Friday, December 25, 2009
In honor of the holiday, today's Soundtrack Friday contains not one but two tracks. I had a difficult time narrowing things down to one song. There are so many touching and sentimental songs out there for the season and I have a healthy collection of Christmas music.
First, we have a soulful Christmas song from one of my musical icons of the 80s, Richard Page. While Richard isn't putting out albums at the moment, he did write and produce a song for the season back in 2008 and released it on You Tube and iTunes. I Always Cry At Christmas is a wonderful reminder of the wonder of this time of year.
As a special holiday bonus, we have Third Day and the song I Want To See Christmas Like A Child. Katie, this one's for you!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
In the truck on the way home, with a sleepy Velcro Dog curled up in the back of the cab, Hubby asked me what I wanted for Christmas. We usually exchange gifts in January rather than over Christmas. This is by design to alleviate the pressure of needing to have our gifts figured out while at the same time shopping for family and friends. I shifted in my seat and snuggled close to him and smiled up at him. "A house elf," I replied.
My husband is not a fanciful man so rolled his eyes at my suggestion. "We're not getting a cleaning service or a housekeeper." Yeah, my suggestion was a long shot. That doesn't mean I won't keep trying.
I turned serious and pondered his original question. What do I want for Christmas? I could say a Nook e-reader or a gift card to Barnes & Noble. Books are always a welcome addition to my life. But Hubby feels odd giving me books since I buy them for myself all year long. I could ask for a spa day or makeover but as fun as those sound I would want to go with someone and that could be a scheduling nightmare.
I don't really need anything. What I want I have. A good relationship with a man who knows all my quirks and loves me because of them. A house that is evolving more and more into a home we are proud to own. A dog who loves us and brings us joy. Friends. Health. Meaningful work. Dreams. Passion.
I have everything I need or want. The rest are inconsequential trappings - nice to haves that won't necessarily add meaning to my life. I told my husband that. He snorted, which I take to mean I'll be getting something like flowers for Christmas. Or maybe new wool socks. Either gift would bring a smile to my face. It's nice to be in that content state of being where I can acknowledge this moment as being full and complete.
Merry Christmas, everyone. May this holiday be filled to overflowing with contentment and blessing.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
It's a song about belonging, finding that soul connection so many people long for. It's a song with an up beat, quirky lyrics and a mandolin. And it's a song that Jason, the main male character in Mallory's story, said to me embodies how he feels about someone. Might be Mallory. Might not be. I'll eventually wrestle that out of him so I'm not worried there. But I did think Jason was more of a hard rock or alternative kind of guy. All this boppy music is starting to make me wonder what lurks beneath his calm exterior. I thought it was angst and self recriminations. Perhaps he has a refined sense of irony I have yet to tap into. We'll see.
In the meantime, today's soundtrack Friday comes to you from San Francisco's very own Train. Hey, Soul Sister is their latest single off their new album Save Me San Francisco. I dare you to not smile while listening.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Because of her special ability, the princess often over committed herself. Which increased her need to bend and manipulate time. Every time she squeezed more into a minute, her special ability lost some of its potency, which made each attempt more and more tiring and difficult.
Eventually the princess was unable to bend time. No matter how she tried she could not squeeze any more into a minute than her normal subjects could. She was exhausted, stressed and unhappy.
How often do we fall prey to the myth that we can have more hours in our day? It's impossible to have more than 24 hours in a 24 hour day. And yet we all want to stuff more and more into our days. Like me with my Office Downsize Project. Which is woefully behind. Why? Because I was over committed. I didn't take into account all the things that I had already committed to and how much time they would require of me. I didn't look at my commitments and eliminate or delegate something. I held on to them all and kept thinking, as so many of my clients do, that if I only had the right tool or the right timer or the right something I could get it all done.
I gave my Make Time To Write talk to my writing group back in October. And I was reminded that I only have 24 hours in a day. How am I spending those 24 hours and does that match up with my goals? If the answer is they don't match very well then Houston, we have a problem.
I was ill over Thanksgiving so I spent some time filling out a hypothetical calendar. I had a column of what I thought I was going to do and how much time I thought it would take me. Then over the course of the long weekend I filled in what I did and how long it really took me in another column. The results were interesting.
I had written a fairy tale in my head about how I spent my time. That it took only so much time to do certain activities and that I would get things done whether I felt like it or not. Reality was that I often got side tracked during tasks so they took much longer. The internet is a bigger detriment than I thought and if I was in the middle of a good book, I was often loathe to sacrifice reading time for doing time. The tasks I did complete were not always the tasks that had the most impact on my values and goals.
I want to rewrite my fairy tale. I love a happily ever after. In this case, the princess doesn't have the ability to bend time. Rather, she has the ability to make smart choices about her commitments and is not afraid of telling someone no or not right now. She's in control of her tasks and reviews them for efficacy and goodness of fit. Now, if she could also foresee the winning Power Ball numbers and dance as well as Ginger Rogers. I guess a girl can't have everything.
Friday, December 11, 2009
With the cold weather comes the realization that it's almost Christmas. Out came the iPod with my various Christmas/winter mixes. The following song was written as a parody and happens to be in my of my favorite Christmas movies ever! And every time I hear it I smile. When it's freaking cold out, like it is today, sometimes the extra heat you generate from a good belly laugh can be the difference between frost bite and just a little cold. If you don't know what I mean, you'll just have to trust me on this.
