It figures. Yesterday was a chaotic day from hell and what happens?
I have an idea for a novella.
Isn't that the way? You have a day when it's all hitting the fan and suddenly your muse decides to return from it's Grand Canyon vacation, or wherever the heck he was anyway.
It actually started out as a short story. I had to take my laptop to work for a meeting and decided to write a rough draft of this vague idea I had for a sci-fi story. I spent the entire hour writing and still wasn't satisfied. It was while I was hustling through the afternoon portion of the chaos that it hit me: What I just wrote was part of a bigger story. So I dug up some of my research from when I wrote Splinter. I brainstormed. And darn if I didn't come up with an outline by the time I left for work today.
The good news is that the story is set in the Jovan system just like Splinter, so I don't need to do any additional research. Well, that I know of now, anyway. You know how things pop up as you write. But still, I can reuse a lot of it and many of the pieces are in place. I'm so excited! I think this will be my summer writing project. And you know me - I'm most content when I'm working on a writing project.
Here's the basic outline I came up with:
Prologue - History of the future
1. Jovan Council discovers a nuclear weapon has been detonated on Earth & the magnetosphere is showing signs of shifting.
2. Council reviews/debates consequences. Speculates on causes. Decides to ban further immigration from Earth due to radiation & uncertain political situation.
3. Ship openly goes to Earth to deliver sentence.
4. Return to Jovan system to confirm the mission is complete.
Epilogue - Earth's fate.
This is general and will likely be changed by the time I finish part 1. Still, it's a plan to work from, and a plan is good. Truth is, I don't even have a working title, and I'm still not sure what Earth's fate will be. I suppose it depends on whether I'm having a good day or a bad day when I get around to writing that part :)
I'd like to keep this in the range of a novella; perhaps 20,000 - 25,000 words. I'd like for it to be longer than Quarantine but not a full length novel. I need to get some more "quick reads" out there for readers. People seem to enjoy those. Since it's so short, I plan to self-publish this piece.
Of course, I'll keep you updated on my progress and will no doubt share excerpts as it progresses.
That's all today. Take care and have a great rest of the week.
Ah, Labor Day weekend - the unofficial last weekend of fall. How do you feel about that? Do you say "welcome fall" and embrace the change of seasons, or are you a bit blue that summer's waning?
I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, it's been a brutally hot summer. It was nice to have Isaac bring in some more moderate temperatures last week, but it has been warm again yesterday and today. Not that I mind the hot. I'd rather sweat than shovel snow anytime. But it is nice to have temperatures a bit more moderate. Human beings can live in 80 degree weather. But 110? Not so easy.
It's also kind of nice being able to go out to lunch again without every place being so crowded. With so many people "out and about" between school being out and traveling, I had to cut back on going out to lunch because I couldn't get in and out of places in an hour during my lunch break. Running errands was tricky too. It's nice to have our population sufficiently spread out so that it's possible for me to eat out or pick up a few things at the store during my lunch break without having to stress over getting back to the office by 2. And I'm talking about places right around the corner from my office!
But on the other hand, I am sad that summer's ending. Spring and summer are my favorite seasons. I like the warm weather, and the long days. It's already getting dark noticably earlier than it was a few months ago. The bluebirds have moved out of the birdhouse and won't be back. The rose blooms are smaller. And the cicadas don't chirp nearly as much as they did. There is something a bit melancholy about things winding down.
Not that there's anything wrong with fall. People are back on a routine, so there's less stress with "covering" for vacations - and when you do go out, it's less crowded. There's also college football and fall festivals and TV shows starting their new seasons soon. I have to admit that the reruns are getting old.
I changed some of the house decorations from summer to fall yesterday and it was a mixed bag for me. It was sad to put the roses away, but the fall bouquet is an inspring spalsh of color in that entry way - the yellows and oranges just look great and are a nice change of pace. And switching from roses to apple cinnamon isn't so bad either. It's nice to have something different. There are, after all, merits in every season.
