Friday, August 31, 2012

Funny Friday Photos

Here it is, the weekend already!  I don't know about you, but the week flew by for me!

Today (Thursday) I stayed home with my sick little boy and worked on my pitch for two contests.  The first is a Twitter pitch at Operation Awesome's Mystery Agent Contest, and then refined my longer pitch for GUTGAA (Gearing Up to Get an Agent) at Deanna Barnhart's fine blog.

Operation Awesome's contest is on Saturday, and GUTGAA, as you can see in the sidebar, runs for all of September.  If you want to participate in even just one of the many amazing opportunities there, you need to get over and sign up now!

I also started editing the first 150 words of Finding Meara for GUTGAA and I have to tell everyone who gave me feedback "thank you" one more time. I can't tell you how awesome you are and how helpful your fantastic advice was.   I wish I could have you all look over my entire manuscript, but at the very least I now know what to look for that I missed in previous drafts!

The winner of last weeks photos is:

It won by a very narrow margin.  The zebra lion ran a very close second.

Let's see the new pictures! Are you ready?

I had a Canadian friend when I was in my early 20's.  Oh the memories.
That sounds about right.
I feel the same way.  My kids like them though, so what do I watch?
I totally don't get it, but it was so cute I had to include it!
Hee, hee!  He looks so nervous!
What do you suppose the male lion is thinking, because the look in his eyes...

I think my favorite is the nervous shark.  I love his worried expression.
Did you pick a favorite? What fun do you have planned for the holiday? 
Have a happy weekend!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Have You Ever Met One of Your Characters?

When I create a character, I get a general impression in my head of who they are and what they look like.  Throughout the creation of the story, their appearance doesn’t change much, except to maybe come into sharper focus.  I think I tend to "see" actor-types as the characters in my stories because when I'm writing, the plot plays out like a movie.
Because Finding Meara, my first completed novel, is written in first person, the female lead character (Hazel) didn't really have a face to me.  She had a personality all her own, but the "I" point of view put me in her head, so it wasn't like I ever "saw" her.  However, the other characters all have their own actor whom they resemble.

Rodd is the relationship character to Hazel.  He teaches her about sacrifice.  In my head Rodd looks similar to Matt Bomer, the actor who plays Neal Caffrey in the USA television show, White Collar.  If you want to see a picture (I'm not about to post it on my blog because it's pretty much a given it's copyrighted) go here.  Picture No. 5 is the one that matches closest with the Rodd in my mind.

Last spring I dropped by Little Cesar's to get a pizza on the way home from work.  The man in the back making pizzas came to the lobby to offer me help getting my pizza out to the car.  He opened the door for me, I looked up into his eyes and my eyebrows shot up almost off my forehead.

He looked exactly like Rodd.  I kid you not.  

Crystal blue eyes, square jaw, dark hair -- he had it all.  I thought he was a little short, but over the last six months (we do Friday Night Pizza at our house) I have come to find out he is sufficiently tall to pass for Rodd.  I can't tell for sure how old he is, but he looks to be around the same age as Rodd.

The embarrassing part of this story is my reaction.  It's lucky we like pizza in my house, because I love to look at this poor guy.  So amazed at the similarities, I think in the beginning I might have stared...a lot.  It's not like he's been hiding in the back when I come in (at least I don't think so--I hope not) but I think he's probably noticed that I tend to look at him when I'm in there.

I don't want to make him uncomfortable, but dang!  He looks like Rodd!  And Rodd is such a neat character. He's wise, and handsome, and moral.  It's not that I think this guy has those traits (although he has demonstrated being helpful and polite), but he's like a physical representation of that character I got to know and cried over when he died.

I've confessed my staring issue with some non-writer friends, who think I'm nuts.  They can't understand why I'm worried about what the pizza guy thinks about me.  The truth is, I don't want anyone to think I'm some sort of cheating cougar, you know?  What else is this guy who is at least ten years younger than me, if not more, supposed to think of some married middle-aged woman staring at him.

