Tag Archives: reading

A Hodge-Podge About Life and Writing

21 Mar

Sooo, after spending the majority of the day dealing with a migraine I  finally get around to trying to write a blog post. However, my computer and my internet connection had something of a battle, and now I’m too ticked off at the world in general to write a flash fiction.

Therefore, I am going to talk about something completely different.

I’m just not sure what.

I could talk about how well my current diet erm… eating lifestyle change is going. (The household is following the diet laid out in The 4-Hour Body)

The fact that I’m a little over two belt holes thinner.

Or talk about how my book sales have not been what I had hoped.

Then there’s this fantastic fantasy series I’m reading. (Elisabeth Wheatley sure knows how to weave a plot.)

Perhaps I could touch on the idea of sharing the first few pages of my husband’s portion of a steam punk graphic novel he’s working on (Words only so far. We need an artist.).

Then there’s the undead flash fictions he has been spitting out. (he’s writing circles around me, people!)

Of course there’s the business we’re still hoping to put together in a town very close to where we live. It’s still very hush-hush, but I’m excited! (We thought we almost had it last winter, then federal regulations changed and our supplier had to revamp their product. The scale of our future enterprises has enlarged… hopefully in a good way.  :/  )

I keep thinking I need to whip together some of my steam punk flash fictions and put another book out there. But for some reason my heart isn’t in it at the moment. I’m not sure why. Very confused. I’m also stalled on my other writing projects. Perhaps it’s the approaching spring. Maybe it’s worry over five hundred big and little things. Very likely it’s nothing and I just have to push myself through it. Like most of my projects, I’m pretty sure that the moment I really start to work on it it’s all I’ll be able to think about for a month or two. Kinda like those Carls Jr. commercials, except I may as well wear a big shirt that says “Don’t bother me. I’m writing.”

With it being a lot nicer outside, I won’t feel guilty at the idea of pitching the dogs out the back door and into their pen for an hour or two while I concentrate on a project. You see, I write best alone. However, the dogs hate it when there’s only one person in the house. Especially if they hear my husband getting chores done outside. They don’t leave me alone. It’s like they are trying to make me go outside and bring him back to them. That means that my writing time goes something like this:

Let’s see… she’s just decided what poison to use on… What? Why are you bumping my elbow? Yes. I know he went out that door. No, I’m not going to go get him.

Please stop whining. It’s the most annoying sound on the planet.

Thank you.

Now where was I? Ah, yes… she’s crafting the gelatin dessert, should it be orange or raspberry?  WHAT?! No! I won’t go get him! Please go lay down!

No, the sad eye thing won’t get you anywhere. Knock it off.

I didn’t mean literally!  How did you even manage to tip that over? It was way over there!

No, I did not stand up to let you go outside to find him. Stop barking.

GAH!!!

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Yeah, so needless to say, this has been a creatively barren winter.

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If only they stayed this cute and small:

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How Survive Thinking Too Hard

15 Dec

Some of us have a very unfortunate affliction.  We have a hard time shutting off our brains when it comes time to relax. We could have miles of perfect beach with warm inviting waves just waiting for us, and we would still be running calculations through our minds.

Not good.

There must be real down time in our weeks or we’ll end up in the looney bin next to theoretical physicists who tried to tie ‘the force’ to string theory.

Here’s my (far from exhaustive and slightly silly) list of ways to make your brain stop spinning!

  • Take a bubble bath and bring along some bath toys. It’s hard to stress out with a rubber ducky grinning at you.
  • Go to the park and swing on the swings. You may not want to go very high, but it’s the giddy feeling in the pit of your stomach that counts.
  • Grab a friend, pop lots of popcorn and watch a ridiculous movie. It’s hard to stay serious when you’re trying not to laugh so hard you snort munchies through your nose when your buddy makes a rude comment about your favorite cartoon character.  Your.  *eye roll*
  • Go for a picnic. Even if it’s just in the living room pillow fort.
  • Have a friend over, then make and eat chocolate chip cookie dough. Face it, we’re always lucky to have even half the batch make it into the oven anyway. Just admit it this time, leave out the leavening and eggs, and revel in the naughtiness.
  • Go for a drive, just to drive. With the cost of gasoline these days this one has been relegated to the teenagers who are just so thrilled to have that freedom that they don’t care it’s costing them ten dollars. So, budget the money and go for a relaxing spin. Take a drive in the country. Tour your old neighborhood. Whatever. Just have fun with it!
  • Dance around like an idiot. This one has always worked for me in the past. It’s hard to think straight when you’re flipping your hair all over the room as you blast your favorite band. It’s also a great way to trick yourself into a great cardio workout.  😉 
  • Take a nap. This one never gets old. There are times when we have spun our minds (and bodies) so tight that the only thing to do is to give in and actually rest. Just grab your favorite teddy bear, your cat, or you significant other and zonk out for a while.
  • Go for a walk. No. Not a power walk. Not for actual exercise. This one is just to help you notice the sunshine, blue sky, and perhaps some of those wonderful endorphins that come out to play when you move around enough.
  • Read a fun book. I know, you’re reading this one to review, that one for work, and that one for self-improvement. Where is your down-time reading? You know, the fun one with pirates or unicorns or space ships (or if you’re lucky, all three).
  • Play a game. Be it chutes and ladders, hop scotch, or Battle Mech, playing a game can be very absorbing. Let yourself be drawn into the fun of the dice rolling, the intricate hops, or heh, sniping at a Marauder and an Annihilator while hopping up and down behind a hill.