That's all today. Have a great Labor Day weekend. Be safe, have fun, and enjoy an extra day off.
Wow, we come home from a great vacation in Gatlinburg, TN to record heat. Today it was 109 degrees - a new record high temperature for us. And it's not just us here in central SC - I hear a lot of the eastern part of the country is under heat advisories for weather just like this.
Fortunately, 100+ degree weather isn't too strange to us around these parts. Truth be told, this year's heat wave came late, considering that we were breaking the century mark in May and early June over the past couple of years. So naturally we know what to do when it gets hot. The weather forecasters have given you their tips: Stay indoors, wear light colored clothing, limit exercise, stay hydrated, limit or avoid alcohol intake - these are all great tips. But I have a few more that I've picked up over the years that might not only help you keep cool, but keep those power bills from shooting up with the mercury in the thermemoter:
1. Keep your blinds/shades closed, and if you have curtains, close them. A lot of people raised their eyebrows at us when we put up dark colored panels in our master bedroom and the other front rooms in our house, until the next summer when they saw how good those dark panels are at keeping heat out and cool in.
2. Electronics and appliances put off a lot of heat, so you might want to limit use of them. The biggest culprits are ovens, dryers, and computers. Consider preparing meals that take a bit less time in the oven or on the stovetop. Only run full loads of laundry and dishes. Use cooling mats for laptops. Consider skipping the surround sound system when you watch television during the day at least.
3. Use fans, but only in rooms that you're in. Fans work to help evaporate moisture in your skin as well as to circulate air, which means they don't do much good if you aren't in the room with them. So only use fans in the rooms you're using.
4. Turn off the lights! Only turn on lights in rooms you're in, and try to use as few as possible. You might think a light bulb can't put off much heat, until you try to change one that was just on. Yea, those suckers can indeed get hot.
5. Those sun shades you see in cars might not look extremely fashionable, but they work. If you park outside for any length of time at all, get one and use it. Also, crack your windows or open your sun room to let air circulate and prevent your car from becoming a sauna (and potentially busting a window, which can happen if too much hot air gets trapped in there and can't get out).
6. Stick to indoor activities. I know it's tempting to head for the pool or the water park on extremely hot days, but that fun in the sun can wear you out. Consider seeing a movie or heading to an indoor shopping complex instead. Or better yet, just stay home. Read a book, do arts and craft projects, play a game, watch a DVD and make microwave popcorn, call a friend on the telephone - just stay in the AC.
7. Skip the sneakers and socks. Wear sandals or slide on shoes that you can wear without socks. And put baby powder on your feet to keep them dry and cool. If your feet are cool, it will be easier for you to cool off. I'm not sure why this is, but someone gave me this tip in high school and it works. It also works in reverse too - when it gets extremely cold this winter, put away the flip flops and put on socks.
8. Consider cool meals and snacks. Salads, ice cream, popcicles, watermelon, pineapple, cantelope - you can even stick apples in the refridgerator and they make good, cool snacks.
9. Take it slower. When the nighttime lows are above 70 degrees, it doesn't give your body or the environment time to rebound. That means that you're more prone to exhaustion and heat related problems. Your body is busy enough trying to stay cool, so what you normally do could put more strain on you than you realize. This is why the meterologists tell you to make sure you stay hydrated and to limit exercise when it gets extremely hot. I usually cut back my treadmill time and try to space out my housework more so I'm not pushing myself as hard as I usually do when it gets extremely hot. Likewise, you might want to try to get more sleep too.
10. I know you've been told this, but PLEASE bring in your pets and make sure they have plenty of cool, fresh water. If you're hot, imagine how they feel with feather/fur coats on! And animals can't sweat to cool off, so they usually have to adapt in other ways like drinking more or immercing themselves in water. Come to think of it, Chloe wasn't as disagreeable about her shower tonight as she usually is and she isn't pouting as much either ...
