Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hitting the Road

Hitting the road this weekend.

My nephew is graduating out of town, so we're heading out in the morning to help celebrate his accomplishment. I haven't missed a single one of my nieces and nephews graduations.

I take great pride in that.

My family is very important to me, which is also why I'm heading back up the road a short ways for a family reunion thereafter.

Therefore, I will be out of commission a few days and then posting may be a bit sporadic at best for the remainder of next week with all the family around. It's going to be a week of blasting family fun.

Then I'll hit the road again and head for home.

I'm already anticipating the welcome we'll receive from the kitties.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What To Do...What To Do

Figured I'd be done with my short story by the end of last week. Now it's Tuesday into the following week and still not at the finish line.

I keep coming up with extra fodder, but it's getting closer to the end. Nearly at 10,000 words at this point. Don't know if it will be done by the time we leave for my nephew's graduation on Friday though. Shoot!

Now the crazy thing is waaaaay too long for a short story and too short for a novella. I'm either going to have to cut the living tar out of it or will need to figure out more fodder to add.

Is this a weird situation to be in or what?

I'm afraid there's too much to make a good cut of such an extreme, so the best thing may be for me to add. Only problem is that I don't want it to "sound" like I've made up a bunch of scenes just to get to a specific word count. That never really rings true and the reader can usually tell where the added material is mere fluff to feed the fatted calf.

Maybe what I should do is finish to my planned end then send it out for critique to the group with the request to notate any additional scene ideas they foresee for this situation. That may be cheating but fresh thoughts and ideas may be the catalyst I need to fully flesh this puppy out to novella length.

And all I set out to do was write a short story - gee!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Watching From The Wings

It's the last week of school.

My son's sophomore year of high school is rapidly drawing to a close this week. Shortly he will be a junior, flit off to Europe, and then return and (hopefully) get a job. This has truly been a fantastic year for him.

For years he struggled with life and the hard hits he'd taken. Every year we faced difficult attitudes, poor grades, frustrations, and fears. Last summer he seemed to hit a turning point. This year he's finally hitting his stride. He's coming off a year with mostly A's and a few B's. He's taken some classes that have interested him and stretched him beyond his comfort zone too.

Throughout it all he's not only survived but somewhere along the way he began to thrive. If you'd have told me last year that he would end up trying out and performing a solo for the big concert, I'd have said you were nuts.

He's risen to the challenge in so many ways this year. I'm excited to see what happens for him next year and the year after that.

Then college. Wow!

Hopefully by then he'll have a better understanding of what he'd like to do. If only he could combine music, drawing, and architecture into one fabulous career he'd be set. Let's just see where his focus leads him.

It's exciting to be able to watch from the wings as he spreads his own.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Movie Review

Another movie review and boy, it was great!

Space - the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship, Enterprise.

Yes, we went to see the newest innovation of prequels, Star Trek. I went with the knowledge of having seen the reruns of the sixties series when I was growing up. My son went with absolutely no knowledge of the previous life this series lived.

We both loved most every minute of it.

Some people may be bored with the lack of non-stop action and instead loads of character development. Personally, I prefer good characterization and development over nothing more than two hours of death and destruction any day. Of course, it helps to have action and you get that and then some at the beginning and end with appropriately placed heart-pounding throughout.

I've never seen the guy before in my life, but the actor portraying George Kirk (father of James Tiberius Kirk) had some of the most anguished facial expressions in his short screen stint here, and it was all perfectly played.

Most of the actors and actresses chosen to portray the original characters got it so very spot-on in how they portrayed these immortal members of the USS Enterprise. Only one kinda got on my nerves a little bit, but the rest were wonderful. The guy playing Jim Kirk did an excellent job (but the poor guy sure looks goofy when he runs), but the one I was most impressed with was the actor chosen to play Spock as a young adult (the little Spock was really good too).

Even though he was not supposed to show emotion (and didn't really), he did such an incredible job playing no emotion on his face and yet having deep emotion etched in his eyes. It's so subtle and yet it is there, particularly in one scene - I'll leave you to figure out which. Sure hope we have the chance to see this actor in more good scripts coming down the line.

Loved the introduction to Scotty and the humor and energy he revved into his scenes. Bones just cracked me up, particularly his abuse on Kirk with those multiple injections. Hilarious!