Face it, you don’t have to give in to your mind taking over and not letting you pay attention to anything but your current project. There is hope. And thankfully, cheap ways to distract yourself from thinking way too hard.

Good luck!

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Just to help speed up the process:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gB3hPXf-StY

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Video

It’s Official. I’m Brain Dead.

12 Dec

Alright, not technically, but close enough.

Although I have been able to do more reading, this darn cold has started to head for my lungs.

Not cool.

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So, today was spent keeping the fire going, periodically running water in the kitchen to keep the pipes free, and keeping enough liquids in me.

Basically today was spent, eh, keeping.

Huh.

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I did finish reading the first book of this interesting series. Although they insisted I go back and read this first one so that I would have a better understanding of the character, my thoughts on him have not changed. Very little of the first book came as a surprise (personality wise, that is.).  Problem is that now I have to wait while the third book in the series is hunted down from somewhere in the house. That could be a while. We have books stashed everywhere.

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Oh, I have decided that I am going to start participating in something called WIPpet Wednesdays. I will have to double check on the weekly requirements, but this could be good for my writing, and you all would be able to see weekly snippets of what I’m working on.  🙂 

I will not be playing along this next Wednesday, but the one after. This next week is going to be full of me sticking close to my bed trying to kick this cold and cough ASAP.

Hopefully my husband can get a set of blow bottles made up soon so that I can work through this cough a little faster. (No, they’re nothing gross. They’re simply something that help increase lung capacity by blowing hard enough in a tube to make water go from one bottle to the other, then back again. They make my coughs a lot shorter.) That would be really nice, because I am not going to go see Jay again (for our weekly reading time) until I know for sure that I won’t hand this icky-ness off to him!

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And just because I really like the song, here’s I Won’t Say I’m In Love, from Disney’s Hercules.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLvK5nKbo6w

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Aaand, is it just me, or does Cranberry juice ‘sweetened with other natural fruit juices’ taste like a sickly sweet syrup?  Ick.

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Video

I’m Going Eclectic On You Today

8 Dec

Today’s activities came to a screeching halt before they had even gotten started.

We got out of bed this morning to find that six inches of snow had fallen over night.

We were ready for, like, two inches.

Then the snow plow thing came by, and gave us a very nice two foot wall of snow at the end of our driveway. So thoughtful. That’s exactly what we wanted. How did you know?

Not.

So a couple of phone calls were made, and a snow day was in effect.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQ9cxfumEOo

Those are great when you have things clearly lined up for a day stuck home. Today however my mind had been all ready for running around and getting half a dozen things done.

To compensate, however, I got to spend a ton of time reading another book in this absorbing series. A lot of fun, but hardly what I would call an accomplishment. Oh, well.

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More opera!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rqBXgtO-G0

What a voice.  😀 

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In the midst of the day, I also came across an interesting video about how long it takes to become competent at a new thing. Turns out that ten thousand hour thing has been twisted out of it’s original context over the last several years.

Watch this if you have the time. If not, I’ll understand… sort of.  😉 

Seriously, it is just about twenty minutes long, so don’t feel bad if you don’t have the time right now.

If you’re worried about it being boring, don’t be. He’s pretty entertaining.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MgBikgcWnY

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If you could learn something in forty-five minutes a day

for about a month, what would you try?

If I had the resources: Tango, piano, Italian, belly dancing, Tongsu Do, how to chop veggies up really, really fast!

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Video

It Shouldn’t Feel That Busy

7 Dec

Here are the more notable parts of my last several days.

Wednesday: Spent time with family, changed the cat litter at my parents’ house. (Eew. Thankfully mom has a gas mask.  😀  )

Thursday: Met with our protege, toured the third potential office, I helped the parents with a project, had a teleconference Encourage Meant Group meeting, spent some time editing my huaband’s first 90 pages (double spaced).

Friday: We ran some errands, I took my youngest sister and her two little ones to the museum to see Santa, and grandma; spent more time editing Lonnie’s first 90 pages.

