Saturday, December 27, 2008

My Year in Review

It's blog chain time again and with the holidays upon us we're doing a jingle chain which means that we are blogging outside of our usual order and on whatever topic strikes our fancy. This time the blog before mine in the chain is Abi's and the one after is Elana.

Christmas is over and the New Year quickly approaches. A new year means three things: 1. Making Resolutions 2. Making plans for New Years Eve and 3. Reading endless lists that review the past year and its high and lows for movies, TV, music, books, pop culture, and anything else that magazine and newspaper editors can think of.

I already have the first two covered (Continue writing for number 1 and cooking for family and then chilling with friends are my plans for number 2.), but number three is one that I haven't really tackled yet, and it deserves to be considered because while my main goal of being agented and published was not accomplished, I took so many other little steps in the right direction that it's hard to chalk the year up as a loss.

So, without further ado here is my 2008 writing year in review.

1. Elana in her post after mine began by talking about not being in the writing closet. Well, last year at this time I was in the closet. The only person who knew I was writing was my husband. Besides him I hadn't mentioned it to my best friend, mom, or any of my four sisters. I think mostly it was not believing in myself and what I was doing. It was my husband who finally outted me and over this past year he, my friends, my sister Amanda and even my Mother-in-Law have read my novel. Now I know the opinions of friends and family are not to be trusted since that whole love thing tends to cloud their judgement - nonetheless when they told me they enjoyed it, laughed out loud, or read half of it in one day - well those were great moments.

2. My education in publishing. Finding QueryTracker, agentquery, Miss Snark and the world of agent blogs, author blogs, and editor blogs meant hours of staring at my computer screen. Clicking, clicking, clicking. Reading, reading, reading. There were actually so many resources out there that I was at times overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information available to me. At the end of it though I had an idea of how to write a query letter, knew who to send it to and who would want sample pages or a synopsis along with it.

3. Send out query letter. Wait. Receive rejection. Pull self off floor. Send out more query letters. Wait. Receive request for partial or a full. Do dance of joy. Wait some more. Have partial or full rejected. Lick wounds until they start to heal. Start new novel and then just hope and wait some more.
At any of these points I could have given up. Hell at every one of these points I wanted to give up. I didn't give up.

4. Receiving an honorable mention in the Bookends Blog first 100 words contest. It was a small thing, but it was a bright spot during a time when a lot of rejections where rolling in.

5. Joining my first crit group - the Passionate Critters. This was my first chance to get unbiased crits from other writers. It also felt it was another step in the direction of getting really serious about writing. Also, I made my first writing friends.

6. Starting my blog. Soon after joining Passionate Critters at the urging of some of the other members I started this blog. Now I wasn't just announcing my intentions of being a writer to my family and friends, but to the whole worldwide web.

7. Soon after starting the blog the blog chain began. I thought it would be a way to get myself to post more on my blog and find a larger readership, but I got something even better out of it - wonderful, special, and amazing writing friends who I don't know how I ever lived without them.

8. Getting close to finishing my second novel. It took me a couple of false starts, but by July I had settled on my Urban Fantasy WIP and have been slowly chipping away at it ever since. There was a part of me after finishing my first novel that didn't know if I could do it again, but now I know that there is no magic in it - only making the time to write and then making myself do it.

9. RallyStorm. Another place to hang out with my online friends? Awesome.

I was going to find a number 10, but I have a cold that is shutting down the part of my brain where I stored that one, and besides it's always nice to leave something for next year.

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this year - I can't wait to spend the next one with all of you too!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Christmas always seems like a good time to reflect on how time goes by so quickly. And there is nothing like having a baby to really drive this point home.

For example here is my son, Jamie, in our Christmas card from last year.



(On the inside the card it says, "As if it's your first!")

And here is Jamie in our Christmas card from this year.




From one short year to the next he looks totally different. I'm the type of person who always wants time to go by fast, and am always looking forward to the next thing. But when I see how fast my baby is growing for once I wish that I could freeze time.

That's why today I'm not going to do anything but enjoy every minute of this day. And I hope all of you do the same thing too.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Word Counting

It's time for my monthly word count update, and for once I am proud of the progress I have made.


59317 / 85000 words. 70% done!

Yes, 70% done, which mathematically
speaking (writerly speaking, the percentages left could be much higher) means only 30% left! I've never been a big number person, but for some reason these numbers speak to me.

I've also since October been using a spreadsheet, given to me by the excellent Elena of Mindless Musings, and have become obsessed with the daily ritual of inputting my word count progress. Being forced to do the math (confession: I use the calculator on my computer) makes me see in black and white when I've only managed to get 200 hundred words and should push myself to write a little bit more, or (sadly) less often when I've written over a thousand and can give myself a little pat on the back.

I can also see patterns emerging - like when I sit down to write the first spurt of what comes out is usually around 250 words. That's usually stuff that's been percolating in my brain since my last writing session. I usually have a pretty good idea of what the next 250 should be as well. That gets me to 500 (this I figured out without the aid of a calculator). To get past that, I usually need to play a little Snood, surf a little internet, and check my email as if the answers might be lurking there. Sometimes nothing comes and I leave it for tomorrow and other times I find something else that gets me to 800, 900, or even 1000. I really like it when I hit 1000.

Anybody else find counting words helpful? Or does it do the opposite and make you focus on quantity and not quality of your words?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Respect The Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart was a guest judge for the quickfire challenge on Top Chef last night. The first thing my husband said when Martha came on the screen was something about how she was a jailbird.

Hearing this my first thought was, "oh yeah, wow, I had completely forgotten about that," and my second thought was, "hey, leave Martha alone. Then I quickly jumped to Martha's defense. Why? Because I like Martha Stewart. And even if you don't like her, you should at least respect her.

Everything that Martha Stewart puts her name on is great. When I was planning my wedding the best of all the wedding magazines was the one with her name on the cover.

The Everyday Food cookbook that my husband and I use most often out of all our cookbooks (and which I actually am going to use today for an excellent meatball recipe) is another Martha Stewart product.


Sure, she's a little uptight and her crazy perfectionist ways make everyone else feel slightly inadequate. For example, a few months agoI was watching her TV show and it was an episode where she talked about how to make the perfect bed (using, of course, her Martha Stewart brand of bedding from Macys) and part of her technique included ironing the sheets.

Now, if it was Oprah talking about having her sheets ironed, I would be annoyed - as I was when Oprah once talked about how she likes fresh sheets on her bed every night. The reason for my annoyance is that Oprah has this "I'm just like you persona", when we all knows she's not the one making the bed and laundering those sheets. Martha, on the other hand, has more of a "sprinkling her knowledge on the little people" thing going, but I can imagine her actually ironing her own sheets just because she believes that no one else will do it as well as she can.

