Cathy Yardley's Blog
May 13, 2013
This is reprinted from my January 2011 blog… I just loved it, and needed the reminder.
“Do, or do not… there is no try.” — Yoda
Okay. This statement has been quoted by geeks everywhere. It’s usually the glib, ass-kicking, “put up or shut up” quote that encourages pop culture freaks like myself to go out there and, excuse the expression, just do it. Except I’ve been in writer’s block at various points… and believe me, if I could’ve “just done it,” I would have.
As a result, I really took umbrage at the “there is no try” philosophy. Sometimes, I argued, all you had was “try.” Progress, not perfection. Getting something on the page is better than getting nothing on the page.
I’ve recently discovered a different interpretation to the quote.
Think about the last time a friend asked you to do something.
If you say, “Yeah, sure, sounds like fun,” you’re putting it in your calendar. Possibly in pen.
If you say, “I’ll try,” I’ve generally meant “I really doubt it, and I don’t really want to, but I don’t want to hurt you with a ‘no’ so I’ll use this.”
If I say I’m trying to do something in a week, I generally give myself wiggle room… it doesn’t mean I’m going to commit to it.
If someone calls me on my crap, and I say “I’m trying my best,” I mean it. But at the same time, it gives me a certain excuse: I’m still not owning my crap, per se. I’m justifying it.
The difference between doing and trying.
I realized that I’ve been pretty stressed about my writing career for a while, which is the first floor in the worry building, with an express elevator to insanity. There are so many variables that are out of my control. I can’t say “I’m going to write a bestseller” because there’s no way that’s something I can influence. It was, I’ve always thought, unhealthy.
But the difference is, if I say I’m going to do it, and then my books sell two copies and I get dropped by my publishers and my agents put out a hit on me, I can’t say “I’m not a bestseller” definitively — because I’m not dead yet. As long as I can still write, I’m still in the game.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” — Thomas Edison
It’s a matter of commitment. I need to make smart goals, sure… but I also need to commit to an outcome. I need to connect with the things that keep my engine running toward what I want. I need to support others in their goals, and ask for help in mine.
I need to stop trying, and start doing.
February 7, 2013
Click here to check out what the other authors are giving away during the Entangled In Love blog hop!
Bear with me, peeps. I have never done a blog hop before. Be gentle.
So. Here I am. Hoppin’.
So a welcome to the new visitors! I’m Cathy Yardley, author of TEMPING IS HELL. (All you regulars — stop snickering! Don’t shame me in front of new people! )
I’ve been doing a lot of promo the past week or so, talking especially about my worst job experiences. I have had some doozies — and apparently, so have a lot of you, if the comments back are any indication!
The first scene where my heroine, Kate, meets Thomas Kestrel, CEO of Fiendish Enterprises, is one of my favorites. It’s one o’clock in the morning, and Kate’s trying to finish up a project so she doesn’t get fired. Thomas is initially suspicious — but soon realizes that the person singing “Baby Got Back” and dancing by herself is probably not a threat. Especially when, frightened, she holds up a loaded stapler to defend herself.
Strangely enough, there’s a precedent for this scene.
I used to dance at work.
There was one job, one cube farm, that seemed to bring out the dancing fool in me.
I’d need to go to people’s cubicles, waiting until they were off the phone to ask some stupid piece of information before going back to my cubicle. (Usually because they were ignoring my instant messages.) While they were blabbing on their interminable calls, I usually found myself doing something to kill time. Which was usually dancing in front of their cube door, waiting for them to notice I was there.
This was surprisingly effective.
So one day, I was waiting for a co-worker to get off the phone, and I was bopping away. When suddenly I hear the big manager — who was rarely ever on our floor — say behind me: “Excuse me. What are you doing?”
I froze. Thought about it. Swallowed hard.
“Sort of a mambo,” I finally replied, then shot him a grin and a look that said: as if it isn’t obvious!
Professionalism. Not my strong suit.
Which was why writing Kate was such incredible fun.
I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to one lucky announcement list subscriber! The winner will be chosen at random on February 16th. To enter, just fill out the form to the right (that red box.) Don’t worry: I don’t do anything weird or uncool, no spam. And I send announcements maybe once a quarter — usually it’s either a book release date, or a special for my reading peeps.
May the odds be ever in your favor!