Now I know that I have accomplished more than this in a similar time period in the past. So why does it feel so exhausting?

Perhaps it’s because the wind has been strange lately and smoke has been going the wrong way in the chimney several times a day. My throat and lungs are a little tired, and my eyes are just so sleepy.

Maybe it’s because I’m reading a type of book that’s really not my normal fare (genre). The story is also very engrossing, and the plot just rips along. Some of this tiredness might just be in sympathy for the main character.

It could be the hours we have been keeping. All this paperwork and research can be done at almost any hour of the day. We have been pushing later and later into the night. Not getting to bed until I can barely navigate through the house without walking into a wall. Not good.

Then there’s the fact that I have been changing my diet. Getting rid of a lot of my sugar intake, and cutting back on simple carbohydrates. It’s going to take a couple weeks to start feeling better, and to get over these sugar cravings. (cookies!!!)

Whatever it is, I plan on sticking with my diet, finishing reading the series, and getting more sleep.

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Wish me luck!

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And now for something that always makes me feel calm and strangely invigorated.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kij_hHB_hyY

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Video

I Remember This One As ‘Green Glass Beads’

20 Nov

When I was little (and still today) my parents had the most amazing hoard of books. I remember sitting on the floor, or curled up in a corner of a couch reading stories, admiring illustrations, pouring over poetry. I remember us all piled on my parents’ bed as mom read The Secret Garden, doing all the different voices. Accents included. I remember dad reading My Side Of The Mountain to us, a chapter at a time, at bedtime. To this day those two books are still among my favorites.

I also remember mom reading a poem about green glass beads to my sisters and me. A little while later, I went on a hunt to see if I could find the poem hidden inside one of the many books stashed throughout the house. I finally found it. The drawings and the words once again captivated me.

Now, I’m all grown up (reluctantly), and I still search for this poem. This time, on YouTube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04TW5FUNi7s

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Is it any wonder I love reading and writing books and poetry?

It was all around me growing up. Some of our favorite books were those thick books of poems by Shel Silverstein. Especially Where The Sidewalk Ends. Then of course there were the many Calvin and Hobbs books which could take up many hours of a rainy afternoon (so many big words to learn!). Even with all the other books surrounding us, we also found time to simply flip through the pages of random tomes from the encyclopedia collection. All sorts of wonderful things to learn in one of those.

I think most of us four girls memorized a certain poem by our mother. The one I am thinking of was published in a little booklet from her college. It’s about 3 men in a tub…in the sea. It always makes me smile and sometimes even giggle.

Perhaps I’ll ask her to let me put it on here. Although, the more I think about it (and I have been thinking about it for several months) the more I would like to have that poem in the fore matter of my book of bathroom poetry.

Something else to ask her about.  🙂 

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Afternoon Adventures

17 Nov

I can hear him shuffle across the floor as he comes to answer the door. His face breaks into a huge grin when I holler, “Hey, Jay! How’ve you been?”

“Not bad. Not bad. Yourself?”

“No complaints.”

He chuckles with pleasure as I walk over the threshold.  I stop in front of a half covered couch, dropping my coat where he gestures. “Don’t mind the mess, I’ve been unpacking.”

“So you did manage to get to Vegas. How was it?”

“It was a lot of fun. Won twenty bucks at craps, and lost it at the roulette table. The only bad thing about the trip was my nephew’s driving. He gets to talkin’, then suddenly he’s got his knee holding the steering wheel in one place ’cause he’s talkin’ with his hands, too! In a way I’m glad we only go once every six months. Gives me time to recover from all that adrenaline.”

I laugh while pulling the phone out of my purse.

“Let me get you somethin’ to set on.” Pulling a pillow from the end of the couch he sets it on one of the chairs at the dining room table. “Did you need somethin’ to drink or anything?”

“Thank you, Jay, I’m fine.”

“Alright. You need somethin’ you holler, Okay?”

“Will do.”

I wait as he makes his way to the chair a little way around the table from me. With a bit of a grunt he lowers himself into his seat, and says, “Now if I recall correc’ly he had just moved the gear and horses to another place, and was real’ worried about them havin’ his son and the girl.”

“That’s it exactly. Let me find it…” The phone comes to life as I unlock it, and scroll through the apps to the reader. Pressing the image of the book cover the screen changes to the page we had left off last week. “Chapter twelve.”

“Oh, good. Lay it on me.”

Laughing, I begin to read. “There was no blood anywhere on the sand. He felt sure he could have seen it on the white sand if there had been. No blood…no shots…so there probably had been no fight.

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*            *            *

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPOQz5STKBU

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*The book is a western by Louis L’Amour called Brionne.

Yes, it’s a good one. We read it in six weeks.  🙂

Our next book is going to be The Shadow Riders.

We can’t wait for next week.

