Monday, May 31, 2010

R-E-S-P-E-C-T


An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

::::::::::
 
This legend can be applied to our writing.
 
If your lives are anything like mine, you're pulled in 99 jillion directions every day. Someone needs this, you promised that, you must go here, you want to go there. Family. Friends. Responsibilities. And somewhere in all the hubbub comes the time we need to commit to our writing.
 
We need to feed what we want to nurture.
 
If we want to nurture our social lives, we go out, make friends, visit, party, mingle.

If we need to nurture our health, we pay extra attention to diet, exercise, and all the things the doctors tell us we need to do.
 
If our writing is what we choose to nurture, we need to give it the same respect we give to other areas of our lives.

Watch one less sitcom or news program and you gain thirty minutes of writing time. One night a week serve something pre-prepared for dinner and you gain at least another thirty minutes. Play one less game of solitaire. If time is your enemy, review your schedules.

Don't toss your new idea into a corner and let it gather dust. Put it on a pedestal. Talk to it. View it from all sides, top, and bottom. Play with it. Feed and water it. With attention and care from you, those ideas will grow of their own accord. If you have a problem getting from concept to completion, spend more time with your ideas.

Bottom Line? Respect.

Respect your ideas. Your ideas will respect you.

Respect your time. When you allow yourself to make time for your writing, those in your life will show more respect for your work and more respect for the choices you make.

It comes back to you. You have to be the strong one.

Respect is earned.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten signs you might need a beer:

10. You're late to pick up kids from school, back out of your driveway, and knock over your fully loaded trashcan that still hasn't been picked up.

  9. The trashcan falls on the neighbor's cat.

  8. The cat screeches and flies into the street in front of the neighbor's car.

  7. The neighbor swerves to avoid her cat and hits the streetlight pole.

  6. The streetlight falls onto the fire hydrant and opens the valve.

  5. Water fountains from the hydrant onto the cat, who's busy inspecting the spilled trash, and pushes the cat into the street. Again.

  4. The neighbor gets out of her car, tries to catch her cat, and slips on the wet pavement - right in front of the teenager from the next block who thinks he's Jimmie Johnson and Helio Castroneves rolled into one.

  3. The teenager slams on his brakes, slides into the trashcan (sending it flying into the air), up onto the sidewalk, and comes to a stop in your yard - inches from a massive oak.

  2. While you're gawking at the teen, the trash can plummets to earth upside down and lands on top of you, knocking you to the ground.

And the #1 reason you might need a beer:

  1. Your cell rings. It's your husband. "Hey, I'm bringing my boss home for dinner. Can you make lasagne?"

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Fairhope, Alabama

I promised you a Fairhope story today. I love the name of the town. It makes me smile.

Fairhope is located on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay. We headed there Sunday morning a week ago. The weather was a little drizzly with a pervasive mist in the air when it wasn't thick enough to form drops.

We found the town without any problem, but although we'd been told that Fairhope was a must-see, from the highway it looked like any other small town. A sign pointed toward the downtown area, and we followed the road.

OMG!

Mounds of flowers everywhere.

Great little shops - most of them closed on Sunday. Anything you wanted. So we window shopped only by necessity. Antiques. Clothing. Eateries. Galleries. Jewelry. Pubs. A bookshop called Page and Palette.


We arrived about ten-thirty and parked near an OPEN - hallelujah! - coffee shop. One like this (but not this one because it was closed):


As we were coming in, a couple with a baby carriage was packing up to go out. The baby was six pounds of four-day-old cute-and-cuddly. Her name was Stella, and the couple were Stella's maternal grandparents. It seems Stella's Mommy called them, FRANTIC, because sweet, beautiful, and sound-asleep Stella had kept everyone awake all night. Grandma and Grandpa to the rescue!

We ordered coffee and settled in for a little people watching. People came over and talked to us - wanted to know where we were from. We struck up a little conversation with three ladies from Louisiana. From the North Shore - that's the north shore of Lake Ponchartrain, one told me. One day I'm going to write about them.

They said they make it a point to go to Fairhope as often as they can. These ladies were in full make-up and nicely dressed. Watching them, I felt as if I were viewing an outtake from Steel Magnolias. I could've stayed and listened to them all day.

But, we wanted to see the town, rain and all, so we said goodbye. Here are some of the things we saw:


This mural extended almost the entire block
anchored by flowers at the corners.



I think more water was on the streets than in this fountain!



My favorite shot.

