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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Guest Post

As promised, my friend Heidi Nicole Bird has published her first novel, "Through the Paper Wall."  It was released on Valentines Day.  I've had a chance to read the first couple of chapters, and really thoroughly enjoyed the story.  And now, a Character sketch from her book:


Jesse (main character)
Jesse was born in San Diego and grew up as an only child. From the very first time he stepped onto a beach he knew it was where he belonged. When he started Kindergarten he attended a class that met just off the beach, which enhanced his love for the sand and ocean waves even more. In Kindergarten he met Spencer, who became his best friend, and soon the two of them were inseparable.
Jesse grew up with a very comfortable life, going to school with his best friends, taking surfing lessons, and taking advantage of everything San Diego has to offer. His father had a steady job, but it was really his mother’s well-known prowess as a chef that helped the family live so comfortably. Growing up in a large and spacious house and having the beach only seconds away, Jesse came to believe that his world was perfect and that he couldn’t be happier.
Things changed right before Jesse’s twelfth birthday though, when his mother passed away quickly due to illness. Jesse’s world was turned upside down, but with his friends by his side he was able to go on living, even though Dad was much more distant. On the eve of Jesse’s thirteenth birthday, his Dad announced that they were moving to Oklahoma because they needed change. Eventually Jesse’s theory was proved right – they moved so Dad could date Jessica, a girl he had dated in high school.
Newly thirteen years old, Jesse finds himself in a new place he never could have imagined. No beach, no sand, not even a lake – Just miles and miles of sage brush and dirt. Forced to leave behind everything he had ever known, including his friends, Jesse grudgingly accepts his new home in Oklahoma, but only after he makes a new friend and they make a discovery that changes both of their lives forever. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Outwitting Steve


Note:  And no, this is not my friend Steve, or my friends Son Steve.  :)

You've hit a dead end.  You wrack your brain figuring out how the heck you've gotten to this suddenly insurmountable barrier; one that not even Superman could leap, or Spidey climb!
Now you're stuck, and feeling trapped, you are in almost physical pain, and you cannot see a way out.
You can either see it two ways; as a positive or as a negative.  Pessimistically "Oh woe is me!  I'll never be able to write again!" Or as a positive, "Why am I blocked?  What are the muses/writing God's/esses trying to tell me?"
Sometimes that is all writers block is.  What am I supposed to be looking at?  What am I supposed to be learning?  Or is this just my brain telling me to take a break?  Usually it is the last thing when I get it.  And yes, I do get it.

Ways of getting through that wall, or taking it down rather.

I.  Making Friends with Your Block.

Asking it what it wants?  Call it Steve if you want ("Over the Hedge" Reference BTW).
Seriously, ask it why it is there?  Ask for the reason it has chosen to spring up at this time?  My blocks are usually a sign my mind is rebelling.  It's having a temper tantrum of Katie Kaboom proportions (cartoon reference)
I'm ADD as well, so I have a very short attention-Squirrel-Oh where was I?  Ok-shiny-oh right, SPAN.  Which makes my brain even more unruly sometimes.
I have a hard time making a set schedule, or even deadlines (which adds to the writers block, and I love to wave at them while they pass by).  ahem.

Which leads to...

II.  Writing Warm Ups.

Writing is an exercise, and much like running, requires stretching the correct muscles.  A good way to even stop a block from even forming in the first place, is writing practices, consult Natalie Goldberg's "Writing Down the Bone," for more info.  Ten minute writing sprints in which you just keep your pen moving across the page without censoring, or editing.  Going with first thoughts, going for the jugular.  Taking no prisoners!
Doing a couple of these before you start your "Real Writing," can help your mind focus better, and I find my writing flows better.
Handwriting your practices is also good as it uses a different part of the brain.  Also I recommend using a notebook, cheapo spirals are good.  Once you have filled one, re-read what you have written in practice, highlighting what you liked, what was most powerful.  These can be whole paragraphs, sentences, or even words.  These can become prompts or ideas for future projects.  You can also move these to a catalog (I suggest a spreadsheet) which has references to where they came from, i.e. May 2010 notebook, date, and which prompt it is from.
If you choose to go route 1, then I recommend "Writing from the Inside Out!  Transforming your Psychological Blocks to Release the Writer Within," by Dennis Palumbo, MA, MFT, C 2000 by Wiley & Sons.  Dennis Calumbo wrote screenplays for "My Favorite Year," and numerous other TV shows and pilots; as well as the novel, "City Wars."  What is great about this is he works with creative people/writers.
If you go with 2, than either Natalie Goldberg's, "Writing Down the Bones," and "Wild Mind," are excellent.  And also "Outwitting Writers Block,' by Jenna Glatzer is also really well done.
Whatever method you choose, good luck, and let me know how you get around/through/over/or under your writers blocks!
        Jack Heffron, also has some writing prompt books, and also look at Writers Digests Writing Prompts.   There are a ton of prompt books out there, and check your local library for any of the above.
                                                Happy Writing!



