Monday, January 18, 2010

Back to normal (or whatever passes for normal around here...)

Well, James is back at school, and things are settling down to a semi-normal schedule around here. 

After dealing with medication issues and adjustments I'm finally getting back on an even keel.  I managed to pull up my wip (work in progress) and add some words to it for the first time in a week or so.  I'm about at my normal speed (647 words in 1/2 hour - 600 in a half hour is fairly normal for me) and it didn't feel as if I was having to drag the words from my brain to my fingers. 

So, things are hopefully looking up when it comes to my writing and other things.  Tomorrow I leave with Don to go to a medical conference in St. Petersburg.  He'll sit in lectures, I'll walk on the beach and write in the hotel room.  Yeah, rough week. 

Saturday, January 09, 2010

17 Movies I Can Watch Over and Over...

I got this idea from a post by Dayton Ward, who got it from here on  After reading the choices others have made, I decided to submit my own.

These are not in any order, nor are they necessarily the greatest movies of all time.  Just the ones I enjoy returning to time and again.

(I am leaving out the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Star Trek movies (though the latest one was surprisingly good), and the Star Wars movies.  While I admit there are six of them out there, I insist that Han shot first, Special Edition or not).

So, grab some popcorn, and here we go:
  1. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981):  I'll admit I want to add Last Crusade as well, because it's THAT good.  But Raiders was first, and it's still a lot of fun.
  2. Freaky Friday (2003): Before Lindsey Lohan became a public train wreck, she did this film with Jamie Lee Curtis.  I was amazed when I first saw it - I'd expected to be entertained, and I wound up being moved.  I still choke up near the end.
  3. Die Hard (1988): I agree with Dayton Ward and EW on this one.  This is a fun movie to watch.  From a writer's perspective, it's a lesson in storytelling.  Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman stand out in a good cast.
  4. A Few Good Men (1992): The courtroom confrontation between Jack Nickleson and Tom Cruise alone is worth the price of admission in this one.  Whenever I spot it on TNT, I almost always have to stop what I'm doing to watch it.  Even if you don't like Tom Cruise, you should check out this film.
  5. Terminator 2: Judgement Day:  I love time travel stories in general, and this one is amazing.  The first one sets up the premise, but in my opinion this sequel surpasses the original and is far and away the best of the series.
  6. Jurassic Park (1993): Breathtaking in its time, and a fun ride even today.  The first look of the dinosaurs was jaw-dropping, and the thrills kept a'coming.
  7. The Princess Diaries (2001) and The Princess Diaries 2 (2004):  Something about these films is so charming and engaging I can watch them over and over again.  They led me to Meg Cabot's excellent books (And if you ever get the chance you should listen to her talk about the whole book to movie thing, because it will have you laughing out loud).
  8. Apollo 13 (1995): Even knowing how it turns out, you are caught up in the suspense of this well made film.  Tom Hanks and company do an outstanding job of telling this tale.
  9. It's a Wonderful Life (1946): The tale of a man who questions his life at a critical moment affirms the value of ordinary people who touch the life of others.  We may never know how we affect those around us, and this film reminds us that we do.
  10. Beauty and the Beast (1991): It was cheated in the Oscars (I don't care what anyone says, it should have won Best Picture that year).  Visually gorgeous, its telling of the fairy tale is enchanting.
  11. Chariots of Fire (1981): And we follow with one that Oscar got right.  The story of two runners who participate in the 1924 Olympics is profound.  Ben Cross and Ian Charleson portray their characters with depth and complexity.  And the music is awesome.
  12. The Prestige (2006): This is a movie you HAVE to watch more than once - the second time to catch all the clues you missed the first go round.  Very different from the book, but excellent - you will be tossed curve ball after curve ball, and kept guessing right to the end.
  13. 1776 (1972): A delightful musical that takes a humorous look at the founding the the United States.  Lots of funny lines, great singing, and while it takes some liberties from the facts it's so much fun you don't care.
  14. Lilo and Stitch (2002): A funny tale of what a family is and full of laughter.  Stitch is a riot.  Elvis Presley fans will get a kick out of the music.
  15. The Emperor's New Groove (2000): The story of a bratty ruler who gets turned into a llama and must rely on the peasant he's threatening to evict from his land.  A hysterical buddy movie.  And who doesn't love Kronk?
  16. The Incredibles (2004): So what if there were superheroes and they got sued out of their jobs?  This film answers this question with a lot of laughs and some funny takes on some of its components.
  17. Miss Congeniality (2000): Sandra Bullock stars as a tough FBI gal who must go undercover as a beauty pageant contestant.  William Shatner is hysterical as the pageant's MC and the rest of the cast is delightful as well.
Of course, you may not agree.  What would you choose?

Writing in 2009 and looking to 2010

As I look over my records for 2009 I find myself pleased with my results even though I fell short of my goals. 

One thing to consider last year was that a number of major things occured on the personal front.  My oldest son, John, graduated Magna Cum Laude from Freed Hardeman University and was married the following month. I've had issues with medication which led to problems at the end of 2009 I am just now recovering from.  Don and I still care for his parents in our home, and we've had people moving in and out for various periods of time.

So, how'd I do in 2009?

  • My total word count (new fiction) for 2009 was 172, 810.  While this fell short of the 200k I aimed for it was still more than the previous year.
  • I wrote 11 short stories, same as last year.
  • I finished one novel and started another one.
  • I did participate in Nanowrimo, but failed to hit 50,000 words.
  • I kept up with my weekly column in the Highlands County News Sun despite all the personal stuff.  I consider that a victory.
  • I wrote at least 500 words/day for 147 days straight.
Would I have liked to have done more?  Sure.  Did I sell anything?  Nope.  Some of that's not in my control, but I could (and should) be sending out my manuscripts in a more timely fashion.  A quote of Issac Asimov is appropriate here: "You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer." 

So, what do I want to accomplish on the writing front in 2010?  Here are my goals.  Notice that selling something isn't a goal, because I can't MAKE anyone buy something.  But these goals should increase my odds...

  • 200,000 new fiction words for the year.  I was close in 2009 - I think I can do it.
  • 20 short stories for the year.  Almost double my output from 2008 and 2009.
  • I'd like to beat my writing streak of 147 days.
  • Get everything out in the mail some way, some how.  The goal is to get this done by the end of February.  Once everything is out, turn things around within 48 hours.
  • Finish my current novel and complete a second novel.
  • Participate in Nano and succeed this year. 
  • Keep up with this blog at least once  a week.
  • Continue to improve the column.  Also, put together a collection of past columns and try to sell it.
Those are my goals for 2010.  Will I succeed?  We'll see when we come to 2011!

*Tap tap* is this still on?

Hey, yeah, it's me.

I know I haven't done much with the blog for months. I'd go into the reasons but they'd probably bore you to tears and who wants that?

I WILL tell you that I plan to revisit this blog, and post at least once a week on it. There will be news, quips, things that catch my fancy, etc. You're welcome to join into the conversation, such as it is.

I have a couple of things to share, and they will be the next two posts. After that, we'll see.

Any questions or topic suggestions? Let me know!
Happy 27th anniversary to Don, my loving, patient, and amazing husband. I love you, sweetheart!

Friday, January 08, 2010

"The road to hell is paved with adverbs."
- Stephen King
A couple of Hershey's dark chocolate miniatures are very helpful to one's mood.
Treating myself to watching Peter Jackson's "The Fellowship of the Ring." Might even get to "The Two Towers" today.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

At church building creating bulletin board and poster for upcoming Ladies' Day. Need coffee

Sunday, January 03, 2010

My column this week: thoughts about the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas day: