Tuesday, May 31, 2011

This Week's Midlife Crisis

I have to confess that I haven't been writing at all for the past several weeks.  Between The Sam Stanley Experience's high school graduation and the Drama Queen's, well, drama, I haven't had much energy to face any of the projects I have unfinished on my flash drive.  I was taking a mini-nap yesterday afternoon and as I was drifting off to sleep, I had these thoughts:

I am 47.  Soon I will be 50.  Then I only have 10 years before I am 60.  When I am 60, I'll be old.  I have less than 10 years to get my sh&t together and do the things I want to do. 

Okay, I know that 60-47=13, which is more than "less than 10".  But I was in the doze-zone, so my reasoning may have been a little off.  More to the point, who says that 60 is old?  I mean, I realize that 60 is closer to old than, say, 30.  Then a friend told me about a relative who died of a heart attack at the age of 50.  Which is definitiely not old.  I also know that I could get hit by a runaway Metro bus on my way to the parking garage after work today, in which case "old" is irrelevant.

I am working to redirect my perspective to constantly remember that ALL WE HAVE IS TODAY.  This is a pretty common statement in the recovery community...that whole "One Day At a Time" thing is not only about sucking it up and getting through life without your addictive substance one day at a time, but also about enjoying the moments that you have.  Plan for the future, but live in today. 

I find that I do much better if I have a plan, a schedule, some organization.  If I just get up and say, "Okay, world, lets just do whatever," I don't get much done and I end up tired with nothing done.  If I have a plan, I get stuff done.  The funny thing is, it's not necessarily the stuff on the list, but it's still good stuff!  I believe that this is an old Jewish adage:  MAN PLANS, GOD LAUGHS.  And I'm okay with that!  I have a great sense of humor.  I used to get really twisted up if I had a plan and someone came along and threw me a monkey wrench.  I would pout and fuss and do the door slamming thing.  But something--maybe it's the AA thing, maybe it's maturity--has allowed me to adapt to detours. I have my own personal motto, which I am trying like heck to get the Girl Scouts to adopt:  We don't have to "be prepared".  We can IMPROVISE!

So for today, my PLAN is to clean up the lab, organize my project plans and recent data, make sure my independent study students have plenty to keep them busy, and in the slow moments, open the file that contains the outliney/synopsis thing for one of the WIPs I have, and expand that a bit. Maybe I'll go for a walk. 

Now, my boss might come in here in a few minutes full of shower ideas (she gets her "best" ideas in the shower.  It is my job to listen politely and explain why none of those experiments are worth our time), and I might have to spend the rest of the day trying to stay awake while reading journal articles, researching a whole new project, one of my kids might call me and need to go to the doctor or something.  A Metro bus could crash in front of my building and I might be needed to rescue people. 

You just never know!  What I do know is that I have a great life, and I'm going to enjoy the next five minutes! 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Goal Setting Goals

I am setting a goal today...to set some goals.  I have been in a micro-funk the past few hours (which some of us might call "waking up on the wrong side of the bed") and have decided to yank my whiney ass out of it.  I have had a bit of "writer's block" which is really "Writer's Unwillingness to sit Down and Write". 

So I'm going to set some goals and cross "set goals" off of my to-do list.

1) Finish a novel

One word at a time.  I can do this!  I just have to open that notebook again!  Unfortunately, the title "Love's Secret Sniper" seems to have been taken.  Damn. 

2) Do the Couch to 5K thing.

  I've been playing around with this idea for a while, and actually went out a couple of weeks ago and bought new shoes and jogged a couple of times.  But that hurts.  My sciatica flared up, my arches are whining, I am whining.  Which means I should maybe slow down a little and not aim for a five minute mile...maybe I'll just sign up for something in the fall, and try to aim for running half of it and walking the rest.  One step at a time.

3.  Lose thirty pounds. 

Can you say:  "Body Image Issues"? 
Eh, Whatever.  One pound at a time.  Starting tomorrow. 

I really mean it this time! 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Do it WRITE from the beginning? I think not.

I've spent so much of my writer-life time worried about whether I am a panster or a plotter that I probably could have written six novels by now.  Add in the time that I spent agonizing over word choice in one of my many first-draft works in progress, and I probably could have finished them all. 

A recent discussion with a crit partner about making characters three-dimensional led us down the path of how to flesh out our characters without dragging down the action.  She sent me the opening of a WIP and it's great...the conflict is laid out right away, and it's clear who the protagonists are, and they are very likeable.  It's going to be a great story. 

But what does the hero look like?  Does he have a mane of golden waves begging for hands to run through it?  Gawd, I hope not. Maybe his hair is perfectly appropriate, but mussed as though he's been running his own frustrated hands through it, and our heroine has the completely inappropriate desire to smooth it into place. 

What does the heroine think when she sees him for the first time?  Hopefully she doesn't immediately have diaper-changing floods of arousal, but does she feel anything physical when she sees him?  A rush of hot and cold adrenaline when she realizes the tight spot she's in, and with whom she's in this spot ? 

Clearly this stuff is important...but when do you put it in the story? I tend to be in such a hurry to get the action down that I forget the details, and the details are the spice.  Otherwise it's just, "There's this guy, and he meets this girl, and they have some problems, but they work it out and live happily ever after." As a writer, do you add detail right from the get-go, the first pass, or do you go back and flesh stuff out later?

I ask this because my perfectionist self says that if I am going to do something, do it right.  And that somehow translates to doing it right from the beginning.  I get so bogged down in perfecting my first few chapters that I run out of enthusiasm until the next great idea crops up and I start all over, trying to do it perfectly from the beginning. 

And don't get me started on rearranging plot details as I go! 

Have a great weekend, and go out and write something!   

Monday, May 16, 2011

Whatcha Readin'?

Once upon a time, when I was a kid, I had two or three books in progress, and my mom said, "I don't know how  you can do that.  I can only read one book at a time."

For whatever reason, the committee in my head decided that reading more than one book at a time was a BAD thing. It probably fits in with the fact that I am really good at starting things and not finishing them, but with books, this isn't the case, unless the book suck.  Even if the book sucks, I feel guilty if I don't finish it.  Kind of like how I feel guilty if I divide my day lilies and don't replant the ones that I am casting out of the spot next to the front door. I feel like I am committing flower murder.  But I'm Catholic, I can live with guilt.

ANYWAY, as most of us do, I have spent many hours of my adult life overcoming the lessons I learned as a child (and instilling different, but no less damaging values in my children).  I now have three or four books in progress (kind of like writing...how many WIPs do I have?  Ummmm....)

I have a little book I keep in my purse with a list of books I want to read...back list stuff of authors I like, books that other people have recommended, that sort of thing.  I decided that I would also keep a list of books I've read in this little notebook.  I'm not keeping a list of the ones I'm working on, though...so I think I'll share the past week's reading list with you:

On audio disc, in the car:  The Heart of a Soldier, by Capt. Kate Blaise.
The Heart of a Soldier: A True Story of Love, War, and Sacrifice
This is a true story of a couple who fell in love in high school and both became soldiers fighting in Iraq.  It's an awesome memoir.  The true-life love story, the details of life as a female soldier in the first days of the invasion of Iraq...I have been in tears at least four times so far, and I've only listened to half the discs. 

On my Kindle: Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
Dead Witch Walking (The Hollows, Book 1)
This is the first book in the Hollows series. According to the Suzanne Johnson system of identifying a genra by it's cover, this is Urban Fantasy (badass woman with tattoos.  If it was a guy with rock hard abs, it would be a Paranormal Romance, FYI).  We are reading this as a book club thing on Suzanne's Preternatura Blog, 2 chapters a week.  Come join us!

Paperback #1:  When You Dare, by Lori Foster.
 When You Dare
 I'm a Lori Foster fan from back in her Harlequin Blaze days.  I loved most of the MMA fighter guy books, so have hopes for this new series.  Not sure I am buying how this Hard Core Alpha Guy falls so instanly in love with the woman he accidentally rescued, but the story doesn't suck, either.  Definitely going to finish it!

Paperback #2: Premeditated Murder, by Ed Gaffney
Premeditated Murder
This one is a legal thriller, and I should put in the disclaimer that Ed Gaffney is the husband of my hero (have I mentioned this before?) Suzanne Brockmann, which kind of prejudices me to like it before I open the cover.  I met Ed last October (which gives me the right to call him "Ed" and not "Mr Gaffney") and he was a really nice guy.  I'm only a couple of chapters into the story, and there are a LOT of POV's going on, which is a little hard to track, but the plot has got several threads...there is a regular kind of guy who killed a bunch of terrorists, the president, a lady reporter, a couple of lawyers, some other seemingly unrelated deaths.  I kind of run hot and cold on legal thrillers in general, but I like the characters I am supposed to like (at least I think they are the ones I'm supposed to like!) so I'm definitely hooked. 

