Friday, June 29, 2012

A Writer's 'Tell'

Everyone has pet words.  One of my favorites is amazing, I think everything is amazing.  My 10 year old changes his pet words often.  His current one is epic.  He is always saying "That was an epic failure."

I was listening to a podcast called Writing Excuses and they were talking about writers pets and calling them TELLS. Things authors sometimes overuse- such as making a character blink too much.  I notice I have characters swallow emotions and bit their lips and chew on fingernails.  (A few of my bad habits.)

I was watching the last episode of one of my favorite shows, ONE TREE HILL, and I noticed a tell of the writer.  Often, like almost every episode, two people will be having a conversation and when they end it one of them walks off.  The person left standing there calls out their name, the other one turns back, and the dude standing there says something profound.  

One of my idols screen writer Mark Schwahn

It kind of started to get on my nerves, it was so predictable. That being said I think it is a challenge for us to get outside of ourselves and come up with new material.  Still, a worthy challenge for the watches and readers sake. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Man On A Ledge - 3*

"There won't be a Man On Another Ledge," said Sam Worthington in an interview on Ellen.  He had to spend three weeks filming out of a "really high" window with only cables to keep him from falling to his death. 

This was another pick of my husbands that I wasn't exactly thrilled about, and again, happily surprised.  Though the acting was simply put, fine (Worthington drives me crazy with his inability to master an American accent), the story was intense and actually kind of believable.  I really love to enjoy a movie I didn't think I would. 

BTW - my pick was Moneyball and it was as good as everyone said it was.  Seriously, can't go wrong with Brad Pitt.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Year Round School Doesn't Benefit Kids

My kids are still in school and it is June 25th.  It is 100 degrees outside, a perfect time to be swimming in our pool, eating Popsicle, and going to the park, they are sitting in a hot school under florescent lights.  In January- they will be out of school when it is like 12 degrees outside and the only thing to occupy their time is fighting and watching TV.

Year round school has been around, in some form or another, since the 1800s.  The theory behind it was that the kids would benefit from shorter breaks, thus not losing all that they learned over a prolonged break.  It is also said to save money.  However, Charles Ballinger - executive director of the National Association of Year round education- says a year round schedule cost the same as a traditional school year. 

As for the benefits for kids, I have seen none.  My kids get a 6 week summer, which they don't forget anything they learned.  Sure when they get back to school they it takes a few weeks to get back into the swing of things, but it does every time they go off track.  My youngest has a particularly hard time re-adjusting to school after being off-track.  A process that is unfortunately repeated multiple times through out the year. 

As far as I can see, it does save money by allowing the schools to fill the school with more children.  They can have a lot more kids if an entire track is always off, the teachers just have to move class rooms every time they go off.  So instead of ponying up and building the right amount of schools, the government forces the kids to go year round.  I would love for our school to do away with it, like many in our area have, but since there are over 900 kids enrolled at our school, it won't be anytime soon. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Kindle Direct Publishing

"Did I cry over some of these rejections?  Absolutely.  Did I feel inadequate, untalented, hurt?  Did I doubt my ability to craft a story that readers could fall in love with?  You bet."

Jessica Parker got tired of the rejections for her book Flat Out Love, so she went with Kindle Direct Publishing, and did it herself.  They claim to 'empower serious authors to reach readers, build a following, and make a living' on their own terms. 

For the record, I think it is so amazing to have this option.  Used to be self-published authors were pretty much unheard of, but with e-books they are getting a lot of attention.  I am glad it is available. 

That being said, I am not ready for it, and may never be.  I don't think I have the ability to promote myself the way these authors do.  They spend tons of hours and definitely a lot of money  to get their books out there.  NOT that I don't want to help promote myself, just that I want my book to be its very best, and don't think that is possible without traditional publishing. 

Congrats to Jessica Park for making it happen. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Mind Readers by Lori Brighton

"I snuggled further down into my warm, soft bed, thinking maybe I was dreaming.  I could have sworn I'd just fallen asleep.  No way it was already morning.  Besides, I didn't want to wake up.  I wanted to sleep.  Sleep was good.  Very good."

This is an excerpt out of Lori Brighton's book The Mind Readers, which is about, yes you guessed it - kids who can read minds.  She does a great job of putting a different twist on it.  Only certain families are able to read peoples minds and they have to keep the secret from everyone for fear they will be taken by a government group and killed. 

It has a good amount of romance, suspense, betrayal - and the best part it is free on kindle.  So now reason not to download it now!  There are two more reasonably priced. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Why Am I So Tired?

