Thursday, January 31, 2008

Baby Girl Brilliance

I don’t have much to say. I’m writing, and it’s going great while I’m writing. I think I have to readjust my self-expectations to taking off two or three days a week just to keep up with the business that DH usually takes care of.

And anyway, it doesn’t matter that I have nothing to say, because Erica Orloff’s brilliant baby girl (10) has a poem to share, and is asking your advice on being a kid writer.

Go here to share your wisdom and enjoy her poem!

Read more...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Motivation and Writing

Since DH has gone away to work, life has been a little overwhelming. For the first time in YEARS, I’m not writing every day. This, in turn, makes me depressed. And being depressed makes it SO MUCH harder to get out of the house and go writing the next day.

Of course, missing DH might be a part of why I’m depresesd. And I seem to be battling a serious flare-up of fibromyalgia (after years, and I mean years!), which is boggling my mind because I don’t know where it’s coming from. And so I don’t know how to fix it.

Anyway, depressed seems too strong a word. But so far this year I’ve done a BIAW challenge to get myself writing, and now I’m doing a FAST DRAFT in 14 DAYS challenge.

In the back of my mind, I find this a tad ridiculous. I find it silly that I have to do these little things to get myself writing while DH is gone. I’ve always prided myself on sitting down every day and getting the job done, no problem.

When I sit down and write, I love it. It’s like I can breathe again, and I wonder what the heck had me procrastinating for days. And I love the story I’m working on. It’s going great. It’s coming out easy so far.

So why all the trouble? Why am I still here, at home, instead of at Borders right now writing?

Sometimes we judge our enthusiasm, our "meant to," our motivation and desire and the whole kit and kaboodle by our discipline to sit down, or our discipline to grind through the challenges.

That, I believe, is hogwash. I know I’m motivated and meant to and enthusiastic and all that stuff. Without a single doubt in my mind. So why, then, am I here and not writing?

Oh well. I thought, when I sat down and started this blog post, I would have a conclusion. Or at least some tidbit of motivation, or something. But I don’t. No answers, no conclusions.

And anyway, I have to get to Borders and write a little something, see if I can salvage the day. :-)

As Erica says, thoughts?

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Liar's Diary by Patry Francis

Today is the paperback release of The Liar's Diary!

Over three hundred bloggers are promoting The Liar's Diary today, while she focuses on recovering from cancer. It's a great book, but since I can't blurb it better than the official copy (which rocks just like the book), I'll paste that here:

What would you do if your best friend was murdered—and your teenaged son was accused of the crime? How far would you go to protect him? How many lies would you tell? Would you dare to admit the darkest truths—even to yourself?

Jeanne Cross is an ordinary suburban wife and mother with a seemingly "perfect" life when Ali Mather arrives on the scene, breaking all the rules and breaking hearts. Almost against her will, Jeanne is drawn to this powerfully seductive woman, a fascination that soon begins to infect Jeanne's husband as well as their teenaged son, Jamie.

Though their friendship seems unlikely and even dangerous to their mutual acquaintances, Ali and Jeanne are connected by deep emotional needs, vulnerabilities and long-held secrets that Ali has been privately recording in her diary.

The diary also holds the key to something darker. Though she can't prove it, Ali is convinced someone has been entering her house when she is not at home-and not with the usual intentions. What this burglar wants is nothing less than a piece of Ali's soul.

When Ali is found murdered, there are many suspects; but the evidence against Jamie Cross is overwhelming. Jeanne's personal probing leads her to the question none of us would ever want to face. What comes first: our loyalty to family—or the truth?"

You can read about her experience with cancer at her blog, and you can buy The Liar's Diary here! Below is the book trailer.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Dreams, Writers, & The Subconscious

Alexandra Sokoloff, yesterday, talked about writers and using their dreams to help them write. I think that’s the coolest, but I rarely have interesting dreams, and if I do, they’re of the website-in-the-refrigerator variety.

Instead, I tend to daydream, aLOT. Like, all day long. In the shower, in the bathtub, in the car, while cooking, while listening, while staring out the window ... whatever. By the time I actually sit down to write, I have TONS of scenes to transcribe.

Which made a little bell go off when Laurell K. Hamilton talked about her phobia of flying. This weekend she talked about a method to "cure" that phobia, that allows your subconscious to work through your fears, generally while you’re sleeping, because that’s when most people use their subconscious.

However, Laurell K. Hamilton was gripped by paralyzing fear during the day. The technique had worked wonders on her friends, but not on LKH. Why? She called up her therapist, to discover:

"She’d had this problem once or twice
before with artists and writers. Apparently,
some of us use our subconscious during the
day. We’re like very in touch with parts of
our psyche that most human beings only
access at night in dream state. I’d always
thought that I was more in tune with the
hidden parts of me, interesting to have it
confirmed.

"My subconscious and I are apparently too
tight to separate. That means that the veil
that most people have between their waking
mind and their subconscious isn’t really
there for me. I didn’t realize that other
people did it differently."

I’m constantly digging into my subconscious trying to find patterns and such, trying to understand how I really feel, trying to process what thoughts come from where. It’s a self-centered endeavor, but I also think it’s necessary in understanding humanity. I mean, our own minds are probably the deepest we’ll ever be able to explore, you know?

Although, our own minds are probably the most difficult to know.

And yet, the coolest stuff comes from the subconscious.

Also, at Murderati, there’s a fabulous, fantastic, thought-provoking post on how our minds work perceive imagery--persistence of vision, and how it relates to creating a story for the reader, by Toni McGee Causey. Fascinating stuff.

Sometimes I think we need a psychology degree to write, you know?

Since this is turning out to be a link post, I would be remiss in not linking to Meg Gardiner. She finds the most curious news items to share. The two latest and greatest are:

  1. A Whitbread Prize winning author claimed, in a lawsuit, that fumes from a shoe factory left her "unable to concentrate on writing her highbrow novel, Cool Wind from the Future, and instead wrote a brutal crime story, Bleedout, which she found easier." (How could they lower her to such depths of sell-out???)
  2. My favorite: Dan Brown’s UK publisher issued a statement saying that "There is never any clause from [a] publisher to a novelist that they have to deliver at a certain time. We would not impose such a thing on a contract." (We’ve all spurted up coffee on that one, right?)