Today I give you a little bit of seasonal joy with Billy Mack (aka Bill Nighy) and his black horse Christmas hit from the movie Love Actually. Enjoy this cheesy, schmaltzy, totally irreverent parody of Love is All Around in the guise of a seasonal sensation - Christmas Is All Around.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
That said, I'm not sure I want to see Dickens performed in the made-up language of the fictional Klingon race. And yet, that is just what one theater company in Minnesota has decided to do. One reviewer has described the Klingon adaptation as:
[a]dapted for the proud and war-loving Klingons, this production features no sermonizing about the triumph of charity and goodness over penny-pinching and miserliness. Instead, the story has a Klingon-appropriate story arc and moral: SQuja' (the Klingon Scrooge) has no courage and no honor; the three spirits are on a mission to turn the cowardly protagonist into a fierce warrior. The performance is almost entirely in tlhIngnan Hol, the Klingon language that sounds suspiciously like coughing up a lung.I have to admit I'm intrigued. Not enough to pay money to go see a play in Klingon (even though they do have English titles projected above the stage). It's amazing just how far someone will go to immerse themselves in a fictional world, isn't it? Well, I wish the actors well and have this feeling it will be well attended by the Trekkie faithful. Live long and prosper. And Merry Christmas!
Friday, December 04, 2009
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Turn Coat by Jim Butcher -- I ::heart:: Jim Butcher! His Harry Dresden series is always a delight and with events in Turn Coat I'm more curious than ever about where the series is going. Another gripping read!
Shadowlight by Lynn Viehl -- Lynn gave us the Darkyn series, her take on the vampire mythology paired with science, as only Lynn can. Shadowlight is the beginning of a spin off series about the Kyndred, those genetically altered humans who have the ability to become Kyndred without dying and who have unique traits all their own. This book was a wonderful bridge between the two series and leaves me rooting for the Kyn on both sides of the genetic code.
Can't Stand the Heat by Louisa Edwards -- A fun book about food, restaurants, and finding yourself that was a delight to read. Entertaining and hilarious with enough poignancy to really pull the reader in. I will definitely read the next book Louisa writes!
Instant Gratification by Jill Shalvis -- Jill offers a sexy and entertaining contemporary romance that hits the spot with book 2 of her Wilder Brothers trilogy. When I'm in the mood for a good romance, I turn to Jill. Nuff said.
Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts -- Book two of Nora's Brides Quartet is a fun book. Not as much conflict as I usually like, but a great story about sisterhood and falling in love.
Eyes like Stars by Lisa Mantchev -- The theater literally comes alive in this first book of the Young Adult Théâtre Illuminata series. A wonderful story about belonging and becoming amidst the chaos and camaraderie of the world of the theater.
Mountain Investigation by Jessica Andersen -- A nice light read that is what it is and nothing more - a short romantic suspense that centers on two people tossed together because of danger and intrigue. Harlequin Intrigue does it right when I'm in the mood for romance amidst, well, intrigue.
Hot on Her Heels by Susan Mallery -- The final book in Susan Mallery's Titan Sisters series is a great ending to a roller coaster ride. Susan does a great job of redeeming the hero and bringing a family together despite their history.
Burn by Linda Howard -- Burn is more suspense light than romantic suspense and while it feels implausible, the characters save the plot and kept me reading. I actually would like a sequel just so I can see what happens next.
Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie & Bob Mayer - I wasn't that thrilled with the first Crusie/Mayer collaboration. It was okay but felt much more Crusie than collaborative. This book has a great blend of voices and talent and even though it's on the lighter side and things happen quickly, the story sucked me right in and kept me entertained as well as guessing.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Today's Soundtrack Friday is none of these. For me anyway. For Jordan, a character I wrote about years ago who haunts me to this day, this song is epic and binding. It's part of her soundtrack and one of the songs that actually triggered her story. I played it ad nauseum during the writing of Jordan's story, so much so that by the end I couldn't bear to listen it on the radio.
I heard it the other day and I was transported to those crazy days of writing about Jordan and Quinn and their turbulent lives. It was as though I had written "The End" on their manuscript only yesterday. I could see them in my mind's eye, could recall specific plot points and scenes with each chord and passage within the song. And I fell in love with Jordan and Quinn all over again. My fictional friends tend to stay with me for a very long time.
Today, I give you Celine Dion's epic It's All Coming Back To Me Now. While the video represents it as a song of loss, the lyrics are more about hope and reunion. And that's what I wish for you - hope. Have a wonderful Friday!
Celine Dion - It's All Coming Back To Me Now (Official Music Video) - Watch the best video clips here
Friday, November 13, 2009
Today's Soundtrack Friday is all about Rob Thomas. One of April's favorite songs is Little Wonders from the Meet The Robinsons movie soundtrack. It's a great song. One I wish was played more in my market. And one I wish I had on my iPod. Since I'm not one to just go and buy tunes from iTunes I end up missing out on some songs. Note to self, just go and buy the single already!
So this is for April. And because everyone needs a little Rob Thomas in their lives.
Friday, November 06, 2009
It used to be a tradition for Vancouver during home games to play Where The Streets Have No Name by U2 when the team entered the arena. I don't think they do this anymore. Have to mix it up, you know. But whenever I hear this song, I think of my team. My boys.