Though I was shocked when my son figured out who he was before I did. Didn't think there was any way he was right, but I just couldn't be 100% certain. So we looked it up when we got home.

Yup - my son was right. The guy playing Dr. McCoy (aka Bones) was the same guy who played Eomer of Rohan from the Lord of the Rings series - Two Towers and Return of the King. Couldn't believe it!

Though I'm not going to give the plot away to those who mysteriously haven't seen it, I will say that this is a great rendition and recharge to the Star Trek series for both young and old. For parents, there is very little objectionable even though the previews have a few moments that suggest otherwise.

There's no blood except running out of Kirk's nose, very few curse words, some drinking, fighting and violence along the lines of Star Wars, and the one scene where a couple is in their underwear getting ready to make out, however the scene is cut short and ends up being rather funny. Everything stays covered, probably more so than what you'd see out on the beach these days.

Overall it is a wonderfully positive and uplifting movie that has good messages, something rare in today's culture. Highly recommended!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Growing Legs

Got in another great day of writing.

Don't know how great the writing is yet, but it sure felt great getting thoughts into my computer. This is the most I've written in such a long time. I've already surpassed 6,000 words.

Yes, I can tell you're impressed. :-)

It's interesting that this started out as a short story idea and has taken off on wings of its own...or grown legs and run off without me...something like that.

The whole story concept has been really easy to write and is coming to me in droves, flowing onto the pages sometimes in ways that surprise me. That's the kind of writing I really enjoy, not the hours and days that drag by and you feel like you're trying to give birth and the baby got stuck a long time ago. That kind of writing is never fun, but it's still important to labor through it.

Because there's always a reward at the end.

Tonight we had critique group so I had to turn off the writing spigot and get ready to leave the house.

I gotta look halfway presentable. Don't want to scare my friends.

So we had a good time hanging, cussing and discussing writing and the one submission to critique. All the while I struggled to keep my head out of my story. I'm just kinda thankful in a weird way that I have this time to work on it.

That new job will eventually pop up on the radar and it will be back to work. In the meantime, I'll try and take advantage of as much time as possible to write.

While I have the opportunity.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Writing Whirlwind

My apologies for not posting yesterday.

I find myself immersed in my newest story and am having so much fun with it that I spent the majority of the day writing. However, I still gave up writing on it for a few hours last night in order to watch a rerun and current episode of Deadliest Catch.

It is my favorite show, after all.

Close to midnight I realized I needed to get to bed. The thought of writing in my blog never even touched my brain.

Most people think I'm "touched" anyway, but that's beside the point.

Then after I laid down in bed the storyline continued spinning around like a hamster wheel. Came up with a great ending. Well, great in regard to the story but sad too. It's been interesting where the characters have delved thus far. My whole premise was for it to be a suspenseful and dramatic piece, but you know those characters.

Sometimes they have a will of their own.

Imagine my surprise when one took a humerous turn with a glass of juice. Even as it came to fruition on my computer screen, I laughed out loud. That's usually when I know I've come up with something good.

Funny thing is humor has never been my forte. Usually it ends up coming across as weird or demented to others and not really funny. So I forwarded the few pages I'd written to the humor experts in our critique group to see if it was actually funny or just plain bizarre.

The response was pleasing. So I continue to write.

Last night one of my characters just blew up for almost no apparent reason. I had to tread that one carefully. So many emotions can easily confuse the reader into wondering what genre the story is supposed to be.

But for now I'll not worry about categories and genres and just ride the journey out to where the characters take me.

Who knows? By the time I get to the end, they may have decided on a different path than I'd planned. That be the case, I may have to hold them at gunpoint to get what I want.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Unleashing the Dogs

Today is an exciting day! I've started writing again.

With everything going on of late, I've been a little focused on other things at the moment and haven't done any writing for months. Creativity flows with difficulty when one's mind is filled with concern.

For weeks now the writing bug has been hacking at my brain with a toothpick, greatly desirous of worming his way into the hippocampus to unlock my subconscious and release this building energy. After a splendid morning at church singing my lungs out, a lovely lunch provided by my thoughtful son, and then a well deserved nap, I awoke yesterday afternoon with renewed energy and vigor.

And also a really bizarre storyline begging to be unleashed like a pack of sled-dogs during the Iditarod.

So armed with several heart-pounding movie soundtracks, I've worked away on several pages to come up with the beginnings of a short story. The whole thing is still in its infancy, but I'm hoping that if I work diligently this week I'll coax it from the cocoon.

