Wednesday, December 29, 2010
And I realized something...
I've said before that mothers need to find something they love and then find the time to do it. But it's not just about doing something you love, it's about accomplishing something. I find that being a mother doesn't really give me that feeling.
Now before anyone starts freaking out on me- let me just reiterate the fact that motherhood is VERY IMPORTANT. In fact I think it's the MOST important job for a woman. (First I got the housewives all up-in-arms, and now the feminists!) It is wonderful, and very rewarding.
I don't think it lends itself to that gratifying feeling of "I accomplished something." I'll explain why.
Lasting through pregnancy without murdering someone (most likely your husband), getting through labour without screaming bad words at the top of your lungs, and then dealing with all the after nonsense (afterpains, frozen pads, warm-water squeegie bottles, a hideous flabby belly, very sore nipples, and wanting to cry while nursing in the middle of the night because you're just so tired, to name a few)... all of that IS an accomplishment.
But once the baby is here, everything it learns- the first steps, holding it's own spoon, first words- those are all the child's accomplishment- not yours. And then as the kids get older and they play nicely with other kids, or they get good grades in school, dance perfectly at their ballet recital, or score a goal in hockey- again, their accomplishments.
You can claim some sort of credit by saying, "I taught them well," or "I was a good example," or "I helped them practice". And you definitely feel proud. I know how awesome it feels, that swelling in your chest as your cheeks spread wide in a cheesy smile that you can't contain and tears well at your eyes even though you're not even remotely sad. I get that feeling ALL THE TIME. And it's awesome.
But you can't look at them doing those things and say, "I did that." You just can't. Because YOU didn't do it. They did. And good for them.
The other thing is, motherhood never ends. You are never done. Your child is never done. You can finish a book, or paint a whole picture, or learn an instrument. Your child never stops growing. They accomplish one thing- like learning to crawl- only to move on to the next thing- learning to walk. Even once they've graduated from college, gotten a career, gotten married, and had kids, they're still not done- and so you're still not done. I personally can't get that feeling of accomplishment when really, I've only just begun.
But when I spend one, two, three hours working on my writing- whether it be actually writing, editing, or doing research- I go to bed that night and I can say, "Look what I did today. I did that." And the same can be said for whatever it is you do. Whether it be running a marathon, sewing a pair of pajama pants instead of buying them from the store, even making a dinner that the whole family loves- those are the things that will give you that feeling. Something YOU did.
And why is that so important?
Because it boosts you up. It makes you feel good. Smart, strong, useful, important. A mother can't teach her kids to love life and take meaning from it without loving it themselves.
Without loving themselves.
***Disclaimer: This is purely how I feel. There could be thousands of mothers out there who get a sense of accomplishment from raising their kids. But for those who don't get that PARTICULAR feeling, find something you love and do it. Trust me, it works.***
Monday, December 27, 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
It was a good Christmas though. I got to visit my parents and dip fondant chocolates for the first time. We spent lots of time with Jeff's family, which is always a lot of fun. (Luckily this year I managed to keep my rage in check around them! HAHA!) The kids were psyched to get DS's from Santa, and I was psyched to get my favorite gift- one I get every year- a gift card for the mall. We watched a lot of the Grinch, and Dora's Christmas Carol. I ate (and am still eating) A LOT of yummy food (I know what my new year's resolution is going to be!). And today at church the Christmas Program that I organized went really well. It's been a good holiday season, and I have much to be thankful for.
I'd like to take a sec and say thanks and an 'I Love You' to all my family out there- the Stanford's and the Burt's. I'm so thankful for my family and wish I could see them more often. And I'm thankful that we have Jeff's family nearby to spend time with. I may get exasperated sometimes (ha!), but it would be so crappy to live somewhere completely on our own with no family close by.