This one is for you, the amazing men of the Vancouver Canucks. Thanks for making a hometown girl proud last night!
Sunday, November 01, 2009
Defender and Hotshot by Catherine Mann -- The first two books of Catherine's Dark Ops series. Well written stories, but I do miss her early Wingmen Warrior series.
Black Hills by Nora Roberts -- I enjoyed the location of this story and the hero and heroine. The character development wasn't super strong, but the story was well rounded and entertaining. And at the end of the day, when I read fiction I want to be entertained.
Love You To Death by Shannon K. Butcher -- a creepy yet engaging romantic suspense focusing on a serial killer, two sisters and a cop who's lost his way. One of Shannon's best!
A Dark Love by Margaret Carroll -- another creepy yet engaging romantic suspense. The romance was a little difficult to believe, but the hero was a well written character. I would have liked to have known more about the villain but over all this was a solid first romantic suspense by the author.
My Soul To Take by Rachel Vincent -- first of the Soul Screamers series, a young adult series about banshees and death and life, oh my. A solid book, entertaining for me and written in such a way I can see adults enjoying this as much as teens. Looking forward to the next in the series.
An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon -- the long awaited 7th book...
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley -- YA fantasy written in 1982 but has the ability to capture and pull me into the mythical world of Damar, filled with magic, kings, horses, swords and the discovery of one's self and purpose. I reread this for book club and I adore it now as much as I did back in 1982. It is epic in its simplicity and the themes, while subtle, speak to adults and youth alike. I almost can't wait for my annual reread next year. :)
Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning -- book 4 of her 5 part Fever urban fantasy series. A tantalizing addition to an already spellbinding story and while we learm more about the key characters in this alternate Dublin, we are left with more questions. I have to say, while I'm enjoying the series this puts a lot of pressure on the final book to tie up loose ends to and answer all the little questions that have been asked along the way. I sincerly hope KMM is up to the challenge!
A Doom With A View by Victoria Laurie -- Psychics, murder and mayhem, oh my! This book is part of a mystery series by a well known psychic. I didn't know that when I picked it up and I found the book to be well written as far as the mystery went and a little distracting with the psychic portion of the show. I recommend the series to anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries but won't likely be reading any more in the series myself. There just wasn't enough internal conflict for the main character for me.
Covet by J. R. Ward -- The beginning of her new Fallen Angels series...
Friday, October 30, 2009
It's 1988 and the slasher movie craze has taken over movie theaters ever where. Freddy and Jason haunt the teen scene. I think it was because guys knew if they could get a girl to a slasher movie, there would be much holding and consoling during and perhaps after the movie. That and youth has this fascination with the mortality/immortality dichotomy. On the music scene we had boy bands and rap as the big things. Why, I don't know. Trust me, it just was.
A talented group of young rappers with a tongue in cheekiness that got them noticed more than their talent decided to capitalize on the slasher film phenomenon and created the following rap based on a fictional encounter with the bane of Elm Street, also known as Freddy. Now, I couldn't find a video by the aforementioned rappers, but I did find several tribute videos. This one seems to be the best, though instead of the Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff, we have scenes from Nightmare movies. Eh, it's halloween. What do you expect?
I give you DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince with their way back in the day 1988 rap Nightmare on My Street. Have a fun filled Halloween.
And here is a fan video of the same song. Hilarious!
Friday, October 23, 2009
Black Velvet by Canadian Artist Alannah Myles was a huge hit in the late 80s/early 90s. I remember rocking out to this song in college. I actually won a lip syncing contest with this song. Yeah, it was so easy to pretend to be cool when this song was on the radio. Fast forward to 2002 and I'm now married (for many years) and moved into a new home. To celebrate I go to a local store and buy a new portable stereo system, some candles and some food to go with the welcome basket our realtor gave us. As I was perusing the CD selection I found a copy of Alannah's debut CD, something I had never hoped to find here in the States, so I bought it, brought it home and hubby and I celebrated moving into our new home with dinner, candle light and Black Velvet on the stereo.
For your listening pleasure, and hopefully for some of you a trip down memory lane, I bring you the incomparable Alannah Myles and her international success Black Velvet!
Monday, October 19, 2009
Today, Leo Babauta, the owner of the Zen Habits blog, has a great post on inspiration and a simple way to produce inspiration. I'm reposting the article here. And lest you think I'm infringing copyright - something I really try to stay away from - Leo believes in something called "Open Source Blogging" and you can read all about that here.
Read the post. And practice Breath of God Inspiration yourself. Then tell me how it went. I plan to go through the three steps myself later today and will post my experience.
Post written by Leo Babauta of zenhabits.net
The word “inspiration” to some literally means “the breath of God”.
Whether you’re religious or not, the idea of God or a god or a muse breathing inspiration into the depth of our beings is a beautiful one. Even if the world is naught but a natural miracle, this idea can lift you up, and give you the spark of life to *do* something great.
That’s inspiration at its absolute best: not just when it lifts us up, makes us feel good or enthusiastic or excited, but when it *moves* us, when we become so moved that we create something of truth or beauty.
It’s an elusive thing, this pure inspiration, something people of all types of creativity seek on a daily basis. Here’s one method — a simple method I hope will help you in that everyday search.