So I'll pass it on . . . if you're ever in coastal Alabama, go to Fairhope. It's a must-see.

You won't be disappointed.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Be Fearless

It's been so long since I've blogged about writing I almost don't know what to write about. But never fear.

Fear.

Fear is deadly. Fear can stop you mid-keystroke. Fear can turn scenes meant to be emotional, suspenseful, erotic, or whatever into skim-worthy-then-close-the-book prose.

Fear is the underlying reason some writers don't dig deep enough. Fear of what they'll find when they dig into themselves.

Fear is why some writers pull their words like a fighter pulling his punch. These writers don't want readers to know their innermost thoughts, or even thoughts from a character.

Fear is the reason some writers give up after years of work. Fear they're getting close to success - close to finally selling a manuscript - and not wanting to accept the realities that brings.

Don't let fear knock you down.

Look it in the eye. Tell it to go find someone else to pick on.

You're not going to take it anymore.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten things to mention in your query:

10. All your friends love your story.

  9. Your story will be the next mega bestseller.

  8. Your story combines the best of Rowling, Brown, Patterson, and Meyer.

  7. The protagonist is perfection.

  6. The antagonist is evil incarnated.

  5. The names of your children and/or pets.

  4. What you did on your last vacation.

  3. You're certain the agent will be a perfect match for you because both of you loved Avatar.

  2. You've made a collage of the agent's photos collected from the internet.

And the #1 thing to mention in your query:

  1. I'll call you tomorrow to make sure you received my query.

Shared with tongue firmly in cheek :)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Travelogue

What a wonderful week!

I took chapters to work on . . . and didn't even pull them out. It was so nice to reconnect with the real world and with my wonderful live-in handyman. We had a great time, especially the day we got caught in the rain.

But it's always great to be back home, no matter how much fun we had.

So I want to share a little with you.

On the way to Mobile, we stayed the first night in Lafayette and also drove over to Breaux Bridge, a fun little town that had recently held its annual crawfish festival. I love exploring places like this.

The next day, first item up was crossing the Atchafalaya Basin. The bridge is several miles long - maybe 15 or so.

Unfortuntately I don't have photos of any of these places. We didn't stop on the bridge, and I just plain forgot in Lafayette and Breaux Bridge.

But we finally made it to Mobile and settled in our - I'll call it cozy - room. We walked around, drove around, and did all sorts of different things. We were even treated to a private tour of one of the museum homes in the historic district. Here's a street scene from the downtown historic district:



Another day we went to Bellingrath Gardens. I think people try to go there in December, when it's decorated for Christmas, and in April, when the azaleas bloom. But it's May. It's totally beautiful now, so I recommend it anytime of year. Wear comfy shoes.

This was my favorite spot in the whole of the walking area. Up on a little bluff, shady, and cool:


A tiny portion of the border along the Great Lawn:


Another day we drove to Gulf Shores for seafood. On the way, we stopped in Fairhope, along the eastern shore of Mobile Bay. OMG! What an amazing town. Quaint. Beautiful.

Next Wednesday, I'll tell you a story about Fairhope, and share some more photos. But here's one to whet your appetite:



Hope you enjoyed this little bit of our vacation.

Now I'm going to spend a little time visiting some of your blogs. Can't wait to see if you stayed out of trouble what you've been up to :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday's Top Ten

Greetings from Mobile, Alabama, USA!

Top ten things I've experienced so far on this trip that are different from Texas:

10. Truck zones

  9. Wicked road layouts

  8. Pretend nachos

  7. Beautiful bayou country

  6. A peanut butter cookie the size of Texas

  5. Lots of law enforcement working the interstate

  4. Magnolia blossoms everywhere

  3. Disturbing odors from time to time

  2. The Mississippi

And the #1 thing I've experienced so far on this trip that is different from Texas:

  1. Different Southern accents

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

On the Road Again

By the time most of you read this, we'll be someplace on I-10 headed east. Live-in Handyman is taking the doggies to the kennel as I type. We don't always make it, but we try to get away at least once a year.

Last year we went to Charleston. You can read about one of the highlights from that trip here.

This year we're going to Mobile. Yes, that Mobile. The one with the oil headed its way. But our trip has been planned for months and is in conjunction with a Coast Guard event.

Mobile is also the birthplace of my live-in handyman. He was a little boy when he left, and although we've been through Mobile many times, we've never stopped. So he's looking forward to this opportunity to see all the places he's only heard about from his parents.