I am very blessed. Even though sometimes I think I don't deserve it, I am grateful. So very grateful for my family and for everything that I have. And I'm looking forward to seeing what the New Year will bring.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
The Christmas season is in full swing and I'm always amazed at how busy it can get. This week I'm up to my ears in root canals, christmas concerts, birthdays, and baking. Not to mention my mom is coming, then I'll be taking the kids to Cardston and then back home next week when I'll have to get all those last-minute things done before Christmas day actually hits. Because I am who I am, I can't help but look ahead and mentally make lists for days to come even though it's useless stressing about things I can't even do yet.
I was reading the kids a Christmas story the other night from a Disney book we have. It's an "Ants" story about how Flik invents this machine to make Christmas a whole lot easier. The machine ends up destroying everyone's presents and the moral of the story is that you shouldn't try to take the busy-ness out of christmas because that's one of the things that makes it special. Working hard and doing things for those you love is one of the best things about Christmas.
I'm not the busiest person out there, that's for sure. I mean, I obviously have time to post on my blog! But I do know that taking the time to make Christmas special for my family is one of the wonderful things about the season. I wouldn't change a thing about it all. Not the decorations, the shopping, the wrapping or the cooking. It's all part of making Christmas "the most wonderful time of the year". I love it all!
And now I've got to go change my laundry and blow dry my hair, then pick up Logan then...
Monday, December 6, 2010
But then I thought- how stupid is that phrase?! I mean, really. Think of the opposite of the word simple. Hard, difficult, complicated. Since when do any of those words go with the word pleasure? Things that are hard to deal with or understand are never fun. And there are very few people in the world who get pleasure from things that are complicated. Yes there are people out there who make amazing discoveries, inventions, or get pleasure from being top of their class of head of their company. And yes, those people probably aren't simple-minded. But don't most of us find our pleasures from the simpler things in life? Like playing a favorite sport, eating a truly delicious meal, or getting a raise. Christmastime, or an 'A' on an exam, or a child's laughter. A sunny day, watching your favorite tv show, reading a great book. I would say that all of those things are a simple pleasure, so does that make us all simple minded?
I know I take pleasure in many small and simple things. Listening to my kids belly-laugh, hearing a song I love on the radio when I was just wishing for it, smelling the first smell of spring after a long winter. And there's more, many more. Getting my People Stylewatch in the mail, figuring out a Sudoku puzzle in less than a minute, sitting on my couch under a cozy blanket next to my lighted Christmas tree with a fire in the fireplace.
I could go on... forever. There are so many things in life we can take pleasure from. Simple, easy, small things. Does that make me simple-minded? Actually, I really don't care- because I'm happy. The day I stop finding joy in the little things of life, is the day I become a person that I just don't want to be.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Ha! Yeah, right. Because not only do I have a toothache, but I have a gigantic sized swelling in my gums that, 1- looks like a small tumor, 2- is throbbing so bad that I can't eat, sleep, smile, or think about anything else, 3- has caused my cheek to swell so that I'm starting to resemble Harry Potter in that scene where Hermione hits him in the face with a jinx to disguise who he is, and 4- basically makes me want to shoot myself. (And if I do, I'm aiming straight at the thing because I would like to blow it to bits.)
So basically I'm miserable, and I have more than a week to stay that way because my root canal isn't scheduled until NEXT monday. The antibiotics I'm on haven't done didley squat except to make me nauseous, nor have the alarming number of advils I've taken. I'm thisclose to trying to pop the darn thing, but the thought of sticking a pin in it gives me the willies and having pus-like-nastiness drain into my mouth is just plain gross. (I did warn you about reading this, don't say I didn't!)
Anyway, there is something to be excited about today and that's the DVD release of Eclipse. In honor of that, I've posted Muse's "Neutron Star Collision" down below because it's an awesome song and it shows clips from the movie. I'm just hoping I'll be able to drag myself to the store sometime today to buy it. If you see me there- please be nice and don't mock my swollen face. Or I might just lift up my lip and show you something that will give you nightmares forever more.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
I've never understood the haters out there who can't stand wonderful songs like "White Christmas", "O Holy Night", and my favorite- "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire". Sure, I know some songs are mildly annoying- "The Twelve Days of Christmas" of course, except for the Chipmunk version, and I've never been a fan of "Little Drummer Boy". And I have to say that most christmas songs done by artists in the 70's, 80's and even 90's are definitely not my faves. In fact, I bought this one CD mainly for Madonna's version of "Santa Baby" but I find the rest of the songs so annoying that I hardly listen to it.