It’s three simple steps:
1. Find something divinely touched.
2. Breathe in that divine inspiration.
3. Do. Create. Inspire.
Let’s look at each step in turn.
Step 1. Find something divinely touched.
For this step, I use a loose definition of “divine” … you don’t have to be religious to find divinity in something. When Mozart wrote a symphony, or Jobs created the Macbook Air, or a stranger smiles at you, there is divinity in that. There’s divinity in a sunset, in every living thing (why I’m a vegan), in a cool breeze on a humid day.
You just need to recognize the inspiration, in whatever form it comes.
Here are my greatest sources of inspiration:
* People doing great things.
* Things of great beauty.
* The written word: books, magazines, blogs.
* People in your life.
* Love, in any form.
* Yourself, doing anything good, no matter how tiny.
Step 2. Breathe in that divine inspiration.
Take a slow, deep breath. As the air comes into your mouth or nostrils, through your throat, and fills your lungs, it is bringing divine inspiration into your body.
Repeat. Each inhalation brings with it more inspiration, and each exhalation releases tension.
Step 3. Do. Create. Inspire.
You are now filled with the Breath of God. Take this inspiration and use it, be moved, and do something. Don’t just sit there feeling good. Channel that inspiration into creating something amazing.
Put that something out into the world, and in turn, you will inspire others.
“I am convinced that there are universal currents of Divine Thought vibrating the ether everywhere and that any who can feel these vibrations is inspired.” -Richard Wagner
The above information on the Breath of God Inspiration was brought to you by Leo Babauta and his blog zenhabits.net
Friday, October 16, 2009
And while I was walking down this road during the dusk of day, a song was playing over and over again in the background. In my dream it didn't seem strange to have a music track floating over me as I walked and tried to ignore the shadows edging in on my personal space. In fact, when I woke up the song was the first thing I remembered and I hummed it all morning until the dream came crashing back at me with such clarity I had to pause and write it all down - every color, sound, smell, nuance.
This doesn't happen to me very often so when it does I have to take notice. I asked myself why I had this dream and what it all means. Mallory came to mind. So I reflected a little more and it wasn't me walking down that lonely country road, it was the heroine of my story. Then the shadows started to make sense. And the song, it just fit. Completely embodying Mallory as she starts the story.
So, in honor of my writing breakthrough, I give you a group I hardly listen to with a song that has become a haunting refrain to Mallory's story - Green Day and their hit Boulevard of Broken Dreams.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
One of the many reasons Nathan Fillion rocks is because of his rapport with his fans. He Tweets some of the most amusing things and even though I'm sure he would rather never be asked about Firefly ever again, he tosses in some nods to his fans. Like this week's episode of Castle. In about the 6th minute of the program, people are entering an apartment and donning those blue latex gloves to keep the crime scene safe from additional finger prints. After his gloves are donned he flashes two peace signs. But wait, those aren't really peace signs. No, he's miming a line from Firefly that any fan should know - two by two, hands of blue. Don't believe me, check out his Twitter.
Brilliant! And yet another reason why I love Nathan Fillion. If I weren't happily married I might try to hunt him down and beg to have his babies. Thankfully, I am happily married so I can save myself that embarrassing stalkerish conversation. Phew!
Nathan, as long as you keep doing that wonderful thing you do the world is a much, much better place. Of course, as a Canadian, you already know that, don't you? Yeah, Canadians are cool like that.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I sat down on Sunday to think about why this is. Why is it that when it's something I committed to do, whether I love the work or not, that it's so difficult for me to follow through. Especially at home. I find myself lacking focus. I'm distracted by prettier, shinier things. And my commitments get shifted further and further from the forefront of my mind.
Then I had my aha! Perhaps my lack of focus is because I don't want to take responsibility? What a humbling realization and a sneaky subconscious technique on my part. If I don't take responsibility, I don't have to be an equal partner. If something fails, it rests more on someone else's shoulders than my own. With less responsibility, I don't have to give voice to my fears or opinions. And, I don't have to feel like I must do the tasks involved if I really don't want to.
On the flip side, I don't get to share in the successes. I'm not using my time in an effective manner. I'm not playing the game on a level playing field.
My lack of focus is because my heart isn't in the game. Take this cleaning of the office I keep mentioning. If I don't clean it, I'm not working in a clutter and distraction free zone, but I also don't have to share the space because the husband doesn't have any room. If I don't clean the office, I have time for other things, but I ultimately waste time whenever I need to find something and have to search through piles and drawers. If I don't clean the office, I can forget about the tasks hiding for me on shelves, in in-baskets, on desktops and not do distasteful tasks, but if I don't clean the office something is going to bite me in the ass and it's likely to cost me big in either time, money or potentially relationships.
If I take responsibility, refocus, and just do the work, I will gain so much more than I could gain by putting it off.
This is the sort of exercise I had to do with myself to get to the heart of the matter. What am I telling myself about these things I keep pushing off until tomorrow? Why is that? What do I gain by continuing with my current state? What might I lose? Am I willing to change? Or am I okay with the status quo? Am I acting out of fear? A need for the status quo? Out of perfectionism? Out of a thought barrier of playing victim? Am I okay with that or do I want to break free and break through?
Without honesty, I don't think we can change. It may be hard to get to that honest truth. Facing our inner motivations isn't always pretty. And the work can be ugly. I'm here to tell you that it's worth it. Once you're honest, once you get your current motivation and whether it's counter to your goal/dream/passion, then you can start the process of change.