I guess what I love most about Martha Stewart is that she's kind of crazy. The way she interviews the various celebrities on her show- often awkwardly ordering them around, putting her foot in her mouth, or even accidentally stabbing them.

In honor of the awesome crazy that is Martha Stewart I have pasted below a recipe of hers that I used last Christmas to make the holiday ham for my family. It tasted delicious, but didn't end up looking quite as pretty as Martha's picture. And you know what? With a Martha Steward recipe - that's exactly the way it should be.


Honeyed Ham with Pears and Cranberries
  • 1 fully cooked, smoked bone-in ham, (about 10 pounds), trimmed of excess fat and skin
  • Whole cloves, for ham (about 45)
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 1/2 cups honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 Bosc pears, quartered and cored
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Score ham all over in a diamond pattern; insert cloves into diamonds. Place the ham in a large roasting pan. Pour cider and 1 cup honey over the ham. Bake 1 hour, basting with pan juices halfway through.
  2. Add cinnamon and pears to pan. Bake 45 minutes, basting twice. Sprinkle cranberries over pears; bake until pears are tender and cranberries begin to burst, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fruit to a shallow bowl; cover with foil, and set aside.
  3. Ladle juices from pan into a medium saucepan. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup honey, the sugar, and ginger. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Cook until mixture is syrupy and has reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Pour glaze over ham; bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven; brush ham with glaze from pan. Let rest 15 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, and carve. Pour pan juices over pears and cranberries in bowl; serve with ham.

The Carol of the Christmas Pickle

This is just so funny that I needed to share it. Enjoy.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A New Career Opportunity

I think I have finally found the perfect job position, and what's even better is that even in this dismal economy - they're hiring.


Yes, that's right - I could be an official Oscar Meyer Hotdogger, and have the once in a lifetime opportunity to drive the Wienermobile.

I even have relevant past job experience from my summer as a Niagara Falls van tour operator. If I can drive a fourteen passenger van around congested tourist areas while telling bad jokes, (They really were bad. I mean bad bad. I'll give you one actual example so you can judge for yourselves. While pointing out a gigantic old barge that has been stranded on the rocks above Niagara Falls since the early 1900's the following joke would be told: There were rumors that the barge was actually illegally carrying Scotch, (no idea if this was an actual rumor, although I think it was just a set-up for the joke.) so now, of course, it's Scotch on the rocks. Yes, people did actually groan. And yes, I did still tell that terrible joke every damn time I drove by.) then I can certainly handle a vehicle shaped like a gigantic hot dog.

So, what do you think? Do I have a future as a hotdogger?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wishing

It's time for another blog chain. This time Sandra over at Dual Citizenship in SpecFic and Mundania provided the question, and what a deep one it is.

What is the role of wish fulfillment in fiction? What personal wishes do you want your stories to fulfill? Are they the same ones you want to read about? How do our fictitious wishes affect our everyday dreams?

This feels like the type of questions that one might find on their final examination and have to fill several blue books trying to answer it, or perhaps it would be more of a ten page term paper type of question. What I'm saying is that it is a great question, but it is also a big question (made even bigger by it actually being four questions) and I don't know if I can fully wrap my head around it within a blog entry.

Luckily, I have had some time to ponder this question while the rest of the blog chain gave their own answers, and I think I've come up with a response that will not require footnotes or hunting down a MLA Formatting and Style guide.

It's does however have a three parts:

1. Wishing to write what I like to read.

I was reading a review the other day of the a book called The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia by Laura Miller and found this excerpt:

C.S. Lewis embarked on "The Chronicles of Narnia" after observing to his friend and fellow Oxford don J.R.R. Tolkien that "there is too little of what we really like in stories. I am afraid we shall have to try to write some ourselves."

Now obviously what is funny about this is that both of those men did go on to write stories, and found much success doing so. However, what I am more interested in here is the idea of not finding enough stories to their taste, and feeling they must resort to writing such stories themselves.

I think there is a bit of this in my own writing. When I read a book with an especially weak heroine, it's all I can do to stop myself from scribbling into the margins a speech where she tells them all where to stick it. Or when I was reading a lot of chick lit, I grew so tired of the women constantly drooling over Gucci bags and Manolo Blahnik shoes, as if that was what every women aspired too, when I knew that my own friends and myself had no interest in such things as long as Target keeps producing decent knockoffs, that I was ready to throw the books at the wall.

Which brings me to point two:

2. Wishing to write a reflection of my own life and experiences.

In 1990 I was eleven years old. I wanted what everyone in the city I lived in wanted: for the Buffalo Bills to win the Super Bowl. In the last minutes of the game the score was Buffalo Bills: 19, New York Giants: 20. The only hope was a final second field goal attempt. It went wide right and the Bills lost. In the following three years they went on to lose three more consecutive Super Bowls.

In writing I have the power to change the story. I can make that damn ball go straight through the post for a glorious last minute win - instead of a heartbreaking loss. Except, I wouldn't. I have no interest in writing it that way, because that's not the truth that I know, and for me writing is a way of expressing my view of the world. And that view is often that of the underdog, who knows what it feels like to lose.

On the other hand, sometimes my view isn't all missed field goals, and that's where number three comes in.

3. Wishing to experience through writing being someone bolder, braver, and brighter than myself.

Maybe I've mentioned this in the past, but I like to sleep with a night light. I do not like to take the dog out after dark. And sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, I have to first check behind the shower curtain to make sure that a killer isn't hiding there, waiting to kill me.

The character I am currently writing is not like this at all though. She's Tough. Yep, Tough with a capital T. She'll say something sassy in the face of danger and walk into a dark and scary room without a second thought.

For me, these three points are where wishing and writing intersect.

Wish you could read more about this fascinating subject? Wish granted. Head over to Archetype Writing for her take on this question. Or if you want to read what came directly before me, Mary Lindsey brings Freud into this fascinating topic.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

New Year, New TV

I've never really thought of myself as a big Sci-Fi fan. Sci-Fi fans like Stars Wars and Star Trek - two things which I really have no interest in at all. However, when I began to think about the shows that I am most excited about in the new year they all had a good dose of science mixed in with their fiction. Those three shows are Dollhouse, Battlestar Galactica, and Lost.