But it's not really the songs that are annoying but the singers and their arrangements. I tend to like the classics- Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and Perry Como. I also grew up listening to Boney M- a 70s group that I would probably hate if I hadn't listened to it every christmas of my childhood. And then there's the modern day singers that have put out some great CD's: Mariah Carey and Harry Connick Jr both have two great ones, Josh Groban, Celine Dion, Faith Hill, Paul Brandt, are some of my faves, and I can reminisce about my boy-band-loving days with 'N Sync and 98 Degrees.
Can I just say, christmas music is the best! It makes me happy (I write this with a goofy grin plastered on my face). Mid-november I was putting up a few christmas decorations even though I wasn't really feeling it. And then I put on a CD and bam! I was in fully wrapped in the Christmas spirit. It's amazing what music can do.
Let me tell you, it's going to be very hard to pick out just a few songs to post.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
I saw the movie last thursday night and absolutely loved it. It's unusual for sequels to be better- usually 2nd and 3rd movies are worse than the first one. But the HP movies have just gotten better and better and number 7 was the best one yet. This may be the result of being unable (and unwilling) to extract myself from the HP world, but I thought it was one of the best movies I've seen lately. I haven't gotten to re-reading book 7 yet so I couldn't really remember the things the movie left out- also why I loved the movie so much: I couldn't be annoyed with what was missing.
Re-reading the books has made me wonder what it is about them that I love so much. Or, as an aspiring author myself, I can't help but dissect what could have possibly made them so hugely popular.
Unfortunately I have no answers to that question. I mean yeah, they're full of humor, action, romance (later on), and suspense. But a lot of books can claim that. I think JK Rowling's voice really stands out- I find myself thinking and saying words like "bloody", "blimey", "mental", and "brilliant" when I'm reading the books. But the voice could be so strong for me just because it's slightly foreign.
There is one thing that probably attracts me to the books more than any other. The fact that I have always secretly wanted to be able to do magic. Not Criss Angel-like weirdness or annoying card tricks. Real magic. And JK Rowling made a world where normal people in the world we know have the ability to learn magic and go to a school that teaches it. That in itself, sold me on the books from the start.
But could that be the only reason they did so well? Doubtful. But as to why they are so hugely popular- I could wrack my brains for hours on end to figure out the formula that she used to make a massively successful book series but I would never come up with the answer. And even if I did, I'm sure luck and timing play a huge part aside from the obvious: great writing.
All I do know is that I love the world of Harry Potter. I love being able to escape into a world where people can become invisible, turn cups into gerbils, turn themselves into animals or change their appearance, and ride flying broomsticks. There really is nothing else like it anywhere. Which is why I re-read. And re-read, and re-read. Even though I haven't yet finished the series this time around, I'm already looking forward to July when I can dunk myself into the Harry Potter pool all over again.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Interestingly enough, she didn't give me quite as much negative as I'd hoped. She did give a few suggestions- some of which I will definitely follow through on, one big one I have to seriously think about. But in all, most of what she had to say was positive.
Which brought me to wonder... is it possible that my book isn't absolute rubbish after all? After receiving 20+ rejections, it's natural to think that something is wrong with it. That I have some major issues somewhere that need to be fixed. But... could it actually be... dare I say it, good? Or even better than that- really good? (I tremble at the very thought.)
After thinking the above as I drove home from the appointment, I quickly tossed that possibility aside and considered something more plausible, and probably more realistic.
Maybe she is someone who doesn't want to give negative feedback because she doesn't think that will be helpful. Maybe, deep down, she thinks my book is horribly bad but doesn't want to say that out loud because, let's face it- that's mean.