What do you keep wishing you could make time for? What do you keep putting off? Have you been honest with yourself about why? And if you're okay with the status quo, why are you still wishing?
Friday, October 09, 2009
And on that note, the entire topic of making time to do whatever it is that seems to be eluding us has been on my mind lately. It stems from a discussion I had with the husband about fulfilling some commitments I had made back in January/February when I was still looking for work. Those commitments were urgent while I was unemployed but as soon as I found work they became less important. To me, anyway.
So I thought about why I wasn't fulfilling these commitments. Was it time? Where the tasks too difficult? Too easy? Why had I let them slide?
The answer came quickly. The tasks were things I just didn't deem important. So I procrastinated instead of just getting them done. I kept telling myself I would do them tomorrow, someday, later. They kept falling to the bottom of my personal priority list and I just didn't make time.
Writing can be like that. We can say we want to write. We can take the classes, listen to the tapes, read the books, attend the seminars, but until we are willing to commit writing will never be a priority.
There are many reasons why we don't make time. I'm talking about some of those tomorrow in my workshop. And I'm thinking about doing a brief series about these reasons here on this blog. The concepts work with any goal we might be chasing but never seem to catch. My husband is really hopeful that I'll apply these strategies to my own tasks and finally get those commitments completed. *grin*
I decided to veer off the path of finding a song that matched the soundtrack of what I'm writing and pick a song that will make me smile and give a glow to the day.
Today's Soundtrack Friday is because my friend Shannon always makes me smile and loves Bon Jovi. And because this song has a great beat and I can't listen to it without a grin on my face.
I give you Bon Jovi and It's My Life.
And for those of you who also love the TV show Glee, I give you the Glee version of the song in a mash up with some other song that I don't really care about as much. LOL!
Friday, October 02, 2009
Yes, I love fall. And fall brings to mind the moving Sliding Doors for some reason. I don't know why. I don't recall if it takes place in fall, but it feels like a fall movie to me. When I think of Sliding Doors I think of Dido and her song Thank You. I love Dido for the simplicity and complexity of her lyrics, for the accessibility of the music and because I can actually sing along with her because her range is similar to my own - as lacking in talent I may be.
And I love this song because it's a little sad and a little happy and perfect to welcome in fall. I hope you enjoy today's soundtrack - Thank You by musical artist Dido.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Darkfever, Bloodfever, Faefever by Karen Marie Moning -- Rereading the Fever series as I eagerly await book 4 from the library. While not literary genius, these books are full of great storytelling and world building and have earned a place on my keeper shelf. Urban Fantasy.
The Accidental Best Seller by Wendy Wax -- What happens when four writers band together to help the flagging career of one? Well, you get an unexpected best seller with unanticipated consequences. Women's Fiction.
Double Play by Jill Shalvis -- Baseball, journalism and hot chemistry make this book a must read. Contemporary Romance.
One Reckless Summer by Toni Blake -- Returning home has never been so hard or so rewarding. At turns sexy and poignant. A great summer read by Toni Blake. Contemporary Romance.
Storm Watch by Jill Shalvis -- An excellent story by Jill! A great blend of drama and sexual tension in a brief word count. Jill blows me away.
The Inn at Eagle Point by Sherryl Woods -- I don't usually read sweeter stories but this was a great set up to a series about a family and all the drama that comes with being a part of a family of strong willed people. A nice set up and thank you Kelli for recommending it to me!
Demon Angel by Meljean Brook -- Demons, angels, nosferatu, halflings, oh my! A great beginning to a series that takes Good vs. Evil to intriguing new levels. I'm definitely going to be reading more of Meljean's series, you can bet on that!
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
For your Tuesday entertainment, whether you agree with this opinion or not, I brign you Pixar Vs. Dreamworks. Click on the picture to enjoy. I couldn't figure out how to make it big enough to read in my little blog. *grin*
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Dear Squirrels -
Thank you for enjoying the vast quantity of walnuts we have provided for your dining pleasure. We're glad you find them tasty and are fairly certain they will help you bulk up for winter. However, we've had some complaints regarding your behavior. As of today the following behaviors will no longer be tolerated:
* dropping walnuts on vehicles
* throwing walnuts at the house
* intentionally throwing/dropping walnuts at the dog
* smearing walnut juice on the siding, deck or deck furniture
Any squirrels exhibiting the above behaviors will be escorted from the property and not invited back.
We can all live together in harmony. All we ask are some basic manners on your part.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Please pray for Drea's family and friends. Her life ended far too soon and far too tragically.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Today is another one of those days where I wish I could get a do-over. But not for myself. I want a do-over for a friend. She's battling cancer and it looks like cancer is going to win. We're at the bottom of the 9th and there is no one left at bat. Last year we all thought she had a clean bill of health after treatment for breast cancer. She fought and beat the beast back through will and guts and a great medical team. Then February came and the hard news that the cancer was back. Stage 4. There's no cure for that today. Only management. And she managed the hell out of it for a while. We thought there was going to be a miracle. She was going to be one of the few who came through.
Then yesterday I got the news. She's dying. Not that ambiguous dying in that she has months/years to live. No, she's home on her death bed and the end is a cold wind slithering around the corner, stealthy and picking up speed. She has days. Hours. Minutes.
