Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Where Do You Get Your Inspiration?

Where do you find inspiration?

Sometimes as a writer you can move beyond writer's block to just plain blocked. You see, I always think of being blocked in terms of those moments in the midst of writing where you can't seem to figure out what to do. You stall out on a story. Those moments are frustrating and if they persist, sometimes you just have to set the work aside until your characters start talking again.

But writer's block to me means not being able to even start the writing process. Those moments when you want to be writing, when you know you have a few moments but you just sit and stare at that blank document and can't get started. When no inspiration comes at all. It can be one of the worst feelings for anyone, expecially a new writer who doesn't have a notebook full of ideas or notes they want to pursue.

A while back some friends and I designed a sort of Summer Camp for writers. We designed challenges for the purpose of earning badges. The challenges were meant to jumpstart us. It was not only fun, but it was also a very productive summer project for me. I was pretty proud of some of the work that came out of that experience. You can read a very short sample of one of those challenges here on my website. We were challenged to pick a real classified ad and write the story of it. The ad I chose?

Wedding Dress: Beautiful, Beautiful size 12 dress, never worn or altered. Has a sweetheart cut top with beading and beading along the bottom. Also had a detachable train with beading along the edges. Getting married in a few months so I need to sell this one soon. Email or call Bryan.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Growing up.


My munchkin is six months old now. He’s transitioned from infant to baby. This three day weekend we are taking the next step in growing up. Going to bed by himself.

We started last night. We have a routine that we’ve started. At bedtime we go upstairs, we get in pj’s, and while his has a last little bottle we sing a specific series of songs. Then, while he’s still awake, we put him down in the bed and say good night.

Last night he cried. After five minutes, we checked on him reassured him I was still here. Five minutes later I went in again. This time after patting his back and assuring him I was still here and he was okay, I started playing his heffalump (a stuffed blue elephant) and left the room. In less than a minute he was asleep.

Tonight, I started Heffelump immediately upon putting him down and he didn’t cry at all.

I can’t believe this will go this smoothly from now on. I’m sure he has a few more cranky crying bedtimes in store for us, but I can’t believe I forgot about his heffelump that first night.

The soft blue elephant (called Heffelump for the Winnie the Pooh song “Heffelumps and Woosles”) was the first gift I bought for Z. It was on impulse. We would play the heffelump for him before he was born. My SO was skeptical, but I had faith. We discovered immediately in the hospital that it had worked. (see pic) The singing of his heffelump calms him down within seconds unless he is in the midst of a full blown melt-down.

Someone recently suggested buying another heffelump and changing them in and out so that if one is damaged and has to be thrown out, there is still a heffelump. That just seems so wrong. Like having a spare SO that you change in and out incase something happens to the original.

I've been making plans for the coming RomantiCon. It will be my first convention as an author. It will also be my first signing unless Jewels of Ursus is released before hand. Even then I'm nervous about setting up my own signings.

I've also been giving some thought to podcasting. Wondering if it might be a good idea to offer some of my work as audio books through podcasts. I'm looking into the idea.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I'm being tortured

I'm being tortured with American Idol. I really don't care that much except that the dude Adam really rubs me the wrong way. No real reason, but he comes across as smug. I also think it's less than fair that a guy whose made a living singing and peforming (he was in the traveling company of Wicked) is participating in an amateur competition.

My little superstar will turn 6 months in a week. It doesn't seem possible. He's incredibly vocal. I don't think I'll ever have to worry about him being too quiet. He can't sit up yet, but he wants to crawl very badly. He gets his arms and legs going, but can't figure out how to get them under him. This is ironic because when he sleeps, he pulls his legs up under him and ends up scooching until his head is up against the top of his crib. Heaven help us when he figures it out. There will be no stopping him.

We're at seven days and counting. School will be out in seven days. I can't wait. Mostly because it means I can spend some more time with Z, but also because after all this time, you kinda need a break. I do have to say I'm proud of my kids. We got our state tests back and they did a wonderful job. It has been a good year and they've done an awesome job.

Again, Humans Have It Backward

A number of romance writers with whom I have a common link (we have, or have had, the same editor) have been posting pictures of the “real” them on their blogs. Good for them. I previously posted pics of myself on this blog.

This was started, to my knowledge, by Amarinda Jones and spread quickly. Now I don’t always agree with AJ, but in this case I do. If you’ll allow me to paraphrase, she said on her blog that we should be embracing ourselves for exactly who we are, no matter what we look like, no matter how it fits with society’s ideals or our own. We should be happy and proud to the real us.

This course of action got me to thinking. You almost never see a man with these sorts of insecurities about how he looks. I can’t remember who originated the quote and had no luck finding it on the web, but it has stuck with me. “Men and women will never be equal until a woman can walk down the street bald headed and with a beer gut and still believe she’s beautiful.”

But in most of nature, humans stand out as the only species where the majority of its social groupings work backwards from the bulk of nature. In many species the appearances of the genders may differentiate based on size, such as in many dogs, marine and land mammals, etc. In most bird species and among many fish species it is the male who preens and tries to gain the attention of the female. But in all species that I’ve heard of, it is still the male who seeks to win over the females. He seeks to prove he is the most beautiful, most perfect specimen of manhood to mate with her. You see this very clearly with creatures like lions, cattle, fish and birds. The lion’s mane provides protection for his neck during territorial battles but also acts as a way of showing off his gloriousness to the females he is trying to woo. Bulls grow horns for much the same reason.