Read more...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

It Is But It Isn't ...

Recently, I read a story about a reader approaching M.J. Rose and saying, "So you’re a sex therapist, that must be fun ..." To which she replied, "No, I’m an author who writes about a character who is a sex therapist."

LOL.

But the freaky part about writing, I find, is that truths sometimes shine through.

I never take someone I know and bend and twist them into something else. I just come up with a person. I don’t know where from. I think I start with their emotion, or their inner conflict first. So in that way, I can definitely say that there is no fact about any of my characters.

The other day, Erica Orloff asked about families in our lives and families in our character’s lives on her blog. I answered, and in answering, realized that my current character has only a fuzzy impression of her biological mother.

Which I, until that moment when I typed it, didn’t connect at all with the fact that I have only a fuzzy impression of my biological mother.

Yes, there was a story I was once very honest in, down to actual details, but I was feeling rather "safe" under my pseudonym and the cloud of fiction.

But when it happens accidentally? It’s sort of freaky and scary. I mean, what other deep, dark secrets are spilling out from my subconscious that I’m unaware of?

Not that the fuzzy impression is a deep, dark secret, but can you at least follow my paranoia?

Truth and lies fascinate me, probably because I love spy novels, LOL. There’s so much humanity and emotion and inner and outer conflict in spy novels; it’s like a goldmine for a writer.

One thing I learned from someone I was barraging with research questions, was that the most effective lie is a truth. You have to change this or that, but the less you actually lie, the better.

Writing fiction is like lying, but to do it effectively, we must keep as much as we can true, like details and emotions and humanity.

Which is why I think some readers get confused, why authors send out mixed messages "It’s me! It’s not me! It’s true! It’s a fictitious character! It’s real! That’s not real!"

And most just blanket deny and say that everything they write is fiction. Less misunderstanding that way.

I don’t know where I’m going with all this thinking, except to say that sometimes I’m appalled at how something I write has a parallel to my truths, how it sometimes shows me how my deep subconscious feels about something, even if it’s all warped and twisted and fictionalized.

When I realize that, I get a sick feeling in my stomach and wonder if everyone can see the parallels. And I also wonder what other truths make their way into my stories, truths I don’t realize I’m sharing, even in their disguised form.

Ever get paranoid about that sort of thing? Ever trip up on a detail you’ve included, that you suddenly realize might shed light on your subconscious?

And do all authors spend way too much time trying to figure out their own mind and the minds of those around them?

Read more...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

It's a Crazy World in my Head.

I have trouble waking up. This is putting it mildly. The only time, in the last few years, I have successfully been able to wake up without five alarms and a two-hour ordeal, was when I was on hormone-fixing drugs, LOL. It is truly the hardest thing I do every day.

And trust me, it has nothing to do with my enjoyment or enthusiasm for life.

It’s so hard, that when I have to be up really early, I don’t go to bed at all. It’s easier for me to just stay up than to sleep for a few hours and wrench myself out of bed.

Reason will not work during this time. The brain will not work. Everything is all mixed up, and even if I know I desperately want to get up, I just can’t because my brain won’t think clear enough.

For example, this morning, I reminded myself that I wanted to have time to work on the website I’m making. But I had a flash of fear that it was wilting in the refrigerator. No, I thought, surely not, it’s only been a day.

But then I tried to remember if I had put the website in the same bag as the green onions, because those had wilted past the point of use in my weekly frig-emptying soup. If the website was in the same bag as the green onions, then it would be all slimy and green and icky.

No, I thought, I did not put the website in the same bag as the green onions.

Somewhere amidst this fuzziness, I knew I desperately wanted to get up, so I told myself to think of the things I wanted to do most, the things that really motivated me to repeatedly want to get up.

And, in the middle of a snowstorm in northern Ohio, I decided that I would motivate myself to get up by going for a walk on the beach along the ocean. Because suddenly I lived in a lovely little open-aired shack on the beach, and there was the ocean right out my window. And DH was standing on the beach right out my window, too. :-)

So I did, in fact, get up and take a walk along the ocean, enjoying the smells and the sunrise.

Then my alarm went off again.

*sigh*

Anyway, if you want to read something inspiring today, read this blog on falling down, and mentally replace "design" with "writing."

Pure genius.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Nice to Meet You!

I love Bernita’s reminder today, to:

"make sure each and every page contains
something special for the reader: an insight,
a line of exquisite description, witty or illuminating
dialogue, a bit of shock ’n awe, whatever --
to carry them forward, to sustain their
interest in the unfolding tale."

Lainey, yesterday, was searching to find her beginning. I struggle with that, too, except I tend to have no backstory, no set up. I take the in medias res way too literally, and I need to fill in more, LOL.

But, in the end, I strive to have my characters make intriguing and good first impressions. Rather than tell or even show through backstory, I put them out their doing something relative to the story arc, in a way that the reader can make their own judgments. (And hopefully I’ve slanted things in my characters’ favor.)

It’s like when you meet someone in real life. You see hundreds of people a day in the store and around town, but do you talk to them all? Of course not. They have to do something that makes you notice them. And then once you notice them enough to slow your errands down and actually talk to them, then you have to find something you can relate to.

"They" say that closer relationships are made when you go through a stressful event together. I suppose that’s one more reason to start in the action. If your reader relates to your character, and they go through a stressful event together, then you’ve got a relationship.

But you know, every time you draw a generalization in an attempt to make sense of the craft, you lose all the other stuff that works, too, all the exceptions and all the outside-of-the-box thinking. And I had a friend who opened with backstory every single time. A whole chapter of it. Somehow, it was interesting and perfect.

Anyway, have you been to In For Questioning? It has awesome audio interviews with authors.

How do you like to start your beginnings?

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Small Pleasures

Last night, DH called and sounded healthy. I wasn’t expecting him to call because it’s wildly expensive from the boondocks of Alaska, and it was a real treat. The sound of his voice gives me so much happiness.

Then this morning I woke up to four cats all cuddled with me. In the world of my priorities, that’s a reason to spend an extra hour in bed. They make my heart warm.

Then I went writing. It wasn’t a particularly flow day or anything, but it was a regular day where I wrote all morning. Since I’ve been running around like a confused chicken with my head cut off since DH left, it was nice to finally sit and write.