So here's the golden question: If you have this dream that you happen to suck at really bad (but you don't know it), is it better to keep trying at it and trying at it for most of your life even though you won't ever get anywhere (because you suck)? OR is it better to have someone just tell you the truth- that you will never accomplish that dream so just give up now instead of wasting your time/life pursuing it?
I can't help but think of Simon Cowell. So rude, so mean, sometimes reduces people to tears. But anytime I watch him crush someone's dream of becoming a singer, I can't help but think that he's doing them a favor. He's being honest. People who can't carry a tune should never EVER try to sing solos in public- it's just not fair to the rest of the world. And why bother trying over and over to become a singer when no matter how many singing lessons you take, or auditions you go to, you will never be a good singer.
Isn't it the same with everything- writers included? Sure, I can write and write and write some more, maybe finishing ten or twenty books in the next twenty years. And maybe I would get a little better as the time goes by. But if I just don't have it to begin with, wouldn't it be fairer for someone to just tell me now, so I can move on?
Would I really like that though? Do I really want someone to crush my dreams so brutally, so finally? I think it's good for others, but what would I do if someone actually told me that I suck? Would I quit? Or would it spur me on to try harder (even if it meant twenty or more years of pointless writing)?
I read once that someone told JK Rowling that she would never get published as a children's author so she should just stop trying. Can you imagine if she had listened to him/her? There would be no Harry Potter (I cringe at the thought). She wouldn't have made ka-billions. The world would be a much sadder place because of all the kids who wouldn't have entered the wonderful world of books all because of a boy wizard.
I don't have the answers to any of my questions. What I do know is that I appreciate every bit of encouragement I get- from Gail Bowen, from my husband and sister who have read my book twice, from my two sisters-in-law who both read a very early and frightening draft, to every person out there who has heard I've written a book and tell me- good for you! Keep at it! I'm not going to quit. At least not yet. Maybe my book is rubbish. Maybe it belongs in a trash bin. Maybe I have no place whatsoever writing novels.
But maybe, just maybe, my book is actually good. Maybe one day I'll see it sitting on the bookshelf at Chapters. Maybe one day, next year or ten years from now, my dreams might just come true.
Friday, November 19, 2010
In honor of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 coming out today, I'm posting the trailer, which I'm sure every person alive has already seen- but I don't care.
Sadly, due to a busy weekend, I won't be able to see it until next thursday. I've already bought my tickets and I'm counting down the days- 6 more to go! (Uh-oh, my nerdiness is showing, isn't it?)
I can't wait to see it. I'm glad they decided to split it into two parts because hopefully that means they'll stay true (or true-er anyway) to the story and not cut too much out. That's my biggest pet peeve with the movies- they chop so much great stuff out that I want to see. Of course I get it- no one wants to watch a five-hour long movie, but still. It's sad when favorite parts of the books are cut out.
Anyway, can't wait- the movie looks awesome. And to anyone who is seeing it before me- I don't want to hear about it. Especially if you hate it or something. I don't want anyone or anything killing my Harry Potter buzz.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
I love to hear the positives but I'm also looking forward to hearing what I can fix or work on. I've pretty much shelved my first book- hardly thinking about it (if hardly thinking about it means five or six times a day as opposed to five hundred times a day... seriously), and not sending it out to anyone. I'm planning to re-edit after I've spoken to her (and after I've read through Harry Potter again since I don't want HP influencing my book in any way), and then I'm going to start sending it out again in late January.
I can't wait. I know it's good to leave your work for a bit so when you return to it you're coming with a fresh perspective- but I can't help but feel like I'm wasting time. Especially since I haven't been writing either, I'm stuck on research right now. I've been pretty much stagnant in the writing department, and that's never good. So I can't wait for tomorrow. Ok, how many times have a I said that now?
Just once more- I can't wait!
Monday, November 15, 2010
My mom was here last week so I didn't do a lot of writing or blogging. What I did do was a lot of shopping. Thankfully my list of christmas gifts to buy is dwindling slowly. Just a few more to go...
