Recovery, Senator Johnston, and A Book Review

Aurora and the Denver Metro area are recovering in the wake of the horrible tragedy early Friday morning. Twelve people are dead, the youngest six years old, all of them young. The killer, James Egan Holmes, had assured himself a place in history as a monster. I don’t understand why such a designation would be desirable, but I don’t plan mass killings in my spare time, either.

I don’t apologize for not linking the killer’s name to an article. If you must read about him, find it yourself. This is the last time. his name will be mentioned here.

Colorado State Senator Michael Johnston  posted an amazing blog entry. I was going to try to summarize it, but you really ought to read it. I would vote for this man if I could. I already knew I supported his work on the Education committee in that state. I now wholeheartedly support him because the man comes from love, no matter what. You cannot go wrong with that. Some of the high points in the post were a reminder of all the people who rushed to the rescue of the injured; of all those who saw the movie and walked away unharmed; of the powerful love with which our city, state, and country is responding to the incident. He is right; love that pulls us into action to support the injured and the families of the lost and to try to prevent future atrocities will save us.

The United States is famous for giving. We volunteer. We open our doors and hearts. One way we express our loving willingness to support those who have been harmed, whether by nature or by monsters, is to open our wallets. If you want to donate to help those hurt in this shooting, click here. Giving First is a safe, reliable place to give money to those who will be caring for the injured, included those with mental trauma.

Book Review: Mercedes Lackey’s Hyperactivity

Mercedes Lackey is being hyperactive this year. This is her release list this year:

2012 A Host of Furious Fancies with Rosemary Edghill
2012 Arcanum 101: Welcome New Students
2012 Crown of Vengeance with James Mallory
2012 Dead Reckoning
2012 Home from the Sea
2012 Redout
2012 Witches
2012 World Divided

Dead Reckoning

With Dead Reckoning Lackey and Rosemary Edghill begin a new series for the Young Adult audience. The main characters, Jett, Honoria Gibbons, and White Fox, are all young, hyper-capable, people investigating the mysterious disappearances in the post-Civil War Wild West. They band together when their investigations all seem to lead to Allsop, Texas. Jett has the misfortune of being present when a horde of zombies invades Allsop and kills all the inhabitants. Luckily, she escapes to tell the others what she’s seen so they can begin figuring out what’s going on.

Overall, this book was just good enough for me to recommend it. Of the characters, Honoria Gibbons, a wildly inventive young woman who refuses to let her gender get in her way, and White Fox, a white man raised by a Native American tribe after surviving the destruction of his parents’ wagon train, were the best developed. Jett, masquerading as a male gunfighter as she hunts for her brother, had the most appealing back story but she came across as a caricature. The plot was cute, but not all that compelling. The action scenes, however, were great and kept me reading. I will probably read the next book in the series, but I’m not really impressed. Dead Reckoning struck me as an attempt at capitalizing on the lucrative Young Adult market with no commitment to contributing to it.

I will be reading more of Lackey’s prodigious output this year. I hope what’s coming up will be an improvement.

Joy

Today, I’m still struggling to remember that we really do live in a good world. I offer you what gives me peace at moments like this, the closing lines of Desiderata:

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy. –Max Ehrmann, 1927

Dead Reckoning

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New Adventures

As you know, I’ve been on a lengthy hiatus. I’ve been reacquainting myself with the care and feeding on a newborn little girl. Babies are exhausting little people for us grandmas! She’s seven months old now and letting me have a bit more time to do other things.

Image

The first thing I’m attempting to do is get this blog moved to a new webhosting service. Pray for me; I have no idea what I’m doing here!

The second thing I’m doing is actually setting up a store on the new site. I feel like I’ve really overloaded my plate. Stay tuned.

I’ll let you know how all this is going. In the meantime, thanks for bearing with me while my life has been reordered. I’m starting to investigate resources available to grandparents caring for grandchildren. There just isn’t much out there in the way of support for us. I plan to publish what I have found, possibly in a separate blog, because I think there are quite a few of us. Talk about an under-served population! I could get militant about this, because we seem to be suspended between living a retired or semi-retired life and having to deal with the needs of babies and young children. More on this later.

Wish me luck on the transfer and such. Back soon!

