July 30, 2005

Goodbye Vacation

Well, tonight's the last night of my vacation. Tomorrow it's back to the ole grindstone. ~sigh~

I loved being home. I hate the thought of returning to work. But I love having a paycheck so come 5:45 tomorrow morning, I'll be dragging my butt out of bed and into the shower. Ick.

I can't even imagine how much crap I'll have to sort through when I get into the office in the morning. Double ick.

July 28, 2005

Home

Well, I made it back from Wisconsin. The long drive home was made longer by a blown tire in Chicago. That was fun. I heard some funky sound and next thing I know we can see black chunks of tire flying through the air. Must admit to being impressed by how well the 5th Wheel drove with a shredded tire.

The day had started out ordinarily enough. A few clouds in the sky and projected rain for the afternoon. My sister and I carried our lawn chairs down to the concert grounds in the morning. We had a great view. Much better than the one I had had for Tim McGraw. After watching the karoake contest and listening to a new artist we headed back to the campground (about a mile walk one-way according to my dad--I'm hopeless with distance).

We had just finished lunch and tending to Little O (my two month old nephew) when the bad weather struck. I've never seen such a scary sky. I think it looked even more ominous simply because of our vulnerable location. Sitting in the middle of a field with hundreds of other campers in RVs and tents doesn't exactly make one feel safe when a tornado warning has been issued for the very town you're visiting.

The storm front was a towering black mass of angry clouds and we were sitting right where the somber gray skies colided with the incoming storm.

Chaos reigned in the campground. I have never seen such stupidity and hope I never see the like again.

After witnessing some unbelievably stupid manuevers, we made it out of the campground and onto the road. We turned toward the gray sky and put the storm to our backs. We drove until we felt reasonably safe and the radio had issued an all-clear for our area.

Although the tornado warning had expired, the skies weren't clear and the storm still had enough energy to produce driving rains, lightening, and thunder. The day had turned into a bust.

Now, we had been planning on leaving that day anyhow but not until after Big-N-Rich played. Considering the scare we had just had (I seriously thought I was going to die without being able to say goodbye to my husband and babies) and the less than promising weather, we decided to pack it in and go home a bit early. SheDaisy and Terri Clark's showtimes had already come and gone and who knew how long it would take to get the equipment up and running for Big-N-Rich.
Of course, you'd have to know we forgot all about the lawnchairs we had taken down to the concert grounds that morning. I imagine they either got blew away by the 60mph winds or were thrown away by the clean-up crew.

July 19, 2005

County Thunder USA

So I took this week off so I could get ready for Country Thunder USA. I'm packed and ready to go. At least, I hope I am. I guess I'll have to live without whatever it is I'm forgetting to pack. Nothing new there.

We were supposed to leave tomorrow morning at 5:30 am. That was the plan. But who needs plans? Not my family. Oh, no. They decided spur of the moment to leave tonight. Of course, it's 10:30 here and they still haven't picked me up. I imagine it'll be closer to 11:00 before they pull into the driveway.

I'm already tired. I hope they don't expect me to drive all that much tonight. My eyes are already doing the lazy blinks.

But enough of my grouching. I'm going to get excited and enjoy myself. The concerts should be a blast.

I'll be back in a few days to let you know how it all worked out.

July 14, 2005

Interesting

On July 10th The Times online posted an article about a Navy Seal operation gone bad. If you haven't heard anything about this and are interested in the continued search for Bin Laden or other terrorist leaders, give it a quick read.

July 13, 2005

Interpersonal Conflict

So there's a group of us who hang out pretty regularly in chat. A while back we decided to do a BN class. Once a week on Wedsnesday evenings those of us who are available--it varies from week to week--gather to offer our insights, perspectives, experiences, and ideas on a specified topic.

Last week we discussed the three types of conflict found in fiction. We were asked to give definitions and offer examples. Once a definition was generally agreed upon we'd begin discussing various formulas for acheiving that type of conflict.

Now, I've been a member of little group for a long time and I know we all tend to approach things differently. Writing is such a subjective endeavor it would be more bizarre if we didn't. So I go into these sessions knowing I'm probably not going to see eye to eye with my friends on every subject. I also have come to realize we tend to share a common ground and disagree mostly in the details, which is cool because it gives us lots to talk about in chat.

Internal conflict didn't generate much controversy. We all seemed to agree with the overall concept that internal conflict occurs within an individual. We discussed a few formulas an author could use to acheive internal conflict. My favorite and the one I tend use the most in my writing is Goal vs. Goal = Conflict. An example would be the desire to live (goal 1) vs. the desire to commit suicide (goal 2). The conflict is the result of these opposing goals. Does this mean the goals have to be mutually exclusive? I don't think so. I think they merely need to be different enough to cause some emotional and mental strife.

External conflict is likewise self-evident. It can take on many forms. The scenerios are endless. War. Nature. Geography. And on and on. The most common formula for this conflict tends to be Goal vs. Obstacle = Conflict. This could be anything from wanting to find a warm bed (the goal) only to discover the river has flooded everything within a 10 miles radius and there's not dry land, let alone a dry bed, to be found.

