Mardi Gras rabble rousers. (Picture courtesy ElephantJournal.com.)
I’m giving up alcohol for Lent. I know; sounds like the title of a horror movie, doesn’t it? Especially coming from me, since as most of you know, I love alcohol. Five PM beer and Cheez-its has been a part of my habitual routine since I was old enough to apply for academic scholarships. I’ve never gone a full month without drinking, so what gives? And why Lent? I’m not even Catholic!
Lent is the approximately forty day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Lent is honored every year in New Orleans, via Mardi Gras season. The intention of Mardi Gras: get as drunk and fat as possible before Ash Wednesday, because then begins the Lenten fast. The idea for Catholics (and many modern Christians) is that Lent is a time of preparation through prayer, repentance, tithing, and self-denial.
During Lent, many of the faithful commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penitence in memory of the forty days of fasting Jesus undertook in the New Testament Gospels. In the old days, Lent was serious business and mostly related to food. In some places, all animal products were strictly forbidden. In other places, people wouldn’t eat for days.
We do these crazy things because Easter (contrary to what the media would have you believe) is our big holiday, NOT Christmas. Easter marks the resurrection of Christ—you know, the thing the entire Christian faith is based on. Kind of a big deal. In order to prepare for such a big deal, people like to cleanse themselves and deny themselves something, as God denied Himself His only son.
Our modern version of Lent is somewhat watered down. People nowadays give up things like soda, video games, TV, or sweets (as in the case of my mother and husband this year). Rarely do people get rid of all animal products, and no one I know is planning to carry a cross up Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives.
Because two beers were necessary at once.
Usually, I do nothing for Lent. I make excuses like, “It’s a Catholic thing,” when in fact, giving something up for Lent is really just a way to remove the idols from our lives—idols that keep us from God.
I have several idols: books, sleep, reduced fat Cheez-its … but alcohol is one of my favorites. There’s something about Happy Hour that makes me happy. Something about good wine and good bourbon that makes me laugh a little louder and feel a little better. After a long day, it’s nice to know a cold beer is waiting for me—somewhere. Which is why I’m giving up alcohol for Lent.
See, I’m not the cleanest Christian. I drink. I love to cuss, and violent horror movies are my favorites. I don’t go to church enough. I don’t “serve” like I should. I hate volunteering, and the thought of going on a mission trip to a third world country gives me the creeps. However, like all of us, I am a work in progress, and despite my badness, God still loves me. I probably give him a good laugh on my really bad days. We have a tight relationship, filled with laughter, praises, and the occasional righteous shouting match. I feel it is time for me to give something back, and what better than one of my most infamous idols: alcohol?
This could be a rough month with school, work, a new novel, and now, a two-month-old puppy. There will be no breaks for a drink at five. There will be no “drinking lunches.” I will have to find other ways to unwind, like riding my super cool beach cruiser, going to the dog park, and well, reading a TON of books just to keep my hands away from the liquor cabinet at 5:30 PM.
This is my first Lenten fast. I’m prepared to grow closer to God. I’m prepared to give a little back, since He did give me life, after all. He gave me a wonderful family, a wonderful husband, and the perfect job. I owe Him just a little bit, so here you go, Lord. Take my idol. Let the Lenten fast begin!
And before you even ask, no, I’m not pregnant.
So what is Mardi Gras all about? When will Mardi Gras be next year and the year after that?
What is with the King Cakes and the baby inside of them?
Well, I'm not going to tell you all about it, instead I'm going to be lazy and let you follow this link and dive right into all the wonderful information already posted at this other website.
I love Mardi Gras, however, I stick with 1 or 2 parades a year (maybe that many), and never on Mardi Gras day. Too many people for my taste. I hate huge crowds with not enough restrooms. Yuck.
The first Mardi Gras I remember was when I was around 3 yrs. old, and my parents took me, my brother and sister. (My lil brother wasn't around yet.) I think we were in Grenta on Fourth Street. And all of a sudden I recall these beautiful horses. They were huge! I was standing in front of my mom, aching to get closer to them. Well my Mom was waving to the men on the horses to try and get them to throw beads to us, but instead of throwing them the man on the horse decided to get a closer look at my Mom.
The next thing I recall was my foot hurting real bad. And then my Mom arguing with the man on the horse who happened to be a policeman. Oy. From what I heard, he got an ear full. Luckily, she wasn't arrested. :-) Ahh, the good ole' days of Mardi Gras. Now all I have to worry about is the kiddo's being flashed. I stay clear of the horses...even though I love them still today...