So there are a few more tips from a native southerner on how to adapt to the heat. Because I don't care what they say - you can't really beat it. I've tried for almost 37 years anyway and I obviously haven't won that battle or we all wouldn't be cooking these days. But I've learned to adapt, and I hope sharing some of what I've learned can help you adapt as well.
Happy Friday to you. Have a great weekend.
Hi everybody; I hope you're off to a great start to the week. Remember my last entry, when I said that the truth was showing itself? Well, it happened again. Somebody that turned on me got turned on by the very person they were defending. All I can say is to pick your tirades carefully. You look like more of an igit than they do when they show themselves. It's not judging in this case. It's truth showing itself, as it always does.
I tell you, reaping and sowing is so true that it seems people would have a reverential fear of it. Granddaddy certainly respected this as a life truth, and I see why. Heck, my own experiences have taught me that lesson, and other people remind me of it all the time. If I ever forget to check myself, I only need to live for a day to be reminded.
Anyway, moving on ...
I finally started my next writing project: Improving my skills at writing short stories. It's something I've long neglected. I've known for a long time that I need to study up on writing stronger short stories, but I've always pushed it to the background to work on novels. Well, I'm ready now. I found a couple of ebooks on writing better short stories, and I did a couple of drafts of 600+ word stories that I posted to my portfolio at Writing.com for feedback. I hope this works as well as it did with the novels. I made progress with them fast - in a matter of months! We'll see.
Hopefully, my meeting schedule is letting up. In fact, Wednesday is the last meeting on my schedule until February. That doesn't mean that some won't pop up. In fact, I'm certain they will. But the degree of formality should be much less. Nothing to up the ante on the dress code at least (I hope!).
I can't believe it's almost Halloween! I know a lot of people said it was a long, hot summer, but it seemed to leave without warning. I was out watering my roses and thinking, I can't believe these will probably be my last blooms of the season. So I cut 3 of them and put them in a bud vase in the kitchen. One last taste of temperate weather. I'm sure the first freeze is probably a matter of weeks away.
You know what I believe my problem really is? It's not the season, it's displacement. Usually, Fall is a natural season of winding down, but I don't feel like winding down. I'm marketing a book, have another one on the way, and am focusing on improving in another area of writing. I usually slow down this time of year, but I just don't want to this year. Then again, the reason I did that in the past was because we went into license renewals at work around this time of year - but since they changed us to biennial license renewals, well, there are no renewals because everything is valid through 2013. Wow, that's odd! This will be my first year without license renewals since I started this job over 12 years ago. No wonder I feel like something is missing - it is! It's amazing that this one change in my job is causing so many adjustment issues. I don't need to wind down at home in preparation to gear up at work. Everything is different, but you know what? I'm not really bothered or upset by it. I see it as opportunity
Yes, life has a rhythem to it and mine's been thrown, but I'm sure I'll find a way to establish a new rhythem. I've never done much writing in the fall before last year when I participated in NaNo, so this will be carving out a new experience for me. I think I want to keep this up and see where it can go. It's refreshing, and kind of exciting!
Well, there are snippits of a little bit of everything going on in my life. I hope you're doing well. Somebody will be back later to update - and since I'm doing short stories, who knows what it will be? A character? A new draft? More in my Sidekicks to Superhereos series? Who knows? You'll have to stay tuned.
That's all tonight. Take care.
I cant' believe tomorrow is Labor Day and the summer will be over. Well, summer isn't "officially" over for a few more weeks - maybe a month or more based solely on the weather - but Labor Day is the end of the summer season. Wow, where did it go?
If I had to sum up this summer, I'd call it a perfect reflection of real life. There have been highs - like publishing a book, and lows - like 2 friends dying of cancer. And everything in between. It hasn't been perfect, but I honestly can't call it bad either. And I feel I must add that there were so many great movies out this summer too - the DVD's coming out this fall are going to be awesome!