Interpersonal conflict became my stumbling block last week. In a broad sense it's conflict that occurs between people. It's that simple. I understand this but it's too broad for me.

When I think of interpersonal conflict in fiction I tend to focus on those people who have an ongoing relationship. This relationship doesn't have to be friendly or even the focus of the book. It can be but it doesn't have to. It can be between family members, friends, lovers, enemies, coworkers, or anyone else who has a significant impact on the character. It's not the woman at the bakery who makes a face when the somewhat chunky protagonist buys a bag of donuts. Let's even say the woman makes a snide remark. Sure, it may piss off our heroine or hurt her feelings, it may even set up the mood for the next scene, but this interaction is minimal and, in terms of relationships, insignificant. I didn't see this as interpersonal conflict despite there being two people involved.

Now, I was not in the majority in my viewpoint. I was on an island all of my own. Smoke signals couldn't have saved me so eventually I cried "uncle" and shut up.

But how do you define the scenerio I just described? If we never see this sales clerk again, if she plays no significant role in the book or the story line, I think she's an irritant. A prop. A means to an ends. She's incidental. Not that I'm saying she doesn't have a place or purpose. She's a piece of the background that has a flash of vibrancy in the fabric of the story.

Given this scenerio, I would probably focus on the internal conflict this woman's condemnation had on my character. I want to have people see me as thin vs. I really want that donut. Do I eat it? Cancel my order? Pay for it and then toss it in the first garbage can I see?

Of course, this woman could develop into a character who becomes very important. She ends up being the Weight Watcher leader of the new chapter our heroine has just joined. She tries to sabotage our heroine and actively pursues the heroine's boyfriend. Suddenly a relationship has developed and the conflict becomes interpersonal.

I know no one agrees with me on this but I'm perfectly content to break up my conflict into four categories: internal, external, interpersonal, incidental.

July 11, 2005

Don't ask me why.

I decided to take the book quiz again. I really didn't understand how I could possibly get my original results. So...I wasted a few minutes answering questions. Strangely...the questions weren't the same! Sure a few of them were but there were some new ones in there. I didn't get the intuition vs. reptuation question the first time or the one about which animal do you prefer.

And I like the results for this one better. Those rabbits have always been dear to my heart. I read Watership Down when I was a wee teenager. Loved it! Still love it. I'm waiting a few years to introduce my boys to it but it's definitely on the "must read to kids" list.






You're Watership Down!

by Richard Adams

Though many think of you as a bit young, even childish, you're
actually incredibly deep and complex. You show people the need to rethink their
assumptions, and confront them on everything from how they think to where they
build their houses. You might be one of the greatest people of all time. You'd
be recognized as such if you weren't always talking about talking rabbits.



Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

July 10, 2005

Dealing with Doubt

Ever have those moments when you're certain you can't write? Where it seems as if all the hours you've invested into this story and these characters are a colossal waste of time?

I have. But I figure these doubts are pretty normal for writers, which means I can usually push aside such nasty thoughts and keep writing.

Lately I've been in a real funk. I'm not worried that what I'm writing is awful because I just can't seem to write. Every time I sit down to try the mind goes blank and the eyes glaze over.

New ideas aren't sparking.

Current stories feel dead.

Past projects seem dismal failures.

I don't like feeling this way. Not at all. It's not normal for me. Even when the writing isn't going well, the passion has always been there. Yet, it seems the passion has disappeared and only the need to write remains. Every thing I look at or consider feels forced or contrived. The characters feel flat. The conflict laughable.

I refuse to allow this funk to continue. The problem is everything I've tried has failed. I guess the only thing to do is keep writing and wait for the sparks to fly.

July 9, 2005

Ohhh....




You're The Poisonwood Bible!

by Barbara Kingsolver

Deeply rooted in a religious background, you have since become both
isolated and schizophrenic. You were naively sure that your actions would help people,
but of course they were resistant to your message and ultimately disaster ensued. Since
you can see so many sides of the same issue, you are both wise beyond your years and
tied to worthless perspectives. If you were a type of waffle, it would be
Belgian.



Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Around the House

Hubby's gone fishing for the night so the kidlets and I are just hanging around the house tonight. I rented a couple of movies, a Playstation game for my oldest, and bought some frozen pizza for dinner. I haven't even cleaned my kitchen yet! ~gasp~

I read the most amazing book over Thursday and Friday. It hasn't hit the stands yet but you should pre-order it. It's bold. Daring. Somewhat startling even. The author is brutal with her characters and, while I can't promise you won't experience some discomfort, I can guarantee this book will haunt you for at least a day or two. Perhaps longer. I know I certainly haven't stopped thinking about it.

The author? Tamara Siler Jones. The book? Threads of Malice.

Go pre-order it now.

That's all I'm saying on the matter.

July 1, 2005

Going Camping

I'll be MIA for a few days. We're taking the kids camping on the shores of Lake Huron for the holiday weekend. It's supposed to be warm, not quite as hot as it has been but not cool enough to keep us from the water.

So...See you in a few!