Thursday, November 17, 2011

Operation Shop and Wrap!

If you've already found yourself humming "It's Beginning to look a lot like Christmas" or wondering if Grandma will get run over by a reindeer this year, you're not alone. In fact, there are those amongst us who begin their holiday shopping during the July 4th sales. I believe they should be publicly flogged and staked over fire ant nests outside Walmart, but that's just me. I'm more of a "it's cold. I need to start shopping" type gal.

So this year I'm sharing my preliminary campaign strategy with you all by telling you what I've found this year that WORKS and what might be worth adding to your list. The one you leave "accidentally" taped to the remote control so that hubby will find it and not look terrified come Christmas Eve because he's got no clue what you want. Gotta love 'em, but sheesh....

(PLEASE NOTE: I don't get a dime from any of these folks. That's a hint. If I'm plugging your product then dammit...send me a token of your appreciation, why doncha?)

SKIN CARE!!!  Should be top of everyone's list because we all know we need it to varying degrees. There are about three minutes in a woman's life when her skin is perfect. Before that it's acne, and after that it's menopause. So here's my recommendation. Anything from CLARISONIC. Especially this little darling... the MIA. It'll cleanse your face like you wouldn't believe. Yes, it's pricey, but this is the travel version, not as steep as the full-on Clarisonic triple-headed, rechargeable whatsit. And this one does the job. You will immediately notice the difference. Mine paid for itself when my lovely aesthetician looked at my skin and told me to cut back on my facials. Then she went out and bought one for herself. It makes a super gift, you can even find it with a 20% off coupon at some on-line distributors, and HE can't screw it up and get the wrong size. There isn't one. It comes with it's own magnetic charging unit (that's cool beans right there), and a couple of brush heads. You'll want to replace those every three or four months depending on your usage. Sephora has 'em.  This gets a HUGE thumbs up from me. I love it.

HAIR CARE!!! Yes, he can buy this stuff and wrap it. Why not? It's a little indulgence for us women who diligently try and wait until the fun products are on sale at the drugstore.  Here's my fave at the moment: AGADIR ARGAN OIL. (The whole family of products!) Available all over the place, this line works best for me of any of the ones touting the Argan oil component. The scent alone is orgasmic - it's an olfactory delight. The shampoo and conditioner are luxurious, the intense cream is a great weekly treatment, and the styling products all complement each other and you only need a little since it really does go a long way!  Indulge. This also makes a nice gift for a friend who has everything. A pretty basket, a bunch of these bottles and a romance novel with a handsome Sheik on the front. She'll love it.

Groan. Yeah, I know. But...consider this.  A gift certificate from an up market store will allow us to shop for products we wouldn't usually try. I discovered Laura Mercier thanks to my Sephora Beauty Insider card points. I offer thanks daily because anything from this line seems to work extremely well for me. So by all means cut out flyers from Nordstrom's, Nieman Marcus, Macy's, Dillard's, or whoever else you have in your neck of the woods. Leave them in other prominent places. The bathroom works well, I've found. Just not with the toilet paper stash, since we all know that's not a place men EVER check. A GC doesn't look quite so lovely as a large wrapped present, but the residual effects will be more worthwhile and longer lasting than that Veg-o-Matic in the box.

THERE'S AN APP FOR THAT:  Yes, there is. Especially for us beauties who have actually hit, survived, and moved on from, the big 4-0. MORE Magazine has a lot of useful recommendations and some surprisingly honest reviews of many things feminine...from exercise equipment, through beauty products, and even stocks, bonds and investment strategies. My newest fun toy is their App for my iPhone. (Siri isn't as much fun when it comes to shopping. All she wants for Christmas is the Steve Jobs biography and a new face protector.)

MORE has cleverly added a shopping list, so if I happen to see something I want to try (like Fekkai Glossing Sheer Shine Mist - it works great!!! ) all I have to do is tap the tiny list along the bottom and it automatically gets added. (I picked up the Caviar Seasilk line of hair products from Alterna this way. Sadly, didn't do much for me at all. So not all the recommendations are spot on.)  When I get to the stores I don't have to rummage for that piece of paper I left on the kitchen counter. You know how that goes! LOL So before heading out anywhere, check your app and update your list. This time of year, every little thing like that helps.