Then I got home, and three postcards and a card came in the mail from DH.

(Then, of course, since DH is gone, the computer broke. *sigh* Now I have to call the warranty company and this is not a good thing. *double sigh* Then no one had their theory done. I love sitting in lessons and saying, "What do the directions say?" and "Good, now go do that." and "Then what do the directions say?" and "Look it up." *growl* I should just make a recording of it so they can just press play at home.)

But let’s stay focused on the morning.

What were your small pleasures today?

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Monday, January 21, 2008

The Writer's Strike

I’m not gonna get political about it today. I’m just going to say this: TV sucks without writers. I’m not much of a reality TV fan, and I’ve gone through the cycle of Star Trek Voyagers three times now since last summer, all seven seasons. I started watching M*A*S*H repeats again, even though I have every episode practically memorized.

So I’m seriously considering cancelling my TV service until the writer’s strike is over. I’m paying eighty bucks a month to watch no television. It’s a ridiculous waste of money. The TVs haven’t even been on in weeks.

I miss Chuck and NCIS and Shark and House and Brothers and Sisters and Numbers and ... can you believe that 24 has been canceled for the spring? Of course you can.

The Numbers producer was fired on Black Monday. EVIL STUDIOS!

Most of all, I miss Men in Trees. And The Unit.

Although, I hear that the creator of Gilmore Girls has a new show. Is it on yet? What’s up? Are you watching anything? Is anything on? What do you miss most?

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Writing Practice and Zen Habits

I’ve only been eeking 100 - 500 words a day, which means I haven’t had much to say about writing because I’m barely doing it. For me, it’s really something I need to practice every day.

I’ve noticed my skills are deteriorating: my sentences on blogs, comments and in emails are getting so downright sloppy that I’m embarrassed, LOL. Next week, from Monday through Friday, Mary Castillo is hosting a Book In A Week. (Okay, it’s not a whole book; it’s however many words are your goal.) I’m hoping that will get me back on track!

In the meantime, I’ve been pursuing avenues to diversify my income (for more financial stability so DH never has to leave again!) and change a lot of things in my life. Y’all know I’ve been wanting to do one thing at a time, and I’ve found a blog I absolutely love the best:

Zen Habits

This guy is a real, sincere guy. He’s the real deal. I discovered him through his post on How to Be an Email Ninja. Great advice, loved the article, but then I discovered there were more, even much better ones:

After I’d gone linked here and there, I’ve finally just stopped and started reading his posts in order, from the very beginning of his archives. They’re that good. Once in awhile he repeats himself, but it’s always with a tiny twist that I can actually apply easily to my life today.

And it’s not about changes. It’s more about simplifying, focusing, quieting. Finding time for joy and love and happiness. So that’s my life. I’m a high-stress person by nature and a worrier, so I have to learn how to be low-stress without being stressfully ambitious about it, LOL.

So are you game for a writing challenge this week? How do you handle stress? And how was your weekend? (I just worked on the not-yet-up spy thriller website - coming soon!)

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Resisting Relaxation

My brain and body are a bit stubborn. See, once in awhile I feel like I need a day off (I only take true days off, like ... um, once every couple months, really) but I resist it, feeling guilty that I should do some business stuff or write.

So I aim to do all those things, but by the end of the day, all I’ve accomplished is both not relaxing and not getting anything done, because my brain and body just sort of refused.

If I had known they were going to go on strike, I just woulda laid on the couch and read a book.

Maybe I’ll just give in tomorrow. Probably not.

Does that ever happen to you?

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The Boy Who Grinned

//static.flickr.com/2027/2202140220_3946e6a0bf_mSo I did some searching in my memory, because not only were your reactions incongruous with the Boy Who Grinned, formerly known as the Boy With the List, but how I would feel about such a boy with such a list was incongruous with the Boy Who Grinned.

See, way back then, I was all of nineteen or twenty, and (gasp!) still an innocent (hah!), sweet young virgin. (Who knew I’d admit such a thing ever?!) In my defense, I was pretty focused on piano at the time and I had this huge crush on this Irish Catholic boy from Boston. (The thought of him still makes me smile, for sure. God, that accent! He was sexier than Matt Damon because this boy could actually play the piano. ;-)

Anyway, to my nineteen or twenty year old prudish sensibilities, I would have probably found it equally as shocking that he kept a list of girls he’d kissed, as a list of girls he’d, well, you know.

Mind you, this was a long time ago.

Last night, I dreamt of DH. Boy, I miss him. I dreamt we were driving home from the airport together and laughing and talking and stuff. So when I woke up, I went back to sleep so I could see him again, LOL.

See, DH is one of the veterans of the Vietnam War. The only reason I share this is because, if you know those who have been in the Vietnam or Korean war (I don’t know any other military men, so I can’t generalize about them), then you know if there’s any unifying ethic between all of them, it’s you do what you have to do.

In the best of them, there’s a stronger sense of principles, principles that have stood the test of the kind of perspective that only death can bring. Their principles may vary, but they are who they are and they’re pretty rigid about that.

DH, at first glance, is not the friendliest looking fellow. He’s got a grumpy, sort of bulldog looking face that’s very adorable and cute, but probably not adorable and cute to a stranger. Anyway, he’s the type of guy that children, even children he doesn’t know, instinctively gravitate to.

The only reason I can put to that is that he would die in an instant, without any consideration or thinking, for any child.

And that if he’s got to do what he’s got to do, he may as well do it cheerfully.

The most valuable thing to learn, for a writer, is how what you write makes people react in what way, and why. That’s why I’ve always felt that you can get as good feedback from a reader who knows nothing about writing as you can from a writer. (Mind you, you can’t get good suggestions from a reader, not normally, but that’s a different thing.)

Yesterday, I learned that setting and the order in which you list the qualities of a character DRASTICALLY change a reader’s perception. And, well, leaving out his character will do that, too. I was more thinking of the point about writing people’s endings, rather than telling you much about him.

But then I realized I did the Boy Who Grinned a disservice. May I revise?

