Saturday, May 30, 2009

So You Think You Can Dance in Retrospect

In anticipation of the new season of the TV show So You Think You Can Dance, I wanted to share my favorite dances from 2008.

Just as an aside, last night when they aired another episode of the auditions, one of the judges talked to a young man who thought he could just "get a teacher and learn how to do other dances, then come back next year." This man didn't seem to appreciate at all the enormity of what the dancers were doing out there on the stage. It isn't something one can simply "pick up" and expect to do as well, to as great acclaim, as those who have spent years perfecting their art.

Just because my world revolves around writing, I found this discussion to be applicable to writers as well. I think I too often forget that I am new to this game, relatively speaking. I've only been writing for a few years as opposed to many like other writers I know. I need to pay my dues, put in a zillion of hours of blood, sweat and tears, before I can hope to be counted among the big boys. And I know the sacrifice of time and energy will be well worth it when I can join their ranks with my head held high. 

Now, without further ado, and in no particular order ... my favorite 2008 dances ...

Whew, I guess that's all I feel like doing, lol. Sorry some of the videos were of crummy quality.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Free Spirit

I used to think I was a rebel, and therefore that I was bad.

I've always hated conforming to arbitrary standards--whether they were imposed on me by my mother, by school, by jobs. Believing that I was a rebel translated to believing I was bad.

What was wrong with me, that I wasn't satisfied doing what was expected of me?

Sometimes not conforming has meant going above and beyond expectations, but most often it has meant marching to the beat of my own drummer or taking the road less travelled.

It also means that I often have to travel with a machete because the road is troubled with brambles and thorns. It's not easy to travel that road.

So much easier to follow the crowd, go along to get along, be one among the many.

But I guess that's just not me.

I used to think I didn't know who I was--and honestly, I'm still working on that. But as I hang around with more writer types I discover I'm less an island than I thought. Writer types get me. Writer types are like me. This is an amazing realization for me, because I've never felt so accepted by a group of people before. It's also a little scary because I'm not usually a group person. I fly solo. Typically.

So in the framework of this discovery, I've learned that it's not just about being a rebel. It's more like being a free spirit.

I don't rebel because I don't want to conform. I rebel because I have a spirit that yearns to be free of customary restraints. I need to be free to go where my spirit takes me. I am not bad, I am me

I don't always know who I am, because I am constantly in flux. I don't have a particular style that defines me because I, by my very nature, am indefinable. I am simply me--happy, whimsical, determined, a bit nuts, special, unique. 

I am not a rebel, to be contained and reformed. I am a free spirit and I am meant to soar.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Tag of Eights

It's been a long while since I've played a game of tag so when Shawntele tagged me, I was game (hardee har har.)

Here be Da Rules:
1. Mention the person who tagged you.
2. Complete the list of 8's.
3. Tag 8 other bloggers.
4. Tell them they have been tagged.

Eight Things I Look Forward To:
  1. Getting my first book deal.
  2. Losing the extra weight I'm carrying around.
  3. Getting fit and being healthy.
  4. Karen's photo shoot on Thursday.
  5. San Diego with the family in June.
  6. Seeing my sister again.
  7. Finishing up Jump Boys and getting it into Shadow Mountain's hands.
  8. Being a working, successful published author. :D
Eight Things I Did Yesterday
  1. Slept in.
  2. Had lunch with the fam at Red Robin.
  3. Took the boys to see Star Trek and loved it--again!
  4. Got rejected by a publisher.
  5. Cried my eyes out.
  6. Talked with friends.
  7. Got hugged and held by my sweet honey.
  8. Read a lot.
Eight Things I Wish I Could Do
  1. Jump on a plane and visit my sister right now.
  2. Deal better with Charlie on his 'off' days.
  3. Be more consistent in going to karate.
  4. Be a faster reader.
  5. Be a more creative homeschooling mom.
  6. Sing in an opera production again.
  7. Make a CD.
  8. Be published, lol.
Eight Shows I Watch
  1. Smallville
  2. Medium
  3. Dollhouse
  4. CSI
  5. Eureka
  6. So You Think You Can Dance
  7. America's Funniest Home Videos
  8. Chuck
Eight Friends I Am Tagging:
  1. Karen
  2. Shanna
  3. Christine
  4. Stephanie
  5. Jeri
  6. Kristi
  7. Jennifer
  8. Nichole
And there you have it! Crazy Eights, lol.

As you can tell, I'm back ... sort of. No promises, but I'm slowly starting to feel like myself again.

Don't be a stranger :) And if you haven't done it already, I'd love it if you became a follower. I'm a writer--I need constant reminders that I am loved ;)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Music Monday ~ I Am Proud To Be An American

I don't know if I'm back or not ... but I'm here today. Things are looking up in my world, so I'm hopeful I can handle blogging more regularly once again.

I am not an American. I am a Canadian. And yet, I love the song I chose today. I sing along with it and I feel the words burn within my heart. Even though I am not an American, I feel the truth and power in the words and I am.