Dollhouse is a show created by Joss Whedon, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame, and I have been quivering with excitement since the moment I first heard about it. Yes, I know this is an unhealthy level of excitement for a television show, but I don't care. I also don't care about the seemingly endless amount of bad news surrounding Dollhouse - from reshoots, to rewrites, and finally the announcement that Fox is giving the show a Friday night timeslot. I will watch and I will keep my fingers crossed that enough other people will watch so that Fox doesn't yank the show after only one week.

Anyway here is a cool trailer:


And a recent interview with star, Eliza Dushku, about her thoughts on how the show will do.

Of these three series the one that probably has the most in common with the Star Trek and Wars series I mentioned earlier is Battlestar Galatica. Honestly, this was not a show that I ever thought that I would like, and I only started watching because a friend brought the DVD's over, put them in the player, and sat down with me and my husband to watch them.

It took a while for me to be hooked, but by the time we finished the two seasons that he had on DVD, I wanted MORE! I even went on the internet looking for spoilers, because I just had to know (My husband and friend who got me started on the series were HORRIFIED that I would read spoilers, but honestly it doesn't spoil anything for me, I was just excited to watch it as I would have been if I hadn't been "spoiled" If you like spoilers too, here is an article that narrows down the possible identity of the last cylon.)

Now I am all caught up and can't wait to see how it all ends when the final half of the final season starts airing in January. Here's a link where the actor who plays Gaius Baltar promises fans that they will not be disappointed.

In even more exciting Battlestar news, a prequel to the series called Caprica is due to arrive in 2010. They even already have a cool trailer for it:



And as if that isn't enough to keep fans satisfied, Edward James Olmos is going to direct a special two hour long Battlestar Galactica movie that will air later in 2009. Added bonus: the special will be written by Jane Espenson, a former writer for Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Finally: Lost. Admittedly my enthusiasm towards this show has waned at times as it zigged one way and then the other until I could barely remember what had happened in the previous episode much less the previous season. However, last season was really great, (especially with the flash forwards, instead of flashbacks. I was so over the damn flashbacks.) and they just put out a Lost trailer/The Fray music video that recaps last season while teasing the new one and, well, I am a sucker for a good music video trailer. If you are a sucker for such things as well, you can watch it below.



So, anybody else pathetically excited about a new year of TV?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Let's Talk Turkey


Last year my husband and I hosted our first Thanksgiving. Since Andy and I have been together as a couple Thanksgiving has been a time to go see family. We went to Park City, Utah for our first Thanksgiving to see Andy's mother. Then for the next few Thanksgivings we went to Palm Springs in California to spend it with Andy's father and stepmother. However, last year everything changed because we had a six month old baby. It was decided, without any need of discussion, that attempting the holiday travel gauntlet with a child who was still working on sitting up without assistance was not a good idea. So, Andy's mother flew in from Utah and we began to plan our first Thanksgiving dinner.

Now I like to cook, so I saw this as more of an exciting challenge rather than something to get stressed about. I started watching the Food Network Thanksgiving specials, searching the Internet for the best recipes, and even bought an Everyday Food Magazine with some recipes in it. When Andy's mom arrived she also brought some recipes with her.

We ended up cooking an insane amount of food. Bacon wrapped and goat cheese stuffed pears for an appetizer (insanely good btw), all the fixings for the main course including: stuffing (my MIL was in charge of this and it was amazing, made with Ciabatta bread), mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, rolls, turkey, gravy, and roasted squash. As if this wasn't enough we also had TWO desserts. I made an apple pie (my husband says it is the best apple pie he ever tasted, but I was a bit disappointed with how my crust turned out. Those lattice tops are harder to make then they look) and my MIL made pumpkin bread pudding. As you may imagine this was wwwaaaayyyy more food than three adults could consume in one sitting, it was however, the perfect amount for three adults to consume over the course of a long weekend.

This Thanksgiving we will once again be away from home. We're flying up to Minnesota to spend the holiday with Andy's grandmother and his mom is meeting us there as well. However, even though I am not cooking a turkey I thought I would share three simple tips that I learned while cooking my first one.

1. Brining.

We decided to use Alton Brown's turkey recipe that involves brining the turkey the night before. Our refrigerator is pretty small, so we decided to use a little cooler that we have, and this way we could leave the turkey out on our porch. The next day we brought the turkey in, dumped the leftover brine down the sink, and then put the cooler back on the porch to clean later. Much later. That is where the cooler sat for days, weeks, and then months. Finally when the warm spring weather came around it could be put off no longer. Andy took the cooler to the car washing area to see if a high power hose could remove the kind of mold that grows from whatever it is that raw poultry leaves behind. Unfortunately, in the end the cooler could not be saved, and it was trashed.

The lesson: be careful what you decide to brine in, and if it is something you wish to use again, clean it sooner, rather than later.

2. Turkeys are not chickens.

I've roasted many whole chickens, using this great garlic and citrus recipe I got from Giada on the Food Network. So, I figured a turkey is really nothing more than a really big chicken. In some ways this is true, but in one important way it is not. Whole chickens only have one plastic wrapped bag of innards that you need to pull out before cooking, but turkeys have two such bags. I didn't find bag number two until we were carving the turkey. It wasn't a huge disaster - the bad didn't explode or melt or do anything terrible. Still it was kind of gross and really takes several points away for presentation.

The lesson: don't be shy about frisking your turkey before putting him in the oven.

3. Timing.

Our turkey took a little longer to cook than we had expected... at least according to our meat thermometer, whose accuracy has always been in doubt since it always seems to give readings that are much lower what they should be. Since my mother instilled in me a lifelong fear of ingesting undercooked meat (especially poultry products), so we decided to let the turkey cook a little longer. In the meantime we cracked open another bottle of wine. When we finally took the turkey out it was delicious and juicy, but not in a way that might give us Salmonella poisoning.

Lesson: Have lots of wine on hand and no one will care how long it takes to get dinner on the table. Also, some things are worth waiting for!

Hope these tips help someone and most importantly I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My Blog Has a Personality!

Through a cool blog called Shrinking Violet Promotions I found this even cooler link to a site that gives your blog a Myers-Briggs personality test.

Instantly intrigued I typed my blog address in and here is the result:

ISFP - The Artists

The gentle and compassionate type. They are especially attuned their inner values and what other people need. They are not friends of many words and tend to take the worries of the world on their shoulders. They tend to follow the path of least resistance and have to look out not to be taken advantage of.

They often prefer working quietly, behind the scene as a part of a team. They tend to value their friends and family above what they do for a living.






There was also a cool little brain diagram that showed where most of the brain activity happens while I was writing, but alack it was one of those flash things and I could not figure out how to post it here.

**Update** The awesome Archetype gave me the code so I could show you my brain picture.


Analysis

This show what parts of the brain that were dominant during writing.


