Sunday, November 25, 2007

I Am A Winner

Every year in November I finish the month feeling like I am on top of the world. This year is no different. I am a winner again! I have 55k so far and I have hardly slowed down since getting to 50k. I am just going to write this novel until it is finished! Go me!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all my family and friends!

I am thankful for the fact that no one got hurt in the car accident I was involved in yesterday afternoon. No, it was not my fault. In fact, I prevented it from being as bad as it could have been.

I am also thankful for my family and my friends whom I will not be seeing today. And I am thankful for my husband, who I get to spend the whole day with!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

All Of These Stories

I am now at 49k words. You are no doubt wondering why I have taken time off from writing my book to write a blog post. First, at 49k on Nov. 21st it's kind of obvious that I'm going to win. Second, I generally write in the evenings. I've found it's more conducive to how my mind works. In the evening I am far less likely to criticize my writing because I'm tired. At the end of the day I also feel a sense of urgency to get the words written for the day. So, essentially, I write posts in the morning and sometimes in the evening on my livejournal -- which is my official NaNo journal.

I have a lot of stories cooped up in my head. On my count I have written almost five first drafts of novels. Two of them are the first volumes of two different epics. Of course, in my mind an epic is not what it is in, say, someone like Robert Jordan's mind. My characters are not all black and white, good or evil. I like to introduce some ambiguity to make the reader think. For example in the one epic I wrote where the good guys have to destroy a nameless evil (so, so cliche) I have it so the biggest good guy of them all took the bad guy's power away from him before he was a bad guy. So, doesn't he have every right to be annoyed and try to conquer the universe? I don't know, that's for the reader to think about and for me to flesh out in the ensuing books.

This is the problem with my writing and the reason why I probably won't go as far with fantasy as I might with science fiction. Basically, the more popular fantasy novels are the ones where the good guys have to destroy the figurehead of all evil. I have only one story that does that and it's nowhere near conventional. Another example from that book is that I made the Chosen One decide to become a villain and eschew his "destiny." My one other epic is the story of a curse and how it affects the lives of the people it was placed on. It's essentially fantasy parody because I have a prophecy (or curse), a young boy going on a journey and a bad guy who is only a bad buy by accident. Then in the book I am currently working on for NaNo, well, it's not epic at all and I just decided that the good guys should kidnap the main character. So, I'm a bit nontraditional to say the least.

I started reading science fiction again just to catch up on the genre and discovered that I enjoy it more than fantasy. My science fiction is very different from any of the stuff I have read recently. The biggest difference so far is the lack of cyberpunk in my writing. I had never even conceived of such an idea before reading some cyberpunk. The thing is, it doesn't really interest me. Who cares how many strange operations a person can get and whether or not they can have a gun inside their skulls? The characters are always what interests me. That's why The Speed of Dark is my favorite work of science fiction. It's all about the characters.

That's how I try to write. I try to incorporate some themes -- not too blatantly. Then I try to center the story on the characters' personal journeys. One of my trademark moves is to have a "me character." However, the "me character" is never allowed to be the main character. It's always a supportive character. The definition of the "me character" is that this character will have one or two attributes of myself. Chaucer put himself into his works. However, he obviously did not take himself too seriously, because his "me character" was always a total idiot. I digress about digressing . . . Characters make the story, so that's what I try to focus on.

In conclusion -- because you have to have an "in conclusion" -- I have a lot of stories in my head. I wish some of them would get out on paper in a more perfect form and I could sell them to people.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Bird In The Spotlight

I learned an important fact yesterday evening: a bird in the spotlight is worth two good jokes. Craig and I went to see Brian Regan perform at a place near where we live. Brian Regan is a comedian who has been around for a number of years. I consider him to be the funniest man in American, possibly the world. His jokes are all clean and with no swearing beyond the word "hell."

Yesterday he was about a third of the way into his show. It was funny. Let me tell you, I will never think of automated phone systems the same way again and I used to navigate those things like a pro when I worked with insurance. Anyway, he started a new joke and suddenly a bird flew into the spotlight. I actually thought someone had released it as part of the joke for a moment. But, no, it was just in the theatre. It took refuge up above the stage. Half the crowd made a high pitched bird noise. Brian did not see the bird, so all he knew was that people were making a really weird noise. He laughed it off and made a few jokes about the audience response. We laughed and he got back to the show.