As I was on the treadmill this morning, I was struck with how inconsistent I am. I set goals for myself and I'll do really good for awhile and then boom- I've fallen off the wagon. Or sometimes I'll think, ok I've got this one in the bag- it's easy for me now to do this thing every day- so I'll start with a new goal. But with the new goal, the one I thought I had down before starts to slide. Why is that? Why can't we get used to doing something and then gradually add new goals until our days become the full and productive things we aim for?
For example- exercise. I'll go for a week, a month, a few months, exercising at least three times a week. And then something happens and suddenly, I'm no longer doing it. Or my writing, I'll write for a few hours every day and then all of a sudden- I'm not writing anymore. And then there's my eating habits. They used to be good. Last year I lost a little over 20 pounds and kept if off for awhile. And then gradually my healthy eating habits disappeared and I'm racking my brain trying to figure out how I got here and how I can get back to where I was.
I feel like I had everything right last year- or even just a few months ago. So what happened?
I wonder if maybe I struggled just as much before but I just don't remember. Maybe I only remember the results. Maybe I worked through my struggles to get the good results. Maybe I'm just not working hard enough.
With a new year just around the corner, a part of me just wants to forget it all for the next month and a half and start afresh in January. But I know that it will be a lot easier in the new year if I already have good habits in place. (And I don't even want to imagine what my weight would be if I let it all go for that long. Yikes.)
Somehow, I have to remember, or figure out all over again, or find a new way of doing things the right way. I have to get back to that place where I feel like I'm accomplishing my goals. It's hard to think sometimes that it will always be a struggle. But I guess that's why people say 'life is hard'. It's never just an uphill journey. You might get to the top and then a little bit later you find yourself sliding down without knowing what the heck happened to knock you off that peak.
But that's what makes it life, right? The ups, the downs, the struggles, the rewards. Slogging through the tough times and enjoying the great moments. It's not always easy, but it's definitely worth it.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Random kid advice: Don't buy a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer stuffy- your kids will all fight over it.
Random stupidness: After finding those actors to play my main characters, I realized that Lord Alric, Lady Fiona and Lord Purvis should all have English accents. James Maslow and Annasophia Robb are American, and David Kross is German. Oops. I guess I'll have to re-cast. Ha! (James Maslow- you better start learning an English accent so you're prepared for when my book becomes a movie!)
Random fact: My Christmas list so far is mostly books. Shocker.
Random request: I need information on British soldiers during the American Revolution. Why is all the info out there only about the Americans? I need to know about uniforms, rank, how and why men became soldiers, etc. Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
Random excitement: After I'm done reading current book, I'm going to re-read all Harry Potters in preparation for movie 7 (coming out in two weeks!).
Random bit of patient amusement: I love the show Vampire Diaries- really I do. But could they have one episode where there isn't some sort of event/party/carnival/dance/founder's day thing going on? Just one?
Random quote: Keep on lovin' what is true and the world will come to you/ You can find it in yourself.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
I don't really like to mention books that I didn't like that much. Somehow it seems a little unfair to the author. But since I didn't totally hate the book, I thought it would be okay.
So the first book I read was The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan. What reading it made me realize is that post-apocalyptic, or dystopian, is not really my thing. (See my Hunger Games post).
Basically this was a book about zombies, although not portrayed that way or I probably wouldn't have read it. Mary, the main character, lives in a village surrounded by a fence which keeps out the Forest of Hands and Teeth and the Unconsecrated (zombies). It's a world where if you're bitten by one of the Unconsecrated, you die and then become one. Think I Am Legend, except that they're not that fast but they can go out in daylight. With I Am Legend, I saw the movie, I was glad I saw the movie, but I don't want to see the movie again. Reading the book was like that. Definitely not one I would reread.
But there were some good things about it. The love story was both thrilling and heart-wrenching, the characters were strong, and I found myself teary-eyed at parts. The ending left something to be desired for me, but I think that's because I like glorious happy endings (ex: the zombies get bombed off the planet and everything can go back to normal). This was more of just... an ending. Also, Mary was trying to figure out these secrets of the Sisterhood but then the author never gives the answers. Like a tease. So for me, not my favorite book, but I know a lot of people really like it so if you're not put off by zombies- give it a try.