Thursday, February 14, 2013

Midnight at the Five and Dime

Hey everyone, just wanted to let everyone know my guest on February 20th, Heidi Nicole Bird has released her first novel today!  "Through the Paper Wall," is now available on Kindle and Paperback through Amazon.  :)    This is the Link to it :)  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BF1MNT4  Now onto my regularly scheduled Blog.

Midnight at the Five and Dime.

This title popped into my head, no idea where it came from, but it popped up nevertheless.  I actually did google it, and did find a blog for a job search site with that as the title, but I had never read it before.  So I thought some more, and this is the result of that most wondrous of processes, the short story.

Midnight at the Five and Dime, By L. Anne Wooley    c 2013

     Night settled on the big city.  Though  "Old Blue Eyes," had it right, this city never sleeps, and night life was just shaking the sleep from their limbs.
     I stretched as my cat did the same, time to go to work.  I rolled over onto my side, pushing myself up first onto my elbow. Then I pushed myself totally upright; feet swinging over the side onto the floor in one fluid motion.  Claude my evil cat, tried to butt his head into my face meowing contemptuosly when he missed.
      I reached my arms over my head yoga like, crossing my hands palms facing outward, as I linked my fingers together. I gently bent slightly to my left, and felt the pulll of the motion on my sides.  I straightened with arms still upright, and repeated the motion to the right.  My joints popped as I did this, and then my body felt like it was ready to go.
     I felt my husbands hand searching for me, and I knew his eyes were open and looking at my bare back.  Smiling, I turned to him, my right knee touching the bed and I leaned over, my hand supporting me as I bent to kiss him.  He was on his side, and his left hand reached up to softly stroke me on the arm.  I melted into his touch, but I didn't have time to follow through on the growing passion.
     "Gotta go to work babe," I pulled away carressing his cheek before getting up.  I headed to the shower watching out for Claude, smiling as Ben whistled appreciatively.
     I didn't look back, but spanked myself once, lightly on my thigh, and swaying my hips suggestively, I heard him chuckle as I went into the shower.