As misunderstood as I may be, I keep going back to Little Cesar's.  It's the best pizza in town.  I just try not to stare as much... Or at least not get caught doing it.

Have you ever met a person who looks like your character?  How did you handle it?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Funny Photo Friday

Happy Friday, everyone!  I started back to work yesterday and am feeling jet lag, even though I haven't gone anywhere.  Work lag?  The beginning of the school year is always tough to get used to.

A sad update as far as Camp Nanowrimo goes.  This week, with getting my kids ready to go back to school, getting me ready to go back to school, and trying to get my query fixed "just so" means I've fallen so far behind I'll never finish.  So!  Now I know. Nanowrimo is not for me.  I'm glad I tried, though.

Another tie from last week between Star Wars and the Mailman.  Well played, Mailman.  I thought Star Wars was going to win!

I decided to try blowing the pictures up really big.  There is a picture below you have to look at closely to figure it out, and I had a hard time unless the picture was on extra-large.  I've always had bad eyesight, but this makes me feel old.

Have a great weekend and we're off to the new pics.

What a cute little face!

Just because it's a play on a book...  Plus, Komodo Dragons are cool!

I've never seen a hedgehog look so grumpy!

I had a dog that looked like a seal. I bet it's true.

Another one I had to look hard for.

It looks like the Wicked Witch of the West!

My favorite is the curtain cat.  It made me laugh, hard.
What's your favorite?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How Dark Is Too Dark?

Photo courtesy of Free Digital Photos
A fair warning advisement - this post will not have a resolution at the end. 

I have no clue what the answer might be to the question "How dark is too dark?"  I'm not even sure there is an answer, because human taste is so subjective.  

That subjectivity is both the good news and the bad news.  Good because it means there has got to be someone out there who will love what you write, and bad for the exact same reason in reverse.

I suppose the goal is to get more people loving what you write than not loving it.  There's no way in hell anyone can please everybody, and have everybody love what you write.

Personally, I can only take dark, sad literature in very small bites (read never).  When I got to the end of The Last Oracle by James Rollins and the ending made me cry, I felt betrayed.  I enjoyed about the first five Anita Blake novels before the dark angst got too be too much.  I avoid sad, dark anything with a passion.

Color me surprised when The Age of Stars is dark, sad, pain filled and super-emotional.  I have three broken main characters, and the novel starts out with their brokenness splayed out on the page.  There will be a happy ending for two of them, as they heal each other.  The third, not so much.  His is a tragically sad ending, and the more I get to know his brokenness, the sadder I feel for him.  I think I need him to kick a cat or something so I stop feeling sorry for him.  He is the bad guy, after all.

 People use each other, betray each other, have their hearts broken, and apparently are going to have a lot of sex.  At least, to start with.

Photo courtesy of Free Digital Photos
Quick note - the sex isn't gratuitous.  It does figure very prominently into their emotional state and achieving their goals.  Once I get into the second act, I think things will calm down.  I hope - writing sex scenes is hard.

Before I even started writing the novel, I knew it was going to be a huge challenge for me.  I knew it was going to be dark and uncomfortable, but since I knew there was going to be a happy ending and the main characters grow to a better emotional place, I was okay with it.

Then I read this excellent post by Anna Elliott on Writer Unboxed about achieving that balance between likable and unlikable characters.  My head swam as I extrapolated the post to my whole book.

Am I writing an unlikable novel?  Would people, first of which would be agents and publishers, be willing to give my characters the chance to grow to the better place, or would they toss the book into the trash because it's too sad and too dark?

I don't know.

The story compels me, though.  I want to write it as I plotted it out.  The characters are fully formed in my mind.  To change the story would be false to me.

I had a little emotional breakdown over the weekend, and I owe a huge thanks to those of you who took the time to talk me down.  I decided to just write the first draft as planned, and do it as quickly as I can.  I'll give it some time to percolate, and then I'll decide what to do with it.  When in doubt, procrastinate, right?

