Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pirates and Zombies and Storm Troopers, Oh MY!

Right, so I know everybody and their mother has already done a blog about Dragon*Con and all, but I’m a slowpoke, okay? Besides, it was the first week of school, and I was busy and junk. Without further ado...

I was seriously close to calling the whole Labor Day weekend of Nerd Heaven off because I was going to have to go it alone, until my Super Friend of Awesomeness, a.k.a. Kerri, decided at the last minute that my going it alone was entirely “unacceptable” (her word) and that she would gladly come along. May I say, that one of the gajillion reasons we became fast friends is because we both understand and appreciate the power of new experiences. So, she most enthusiastically got out of bed at half past sunrise ON A SATURDAY, to join me on my quest for all things Nerdy. Thanks, Kerri!


Our first stop on our trip to Nerd Heaven was to park in Decatur because that’s where the Decatur Book Festival was going on... and parking was FREE!  But before that, we were headed out to the Dragon*Con Parade in Downtown Atlanta. We took MARTA into downtown and before we even got halfway there, we got our first glimpses of exactly what we were in for.

You see, Kerri and I were both Dragon*Con virgins. I had SOME idea of the Nerdfest we were in for, but there was no way I could ever have possibly dreamed or imagined the magnitude of Nerd AWESOMENESS that IS Dragon*Con. We caught a shimmer of brightly colored robots against the drab beige boringness that is the MARTA platform and squealed with pure excitement. Then, Kerri shouted:

“My Dragon*Con cherry has been popped!”

It was a thrilling moment to be sure. 

Shortly after that, a crew hopped on dressed in bright yellow tutus with yellow and red striped tights and other various hair accoutrements. Not only that, but they had all sorts of musical instruments. It was a Nerd Band. SQUEEE!!!!

The excitement was palpable in the air, and it was growing thicker by the minute. 

Once we made it to the Peachtree Center station, there were even MORE costumed people blending in with the rest of the crowd. Kerri asked me if one lady in front of us wearing a calico print dress was going as Laura Ingalls Wilder. 

“Maybe if we were back at the Book Festival,” I said,  “but something tells me this isn’t the Little House on the Prairie type crowd.”

We watched Wonder Woman and Master Chief walk by.

Then we had to go up THIS escalator....


We followed the rest of the crowd out towards Peachtree Street and before I could turn to Kerri and ask, “Which way?”

The Joker appeared right in front of my face. 



I don’t mean near my face... I mean IN my face. I don’t even know what in the world he said because it was SO random. If the dude hadn’t been as round in the middle as the Penguin, I might have actually thought he was for real and had to turn around right then to go back home to change my pants. 

Thank goodness he kept on walking... 

That was only the beginning.

On our way to find a prime spot to watch the parade, we ran into the Caribou Coffee Caribou. Seeing as how my dear Hubby always asks for Caribou Coffee whenever I go to the store, I was super psyched to run into the Caribou. I knew Hubby would be SO jealous. I think I was the MOST excited person that Caribou met the entire day.


After I met the Caribou, we promptly spotted Slave Leia. 



Now, let me just say this one thing. I’m glad that those of you who decide to dress up as Slave Leia feel that you have the bodies to pull off this costume, because I CERTAINLY do not. However. If you decide to wear this costume, please... PLEASE check the weather report before you step outside. If there is ANY wind... even a HINT of a BREEZE... this is an inappropriate costume to be wearing OUTSIDE.  No one has ANY desire to see your naked bony ass blowing free in the wind. The one and only Leia hiney we ever want to see this way is Carrie Fischer’s as she strangles Jabba the Hutt with a big chain.


Seriously. Please. Just. . . don’t.

Aghem.

Moving on.

We managed to find an awesome spot to watch the parade right between Dumbledore and a Princess Buttercup with the Dread Pirate Robert. Before the parade started, we were lucky enough to meet up with my bud Laura and her adorable kiddos who were just as excited about the parade as I was. I told them to look for Professor McGonagall and turn left to find us.  


I don’t think Kerri was quite prepared for my level of pure Nerdiness, because I was naming every character that was gathering in the crowd of onlookers around us. Even when most people around were wondering why that woman was dressed as a hooker, I knew she was LeeLoo from The Fifth Element


Finally... FINALLY the parade began!  I cannot even begin to describe how much fun it was to watch what craziness was coming around the corner of Peachtree Street. It seemed like it all just kept getting better and better. At one point, Kerri nudged me and said, “You realize you keep saying ‘SHUT. UP.’ every time something cool goes by.” 