I know a lot of people say it's been a long, hot summer. I'll agree with hot, but long? No. It seems we were just having our spring free thrift day at the church - but that was in mid May. It doesn't seem like over 3 months ago but it was. Time flies. Granddaddy always warned me to not wish my life away, but I suppose it's equally futile to cling to the past. Best to live in the present.
Am I ready for fall? Doesn't seem to matter - it's coming at the speed of time and it is what it is. I suppose one thing I do need to accomplish this fall is finishing up Splinter. That's the novel I was working on before the contracts for Blurry and Anywhere But Here came along. I suppose I better get that wrapped up before Anywhere But Here goes into pre-production in early 2012 if I want to submit it for publication next spring.
Well, that's my musing for the day. Enjoy your Labor Day. It's supposed to be a rainy one here, but that's ok. The summer came in with some vicious storms (and power outages at interesting times and under interesting circumstances too). I suppose it's natural it should go out that way.
Goodbye, Summer 2011! It's been real.
Hi everybody; I hope you're having a great weekend. Today is kind of a slow going day for me, which is refreshing. It's nice to not be rushing around all day!
My wrist is feeling better, and I'm glad it healed quickly because I've had a lot of writing ideas lately. Over the past couple of weeks, I've done some flash fiction, some non-fiction, and now I have ideas for two more pieces. One will be fiction and the other is non-fiction/inspirational. I'm glad that I'm inspired to write things in different genres. One thing I don't want is to be a one-trick wonder. I like writing in a variety of genres and styles. Although fiction is my favorite, I'm pleased that my inspiration for the non-fiction work that got me started seems to be returning. I'm probably rusty in that area, but I'll brush up. I do believe it's time to make my muse evolve and to embrace both fiction and non-fiction as fully as possible!
Tomorrow is Rick's birthday, and my birthday is next Friday (August 26th). I think Rick is a bit down about getting another year older - you know, the whole magic of birthdays is kind of lost after you turn 21. But honestly, my age isn't bothering me too much. I know mid-30's bother a lot of people, and from time to time I do ask myself how the hell I got to turning 36 in a week. But by and large, I have to say that I don't feel old. Wiser, definitely, and extremely grateful for that. More life experience to draw on, which is a good thing. Wishing I looked more like I did 10 years ago but Rick still compliments me so I guess I'm still in "average" range with the looks, which isn't bad. But not old. No, I'm not feeling the mid-life crisis right now. Guess I'll have to have it later.
But I would like to take this opportunity to publiclly wish Rick a Happy Birthday tomorrow.
It hasn't been as hot lately, and I'm grateful. A lot of people are saying they're ready for summer to be over so this hot weather will pass. Yes, it's been brutally hot, but truthfully I'm not eager to see summer go. Why? What would we be wishing away. Extreme heat for what - extreme cold? No thanks. Actually, I hate the cold, so I'll cope with the heat. And as I said, it's been more seasonable lately, so it hasn't been bad. So no, I don't want to see summer go. I still like it. I like the sunshine and long days, the green plants and blue sky, and the fact that the world is still alive. And there's something almost charming about a summer storm. In fact, I believe one is brewing now. I hear wind and thunder.
Well, that's all today. Just some random musings. I hope you're having a good weekend. Take care. More later.
I am hoping that the "wow" factor is coming back into my life. After a year and a half of not finding it anywhere but in writing my own novels, it seems to be making a return. Bless it, and I hope it stays. It seems that the older I get, the harder it gets to, for lack of a better term, knock my socks off. I don't know if it's because I've been stressed out with so much change in my life lately, if life itself has jaded me into just not caring as much, or if the effort hasn't been put in by others to produce outstanding efforts.