The book I loved was Beastly, by Alex Flinn. It's Beauty and the Beast remade into modern-day times. That fact alone gave it brownie points in my mind since Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney cartoon. I loved how similar it was to the story I know, and yet how the author twisted it enough so that it totally worked for modern times.
It made me excited for this (see below)... a preview I swear I saw a year ago. I don't know what's taking so long for the movie to come out but I can't wait for the day! I'm glad too that they decided to spin his ugliness a different way, instead of making him actually look like a beast (like they do in the book).
(I'm posting it separately because that's the only way I know how, but enjoy the trailer!)
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
|Jessica Jacobs (played by Samantha Munro)|
Now if you can't already tell, music is a huge part of my life. I have it on almost all day. I listen while I'm eating, cleaning, cooking, writing, you name it. I even wish I had a speaker in my bathroom so that I could listen while I'm in the shower!
Anyway, I've thought a lot about my book becoming a movie. That might sound silly to some people but the fact is, it started out as a movie in my head. The writing came after I had played the scenes out in my head already. Certain songs that I listened to while writing, or that I've heard since, have struck me as being perfect for different points in the book/movie. (Of course sometimes the whole song doesn't actually work, but they don't play whole songs in movies anyway so who cares!) I know if my book were ever to be made into a movie, I wouldn't have any say in the soundtrack. Although I would try hard for the last song (Two is Better than One) since I actually mention it in the book.
So here's my Daze and Knights movie soundtrack.
DAZE AND KNIGHTS
According To You, by Orianthi: I thought this song was appropriate because Lord Purvis calls Jessica weak, useless and pathetic.
Just What I Needed, by Faber Drive: Jessica comments about how she's wasting Lord Alric's time. This would come after that comment when they start training.
Beside You, by Marianas Trench: I often listened to this song when writing the tree scences between Jessica and Alric. I thought it would be a great song for their first kiss moment.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
1) Live a life as varied as possible. This will give you LOTS to write about. (Something for me to keep in mind!)
2) Keep a notebook with you everywhere you go- then you won't forget things that come to you randomly.
3) Read constantly. Analyze what you read. What makes a book good? What makes a book not work?
4) Write every day. (Duh)
5) Always leave your writing at a good place. That way you'll want to go back to it the next day instead of putting it off for laundry or something.
6) If you're stuck- step away. Take a break. Go on a walk, eat something, fold some laundry. Then go back to it. Just don't talk on the phone, or go out with someone or anything like that because that won't help.
7) Write everywhere!
8) Figure out your elevator pitch (something I'm working on!) which is one sentence, maybe two, of what your book is about and why you're the one to write it.
9) Revise, revise, revise. And give it some time in between.
10) Read your book aloud- that will help you to find what's wrong and what doesn't work.
11) Cut until you can cut no more.
12) Trust your reader- not everything has to be explained.
She said that as writers we need to make the reader understand the world we are living in inside our head. We need to find the words and the way to describe it so that they will see what we see. That might seem like, duh to some people, but that's one thing that really hit me. Because I live so much in my own head that I need to make sure my story is coming across on the page as good as it is in my head.
Anyway, just some thoughts and tips from Gail Bowen. I'm looking forward to meeting with her in a couple of weeks to discuss my first 25 pages. Hopefully she'll be able to give me specific advice for my book. And one last thought...
A writer's goal is to help readers enjoy life, or endure it.
Avalon High was the first book by Meg Cabot that I ever read. I'm psyched that they made it into a movie- even one that's "made for tv". The movie looks kinda cheesy but I still can't wait to see it! Next friday on the Family Channel here in Canada. Can't wait!
Monday, November 1, 2010
Anyway, after reading Rick Riordan's "The Red Pyramid" last week- which I totally enjoyed (I love Rick Riordan- he's so funny and captures the pre-teen voice perfectly)- I read the final book in the Hunger Games Trilogy- Mockingjay.
