Sunday, October 6, 2013

Halloween and October

Halloween is turning out to be a buys month. Of course, for me and my daughter it's the 31 days of Halloween costumes. We're starting a little weak, but her birthday was this past week, so she had a party of course, then I had a stamping class on Saturday and she was sick on Sunday. Photos are only up on Facebook this year. I may post some on Google+ but really hate posting photos twice.

The events on the calendar are pirate festivals (2 possible), a zombie walk, any Halloween activities for Kira, and my stamping classes. I have Kira's zombie dress to finish and I don't have a costume for myself but I think I can improvise - I may just order a bustle for me and see about making parts of other costumes work. We'll see how that goes! Plus I need to bring in some extra money, so I should work on some cards and items for my etsy shop even though I am rather disappointed in etsy's move to allow manufacturing into their handmade marketplace. Once a company on etsy reaches the point where they need to manufacture, shouldn't they start their own website? That would be growing, leaving etsy for a larger following because they obviously don't need etsy to do their marketing for them any more.

My western story idea is taking shape. I've been reading Louis L'Amour and watching Tom Selleck westerns to prepare and I actually feel confident about the story. Hopefully when I start writing it, I'll continue to feel as confident. My weakest part of writing is editing. I think I come up with a pretty strong story idea and can actually get most of it down, but when it comes to rewrites and editing I seem to fizzle. Maybe I should seriously consider paying for an editor to read my stories. I did consider it once, even to the point of the free evaluation, but didn't feel the story was strong enough to continue. Hopefully this new story will get me through the entire process.

On a side note, I am very disappointed in our government. Shutting down everything because a few people aren't getting their way? They are hijacking democracy for their own perverted ends. That's terrorism! My family is being impacted directly from this shut down. My dad is a contractor on a military base - they may withhold his pay and have revoked all leave. How are my parents to make ends meet without the pay? And making him work 7 days a week indefinitely? That's inhumane! And my husband who is a contractor working abroad may not be able to return home because of a bureaucratic office of our government closed because of the shutdown. That's not right. I hope everyone sends nasty letters to their congressmen and representatives telling them to get back to work or take their pay and healthcare away until this is resolved. We the people are entitled to everything congress gets. They are not privileged. Their should be no privileged class in this day and age. Everyone is equal and that means we are all entitled to the same benefits that modern society can provide. If we can't have those benefits, no one should get them! Excuse my rant, but this may be the end of democracy in America.

Monday, September 30, 2013

GaelSong contest

For the past few years GaelSong.com has had a writing contest on their site. I entered last year but didn't place. Maybe it's because of voting and to be considered the entry needs to be early enough in October to get enough readers and votes. This year I've been thinking about the image and what to write to it since I saw it released. Here's my current attempt. I will change it in the next few days to hopefully make it stronger and more effective.

http://www.gaelsong.com/samhain_contest for the image

The autumn chill arives with the turn of the seasons. As I gaze into the crystal balls I see the coming winter. The change of the seasons and the end of the celtic year mean rebirth. The land will sleep and the owls will watch over us as the cycle turns ever onward.

Candles light the darkness and I reach for an old book as though reaching for an old friend. The key to who I am lies in the pages of those old books. What I want to be and what I could be are on those pages. I know the books will bring me comfort in the cold months ahead. I will need to warm my heart to keep looking forward to the rebirth in the spring. Winter is the perfect time to renew oneself and contemplate where you wish to go. And since the trees are bare and the plants and animals sleep through the long cold months, it's also a time to reflect on our mortality. Not in fear, but in the accomplishments we wish to make before our time is up. If I look closely into the crystal ball, I can see the clock hands and the time when they stop. It doesn't terrify me, this knowledge that my life will end one day, but gives me hope that I will finish all that I desire to complete before that last tick.