Apparently I was totally mesmerized. Here are just a few of my favorite pics from the whole thing:








The Nerd Band!!!






I'm sad I didn't catch a shot of this dude's face. He was the BSOD. Only ultimate Nerds will find that as hysterical as I did!













This little Chihuahua wasn't IN the parade, but he went to all the trouble of getting dressed up, so I HAD to take his picture. He was handsome and KNEW it (as all chihuahuas do).
It was the BEST parade I’ve ever witnessed. And that includes the Disneyland parade I saw when I was three.

After the parade was over, we took a stroll through the streets and I ran into a zombie. I had only noticed him from the back, and he was super creepy all painted up and such. I’m sure it’s a really good thing I didn’t get a solid look at his face, because I don’t know that I would have had my pic taken with him... from that close anyway. Oh, yeah, and at the very moment Kerri raised the camera to take our picture, the zombie dude snaked his arm around my shoulder real slow like, and snuggled me. SNUGGLED ME. I’m SO sure he was thinking how delicious my brains looked and how hungry he was. 


After that, we decided to stroll through the lobby of the Marriott Marquis. We found some awesome Storm Troopers and had a photo op with them. My hubby was jealous again.



Once we’d had enough of the crowded crowd we headed back up to Decatur for Nerdfest Part 2: The Decatur Book Festival.


It was book heaven. There were books everywhere. There were writers everywhere. There were t-shirts about books. There were even books ABOUT books. Oh, and there was FOOD too. Lots of it. But not as much food as there were books. But for real. I hope there is a Decatur Book Festival in Heaven, because I will spend eternity in pure bliss!

Kerri and I got a quick bite to eat, and sat and chatted for awhile, seeing as how we had been standing for hours and hours at the parade. 

Then we went in for Michael Knight’s reading of his new book The Typist and Josh Russell was also there reading from his book My Bright Midnight. They gave a talk about dudes and books and when the moderator ran out of questions to ask and things got awkward, Michael looked right at me and said, “Sarah. Ask something.”

You see, Michael Knight was my writing professor back in the day at good ‘ole University of Tennessee. GO VOLS!

It was totally awesome. Like being back in workshop all over again. Yay.

I spluttered something about “How do you meet and/or get to know your characters?” and got things going again. I guess you might say, I sort of saved the day. Kind of like Wonder Woman. And isn’t that the ultimate goal of all nerds everywhere?

You’re welcome, Michael.



Thursday, July 1, 2010

Rocks That Build Mountains

I was half-listening to the local radio broadcast this morning when the radio alarm went off. Usually, I spend a good amount of time in a vague stupor, elbowing Hubby to stop snoring and poke the blessed snooze button.
However, this morning, Jimmy and Yvonne were discussing a most disgustingly horrible story--I actually thought I might still be dreaming somehow--on their BIG FAT FAIL segment. It was about maggots. In a plane. That’s all I’m going to be saying about it, because, well... shudder. If you want to read all about it, you can do so here.
The story provoked Jimmy to start talking about how he hated the word maggots. It’s an ugly word, I agree. But, it got me to thinking about other words I can’t stand, and just how important words actually are. Especially to writers.
We writers like to hoard words the same way Captain Barbossa hoards treasure. 




And, in a way, words are similar to jewels. There are lots of different types, from just as many different places. Some stay hidden from us for a long time, some are manufactured, and some of them we see so often that we take them for granted. 
There are words that shine and sparkle, like pizazz. Some words are really big and impressive, but can only be truly appreciated when put into the proper setting: antidisestablishmentarianism, for example. At the same time, big words can be fabulous all by themselves, the Hope Diamond of words, if you will: 
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
That’s the kind of word that can sit in a glass case at a museum in dramatic lighting, perfectly content to have people of all ages come by to gaze on it in wonder. It also sounds just as interesting when you say it backwards. But even I wouldn’t be that precocious.
Other words are not jewels at all. They are fool’s gold at best, ugly rocks at worst. They are not pretty to look at, and when you throw them, they make a dull thump on the ground. Because of their misshapen, ungainly form, you can’t even get them to skip nicely across a pond.
Everyone has a different word that falls into this category for them. For Jimmy, it was the word maggot. For others, it could be moist, or phlegm, or snot. It doesn’t always have to be a word that describes an ugly thing, but most commonly we associate ugly words with ugly things, perhaps because words are meant to describe our world in the most accurate way possible. Nasty things need nasty sounding words to describe them. 
I cannot stand the words vomit and squat. It was admittedly difficult simply putting those words out there where people can read them. The first is one of those words that is horrible to do, to read, and to say out loud. Simply speaking it, forming the words, makes you have to gag a little bit. At least, that’s how I feel. The second word sounds awful and is quite unseemly to do. I much prefer the word crouch for that action. It is only a few steps above, still not one of my most favorite words, but it rolls off the tongue better and sounds less like something you would do in the woods when you need to relieve yourself. 
But what other word might we use to describe what someone does next to a body at a crime scene?  Kneeling is out, as this would be a very messy thing to do, not to mention potentially destroy valuable evidence. Bending over doesn’t bring an investigator close enough to view important details. Hovering sounds creepy in its own right. Huddle makes the reader shiver. Besides, why would anyone wish to huddle next to a dead body?
We writers have to be very meticulous in the words we choose while crafting a scene. Many times we get to play with the sparkling, shiny jewels we love. Other times, we have to dig up the ugly rocks and toss them in the pile with the rest. They’re a necessary evil. 
But, in the end, we step back and take a look at the big picture. A novel isn’t made up of just a few words, but the sum of a whole truckload of them. We mix in the right amount of hidden gems, with the big boulders we need for a strong foundation, and hope that in the end, we get something as satisfying and majestic as the whole mountain itself.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Dem's fightin' words...


