Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reflecting

Guess this is the usual time to reflect on good things that happened to me in the past year. Weeellll...I'm really trying hard to think of something. I'm happy and blessed I still have my job and my kids are healthy.

Ahhhhhh...::sigh::...but when it comes to my writing, this hasn't been a good year. Not one final. Not one good rejection (like asking to see something else or the submission revised). Of course I entered the least contests in the last six years and a couple of those I came real close.

Geez, I know it's time to follow the advice I heard on my favorite soap opera and posted about. For sure, what I've been doing isn't getting it done. Deep inside, I know my writing has improved a thousand percent. I feel stagnated. With the pressure my hubby has been giving me to quit, I have to do something to show forward movement.

So here's to change. Nothing drastic. Yet. But if this new year doesn't bring a contract of some type, I'm quiting everything. Of course, I'll continue to write but only for myself. Next year will be twenty-five years of trying. If it doesn't happen, then I have to realize I don't have what it takes. I'll have to quit for my own sanity and health.

I have twelve months. Who knows.

In the meanwhile, I hope everyone's dreams come true. Including my own.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Top of The Alphabet

Like a lot of romance readers, I love reading about an alpha male. I love how they can be bossy, oversexed and still show a tender side. The best part is that they're all fantasy. No, I don't mean there isn't real life alpha males out in the real world. It's just I like those in books and my head better.

The other day, I was reading one of my new favorite authors latest short story. In the same book was another well-known author's short story. I had tried to read another story from that well-known author before and never finished it as I hadn't liked the way the story was going. In fact, stopped half way through the first chapter. So I thought, she's become rather popular and if so many people like her, I need to give her another try.

It started out pretty good. I really liked her heroine and the way it was going. The plot and certain devices was just the type of stuff I liked. New and different. Then the hero started talking. He was alpha but dumb as a box of rocks. I cannot stand books where one or the other of the main characters are stupid. They can be from different worlds (literally) and be ignorant of customs, but don't make them dumb. I didn't finish it. Will I try this well-known author again. No.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Favorite Authors

As everyone who loves to read, I have my favorite authors. You know the ones you'll buy as soon as their next book hits the stands and you pick up without even reading the back blurb.

I had one favorite I had read since the late seventies. Loved her books until about four years ago. I picked up the book and started reading it and realized it was an old plot I had seen tie and time again back in the seventies. Where two sisters fall in love with the same man. One sister is shy and a goodie-two-shoes, and the other a total bitch. Of course, the bad sister pulls a dirty stunt and gets the guy for part of the book. Well, I didn't even finish the book. I felt the author had an old manuscript sitting under her bed she pulled out to meet a deadline. It wouldn't be so horrible if she could've updated it. Not sure how, but I haven't picked up another book of hers since. Nearly thirty years, and one book did it. Truthfully the last two or three books I hadn't really been that happy with.

There's another old time favorite (since early eighties) about to fall to the wayside. Out of the last seven books she's written, I've really only enjoyed three. She had another book to come out before Christmas and I haven't even bothered picking it up. I'm waiting until it comes out in paperback. I've heard several people complain that they believe she pulled an old manuscript out and sent it in to meet a deadline. It was more suited in length and depth to a series imprint.

Then a new time favorite's (this decade) last book, a new series, was too long with a lot of narrative that could've been cut, making it a faster pace and a more interesting story. Her original series had floundered in the last two or three stories, but I was hanging in there. I heard the next one in the series is about a character everyone expects to be great. I hope she doesn't disappoint me. I do know I doubt I will read her new series.

I think what's happening with the authors is 1) pressure from their editors to produce books quickly and often has hurt the quality of the books. That certainly can hurt your creative side. 2) Once an author is successful, the editor doesn't want to take the chance the author will become angry and not sign the next contract. So they let big tomes be published. You and I know that 9 times out of 10, a good chunk can be taken out and still tell the same story with the same depth. Usually making the story better and a quicker pace. 3) The cost of living is up and authors are living in bigger homes, expecting more and they know if they write more, they can make more money. That kind of pressure has to be tough.

Something else I believe is that I'm growing as a reader at the pace I am as a writer. Now that I understand goal, motivation, and conflict, and how narrative can slow down a story and how to rack up the tension, I expect more out of books. Yeah, I'm getting picky about the books I read and I have certain expectations.