I will admit that I have just started reading and watching new movies again, after quite a long hiatus. In fact, I've been to the movies three times in as many weeks, which must be a new record for me. "Thor" was the first movie that I saw since "The Chronicles of Narnia - Prince Caspian." The reason for this is simple: Going to the movies is kind of expensive, so if I'm going to spend that money to sit in the same place for 2-3 hours, then it better captivate me. And you know me - I'm a plot junkie that loves movies that spend a ridiculous amount of money on special effects. "Thor" certainly met that criteria, and today we saw "X-Men: First Class." All I can say is that between the 2 movies, my eyes nearly popped out from all the outstanding effects - and they had great story lines too. They definitely had the wow factor going, and it was great to see it again. I'm glad to see more will be coming in the way of "The Green Lantern" and "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." The summer of superheros is what I've heard it called, and it's right - but that's alright with me. I love this stuff.
I'll tell you what else is alright with me: I'm writing again! That's why I haven't blogged here in a while. I've been working on a short story, 2 flash fiction pieces, and yesterday I had an idea for another short story. One very common theme that seems to be running through them all is transitions - especially in the sense of endings and new beginnings. That's understandable, considering the events in my life over the past year. It concerned me a bit, but I decided to just roll with it and see if there are ways to package it differently in each piece. Why not? I've always written what was in me before, so why try to push myself to something I'm not feeling now? Reality inspires fiction, and frankly it's good to work on short stories after over 18 months of working on novels. Don't get me wrong; I love writing novels, but it's good to do something different every now and then. Novels are so intensive, and short stories are great because you can do a burst of work here and there and have something great.
So I have the "wow" factor going in entertainment and writing now, and I'm glad for it. Let's keep that train running for as long as we can! Now if only I could find more time to read. Well, as hot as it's getting outside already, I suspect I'll be doing more reading this summer since it's way to hot to be outside!
That's all for this time. I hope your summer is off to a great start. So far, I have to say I'm pretty happy with where this one is going. I pray it stays on this great track.
I can't believe it: I twisted my ankle on the treadmill again. The last time I did this was almost 2 years ago, and I wound out with a sprain. Darn if it isn't the same ankle, in the same place, again.
I must either be clumsy, a special kind of idiot, or a little bit of both!But on the bright side, at least it's not the wrist. I got tendinitis in my right wrist a year ago. The sprained ankle hurt more, but the tendinitis in the arm was a lot more inconveient. Between my day job in professional licensing and my writing, I type a lot. That arm injury put me to a lot more trouble than dragging around a bum ankle did.
Ok, truth is that any injury is inconvenient. I guess the wrist injury just threatened me more psychologically because so much of my life depends on typing. Anyway, I'll pray it's not sprained and will heal quickly and make do until it quits pinching/aching.
In other news, I typically do my big, super duper season finale round up in my blog this time each year, but this year it won't be so big because, well, I didn't watch much TV. I guess between the mind-blowing changes of a new jobs and the in-laws moving, writing a novel, researching publishing and then promotion once I got the contract for Anywhere But Here, and Rick working on the church website, we just didn't tune it to much this season. In fact, all we really watched were our normal shows: Smallville and Supernatural. So here goes with my take on those shows:
Smallville - the final season was a good one, although I feel they really should have played up the Justice Society a lot more than they did. Still, they squeezed a lot in, and there's no denying that the finale was epic. I'd go so far to say that's the best finale I've ever seen - so well done. This show had it's ups and downs over it's 10 year run, but overall I say well done. I'm going to miss it.
Supernatural - not as good as the previous 5 years. I can't say I was overly enthusiastic about the turn they took towards creatures this season. It would seem to me that averting the Apocolypse would have bigger ramifications on the sides of angels and demons than we saw. Indeed, they built up to that late in the season, but I believe that's a story line they could have played all season, if they wanted. I also can't help but wonder if they couldn't have done more with the whole purgatory thing. I knew all along that the wall in Sam's head would come crashing down, but they did surprise me in how it happened, and that finale did not end the way I expected at all. So overall I was not as impressed with this season, but I do see potential for development next season. I would say to them to use it wisely.