***

The street sounds closed in around me as I left the apartment.  I soon tuned my internal volume down, the cities noises were too loud and distracting at times, as I looked both ways before descending to the sidewalk.  You could never be too careful, though being a black belt with a license to carry a fire arm didn't hurt either.
I took my keys out of my pocket and remotely opened the drivers side door.  Walking to the curb, I looked both ways before going out to the street edge of the car, and then side stepped over to the door.  The street was narrow, so it didn't do to walk with your back to it.
I opened the door with my right hand, lifting its lever, the door opened up in the air, I liked  this car for that very reason.  I pushed my butt down into the car, and lifted my right leg in first, the left one following suit.  The door closed automatically, the seat belt also automatically came around me.  I put the key into the ignition, and turned the motor on.
"Greetings Inspector Jayne, how are you this evening?" the computerized voice of my partner "Sam," sounded in my head.  It was fun when I had people in the car that did not have a virtual partner.  Sam was a Series 1 artificial intelligent virtual "Partner" for lack of better term.  We had been together ever since I joined the force.  Sometimes Sam reminded me of Ben.  Sometimes I had to "turn off" the interface between us, as Sam had wanted to learn more about "human interaction."
"I'm fine Sam, and you?"
"I am doing well, thank you for asking."
"Anything new to report?"
"Pretty quiet tonight Inspector, though it is still early."
"Let us hope that our shift stays that way!" I replied with fervor.
"Yes, shall we go?"
"Definitely, you can handle the driving."
"No problem Inspector."
I had tried, in the past, to get Sam to refer to me as my given name Helen, but the AI was programmed to be formal.
Our drive to work was uneventful, and we pulled into the stations parking lot.  The 2nd shift was leaving now, and I saw my old partner getting ready to get in his car.  I got out of my car, and yelled over to him.  "Hey Gene!  How are ya?"
"Jayne, doing well...How's the night shift?"
"I'm finally used to sleeping through the day, and I really do like it."
"Have a safe one!"
"Thanks, be safe, say Hi to Jeanne and the kids," I smiled and waved as I head him say, "Will do."  Gene did not have an AI partner, he had a human one.  He had at first been jealous of me having one, but not everyone was mentally capable of handling the interface.  But I think when he saw the turmoil I had gone through before I fully integrated with Sam, was enough to get him through the jealousy phase. Actually, remembering that dark time, I didn't blame him.  
The building was busy as I saw the creme de la creme of New York society ensconced within the ancient hallways.  Though the outside still looked the same as when it was built in 1939, the inside was anything but.  I did enjoy looking at the old architecture, but it did have modern interior.
My desk was over in the corner by the "holding cell."  The wavy lines shimmering, told me the force field was in place.  We had guests tonight.
I went over to the desk, and input my palm print to log into the system, and to let my superiors know that I was present for duty.  I could smell the end of day coffee across the room, it burned my nostrils, and I crinkled my nose in distaste.
I checked my email, and as there was nothing new that needed my attention.  I ignored the cajoling from the cell, I wished for the umpteenth time that it was noise proof.  I ignored the three that were in there, and then I locked my desk to go to the briefing.  I smiled and chatted at several fellow officers, and my commander greeted us perfunctorily.  He never smiled, if he did, I never knew it, and if he had, I think we would all faint from the shock!
The briefing was pretty short, nothing major going on in the city, which was unusual, we went over the major events in our area, and were assigned our shift patrols.  Sam would have it downloaded into his matrix by now, so I really didn't need to pay much attention to the information.  The implant interface in my head also would record the info automatically anyway, so that I really didn't need to worry about remembering anything.  I could even plug in to the chip inside my head and print it out for later so that I could turn in my daily report.
I was returning to my desk.  When the shouts reached me.  I stood in horror before getting my piece.  I saw the 3 prisoners who had been behind the barrier, and in the instant that my adrenaline started pumping in, I noticed the following simultaneously; multiple officers dead or dying, the barrier no longer wavered, and a gun pointing right at me, smoke already coming from the open muzzle.
I heard the yell in my head from Sam, and then felt the impact of the bullet as it bit through my chest.  I didn't feel anything until I woke up.  I opened my eyes, expecting to see pearly gates, or brimstone...but was surprised to see a diner counter.  I looked around me, I was the only one there.  I smelled cooking bacon, and steak, eggs sizzling on the stovetop right bedhind the counter.
I didn't hear the sounds in a diner, which I thought was very odd.
"Sam?" I said aloud.  No answer.  This was odd.  I remembered the bullet, and looked down, moving my uniform top out of the way to look, for the tell tale wound.  I looked in surprise at the pale flawless skin, and placed my fingertips where it should have been.  I rubbed it lightly, and there was no blemish or anything to show that there had ever been a bullet there.
I got up shaky from the stool, and walked around the main eating area, I saw the name on the menu, "The Five and Dime."  I was taken back to Ben and my Honeymoon.  I then looked at the diner with the eyes of memory, and it was exactly the same.
I turned towards the front door, and the bell started swinging, I stared at it as it rang, and in walked Ben.  I blinked in confusion.  How had I gotten here?  I stepped towards him, putting my hand up to touch his cheek.  "Is this real?" I whispered.
"Yes, Helen love," spoke Sam, though he wore Ben's face, and body.    "It is. I saved you, you are in my world now."

The end.
.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

PROCRASTINATION STATION


Before I get to my blog, I wanted to make an announcement.  I have my first Guest on February 20th.  More details to follow...



Procrastination is the act of avoiding an unpleasant task.  At least that is my definition of the word.  I've created an art form out of it!  I guess I was just born with a genetic predisposition for this.
When you procrastinate, you pretend anything and everything is more important than the task which must be done!  The usual culprits of procrastination:  Gaming, Television, housework (Yes, I've done that to avoid something more unpleasant).  Another way of procrastinating, is to go off on tangents.  There have been many times when I have been researching for something, and something catches my eye, and I am looking at  that new stuff.  You use the following rationale for keeping after the new piece of information, saying, "I can use this later on."  But, of course, you don't.
So ways of getting around this "Affliction."   I make a schedule, or a "To do" list.  I just got this long horizontal tablet with each day of the week written on it, with a box under each day.  At the top right it says, "Things to avoid," which is really cute.
But what I did was to make a to do list and then divvie it up during the week, so that it is more manageable for me.  I use games to reward myself (though they also fall under procrastination warnings category as well).
Though when you boil it all down, you still have to make yourself avoid the pitfalls.  Deadlines do help as well.  That way you have more push to finish what you need to.