Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Shine On, People. Shine On.

Many of us are gearing up for National Novel Writing Month. Some of us are throwing ourselves into November armed with scene cards and a caffeine IV drip. Some of us are winging it with a pen and a prayer. Maybe you're not participating in NaNo, but you're diving into a different project.

Wherever our creativity takes us the rest of this year, the rest of our lives, let's make sure we remember this quote from Nic Stone: 








Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Horror! The Horror!

The Plan: Buy this book - Frightlopedia: An Encyclopedia of Everything Scary, Creepy, and Spine-Chilling, from Arachnids to Zombies by Julie Winterbottom - for my nephew and niece for Halloween. They love to read, and they're pretty okay with scary things. Besides, each section in the book has a Fright Meter to gauge the scare-factor. 

What Actually Happened: Aunt Madeline decided she did not want to be responsible for terrifying her nephew and niece. (Adults, on the other hand, are fair game.) So, at great sacrifice to her own sanity, she read it instead and promptly freaked herself out.   

(To be fair, the kids might've been fine with it. It's just you never know what will trigger a nightmare, a fear, a phobia, especially when you're young. Take it from someone who was scared so badly by an innocent Popeye cartoon that she had bad dreams for a week.) 

All that being said, I really did enjoy the book. It's creepy, with photos that haunt me still, but it's also entertaining and informative. 

Did you know . . . about the waste water treatment center where scientists found 107 million spiders had woven a four acre web - the size of four soccer fields! - inside the building? 

Did you know . . . that claustrophobia is the fear of enclosed spaces, but cleithrophobia is the fear of being trapped? Check out these two real-life situations:

- A man got stuck in an elevator for two full days with nothing to eat but Rolaids.

- A woman got stuck in her bathroom for 20 days. She banged on the pipes, but neighbors thought the noise was construction. She lived on nothing but water.

And finally, a place I will NOT be going to on my next vacation:

Gomantong Caves is on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. It houses two million bats. The cave floors are ten feet deep in guano, but you can't see any it because of all the cockroaches. Yep, a giant mass of cockroaches feasts on all that poop, along with the occasional bat that falls from the ceiling. And you can watch it all from the wooden walkway that will supposedly keep you safe from all but the errant cockroach and the three-inch-long centipedes that crawl along the handrail. 

Yeah, my sister should sooooo thank me for not sending this book.


So, what scared you as a kid? What scares you now? Plan on taking a trip to those caves? If so, please don't bring me back a souvenir . . . . 


(I talked about this book purely because I enjoyed it. I didn't receive any compensation, etc.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Pursuit of Passion . . . and Possibly Salt and Pepper Shakers.

Back in July, I read an interesting article by Maura Rhodes in Parade Magazine called "Robots, Gnomes and Beatniks - Oh My!" about people who collect things.  One person collects desk service bells. Another, exotic beads. An eight-year-old boy is really into garden gnomes. 

My Dad collected salt and pepper shakers. They were on shelves all over the house. He would buy them at garage sales. People would bring ones back from trips. Some were from my grandparents' time. My sister and I rolled our eyes and teased him, saying when he died we'd have a fistfight over who would get them. That didn't happen, of course. (Although I could take her. If I had to. Just saying.) But some came home with me, just as a keepsake. I don't think I'll start collecting them myself, but I guess you never know.

After all, my Dad didn't collect salt and pepper shakers until he was older. I don't know why he started when he did and why this particular thing. A lot of people in the article seemed to get started almost by accident. The person with the service bells originally bought one as a gift then ended up keeping it. The boy with the gnomes discovered them at an environmental center.

I don't really collect anything. Sure, I've got lots of books, tons of seashells, more beads and crafty things than I know what to do with, but none are true collections. I'm missing out! I want that passion, that drive, so many collectors have. I want to go on a hunt! 

Hmm, maybe I'll pull out those salt and pepper shakers, give them another look . . . .


Do you collect anything? What do you collect? Why? Do you enjoy the hunt? How about your characters? Are they big collectors of anything? What do you think it says about them? 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

IWSG: Ready, Set . . . Go!

 For More Information

This October, I'm gearing up for two big things, and I'm anxious about both of them.

The first is National Novel Writing Month in November. I've done and won NaNo a number of times, but it's been awhile since I felt good about what I ended up with. I'm not talking about a perfect, publishable manuscript. I just want to be happy with what I have to work with, to revise, later on. So, I'm doing a lot more prep work this time around, and I'm hoping it will help. 

The next thing is running a 5K. If you've been around this blog for a bit, you know I'm working on my health and weight. I've been training somewhat secretly. Of course, the people in my neighborhood who see me jiggle-jog down the sidewalk know something is up. But I've kept it kind of hush-hush because, honestly, I'm not sure I can even physically do it, and I hate the idea of setting myself up for failure, admitting defeat. (It's actually longer than an official 5K and "zombies" are going to try and grab three flags that will represent my life. The goal is to get to the finish line with at least one flag/life left. I just want to get to the end, "dead" or alive.)