No. I'm not reading so called literary literature. I'm still an one song type of girl. I love romance. May it be contemporary, paranormal or historical. I've got to have my boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl break up, boy and girl decide they cannot live without each other and they marry. Basic, but my kind of book.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Too Much Of A Good Thing

Yesterday, I mentioned an uncle of mine. Let me tell you a little about him. He married his wife when she was fourteen and I believe he was in his early twenties. She'd sworn to him she was eighteen. Anyway, her parents obviously wanted her out of the house as they signed the marriage certificate. He then signed up for the air force and did a lot of traveling over the next several years. There's a lot of craziness to say about them, but the part I wanted to tell was how his wife calls him darling. As she's southern and never lost her accent during their travels, it comes out more like darrrrling.

So if you were around them, you would hear, "Darrrrling, do you want a glass of tea?" "Darrrrling bought that for us last week" "I'm going into the other room, Darrrrling." You get the idea. Every sentence spoken to or of my uncle by my aunt starts or ends with the elongated word darling.

Well, one time my uncle and aunt went on vacation with my dad and his wife. On the first day, all he heard was darrrrling this, darrrrling that until he thought he would scream. Finally, he turned to my aunt and said, "His name is Mark (name changed to protect the not so innocent) I swear the next time I hear you call him darrrrling, I'll pop you in the mouth." My dad isn't a violent man and my uncle didn't protest as he knew first, my dad wouldn't really hit her and second my dad had obviously had enough. For many years after that whenever she was in my dad's presence she would call her husband by his given name. I understand how my dad feels. She'd fallen back into the habit again around my dad and after only a couple hours, I felt the same way.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

What Comes Out Of Your Mouth

I was overall a good girl this past week. Usually during the stress of being around and talking with so many relatives, I usually insult someone. I'm rather outspoken and really have a short fuse when it comes to way people act foolish and say ignorant things. Yet at the same time I've learned, not only do I not know everything, my opinion only matters to me and when I say how I feel about it, I come across as a bitch. Really, I believe live and let live as long as their stupidity doesn't harm children, especially mine.

Case in point: One relative is talking about how her grandson has stayed with her and his grandfather for the last week. She sighs and tells us they will be picking him up again to stay the next week with them. She moans how she never has alone time with her retired husband or to be by herself as she's off work next week. Now to me, it's simple. Tell the grandson, "I love you but you'll have to wait until next weekend and only stay a couple nights. Grandma and Grandpa need to do some things alone." Sure it's nice their grandson wants to be with them (they spoil him horribly and he dislikes his step-father), but you have to teach the child limitations.

Why moan and groan about it if you're going to give in to the child? Is it her way of bragging that her grandchild rather stay with her than his own mother? Personally I never understood that. If a child doesn't miss his mother, then what is the mother doing wrong?

I was a good girl. I just sat there with a stupid grin on my face, eyebrows raised and nodded with sympathy that I didn't feel.

So many times I heard people complain about something they could easily set their foot down and tell another person no or get off their butts and take care of the problem themselves. See, that's how I feel about it. I see a problem, I have two choices: I can do something about it or I can shut up. At the Christmas gatherings, I kept my mouth shut. That was the second choice. They really didn't want my opinion or my help. They just enjoy complaining about each other. And by me answering their whining in the past, I received nothing but a horrible reputation with my families. I spoke out too much. So now they can flounder in their indecisiveness as they really don't want my opinion.

Another attitude that bothered me was how adults talked about their children. During each of the get-togethers, they would say things in front of their children like, "I can't wait until they graduate and out of the house" or "Hey there, bubble-head" or "He acts so gay" or "He better plan on a tech school, he'll never get in a university" or the one I hate the most (as my mom use to say in front of me, "She's sweet? If only you lived with her."

Then these same people go around wondering why their children have self-esteem issues?

Hey, I know I wasn't a perfect parent, but I was cautious of what I said to my kids. I always TRIED to say positive things and whenever someone told me, "Your daughter is so sweet." Even today I always say, "Yes, she is." And I believe it. I'm fortunate and blessed. No. My children are not perfect. They have made mistakes and will make others. But so have I. I just refused to air them to everyone in effort to make myself sound like a martyr.

Oh, the biggy happened yesterday. An uncle I rarely see (maybe ten times in forty years) and who is really a nice guy, but not too bright, pointed to my youngest daughter (who's about to turn twenty-two) and said, "Carla, is she your granddaughter?"

