all my life. I used to dream of being a poet, to be honest. Writing novels, especially romances, was more of a secret dream. The only time I ever wrote a long story and submitted it to a contest, I got creamed by the "judges" saying my characters were shallow and the storyline was over-dramatic. It took me years to try again.

Now, I find that I actually am a writer. All that I have to do is finish a few books and get them sent out. My first manuscript has been rejected a few times, but every editor has had something nice and encouraging to say about my writing... and that's my first try in the world of publishing a romance.

So, here I am with a novel completely mapped out and ready to go. All I have to do is get it written. It's a good idea that other people are loving and anxious to read. Why am I scared to write it? I know that I want to be a writer with all of my heart, and I know that I am so close to being published. What's holding me back? I have worked on the novel a little bit, but I haven't worked on it like I really need to in order to get it sent out by my tentative goal date (which, by the way, is looming).

Maybe it's something about knowing that I'm so close and being comfortable right there. It's a lot more fun to be "close" to success than to fail yet again. Deep down, after all of this encouragement, I'm terrified that I'll submit my finished manuscript to Harlequin with hope in my heart only to have them hate it and send it back with some form letter rejection. If that happens, will it be the end of the world? No, of course not. But I'll no longer feel close to being published, and I'll no longer feel like I'm on the edge of success. It will just be another rejection, and I'll basically be right back where I started.

Yes, I'm being whiny, and yes, I will stop. The point of the post isn't to whine. It's just more to ask myself why I am so intent on self-sabotage. Why, at the very moment of being close to my greatest success, do I slow down to a crawl rather than breaking out into a run? Like I said, it isn't logical. It's just some gut reaction. But now that I'm aware that I've been putting off the hard work of getting this novel written, I can't ignore it or put it off any more. Rejection or not, I'll never be published if I stop writing. This particular book still might not be "The One" for me, but I know I'm getting better with each new piece, and as long as I never give up, I will be a published author.

Now, I just need to repeat that to myself a thousand times a day...

A wedding and a Snow Storm




We had a great weekend. Well, it was mostly great :). On Saturday, we went to Todd and Amie's wedding at Barclay Villa, this local place that looks like a mini-castle. It was gorgeous. I'll share some pics. G got stinking drunk and I had to take care of him, but I think of it as me paying him back for taking care of me when I got trashed at the DMB concert last summer. Besides, it was nice to know that someone so perfect can sometimes get out of control as well.

Then, last night we had more excitement in the form of SNOW! Last year, it didn't really snow at all here in NC, and the one time it has snowed so far this year I was in Georgia. It was definitely in the forecast to snow, but I have heard that before and been sorely disappointed when it didn't reach this area. I wasn't disappointed this time though! Outside it is a winter wonderland! I'm sure that by this afternoon it will all be a slushy mess, but for now it's really pretty out, so I will also post a few pics of that. The first is last night when it was still coming down, and the second is this morning. Notice they are both taken from inside the house, haha. Need to get out and take some good ones.



Overall, it was a good weekend and I'm looking forward to a very happy March 2009.

Sarra Cannon

Young Adult Indie Author

I always secretly wanted to be a cheerleader. And a witch. Now, I write about both. The first five novels in my Peachville High Demons Young Adult Paranormal series are available now in ebook!

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