See, I know nothing about the father of the Boy Who Grinned, except that I know his father was of the same sort of cloth as DH, and his father rubbed all that off on the Boy Who Grinned. In fact, the Boy Who Grinned said only two sentences ever about his father, "My father was in the military, and the only thing he did not want me to do when I grew up was to go into the military."

Of course, the Boy Who Grinned was in ROTC and desperately wanted to be a Marine, but he’d just been devastated to learn that his bum knee was the end of that dream. On the surface, you’d think he went into ROTC to defy his father, but it was the opposite; I always felt he did it in the hopes to please his father, while at the same time trying to be his own man.

Anyway, I met the Boy Who Grinned in a little Italian pizza shop, where we both worked. He had that do what you have to do work ethic, and he always did it with a grin. He looked like that boy in the Norman Rockwell painting, except he grinned real good and his blue eyes would twinkle like nothing you’d ever seen. He could’ve been a rock star, LOL, he was that charismatic.

We were just friends, but he was fun to work with. He would beam that grin at every girl who walked in the shop, no matter how skinny, short, fat, pretty, or ugly they were. If they walked into the shop depressed, they would walk out of the shop with a smile on their face and maybe even a little giggly deep inside their heart.

I hooked him up with one of my best friends, I liked him that much. They both had the same sort of hole or yearning in them. I had told her of the list, so she asked about it (being comfortable with that sort of thing), and gave me the details. I relentlessly teased him about the list, of course.

They were friendly for a couple months, but since they had the same sort of hole, I think they were both seeking someone who would fill the hole. Same isn’t always good. :-)

About a year into working together, he started working one Friday a month as a waiter in one of those places where bachelorette parties go to goggle at male strippers. Being the curious sort, I asked him tons of questions about this, LOL. He was recruited (that grin, you know), and he stuck for the money, but I like to imagine he enjoyed making girls feel good.

In all the time I knew him, I never heard him say one negative thing about any girl. Not ever. And in spite of the Kissing List, he did not kiss and tell, not ever.

He had those rock-solid principles born of a military father.

And so, while I was shoveling litter and thinking of the Boy Who Grinned even while doing what you have to do, (no matter how shitty, LOL), I wondered what happened to him. He seemed the type to find a sweet, pretty girl who was the type that he’d feel like protecting and treasuring. And with his principles, I bet he wouldn’t cheat on her and would put caring for and providing for his family at the top of his list. He was that sort of person.

Wouldn’t that be poetic? The perfect full circle for a novel.

I don’t really remember if the Kissing List was a Kissing List or a You Know List, but I like to think he just wanted to remember all the girls he’d shared a special moment with.

I hope I did the Boy Who Grinned a better service today. Because even at his young age, he was his own man, but he had that fresh enthusiasm that made him an eternal boy in my memory. And I may have forgotten a ton of details about him, and I may have forgotten the details of the list, but I will never forget that infectious grin that could make a girl feel happier and lighter.

Any better?

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Happy Endings.

So as I was cleaning the poop out of the litter box, my mind wandered to this guy I knew in my early twenties. Had I not worked with him for two years, I never would’ve gotten to know and like him. He was everything opposite from me. He was a frat boy, a clean cut military wannabe who had a bum knee, and he kept a list.

A list, you know? I’m talking a list that, at last count, had gone over the number one hundred, with all the names of the women he had slept with. It was by his bedside for any women to peruse if she so chose.

And first I thought, he sure needed a deep, intimate relationship. Then I thought, I bet now he’s got a wife he adores and never cheats on, with two kids and a nice house in the suburbs.

Then I realized that’s a little poetic. People don’t change in real life as much as they do in fiction. What if he’s a bachelor with a list up to five hundred or a thousand by now? Or what if he’s still waiting tables and flirting with women at the female version of a gentleman’s club? What if he has a wife but that list is still growing?

I have a tendency to write happy endings for people in my mind. All my ex-boyfriends, save one or two, have happy endings. So do my acquaintances.

This is a little crazy, so I was wondering if you guys do it, too?

Random thoughts:

I feel happy today. I also watched three hours of bad TV yesterday while feeling
sorry for myself. And then I cleaned. I am definitely gaining an appreciation
for cleaning, that’s for sure. It’s like the depression wonder drug!

I’m thinking of cancelling my DirecTV account until the writer’s strike is over.

Is there anything on TV? I mean, yesterday I watched Gossip Girl. Well. The main character, Serena, is striking. It’s hard to take your eyes off of her. She’s got a quality about her. The show itself is crap.

But still I watched.

At City’s Edge by Marcus Sakey is OUT! YAY! And that means my reading crisis is most definitely over. I can’t buy it until February, but I have a feeling I’ll be finishing it while I’m supposed to be writing at Borders. I will definitely buy it, though.

Finally, it occurred to me as I was strolling through Borders today that there are three definite ways to get rich and be wildly successful:

  1. Do speaking engagements and write a book on how to get rich.
  2. Do speaking engagements and write a book on how to lose weight.
  3. Do speaking engagements and write a book on how to be successful.

It strikes me as cheating, a little bit, to go from being poor to getting rich solely by telling others how to get rich. You really don’t have any experience about getting rich, except by way of telling others how to get rich. Which means, unless your followers all want to get rich by telling others how to get rich, what do you really know?

Ditto the successful bit.

Read more...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

More On Reading

I hate to say it, but I’ve got a ton of unread books in this house. Part of it is because I went to the RWA conference last year. The other part is because lately, it seems I’ve gotten pickier or something. That sounds so nose-up-in-the-air.

There was a time I’d read anything, finish anything; I called myself a book slut.

Now, not only does the story have to be really good, but I have to be in the mood for that kind of story.

Another bad habit I’ve gotten into is getting a third of the way through a book, thinking I know how it all is going to end up. And then I flip to the end of the book, and discover that it does end up exactly as I thought, I feel no need to finish the book.

And sometimes, I can even say that it is a talented book, well-worth the hype. I can even say that this or that is really refreshing, and that on the whole, the book has that special spark. And it’s even perfectly well done.

But I have zero interest in actually reading the parts of the book I missed.

Lately, nothing seems to catch my fancy. I very much want to read, but I find myself wanting things that don’t exist. Even as I wander through the whole of Borders, I haven’t been getting the spark of excitement I usually get.