One thing that's really important for writers is to "write what you know". It's hard enough as it is to describe something on the page with eloquence and style. It's even more difficult to do it if you are only imagining it inside your head. Watching movies and reading other people's books can only take you so far. 

There are several fight scenes in the book I am working on right now. I haven't got the first clue about fighting anyone. I've never even punched a person in real life before. Okay, except my cousin that one time he stole my Care Bear, but I was six. 

I was absolutely thrilled when my pal who does martial arts offered to let me come to the studio where she teaches and show me some moves. Oh, boy, did I learn some moves... 

First she showed me how to slice and dice with a toy knife (that I got to keep, yay!). She also informed me that if anyone ever comes at you holding a knife like this:


...You need to run away. Fast. Especially if the person is grinning like a fool, as I am in this picture. People who run at you holding a knife close to their arm know what they are doing and will hurt you. So, you better be able to run faster than them, or at least faster than your friend, unless you are alone. If you are alone in a place where there is the potential for someone to come at you like this with a knife, then you are just plain stupid and deserve to get cut up anyway. Most especially if they giggle while they head towards you.

I also learned how to put someone in several types of wrist locks and take them down. All the way to Chinatown.


That is me on the floor there. This looks super painful, doesn't it? I'd like to say that it hurt really bad, and I took it like a man, but again, I was just laughing the whole time. Mostly because it was SO cool and I was way excited. I am a dork like that. My main character, Sidney, would totally kick some ass.

This was an important learning experience. It showed me just how easily the body can be controlled in a situation like this. The whole point of hand-to-hand combat is to be the one who is exerting control over the other person... or werewolf... whatever you're fighting against. All she had to do was grab my wrist one way, twist it around the other way, and bang, I was on the floor. 

After I learned some of those moves, I put on some sparring gear and learned how to throw some punches and kicks.






Another really important bit of information that I learned is about kicking. Again, it's about manipulating your body to do exactly what you want it to do in order to inflict the most damage. When I first threw a kick, I was hitting with the wrong part of my foot. Then my friend showed me how to pivot on my left foot while I brought my right foot around for the kick and I totally landed it. It was awesome. The point of all this is to practice enough so that it all becomes second nature and you can do it without having to think about it. That way, when the zombies attack, you can kick the heads right off their rotting shoulders.

I'm ready. Are you?





Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Near Death Experience

People: There IS a reason Jamie and Adam tell you at the beginning of every episode of Mythbusters "Don't try this at home". Seriously.

This morning, I decided it would be a great idea to-- Personal Trainer, if you are reading this, stop now. Just, stop-- make a grilled cheese sandwich with --for real, D, don't read anymore-- real butter. Don't judge me, I've got PMS and it's been like months since I've even had a grilled cheese sandwich. This might have been the first grilled cheese sandwich I've eaten this entire year. It's a rare and delightful treat for me. It may also be the last I make at home for a very, very long time due to the most traumatic experience I had while making it.

Last time I was at the store, I figured if I had to buy butter I may as well buy the good stuff. I mean, how good can that fake junk with all the fortified omega whatever stuff be for you? What do they fortify it WITH anyway, huh? Does anybody really know? Isn't it better to have all natural real stuff, and use it sparingly? So, I got the fancy Irish butter all the way from the Emerald Isle itself. I'm pretty sure it's the same stuff the Leprechauns use on their grilled cheese sandwiches.