Anyway, it is always cool to gain a little insight into how your brain (and blog) works, even if I am not sure that I completely agree with everything - for example: I believe that I am "friends of many words" and I certainly do not have any word enemies that I know of. On the other hand, I am rather quiet worker and I do value my friends and family pretty highly.

So, what's your blog type? And how accurate is its assessment of you and your blog?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Word Count Update

Since it's been about a month since I last posted my wonderfully exciting word count, I thought I should for once try to be a little consistent in this blog and do an update.

So, here it is.


43696 / 90000 words. 49% done!

I added about 10K words from last month, but I also recalculated my final word count total to be about 10K less, which together brings me right to the brink of my mid-point!!

On the downside, though, it also brings me closer to the end. This is not to say that I am not looking forward to writing "the end", I am just not looking forward to writing the end of my story, because I am not exactly sure how exactly it will all go down. I know some things that need to happen, but up to now I've been thinking of it as the "all the shit hits the fan" moment, but obviously that needs to be clarified. A lot. However, I still have a while before I get there, and until that time I will be working on figuring it out.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Reading about Writing

It's blog chain time again! And we all know what that means - there's a shared topic that a group of writers blog about and pass along with links from one person to the next. It is super easy to follow too. Want to start at the beginning? Michelle McLean started the fun over at Writer Ramblings. After Michelle, Sandra of Dual Citizenship in SpecFic and Mundania gave her take on the topic, and now it is my turn. Cool, right?

Now for this weeks topic:

Share a favorite poem, quote, joke, anecdote, or anything of the sort that deals with writing, writers, the publishing industry, or the other strange and unusual tidbits that belong to our little world.

I am going to start with a quote that is equal parts funny and true.

"Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing."
(Meg Chittenden)

Next is a column that is written specifically addressing screenwriters, but which can apply to any kind of writer. It was written by Terry Rossio who along with his writing partner Ted Elliott wrote a few movies you might have heard of - among them: Aladdin, Shrek, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Clearly, these two guys know a thing or two about finding success as a writer. However, this particular column titled, Throw in the Towel, is more about failure. I recommend reading the whole thing, but am going to excerpt a few key parts. This is how the column starts:

You don't get to hear the truth much in this town, so listen up. I'm gonna back up the truck and unload. Harsh truths, right here, right now. And we're gonna start with the most brutal:
You people really aren't much good at writing screenplays.
In fact, your writing pretty much sucks.
You think that's harsh? It gets worse.
-- oh --
-- oh, wait a second, that's right --
-- I almost forgot --
-- you're the special case.
You're the once-in-a-generation manifestation of talent personified. The exception to all the rules. You know that there's only a tiny amount of room in this business for only the absolute most talented, but it's always all those other people who're gonna get squeezed out by the numbers game. Soon, very soon, the industry is just gonna fall all over itself to recognize your unique genius. If only you could juuuuuust get the right people to juuuuuust read your work, they'd see how very SPECIAL you are.
Riiiiight.
Hmm, funny how all those OTHER people out there trying, they each think THEY'RE the special case too, and that you're part of the loser crowd.
How could that be?
Could it be you're ALL part the loser crowd?

He then goes onto list 15 traits or characteristics that a writer must have to succeed, and with each one points out how you and me do not possess these traits. Depressed yet? Or just pissed? Well, he actually goes on to list another SIX reasons more why we will never succeed.

Okay, now before you start composing angry, "who the hell do you think you are?" emails to either myself or Mr. Rossio, please read just a little bit more.

In truth, anxieties and fears and second-guessing are things we all go through. It's easy enough to write about characters who never say die -- but that sentiment can be tough to live out, in the face of continued rejection, when the rent is due.
In this column, I've tried to put all the negative thoughts you might have in one place. I hope the nay-saying and insults have stirred you up. Maybe along the lines of, "Who the %#$@!!&* does that +^%$*@! think he is? I have talent, I'm as good as anyone, and I'm going to prove it!"
Because you should be pissed if someone tells you you're no good, that you can't do it. And you should be able to shrug off the negative thinking, and prove them wrong. You need to have the confidence to tell everyone they're full of crap. That you know the right path, and you don't need anyone's help.

He finishes the column with two simple ways to know when you really should throw in the towel.

1.) You've given yourself a legitimate shot.
2.) Trying is no longer fun.


You really should read the whole column (And the other columns too. Yes novel writing and screenwriting are different in many ways, however, things like: coming up with a concept, naming your characters, finding a good title, story momentum, and many many many other topics - are concerns that all storytellers share.

That's it from me. Want to read more cool thoughts on writing? If so I suggest you hurry on over to Mindless Musings. Go now.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I Love Your Blog

As you can see directly to the right I have recently been awarded with the highly coveted I Love your Blog award from the fabulous Debora Dennis aka The Saucy Scribe. As the age-old tradition dictates this is not an award for Scrooges, but one that is paid forward to other worthy blogs. However, before I pass the torch, or more accurately -the jpeg image, I want to take a moment to thank everyone who made my receiving this reward a reality.

Thank you to the Academy, the Foreign Press, my mom, husband, baby, Debora Dennis, and finally Blogger for making it all possible. I would like to specifically not thank Wordpress whose site was so difficult to figure out that it almost scared me away from blogging forever.

And now the five blogs that I want to pass this great honor along to:

1. Rebecca Claire's Weblog - A blog from a fabulous photographer in the Knoxville area. She posts some of her beautiful photographs here, and recently had a series of posts with some excellent wedding tips.

2. Thinking Outside the Box Office - I met Faith in film school and think it's really cool that she's chosen to share some of her film insights with a movie review blog. Her most recent post was a 2008 winter preview.

For my last three I wanted to highlight some of my fellow blog chainers who I do not link to as often, but whose blogs are well worth reading not just during the chains, but at all times.

3. Mindless Musings - A great mix of writing and life related posts here.

4. Michelle McLean's Writer Ramblings - Another blog with a great mix of all things concerning reading, writing, and life.

5. H.L. Dyer's Weblog - Yes, another writer from the chain gang - and she just recently celebrated her one year blogging anniversary! If that is not reason for an I <3 your blog award, then I don't know what is.

Well, I think that sums it up and I also think it is clear by this point that I have a clear bias towards people who either A.) Use alliteration in the name of their blog or B.) Refer to their blog as a weblog. Okay number two doesn't fit into A or B - but you have to admit - it is a damn clever blog title.