I wonder if it is a condition of a writer, to crave books not written. Maybe that’s part of why we create, because we can write the story we crave, write exactly the story we’re in the mood for, write exactly the story we feel like curling up with and the characters we feel like spending time with.

Or maybe I just miss DH, and maybe everything is a little tainted with a lack of enthusiasm. Or maybe it’s a bit of both.

I just really want a story that I can lose myself in, that can take me away from my world, that can make me cry or laugh or inspire me or feel like spending time with some character-"friends" for a little while. I suppose, being in the mood I’m in, it takes a really powerful story to do that.

I just want a story that’s going to blow me away.

LOLOL ... I feel like one of those little kids who’s whining I’m bored!

Have you ever gone through periods like this?

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

If You Want To Get Something Done ...

... Ask a Busy Person.

This has been my comfort every time I add something to my schedule I fear will take away from something else.

Also, my motto of the year is to live life slow and do one thing at a time. LOL. I am way too comfortable with holding contrasting and competing ideas. I’m a Libra.

Last night I was going through my task list and realized, finally, that I could go to Borders and write!!!! What a relief! And I think I can resume my normal writing schedule now, plus add the volunteer stuff I wanted to add to the roster this year. Considering I’m writing for real again (I’ve been doing my minimum 100 words every night in sheer desperation, but that’s it), I will hopefully be talking about writing here again.

I have a goal to sit down in my living room with my cup of golden milk (I use almond milk instead of real milk) and READ for an hour or more every night before bed. And relax.

Reading and watching stories on TV or at the movies probably ranks as one of the most important things to my development as a writer, so why do I have such trouble finding the time?

There’s all sorts of "clubs" out there, like the read 50 books a year challenge, and I think West of Mars has one for 100 books. Lauren Baratz-Logsted once set herself a goal of reading 365 books in a year (I’m so jealous!), although I never saw her mention whether she achieved it or not. (That would be pure heaven!)

Reading is declining, we’ve all worried and fretted about that. But here are the ramifications, and they don’t look pretty. (Thanks to Buzz, Balls, & Hype.)

So I want to add more volunteering and more reading to my schedule. All while slowing my life down. *sigh*

Where do you find time to read? (What a pitiful question!)

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Boob Wishes!

Not that kind of boob wishes! I just stumbled across Edie’s old post on boob wishes at Magical Musings. What a fabulous idea! I love it! (How did I miss this one?) She said:

"One of the exercises she picked up from WRITE IT DOWN,
MAKE IT HAPPEN
by Henriette Anne Klauser was to write
down 3 things she believed could really happen in the
next 30 days. She shared this with a loop of about 30 writers.
The book said to put the paper in her pocket, but this was
inconvenient for one of the members, who put hers in
her bra. They started calling it the Boob Wishes.

I love this! These are the wishes of your heart,
and you’re keeping them close to your heart."

Don’t you just love it? (Sorry about the centered text. I can’t get blockquotes to work in my css for the life of me! Yeah, re-hauling the layout is on my to-do list. Btw, does this layout load slowly for you?)

I need to come up with my Three Writing Boob Wishes of the month:

  1. Learn to write at home.
  2. Finish current novella.
  3. Pre-flesh out idea or characters for next novel.

Those aren’t wishes, though, are they? Or are they? Sometimes I think I’m way too practical for my own good. I’ve been trying to wish and dream more.

Okay, I wrote my three wishes on green paper for good luck, and they’re in my bra, LOL. What would your three boob wishes be? (Pretending you would wear them in your bra. Speaking of which ... would you?)

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Stephanie Plum and Company

DH and I have grown addicted to listening to the Stephanie Plum series in the car. I’ve enjoyed the slower pace; I have more time to admire Janet Evanovich’s skill. You name a rule, Evanovich has broken it. People cut and slide their eyes all over the place, and I love it. She writes sparingly, but every word she writes is written skillfully.

Plus it’s funny.

What I can’t believe, is that after Hot Six, they changed narrators from the amazing C.J. Critt to Lorelei King.

Let me explain to you about voices. I memorize voices. If you call, I know immediately who you are. Even if I can’t remember your name. You can make a pretend voice all you want, and I’ll know your voice. I’ve got, like, perfect pitch for voices. And that’s after hearing it one time.

C.J. Critt can do different voices. And I’m not talking raising her voice here or there, I’m talking she sounds like five different people in her recordings. Her narration of the Stephanie Plum series is AMAZING.

So good that I googled C.J. Critt so that I could listen to other stories she’s done. Imagine that! Choosing a novel by the narrator!

But after Hot Six, the Stephanie Plum series is narrated by Lorelei King. King reads in this fuzzy, sleep-inducing tone, and her voices all sound like her. Grandma Mazur’s voice, in particular, is annoying as all get out. The rest is just boringly read.

I read and thought that C.J. Critt must have quit narrating, but no. She’s narrating the Evanovich’s NASCAR girl series. Barneby what’s her name.

So I’m just pouting that I can’t hear the rest of the series narrated by C. J. Critt. It’s like the difference between a second grade very-bad-actor and Al Pacino. There’s no comparison.

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING???

Anyway, I’ve been unable to find the BBC Jane Eyre at the library or at my local rental stores. So I’ve been watching it by YouTube. Oh. WOW.

You guys were right. I love every instant of it (I’m on the second episode), and come February 1, I’m ordering the movie. I have a feeling this is one of those movies I’ll watch over and over and over and over. Wow. Thanks for the recommendation.

If you don’t already go, check out Edie’s Sunday blog. She blogs something happy every Sunday evening, and I find myself seeking it out every week, looking forward to it.

So anyway, how was your weekend?

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

You Are Creative

It’s funny, how when I get the most overwhelmed, I’m almost done. Like, when I said I had to take a break from blogging, I figured it would take me a week to get caught up. And the next day, I got caught up. So I’m pretty sure I’m back. I think I have everything organized now.

I’ve just responded to all your comments, but I read them throughout the week
and thanks for the many smiles and laughs you gave me! Forgive me for dropping the ball on our conversation!

On to the post ...

When I’m a little bit sad, I don’t want to go to bed. If I’d just go to bed, I’d be asleep and it wouldn’t matter how sad I was. The next morning I’d wake up feeling better, without that sad feeling.