I want a do-over. I want to turn back the clock and have that clean bill of health from last year to still be true. I want to turn the clock back even further and give her a world where she was never touched by cancer to begin with. Where she is still out there living life with her courage and her joy and determination. Where another person I know and care about doesn't have to worry about life being ripped cruelly away.
I want to reconcile my belief in an afterlife and God with the pain of seeing someone younger than me wasting away because of a disease we can't cure. I want to believe for myself - and for her - that today is a blessing. It's not the end, just an end. And that the next beginning for her will be one of peace and joy. No pain. No regrets. Just love.
There aren't do-overs. We can only move forward. I cling to my belief in a better place after death while she moves toward the inevitable. I know her life and dying aren't in vain. I know the world is better for her life and that many will be touched and changed by this end.
That doesn't make me wish any less for that do-over. But that we had that power. Go well. Go with love, as you are loved.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Outside of the entertainment value of Jane Lynch as cheerleading coach and top dog Sue Sylvester having it out with underdog and glee fanatic Will Schuester (who has an...interesting family life), the music and choreography are top notch and the drive to succeed and make a mark is played out on the small screen so convincingly that despite the obvious comedic roots of the show there is a drama bubbling softly. Layers upon layers.
I love that about some of my favorite TV shows, movies and books. Those layers that sneak up on you and surprise you with depth and understanding of human nature. I want to write like that. And live like that. With depth. And laughter. Like Will Schuester says, you may not always be the star, but you should always have fun.
For today's soundtrack Friday I give you the cast of Glee performing Journey's Don't Stop Believing. And wish you a weekend full of layers and possibilities.
Monday, September 14, 2009
“Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” - Charles Mingus
Creativity is often made out to be a nebulous, messy, complicated, difficult thing, and it can be.
But it doesn’t have to be.
The judicious application of simplicity can help someone to create, whether that’s writing, creating art, designing, teaching, starting a small business, or in some other way making ideas take shape into reality.
People who want to create are hampered by complications — tools that are too complicated, projects that are too overwhelming, the distractions of the modern world, too many cooks, too many options, too busy.
Simplify, and many of these problems go away.
Let’s take a brief look at how simplicity can help solve some of the problems of creating:
1. Ideas. It’s hard to find ideas, right? Not necessarily. Simplify things: find vastly different ideas and combine them in a new way. This isn’t the only way to get ideas, but it’s simple and useful.
2. Ideas, again. Instead of finding ways to do more than everyone else, find ways to do less. If your competitor has a coffee shop with a wide array of beverages and food items, narrow it down: offer just one kind of coffee, but make it amazing. “We sell only one thing: the best cup of coffee you’ve ever tasted.” If you’re a blogger competing against writers who cover a vast variety of topics, cover just one, but do it better than anyone else.
3. Clear distractions. One of the biggest obstacles to anyone who wants to create these days is the distractions of the Internet, of email and IM, of meetings and people coming up to us to talk to us, of phone calls and Blackberries and iPhones. Clear these out of the way, so you can focus on creating.
4. Remove complications. Complications get in the way of creating. Find ways to simplify projects, simplify processes, remove barriers, narrow things down, remove choices, but increase focus.
5. Focus on one project till you’re done. This goes against how most people work, and in fact I have a hard time doing it sometimes, as I get excited about several projects at once. But it’s how I’ve been working recently and I can tell you, there’s no better way to create. Clear everything else off your schedule, at least for the moment, and focus on one project. Keep the focus small, so the project doesn’t take more than a week (if it does, break it into more than one project). Then just focus on that one project, until you’re done. It feels great. Now move on to the next.
6. Use one simple tool. For me, I just choose one text editor to write (usually either WriteRoom or TextEdit). The simpler the tool, the better, because full featured tools end up being distracting and you want to fiddle with all the options. A pen and pad are also great. If you must use more than one tool, keep them small and simple.
7. When you’re overwhelmed, focus on less. If the project is too big or complicated or just hard, narrow it down. If you must write a book, don’t focus on the whole book, or even a whole chapter. Just write a section — something you can do in a few hours or less. If you’re starting a new business, don’t worry about getting the whole thing up and running — what’s the smallest amount you can offer at first, the smallest unit you can create? Focus on that.
8. Do just a little each day. If you can write for 20-30 minutes a day, or take a few photos a day, it won’t be long before you’ve created something great. This tip is for those who think they don’t have time to create. It doesn’t have to take all day, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Just clear 20 minutes and create — do nothing else during that time.
9. Be in the moment, let creativity flow through you. When you are creating, feel free to be messy and don’t worry about perfection and just get it out. The best way to do this is to forget about the past and future, and just focus on the moment. Pour yourself into creating, and let it flow.
10. Whittle. Once you’ve created that crappy first draft, and just let everything pour out, it’s time to edit and whittle. Get it down to simple. See if you can cut out everything extraneous.
11. Show up. The simple truth to creating. You just gotta show up. It might or might not happen, you might or might not create something great, but you sure won’t create a thing if you don’t show up.
Friday, September 11, 2009
I lost a friend that day. Other people I know lost loved ones and co-workers. The city of New York lost a sense of safety and harmony and a nation lost it's perspective. I don't say that to be cruel. Perspective is a difficult thing to hold on to when the symbols of what you believe in - life, liberty, the American dream - are so violently shattered at the whim of people bent on the destruction of those values and beliefs. We're still fighting to gain perspective and to feel safe and to believe that what happened on that day 8 years ago will never, ever happen again.