Now I ask the question I ask every year this time: What am I going to do now that everything is in reruns for the summer? I should be hearing from my publisher on Anywhere But Here in the next month, so I expect that ball will be rolling this summer. More reading, of course, and more researching on improving my writing and promoting it. Hopefully this writer's block will life and I'll be able to get back to writing short stories like I planned this summer. And, of course, we have Netflix - so between that and a summer of super hero movies, I imagine I will be well entertained in the coming months (if Thor is any indication, amazing stories and special effects will rule this summer!). I don't believe there's any chance of me being bored during this long, hot summer - which, by the way, has already started. It was 97 degrees today. No joke! And forecast to be more of the same through mid week. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, summer has hit the Southeast U.S. whether we're ready or not!
That's all for this time. I hope you have a great week and will try to check in again soon. Take care and stay cool!
Hi all; I hope you're doing well and off to a great start to the week. Well, summer's here. Oh, I know the calendar says not for over a month, but here in the South, it's summer. How can I tell? The obvious signs, of course!
1. It's hot, plain and simple. Highs in the 80's. Lows in the 50's - 60's. Time for sunshades in cars and AC on day and night.
2. We have to run the sprinklers again. Significant rain stops in May and starts again around November. Sure, we get occasional wrath-of-God thunderstorms, but it's never enough rainfall to save you from sprinkler duty for long!
3. Days are longer. Light lingers in the sky until after 8PM.
4. Season finale's of TV shows start running this week. (I still can't believe Smallville is running their last episode Friday!)
5. Pack up the socks and polish the toenails! Every day is sandal day now.
6. Nature is singing - the roses are blooming and the birds are eating like crazy (wild and domestic, but please don't tell Chloe I put it in such an "undignified" way!).
7. Rick wants ice cream in the freezer at all times.
8. Standardized testing at the schools!
9. Big movie releases every Friday.
10. Writer's block! My muse has slacked off, thereby signaling the end of the winter writing blitz.
Hey, everybody's definition of summer is different and this is mine. It might be a bit early, but I don't see the harm in starting it a bit early. Why not? All signs point to the summer pattern starting now. Let's hope it's a good one. And not too many 100+ degree days this year!
Not a Royal Watcher? Take heart! It's a big world out there, and if Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding doesn't captivate you, you can rest in knowing there are plenty of things coming this summer that, in my opinion, are much more interesting. For example:
1. Smallville Series Finale - The longest running sci-fi series comes to a close on May 13th, when young Clark Kent finally meets his destiny and becomes the Man of Steel. And to add more excitement, the original Lex Luthor is coming back. Check out espisodes, previews and more at http://www.cwtv.com/shows/smallville
2. X-Men - First Class. Oh come on, you know you love the muntants! Opens June 3, but you can check out the preview at http://movies.yahoo.com/feature/x-men-first-class.html?showVideo=1#belowNav
3. The Green Lantern - This was my favorite superhero as a child, and the preview I saw this past weekend blew me away! They're getting all the way into the story: Aliens, universal war, and the end of the world - hooray! Movie opens in 3D on June 17. Check it out at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/23/green-lantern-extended-trailer_n_852851.html
4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 - opens on July 15th. Even though I found myself saying "the board is set; the pieces are moving" at the end of Part 1, I'm interested in seeing how "it all ends." The first preview comes tonight on ABC Family and, no doubt, will be just a web search away come tomorrow morning.
5. Captain America - The First Avenger opens July 22. Watch the trailer at http://www.bing.com/movies/search/trailers?q=The+First+Avenger%3a+Captain+America&id=222f3d09-83db-4249-97c6-11c4e1ad3dcb&v=15b91e31-0187-447b-828e-66d60c1fba4a&FORM=DTPMVO
Maybe it's silly, but it seems to me that this summer, fiction will be much more interesting than reality. Then again, I'm a novelist. You should expect as much from me.
So if you aren't setting your DVR for 4AM Friday morning, don't fret. There are 6 billion people in the world. If they expect 2 billion to tune in, well, that makes the non-watchers the majority!
Have a happy week all, whether you watch the wedding or not.