Let me tell you, I made this butter last for like a month. It's expensive, seeing as how it's imported from Ireland. It was on the last dregs, and I needed to get it soft, because as everyone who has made a grilled cheese sandwich the right way knows--you can't do it with cold butter because it makes the bread all flaky and crumbly and ruins the sandwich completely. I was hungry, so I couldn't just let it sit for awhile and soften at room temperature. I figured, hey, I'll just throw it in the microwave for five seconds. That should do it!

Only, this being fancy Leprechaun butter, it was wrapped in fancy paper. Shiny, fancy paper. Know what makes the paper shiny? I'll give you three guesses...

So, this genius right here decided it wouldn't be a big deal to throw shiny butter paper in the microwave for five seconds. They did it on Mythbusters and nobody died. Besides, the microwave didn't even blow up. It just got all sparky and lightningy. It looked SO cool! But that wasn't going to even happen, because I wasn't putting in REAL aluminum foil, or even a spoon like Jamie and Adam did. Ohh, no, no, no, no... I was just putting in some shiny Leprechaun paper, and ONLY for five seconds.

Um, yeah. I guess those sneaky little Leprechauns really know how to make shiny paper incredibly flammable. Not only did a spectacular lightning show erupt inside my microwave after only THREE seconds, but the paper also caught ON FIRE. Oh, yes.

After I put out the fire in my microwave, I sent out my application to MENSA. I know they will want me in their Smart People Club. I will tell them this story and we will laugh about it over glasses of Port Wine and our big fat Cuban cigars. Then we will discuss all the non-geniuses out there who are too afraid to perform mad scientist experiments with microwaves and Leprechaun paper.

I did end up finishing my grilled cheese sandwich. Fire softens butter quite well, actually. But, I was so shaken from my near death experience--death by microwave lightning-- that I burned the bread. It wasn't too bad after I scraped the charcoal off. I am now completely afraid to go near the kitchen right now. My hands are still shaking. I will definitely not be using the microwave any time soon. Maybe now is a good time to bring out that Slow Cooker Recipe book I got for Christmas....

Friday, June 4, 2010

Amendment

Okay, let me amend that... this will be my Blog Every OTHER day in the Month of June mission.... as I am too lame to be blogging EVERY DAY apparently.  I suppose my goals were too lofty. It seems I should start at more of a power walk around the mall, rather than try to sprint a mile straight out.

Speaking of sprinting... I have BIG NEWS!  This morning I went to the gym and I ran a MILE on the treadmill. A whole mile. Without stopping. Seriously. This is quite a huge deal for me, because I have always been one of those people who just did NOT run. At all. Even if something was on fire, I would only go at a fast walk. If somebody told me my house was about to blow up, I'd opt to jump out a window before I'd run downstairs. I was the kid in high school gym class who kept a close eye on the gym teacher and only start up a slow jog when he looked in my direction. Mr. Taylor even had to get on my case because I "ran" a 20 minute mile. Well, guess what Mr. Taylor-- I did it in 12:35! WOOO!

Husband: You owe me a prize for this. I don't care what. Just something nice.

Before I get ahead of myself, let me tell you about another exciting thing I did the other day, back when I was supposed to do another blog and did not. Sorry. I was tired when I got home. Tired from belly dancing class.

You read that correctly: Belly. Dancing.

It turns out I am just as uncoordinated as I originally imagined. But I had a blast. I don't know if any of you out there know anything at all about belly dancing, but it takes practice, let me tell ya... The key is to move your upper body completely independently from your lower body. It's kind of like the advanced version of rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time. Crazy. I do intend to practice though, and definitely intend to continue with the classes. My commitment is so high, in fact, that I purchased one of those coin wrap thingies to tie around my waist. It makes my booty jingle when I shimmy. It is purple with gold coins and completely fabulous. I even have a flowy silk skirt that I fully intend to wear next week despite the fact that my friend called me a "poseur" when I said I was going to wear it. It's really not my fault that belly dancing just looks cooler in a flowy silk skirt. Hehe, she's just jealous :)

Today--after I ran a mile and achieved TMF (total muscle failure) twice, yah, twice-- I came home to take a shower and change clothes, then went straight back out to go to a Garden Party that one of the families in our class was throwing for all the teachers the kids had this year. It was such a kind thing for them to invite us into their gorgeous home and give us such a special treat!

The kids made all the food! On the menu was chicken salad croissants, with fruit salad and potato chips. For dessert we had a spectacular yellow cake with mandarin oranges and pineapple icing. I thought I was going to pass out from delight. After we ate, my co-teacher and I ended up playing with our little friend in her room. She had a collection of My Little Ponies that I would have gladly handed over an arm and a leg for when I was her age. We took out every single one of them, did their hair, and got them dressed for the ball that they were all going to that evening...