 

How are you? I am tired, sleep-deprived, and joyous about the time I spend with my granddaughter. I am also feeling so hopelessly behind on everything else, like keeping up my blog and getting any writing done. I haven’t given up though and I thank anyone who still cares enough to read my blathering. Until I can get my own writing done, please enjoy this piece from a lady whom I have come to respect deeply.

Mirth and Motivation

“When we surrender, when we do not fight with life when it calls upon us, we are lifted and the strength to do what needs to be done finds us.” Oriah Mountain Dreamer

The Invitation by Oriah
It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain… Contd

“How are you?” seems like such a simple question

View original post 944 more words

What’s Wrong With Me?

I woke up this morning and my “Little Voice” started in on me, telling me everything I’m not doing and making sure I know something’s wrong with me. Since one of the things It included was posting to my blog, I’m at least going to take that part of the discussion on and post about the voice.

Joy

Ever notice that you cannot win a discussion with that infernal internal voice? I certainly have. I am now posting to my blog, one of the (many) things It has been complaining about. Unfortunately, It is now mentioning that I ought to be vacuuming, cleaning the bunny cage, sanitizing the bathroom, doing the dishes, blah, blah, blah. The little voice does a great job of paralyzing me by making every darn thing that needs doing huge and unmanageable.

So how do I deal with It? If I choose to listen to It, soon I am a gibbering, depressed idiot sitting on the closet floor doing nothing. Ick. Icky. Yuck! Maybe It should not be in charge here. How to escape that voice, though? It always shows up and It always says nasty things, doesn’t it? Didn’t It just say, “No, I don’t”?

In fact, It probably also said something like “It’s for your own good.” How do I know this? I live with It, just like you, and It pretty much says the same sort of stuff to everybody. It’s never nice (“Yes, I am) and It’s solutions generally don’t work (Yes, they do). It’s job is to keep you from jeopardizing yourself in any way. It’s most successful ploy is to remind you of past failures and fear of the unknown future. Gloom and fear are It’s major tools.

Worst of all, It generally tells the truth. You have failed in the past. The future holds the possibility of more failure. What does that say about the present?

Nothing.

The past happened. Whatever occurred is over and it can’t be changed. The future lies ahead and nothing can be done about it, either. All you have is the present. If It runs the show, the past is all you have in the present and all you have to look forward to in the future. What a lovely thought that is!

How do you get away from It? Really, no joy comes from the Voice, does it? Why let it run your life. You do have a choice, just like I do.

As far as I know, the cheapest and fastest way to shut the Voice up is doing The Landmark Forum. On Sunday, there is always a moment when the Voice shuts off and you experience a moment of blessed peace. When It picks up again, you know you have a choice as to whether It runs your life or not. There are other ways to do this, such as years of meditating and studying, but I’m not that patient.

Getting back to the title of this post, I can now tell you exactly what’s wrong with me:

Nothing.

I’m still that being who wants to contribute and make a difference in the world. Just like you are. Letting It take over does not support my stand in life. Given that I now have taken the reins of my life back, how am I going to accomplish what I need to do?

  • Make a list of what I want. My beloved aunt wrote a book, Lists for Muddle Management,  about lists and provides forms to help. By the way, I didn’t write this post just to promote her book. I find the lists very helpful myself.
  • Break big stuff down into little steps. I know how to do this, I promise. The lists will help.
  • Remember who’s really in charge. It doesn’t have to be. You have to be.

The most important thing to remember is this:

Nothing is wrong here.

Nothing is wrong with me.

Nothing is wrong with you.

Get off the closet floor and go have some fun, would you? I’m going to. Have a splendid Saturday and look for miracles!

New Year! New Goals!

It took me longer to get back to the blog than I had planned, which I’m committed to not set a trend for the year! My daughter, the one with the new baby, broke her wrist and needed more help than we expected, so I contribute the slowdown to an emergency!

Writing

You know all the cool stuff I talked about in my last post as possibilities? I’m not doing any of it! I looked at what really needs to happen this year and at the projects I’m already taken on and discovered that adding two more, regardless of coolness, just didn’t make sense. Instead, here’s what I’m working on:

– Rereading and revising the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo with a plan to start marketing it in September.

– Reorganizing this blog and posting on it 2-3 time a week. Maybe more.

– Writing regular book reviews here. Since I read a little of everything, this should throw a lot of variety in your direction!

– Outlining and starting a new book. I had a great idea inspired by the Postcard Challenge, although I’m not doing the art part of it.