Hope everyone enjoys receiving this award as much as I did, and passes it along to worthy recipients as well!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Angst, angst, angst

It's time for another blog chain, and this time I am at the end of the chain. If you want to follow it from the beginning start here with Archetype. Or if you want to read in reverse order you can find the blog preceding mine at Mary Lindsey's Weblog.

So this month's question is:

Some people argue that creative people need “angst” to produce good work. Do you? What emotions drive you as a writer?

My answer to the first question is easy. No, no, no, no - a thousand times no. Angst is what stands between me and my work - whether it be good or bad.

For me, angst is the chatter inside my brain that drowns out my story and makes me decide to sit in front of the TV instead of the computer. Or at other times when I decide to push past the angst and just write, damn it - then the angst is more like having the car covered with a pile of snow that needs to be brushed off, or in some cases maybe even chipped off , like when a nice layer of freezing rain covers it, and then maybe the locks are frozen too - this used to happen to the car I drove when I was in high school, and my mother's solution was to throw a mug of hot water at the lock, which got me in the car, but during the drive to school the lock would refreeze, which meant that I would have to crawl into the passenger seat and then kick the door to get myself out of the car. Sometimes, getting past the angst so I can write feels just like this.

So, to answer the second part of the question - if it's not angst that is driving me, then what emotion is? My answer here is a little less certain, because honestly I don't really feel emotional at all when I'm writing. At the point where I am writing and in the story, I feel more analytical than anything else. I don't laugh at my own jokes, cry when I hurt my heroine, and shake my fist when the villain gets away with something terrible. And while I am thinking about what emotions my characters are experiencing, I am not going through them myself.

If anything the emotion that drives me to write is ambition. The ambition to tell my story the best way possible and in a way that rings true.

Archetype began this question and she will wrap it up too over at Archetype Writing. The next question will start in a few days with Michelle McLean over at Writer Ramblings.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Rainbow Connection

A while back when I was updating the look of my blog and wanted a cool picture for the header, I Googled the name of my blog - "the lovers, the dreamers, and me" - to see what I would come up with. Well, for a lyric from a song that was first sung by a frog puppet in the 1970's - it turned out to be pretty popular. It was the name of other blogs, myspace pages, and I even found a page dedicated to the song on a Muppet's Wiki.

Okay, so my link to this particular song is clearly not the most original thing ever, but my connection to The Rainbow Connection is still my own.

I've never seen The Muppet Movie, which is where the song is from (although I have seen The Muppets Take Manhattan more times than I can count). The place where I first heard and learned the song was from in fifth grade from my chorus teacher. At the Catholic school that I attended at the time, our version of chorus wasn't typical. We didn't receive the music, learn parts, or any of that. Instead we just chose songs we liked, (Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings" and selections from "Sound of Music" were some favorites) got the words, and sang along while the teacher played the piano. It was actually pretty fun, and when I reached high school several years later and learned about having to sing parts and how as an Alto I would almost never get to sing the melody again... well, my love of chorus soon dwindled away.

It was my chorus teacher who wanted us to sing The Rainbow Connection, and I think I fell in love with it almost immediately. A song with a title like that should be the equivalent of cheese in a can, and maybe to some people's ears it is, but while many things that I loved in fifth grade I have since lost interest in, (The TGIF lineup on ABC and New Kids on the Block come to mind.) this song has withstood the test of time, and if anything I get more out of it as I get older.

In high school I used "the lovers, the dreamers, and me" as my senior quote that would go below my picture in the yearbook. After college a bar that my friends and I would go to on Tuesday nights for karaoke, had a bartender who for the last song of the night would sing The Rainbow Connection in a Kermit the Frog voice. And now as a mom, with aspirations of having a writing career, I was drawn to those lyrics once more for the title of my blog.

The reason that song and those lyrics are so perfect for all three of these instances is because it is a song filled with yearning that talks about "someday" and being called or pulled towards something. Whether it's facing life after high school, closing time, or reaching towards a goal that can feel impossibly far away - this song is ultimately hopeful about the future and our ability to find what we're looking for.

The Rainbow Connection

Written by Paul Williams and used by Kermit the Frog, of The Muppets, Jim Henson Productions
Why are there so many songs about rainbows
And what's on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
And rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we've been told and some choose to believe it
I know they're wrong, wait and see.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

Who said that every wish would be heard and answered
when wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of that
and someone believed it,
and look what it's done so far.
What's so amazing that keeps us stargazing?
And what do we think we might see?
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
the lovers, the dreamers and me.

All of us under its spell,
we know that it's probably magic....

Have you been half asleep
and have you heard voices?
I've heard them calling my name.
Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors?
The voice might be one and the same.
I've heard it too many times to ignore it.
It's something that I'm supposed to be.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
the lovers, the dreamers and me.
La, la la, La, la la la, La Laa, la la, La, La la laaaaaaa

Monday, October 27, 2008

Got Confidence? The Blog Chain Wrap-up.

Another chain has come to an end, and as the person to start the chain, I also get to wrap it all up in a neat and tidy bow.

So, let's review - shall we?

The question was:

How as a writer do you find the balance between having too much or too little confidence in your work?

I started things out with the conclusion that ultimately you have to vote for yourself.

Next up Archetype had an awesomely inspirational post with some great quotes, and the reminder that it is actually healthy to have confidence.

Michelle discussed how we all have our moments of weakness, even the great writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Learning to think of herself as a "student of writing" is how Sandra finds a good balance of confidence.

Then we came to Abigail wrote about confidence as the ultimate con game.

Next up Elena talked about how confidence from one part of your life, doesn't always cross over into another.

Before this chain Terri had never thought about her confidence levels, but she finally does and you can find it here.

Leah passes along the challenge of deciding whether her confidence levels are too high or low onto her readers.

Over at H.L. Dyer's Weblog confidence is described as a teeter-totter, full of ups and downs.

And finally bringing this topic to a close Mary Lindsey decides to "keep it positive and keep it real."

That's the end of this chain. The next one will start in a few days over at Archetype Writing.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Word Count Meter

For a very long time now I have dreamed of having a word count meter of my very own, and to have that visual representation of my writing progress. Not only have I coveted the word count meters of other writers, I have even gone so far as to believe that true happiness may lie within having a word count meter of my own.

Finally, after ten minutes of googling, I have made my silly silly silly (yes three sillies!) dream a reality.

Behold.


32000 / 100000 words. 32% done!

Isn't it beautiful? Don't you love how it gives a percentage too?! It makes things so official.

I will try to update my progress periodically, probably whenever I remember.

In the meantime if you want one your own bit of instant happiness - try looking here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Confidence Game

It's time for another blog chain and this time I'm not only starting it, but I get to choose the topic as well. The question that I want to discuss is something that I've been thinking about quite a bit lately, and that is:

How as a writer find do you find the balance between being having too much or too little confidence in your work?