Grateful to have the privilege of living in the United States. Grateful to be raising my boys here, to be patriotic, to love the country and what it stands for. It is an honor.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Book Review ~ Working for the Devil

  rating: 4 of 5 stars
Holy bad language Batman.

Several times I put this book down because the language was getting harder to jump over. But, I didn't get it out of the house fast enough, I guess because shortly I returned to it. The story was just that good and I needed to read it.

Being a sci fi nut, I found this to be an awesome story. Saintcrow writes of a world, our world, free of conventional customs and restraints. She manages to weave description of a complex futuristic world into the fabric of the story with ease. 

The protagonist is strong and believable--flawed in just the right ways that we can route for her, identify with her, and believe in her when she rallies and saves the day. (shh, I didn't say that.)

The love interest rivals, to my mind, Edward. Yes, I said it. I like him BETTER than Edward. 

Their love story is not unlike that between Edward and Belle, except the whole thing rings more true and makes more sense to me. 

The antagonist in the story was a little weak. Saintcrow could have done more with that, I think. I won't say more, because I don't want to give away the punchline, but you'll see what I mean if you read it. 

And I do recommend the book. IF you can tolerate serious bad language. As in every-other-word-out-of-their-mouths kind of bad. I got into the rhythm of it pretty well and go really good at substituting acceptable words when my eyes grazed over the offensive ones. But I'm not sure that's a skill I should be proud of or not. If you're not offended by that sort of thing, then go for it.

This is a fast-paced, action packed sci fi thriller that's unique and exciting. If you like strong female protagonists, love found in unlikely places, and the overarching, and ever-present, battle between good and evil, then this would be a great book for you.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Taking a Mental Vacation

Hi ya Folks,

I'm dropping by to tell ya'll that I'm not going to be blogging for a bit. Hopefully just a week, but perhaps longer. Or maybe I'll be back tomorrow. That's my prerogative, right? Keep ya guessing--that's my goal.

Don't worry, nothing's going on ... I just need to have a clear head with my writing right now and I'm finding there are too many voices talking at once. I need to give everybody a chance to say their peace so I can figure out what the heck they're all talking about. It's so noisy in my head, I can't even hear myself think.

So I'm going to go hang out with Me, Myself and I for a while, have some good heart-to-hearts, a regular ol' pow wow and see if I can't get some work done.

Forgive me if I'm not posting--especially, forgive me for not visiting your own blogs over the next while--and in the famous words of Arnold a la Terminator "I'll be bahck."

Till then, take care, adios, adieu.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Book Review ~ Skin Hunger

Skin Hunger (A Resurrection of Magic, Book 1) Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey

My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars
This was an odd book.

Skin Hunger is the story of two people, Sadima a young woman in search of love and acceptance for herself and the magical gift she holds secret, and Hahp, a teenage boy who has been sent to the wizard academy against his will. Interestingly, Sadima's story is told in third person and Hahp's story is told in first person, alternating by chapter. Furthermore, Sadima's story happens several generations before Hahp's.

All of that I can live with. For me, the approach was unique and fresh. I didn't have a problem with it.

What I did have a problem with was ... why should I care?

I found this story to be entirely too much telling and not nearly enough feeling, showing, living and breathing of each character's story.

And what was worse, the story barely got anywhere and then completely left me hanging without any resolution at all. I understand it is a trilogy, nevertheless there was NO resolution. I can't recall a novel where that has happened before. Usually at least some part of the story comes to completion, but in Skin Hunger that's just not so.

I honestly can't say that I could recommend this book to anyone. I will likely read the next book when it comes out, and then, perhaps, I might recommend the two together. But at the moment, I'd say, don't waste your time with this book.

View all my reviews.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday ~ Mindfulness

I've talked about this before but it's a topic I feel strongly about so I thought it wouldn't hurt to revisit the subject. Plus, I recently read an article that talked about the health benefits of living in the moment, and gave good tips on how to get started. 

But first, a little refresher course on what mindfulness is. Mindfulness is a concentrated state of awareness that can help you see and respond to situations with clarity. It's the ability to clear the mind of incessant chatter and diffuse the color of emotions in your decision-making.

Mindfulness can also help you to:
  • Better manage tension and stress
  • Be more objective
  • Communicate and make decisions more effectively
  • Be more productive
It's not hard for me to imagine that mindfulness could achieve all of those things. I love the TV show Life and in it the main character, Charlie Cruz, is totally into the teachings of Zen. One of the sayings he listens to is "One plus one is one." I believe it means that to be truly at peace, we must be at one--with the world around us, with people, with ourselves.

Some of the benefits of mindfulness are:
  • Reduced blood sugar
  • Lowered cholesterol
  • Enhanced immune function
  • Reduced headache, migraine and back pain (I need this benefit!)
  • Improved respiratory function
  • Decreased abdominal fat (oh yeah, baby!)
So how can you begin being more mindful?