I literally have to give myself a pep-talk to get out of bed in the morning.  I make a promise that after all my chores are done, my errands are run, and my work is done, I can take a nap.  And I do.  Everyone close to me knows, at 1:00 pm. don't even try to get a hold of me because I'm sleeping.

I've been like this for as long as I can remember.  My roommates in college told me she thought something was wrong with me because every time they came in my room I was sleeping.  Why am I so tired?

According to Web MD there are about 10 reasons I could be tired.

1.  I have a bad diet.  (Okay so it isn't perfect, but I try to get my food groups in.)
2. I am not getting enough sleep.  (Uh no way.  I sleep up to 9 hours in a 24 hour period.)
3.  I don't exercise enough.  (I feel like 45 min to an hour a day is plenty.)
4.  I am anemic.  (Nope, just got checked though it has been a problem in the past.)
5.  I am missing a key nutrient like potassium.  (Possible.)
6.  Thyroid.  (Nope, been checked a thousand times.)
7.  Diabetes.  (Nope.)
8.  Depression.  (Okay so yes, but it is being treated so should it make me tired?)
9.  Sleep apnea.  (Doubtful.)
10.  Heart disease.  (Doubtful.)

Though interesting, this is not too helpful.  While I get frustrated with this problem- I think the truth is, I just really like to sleep.  It is so relaxing and gives me a break.  Guess I will just have to live with it. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Great Debate: Legalizing Marijuana

When I was 18 years old, I was riding a ski lift with my brother, and I smelled a weird smell.  I asked him what it was and he just looked at me.  He couldn't believe I didn't know that they guys in the lift in front of us were smoking marijuana.  I'm a lot older now, and it is still the only time I have ever smelled it. 

I was with my family when a debate broke out about the legalization of the drug.  Most people were in agreement.  Just make it legal.  Honestly, I was stunned, but couldn't really offer an opinion so I did some research. 

Turns out it can cause mental and physical health problems, affect cognitive abilities, and make you lazy.  The problem with this information is: how many of these people had these problems regardless of their usage?  Plus, how do they know they haven't used other drugs?

Another argument- the use of alcohol is just as dangerous, and it is legal.  Besides people are going to use it anyway, why not tax it and make a profit?

It is said to be a gateway drug and studies show all hard core drug abusers have used marijuana.  Most of them started out with cigarettes and alcohol, so what was the drug that served as the gateway?    So if marijuana is outlawed- shouldn't alcohol be banned as well?  Approximately 16,000 people die in alcohol related accidents each year.  There was no information related to car accidents from marijuana, though hundreds were drug related. 

It is still unclear to me, but it seems that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol, but the jury is still out for me. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Do You Love or Hate e-books?

I am always slow to want/need new technology, I mean, I still don't own a smart phone.  So when my husband had to have a kindle I was like "Seriously?"  Just go to the library.

Walking into a library or a book store feels like a little piece of heaven on earth for me.  Particularly the library because I can borrow any of them for free.  I love looking around at the endless shelves of books hardly able to contain my excitement at all of the pages filled with unread words.  I can hardly wait to get my hands on them.

I can't get the same experience from downloading a book on the kindle.  Most of the time, I don't even get to see the cover.  Plus I hate that I can't actually turn the page.  I know sounds dumb, but honestly, I like the literal feel of a book in my hands.

All that being said, I have about 14 books I have downloaded on the kindle now.  My husband reads his books on his acer thing, so I have taken over his old kindle.  The thing about it is, there are so many boo

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rent Contraband

We have Netflix.  We take turns choosing movies every other week, and last weekend it was my husbands turn.  His pick was Mark Wahlberg's Contraband.  I have to admit I wasn't exactly thrilled with the choice, but it wasn't my turn so I just went along with it. 

I have to say I was completely taken off guard by how good it was.  The story line was well thought out.  The first plot point of the reason Chris (Mark Wahlberg) has to get back into the old business of smuggling because his wives brother was in trouble, arrived exactly on time.  It was perfect because it was a valid reason and made the plot nice and thick. 

The acting was good, though I felt like Kate Beckinsale was a little mis-cast as the kind of lower class wife.  Though she did a good job, they didn't really have good chemistry and I just didn't buy her in the part. 

My only other complaint was Chris Farraday's (Wahlber) character arch was over before the movie started.  He was pretty much the same guy at the end as he was at the first, but due to time, it kind of worked. 