My heart is comforted by the old books and the wisdom reflected in the owls' eyes. I remembe the name of the goblet as "forevermore" and know that nothing lasts forever, but our love and passions in those that we care for and care for us. That love of those that have gone before and will come after is what I yearn to keep. Forevermore. Forevermore.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Writing exercise

Qualities of my ideal writing guidebook:
concise, helpful, not condescending, well thought out, enjoyable, exciting, makes me want to write, fun, silly, annoying, confidence inspiring, teaches how to write, explains what writing is, explains how to work at being a writer, teaches how to motivate myself, makes me want to do better, teaches how to make my writing stronger and less wordy, best use of point of view, writing characters, reviews dialogue, helps me with setting, makes me feel like a writer.

Qualities of my ideal writing class:
Friendly, ask for help, teacher is there to be useful, classmates are non-judgmental, a non-hostile environment, learning how to read our own work out loud and to others, editing techniques, ways to use what others suggest, enjoyable, feels more like a gathering than a class

Best student-like qualities:
At the beginning I am very focused and eager to learn, I like sitting up front in a class, I take good notes, know how to listen, am willing to participate, am friendly to others, I don't judge the teacher until I've been in the class 3 or 4 times, when it's a subject that really interests me I am willing to put aside distractions and tend to throw myself into the work, I enjoy a deadline and find it easier when I know I have a limited time to get something done, I frequently re-read my notes to make sure I understand what I learned, if I don't understand something I like it repeated until I do figure it out, I am willing to practice/learn outside of class if it helps me get the material, I try to make friends with my classmates and teacher or at least get to know them, I can focus on a favorite subject, I think we can all be better learners

Monday, September 16, 2013

Honey, belly dance, and browncoats

I read recently that taking a cup of hot water, 1 tsp of raw honey and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon half an hour before breakfast and right before bed is good for helping weight loss. Well, so far so good. I started last Tuesday and have shed 5 pounds. Hopefully that trend will continue, maybe not that fast, but it's still a promising start. I began belly dancing last week and am still practicing my old routines from California. I am also mowing our lawn - it's not that big, but it does take me an hour to complete and in Florida heat, that's a lot of activity once a week.

A couple of women I know have expressed an interest in belly dance, but want to take the class with me. I may consider teaching them the routines I know and maybe trying to choreograph a new one just for them. Have to see what they think and if it's a good idea. Don't think I would charge anything, since I've only been belly dancing for less that a year, but I would be teaching dance again, and they'd be getting some belly dance experience.

Today is Browncoat unification day! Down with the Alliance! I'm a proud Firefly fan and am happy to support anything Firefly. My husband wants to meet other browncoats in southwest Florida and start a movie night for Serenity. I think he really wants to start his own convention. That would be really cool. Ft Myers, Florida has a small convention center right on the Chattahoochee River and they want to bring in a hotel which would help bring in larger conventions. If we started a small one, eventually we could get more and bigger stars. It's worth looking into when the hubby returns from his African jaunt.

Monday, September 9, 2013

New story idea

It's actually a western. I was trying to make it science fiction or steampunk, but I can't see how that would work since everything I thought about sounded contrived. It may evolve over time, but for now it's just a simple western.

The story starts with two best friends who live and work on a cattle ranch at the end of the 19th century. Haven't figured out where or the exact date yet. The one man is the son of the owner of the ranch, the other is the son of the head cowhand. The cowhand falls for the daughter of the local general store but she doesn't know it. She goes east with the ranch owner's daughter to Philadelphia to go to finishing school. The ranch owner's daughter stays in Philly to get married and the ranch owner's son goes out to Philly for the wedding and to escort the general store's daughter home. On the way back, they fall in love. When they return home they get married and the cowhand admits to his friend that he's in love with her.

Years go by and the couple have two daughters. They do have 2 sons, but both die before their second birthday. They live on the ranch so the cowhand sees her all the time and doesn't have a chance to fall out of love with her.

One fateful day, the ranch owner's son has an accident and is badly wounded. They are able to bring him home but he only lives for about a week before he dies. His wife blames the cowhand even though he tried to save him and brought him back. She comes to hate him and there's a lot of friction between the two.