But no, when I’m a little sad, I sit up, trying to find a way to feel good before I go to bed. I have no idea why.

So I downloaded one of those guided meditation/hypnosis/affirmation recordings to my palm pilot. They always make me fall asleep. As I was making my way through the hypnosis, I was just asleep when it said, "You are creative, brimming with ideas."

And, goshdarnit, not two minutes later I was OUT of bed, scribbling down ideas, trying to get flashes of story on to paper.

I knew I shoulda gotten the Deep Sleep one.

The big project that was sucking tons of time was finished yesterday! I seem to have a system that is shakily in place, so I can be both me and DH while he’s gone. (Just sleep three hours less and wake up three hours earlier.) And I rewarded myself with a trip to the movies: I saw Juno (wow--good--I was expecting fluff, but it was great!) and The Bucket List (fabulous!).

Have you ever made a Bucket List? What would be the top few things on your list?

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

So sorry guys ...

I’m swamped. This is crazy, running a business all by myself and writing and just trying to do everything all by myself, LOL. There was a reason I hired DH!

I’ll be back soon! I really miss you guys!

:-(

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Lost Thought

I think I’ve mentioned before that DH is the organizing person, and I am the creative person. We complement well.

But when he’s gone?

Well, this is what my life turns into:

  • 10:15: Finally done with work! Must go deposit a check and get a quick bit of food from grocery. Approximation of time: 25 minutes.
  • I get the check, my purse, my scarf.
  • I walk out to the car. Realize someone said they’d drop off a check, so I check the back "studio" mailbox. Nothing.
  • Realize I didn’t stamp the check. I go back in the back door, go stamp it, go back out.
  • Then I realize they may have dropped it in the real mailbox out front. Go out front. Yes! They did!
  • Go in the front door. Open envelope in the studio. Get thirsty, go into waiting room for drink of water. Go back in studio, stamp check. Leave out back door.
  • Get to the bank. Grab checks --- wait, only one check. Get out of car, look in passenger seat, backseat, underneath the seats. Give up and deposit one check.
  • Go to grocery store. Find those singing and dancing plush Christmas toys are 75% percent off! Buy a few! And am so relieved I finally got paid, I buy some bath salts to celebrate.
  • Go home. Forgot to buy FOOD at the grocery store. It is now 11:45 and I still haven’t eaten dinner. I search the house for the check, find it, and head back to the bank ATM.
  • Deposit it. Go home, almost sleeping at the wheel.
  • Get home at 12:30, forgot to get food. Go to bed, too tired to eat anyway. Time spent: 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Appropriately, this Emily Dickinson poem arrived in my Inbox via DailyLit this morning:

THE LOST THOUGHT.

I felt a clearing in my mind
As if my brain had split;
I tried to match it, seam by seam,
But could not make them fit.

The thought behind I strove to join
Unto the thought before,
But sequence ravelled out of reach
Like balls upon a floor.

I knew there was a reason I loved Emily Dickinson.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Journal Day Today

I can still reach DH by cell phone today, but sometime tonight or tomorrow, I won’t be able to hear his voice for a long time. :-( But ... he sounds so happy.

He misses us, of course, and 18-hour days aren’t exactly the most fun thing in the world, but he sounds happy. That makes it a little easier for me to bear. He just loves the ocean, and he loves traveling. He sounds positively exhilarated.

We’re different. Most of the work I’ve done in my life has been a striving for some artistic goal, which means my work has been my life’s passion, not really a job.

DH, on the other hand, works to travel. That’s what fulfills him. He always says a "job is just a job" and "a job is a means to an end." He has a great work ethic and he takes pride in doing his work well, but ... to him, it doesn’t matter what he does, as long as it buys him the lifestyle he wants.

I don’t know if I have a point to this post. Except to express that I feel guilty. He sounds happier. And I feel guilty for "keeping" him in Ohio. I want him to be happy, too.

I think there is something in all of our lives that exhilarates us. And that we need to find it and do it. I need to make a plan so that DH sounds exhilarated more.

Sorry, boring journal sort of entry today. How do you view your work? How does your partner?

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Final Goodbyes

Read and weep: a blogging soldier’s final post to the world, to be posted by his friend if he ever died. Andrew Olmsted requests:

"I do ask (not that I’m in a position to enforce this) that no one try to use my death to further their political purposes. I went to Iraq and did what I did for my reasons, not yours. My life isn’t a chit to be used to bludgeon people to silence on either side. If you think the U.S. should stay in Iraq, don’t drag me into it by claiming that somehow my death demands us staying in Iraq. If you think the U.S. ought to get out tomorrow, don’t cite my name as an example of someone’s life who was wasted by our mission in Iraq. I have my own opinions about what we should do about Iraq, but since I’m not around to expound on them I’d prefer others not try and use me as some kind of moral capital to support a position I probably didn’t support."

I find final letters fascinating in a morbid sort of way. In fact, I have a file on my computer called "Letters to be Mailed Upon My Death."

DH thinks that’s weird.

My dad died when I was ten; I only offer that in small explanation for why I have such a file on my computer. Although, my dad died a (slow?) death, well, less than a year, so he had plenty of time to make sure I knew how much he loved me.

Even before he got cancer, it was like he knew he had to pass certain nuggets on before he died. What father tells their eight year old not to marry until they’re thirty?

Sometimes, I think we subconsciously know if we’re going sooner rather than later.

Anyway, I have such a file on my computer because I want those people who were special in my life to know just how much I appreciated and cared for them. Yeah, we try to say those things in life, but when someone dies, we have a tendency to think, "I wish I would’ve done X, or spent just one more day with them."

I want them to remember a happy memory, and I want to say a final thank you and a final I love you. I want them to know how they made my life better, and in a few cases, leave some last words of unasked-for advice, LOL.

I wish my father had left me a letter, but his best friend wrote me one that suited. I treasure it to this day.

So that’s why I have a file marked "Letters To Be Mailed Upon My Death."

Do you have such a file? Have you written some of those letters?

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A Dose of Inspiration

It’s Mark Terry’s birthday! He posted the lyrics to "Another Trip Around the Sun" on his blog, and I was blown away. The sort of lyrics that just speak to you so well, you can imagine they were written for you and your situation.