January 20, 2013
Oh, my sweet lord, yes.
Today. My book, my baby, the world’s toughest sell, comes out today.
I feel like doing a touchdown dance. At some point, I imagine I will spontaneously break out in song. (God willing, this will not be in public.)
Temping Is Hell is out, y’all. It’s available for sale. It’s a digital release, so fire up your e-readers or tablets, and snap this puppy up. And then be prepared to laugh your ass off.
Ain’t too proud to beg.
You know I’m not the hard sell girl. (In fact, I think I may have missed announcing several of my release dates in the past. D’oh!)
But I will say this: I love this book, beyond reason, wisdom, and public decorum.
I would get a tattoo of several of the lines of dialogue. On my face. (Okay, possibly just my arm.)
It’s the book I’d be waiting for if I hadn’t written it. It’s a book I would fangirl squeal for. I would put the next release date on the calendar and sign up for the newsletter to be sure I didn’t miss it. I would tell all my friends about it and yammer at them until they got a copy so I could then quote at them and have them quote along with me.
I feel this strongly about it.
So I’m asking you to give my book a try. Heck, if you don’t like it, you can always return it (yes, you can return digital copies, I just found that out. It’s within a week or something.)
Commitment shy? Just read the excerpt. You don’t even have to download a sample.
It’s got a smattering (okay, for a sailor) of, erm, mature language. Lots of geek references. A metric ton of office humor. And a healthy dose of smexy. (Mmmm. Smexy.)
Try it. You’ll like it. And please share, re-tweet, post on facebook, pin on Pinterest. Frighten someone on public transportation with a spontaneous squee.
I know I will.
P.S. I will give a free copy to the first person who can tell me where the bagel quote comes from.
December 19, 2012
That probably sounds weird. Unless you’re a Game of Thrones fan — in which case, I hope you read the blog title in Sean Bean’s voice, because I know I always do.
TEMPING IS HELL… my latest novel, an Urban Fantasy with a lot of Chick Lit attitude, is coming.
I have been waiting for years for this particular book to come out. I’ve got a great blog tour lined up, culminating in the Fools for Love February stop (see badge.) I’ve got interviews and fun little scenes and holiday memos from Fiendish Enterprises.
But most of all….ohhhhh, the book.
How I love this book.
I know, all authors probably say that. But this is different. I love, love, LOVE this book.
Of the (sixteen? seventeen?) books I’ve written… this is my favorite.
It was also the hardest to get published. I started writing it almost four years ago now, and it went through a lot of iterations. My agents tried shopping it two years ago. Most of the major publishers said the same thing:
“We love the voice. We just don’t know how to sell it.”
Rejection. Rejection. Reluctant, kind, but ultimately… rejection.
A brave publisher rises.
Then, finally — the then-nascent publisher Entangled stepped up to the plate. Editor Heather Howland had been nice enough to do a beta read of the first fifty pages for me… she was working for Entangled, and she said she wanted it.
I promised my agents I’d give it a shot at the Big Six publishers in New York, but something about Entangled just appealed. For one thing, they’re just my kind of crazy. For another, they’re truly lovely people. And I liked their attitude, their ethic, and their guts.
Besides — they loved my book. Almost as much as I did. And they weren’t afraid of trying to sell a book that wasn’t about vampires, werewolves, or angels in a time when Urban Fantasy appeared to be finally losing steam.
Long story short — TEMPING IS HELL, the first book in my Necessary Evil series, comes out in January. You’ll be hearing a lot about it from me (not spamming, but a whole lot of squeeing, people!)
And I hope you try it, because I really, really think you’ll enjoy it.
October 5, 2011
Just saw that I got a cover for the first book in my Blaze trilogy: The Player's Club: Scott. And lo and behold… Scott!
I love this book, and this series. It's sort of like The Dead Poet's Society meets The Bucket List… or maybe Fight Club. And Scott's our introduction to it. He sees a group of guys meeting in a back alley across from his apartment at two o'clock in the morning, but they don't look like criminals — they're wearing anything from skate grunge to tuxedos, and he can't for the life of him figure out what's going on. When he decides to investigate, he discovers two things: an underground Club, dedicated to facing what you're afraid of and doing what you've only dreamed… and his cute girl-next-door-neighbor Amanda, who mistakenly believes Scott's some kind of daredevil!