Art

Right now, I have two major projects to get going:

– I signed up to do an Embroiderer’s Guild of America group correspondence course, making a pulled thread sampler. Pulled thread, in this instance, refers to stitches that distort or pull the fabric to create a kind of lacy look. I will post pictures of the work in progress. It has to be complete by July 2nd, so we can mail it to the instructor to evaluate. Please let my fingers do their job!

– Setting up my Etsy store, taking good pictures of my work, and getting it up for sale. This entails quite a lot of work, some of which I don’t know how to do yet. My goal is to have it operational by the end of January, so I can post hearts for Valentine’s!

– Okay, three projects. As a stitcher, I have things hung on my wall that prove I can’t count. My third project is to ensure that I clay at least two days a week to make sure I have fresh stuff up on the Etsy site!

Joy

Making resolutions at the beginning of the year is not a path to joy. In fact, it’s more likely to be a path to guilt, upset, and failure. On the other hand, having a plan for what you’re going to accomplish this year can be a joyful experience, because you aren’t drifting through life aimlessly. The trick is figuring out what you really want to accomplish, deciding what it will take to do that, and, most importantly, building a support system and accountability. Here are a few tips:

1. Name your project, determine what the goal is, and by when you will accomplish it. “I’m going to start an exercise program and lose weight” is not going to get the job done. How about something like:

The Bikini Project

1. Lose 20 lbs. by June 1st by measuring the portions that enter my mouth, eating a low fat diet, and cutting out cookies, cake, and daily chocolate.

2. Start yoga and pilates classes at the rec center, to tone up my abs. Lose two inches around my waist, hips, and chest by June 1st.

3. Buy a teeny, weeny, yellow polka-dot bikini June 2nd and hit the beach!

That describes the what and how of of the project. Now, you need to set up some support. Tell everybody you know, even the people you know won’t believe you can do it, that you’re going to do this. Pick some friends who you know will support you, especially if they’re doing something similar, and set up accountability. Using the example above, you could join a yoga class together so you can support each other in going. You could weigh in once a week together. You could even take each other’s measurements to make sure you stay honest! And on June 2nd, you could shop for the bikini together!

All I’m saying is set up your resolutions so you’re likely to achieve them. Instead of walking away from them after two weeks and having another failure, set yourself up to win!

It’s the one best way to create miracles!

I’m Still Here: Setting Up The Next Year

It took a while to get over the crud we caught while the family was here, but we are well and survived the holidays so far.

As promised, here is a picture of my new granddaughter. Isn’t she gorgeous? Of course, she’s grown and filled out since this was taken, like they always do! She’s two weeks and one day old today.

And there is my grandson, discovering his first birthday cake. He was so cute as he painted himself and the newspapers in frosting!

Writing

After NaNoWriMo, I gave myself a month off from The Book. The month is nearly over and it’s time to start the next part: reading and editing and deciding if it’s actually worth marketing. I’ve been looking at some support structures for this and I will probably go with ROW80. I discovered I get more done if I’m answerable to someone. The next round starts on Monday, January 2nd, with updates every Wednesday and Sunday. I’ll let you know what I’m up to on Sunday (after my football game).

By the way, you know that writers read, correct? Stephen King said it best: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” Totally, totally true. You will never get better at this job if you don’t study what other people have done. At least, that’s my excuse! Anyway, since I read pretty obsessively, I’ve decided to start reviewing some of what I read here. This is mainly because I’ve just finished two really fine books and I just have to share!

The first one was Michael Connelly‘s latest book, The Drop. I’ve been a Harry Bosch fan for several years. The Drop is vintage Connelly, filled with suspense as Harry realizes a serial killer has been operating in Los Angeles for at least three decades. He’s also working a case involving the son of his nemesis, Irvin Irving. Although Harry is most concerned with the serial killer, the police department wants him to put all his energy toward solving the young man’s possible suicide. Harry manages to clear both cases with the help of an old friend. I really enjoyed this book. As always, Connelly breathes so much life into his characters that I hate closing the book, knowing I have to wait at least a year for another one! I’m considering starting a re-read of Connelly’s books, because he is really one of the best writers out there. I end up so involved in his stories that I always have to reread to see what he did to accomplish the fine storytelling. Thankfully, he also shares about his process on his website.