Who knows? Maybe this idea could eventually become the fodder for me to start novel number ten.

My critique group will shoot me.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Take a Bow

The big end of the year concert is officially behind us.

My son did such a great job - I'm very proud of him. He sang "Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera as his solo selection. Hit all the proper dynamics in all the right places. About blew out his lungs hitting that big note toward the end and then hit the note ever so softly at the very end.

There are so many ways in which I am proud of him. I'm proud of him for even trying out. I'm proud of him for all the practice put into it. I'm proud of him for having the courage to get up there and do it. And I'm proud of him for not only getting up there to do it but doing a splendid job in the process.

The clapping and comments as he bowed and left the stage were so great to hear. Funny - he mentioned afterward that he didn't even hear the applause when he walked off the stage, as he was already in his happy place post-performance. I knew exactly what he was talking about.

During his song, I could tell the moment he actually relaxed and just soared with the music. Made me smile.

I probably looked like a complete goofball with that cheesy grin.

Doesn't matter in the least. I'm so proud at the moment that I'm about to bust all my buttons.

And that's as it should be.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

They're Up To No Good

Not sure what the deal has been this week, but my cats have been up to no good.

Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's the time of year. Whatever the case, they've gotten just plain demented the last few weeks.

Take Paws, for instance. He's mostly my timid, sweet little thing that just melts your heart when he looks at you and meows. Lately he's taken to terrorizing the hallway. He streaks up and down the hallway day and night. He'll run to the windows in the family room then tear up the hallway into the living room just caterwauling up a storm.

Then there's Toby. Just when Paws starts to calm down and roll over to rest, Toby will pick up the pace and play attack dog. It gets really interesting when Toby starts chasing Paws around the sectional. Yesterday morning while my son and I were eating breakfast, Paws started around one side of the sectional then Toby backtracked and cut Paws off at the pass before they tore up the hallway.


Then Toby AND Paws sit at the windows with ears twitching and ungodly meows emminating from their mouths at the birds outside the windows. I only hope the screens won't accidentally pop out of the frame. Those feathered friends are probably thanking God everyday that my cats are strictly indoor felines.

Except for that now famous night's accidental excursion.

So now Paws is laying on my desk, staring at me as I type and waiting for a few strokes. Have no idea where Toby is off to at the moment.

But I'm sure I'll soon find out - one way or another.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Let the Music Begin

Well this has been a busy day.

This morning I went and spent four and ahalf hours at one of the properties my dad is looking into purchasing. Let's just say that the inspector was VERY thorough. Personally, I'd rather have thorough than be short-changed any day.

Or short-sheeted for that matter.

So then this evening my son had a long rehearsal for the soloists singing for the big end of the year concert review. Then they have a massive rehearsal Thursday night, get to skip a bunch of classes Friday and then the last concert of the year Friday evening.

It's going to be a smash!

I just love the end of the year performance. They'll have these big song and dance numbers full of energy and fun, highlight alot of the upper classmen with solos mixed in, and then end it all with a massive number encompassing all the various choirs.

The fact that my son, a mere sophomore, is getting to participate in the solos is a huge accomplishment. Several of the upper classmen commented to him this evening about how impressed they were with his singing. That was a huge boost to his confidence.

For his solo, he's guessed it - a song from Phantom of the Opera. I've told him to practice, practice, practice so that when nerves hit on stage in front of the audience he doesn't even have to think about it. He'll just know it so well that he'll be able to lean into it, relax, and sing from the heart.

Knowing one's music inside and out really does make a huge difference in a performance. Shows on the face and in the actions and helps the audience connect, which is what most singers truly want in a performance.

So mom and dad will be coming back for most of the weekend. Oh dear - that means I better get busy cleaning the house before Friday.

Work - it never ends.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Novel Recommendation

Finished my first Dean Koontz novel today - Fear Nothing.

A friend let me borrow it a couple of weeks ago. Since I've been stressing out over the job situation and what direction I should take with my career, I just haven't been able to let my brain relax enough to read.

However, after FINALLY finishing the Kati Marton book last week I decided I just needed to get this puppy done and over with too. Read the first couple of chapters last night. This morning I couldn't put it down.

Do you know how long it's been since I've allowed myself to waste an entire day reading a whole book? Probably twenty years! It had to be sometime before I got married because I haven't stopped long enough since that time.