Here's the thing, we sit in front of our computer screens (or in Jessica's case with her pen and paper) and make shit up. Sometimes it's sucks. Sometimes it's great. But (and this is the fun part) we never know for sure which one it really truly is. Whoooooo!!! Good times, right? RIGHT!??!

Okay, so we have crit partners and beta readers to help us sort things out... except when one loves the part where Cassandra kills the dragon, another hates it, and no one understands that the dragon is a metaphor for the first boy who ever broke Cassandra's heart!

What then?

Or even worse all your readers hate something that you love, or love something that you hate, or think that dragons are not metaphors.

That's when you start worrying whether you are like Kenley on Project Runway scoffing in the face of Tim Gunn's always astute advice or conversely are losing the authenticity of your own vision and voice to appease others.

Personally I struggle with this, but at the end of the day there is something that I try to remember and it's a lesson that I learned a long time ago.

Somewhere around sixth or seventh grade I specifically remember one day when our teacher gave us this fun little exercise. She gave us a printout with a beginning sentence on it and we had the rest of the page to write the rest of the story. I was the kid who at the beginning of the school year when we got our new language arts books I would frantically flip through it looking for the creative writing exercises that they scattered throughout the book. So, as you can imagine I was thrilled with this assignment (yes, my lack of popularity at this age wasn't entirely due to my red Sally Jesse Raphael glasses and tragic perm.)

While writing that story I was able to take a short break from wishing that I was anywhere but there at school, because I actually was somewhere else. I suppose it would be nice if I could remember that story and perhaps even scan the original copy of it so that I could display it here. Unfortunately, that story is buried way deep in a landfill right now and the only solid detail I remember from it, is that it ended with the shocking twist ending: "I'm telling this story from my grave."

Okay, so I wasn't exactly M. Night Shyamalan, but when we read them aloud the rest of the kids in my class liked it. In fact that they liked it so much that when a vote was held to determine the best story it was chosen as one of the top ones alongside the story by another boy in my class. Now here's where the (over)confidence thing comes into play, because I thought that my story was better. I might have even thought that compared to mine, his story kind of sucked.

But, but but. But when my teacher had the class do a final vote to determine the best (I think this teacher used to give prizes of pencils or candy to worthy students and that was the prize at stake, other than the obvious one, that is, of knowing that you were THE BEST.) story, and we put our heads down on our desks and raise our hands to vote - I voted for his story and not my own.

Yes, that's right - I voted against myself. I thought it was the polite thing to do. And I didn't want to look like I thought I was the best, even though I actually did think I was the best. And most of all I didn't believe in myself enough to vote for myself.

My story lost and I am not even making this up - it lost by one vote. In fact it was so close that my teacher even held the vote again to make sure that she hadn't miscounted and I voted against myself again. Although, to be honest the second vote against myself had more to do with not wanting to be seen as a flip-flopper.

Now, that was a long time ago. I've since traded the dorky glasses for contacts and straighten my hair instead of trying to make it curl. It's still hard though sometimes to stick my hand in the air and say that I believe in what I have written. And I have to do it when I send out query letters, or put something out there for a crit, or even when I just have to tell myself that it is worth it to sit in front of that computer screen for a couple hours instead of spend a little extra time with my husband just chilling and watching TV.

So there's the question and my answer. And I'm gonna go on the record saying that I think it's pretty damn good. I am certain the rest of the blog chain is going to have some great responses as well, and you can find the next one over at Archetype Writing.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Borrowing Poetry

The Red Pepper Plant

so much depends
upon

a red pepper
plant

glazed with tap
water

beside the white
fence.

This poem was liberally borrowed from William Carlos William's The Red Wheelbarrow.

The picture of the pepper above though is my own. In April my husband and I bought it as just a tiny seedling from the Home Depot. Andy swore that it would be dead before a pepper ever grew (the summer previous to this one I tried to grow herb plants from just seeds with less than stellar results, which may be from where he was drawing this conclusion.) from the plant, but he was wrong. This is actually the FOURTH pepper that has sprung from this plant, and their are more coming along if only they will ripen before it gets too cold. We also successfully grew thyme and basil. Alas, the sage did not survive our week long vacation to Buffalo, while it sat in the sun without water.

Anyway, soon the first frost will come and my plants will be dead, but now there is a record for all to see that while I may have killed every indoor plant I've ever had (including bamboo which is supposedly unkillable), this one time I grew red peppers... and they were good.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Halloween and Quiz Blonks

So, this is a fun quiz that I recently took to see what kind of writer I am. I cannot resist a quiz that will tell me what kind of anything I am - whether it be breakfast cereal, Sex and the City character, or extinct animal - I need to know!










Going through this quiz I was thinking, as I always do with multiple choice quizzes, that none of these answers truly fit me, but everyone probably thinks that when taking a multiple choice quiz, and after much agonizing I was able to choose the answer that I thought fit best. Well, guess what? The answer was write (that's not a misspelling it's a pun... yes, I know the misspelling would have been less shameful than stooping to lame puns and yet I could not resist.) on the money. According to "What kind of writer are you" quiz, I am:

Your Result

1061494185_opdialogue.jpg

You're a Dialogue/Character Writer!

And it's totally true! Woh, what are the chances. If you take the quiz, make sure to leave a comment letting me know how close yours was to pinpointing the type of writer you are.

As promised in my blog title, this blonk also has some Halloween fun. Now, if like me, around this time of year you have the desire to buy a bag of candy corn, despite the fact that you have absolutely zero interest in actually eating them, but have rather been programmed by your childhood to associate there tri-colored mix of waxiness and sugar with Halloween - then this next product might appeal to you.

Yes, candy corn that you wear on your head instead of between your teeth. If you follow the link there should be a downloadable free hat pattern, so if there are any knitters out there who want to send one my way, I'd be happy to supply my head measurements.

And just think now that you no longer have to eat those horrible candy corns you will have more room for miniature Milky Ways and Three Musketeers... or, ooh those mini Twix bars are good too.

Which reminds me, a final question to ponder for anyone reading this - have you ever found yourself snacking on the mini candy bars and when you finally stop eating and see the pile of mini wrappers that you have managed to accumulate - have you been shocked at how many mini candy bars you consumed in one sitting? Yeah, I've been there. And you know it's really bad when you start doing advanced mathematical computations to try and convince yourself that the mini candy bars you consumed could not possibly be greater than the size of one regular candy bar. C'mon someone please tell me I am not alone here.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Tagged!