The people around us became very quiet. I figured they were waiting for me to explode and tell him off, instead I turned away and asked my nephew how his wife was doing as she wasn't there. I'm sure someone told my uncle he'd made a big faux pas as he never asked it again.

Yep, I was a good girl.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Eve

When we were kids, my sister would almost tear down the house looking for the gifts mom would buy us. I'm certain she found her gifts several times. But only once did she tell me of where mom had hid them. I remembered how she whispered, "Come and see what I found." Being the not-so-bright little sister I followed her into mom's bedroom. She opened the closet and pulled out a couple bags. Inside were our Christmas presents. I remember I didn't stick around long to see what mom had gotten me. I was scared of getting caught. But more than that I didn't want to know. I like good surprises. Small, big, expensive, cheap. Doesn't matter. Just being surprised is part of the magic of Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Stained Glass Windows

Today, I was sitting in my husband's truck outside an insurance company while he was getting a quote. The company was near my church. It's funny how you look at a building differently when you show up on an odd day or see it from another spot. When my girls and I visited the church for the first time fifteen years ago, it was only a few buildings with several huge oak trees out front. A few years later, the main worship area was moved from a smaller building to a new giant sanctuary that holds like 1500+ people.

Anyway, I was sitting in the truck thinking about the old Sanctuary with its stained glass windows. They were so pretty. But I remembered how one window had a small piece missing. It use to bother me so much. At the time, I kept wondering what had happened and why it hadn't been replaced. Well, when they built the new, larger sanctuary, they had to destroy the stained glass windows. Too sad.

You're probably wondering why they didn't save the windows and use them in the new building. Others asked too. It appears it would've cost way too much money to take the windows out and preserve them. The money was better spent elsewhere.

So there I sat feeling sad about the small piece that was never replaced and the lost of such beautiful windows. Then I mentally slapped myself. Instead of regretting stained glass windows with holes in them, I needed to rejoice in the beautiful day. The blue sky God created is so much better than any stained glass window.

Moral of the story: When you concentrate on something small, it can become big. So concentrate on something bigger, then all else will appear small. :-)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

People From Your Past

It's funny how sometimes a name from your past will come to mind and you can't help but wonder how that person is doing? Or if they ever think of you? And especially if they think of me with kindness?

You know, as you grow older, your past takes on a rosy hue and you remember things not exactly the way they were. Kind of like an article I read once where they talked about how people tend to think kinder of people who died. Like those who were hateful while alive, relatives will remember them fondly after they die. As a child will an alcoholic parent. Or a wife of her abusive husband. Not that I'm an alcoholic or abusive (or been abused), or dead for that matter, nothing like that. Just wondering if they think of me.

I'm one of those people who are always surprised when someone remembers my name or remembers me from ten years or more ago.

Wouldn't it be interesting if we wrote down every name of every person we met? Wow, considering the type of jobs I've had, that would be a lot of names.

Oh, well, just been thinking...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thankful Friday

You know, it gets harder to think up something original to be thankful for. Sad but true. Let's see...::tapping fingers::...I guess I'm thankful that work was quiet today. We need business and when I return the first of the year, I wouldn't mind being snowed over with work, but today I wasn't in the mood to work. So that's good.

Sorry I've been so neglectful with my blog. Very little insights and such. Hopefully I will be more positive soon. No certain reason I say that. Just want better times to come to me. Heck, don't we all? :-)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

You Betcha!

This is so true. Check it out. Even more of a reason to be tall and slim (which I'm not).

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Thankful Friday




I'm thankful that General Hospital is still on the air. They bring so many hunks to my world and help me write books. Though he's not smiling in these, he's got a killer smile. Wish I could've found the usual soap opera shirtless shot. LOL! I'm such a dirty old woman.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Greater Power

When I use to teach sunday school, I would ask if anyone had any special requests for our opening prayer. We always had a few ladies who would mention a sick child or friend or maybe a relative's surgery. Occasionally they would include someone looking for a job or needing guidance in their marriage or faith. I could only remember once mentioning my need for prayer and that was for a skin condition I had that made life a misery (turned out to be allergy medicine causing the problem), but I never asked for anything to do with my job or finances. Though there were times I could've used the help. I just figured others needed help in that area more than me. Plus I was fortunate that my children were healthy and normal, and that was more important.

Well, today, I would like to send out a request for everyone to pray for my daughter to get a job she's interviewing for tomorrow. She's tried for the same position once before and they hired someone from the outside. That person didn't last three months.