I think they look fantastic, don't you?  

Once the ponies were all ready for their ball, we had to leave, but not before our dear friend showed us just how fast her "Fast Shoes" were. They are pink with sparkles and glitter, and they made her go so fast she ran up and down the street in front of her house while we watched. After all that, she must have gotten worn out, because her mom just sent me a message to let me know she's been asleep since we left. So cute. We plan on going out for a sushi date soon.

Tonight, I hope to get something written. Besides a blog. I have two things in mind, so... we'll see. But, it IS Friday.... sooo... keep your fingers crossed on that one....

Ciao for now!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Oops...

So much for my idea of Blogging Every Day in the Month of June.... what would that be, BEDITMOJ?  That's too long... hummm... JuneBlog. There we go. This will be my JuneBlog. And I will have to blog July First, in order to make up missing June First in a blog. Nevertheless, I shall fill you in on what I did YESTERDAY, June First, so that all of today will make sense!

Not all that much happened yesterday, so this won't take long at all...
I finished reading The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. YAY. It was quite satisfactory. What a great trilogy by Steig Larsson. I am so very sorry that he is no longer with us, except the spirit of his books lives on in all of us who have read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. I know loads of people who are reading them now (mostly thanks to me! Where's my check, Knopf? Don't I get a cut of sales for promoting these books to just about everybody I've met? I'll take that silence as a sign you're considering it...)

I know that in Sweden they have already made this series into a film. However, I have not seen it yet, as the town in which I live does not support foreign films. To that, I say: MURGH!  One thing I really miss about Knoxville is the fantastic art house theater known as Downtown West. Go Regal Cinemas!

The Hollywood version looks as though it is slated for 2012. This is good and bad. It is bad because I want it to be finished so I can see it NOW. However, it is good because it will give me something to look forward to after the Harry Potter Series comes to a close in 2011.

Yes. I am a nerd.
No. I have no life.

Other things I did yesterday... went out and bought Bullet the latest in the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton


She is my hero.

I met her. 

You can read about it all right HERE.

Oh, after I bought Bullet I came home and read. Then went to aerobics class at the gym. Came home and made spaghetti for dinner. Read some more. Went to bed.  Oh, I also went to Target. Twice. Okay, three times.

It's a little bit strange, because I feel as though I am MORE busy now that school is out, than I was when school was going on. How can that be? Is it all those trips to Target?

Summer is supposed to be relaxing and slow and boring. My summer, so far, has been none of that. I have been running errands, cleaning house, going to the farmer's markets, and doing all sorts of things, none of which have been writing. Shame on me.

It is only 11:05 in the morning at this very moment, and I have already been to get my hair done (photos later) and am on my way back out the door to help a friend move.

One thing I did to advance my writing career was to join OneWord. It is a fun site that another writer friend showed me. You write about one word for sixty seconds. The End. 

This same pal 'o mine (who also happens to teach creative writing, BFF!) has decided that she and I will do all of the writing exercises assigned to her class for the Intro to Creative Writing course that she is teaching. It's going to be a blast. I think I already mentioned I am a nerd. As soon as I finish with my first assignment, I shall share it with you all. Promise! 

Look for it soon...  'till then, may you have a relaxing summer (or winter, for all of you living in the Southern Hemisphere. You are all upside down, you realize that, right? How do you hang on to the Earth? Do you walk on your hands all day?)

Ciao for now...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Men in Uniforms

The UPS man visited our street today. He went to the neighbor's house. Disappointing.

My friend commented that at least I got to look at him, though, and it made me think. Why are UPS men so much more attractive than the FedEx guys? Is it those brown uniforms? Seriously, the brown uniform is a high standard. Not just anyone can wear it. Put that thing on some men and they look like a walking turd. You've gotta have just the right shoulder width and really great legs to pull it off. They don't seem to let any guys with chicken legs don the infamous Brown Bermudas. For real. Is there a standard for that? I mean, does UPS have a required calf measurement for all delivery men?

They should.

I wonder if FedEx gets a lot of applicants who say they failed the UPS leg standards. . . But, it's not only UPS guys in uniform, Firefighters are generally way hotter (pun partially intended) than Police Officers. The Police generally have the reputation of being pudgy round the middle from all those doughnuts, while Firefighters have abs of steel. Is it from sliding down poles and climbing up ladders? Or is it something about those bright yellow jackets?