Today isn't about the politics and the great divides within and with out the USA. It is about remembering that while people sought to send a message of destruction and fear, strong and courageous people stood up against that and ran into the fire and did what had to be done to save people. Many of those heroic men and woman lost their lives, but they will never, ever be forgotten. Their stories live on. And as long as they live on we can remember that while there are those who think we are selfish and spoiled and godless, the history of the American culture and government stands for something. Equality. Freedom. A better life.
We may not always agree amongst ourselves what those three things mean and what they should look like, but that's the price of freedom and that's the joy of living in a nation where I can disagree with you and we can still walk away friends.
Since today is about remembering, and for me finding hope, I bring you U2 and their wonderful song Walk On from their album All That You Can't Leave Behind. Wikipedia has some interesting facts about the song. I encourage you to read them. In the meantime, enjoy the video and please, remember. And if you can, find hope.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Fortunately, he's just looking for permission to head outside and start his running and chipmunk stalking all over again. Boy, does he make me tired.
But the joy in his little doggy face when he starts down those stairs at breakneck speed and then laps the yard while searching for something, anything to chase, that joy floors me. He takes such pleasure in the moment. He is fully present. Fully engaged. Fully alive.
I can't say the same for myself. In the last few weeks I can't pinpoint when I was last fully living in the moment. My brain is always thinking ahead to the next step in the project, the next engagement, the next something. Or I'm ruminating about the past and tearing things apart to understand motivation, reactions or how I can do things differently the next time. I analyze. Over analyze.
I put the computer down and stood out on the deck and watched Velcro Dog do his thing. And consciously let the rest go. I didn't stuff the to-do list into that dark corner of my mind where it sits and grows and rumbles and taunts. I just let it go, trusting that I had either written down the important things or the to-dos would come back to me later. I sipped some tea and for 15 minutes I closed my eyes and breathed in the fresh, slightly crisp air and breathed out the shadows that hang over my shoulders, those silent sentinels that poke and prod me into analysis mode or into a worrying planning dervish. I just let them go. Breathed. Smiled. Sipped.
And listened to the tinkle of Velcro Dog's collar as he sped past me on his laps around the yard.
Sometimes I feel like a nut. I'm learning that when I do it's time to be present - fully and completely - in the moment. I have my nutty dog to thank for that insight. I hope his joy abounds forever.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
The Lemonade Award is a feel good award which shows great attitude or gratitude.
Here are the rules:
~Put the Lemonade Award logo on your blog or post.
~Nominate at least 10 blogs that show great attitude or gratitude.
~Link your nominees within your post.
~Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
~Share the love and link to the person from whom you received the award
Here are my nominees (I'm only doing 5...)
Shannon of Blonde Ambition - a friend from the Judith McNaught Bulletin Board
Author Jill Shalvis's blog - I love her books, and her blog
Lynn Viehl of Paperback Writer - an amazing author and mentor to those who play with words
Kait Nolan of Shadow & Fang - an author in process, just like me
Zen Habits - a blog about simplifying one's life
Friday, September 04, 2009
I remember when I first met my husband. I was in my senior year of college and so ready to be done with dorm life and college and wanting to begin my "real" life. Impatient would be a good word to describe me. I was very impatient. My husband-to-be was late to college. He was a transfer student and entering his junior year. Most of us knew he was coming because the staff kept talking about this transfer student who was held up at the border (my school was in Canada. He is from the USA). About three days into classes, I was walking from the academic building to the cafeteria and this motorcycle came roaring past. Shivers ran up and down my spine and I knew it wasn't just because I had a motorcycle fetish. Something whispered in my ear that this one was special and would change my life forever.
My husband is special and he did change my life forever. Today's Soundtrack Friday is for him. One of his favorite bands is the Canadian rock band Rush. We bonded over stories of our Rush concert experiences and Roll The Bones had been their last hit album by the time we met. One of his favorite songs is Closer to the Heart and one of our favorite Rush experiences was watching Rush in Rio in the theater.
Because I love you, husband mine, I bring to the world Rush and their in-concert video of Closer to the Heart for today's Soundtrack Friday. I hope you smile when you watch it and yes, let's make the next 15 years even better than the first.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
In the last couple of years I've been fighting with my muse on my current WIP. I didn't want to write paranormal. Or fantasy. Or urban fantasy. I wanted to write a nice women's fiction story. A homecoming story. Something uncomplicated yet meaningful. Instead I kept hitting a brick wall at every turn.
It turns out that's because the story is urban fantasy meets post-modern inspirational fiction. Which means this story is going to be complex and twisty and possibly not be a stand alone book. It also means I have no idea how to market this thing once it's done. Great. A writer who is aiming for publication who now has no clue if this book that's been burning inside her is even going to find a place in the market. Nice one.
I battled it out with my muse for months but my muse finally wrestled me to the ground and I am writing some sort or paranormal/urban fantasy/supernatural book. And learning to love it. I'm not a strong plotter so I know it may take longer to write this book than originally planned. That could bum me out but I'm taking a word or two of advice from one of my favorite paranormal/urban fantasy authors - Marjorie M. Liu. I'm diving into the labyrinth and trusting my instincts while finding the heart of the story.