I'll be putting up the blurb and an excerpt soon… but had to share. Can't wait to see this one come out!
September 20, 2011
My husband and I bonded over an eclectic CD collection — Eminem and Eekamouse, Bob Marley and Michael Buble, Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Manson.
The Boy, still in my womb, had a tendency to rock out to thrash metal. He still insists on listening to "rock and roll" given any opportunity –Queen, Fatboy Slim and The Chemical Brothers are on his personal playlist.
I love Broadway musicals. Love that The Sing Off is back on the air — something about acapella music just gives me the shivers, in the best possible way.
Spanish guitar or Saint Saens' Dance Macabre? Sign me up.
On the other side of the coin, absolutely anything with a bass line that makes me want to move? Oh, hell yeah. Hip hop, electronica, just a driving drum beat.
Love music: hate concerts.
All that said, I generally have not been a fan of live music. Part of this is probably the fact that I'm adverse to loud noises and crowds — which, let's face it, is the point of a concert.
But in my youth (set the way, way back machine) I did go to a concert or two. Well… just two, actually. And both were for the same band.
Yes… my first concert was Oingo Boingo.
Don't judge! If you're from So Cal, you know that nobody else on earth does a show like these guys. And I was so nostalgic for that experience that I saw a cover band, Dead Man's Party. They weren't as good, couldn't possibly be, but they were still fun and the music still made me want to dance.
So my question to you : what was your first concert?
September 6, 2011
Don't get me wrong: I love the idea of kick-ass heroines as much as, if not possibly more than, the next gal. I'm certainly not looking for a repeat of pretty "girl hostages" or spunky sidekicks that are there to be rescued.
But really — does it take a katana sword and size-zero bondage gear to truly create a heroine?
A celebration of the kick-ass Everywoman.
I've been working on a new series that will come out next Fall. I'll be telling you guys about it soon, but the bottom line is: the heroine does kick ass… eventually.
She wasn't genetically altered. She hasn't been training in martial arts since she was two. She isn't some preordained guardian of whatever. It isn't fate: it's dumb luck and her unfortunate ability to make some amazingly bad decisions.
On the plus: she's wickedly competent; she's got a sense of humor; and when it comes to people she cares about, she's going to do everything she has to, no matter what lines that crosses.
Seeking: normal women stepping up to extraordinary circumstances.
So I went on a hunt to find characters like that: girl-next-door turned fierce, funky heroines. And here's who I came up with:
1. Linda Hamilton in Terminator (the original.)
She's a waitress, for pity's sake. She can't balance her checkbook, and she's supposed to be mother of the guy who saves humanity? Yet when push comes to shove, she manages to crush Arnold in a metal-press. Check, please!
2. Amy Adams in Enchanted.
Naive in New York, she manages to befriend rats, charm cynics, and then put the pain on a King-Kong sized dragon. In a designer dress. Booyah!
3. Elizabeth Shue in Adventures in Babysitting.
When a girl gets stood up for her dream date, she decides to pick up a few bucks and watch some kids for a neighbor. Next thing she knows, she's mistaken for a centerfold, she's running from murderous criminals, and stopping a gang fight with a switchblade. Best line: "Don't…fuck… with the babysitter!!"
I'm tapped out for the evening, but I know there are more out there. Can you help me find some? Who are your favorite fierce Everywomen?
Photo by Cameron Photography.
August 31, 2011
Part of me is going “whee!! Dedicated writing time!”
Part of me is saying, “He’s so little — how is he going to manage with all those big kids at that big school?”
Then, “When did he turn five? When did I become the mother of a five year old?”
Then, because if you knew him you’d see this is a viable possibility: “What if he’s organizing a prison riot during recess?”
The Legend of The Boy.
My son is a character. I am told this is not surprising: he comes by it honestly. He’s the one who came up with “Fatten down the hatches!” (He’s since learned it’s really “Batten.”) He makes me laugh, and as much as I love the free time, there’s definitely a slightly poignant shift as I rattle around my empty house, wondering what, exactly, is amiss.
So for those of you not on my Facebook page (and because frankly I am scattered today), here are some of The Boy’s greatest hits from the past few months.
The Boy’s random quote of the day: “When I date… I’m gonna look FANCY.”