Does the uniform make the man, or is it the other way around? All I know is that there are no secret stashes of Policemen in the Teacher's cabinets, but there are definitely quite a few floating around of "That Sexy Fireman" who comes to visit every Fall.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Following the Muse

Okay, so it's been awhile since I've blogged. I've been busy. Sort of.

Actually my life has been pretty boring lately. For real. Who wants to read boring stuff? Not me. And I definitely don't like to write it. Seriously, I'm surprised you're still reading this. Keep going though, it'll get better. Good news awaits in the next sentence...

I wrote a new scene on the actual book today!

That's blog worthy. Fo shizzle.

It wasn't backstory. It wasn't anything from another character's perspective. It was actual book progress. Of course, I deleted about 15 pages and only wrote one new one. I have some catching up to do. So what? The book is better for the cutting, trust me. And I also figured out why it was important to write all that backstory. It was useful. I didn't waste my time on it after all.

It's always kind of interesting to me to find out how things manage to work themselves through the mush of my brain. Everything has a natural progression. It's only in hindsight that I manage to figure out what that progression was. That's why I've stopped questioning it and just go where my Muse takes me sometimes. It's always an interesting journey, regardless of where it ends up. And my writing usually comes out the better for it.

I suppose I could tease you and give you some of what I cut out, but I don't know if I might use any of it later. Besides, it wouldn't make sense because it comes from the middle of the book, and it might give something important away. No, you naughty monkeys, you just have to wait...

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Olympic Spirit

Team Canada won the gold medal in hockey.

We all pretty much expected they would.

Canadians invented Hockey. This is not a metaphor. It's a fact.

For the past two weeks I've been drunk on the Olympic Spirit, the idea that most of the athletes who arrive at the Olympic games are thrilled to even be competing at all. 99.9% of the people who show up to compete are pretty sure they're not going home with any kind of a medal. A lot of them are thrilled if they break a personal record, most of them consider it a success not to fall flat on their face.

I wept along with Joannie Rochette whose mother died only days before she took the ice at the games and won the Bronze Medal. I was happy for Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir when they won Gold in Ice Dancing.  I was even cheering (loudly) for Shen and Zhao, the Chinese couple who won Gold in Pairs Figure Skating. Don't get me wrong. I've also been rooting for my fellow Americans in Snowboarding, Skiing and the Nordic Combined thing where they shoot guns and then race around on cross-country skiis.

But seriously, Team USA, you played a great game of Hockey. Why the long faces? I know you came to win. Really. Everybody secretly hoped that by some small miracle they might get to take home a medal. You got a silver one. In the Olympics.

There are Billions of people on this planet who will never get an Olympic medal of ANY kind and you have a SILVER ONE.

You could at least have the grace and decency to look at least a little bit happy that you even made it to the championship round. You could at least have the grace and decency to NOT look like your mom got run over by a bus while walking your favorite dog.

There are so many worse things that can happen besides winning a silver medal in the Olympic Games. Like earthquakes. And tsunamis.

Really.

Suck it up.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Babies and Snow and Olympics, Oh MY!!!

First of all, I would like to welcome the newest edition to the family: My nephew, Aiden Charles was born Feb 12th! 8lbs 7oz and 21in long. Everyone is doing well, and I got to have a chat with my big brother and see my precious nephew on the webcam. Thank goodness for technology!  He is adorable and I'm such a proud Auntie!

Right about the time my brother called to tell me Aiden had arrived, I looked out the window and it was SNOWING! Yes, snow in North Georgia. A miracle in and of itself. Not only that, but we ended up with about 5 inches. I haven't gotten out the ruler, but it's definitely more than the dusting the weatherman predicted...




Java insisted that with all this snow, he needed something to keep him warm: 





The hubby, doggie, and I snuggled up on the couch to watch the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. It was quite a spectacle. The tech nerd hubby was most impressed with the quality of projectors that made all kinds of images dance across the floor. Everything went so smoothly and was timed so perfectly, until... the torch lighting Fail. I would not want to be the engineer responsible for THAT malfunction.

All in all, it was quite an exciting and eventful February 12th, 2010. Now, I'm going to go watch some of the games, and see if I can't actually get something written today....

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sunshine and Rainbows

As dreary and miserable as yesterday was, today was that much brighter. It seems that for quite some time a heavy cloud has been hanging over not only my own mood and thoughts, but just about everyone I spend time with on a daily basis. One of the most cheerful people I've ever met (and also one of the most secretly dark and twisty ones, yipee!) has been absolutely downright miserable lately. Not eating, not sleeping miserable. Another person I know is going through some nasty ugly stuff in a nasty ugly divorce. There has been enough deaths, enough illness, and enough sadness in people's lives to last an entire year, all crammed up into just a few short weeks. While I have not been struck with anything so terribly serious as all that (knock on wood), my mood lately has been incredibly dark and frustrated.