Overall, it was an entertaining way to spend a Saturday night and I give it 3 and a half out of four stars. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Living with a Type-One Diabetic

I wake with a start, my eyes bleary as they find the clock.  Its after midnight, and my husband is out of bed.  I find him in the kitchen with the refrigerator door open.  He is getting ready to urinate in it.  I rush over to him and try to pull him to the bathroom.  His body is covered in sweat and he yells at me calling me his sister's name.  He stumbles over to the couch and tries to pee there, but I stop him.  I try to drag him to the bathroom, something that proves difficult seeing as he outweighs me by at least 50 pounds.  I finally get him in there and settle him on the toilet, though I doubt he actually has to pee. 

Most of the populations reaction is to give him insulin.  If I did this, I would most certainly kill him.  A normal blood sugar level is 80 to 120.  His was about 33 meaning he already had far to much insulin in his blood stream.  Any more would send him into a comma he might never wake from. 

After I gave him a bottle of juice, I have to wait for 15 minutes, talking myself out of giving him more the entire time.  If I gave him more too soon, I might make his blood sugar skyrocket.  After awhile he starts talking normal, he knows my name, asks why he is on the toilet.  He is out of the woods so I crawl back into bed. 

He was 28 when he was diagnosed, something becoming more and more common.  No one knows why he developed it.  Type one diabetes is not hereditary, it isn't due to over-eating, or being obese.  There is a theory that something has attacked the pancreas and caused it to die, but nothing is certain. 

This incident was years ago and since then he has gotten much better at controlling his insulin levels.  He counts carbs in absolutely everything he eats.  This is vitally important because he knows his insulin to carb ratio is 15:2.  !5 carbs, 2 units of insulin.  Unfortunately it is not an exact science, and sometimes things just don't digest the same or the body reacts differently, and he ends up a walking zombie until we figure out what is wrong.  Other times he shoots high, but when he is high, he is still coherent and just takes more insulin. 

Living with someone with this disease is stressful.  My ten year old has been home with his father a few times and had to force him to drink juice.  Though he stayed cool, I know it worries him.  He is always asking his dad if he has taken insulin, and checking if he is sweaty.  I guess it something that is hard to understand unless you have lived it, but I wanted to give a small view into the difficulties. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Why do people choose civil service?

I want to shake my blog up a little bit. I have more interests than writing, and I don't know many people who share my interest so I want to write about other things as well. On Mondays I will be exploring my journalism background, and writing about my opinions. I always wanted an opinion column - so here it goes.

I have a great respect for those who choose to go into civil service. Namely - teachers, police officers, firefighters, and military personnel. We need people who want to do these highly important jobs, yet we pay them probably half what they are worth. But then I started looking at the higher paid jobs and it wasn't as clear to me.
 Take a surgeon for example. They can make upwards of $400,000 per year which seems kind of extreme. But remember, they go to school for sometimes 16 years, and they work a minimum of 80 hours per week. They make a lot, but they work hard for it.

So then I thought about professional athletes who make into the millions. And really their jobs are like playing right? But if they can command that kind of money, and get it, shouldn't they pursue it? I mean no shoe company is going to pay a cop to have him advertise their brand. So if we don't want them to make so much money we would have to stop supporting them. Stop watching the games, going to the games, buying our ten year old $70 jerseys with a players name on it. The truth is we like the sports, and as long as we do, we are going to pay for it.

Another truth is that although civil servants are valued jobs, they don't take as much talent or training. A cop and a firefighter only have to go through the academy, though I have heard they do better if they have a college education. Though teachers have higher educations, they only work 9 months out of the year and have every break known to man. It isn't to say that they don't deserve more, but they have to demand it. In New York City they had a hard time getting people to join the police force so they upped their wages. If they couldn't get people to do it here, they would have to pay more. So my questions remains what motivates people to become Teachers, Firefighters, Police Officers or Military Personnel?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Waste of time... Maybe.

I just got a critique back from an author I met at a conference last year. She said the same thing everyone has said about my book. The history is questionable, and my voice is too modern for historical fiction. Although I love my book which is about the Salem witch trials, I think I am going to chalk it up to a learning experience. I don't have the voice for historical fiction so don't waste my time writing them. I feel good to have learned this after only one book I guess, and I still have many other books inside of me screaming to get out. I read something in Jennifer Echols book Love Storythat gave me great encouragement last night. "If you want to make writing a career you will get rejected again, and again, and again, and again. You have to learn not to take no for an answer." It inspires me to keep going and someday I will find success.