Oh yeah, you want the link: Mardi Gras New Orleans .
Happy Mardi Gras...Enjoy!
Writers use forums and listings nearly every day for one purpose or another. There are community forums for those in the arts, those unique to writers and critiquing, editing and polishing, and discussions on every aspect of the writing business. Listings come in almost as many flavors and scopes as forums.
Freelancers make the rounds of both communication forms to stay tuned, toned, and in demand. Today I made forays into two separate freelance jobs listings; one within a LinkedIn group of which I’m a member, and another on Elance. I was successful in finding enticing possible job contracts.
If you’ve been around this blog often, you know that I have large projects lined up for the next several months. After the previous paragraph you’re going to ask me why I would be looking for another job of any kind. That’s fair.
I could have my eye on a lovely little boat to use during the summer on our gorgeous Flathead Lake. Or, I could want to travel in Europe next year and want to have plenty in savings to play. Then again, I could simply want a better financial cushion than I have now.
Working on only one large spec project can easily keep me occupied. Having half a dozen doesn’t give me much time to spare, though I still find time for a bit of social networking. Adding a job to the mix right now would be mental suicide, I agree.
Keeping abreast of the market, opportunities, and competition within the freelance writing world, however, is necessary. A plum could present itself at just the right moment to pave the way for bigger success and greater financial security and without stopping by such job sites on a regular basis, the writer can lose out.
Call this activity checking the pulse of the industry. Writers are entrepreneurs. They need to know what’s happening. The market can shift quietly and sneakily as smoke, leaving a writer out of the loop and as adrift as sulfur vapor puffs from a starter’s pistol.
Who could have anticipated the fiction industry shift when Stephanie Meyer’s first Twilight book, or Rowling’s Harry Potter? Those two series set the tone for a major change in the MG and YA children’s book market. Hindsight tells us that vampires come into the light every few decades, their popularity undiminished with time.
Magic and all that it entails has been around since ancient Greece. Fantasy series have been big genre business for decades. The primary component of fantasies is MAGIC. Rowling presented the concept in a slightly different manner and caught the brass ring.
Reading through job listings for writers indicates where the market is moving. Three quarters of what I found on Elance this morning were content writer contracts. The Internet is vacuuming up writers for information dis
It's almost here!
Marketing Mardi Gras starts Monday, Feb 15th.
To celebrate, I'll have awesome guests, marketing advice, daily prizes and a scavenger hunt for a two Grand prizes.
First - you MUST be a Follower of my blog and Elana Johnson's blog to win ANY of the prizes listed below. Loyal peeps get rewarded :)
Note: Elana is also running a fabulous contest next week for agent critiques and her fabulous ebook so you have nothing to lose by following us.
We gain you as a friend, you gain some cool free gifts :) (Plus we're fun!)
Three kinds of prizes are available for you to win:
1) Daily Prizes
Every day, I will do a prize drawing from the Followers/Friends who comment on that day's post.
In addition to the daily prize, a daily clue will be provided in the post that relates to the Friday's Scavenger Hunt Question.
Monday: Marketing to librarians (Elizabeth Bird, Librarian NYPL/Fuse 8)
Tuesday: Double Header! The Zen of Blogging (Lee Wind, author of ebook The Zen of Blogging) and Greg Pincus on Social Networking
- Prize awarded to a post commenter (you must also be a follower) - free books
- Clue #1 for the Marketing Scavenger Hunt will be hidden in the post
Wednesday: Marketing to Indie bookstores (Marietta Zacker, Literary agent/NYC Indie book Owner)
- Prize awarded to a post commenter (you must also be a follower): - A free copy of Lee's ebook The Zen of Blogging
- Clue #2 for the Marketing Scavenger Hunt will be hidden in the post
Thursday: Frugal Marketing for Authors (Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of Frugal Marketing)
- Prize awarded to a post commenter (you must also be a follower): book
- Clue #3 for the Marketing Scavenger Hunt will be hidden in the post
2) Friday's Followers Prizes
- Prize awarded to a post commenter (you must also be a follower): Free ebook of Frugal Marketing
- Clue #4 for the Marketing Scavenger Hunt will be hidden in the post
All you have to do is be a Follower by 12:00 AM (midnight) EST on Thursday night (Feb 18). I will do a random drawing from the Follower list on the left hand side