I was feeling very resentful towards anything that was keeping me from writing. Work inside and outside of the house, people around me... even hating myself for the times when I didn't get any writing done at all. It's been difficult for me while I try to find a balance between what needs to be done, what has to be done, and what I feel I want to be doing. It's great when these things coincide. It's really, really lousy when they don't.

In my dream world, I am a successful writer who spends her days at the computer writing at the very minimum 4-10 pages per day. I have an editor who gives me deadlines; an agent who finds me work; a publicist who gets me interviews; and a fabulous assistant who keeps my life perfectly organized, mails things for me, does my laundry, makes me lunch, and keeps me motivated on a daily basis so that I can freely give myself up to my Muse whenever she decides to pay a visit.

My reality, however, is filled with mountains of dirty laundry that I can never ever seem to get under control, a kitchen that I can only barely maintain some semblance of order in, a living room filled with sawdust and drywall dust, a giant stack of cushions, an upturned sectional, and a project that has been underway for a month of weekends. The entire house is now covered in a patina of dust that I fear will take years of vacuuming to get rid of completely.

I hope that one day, I can find some kind of balance between these two worlds. I understand that even though I may be a published writer one day, there are only a very, very few people who are able to maintain a serious career as a writer and have all the things I dream about having for myself. I'm absolutely certain that it will not be easy, and will take an unbelievable amount of hard work and perseverance, but I'm up for it. I don't expect the ideal, dream world to be my reality, but a life filled with order and a balance of work and play would be something I would consider a complete success.

Today was one of the first days that the cloud seems to have dissipated. My mood, and everyone else's around me today seemed much brighter and much more cheerful. I enjoyed a great lunch with some great friends, and came home ready to sit down and write.

Part of being a healthy, sane human being is being able to set reasonable goals and achieve them to attain self-worth. Once upon a time, I was convinced I was going to be a big huge movie star and stand on the stage at the Oscars holding that golden statue, crying and thanking my mom for supporting me all these years. I experienced a glimpse of Hollywood and realized just how ugly and selfish it all is. I'm pretty sure I don't really belong in that world.

Since then, I have fallen in love with writing. I think part of my fascination with the film world was that movies are simply living stories. The basis of a good film is a good script, and a good writer; someone who can tell a story in a clear and concise manner. I hope that this is something I am able to do. Writing fiction gives me the elbow room to expand the thoughts and feelings of the characters more than a screenplay would. So much of a screenplay has to be left open for interpretation by the Director and the rest of a film crew.

Finding out what kind of writing fits you best is one of the most important steps you can take as a writer. Some people are poets, some like non-fiction, others like to create new places and things that exist only on the page in front of them. I'm a fiction girl. I've met many, many characters over the years that I've been writing. I've thought of many scenes and written out many chapters. The current project I'm working on is the first time I've ever had a complete story in my head at the same time. It's something I feel I can tackle as a whole. Other projects have been only scenes or only character studies. This is all of that and more.

As much writing as I've done, I have yet to truly finish something; to write a story from Once upon a time all the way through to The END. I hope that this will be the one I can see through from beginning to end. It's why I've started the Facebook page, the Twitter, and begun in earnest on this blog. I'm afraid that keeping it all to myself will only hold me back. I need the encouragement of everyone around me to give me that extra push to see this to the finish line. For all those people who have read bits and pieces of my work and said "I want more!": Thanks. It's the best kind of compliment I could ever hope for. And thanks to those who bug me every day by asking "Where's the rest?"

Well, it's coming.... it's coming....

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Dreary, Drudgery Day

Try saying that title three times fast.

Go ahead.

I'm listening.


Okay, so today was pretty much boring all around. The one somewhat interesting thing I did was go to step aerobics. It was a lot of fun, and right in the middle of class when the instructor shouted out "Let's get those knees up, ladies. Higher, let's go!" I was all of a sudden struck by the realization that step aerobics shares quite a few similarities to porno films.

I'd go into further detail about this subject, however I was advised against it by my lawyers. Not really. But, by day I'm a preschool teacher. What would the parents think?

So I'll leave you all to discuss the topic amongst yourselves. It's quite entertaining if you think about it. And I SOOooo know you ARE thinking about it, filthy kitten.