Maybe I'll learn to outline as I go. Or plot. But for now I'm not letting that gap in my skills keep me from moving forward. Wish me luck! I fear it's going to be a bumpy ride.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
As you can see, August was a high reading month. A lot of Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. Why? Because I like things that scare me or challenge my perceptions. Hence the reason I really liked Season 1 of Supernatural. *grin*
Branded by Fire by Nalini Singh -- The latest installment of her Psy/Changling series brings up the question of interracial love in a fresh way. If you've enjoyed previous books, you'll love this one. I believe it is the 6th book in the series.
City of Souls by Vicki Petterssen -- Book 4 of her acclaimed Signs of the Zodiac series had some interesting twists I totally did not see coming. Makes me very curious about book 5, that's for sure! Well done!
The Fire King by Marjorie M. Liu -- Not my favorite Dirk & Steele novel but very interesting and part of it takes place in my adopted home state. Anything by Marjorie is still worth the read. I'm just not sure what the title has to do with the story. Perhaps I need to reread it. *grin*
The Mommy Plan, The Baby Plan and Whose Child by Susan Gable -- I read quite a few contemporary romances in August. The books by Susan Gable were enjoyable and thought provoking. She's now on my authors to watch list. I love it when my favorite genres make you think. Mind candy - I think not! LOL.
People of the Book by Geralidine Brooks -- A wonderful mix of contemporary and historical as one woman searches out the meaning of who she is while exploring the people who have come before.
So Enchanting by Connie Brockway -- A wonderful historical romance that uses a touch of magic to explore greed, prejudice and love.
Halfway in the Grave, One Foot in the Grave, and At Grave's End by Jeaniene Frost -- Urban Fantasy meets romance in this intriguing series about a half human, half vampire woman who happens to be a vampire hunter. Her relationships are the most intriguing parts of the series, especially the relationship she has with her mother and her vampire lover/husband. Yes, very interesting indeed. Books 1 and 2 were well done. Book 3 was a little off to me, but I'm happy to read Book 4 and see where the series is going to take me.
From The Hip by Susan Mallery -- The third book in her Lone Star Sisters series is perhaps the best of the three books. Much more emotionally gripping to me and we get an even deeper glimpse at the villain and his motivation. A great set up to October's release of the final book.
Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James -- Lawyers competing for a single partner slot at the law firm where they have worked for the last 8 years sets the foundation for this story about unrequited love. This was a fun read and a great contemporary romance. It had everything that made me smile, including a heroine who is able to admit she is wrong.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Felicia Day is my hero. She doesn't know that, mainly because I haven't gone all fangirl on her and stalked her online or at all the various Cons she attends.
I love her because she's inventive, positive, and she starred in Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. If you don't know what that is, where have you been hiding for the last year or so? You're missing out on something innovative. But I digress.
Felicia Day is the brains and beauty behind the webseries The Guild, a hilarious tongue-in-cheek look at the world of Massively Multi Player Online games. MMOs for those in the know. I'm not in the know. I actually had to look that up. Think Zelda or Everquest but with an online subscription. Anyway, there is a lot of geekery that warms my heart in The Guild. Under my intellectual and savvy exterior beats the heart of a geek. And The Guild just makes me smile.
To warm up fans to season 3 of The Guild, the cast developed a music video based on a song written by two of the cast members and Whedon brother Jed. I believe his lovely wife also helped to write the music.
In just a few days Do You Wanna Date My Avatar has reached #1 for Amazon MP3 downloads and iTunes video downloads. The video on You Tube has over a millions hits. It's a cult sensation! And it also happens to be today's Soundtrack Friday's offering for you. So, if you haven't heard the song or seen the video, sit back and enjoy the cheeky and sexy geekery that is Felicia Day and the cast of The Guild and answer the perennial question, Do You Wanna Date My Avatar?
Thursday, August 20, 2009
I was perusing the blog of one of my favorite authors and read her post about a meme where you list the 10 books that are within arms reach—or scattered closest to you. My husband snorted when he read the post over my shoulder. Why? Because there probably isn't a room in my house that doesn't have 10 or some other astronomically large number of books piled or strewn about in some fashion. I mean, really. To quote Marjorie M. Liu, "a home isn’t complete without stacks and piles of [books] at every corner."
Amen, Marjorie, amen.
Currently, in the loft where I have been sitting with my leg elevated, watching a rerun of Supernatural and playing on the laptop, I have within reach:
- MINION by L. A. Banks
- COVERT PROCESSES AT WORK by Robert J. Marshak
- RT Book Club - a magazine
- THE POWER OF A PRAYING WIFE by Stormie Omartian
- KEEPSAKE by Tess Gerritsen
- THE FIRE KING by Marjorie M. Liu
- THE ACCELERATED LEARNING HANDBOOK
- THE POWER OF LESS by Leo Babauta
- PEOPLE OF THE BOOK by Geraldine Brooks
- ANGELS & DEMONS by Peter Kreeft
There are many more on an end table and on the bookshelves behind the sofa. I'm too lazy to reach further than I have to. A couple of the books are research for a book I'm writing. Some for professional development for the day job (which I do enjoy, lest anyone say otherwise), and others are books I have recently read, am reading or with to read/reread, purely for entertainment purposes.
What books or magazines are near you at the moment? And what about them strikes your fancy?