The Boy & I, thumb wrestling. “You’re not allowed to count faster!” he says. “Only I’M allowed to!” I ask him why that is. “Medical reasons,” he replies.
The Boy: “Mom, I’m hungry!” Me: “So have a carrot.” The Boy: “I’m not *that* hungry.”
The Boy and I have made a newspaper. He wants to sell it door to door. “You start the sale,” he says, “then I’ll go in for the kill.” And yes… he’s five. #soproud
My Boy is a fishing god, apparently. Caught 18 — count ‘em — EIGHTEEN fish today. “You know,” he mused, “I should do this more often.”
The Boy has constructed a castle of cardboard boxes — I’m to report there, with a secret password to enter. “How about ‘lollipop’?” I suggest. He wrinkles his nose. “How about something more sophisticated,” he replies. “Like… ‘fighterjets.’”
I have accidentally run over The Boy’s Green Lantern sticker with my office chair, mangling it. He now says I have broken his heart in two, that he doesn’t even know me any more, and that I am not invited to his birthday party. Am now eyeing the multitude of packing boxes and wondering what postage would be to send a 44 pound boy to Australia.
I said: “Please play for a bit while Mommy works.” The Boy heard: “Please turn the house into the inside of a goat’s stomach while my back is turned.”
The Boy: “if I were a superhero for real, I could fight bad guys every day… with my laser vision! BOOYAH!” He is so my kid.
The Boy is officially enrolled in Kindergarten. We drove up to drop off paperwork, and I told him “this is where you’re going to be going to school.” He looked, curious, and said, “so this is college?”
The Boy and I at the park, watching a pair of Huskies out on a walk. Then, one mounts the other. I try to ignore it, say “oh, look at the trees” and he blinks, looks at me, and whispers in a faux British voice, “Shocking.”
The Boy makes up his own karate moves. “This is a combination of a duck and a kick!” Big, feral smile. “It’s a DICK!” I could not keep a straight face.
The Boy’s new favorite song: “Bad” by Michael Jackson. I am being punished for something. He also thinks Pearl Jam should change their name to something catchier: “The Pearl Jams.”
Got lost on the way home with The Boy. Guy cuts me off, then proceeds to go 7 mph and turn on blinker randomly. “I see you’re lost, ” I mutter, already at the end of my rope. The Boy then yells out: “So are we, woman!”
“You see that tree? That’s really a man in a tree suit,” The Boy says, pointing. “I’M ONTO YOU, TREE!”
Part of me is going "whee!! Dedicated writing time!"
Part of me is saying, "He's so little — how is he going to manage with all those big kids at that big school?"
Then, "When did he turn five? When did I become the mother of a five year old?"
Then, because if you knew him you'd see this is a viable possibility: "What if he's organizing a prison riot during recess?"
The Legend of The Boy.
My son is a character. I am told this is not surprising: he comes by it honestly. He's the one who came up with "Fatten down the hatches!" (He's since learned it's really "Batten.") He makes me laugh, and as much as I love the free time, there's definitely a slightly poignant shift as I rattle around my empty house, wondering what, exactly, is amiss.
So for those of you not on my Facebook page (and because frankly I am scattered today), here are some of The Boy's greatest hits from the past few months.
The Boy's random quote of the day: "When I date… I'm gonna look FANCY."
The Boy & I, thumb wrestling. "You're not allowed to count faster!" he says. "Only I'M allowed to!" I ask him why that is. "Medical reasons," he replies.
The Boy: "Mom, I'm hungry!" Me: "So have a carrot." The Boy: "I'm not *that* hungry."
The Boy and I have made a newspaper. He wants to sell it door to door. "You start the sale," he says, "then I'll go in for the kill." And yes… he's five. #soproud
My Boy is a fishing god, apparently. Caught 18 — count 'em — EIGHTEEN fish today. "You know," he mused, "I should do this more often."
The Boy has constructed a castle of cardboard boxes — I'm to report there, with a secret password to enter. "How about 'lollipop'?" I suggest. He wrinkles his nose. "How about something more sophisticated," he replies. "Like… 'fighterjets.'"
I have accidentally run over The Boy's Green Lantern sticker with my office chair, mangling it. He now says I have broken his heart in two, that he doesn't even know me any more, and that I am not invited to his birthday party. Am now eyeing the multitude of packing boxes and wondering what postage would be to send a 44 pound boy to Australia.