Don't worry, there won't be spoilers. Although by now I'm probably one of the last to read it. At least among those who were waiting for it to come out. That's what happens when you're put on a library waiting list.
So I really liked it. The ending and everything. It didn't turn out quite like I thought it would but I was happy with the way Suzanne Collins did end it. There's something funny about those books though. Or rather, how I feel about those books. I can't quite explain it. I enjoy the books. I got teary-eyed during a few moments. And I am (and have always been, no matter what happened) on Team Peeta (unlike most).
But are these books on the top of my favorites list? No. Why? I'm not sure. Since I've been pretty much immersed in the Hunger Games world this past weekend, I thought a lot about the books even when I wasn't reading. What I discovered is I don't feel that Katniss is a very relatable character. I just don't connect to her the way I do with other characters- say Bella, or Mia, or even Harry. There's something about her that just doesn't appeal to me.
And then there's the whole world that Collins created. A world so icky and unfair and brutal that I would never want to go there. I've often dreamed of attending Hogwarts or the Gallagher Academy, visiting a vampire-infested Forks, or living in the modern world and being friends with characters created by Sophie Kinsella, Clive Cussler, or Meg Cabot. Not one teeny part of me would like to be a crazily-painted tattoed member of the Capitol, or one of the starved rabble from District 12.
I think that's where I'm put off just a bit. I prefer fluff over tough.
Which isn't entirely true. I like girls who can kick-butt, stories with battles and wars, and circumstances so extreme that it seems impossible to escape.
But there's somthing kind of disturbing about all three books that put them lower on my 're-read' list. Maybe it's the scary thought that the books could be reality someday. But mostly, I think I like my worlds- imagined and real- to have some redeeming qualities. To have beauty. Even if fighting is going on, the grass is still green and the sun shines. Even if a girl is killing her enemies, she still feels love in her heart.
Maybe people who read this will think I'm missing something from the books. Yes, the sun shone during the Hunger Games. Yes Katniss felt love. Sure, there were redeeming qualities to her and to some of the other characters. But I can tell you that although I really liked all three- there's something about them that leaves me feeling cold.
That doesn't change the fact that I can't wait for the movie version to come out!
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Two great albums came out on Monday, Taylor Swift's and Michael Buble's Crazy Love Hollywood Edition. This video for the song "Hollywood" is hilarious- especially when Michael pretends to be Justin Bieber. I bet he had a lot of fun making this video and playing all those parts. The album is awesome- of course. How could Michael Buble be anything other than freaking amazing?! I love you Mikey!
In honor of Taylor Swift's new album which came out on Monday, I thought I'd post this video which is really cute. Me, Jade, and Kori all love to sing along to the song at home. Although the girls like to sing, "careless man's PURPLE daughter". Ha ha.
Monday, October 25, 2010
So You Think You Can Dance (Canada and US) is one of my favorite shows. Watching the dance routines just makes me itch to dance. This one is called Rejection and it's by far one of my favorite routines I've EVER seen. It was choreographed by Mia Michaels for the opening number on the Canadian show a few weeks ago and then they danced it again on the finale last night. I LOVE IT so much (it gives me goose bumps) that I had to post it. Watch and enjoy.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
It's plain annoying. Can I lodge a complaint? Dear Whoever- change the rules so that foods with the most calories, therefore the most flavor, are the foods that are good for you. Please? Pretty please?
I guess not.
I'm realizing for real that food is going to be a lifelong struggle for me. I did weight watchers on my own for about a year after having Avery to help me lose the baby weight and get down to where I've always wanted to be. Although I didn't make it quite as low on the scale as I wanted, I was happy with the weight I achieved. I thought that after being on it for so long, I was used to what I could and couldn't eat, and I could move on to eating normally without having to count points or measure portion sizes.
Ten pounds later...
Obviously I can't be left to my own devices.