Elena, of Mindless Musings tagged me, which means that I answer some questions and then tag someone else to answer those same questions... except all of my blogging buddies have already been tagged, so if you are reading this, have a blog, and have not yet been tagged - feel free to play along!

4 goals I have in the next 5 years:

1. Have a successful writing career.
2. Have a successful writing career.
3. Have a successful writing career.
4. Have a successful writing career.

4 places I will visit someday:
1. Italy (I recently read Eat, Pray, Love and the food descriptions are just insane!)
2. Hawaii
3. Washington, DC
4. New York City (I've actually been here a few times, but not for several years now, and I would love the chance to get back there and see some Broadway shows.)

4 of my favorite foods:
1. Pizza with pepperoni and green peppers
2. Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies
3. Bread is almost any of its wonderfully carbalicious forms
4. Apple Pie

4 jobs I've had:
1. Niagara Falls Tour Guide
2. Waitress at The Melting Pot
3. Waitress at The Olive Garden
4. Grocery store cashier at Wegmans

2 places I've lived:
1. Buffalo, NY
2. Los Angeles

2 places I'd like to live:
1. Buffalo, NY
2. New York City (under the right financial circumstances, that is)

4 things I'd do with my spare time (if I had any):
1. Read or just spend a good hour or two browsing through a bookstore
2. Hiking
3. Watch TV
4. call friends I haven't talked to in forever and catch up with them.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho!

It's time for another blog chain, wherein a bunch of writers blog about a shared question, linking to one another along the way. This round I am second in line after Mary who came up with the question:

What kind of quirky habits or rituals do you have regarding your writing?

(or regarding anything else, if that is more fun.)

Now I certainly have a few quirks. For example at Panera's my favorite sandwich is the Bacon Turkey Bravo (should the name of a sandwich be capitalized? I mean it's just a freaking sandwich and capitalization seems to give it a little too much importance, on the other hand this is its official name. Hmmm.) . I order this sandwich often and every time the first thing I do is open it up and examine the contents.

First off, I always ask for NO tomatoes, but often when I ask for no tomatoes the person making the sandwich forgets and then picks them off at the last minute, leaving behind tomato seeds. Tomato seeds and their accompanying tomato slime are a no go - so those are removed. Then I remove a few slices of turkey. I don't like biting into a sandwich and just tasting turkey, especially since I don't especially like lunch meat turkey.

Then I need to see how much of their special spread they put on (my husband, Andy, swears that this special spread is in fact a mixture of mayo and thousand islands dressing, which I refuse to believe because I hate both of those things, but actually do enjoy this spread within the context of this sandwich at least. If you have information regarding this matter, I strongly urge you to NOT share it with me.) because they usually just slather it on. I usually go through several napkins removing most of it so that it does not squish out when I bite into the sandwich. Spreads or sauces that squish out when I bite into a sandwich is a major no-no, unless we're talking about relish in which case I can't get enough of it... but that's a whole different quirk.

My husband, bless his heart, has become immune to my sandwich behavior, and has actually become a rather helpful ally in my crusade against letting tomatoes touch my food, however there are other times when I am engaged in one of my quirky behaviors when he will look at me like he has no idea where the hell I just came from. It was during one of these times that I floated the idea to him that I might have a touch of the OCD. Our conversation went something like this:

ME: I think I might be a little bit OCD.

ANDY: No you're not.

ME: No, really. I think I might be.

ANDY: Really? Like you have a bit of the face blindness too because you have trouble telling Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro apart?

ME: I really have trouble telling them apart. Which one was in Rain Man again?

ANDY: (Sighing, shaking his head, and giving me the "you are an alien" look.)

ME: And I think I might be OCD too. Just a tiny bit.

ANDY: No, you don't. You're not clean enough to have OCD.

And there you have it, from my own husband. And what the hell does any of this have to do with writing? Well, in her post Mary discussed her need for a neat and clean working space, which in turn made me examine my own workspace.

My working space is less tidy and more... well, chaotic. That one clear spot on the desk is usually occupied by my laptop (for when I do my part-time transcribing job), but if the laptop was not filling that spot within twenty-four hours or less the piles of stuff would soon fill that space as well. The only stuff on this desk that is actually necessary to my writing, besides the computer, of course, is: the glass of water, chapstick, tissues, and cell phone... oh wait there is actually a notebook buried somewhere on there with some plotting notes, and I'll occasionally take a peek at that. Also, the cell phone is only important in that I write while my baby naps, so if the phone rings I need it close by so I can silence it as quickly as possible before it wakes him up.

Now here you get the bigger picture. The horrible old chair is wwwaaaayyy past it's prime (a hand-me-down from my father-in-law to my husband), and when you sit back, it tilts so far back that my feet don't touch the floor, and if I sit this way for too long I start to loose all feeling below the knees.

Above me are the crappy Ikea shelves of death. The stupid things can barely support their own weight on the wall, and so only very light objects can be placed on top of them, but even better they are made of this slick material so that if the people in the apartment next door slam a door too hard, something sharp and dangerous can come careening off the shelf and onto my head. It gives the whole proceedings a real sense of excitement.

The full length mirror... well, that is just there because we don't have anywhere else to put it, and it mostly just exists so that I can make sure my shoes and clothing are working together okay.

As for quirks or rituals proceeding the actual writing I can't say that I have many besides always briefly giving into the lure of the Internet and email when I first sit down at the computer (a great quote from the Simpsons I saw a few months back. Sideshow Mel is talking to Lisa and he tells her, "Applause is an addiction, like heroin, or checking your email." This is sooo true. Uh, well the applause and email at least.).

I always had this idea that as a writer I would have a desk looking out onto a beautiful scene that would instantly fill me with inspiration. And there actually is a pretty good view from my window:

However, I've since learned that from windows come glare on the computer screen or glare in the eyes, which is why I sit with my back to the window and usually keep the blinds closed. There is probably something deep in this, like that writers need to look inward to find inspiration... or maybe it just tells me that I need to worry about a Vitamin D deficiency.

And there it is: a peek into my own personal writing life. I have a feeling that many more quirks and odd rituals will be revealed before this chain is over and you can find the next one over at Archetype Writing.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Autumnatic

Guess what? Today is the first day of fall. It is in the low eighties today here in Tennessee, so it doesn't really feel like fall, but just knowing today is officially the day makes me both happy and sad. Happy because the endlessly long and humid Southern summer is almost over, but sad because soon it will be daylight savings time again, which means that it will be dark at five o'clock, but then happy again because I no longer have to wear shorts that expose my glowing white legs to the world, but sad because smoothies and yummy fruit popsicles will no longer be fun to eat.