Here’s YouTube of the song, and you can go to Mark’s blog for the lyrics (and to wish him a Happy Birthday!). I think I want to make "every day’s a revolution" my motto of the year, even though it kinda contradicts the meaning of the song. But ... we’ll see what works, right? Change what you can, accept what you can’t, all that.

Enjoy!

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Onward and Upward.

I’m in the middle of a volunteer project that got out of hand. It’s sucking my time like you wouldn’t believe. To make a long story short, I’m typing in a bunch of recommendation letters and application forms into a web survey. You wouldn’t believe how many adjectives and adverbs are in those types of letters! I want to throw up!

And have you ever noticed that whenever someone uses the word "renowned," you’ve never heard of the renowned person? I mean, if they were truly renowned, then you would have heard of them, and they wouldn’t need to describe them as renowned.

Oh well.

I dreamed a scene as I was waking up, and it was good: the beginning of a novel. What bothers me is I can never seem to have those dreams of scenes that jumpstart a book for something real name could write; they’re all only for pseudonym’s stories. This bothers me on so many levels I can’t even tell you. I love my little niche, but it’s not NY material.

I’ve always said that if you keep throwing energy in a certain direction, things start happening in that direction. So I’ll just trust that I’ll find that passion for some NY niche. I hope.

Oh well.

There was no mail today. If you’re self-employed, you’ll understand why I’m going to say again, "Oh well."

To end on a good note, DH left five messages on our voice mail. One to play to each cat every night (Dixie Doodle, especially, gets really depressed when Daddy’s gone. She handles it better if she hears his voice every day.), and one for me. :-)

Onward and upward.

How’s your week shaping up? And you all write NY-directed stories. Do you feel that gripping passion for stories right off? Or is it a gradual seduction?

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Six More Tips for Simplifying in the New Year

1. Shine the Sink: I’m getting a little on the obsessed side with all my cleaning and clearing. It’s amazing, though, how a shiny sink can lift depression.

I still haven’t finished my New Year’s Resolutions, but I’m slowly realizing that it’s because I’ve been slowly testing out changes, and making all sorts of little changes that are truly changing my life.

2. Email Once a Day: One of the biggest changes I’ve made is that I only check email once a day (Okay, sometimes twice a day, but I’m trying!). I only do email (no outclicking or switching to the web browser) and I either delete the email, respond and delete, put it in a "1Return" folder for something that needs a response this week, or put in a "2StayInTouch" folder.

But at the end of my email session, every single email box is completely empty. What a great feeling!

Even better, email doesn’t interrupt me fifty times a day. I had no idea how much time it sucked, but it’s freed up hours in my day.

(See ZenHabits for some more great tips.)

3. Blog Once a Day: I do the same with blogging: I read y’all’s feeds once a day, click through and comment, and then that’s it. Then I close Thunderbird. (Okay, okay, I’m still working on this bit.)

Doing one thing at a time sure frees up loads of time.

4. Check all your Comment Discussions Once a Day: Do you go back to sites to check and see if the blogger has responded to your comment? Do you end up having to click through all the blogs again, several times, to see the discussion?

Want to make it easier? Want all your discussions on one page? Or even better, delivered to your feed reader?

Co.mments.com is WONDERFUL. You just sign up, then click and drag a bookmarklet to your toolbar. Whenever you’re on a comments page, just click that little Track link, and it will track that discussion for you.

If you click on Tools, you can either have your feed reader fetch the feed of all your blog discussions, or you can go to http://co.mments.com/track, and all your discussions will be on that page. (Make sure you stay signed in.)

Handy, huh?

5. Get Back on the Wagon: If you’ve fallen "off the wagon" with your goals, then check out David Allen’s presentation to the Google staff. He reminds us that it’s just as easy to get on the wagon as it is to get off. No big deal, just get back on. Fall off, get back on.

Forgive yourself for falling off. It’s okay.

6. When Will You Be Done? I tend to go to bed (or not go to bed) every night feeling like I’m not done. I hate that feeling. I run from one thing to another and never feel like I finish anything.

But I’m creating boundaries. Do email, then I’m done with that for the day. Do blogging, then I’m done with that for the day. Write, and then be done. Clean, and then be done.

My dream is to be done with everything at 9:00 pm, so I can relax and read, watch a little TV, and go to bed peacefully.

I’m working towards it. I believe that I can still get the same amount of stuff done, but with a slower pace of life, if I just focus on one thing at a time. I’ll let you know if it works out. :-)

So how are your New Year’s Resolutions going? Or, how are your current goals going? Any handy tips?

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P.S. I Love You

Last night I went to see P.S. I Love You.

Wow.

I’ve heard around the writer’s blogosphere various grumblings about Cecilia Ahearn. I haven’t read her book yet, but the movie was incredible.

I cried, then laughed, then cried (we’re talking streams of tears), then laughed (we’re talking barking out loud), then repeated that for the entire length of the movie. As I was watching, I worried it was going to be one of those top-heavy comedies, where all the laughter is in the beginning; it was well-spread through the entire movie.

Using the word comedy is misleading, because it’s mostly a drama about a young, thirty year old widow whose sexy Irish husband dies at thirty-five and leaves her a series of letters, timed over the year after his death, with the intention of helping her heal.

This is one of those movies that I will see again and again, both in the theater and when it comes out on DVD. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s one of those movies that I end up watching every couple days for weeks on end.

And I haven’t done that with a movie since Hope Floats came out years ago.

That’s how good P.S. I Love You is.

Anyway, now I understand why people clean when depressed. (DH has left now, but only three months until he gets home!) I got up and cleaned, (strictly by accident; one thing just sort of led to another), and WOW! Cleaning really lifts depression.

I feel great! To part, here’s a video of the P.S. I Love You trailer:

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Inspiration and Desperation

Edie recommended Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia yesterday, so I checked out Elizabeth Gilbert’s website. She has an awesome page up on writing! (Except for the small fact that she considers the late thirties to be "A Certain Age.")