On my Crackberry Kindle app:
Tied Up, Tied Down by Lorelei James
Tied Up, Tied Down: Rough Riders, Book 4
Yeah, kids, this is this week's Smut Selection.  I've actually read this whole series already, and it's worth a re-read.  Definitely Ero Rom, and some of it's a little cheesey; but there are great secondary character story arcs all the way through this series. 

I am also sloooowly but surely critting a great "suspense with romantic elements" for the lovely Dawn Alexander.  I am pushing her to ramp up the romance, maybe we can start a twitter campaign for some nekkid parts (although I'm only halfway through.  Maybe there will be nekkid stuff and I just haven't gotten to it...). 

That's what I've been reading.  Any surprise I haven't been getting my writing done? What have you been reading? 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

SEAL of the Week: President Obama

Image: Obama SEAL doll
I'm sorry, I couldn't resist.  I really am done obsessing over SEALs.  I mean it this time. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Everything I know about the history of the world, I learned in a Romance Novel.

I wonder how many internet searches have been done on Navy SEALs this week, and how many of them were done by horny romance-reading women?   

Okay, this picture is just hot. I think it came from the Washington Post.  Note the fine muscle tone, the edgy tattoos and the scar.  Is that a knife wound?  Hot.  Just hot.  Would it be tacky of me to us this as my desktop background at work?
Over at the Smart Bitches blog, Sarah even did a post all about romances featuring Special Forces (or Special Ops, there is a difference, although as long as there are muscles and testosterone, who really cares?).  I would like to point out that my hero Suzanne Brockmann's first Troubleshooters book, The Unsung Hero, is the primary suggestion. 

Anyway.  I've notices that every day this week, MSNBC has had some sort of story about SEALs and people at work have been talking about them.  One of the student in our lab said to me, "Wow, you sure know a lot about Navy SEALs".  Ummm.  Well, I read a lot.  I didn't specify that I haven't necessarily been hanging out in the military history section of the library. 

Come to think of it, I know a bunch of stuff about the world, all thanks to romance writers who do research.  I would have NO idea about Bonny Prince Charlie if it weren't for all those shirtless men in kilts.  What about you?  How has your romance reading prepared you for Jeopardy? 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My Plans for World Domination and Other Stuff

So I have a new plan to save the world.  I don't really want to dominate the whole world...although I might be convinced to take charge (ahem) of certain people if they beg (heh). 

Here is my plan:  Let the Navy SEALs and CIA guys all retire to be cabana boys and replace them with 13 year old girls, led by my daughter, Drama Queen.  DQ can roll her eyes, cross her arms, slam doors in a way that makes waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation techniques" obsolete.  She can then chatter about absolutely nothing until the bad guys just roll over and beg to be sent to Guantanamo. 

My imaginary boyfriend Master Chief Viggo in GI Jane
Being a cabana boy would be the perfect retirement job for any SEAL. They would get to run around on the beach, roll around in the sand, carry heavy thing (trays of drinks and my beach bag).  They would also be allowed to do it semi-nekkid (oh hell, who am I kidding?  Completely nekkid!) instead of having to wear all that nasty equipment (Well.  Some equipment can't be dispensed with, of course *wink, wink, nudge, nudge*). 

In between thinking up great ideas, I've been critting a story for the lovely and talented Dawn Alexander.  You should visit her blog, she has all kinds of fun ideas percolating around.  I'm also participating in the Dead Witch Walking Book Club at yonder Preternatura Blog, hosted by the equally lovely and talented Suzanne Johnson.  She's got some short stories you need to check out, because her upcoming book is going to totally rock. 

Not sure what those CIA guys should do in retirement...any thoughts?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Deciding how to think about the Death of BinLaden

"Faced with the death of a man, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibility of everyone before God and man, and hopes and pledges that every event is not an opportunity for a further growth of hatred, but of peace.”

My friend posted this on her facebook page today...it's from a statement released by the Vatican about the killing of OBL.  I think it's a profound reminder for today.  So I'm trying to keep this in mind in between doing the happy dance and googling for pictures of Navy Seals.



Fallen Hero:

Bad Hair Day:

Okay, that's all.  Have a great Monday, everyone!