Where do you think that line is when a story is too dark?  Have you ever written a story you thought was too dark?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Funny Photo Friday

I totally forgot I had to write a post until just now, 9:45 pm on Thursday night.  I don't think that's happened before in the almost two years I've been blogging.  It must be because I'm starting to gear up to return to school, and being a mother has really consumed my time the last two days.

Thanks to everyone who read and commented on the "What If" Blogfest story I wrote.  It always feels so good to hear that people like what we write, doesn't it!

We had a three way tie last week (Squanking, Predator Dog and Loreal Lion) so I'm not going to repost the pictures. 

New photos coming up....NOW!

WARNING:  Science Geek Humor Ahead...

The animal photos just weren't delivering this week, so I branched out, took a risk, and tried something new with some science and science fiction.  Hope you enjoyed the photos!

The goat really cracks me up, but  I like the Star Wars one, too. 

Did you find a favorite?

Monday, August 13, 2012

"What If..." Fairytale Madness Blogfest: Rumplestiltskin

It's time!  The "What If..." Fairytale Madness Blogfest is here!  To participate, we had to write a 300 word scene(s) that illustrated a new detail of a fairytale to change the perspective of the reader.

The four categories for this blog fest are (listed with their respective judges:

Team Tragedy: Leigh Covington
Team Comedy: Mark Koopmans
Team Plot Twist: Cassie Mae
Team Love Story:  Morgan Shamy

Late Saturday night, hyped up on a Starbucks Latte and a significant amount of Diet Coke, I got down to work.  I picked Rumplestiltskin, because I've always felt sorry for the poor guy, and landed squarely in Team Love Story.  I hope you enjoy the story!  I sure had fun writing it!


The miller’s daughter, now Queen and mother, searched the darkness for his return.  Her entire pregnancy was a calendar for their reunion.  Each month the child grew brought him that much closer to her.

“Rumplestiltskin.”  She tested the name, the memory.

Her father had brought her to the castle, innocent and young.  When all hope had fled, and she cried in fear of her impending death, Rumple had come to her--wiped her tears and held her close.  While he spun hay into gold, he told her of the King’s greed, and offered to take her away.  Stupidly, she trusted the King to free her, and refused.

Rumple returned the next night.  To take her mind off her troubles, he’d shared tales of faraway lands.  She remembered how his brown eyes danced and the curve of his smile.  Before he left they shared a kiss so tender the Queen’s heart ached.

The third night she waited for him, eager yet burdened with sorrow.  The King planned to marry her if she produced more gold, and threatened to kill her and her father if she didn’t.  She couldn’t leave the King now, but she was determined that love would have first claim upon her body.

In the early morning hours of the bittersweet evening, the Queen’s tears poured onto Rumple’s bare chest as she explained her future.   He’d listened, somber, and then made a request.  He wanted any child that might result from their union.   The King would have her, but he would have their love.

Sobbing, she'd agreed.

Tonight, he came to claim their daughter.  She watched for him, her heart pounding with anticipation.

The shadows beside the castle walls stirred. 

“Rumplestiltskin.”  She ran to him, their child in her arms,  never to return to her golden prison.


Thank you Leigh, Mark, Cassie and Morgan for coming up with and hosting such a fun and creative blogfest!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Funny Photo Friday

I hope everyone had a great week!  I found it really hard to get my focus back on writing, mostly because I was exhausted from the fun weekend.  I'm slowly recuperating - a sign of age, I imagine.  Or maybe of how much fun I had?

Camp Nano is turning into "how much can I get done of 50,000 words.  I don't know what I was thinking.  I still have a lot more done already of my first draft then I would have if I hadn't signed up, so I feel a little bit successful.  My competitive nature is pushing me along.  I'll let it...

Kitty news!  We saw the kittens for the first time this week, but they are definitely wild.  We might be able to tame them.  There is a really cute grey one with a white face and paws I'm just dying to get my hands on. 

There is a tie for funniest photo last week between...


Now, for this weeks photos!

Have you seen the pictures with Chris Hemsworth?