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The Hidden Benefits of Reading

14 Nov

I love to read. Really should be doing more of it, actually.
So here’s a reblog that reiterated that for me, and perhaps inspire you to keep reading (and trying to Be read).

WordServe Water Cooler

I have a confession to make. Sometimes I read in order to avoid writing. There. I said it. I read at stoplights often enough that my children have to point and say, “Green. Green! GREEN!” in increasingly frantic tones, just before the rude non-reader honks come from the cars behind us.

I read while I wait for my children and while I brush my teeth. Just last week, I read on my daily walk. While passing my oldest daughter’s home, I understand that she pointed out the window in disbelief. “Nick!” she called to her husband, “Is that lady really reading while she’s walking?! Oh. It’s my mom. Why am I even surprised?” Once, I even read 43 pages while in the dentist’s chair.

As it turns out, my reading habit might be one of the best things I can do for my writing.

Read to Inspire

We all know…

View original post 492 more words

Video

I Forgot How Much I Like Good Fantasy

23 Oct

Good fantasy.

My favorite books in my teens were The Hobbit, almost anything written by Madeline L’langle, and Terry Pratchett’s work is still at the top of my favorites list.

I think what burned me out was trying to read not-so-good fantasy one too many times. Now for years I have been under the impression that it’s just not my ‘thing’.

Until I read The Forgotten Ones by Laura Howard

Then The Key of Amatahns (Argetallam) by Elisabeth Wheatley

And now I’m reading No Angels: Keep the people safe by any means necessary by Eli Hinze

All of them are a little (sometimes a lot) brain bending… in a good way. They’re just enough out there to bring you out of your own mind and preconceived notions and drag you into the story. These are ladies who are now at the top of my list of Authors To Watch.

Basically because

I’m totally fan-girling out on their stuff!

And so is my husband!!!

If we both think these are good books, that’s got to count for a huge thumbs up from the critics.  🙂

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Nice job ladies. Keep ’em comin’.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuZSfvHHMr4

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Video

Marveling at Descriptions in a Sherlock Holmes Book

4 Sep

…Holmes and I walked slowly across the moor. The sun was beginning to sink behind the stables of Mapleton, and the long, sloping plain in front of us was tinged with gold, deepening into rich, ruddy browns where the faded ferns and brambles caught the evening light. But all the glories of the landscape were all wasted upon my companion, who was sunk in the deepest thought.

Very rarely have I found an author who can so succinctly describe a scene. Three sentences and you are there, walking across the moor, watching the sun set.

The above excerpt also explains where I got my prolific use of commas, and a love of longer sentences.

Then there’s this one:

An anomaly which often struck me in the character of my friend Sherlock Holmes was that, although in his methods of thought he was the neatest and most methodical of mankind, and although also he affected a certain quiet primness of dress, he was non the less in his personal habits one of the most untidy men that ever drove a fellow-lodger to distraction. Not that I am in the least conventional in that respect myself. The rough-and-tumble work in Afghanistan, coming on the top of a natural Bohemianism of disposition, has made me rather more lax than befits a medical man. But with me there is a limit, and when I find a man who keeps his cigars in the coal-scuttle, his tobacco in the toe end of a Persian slipper, and his unanswered correspondence transfixed by a jack-knife into the very centre of his wooden mantlepiece, then I begin to give myself virtuous airs.

Talk about bachelor habits!

Again, within this paragraph we get a sketch of the person who was Sherlock Holmes. We learn that he was mentally sharp and thorough, he wasn’t a flashy dresser, but he was a messy room-mate (a not uncommon trait in geniuses). The examples of his habits are clear and easy to picture.

You also learn about the narrator. He is the friend and room-mate of Sherlock. He had been in Afghanistan because of a job. He is a doctor. He has a sense of humor. (after reading this book with the U.K. spellings of things, it was very difficult to leave out the second U in humor. lol)

I love the way Arthur Conan Doyle wrote. He had a comfortable way of getting to his point. The reader is led without being hurried. At the same time the plot is always moving, never stagnant. Everything moves you forward. Even the parts that seem trivial.

This, in my opinion, is an ideal in writing, and a goal toward which I am striving.

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Yeah, my mom’s right. You can always tell what we have been reading from listening to the way we talk…and write.  😀

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Now for the fun part. In my personal opinion, I feel that Robert Downy Jr. and Jude Law are to date the most correct interpretations of this duo (although I don’t see any evidence of an ongoing childish argument between the two, and no animosity toward Watson’s wife by Holmes in the stories). So without further ado, here’s one of my favorite parts of the first movie.

Sherlock Holmes scene “Meat or Potatoes” – YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjBcZwectv0

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Excerpt one is from Adventure 1 in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Excerpt two is from Adventure 5 in the same book.