I know of other people are applying for the job, but I have to say my daughter deserves the job more than anyone else in the company. I know that sounds selfish, but sometimes you have to put your foot down and believe just as others deserve good things, your own children do too. She works hard, and the extra funds it would bring in would go a long ways. While the job to another person I know who applied would only mean a lateral move and they've had a lot of things handed to them. I know. I've heard.

But one thing I've learned in the business world, the one who deserves it more doesn't always get it. It's usually who you know.

But I also know there is a greater power that rules over it all, God. Through prayer I know anything can be accomplished.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wisdom From A Soap Opera

On my favorite soap opera, General Hospital, one of the characters said that doing something over and over again, while expecting a different result, was a sign of being crazy. I had heard that before but this time it really struck me. I wonder, is that where I'm going wrong on my writing?

Hmm, something to think long and hard on.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Oldies

On the Alabama Public t.v. channel, they're advertising a CD collection of guests who were on Ed Sullivan's Show during the 1960's. On an odd occasion I enjoy listening to the songs I grew up with. It brought back so many memories. Thankfully a lot of good ones. Wow! The guys were so young. Of course at the time, I was a kid and so they looked "adult" to me then. LOL! Anyway, I watched THE ANIMALS sing a favorite song of mine, House of the Rising Sun. Check it out.



[corrected 12/11/09]

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Saturday Night Live Lives

I'm not sure, but Saturday Night Live has some new writers. They have some very funny clips. Check them out. Click here. And here.

The first one was a parody of Tiger Woods cheating on his wife and her attacking him (I don't blame her). And then the next one is the way a couple snuck into a private and heavily guarded party with the president and vice president attending. In this case, they sneak into a press conference. So funny.

Friday, December 4, 2009

One of The Family

When I was a kid, my family owned a beautiful Boxer. He looked a lot like the dog in the picture. As one website said, they make great companions and interact well with children. That was so true. We called him Man. Yep. I’m not kidding. His full name on the papers was Man O’War. I loved that name.

At the time, I was a big fan of horses and read every book I could on them. One I found fascinating was about the racehorse from the nineteen twenties called Man O’War and nicknamed Big Red. He’d won all but one race and from what I read that one could’ve been thrown on purpose. Anyway, I always thought it was a great name for such a sweet dog.

Back to talking about my dog. He was so gentle, he would let me use him as a pillow as I would stared up at sky, imagining cloud animal shapes. He loved snapping at and swallowing honey bees. He would jump and twist his compact body in the air, whining and growling. We use to think he liked them for the honey on their legs, but it might be more along the line of how people like jalapeños peppers. They had a sweet taste and a great kick.

The only bad habit he had was he loved to jump the fence and go looking for a new girlfriend. He found one in a neighbor’s collie. Needless to say, the neighbor didn’t want a boxer-collie mix and complained long and hard to Dad. Dad did try to keep Man home by chaining him. No matter how long the chain, that can be so cruel. Sure we could’ve “fixed” our dog and that would probably have taken care of the problem, but we had bred Man once and planned to do it again.

Well, one day Dad asked me if I wanted to go with him to hunt for Man as he was out of the fence again. I didn’t think about it until years later, but I figured there was a good reason he wanted me to go along. It appears the man with the collie at called Dad to come and pick up his dog. Only thing was Man was dead. He’d been poisoned. Dad had suspected the neighbor but couldn’t prove it. I wondered years later if the neighbor regretted his actions at all when he saw an eight year old girl bawling out her eyes over the death of her beloved dog.

I’m one of those people who understand how a person can be so upset when their dog is sick or dies. Animals can be so much part of the family.

For Thankful Friday: I'm thankful for all the dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, etc. that I had growing up. Taught me responsibility and true love (as in how my pets loved me).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Good Information

Hey, the other day I watched a great special on the History Channel called THE LEGACY OF STAR WARS. Lots of info can be used in writing stories. Click here to check it out. They talk alot about the Hero's Journey. I'm not sure if the whole video is there, but lots of clips.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Wow! I'm Glad It Wasn't Me

Feeling low? Feeling like a loser? Need a pick me up? Check out the top 10 movie flops of the decade. Sad, but there has to be a silver lining somewhere. Makes any wrong decisions I make appear minor in comparison.

The biggy was Eddie Murphy's THE ADVENTURES OF PLUTO NASH. They spent $100 million dollars and it made domestically only $4.4 million. Wow!