Near the end of the show Brian Regan introduced a joke with the words, "A bird flew into our house." At that moment the entire audience went into throes of hysterical laughter. A bunch of people made the bird noise again. It quickly became apparent that Brian had no idea why we were laughing. He still managed to make a joke out of it, but every time he tried to start the joke again we would go into gales of laughter. Eventually he got the joke told. When he came back on stage for his encore he asked the audience what was going on that we had laughed so much at the beginning of a joke. So we told him about the bird, whose presence he had not noticed. He will definitely never forget us.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Shock, But Mostly Awe

I just received a phone call from Jim Guest. He asked me to make phone calls to other Ron Paul supporters to make sure they're going to come to caucus night. I said yes. I knew he was going to be in town tonight making phone calls. I did not expect him to call me.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Julian The Shark

I give you fair warning that this post is coming from the mind of a recently embittered Smallville fan. It's too big an angry rant for my livejournal. Warner Brothers may have jumped the shark on their hit series. For real. So, if you have no interest in the show or have not kept up on the current season, you might not care to read further. Spoiler alert.

First off, who wrote tonight's episode? The dialog was less than fresh. There were two people who took that crappy dialog and worked it. They would be John Glover and Michael Rosenbaum. John Glover plays Lionel Luthor, father of Lex Luthor and by far the best character in the series. Michael Rosenbaum plays Lex Luthor a man on a journey to become the biggest baddie of them all. I suppose that Tom Welling (Clark Kent) did a good job as well. I add that his lines were not as crappy as everyone else's.

Second off, why has Lionel turned into a bit part? It's as if the screenwriters have forgotten the masterful character he was in seasons 2,3 4 and 5. It's as if they've lost their minds. The problems between him and Lex have ceased to exist, yet they still hate each other. Am I the only one who thinks this bears some more thought and fleshing out? Come on people, give Lionel back his character. I liked it better when he was evil. At least he had an important part to play then.

Third off, bringing in Lex's "dead" brother Julian jumped a shark. Maybe two sharks. It hurt. Giving him the role of the stupid, annoying, horny editor at the Planet may have jumped an additional shark. This destroys one of the most important parts of the whole series. Again, the Lex-Lionel conflict. Possibly my favorite episode of the entire series was 3.19. In it we learn the truth about Julian's death, which, until then we were under the impression that Lex had caused. Lex gets back some repressed memories from his childhood to discover that his mother killed Julian. Yes, this is horrible, yes, she was crazy. But more than that, it is in that episode that Lionel realizes that he has hated his son for 20 years because he thought Lex killed Julian. They cannot go back and change that by making Julian alive. It doesn't make sense. It's wrong. It's jumping the shark. I won't stand for it. I'm an angry fan. I wish I could pretend this had never happened. It's completely inconsistent with the rest of the show. I can only hope that they will do a decent enough job with this tangential problem that I can gloss over it and pay more attention to the other characters story-lines. I can only hope. Desperately . . .

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

NaNoWriMo Ate My Soul

. . . and it's taking up all my time.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Philosophy of Stories

A wise man once told me -- and I paraphrase, "Philosophy means nothing, we should just tell stories." I tend to view my life through a kaleidoscope of stories. This is why I write and this is why I wish to share some of the stories that have made me who I am. I will focus on the stories that I enjoyed before the age of 19 (that's when I went to college) in this post.

1. Horton Hatches the Egg: When I was very young I had a cassette tape that played this Dr. Seuss classic. I would listen to it every day along with my twin sister. The thing I remember most about the story is Horton's stodgy motto: "I meant what I said and I said what I meant, an elephant's faithful one hundred percent." I took that to mean exactly what it means, except that I am not an elephant. I hold myself to a very high standard of doing what I say I will do. I used to think this came about after my experiences selling puppies to deadbeats who never showed up when they said they would. Or simply because I am a Christian and want to give people a good impression of Christianity. But no, the fact is, I hold myself to that standard because a story drilled it into me at a very young age.

2. King Solomon in the Bible: You might wonder what this story had to do with me. Well, I'll tell you. One of my favorite Bible stories was the one about King Solomon's wisdom. I used to ask mom to read that to me from the picture Bible at least once a week. I took it to mean that wisdom is good, but it's difficult to come by. Strangely enough, I always understood why what Solomon did in the story about the baby and the two women who claimed it was a wise way of acting. I also understood that he lost his wisdom in certain circumstances (around attractive women, or just women). We all have weaknesses that outweigh the bounds of our wisdom. Or, rather, we are all fallen and even wisdom cannot keep us from doing stupid and wrong things. We need God's forgiveness.