Just a few ideas for things you might ask Santa for, or perhaps even consider giving to your nearest and dearest. The whole Holiday Shopping thing isn't always a snow covered scene from an old-time Bing Crosby movie. Sometimes it reminds me more of "300", complete with the blood and vicious weaponry. Anything that makes it easier gets my vote - so I'm always ready for more shopping/survival tips. I'm done with Malls'll be all on-line. At least I don't have to do the "stalking someone for their parking space" bit. That's always struck me as particularly night...being slowly followed by a silent Hummer...with tinted windows... EEEEEK!!!

And yes, moving to Aruba for the duration, thus skipping the entire tinsel-bedecked season, has already been suggested, btw. But thanks...I'll keep it in mind. LMAO

Happy consumerism,
Sahara Kelly

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Where have you gone, Guy de Maupassant?

Recognize this guy? His name is Samuel Clemens, but you probably know him better as Mark Twain. A writer and humorist, Twain is well-known for creating novels about Tom Sawyer and his buddy Huckleberry Finn. It's less well known that he wrote short stories. Some estimates say nearly 50 of them.

Is this important? For the purposes of this blog, yes.  Read on and see why.

In the course of my writing career, I've had my share of rejections. One which hurt a lot involved a series of short stories - turned down with the comment that "short stories don't sell well". While reminiscing about that event from a while ago, I recently got into a discussion on short stories with several readers and writers. I was surprised to hear the same song. Short stories? Nah. They're not much use to anyone. Who wants to read something anyone can knock out in ten minutes?

Jeez, guys. I'm about to point out how freakin' WRONG that is, in every way!!!

Try explaining that viewpoint to Stephen King. He's written 35 of 'em...Stand By Me being the most notable! I ventured the opinion that WRITING a short story is an art, and went on to point out that when an author elects to pen a short tale, they have to squeeze every ounce of meaning out of each word and ditch the unnecessary ones. Washington Irving could do it...see Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Did those little gems suck? Er, I think not! Of course Guy de Maupassant is one of the most classically acknowledged talents in this unique category. The man was a master at using few words to express many ideas. But not many read him these days, sadly. Especially not in his native French. He's tucked up on the dusty shelves with Flaubert and the Dumas boys, but if you have chance, try one or two of 'em. English is okay. LOL.

Today of course, we're more savvy. We read...hmm... Isaac Asimov!!! Oh wait! There's a little story called "I, Robot" and it's a - dare I say it - SHORT story!!! In fact, he wrote 19 short story collections. And you science fiction fans are probably also familiar with a chap named Ray Bradbury. As luck would have it, this prolific genius has over 400 short stories and novellas to his credit.

Need I go on? No, probably not, but I'm going to anyway, because this is something I'm passionate about.  Let's see... might recognize J.D. Salinger's name. Many consider him one of the 20th century's greatest writers. Should I mention that he has three short story collections and a couple of dozen separate ones?  O'Henry is another author you probably know - in fact, there's even a short story award named after him. Most of us have run across John Updike at one time or another, and he published over 150 short stories in his lifetime.  F. Scott Fitzgerald? Yep. Dozens of those little jewels.

And that brings us to the granddaddy of 'em all - arguably the most famous short story writer of all time. A troubled lad by the name of Edgar Allen Poe. He only wrote ONE complete novel in his lifetime and if you know the title you're smarter than I am because I'd never heard of it. I HAD heard of The Pit and the Pendulum, The Tell Tale Heart and The Masque of the Red Death - some of his most famous works, each short and demonstrating perfection in paragraph form. He wrote over 65 of them and they still have the power to terrify.

Interesting stuff, huh? I will confess I was astonished when I looked into this topic and found the range of writers who had begun or flourished within the short story environment. Talented, creative and imaginative, these are some of the best wordsmiths we know - and yet apparently "short stories don't sell".

Hah. That, in the words of me...crappy wordsmith that I am... is utter bullshit. A good short story is a small work of art, every bit as inventive and challenging to produce as a 100,000 word opus. Even more difficult, some may say, since it takes extraordinary vision to condense a tale into its smallest possible enclosure. I decry the prevailing attitude on the part of publishers (both print and electronic) toward the tiny tale. C'mon guys. Get your s**t together and learn to appreciate all forms of literature. Not all of us want to read War and Peace-length books, let alone write 'em. Give these writers a chance to shine and let them prove you wrong with their success. I know I'll be at the head of the line, downloading them, buying the collections and enjoying every perfect word. Rock on, short story writers. If it's not here yet, your time is on the way!!!


Andrew Cleese and Ms Lyon - a cautionary tale about wizards, fairies and okra
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