He's not much for flying, though - only if it's a must. Otherwise, he's all about traveling with four wheels on the ground. So we're taking a laid-back approach to getting there this year instead of his "as far as we can get in one day and then some" approach. Mostly because of his ankle. He's not supposed to sit for too long at a time without propping it up for a while.

We plan to spend tonight in Lafayette, Louisiana - in the heart of Cajun Country. I'm looking forward to some fantastic food.

Thursday we'll continue on to Mobile. Then we'll be back home in San Antonio either next Tuesday or Wednesday.

I'll be posting while we're away, but I might need to vary a little from my usual schedule since I don't know what sort of time I'll have or what interesting things I'll have to pass on. And I have to share the laptop. At least it's a new one and not the same clunker from last year that was almost too pooped to even boot up. I'll visit your blogs as I'm able.

Next update ... from the road :)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Got Sleep?

After a whirlwind weekend, today I was behind before I woke up. Before I woke up the second time, that is.

I went to bed about midnight. Shiner woke me up barking about 4:30. I'm sure he was barking at either a cat or a deer. Both are known to prowl around here by the light of the moon. Or even if there's no moon.

Shiner - sweet soul that he is - has a very loud howling bark. I didn't get up, but I couldn't go back to sleep. My live-in handyman turned over and was snoozing again within five minutes. Not me. I tossed. Turned. Pushed the covers down. Pulled them up. Did it all again. And again.

Live-in Handyman slept until 6:15, his usual time to get up. I know this because I was still awake. Since I didn't get up with the dog, I didn't get up with him, either. But by that point, to be honest, I was drifting in and out of sleep.

The next thing I knew, it was almost ten. YIKES!

So I slept for about eight hours, but in two shifts. I should've just got up and put in a couple hours writing time between naps.

Next time.

Gotta run ... lots of time to make up today.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten fictional characters I'd invite to a dinner party:

10. Robinson Crusoe

  9. Jane Eyre

  8. James Bond

  7. Holly Golightly

  6. Atticus Finch

  5. Clarice Starling

  4. Jason Bourne

  3. Stephanie Plum

  2. Harry Potter

And the #1 fictional character I'd invite to a dinner party:

  1. Scarlett O'Hara

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wednesday What Nots

I'm happy to report that so far my new schedule is working. It's been two days, and not a peep from Play-With-Me.

You may have forgotten that I'm a news junkie. Maybe the headlines - oil in the Gulf, Tennessee flooding, the Times Square bomb - have kept Play-With-Me's attention elsewhere.

Whatever. I'm just happy to have my writing time back.

Moving on, let's chat a minute about food.

I'm taking a little informal survey. Not a poll, just comment if you'd like.

What sort of food do you like in the summer?

I'm not talking about special food, or take-out, or anything that takes hours of prep time.

Summer is fun, hot, busy. No one wants to eat heavy meals. At least no one in my household.

What's your secret for keeping your family nutritiously fed?

And now, photos of the doggies to share:


WOOF: "Is it treat time? Is it? Is it?"


ARF: "Hurry up. already. I have squirrels to chase."

==========

A NEW WHAT NOT

After you finish here at the Tiki Hut today,
go here:
http://elspeth-itsamystery.blogspot.com/2010/05/writers-journey.html

Elspeth tells it how it REALLY is.

Trust me ... you'll LOVE it!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Change It Up

I don't know about you - or about anyone else - but I am my own worst enemy.

Let me give you an example.

I love having structure to my life. My live-in handyman calls it a rut. But what does he know?

I'm not much of a morning person, and while I can jump-to-it immediately, I prefer to wake up more gradually so my brain doesn't feel like a bumper car. So I spend a bit of time in the mornings drinking a couple cups of coffee while reading and writing email, reading news articles, checking my horoscope for giggles and grins, and blogging. I have to do those things anyway, right?

Downing the last sip of coffee is my signal to get to work.

This is where the problem begins.

I'll work along with my schedule for a certain amount of time, and all is well. I'm focused. I accomplish my goals. No problems. The amount of time that all goes well varies. Sometimes it might be as short as a week. Other times, it may last for months.

Then . . . another part of my brain gets bored and starts skipping stones across my day, causing ripples in all sorts of places. Nothing gets done.

When this happens, I have to change my schedule around so the other part of my brain is happy. I'm doing that today. Wish me luck.

"They" say we have a right brain and a left brain. I think I must have a right brain, a left brain, and a play-with-me brain.

Just shoot me and put me out of my misery.