3. The book of Job: I have read Job more than any other book in the Bible. It's effects on the way I live my life are multiple. First, there's Job's absolute stubbornness. He just would not curse God, and he refused to believe that the reason for his torment was his own doing. I am a stubborn person too. If you say something to me that I completely disagree with then I will not back down. I've got myself into trouble because of that. Which brings me to the next bit of Job's story that shaped the way I am. How I choose my friends. I am very picky about who I am close to. I am not exclusive, however. I will hang out and have a good time with lots of different people. I am picky, however, about who I confide in. Obviously, poorly chosen friends can have a negative effect. So I choose as wisely as I can. The third thing I learned from Job is reverence. Another term for that would be the fear of God. I have never heard God speak from a whirlwind, but I know he can. Then there is the subject of suffering. From the book of Job I learned that suffering is a part of life. You cannot get around it no matter how good you are. Some people choose to whine and complain about suffering. I try my best to accept suffering and make the most of this imperfect life. Lastly, I have the patience of Job. I kid you not.

4. Mouse Soup: My favorite book was Mouse Soup. I memorized it when I was three years old so that I could read it to myself before I knew how to read. Mouse Soup taught me that you do not have to be the biggest and the strongest in order to succeed against bigger and stronger odds. You just have to be a thinker and you have to keep going. Mouse Soup is really a Machiavellian story and it made Machiavellian principles quite clear to me at a very young age. This book also gave me an appreciation for the use of words and stories. A good story can turn a bad day around. In Mouse Soup the stories he tells save the little mouse's life. It's an extreme example, but it works.

5. Frog and Toad books: These books taught me many things about devotion, perseverance and loyalty. I would read them again and again because I so admired the friendship between Frog and Toad. To this day when I think of happiness among friends I think of Frog and Toad. I also think of those two creatures when I have bad dreams or do garden work.

6. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: Holmes is a remarkable character. Perhaps best known for the phrase, "Truth is stranger than fiction." I always laughed that a fictional character said that. The important thing I learned from Holmes was to pay attention to my surroundings. You can deduce a lot if you just take the time to observe the world around you. It took conscious effort for me to train myself to watch the world and determine the meanings of what I saw. Now it's a subconscious skill.

7. Pinocchio: Pinocchio was the first longish book that I ever read. It's really not that long actually. I adored this story from a very young age, having watched the Disney movie over and over again. But the book is so much better than the movie. People always tell me that "Pinocchio lied." My response was always, "Yeah, and he repented." His life was a long struggle of yearning. Just as my own is. He wanted to be better than he was and he could not be that of his own free will. Nothing Pinocchio did could make him into his desire to be human. Just as nothing I do will make me perfect or wash me clean of my wrongdoings. Only God's grace can do that.

Stories shaped my character and that's why I am a story teller. I'd better get back to writing my book now. What are some of your stories?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Get Over It, Already

Raise your hand if you are tired of the GOP looking for Ronald Reagan. Both mine went up. I remember back in 2000 people talked about how Bush was like the next Ronald Reagan. Now it's election cycle again and we are all groaning about how there is no Reagan Republican to elect.
My response is this: Ronald Reagan was there when we needed him. He spent a lot of money. I like him, he's not my hero, but I like him a lot. He was a great man. He helped bring down communism and he made the economy better for a while (my problem here is that I am complimenting government for helping us out with something that government should not be involved in -- the economy). But he's gone, people. He's gone. Get over it. Right now we do not need Ronald Reagan. We do not even need a Reagan Republican.

What we need is a very, very conservative voice that will reintroduce some of the important things about our country that we have forgotten. For example, sound foreign policy, not borrowing millions of dollars from China every day, letting the market work instead of centralizing economic control and spending less money (because we're out of money). We also need optimism. Which, I might add, Reagan had. We need something to hope for. I really don't see anything like that in most of these candidates vying for the presidency. The hope they're offering is an empty hope to anyone who knows anything about how all this spending is going to affect our country.

The way I see it, I'm going to have to deal with the fact that we have huge debt problems and our money is losing value. I would rather we turned this ship around right now than continued heading for that rock over there. Reagan was great, but the problems our country faces now are not the same as the problems he steered us through. We need somebody else. So get over it. He was there when we needed him, now we need a different guy (no, I do not mean to say that only a man can be president, I just do not like Hillary).

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Making Headlines

I would just like to draw your attention to the fact that Ron Paul's campaign raised over $4 million in one day. There are two amazing things about this 1) the money is still coming in and 2) most of these donors -- if not all -- are regular people giving as much as they can.