Venturing down a different path, I finally started the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin. Why did I wait so long? George writes good books, but he kills my favorite characters. A lot, he kills my favorite characters. I understand that once a character has fulfilled his role in a story, you have to something with them, but killing them? Couldn’t you just demote them or something so they have a chance to come back and contribute some more? Exile them to some character desert island, maybe? I recognize that storytelling is the process of creating nice people who have terrible things happen to them, but hanging their heads on pikes on the castle walls? Really?

Complaining aside, what makes George’s books so powerful is his mastery of Point Of View (POV). He tells the whole story of A Game of Thrones through the voices of many of the major characters. I’m guessing he will do the same in the rest of the series. It’s a very strong way to tell a story, creating a connection with each of the characters. I haven’t watched the HBO series and don’t currently plan to do so, but I will read the rest of the series. I have to a lot to learn as a writer from George’s work. I just don’t guarantee to like the process!

By the way, I’ve met George at science fiction conventions and he is actually a nice person with a dry sense of humor, usually willing to talk to other writers about how he does what he does. If I am so lucky that he reads this, I hope he gets a good laugh out of it. And thank you, George; I always get a little better from studying your art.

Art

What with the holidays and company, I haven’t done much this month. My friend, Lori Wostl, sent me an idea for a project that I’m considering. Again, the challenge starts January 2nd, so I have a few days to make up my mind. I’ll let you know.

Joy

The holidays are all about joy and plans and family and all the best things in life, don’t you think? I know, sometimes things don’t go the way you planned and sometimes families fight and sometimes dreadful things happen. In the end, though, if we remember that we love and are loved, there’s a lot of joy to be had here. I hope your holidays have included much joy this year!

Now, go create some awesome New Year’s resolutions and have a miracle or too!

How Not To Hold A Family Reunion

This is another quickie, still with no pictures, because I didn’t take many.

My kids, Mom, and I spent months pulling together the family reunion that was supposed to happen last week. We got my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson here just as my daughter went into labor with my beautiful granddaughter. Baby is born way early Tuesday morning, with daughter-in-law in attendance because things went too quickly for the rest of us to get there.

We visited the new mom and baby in the hospital, picked up my mom from the airport and made it back to the hospital in time for Great-Grandma to hold the baby. Everything was going well.

Then disaster struck. My husband and I came down with killer stomach flu. My daughter banished us from her house until we were better. We finally made it for my grandson’s 1st birthday and a Christmas celebration on Thursday, still not feeling great. This was good and we got to enjoy grandboy’s first cake experience. My mom brought a bunch of pictures and my father’s jewelry (he passed away a year ago) for us to share. Daughter won’t let me touch the baby.

Friday, Mom goes to visit her nephew and comes down with, you guessed it, the stomach flu. I drive son, daughter-in-law, and grandson to the airport and go home to finish getting better. Daughter refuses to let Mom back in her house for fear of getting the baby sick, particularly after discovering that baby has jaundice and is not gaining weight. We arrange for Mom to stay with nephew on the other side of Denver and give up getting to visit with her in the hope that she will get better quickly.

The end result thus far has been that I spent almost no time with my kids and grandson, have held my granddaughter about twenty minutes, made my daughter into a nut case, hurt my mom’s feelings, gotten who knows how many people sick, and totally blown what should have been a great holiday.

This is really not the way to do a family reunion. Sigh. Unfortunately, I don’t know quite where the stomach flu came from or how I could have stopped it. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get everybody back to loving each other enough to at least talk on Christmas day. Maybe next year, we’ll have better luck!

Pictures coming in the next day or two; I’m still doing laundry for my daughter to cleanse her house of our contagion.

 

 

Loads Of Visitors And A New Grandbaby!

This is just a quick post to let everyone know I’m still out here and kicking. This week, my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson arrived on Monday, a few hours after I drove my laboring daughter to the hospital. My beautiful granddaughter joined us at 2:58 AM Mountain time, weighing in at 6 pounds, 3 ounces and 18 inches long. My beloved stepmom got to town this evening. Some observations on the influx:

1) My almost one-year-old grandson is beautiful, charming, even-tempered, and scary smart.
2) My son and daughter-in-law are incredible parents.
3) My daughter is becoming a remarkable mom.
4) My former son-in-law is already wrapped around my new granddaughter’s finger and he’s going to be a great dad.
4) My stepmom manages look elegant and charming, despite a day spent at airports.
5) My husband is so willing to go the extra mile to support me and my family. He’s also wrapped around grandbaby’s little finger and she doesn’t even know him yet.
6) I am so fortunate to have such a great family!