I suppose I shall have to discuss another topic today, so how about something similarly related? Where do ideas come from? We've been hearing a lot about where Laurell K. Hamilton gets her ideas. She even wrote a whole essay about how the idea for her new book Flirt came about.

My ideas tend to sneak up on me when I least expect it. For example; when I am dripping sweat, gasping for air, and trying very hard not to fall flat on my face while I do aerobics. (You thought I was going to say making a porno, didn't you? Cheeky monkey!)

I can't honestly remember the exact place I was when the idea hit me for the book I'm writing. All I know is that I was looking out the window somewhere, and thinking about how much I missed living in Lower Manhattan. Then, all of a sudden, Sidney walked into my head. There she was, with her long thin frame, brown hair pulled up in a ponytail, and she was holding up a badge saying, "What have we got?"

I didn't know much about her at first, but I knew the crime scene she was walking into was a grizzly one. She didn't seem terribly bothered by the gruesome findings, so I assumed she'd been at this for awhile. I wrote that first chapter, the first scene, and put it aside for awhile.

There were other projects I was working on, other characters in my head who were nagging at me louder than Sidney was. She seemed content to sit back and take it all in for awhile. Finally, I brought the chapter back out and read over it. Then everything seemed to clicked into place. I found out more about her backstory and the rest of it all just sort of happened. There's another character who's giving me trouble right now, keeping the story from running smoothly. As soon as I figure out exactly what his reason for popping into my head is, perhaps I will be able to work out the kinks and get things going again. Sidney seems to be hung up on someone else at the moment. I might try giving her a reason  to notice him more fully and see what happens.

Stay tuned....

Monday, February 8, 2010

I Don't Have a Title for This Blog. Just Read.

Okay, so probably one of the reasons I've been really bad about keeping the blog updated on a regular basis is because writing for myself is SO unbelievably boring. I talk to myself in my head plenty, probably too much, so why bother writing it if I'm the only one who's going to read it?

That having been said, if you read this, I will give you candy. Of course, there will be a quiz. How else will I know if you've read it or are just trying to get free candy? Don't be a CHEATER. That's just not cool. Really.

I've been doing lots of thinking and analyzing and discovering lately. I have noticed several things about my very favorite (and most successful) writers.

*First of all, each and every one of them are women. I don't know if that has anything to do with anything at all, but I find it odd that I tend to read women writers almost exclusively. I don't dislike male writers. I don't avoid them on purpose. It simply seems that lately, I have been gravitating towards the Girl Team.

*These Successful Girl Writers all tend to do several things that seem to bring them great Success. Something of which I would like to have one day when I grow up. (By Success, I mean being published, actively working writers with lots and lots of fans, and busy schedules, and looming deadlines.)

*One of these things is that they all have fancy websites. Feel free to go have a look, but please, don't get so involved that you leave and forget to finish reading THIS blog. Remember, Quiz.

Meg Cabot's Blog-- I like this blog. It is full of sparkles and girly things. Meg's blog is super fun and has lots of good information about what's going on in the world of Entertainment. Meg writes LOTS of books for people of all ages.

Laurell K. Hamilton-- Laurell's page is filled with lots of swirly gothy things to scroll, and some really badass pictures of Laurell K. Hamilton. She has written loads of books as well, but they are NOT for people of all ages. She works incredibly hard, and some days writes as many as 20+ pages.
I got to meet her this week. She is so very kind. Here is a picture of us together:


Maureen Johnson-- This is Maureen Johnson's page. She has lots of hot pink and black. It is sexy and very girly at the same time. She's also on Twitter A LOT. Maureen is very quirky and has a great sense of humor.

*Another thing these women all have in common is that they are extremely active in social media, i.e, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and blogging. I think this one of the secret Keys to being a Successful Writer. How can I expect people to read my writing if they don't even know I exist? Besides, we all know how much writers like to procrastinate. This is a good way to waste time AND become successful.

*These writers also have another essential element in common. They all WRITE. I mean, a lot. A lot. They are always writing in some form. Twitter, Blogging, etc. So, above all, I need to be writing a LOT. 

*They also Finish Things. I'm sure it helps that they all have editors and agents calling them up every hour asking, "Are you finished yet? How about now? Are you done? How about now? Deadline!"  I do not have that luxury. I am self-disciplined. And if anyone knows me well, they know that my self-discipline level is pretty lousy. I mean, if I sent myself out for a switch, I'd come back with a piece of yarn. Seriously. I'm sitting here avoiding a massive pile of laundry seeping out of the laundry room as I type this.

So. With all that being said, I kind of figure that perhaps by emulating these successful people, I myself will also find success. 

Now, you can have your candy.