I said: "Please play for a bit while Mommy works." The Boy heard: "Please turn the house into the inside of a goat's stomach while my back is turned."
The Boy: "if I were a superhero for real, I could fight bad guys every day… with my laser vision! BOOYAH!" He is so my kid.
The Boy is officially enrolled in Kindergarten. We drove up to drop off paperwork, and I told him "this is where you're going to be going to school." He looked, curious, and said, "so this is college?"
The Boy and I at the park, watching a pair of Huskies out on a walk. Then, one mounts the other. I try to ignore it, say "oh, look at the trees" and he blinks, looks at me, and whispers in a faux British voice, "Shocking."
The Boy makes up his own karate moves. "This is a combination of a duck and a kick!" Big, feral smile. "It's a DICK!" I could not keep a straight face.
The Boy's new favorite song: "Bad" by Michael Jackson. I am being punished for something. He also thinks Pearl Jam should change their name to something catchier: "The Pearl Jams."
Got lost on the way home with The Boy. Guy cuts me off, then proceeds to go 7 mph and turn on blinker randomly. "I see you're lost, " I mutter, already at the end of my rope. The Boy then yells out: "So are we, woman!"
"You see that tree? That's really a man in a tree suit," The Boy says, pointing. "I'M ONTO YOU, TREE!"
August 23, 2011
I have been working with a wonderful time management/organizational (that doesn't even cover it — she's just frickin' amazing, especially if you're creative enough to be really messed up) person who has been helping me keep the many moving parts of my life from grinding me to powder.
One of the things I've appreciated the most is this exercise she does, where you come up with ten things that will help you shift your mood when you sense that all hell is about to break loose.
(She also has you write down "ten signs that all hell is about to break loose" — so you can recognize when you're about to jump the tracks. I now know that when I can no longer see my kitchen counter for the mounds of dirty dishes, or when I reach for a third cup of coffee, or when I start yelling about really small things, that I'm basically on the merry road to catastrophe.)
Anyway, I've been thinking about what little things instantly make me even a touch happier… and which ones can't easily become abused. Chocolate can calm the beast somewhat — actually, anything sugary and indulgent can take the edge off. TV can be a balm of sorts. Video games that force me to concentrate (and thereby numb or block out anything that's stressing me) have been helpful.
The only problem is, I don't simply do something long enough to shift states: I tend to sink into it. One square of chocolate is fine. A whole bag of Oreos… not fine. Especially when a sugar migraine follows.
There are the zen recommendations: ten deep breaths, a tall glass of water, a walk in nature. These take a little effort and investment — they're not sexy quick fixes.
Then, there are the sensual recommendations. This was the most surprising for me. I had fun thinking of songs that I love that make me happy. When in a bad mood, I usually went straight for "I hate you world!" music, either hip-hop or punk, with a bass line that could give you a concussion. I'm starting to see that probably fed the problem more than alleviated it. Goofy songs that made me smile (and made me want to dance) were infinitely preferable, and not as much of a stretch as doing the zen ten breath thing.
So far, I've got the Red Hot Chili Peppers "Skinny Sweaty Man" as a go-to. The Chemical Brothers' "Block Rockin' Beats" and Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice" were others — especially the video for that last one. I'd always thought of Christopher Walken as a highly entertaining psychopath until I saw that video, and I swear, I fell a little in love with him. (And then I saw the cowbell sketch on SNL, and fell the rest of the way. Which reminds me, that clip will also go on my "emergency bad mood lifters.")
As it turns out, the other secret weapon for shifting my mood came from a really unexpected sense: smell.
Everyone always says smell is the key to memory. The smell of a garage can remind you of your grandfather, fresh cut grass can remind you of summer camp. Hell, apparently the smell of baking cookies can help sell a house.
For me, the smell of tube rose or jasmine is very evocative, lemon and mint are uplifting. But the one go-to scent that never fails to make me happy? Almond. I kid you not. When I'm gritting my teeth mad, I force myself to go to my kitchen, unscrew the cap to the almond extract, and just take a sniff.
And damned if I'm not feeling a little better… at least, enough to do the ten zen breath thing or go for a tromp in the woods or whatever's next on the list.
So what about you? What sort of things help snap you out of bad moods? What songs, what scents, what actions?