Most of all though, as we draw closer to the end of another year I start to feel the weight of all the things that I promised myself I would accomplish this year. Hell, I even had a rhyming motto: "things will be great in 2008." Not that things haven't been good, they have been, but good does not rhyme with eight. Ah, well, there's always next year, and thankfully nine rhymes with the much more manageable goal of, "things will be fine in 2009."

In honor of the first day of Autumn I put to use a cool new website - brought to my attention by blog chain comrade HL Dyer - called Wordle. Of course, before I even knew exactly what it did I already loved it for making use of a totally made up word, but then I saw it in action and was even more impressed. Basically, you plug in words and it makes artistic words. I started my wordling with a poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning entitled, "The Autumn".

You can see a better view of it here. And this is the actual poem:

The Autumn by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them --
The summer flowers depart --
Sit still -- as all transform'd to stone,
Except your musing heart.

How there you sat in summer-time,
May yet be in your mind;
And how you heard the green woods sing
Beneath the freshening wind.
Though the same wind now blows around,
You would its blast recall;
For every breath that stirs the trees,
Doth cause a leaf to fall.

Oh! like that wind, is all the mirth
That flesh and dust impart:
We cannot bear its visitings,
When change is on the heart.
Gay words and jests may make us smile,
When Sorrow is asleep;
But other things must make us smile,
When Sorrow bids us weep!

The dearest hands that clasp our hands, --
Their presence may be o'er;
The dearest voice that meets our ear,
That tone may come no more!
Youth fades; and then, the joys of youth,
Which once refresh'd our mind,
Shall come -- as, on those sighing woods,
The chilling autumn wind.

Hear not the wind -- view not the woods;
Look out o'er vale and hill-
In spring, the sky encircled them --
The sky is round them still.
Come autumn's scathe -- come winter's cold --
Come change -- and human fate!
Whatever prospect Heaven doth bound,
Can ne'er be desolate.


Isn't it cool? I was loving it so much, I decided to try another poem - this time one of my favorites from Sylvia Plath - "Mad Girl's Love Song."


Again for a better view go here. And here is the actual poem.

Mad Girl's Love Song by Sylvia Plath
"I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan's men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you'd return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)"


You can also find lots of cool other wordles that some of my blog chain buddies have made by following the links over to the right!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Snack Break

In keeping with my goal to blog more - I bring you a short and light-hearted post devoted to fun with food.

First a pie-chart that would make any pie or chart lover proud.

This was found at seriouseats by the way.

And in case that pie picture has you in a food craving mood - these next two pics should probably kill it

Found at aldenteblog: the hot beef sundae. No, I am not kidding. This does exist.


And in the same, way to ruin dessert, mode - from Black Widow Bakery, I bring you the meat cake.
You see that is not white frosting, it's mashed potatoes. And the red stuff... not strawberry sauce, but more of a ketchupy concoction. You really need to click the link above to see it broken down step by step - it will amaze and/or disgust you.

Enjoy!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Blonking and Read This NOW!

I've been on a one post a week thing lately, which while consistent, it is also a bit on the low side for a blog. So I am posting today (two whole days before the one week mark!) with a posting that what it lacks in having a main thesis or idea, makes it up in having lots and lots of links! That's right - it's time for another blonk.

Today's blonk, in keeping with this blog's overall writing theme and in honor of my own made-up term of "blonking", begins with looking at the beauty of sniglets - which is a made-up word to describe other made-up words that should appear in the dictionary, but don't.

Part of writing is having fun with langauge, and sometimes when you are in the middle of a scene and suddenly you can't think of that word you just need for your sentence, and bits of the word keep floating up in your mind, but when you try to grab them it is like trying to catch dust motes wafting through sunlight - well, then it doesn't seem like much fun. That's the beauty of sniglets - they're just a silly good time. Some of my favorites include:

Arachnidiot (ar ak ni' di ot) - n. A person, who, having wandered into an "invisible" spider web, begins gyrating and flailing about wildly. (The porch off my apartment is a spider resort. Every night I can look out and see them sipping at their dead-fly daquiries, and come the morning when I have to go out and water my plants - the wild flailing inevitably begins.)

Brattled (brat' uld) - adj. The unsettling feeling, at a stoplight, that the busload of kids that just pulled up beside you is making fun of you. (I rode the bus until midway through high school and can actually not remember one incidence of noticing any other cars on the road at all - unless they contained other students that someone knew. Nonetheless, I do still get brattled, probably because I remember those brats on the bus so well...)

Oreosis (awr ee oh' sis) - n. The practice of eating the cream center of an Oreo before eating the cookie outsides. (Okay, this one is more of an "awww" cause my son does this - I think it just must be a human instinct thing.)


My other blonk has to do with the age-old debate over what to call insanely sugary carbonated beverages, and awesomely enough has been captured in map form. Now I grew up in a household and area that were clearly pro-pop. That place is Buffalo, NY and we pronounced the word "pop" like we say most things - through our noses. For some reason in my early college years, I decided it was more cool, mature, and/or cosmopolitan to refer to it as soda, and have continued to do so until this past summer when I was visiting my family and heard my mom ask me, my sisters, my son, my nieces, everyone else about a hundred times if they wanted any pop. And for some reason when I returned home, it stuck in my head, and now when I open my mouth to say soda, the word pop comes out instead. I am sure this says something very revealing about me... but I'm not quite sure what exactly that is.


Okay, that's all of my blonks for today, but I am adding another element to these free-form posts called Read this NOW!

This new section was inspired by my former post of the same name. I was going to call it recommended reading, but that sounds too laid back for the books that I want to talk about which are ones that have grabbed me from the first page and refused to let go until I finished the entire book - sometimes only hours later. These are the type of books that if I got them from the library, I want to own them, so that I can read them again and again. These are also the books I want everyone I meet to read, so they can feel what I feel - just don't expect me to lend you my new copy - I am a book grinch.

The first book in Read this NOW! is an older one - Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt. Talk about grabbing me from the first page - It was probably almost ten years ago, but I can still remember with perfect clarity the exact place I was standing in the bookstore (that is now closed) and the display of paperback books that Angela's Ashes was sitting among. This was at a time when I had no interest in reading anything other than fiction, but when I picked up the book and read the first paragraph I was converted - instantly and irrevocably. Since then the world of non-fiction has opened up to me, and I have a much richer reading life because of it - but Angela's Ashes started it all. If you haven't read it - at least follow the amazon link above and read that first page and see if it hits you as hard as it did me... Read it NOW!