I thought Predator way before I saw it on the screen. :)

All I can think when I see this is "Tastes like chicken."  Talk about a cliche!

Translation: Anteaters never get sick--what with all the antibodies.
(I thought I'd make it easy on you. I had to work hard to read it.)

The way I think cats and dogs feel after a round of pointer chase.

Now this is planking I'd like to see!

Anyone have big weekend plans?  Mine is to write, and write. :)

My favorite is "Squanking."  Which is your favorite?

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Oh Muse, Where Art Thou?

Today I decided to post one of my more popular posts from the Life List Club.  How we come to have that flash of inspiration amazes me.  The human brain is unbelievably complex and fascinating.  This post came from curiosity about how cognitive the Muse may actually be.

Oh Muse, Where Art Thou?

Photo by Nicole N at Flickr

All three are words attributed to the occasionally elusive creature called the Muse.
While us artist-types rely on the Muse to inspire our current artistic endeavors, we aren’t the only people with muses.  Everyone has creativity, and needs creativity to solve problems.
Through the creative process, we move through the mundane to come up with unique and original ideas.  We use this process every day, from when we determine an alternate route when our traditional route to work is blocked, to deciding what to have for dinner.
How creative we are is influenced by our intelligence, memory, personality, attitude, mental health, and physical health, among others.  While some of these factors are beyond our control, many of them aren’t.  By altering those over which we have control, we can sharpen and develop our creativity.  We can grow our muses.


Exercise is one of the fastest ways to influence creativity, for several reasons.  First, exercise decreases the effects of stress by releasing endorphins which positively affect our mental health.  Positive mental health leads to a positive attitude.  A positive attitude leads to increased mental flexibility, which makes it easier to be creative.
Exercise improves every aspect of cognition, including creativity.  There is something about activating the right side of the brain that enhances creativity, and instead of trying to explain it, I’m giving you the link to a fascinating article about it here.


Working memory is also called short-term memory.  It is the part of our brain that stores information for short periods of time so that we can manipulate the information to understand and reason what we saw, learned, etc…  Exercising your brain, whether through brain games, chess, word puzzles, etc… you can increase your working memory.


In the article “How to Get Mindpopping Ideas,”  Michael Michalko likens creativity to the universe, and creative ideas to the subatomic particles found throughout.   He gives three ways to harvest all those millions of ideas and thoughts while brainstorming.
Photo by Free Digital Photos
Photo from
Observe and record each thought as a possibility.  The key word here is observe.  Don’t place judgment or value to anything your subconscious brain puts forth.  When we judge the value of our thoughts, we snuff out creativity.
Become inclusive.  When brainstorming, accept every thought as important and potentially valuable, no matter how crazy or random it seems. Creativity is the combining of elements in new and unusual ways.
Keep a written record.  Writing down our thoughts and ideas moves them into long-term memory.  Even if we aren’t consciously thinking of the idea, our subconscious is, and will create more and more ideas.
What are some ways you increase communication with your muse?

Friday, August 03, 2012

Funny Friday Photos

Camp NanoWriMo has started!  You would think I am pounding away on my laptop today, but no!  I am getting ready to rendezvous with three of my friends from high school this weekend.  

We began the tradition three or four years ago, and I must admit it has become a pretty enjoyable weekend.  Besides seeing women I've been friends with for most of my life, I'm hoping we'll get the yearly manicure/pedicure!  It's the only time I splurge on the luxury.  

We'll see how the fun weekend messes up Camp NaNoWriMo, but I'm going to enjoy it, none the less!

The winner from last week's funny photos is (da-ta-ta-daaa): 

Here are this weeks photos.  I hope you have an enjoyable weekend, too!

 I want to ask...

There will be more ninja cat in the coming weeks!

It just looks unnatural.  Do horses put their legs out like that in the course of running?

Appeals to the fantasy in me. :)

When cows get revenge.

This week I have a tie between the dog on the stair railings and the ninja-cat. 
Which picture gets your vote as funniest?


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