So after dropping my son at school this morning, I decided to just relax and read for a little while. Finished about two-thirty this afternoon. Put it down only briefy to make a sandwich for lunch then picked it right back up again. The book went so fast and there just never seemed a good moment to break from the atmosphere.

The main character was very engaging and sympathetic from the opening pages. I figured out some of the general overall ending components early on but still never felt like I was exactly right on track, which helped keep the tension taut and my mind engaged.

This Koontz guy can write! The pace was fast but steady and never got too far ahead but also never lagged. Loved the almost human characteristics given to the dog, Orson, and the animal play throughout the storyline. Even the surfer dude was kinda likeable, especially with a shotgun in his hands.

I was so intrigued by the characters and the makeup of the story that I wondered if there was a sequel. Sure enough, I'm excited to say that I'll be checking out the library in the next few days for Seize the Night.

I'll be sure to fill you in on that one when I'm finished.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Hungarian Rhapsody

This past week I finished reading "The Great Escape" by Kati Marton. It's a true story set during World War II about nine Jews from Hungary who fled Europe to escape Hitler's reach. It is truly remarkable who these men were and how they impacted the world we now know. They were incredible photographers, artists, movie makers, scientists, mathematicians, and physicists. Had no idea so many great men who eventually made their mark in Britain and America were from that country.

How I wish I'd have known this information and read this book a few years sooner.

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of being seated at the Thanksgiving table across from the father of my sister's dear friend. They had a houseful that year at my sister's. She'd invited these friends to participate in sharing Thanksgiving with us.

My sister may have specifically situated me there, knowing my love of World War II history, and I enjoyed every moment of it. This gentleman was originally from Hungary and remembers the Nazi era well. He was a teenager at the time. Eventually he and his new wife fled Europe to Canada enroute to the United States.

I remember him talking about what Hungary was like growing up, how his wife and he were separated trying to get to the U.S. He spoke of how proud he was when they became American citizens. Even though he has spent the majority of his life as an American, he still had quite an accent. What a charming time I had speaking with him.

How I've wished since then I'd had more time to pick his brain. There were questions I didn't feel comfortable asking at the time, as one it was a holiday and two I didn't want to pry in private and personal territory. Mainly I just listened as he talked and went in directions he wished to share without peppering him with deeper questions.

Yes, I can be respectful when the time calls for it.

But after reading this book, there's so many things I'd ask him about now. Very little of World War II history even references Hungary. There are only a few references to the post-war uprising of Hungarians against the occupying Soviets. If only America had interceeded.

If only I had another chance to sit down with him and listen with a little knowledge of the Budapest cafe life, the compassion of the people, the beauty of her cities, the loveliness of the Danube.

The excitement of living there during the pre-Nazi days.

But then, this book wasn't even published at that time. Now it makes me wonder what else I have missed in my World War II studies.

Perhaps it's time to do a little more digging to find out.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Fellowship of Life

Tonight we started the first of a trilogy for the weekend.

It's been forever since we were both home with nowhere to go and no one coming to visit. This will also be the last weekend until the first weekend in June when we have nothing planned.

Wait - first weekend in June is now full. 'Tis my fortieth birthday bash. Tee-hee! Yes, it's full speed ahead for the huge party.

But that's going to have to wait for another post.

Since it's been so long since we've watched it, we pulled out the Lord of the Rings extended versions. We watched one tonight, will pull two for tomorrow, then the final for Sunday evening. Feels so good to have time to bum around together. It's also nice that we share several joys too.

I'll never forget when I saw the Fellowship of the Ring. For some reason, I'd never read these books. I even remember one of my older sisters reading the Hobbit in school, but I never picked them up until adulthood.

Now I own them. My son had to read them before he was allowed to watch the movies so he would have the opportunity to get the most out of the experience. Anytime they come out with a movie that is based upon a classic, I always have him read the book as incentive to see the movie.

Guess it won't be too many more years until that won't work anymore.

But the Lord of the Rings has so much depth. It is more than a movie or book series. It is more than an adventure or quest. These stories encompass the full bandwidth of all life has to offer - the good and the bad. Nothing is sugarcoated.

Life is hard. For some generations it is even more so. But even in the midst of the greatest of trials and battles, there is the blessing of a friend to hold us up, to encourage, to walk alongside.

For that, I love the Fellowship the most.