Ever seen a female beta fish? No, none of those gorgeous fantailed beauties is a girl. Those are the males. Mrs. Beta is much more subdued.

Bees, ants, other hive animals –all dependent upon the queen taking their notice.

Perhaps it is clearest, however with birds. The male peacock clearly is out to impress. The magnificent tail, which the female does not have, not only startles predators, but is used to strut his stuff for his lady love. Cardinals, those gorgeous red birds, are only gorgeous in the male of the species. Female cardinals are quite dull. Robins also, that bright red breast is the sign of a male, while the female is a duller brown.

But for humans, sadly, we have outsmarted ourselves. We have created complex societies that have destroyed the female sense of self. Perhaps it’s time we took back the power we’ve given over to others for so long. Perhaps it’s time that we as women stopped letting ourselves believe that the “real” us is somehow less than wonderful.

There is hope, you know. Just take a look at the Massai of Africa. The women appreciate beauty and wear bright colors and jewels, but nothing compared to the men.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Next Generation

Mother's Day was a mixed bag yesterday. Sort of a really nice time bookended by suckiness. I woke up with a migraine and had to beg the SO to take munchkin for while. That while turned out to be 6 hours while I moaned and groaned and tried to sleep my headache away.

When I finally emerged from the cave we wasted no time. We were on a mission. We had to begin the immediate indoctrination of the next generation of Trekkers. For Mother's Day my SO (who is not really a Trekker, but enjoys the series) and Z took me to see Star Trek. The movie was good. Not "blow me away" awesome, but above average. *Spoiler Alert- skip to next paragraph if you don't want a spoiler* Though as usual, Star Trek did the old fall back: When in doubt-time travel. It was rather ingenious the way they left it at the end. They can now write a whole new line of Star Trek adventures.

Of course in the process we have now taken Z to his first Star Trek movie. He was quite good. With the help of a bottle he slept his way through the first half and then sat on one of our laps the second half alternating between playing with his feet (his new favorite toy) and watching the moving images on the screen.

As I said, though, bookended by suckiness. My mother is back in the hospital. The woman doesn't listen to anything or anyone. We told her she wasn't ready to come home from the nursing home, but she was not to be persuaded. She lasted less than 24 hours and is now back in the hospital and my step-father is not sounding so good. The man had diabetes, emphysema, and has had multiple back surgeries. Add to this he's trying to also raise my 12 year old brother and tell me how she ever expected him to "take care of her." But this is a very long rant that goes on and on and is essentially down to the fact that I live 600 miles away from them all and I have multiple siblings in the immediate area that need to get off their collective arses and take care of this.

We went to my favorite pizza place after the movie and I had an allergic reaction to something. I have no food allergies, but suddenly my mouth got numb and my face started swelling. I took a load of antihistamines and ended up back in bed to sleep that off.

Yep. Bookended by suckiness. The good part is I'm pretty sure I'll only remember the good stuff.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Sweet Talking Flowers

I doing some research a few years ago for a story I was writing and I have to admit I’m still fascinated by the subject. The language of flowers. Throughout history people have used the gift of plants and flowers to express themselves but the Victorian society had what was probably the most intricate of signs, symbols and meanings. A woman or a man could say volumes not only with the color of the bloom they chose to wear, but with the flower they selected and how it was worn.

As mother’s day approaches, one of the traditional flower giving days of the year, I was thinking about just this topic. Mother and daughter relationships can be complicated to say the least. Sometimes the person we love and hate the most isn’t always a romantic love, but someone with whom we have more history than any romantic relationship. So here are a few ideas and meanings from Victorian times that might help you put together a bouquet that says volumes about your relationship with your mother…and unless she’s versed in the language of flowers, she doesn’t have to know what you’re really saying.

The rose is a traditional flower we associate with love. But to the Victorians the color was just as, if not more, important. White roses mean silence, a secret kept between people. It can also mean reverence and humility. Yellow roses were not something you wanted to receive from a romantic interest as they mean a dying love or jealousy. But if you are one of those lucky people whose mother/daughter relationship has grown into friendship, then yellow roses speak that perfectly. Add the pear blossom and tell your mother that you want that friendship to last forever.

Is your mother one of those elegant types who is aging wonderfully? Try the Dahlia, it says class and dignity. Mix it with the lotus flower for eloquence, the thistle for a noble countenance, the oxeye daisy for patience and, for greenery, the oak leaf to tell your mother how you admire her strength.

Your relationship not so June Cleaver and the Beaver? The eglantine rose, or sweet briar rose, talks of wounds that need to be healed. Willow branches for a love forsaken or abandonment. The yellow carnation is a symbol of disappointment. Lavender calls out distrust just as strongly as it cries out devotion.

Whatever you have to say, the plant world can help you say it. And just in case Mom knows her stuff, perhaps it would be wise to choose carefully.