The ranch owner (who has to take back control of the ranch that he'd given to his only son) is worried about nefarious men who would marry his daughter-in-law to gain control of the ranch so he passes half ownership to the cowhand. This infuriates his DiL and more friction occurs.

Her two daughters are very fond of the cowhand and the eldest who is eight has a crush on him. She tends to show off and will sneak out late to listen to him play his guitar.

That's the basic story, and I have to flesh it out more so I can attempt NaNoWriMo this year.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Writing exercise

The prompt: A few weeks before your thirtieth high school reunion, your former class president gives you a call. He teases you about skipping all the previous reunions and then says that your absence over the years - along with your new celebrity status as a famous author - makes you the perfect keynote speaker at the upcoming reunion. Your topic? A quote from George Eliot: "It's never too late to be what you might have been." Write your speech.

It's never too late to be what you might have been. This has meaning to me, since I am now realizing a dream of mine to be an author, but it also has meaning to all of us here - we can all be more than what we are now. We all had dreams, things we wanted to accomplish in life. What is holding you back? Money? You will never have enough even if you are the richest billionaire on the planet. They always want more. Time? You are running out. We're all halfway through our life so what are you waiting for? Your ambition is still there, buried under the excuses. And that's all they are - excuses.

What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail? Those fears keeps us from becoming the best of ourselves. Fear is a great motivator. It keeps us from trying because we're scared of what others will think or say. So what? Who put them in charge? And who are theses mysterious "They" anyway? You want to know who they are? They are people just like you and me with the same fears and misconceptions and excuses. And so what if they don't like what you do? There are going to be plenty of people out there who love you and what you have achieved. Those are the people you want to strive to make happy. Because in turn they will make you happy.

What is too late anyway? It's death. That's what too late is. When we are in the ground or turned to ash what's it matter what we did or did not achieve in our lifetimes? It's gone. The time is up. And you won't care anymore. So it's not too late if you're still breathing. Your dreams are still there. Your wishes are still there, sitting quietly. Waiting for you to do something. Make yourself proud and be what you might have been if fear and excuses hadn't stopped you!

Monday, August 26, 2013

A little personal insight

If you could go anywhere, where would that be - the shop down the street, your favorite restaurant, a cruise, a foreign country, space or another planet? I am talking about really pushing boundaries here. From a writers perspective, doing an exercise like this gets the creative juices flowing. But thinking about how far you would push yourself if it were an option is something more people should think about. What would you do if you weren't scared to try? Since I am a Star Wars fan, I will quote Yoda here: "Do or do not. There is no try."

I've been on some cruises and I went to England on my own after college for two wonderful weeks. I don't enjoy flying but have flown alone and with a child. So, would I push myself and go to space? Maybe a visit would be nice, although that height thing might really bother me from outside the atmosphere!

Not sure why I asked myself this morning. But it's worth thinking about. How often do we contemplate the doing something out of our comfort zone? I have friends who don't travel because of the fear of getting lost. But to me, getting lost can be part of the adventure. We have such a safe society (relatively speaking) that I understand why there are the thrill seekers who bungee jump, climb mountains, participate in extreme sports, and so on. It's to feel alive. How often in regular every day life to we feel that sense of thrill or excitement? Most days the most exciting thing to happen to us is to avoid hitting something with the car.

All I'm saying is this - push yourself. Consider trying something that frightens you. Not that terrifying thing that would cause you to hide under your bed like a small child. But a small thing that is just a little frightening. You'll feel better for it. You might discover something of yourself. At least you'll know if you can push your limits farther or if staying safe is your ideal. Get out of the comfort zone once or twice and you might just surprise yourself. I've done it. I drove across the country with just my daughter and a cat and I enjoyed the trip. Yes, there were boring stretches and times I didn't want to think of getting back in the car. But it was an experience and I saw things and places I might not ever have seen.