Pictures coming in a few days. Right now, I have two grandchildren to enjoy, my mom to visit with, and my son and daughter-in-law to get know again. Yes, I’m still here and I’ll talk to you soon!

It’s Done And I Did It; First December Snow


Okay, I might be overstating a little. But only a little!

Writing

NaNoWriMo 2011 is over. Yesterday, I typed the last words in my book (I actually hit 50,000 day before yesterday). I’ve been a little giddy ever since. Have you ever done something you really didn’t think you could do? I highly recommend it. I will never not be a novelist again.

I printed the book out yesterday and put it in the notebook my husband made for me. I will show it to people, but I’m not reading for at least a month. I still think it’s a good idea and possibly marketable, but I’m totally tired of those people and I don’t want to talk them right now!

Other Stuff

I still haven’t taken pictures of the seahorse necklace or the necklace I made for my stepmom for Christmas (I’m not giving anything away; she has a hard time e-mailing, much less surfing). The light today was too flat.

Picture of garden bunny covered in snowMy beautiful autumn pansies may be retired for the season:

And since I was giddy:

Picture of snow angel I madeI did it while nobody was looking and I refuse to publicly acknowledge that I, dignified individual that I’m not, would ever do such a silly thing. Y’all won’t tell, right?

Joy

I wish everyone could feel the way I feel today. Even though I spent the day catching up on housekeeping that went by the wayside while I wrote, I have an amazing sense of myself stretching to include something new in who I know myself to be. The only way to achieve this is to do something you never thought you could do. And I promise you, it does not matter what that thing is. Find something you want to do and find a way to do it, even when you’re sure you can’t and everyone around you is convinced that you can’t. Really, unless you’ve chosen something really unachievable, like surviving a leap off a tall bridge with no parachute, you can have this sense of accomplishment and mastery.

I really, really encourage you to do it, whatever it is. A whole new world will open for you and you’ll know the only one who held you back was you. Go for it! Miracles await!

Still Writing: What’s Really Valuable

Wow, do you believe that? After I post this, I’m going to keep going, but I wanted to give you, my faithful supporters, a quick update.

Writing

I’m in the sprint to finish up by midnight, 11/30 (for friends from elsewhere, 30/11), so this has to be pretty short. I did want to mention two things I have found to be of great value in this process.

The first is my e-mail. I get around 300 e-mails a day, most of them from chains and stores who want me to spend money. Some are book review sites who also want me to spend money. It’s amazing how much e-mail I get that I just delete. I used to try to read it all. What was I thinking? When I’m finished with the book, I’m going to get off as many of those lists as I can. Even deleting them takes too much time. I want my life back!

Warning: This part’s a fundraising effort. I need more sponsors for The Office of Letters and Light, the people who put on NaNoWriMo every year. Please donate; aside from what this journey has given me personally, these folks make writing programs for people as young as kindergarten. Their servers need to keep running!! Here’s the page to donate. Please remember that every penny helps, so give what you can. My goal is $250; as you can see, I’m woefully short!

Support Wikipedia

Something I’ve discovered: This book could not be written without Wikipedia. If you think about it, anybody living an online life consults Wikipedia fairly often. They keep this incredible free resource running on very darn little. After donating to The Office of Letters and Light, give a little to these folks, too.

Art

Hah! You see that word count? I’ve been tied to my computer. Maybe in three days, okay?

Joy

You know, I haven’t thought about joy a lot these past few days, due to the ending push on the novel. When I typed the word, I stopped for a second and thought about everything and everyone who has made this crazy month possible. I thought about how my family has stood beside me and put up with my absence even when I was in the same room. They’ve had a tough month, too.

So I’m dedicating this section to family. My immediate family will all be coming to Denver during December for vacations and celebrations. My grandson will be a year old and my granddaughter will be born. Amidst the joy, we’ll have some sorrows: we lost my father at this time last year, a month after my daughter lost my first grandson. Yet, we’ll be together and as Spider Robinson said, “Shared pain is lessened. Shared joy is increased. Thus do we defeat entropy.” I’m glad we’ll be together.

Share your holidays with someone, okay? And create miracles; this time of year is just made for them.