*gulp*

My favorite was this paragraph:

"As for discipline - it’s important, but sort of over-rated. The more important virtue for a writer, I believe, is self-forgiveness. Because your writing will always disappoint you. Your laziness will always disappoint you. You will make vows: “I’m going to write for an hour every day,” and then you won’t do it. You will think: “I suck, I’m such a failure. I’m washed-up.” Continuing to write after that heartache of disappointment doesn’t take only discipline, but also self-forgiveness (which comes from a place of kind and encouraging and motherly love). The other thing to realize is that all writers think they suck. When I was writing “Eat, Pray, Love”, I had just as a strong a mantra of THIS SUCKS ringing through my head as anyone does when they write anything. But I had a clarion moment of truth during the process of that book. One day, when I was agonizing over how utterly bad my writing felt, I realized: “That’s actually not my problem.” The point I realized was this - I never promised the universe that I would write brilliantly; I only promised the universe that I would write. So I put my head down and sweated through it, as per my vows."

So DH is leaving tonight. My mantra is that this will help get us one of our big, big dreams. A really big dream that will bring us years of happiness.

But I’ve always lived most of my life with the fear that tomorrow might not come. That’s why I work doing things I am passionate about, rather than work doing things I hate so that I can save up for "other times." But it’s smarter to hold off sometimes.

Tomorrow will come. With both of us healthy and safe and together. It will, it will, it will. This is the right thing to do. (Am I overdoing it yet?) I’ll just repeat those phrases over and over and over. It’s only three or so months.

I consider love and time with DH one of the most important joys of my life. But this is the right thing to do. I am not going to get depressed this time. Just for the next minute. And then the next. One minute at a time. Maybe I can procrastinate getting depressed until DH gets back, at which point I won’t need to be depressed!

Have you ever sacrificed something you feel to be one of the most important things in life in order for a big dream? Was it worth it?

I’ll end with more wisdom from Emily Dickinson:

A BOOK.

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.

This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

About You; Favorite Book?

I’ve been blogging for about a year and a half now! My posts, it seems, get a little bit self-centered and selfish around the New Year. I think a lot around this time.

But my favorite thing about my blog is you guys. As I said about a year ago, Mi Blogga, Su Blogga. Please let me know if you ever want to guest blog, if your book isn’t listed to the right, or if you want me to change the book listed to the right.

I’m almost positive everybody’s blog is listed, but if it’s not, please let me know. Because if it’s not there, it means I’m probably missing your posts, and you know how I’m addicted to reading y’all’s blogs.

Or if you change your website, start a new blog, (Oh! Right! Check out Erica Orloff’s new blog about her adventures with her adorable Demon Baby!), or anything. Really.

So on the theme of being a bit self-centered, I’m trying to decide on a book to get with a generous and much appreciated gift certificate.

What’s the most inspiring book you’ve ever read, the most life-changing, and/or the most treasured? I’m thinking in the non-fiction category. Something to inspire me for the New Year.

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Three Tools for the New Year

1.) I just discovered this fabulous article on How To Be Creative. Evidently it made a lot of rounds back in 2004, so quite a few of you might have read it. If you haven’t, it’s fabulous.

2.) If you’re trying to build a new habit, you probably know that it takes a little while to make it permanent. (Some say 4 weeks, some say 21 days, some say 40 days.) Don’t Break the Chain is a very simple, small way to help you track your goal. You simply click a box on each day you do the new habit, and try to make a long chain of "in a rows." You can even add it to your blog or to iGoogle.

3.) Joe’s Goals is another clean and simple way to track your goals, in a small chart that tracks with smileys or frowns. Again, it’s little, easy, and simple.

Simple is one of my goals for 2008.

It’s starting to feel like 2008. Wow, 2008. What a relief. 2008. (Give me some leeway to say 2008 over and over and over. It helps me make it feel real. Helps me feel like 2007 is behind me.

2008 feels exciting. 2007 feels a little smelly and old and unlucky.

2008 feels very, very, very lucky. I’m loving 2008 already.

I’m working on a lot of changes. 2007 was great, but things feel ... off. I haven’t found my right rhythm yet. I want my life to be very different, though, which means I need to make lots of changes. Which is why it’s taking me so long to come up with New Year’s Resolutions.

Hey, it’s 3:37. This is getting ridiculous. I can’t wait to get back to a real schedule. I have so much to do, so much I want to do, that I’ve been staying up later every night.

I could go to sleep. I’m tired, so it’s not one of those icky insomniac periods. It’s just, I don’t want to waste time sleeping. There’s so much I want to do and accomplish.

Have you ever had periods where you just don’t want to sleep? Although a warm, snuggly bed is starting to call to me ...

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Goals, Resolutions ... ?

Mark Terry posted some fine goals (pointedly not resolutions) on his blog today, and he got me thinking. What is the difference between a goal and a resolution?

Probably not much, aside from our perception of them. Just for some good old fun, though, let’s play the lawyer’s game and go at it:

res·o·lu·tion

  1. The state or quality of being resolute; firm determination.
  2. A resolving to do something.
  3. A course of action determined or decided on.

goal

  1. The purpose toward which an endeavor is directed; an objective.

Hmmm ... that makes a resolution sound like a decision, albeit a decision with determination. A goal, on the other hand, is more like a light at the end of the tunnel.

No wonder resolutions are such problems. A decision doesn’t give you anything to look towards, really. Does it? A goal gives you that eye-on-the-ball sort of focus. But a goal without a resolution doesn’t exactly work, either.

If a resolution is the starting point, and the goal is the ending point, then what’s in between?

The journey? The daily mindfulness? Seems to me, that’s the most important part. So what is between? What do you think?

After all the word-study is done, I think I like Winnie the Pooh’s definition of a New Year’s Resolution the best:

"It’s a promise to be a better person in the New Year."

I can certainly get behind that!

Mine are coming soon. I’m behind on them. In fact, it’s only now that I’ve had a chance to look at last year’s goals and resolutions. I still need to evaluate them, sit down with them and stuff.

I need a day. Things keep coming at me. Every where I turn, I see more I should do. Do you know, I haven’t been going to sleep until 4 in the morning because I keep feeling like I have so much more to do ... even though I’d been working for 16 hours that day?

And did I mention this is during the week that I’m off work???

I hope everyone had a great holiday season, and I hope that 2008 will be our best year yet! Lots of hugs and love to you guys! May all your dreams and goals and resolutions come true!

Happy New Year!

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