I can use all the encouragement and support I can get, along with any advice - for the running and/or the writing. Wish me luck! I'm going to need it . . . 


I'm co-hosting this month's IWSG along with these folks - Beverly Stowe McClure, Megan Morgan, Viola Fury, Angela Wooldridge, and Susan Gourley. Please show them some comment love!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Clean Houses vs Finished Books

This is totally why I don't have any published novels to my name:

(Joy Held)

Because you know, my house is So. Clean.

Okay, even the tortoises are laughing at that. 

Seriously, though, it's all about priorities. In the past, I got off course, got distracted. I fell for some of society's expectations. I let people and what they thought into my head. I tried to please even as I tried to be myself. My dreams and hopes suffered. My writing suffered. My spirit suffered.

Well, enough is enough. The majority of my energy and focus now goes to health/losing weight and to writing. My husband, my partner in all things, gets that. We're in this thing called life together. 

So, if the dust bunnies form an army, my husband will conquer them with the vacuum. If the laundry pile turns mountain, I'll scale it then throw in a wash. If neither of us feels like cooking, we'll hunt for hearty, healthy takeout salads. 

Now, if only we could get the tortoises to pull their weight around here . . . 


How about you? Are you struggling with priorities right now? Are you balanced, focused, on track for the most part? What's working for you? How dirty does your house have to get before you surrender and get to cleaning?     

Monday, September 19, 2016

Get on Track! Writing Books and Links to Guide, Inspire and Motivate

This past summer, I came across some wonderful posts (and books!) about writing that really hit home for me. I'm sharing them here in the hopes we can all stay on a good track - or get on one! - for the rest of the year and into the next. May you come away from reading them with the same inspiration, motivation and guidance that I did! 


If you've lost your writing mojo, check out Anna Elliot's post over at Writer Unboxed - When the Spark is Gone: 4 Ways to Bring Back the Joy of Writing

"But we all have experienced those hard days: times when we feel like we’ve lost the spark of delight in what we’re working on. It might be a scene, a chapter, or an entire book that suddenly feels flat or empty or just lifeless on the page."


If you're trying to figure out where you'd like your writing career to go, these two posts from Pretentious Title can help:

Author Career Planning: "I'd like to talk about career planning. In my opinion, the trad vs self publishing choice is just a microcosm of figuring out a real career path for yourself."

Know Thy (Publishing) Self: "Because the truth is that both trad and self publishing have horrible pitfalls and incredible heights. Neither of them is easy and nothing is guaranteed. So how do you know which is right for you?" 


I can't say enough good things about Lisa Cron's book Wired for Story: The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence. I'm now reading her new one, Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages that Go Nowhere.) Oh. Yes. Please.  


And now . . . some inspiration! Bear with me, I'm going all Fan Girl (wait, am I too old for that? Or should it be Fan Woman?) I am a huge fan of Mindy McGinnis - the 2016 Young Adult Edgar Award Winner! - whose new book, The Female of the Species, is out September 20th.

Guess how long it took this book's journey form beginning to bookstore? 15 years! In A Picture of a Thousand Torments, Or: A Literal Pile of Rejection Letters, Mindy says, "I'm sharing all of this with you not as yet another example of "never give up," but rather, "never stop improving." If I had continued to query for fifteen years but never bothered to improve my craft, I guarantee I would still be receiving rejections." Read her post. Please.


(I didn't receive any compensation for mentioning these links or books. I just liked them and wanted to share.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

There's No Place Like Home

I sometimes feel like there's something wrong with me that I don't want to see more of the world, especially since at first glance, it looks like I can throw some things in a bag and just go. Ah, but appearances can be deceiving! The world has changed, and so have I. Airline travel is so much harder for me now - I might as well buy another seat just for my anxiety. And when the trip is over, when I'm back home, I'm usually so incredibly drained it takes me awhile to bounce back.

Oh, I still do it. I make myself do it. I've done it for not-so-happy reasons, like helping out when someone was sick. I've done it for happier occasions, like an anniversary party and just-because. I have flown once a year - at least! - for close to two decades. And I'll continue to fly up North or on vacation . . . but to a lesser degree.

Here's why: I only have so much energy - mental, emotional, physical. I'm at the point in my life where I need to direct that energy to different things, to other hard things like losing weight and writing.

I'm totally open to a road trip. A long weekend away sounds good. I do enjoy seeing new things or seeing old things in a new way. But here's the thing: I like where I live, and I love my home. I will no longer apologize for that.

This quote by George R. R. Martin sums it all up for me:


Do you enjoy traveling or are you more of a homebody? Do you have a fear of flying? Is anyone in your life critical of that? Do you feel like you're not "really living" if you don't see the world?