Start the moment you wake up. Rather than jumping right out of bed, take a few moments to notice the various sensations in your body--your heartbeat, breathing, or the way the sheets feel against your skin. What are you thinking about? Take a moment to be mindful of yourself just be before you get swallowed up in the thoughts of your day to come.

In fact, continue your mindfulness through your shower and morning routine. Notice the feel of the water on your skin, the makeup being smoothed over your face.

Any time you have time, practice being mindful. 

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." 
~ Ferris Bueller

On your morning commute, turn off the talk-radio, and be. Take in the views around you, notice the other cars on the road, the feel of the steering wheel in your hand, the way your back feels pressed against the backseat.

Standing in line at the grocery store, pay attention to the muscles you are using to stand. Feel the measure of your breath.

I'm sure you can find many opportunities each day to practice being in the moment, to be mindful of yourself and all around you. I think all of us could benefit from being more mindful. I think we'd feel less stressed, less hurried, less out of touch with ourselves. 

I was glad to read this article because I needed the reminder to practice being mindful every day. Too often I'm rushing through one activity so I can get to the next. Too often, I'm trying to do multiple things at once, ultimately resulting in nothing getting done to the best of my ability.

That could actually be one of the reasons why I love writing so much--it's impossible to think of anything else, to be anywhere else, when you are writing. The craft demands that you be there, 100% wholly invested.

Just remember, that the benefits of practicing mindfulness begin immediately and are greatest when done consistently over time. So come on, join me for a moment and just ... be.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Book Review ~ Bone Warriors

First of all ... Bron Bahlmann. That's a name made for a book cover if ever I heard one. And Bron was definitely made to be a writer.

Bron started writing when he was in third grade and now has his first published book before the age of sixteen. How cool is that?

I think my boys would especially love Bone Warriors. It has all the stuff that makes a young boys' hearts go all atwitter. 

There's an evil necromancer who forces the souls of those who died hopeless and without fear, power the crude creations in his army of bone warriors. There are two teenage boys, who's parents have been captured by the necromancer's minions, that are determined to save them and all the people of their village at all costs. There are unlikely allies, snake-men, giants, and myriad other amazing creatures.

Bron's story is unique and well-done. It comes to the edge of really scary without being too much (in my opinion.) 

I would recommend Bone Warriors to boys between the ages of 11 and 15. You can buy Bron's book from Amazon here

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Teaser Tuesday ~ The Jump Boys

Just to mix things up a bit this week . . . here's a tiny excerpt from The Jump Boys:

Jayce pressed the up button on his bed until his nose touched the ceiling. Pressing the down button, the bed’s tiny thrusters quieted and propelled the bed in the other direction, until it lightly bumped off the floor.

“Will you cut that out?” Val stuck his foot out and shoved Jayce’s bed to the other side of the room when it passed him on the way back up.

“Wooo!” laughed Jayce. He loved getting a rise out of Val. Jayce bumped into the media screen currently playing “Kung Fu,” an ancient TV show their mom had found while scouring the Beta Earth archives. Jayce put his hands together in mock humility and bowed to the image of the sun-dried man on the screen.

“My apologies, Master.” He laughed again as his bed spun away on recoil.

I want to read your teasers. If you've posted one of your own . . . leave me a comment and I'll come visit. 

Happy Writing!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Music Monday ~ Tom Sawyer

Next to the amazing Pop Muzik, I have two early music memories. I can't remember which I got first, so I'm going with this one. Tom Sawyer by Rush. I think I had the actual whole album, but I don't remember much more than Tom. It was definitely a fave. And still ... it rocks, man.

Hope you enjoy it!

In other news, I got Jump Boys ready and sent in to Lisa. It's such a blur now, I hope it was decent when I sent it in--after reading and re-reading it so much my brain was a bit fuzzy.

But I discovered something about myself--actually it was not an entirely new discovery, but rather it became a fully formed realization.

I love writing intensely. 

The harder the work, the more deeply I am ensconced in the story, the more the magic breeds and the more I love writing. 

I went through the same thing last year when I revised and rewrote Devil's Daughter in a three week full-time period. I felt awesome

Now I have to figure out a way to keep that intensity going so I can feel like that all the time. It was so great I almost considered sending my boys back to school next year just so I could write full time. But that would be selfish--there are no good reasons for them to go back to school--only for me. And even that, not really. I love having them home.

So, I'm keeping the ball rolling by working hard to get my query and synopsis for Devil's Daughter ready to submit to agents. And then I'll work on Land Magic. Or The Blood Crown. Or ... hmm. Oh yeah--in the spirit of positive thinking I should work on a good edit/rewrite on Jump Boys so that when Lisa asks for the full manuscript it'll be ready. Yeah!

Oh, and don't forget to check out my blog today at LDS Writers Blogck ~ it's all about naming your characters--and naming your kids. You'll see ;)