I wish I could change my view on food. Instead of viewing it as oh-so-yummy-just-gotta-eat-it-because-it-tastes-so-good, I need to view food as fuel. FOOD IS FUEL. Something that my body needs to keep it going.
Ha, good luck with that. It ain't happening. Because food isn't fuel- it's yummy. It makes me happy. I can't help but smile and go 'mmmm' when I bite into a soft but crusty piece of garlic bread.
It does not make me happy to eat fish, greens, and egg whites every day. Seriously, how do actresses and models do that? It's ridiculous. And nasty.
It turns out that the devil is here on earth and he rests in a mini mars bar, tempting me with his chocolaty yummy-ness.
I want to enjoy life. And enjoying life to me means eating things that I love. So where does that leave me? I guess I'm going to have to watch what I eat for the REST OF MY LIFE. Sigh. Because I need to find balance between eating what's good for me and eating those mini mars bars that I love so much.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
(And before you say YAWN, read on.)
I just can't help but feel lucky to be able to read the ka-billion articles, blogs, websites, etc that are out there on the internet. For example, my sister-in-law Emily sent me some articles she found on some site (totally can't remember the name of it) that proved to be really helpful. One article in particular pointed out things that writers can work on to improve their work. Some I had already heard of before- like show, don't tell. Which I honestly don't know if I'm doing well enough. (I think sometimes I'm telling, sometimes I'm showing). But there were other things I had never considered. Like they tell you to use the 'active voice' not the 'passive voice'. Which means, don't use words like: realized, hoped, thought, considered, and wondered.
I knew right off the bat that I use the word 'realize' a lot. Sure enough, there were 70-some times I had used it in my manuscript. Then I moved onto 'wondered' (80-some times), and then thought (200-and-some times!!!). So basically I've spent most of today going through all those words and trying to change them when I could. (I couldn't every time- especially with the word 'thought'.)
There are also so many blogs out there that help with query letters, editing, publishing, finding agents, you name it. The ones I go to most are shown at the side of my blog, but I often find myself at other sites, usually because I clicked on some link that led me there.
The only problem with so much is that sometimes there can be too much. I could totally waste ALL my time surfing just writing sites. And sometimes, actually a lot of times, there are conflicting opinions that can get rather confusing. Like some people say to start your query letter with why you've chosen to query that particular agent. Others suggest going straight into your story. Some say the first thing you should mention is your title, genre, and word count. Others say put that in at the end.
I often find my mind screaming, "TOO MUCH INFORMATION! WHAT DO I DO???"
Well, one of the comments I just got from Barb (another sister-in-law) was 'go with your instincts'. It's totally true. Unfortunately sometimes it's hard to trust those darn instincts when you've got no idea if they're leading you straight or not.
I guess I just need to learn to trust in them. And while I'm trying to do that, I won't stop reading the advice of others. Because people are wise. Me- not so much.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Thanks alot Stephenie Meyer.
Just kidding- I love you and your books.
Anyway, I was psyched to actually get some feedback last week in one of my rejections. Unfortunately, now I just feel like- what the heck do I do??? I feel like I've edited so much that I've almost over-edited the thing. And I have NO CLUE how to make the voice more interesting.
I can't help but wonder what my next step should be. Do I keep sending it out? Do I edit again? Do I leave it for awhile and then edit it again later??? ARGH! I NEED HELP!
Ok, calm down Melanie.
Two things I know I will do. First I'm going to stop sending it out. It's not good to bug agents around Thanksgiving through New Years anyway because who is really focused on work during that time??? In some ways I feel it's a waste of time not to be sending it out. On the other hand, it's a waste of time, and of great agents, to send it out when it's not the BEST it can be only to get nos in reply.
The next thing I'm going to do is get the Calgary Public Library's Writer in Residence to take a look at it. Unfortunately that means I'll have to pay $112 bucks for a Calgary library card. I know- ridiculous. But I'm hoping it will be worth my while. Hoping...
So, I think until then I will let my book sit, I will try NOT to think about it (ha! yeah right) and I will edit it again once the writer in residence has given me her opinion on it. THEN I will start to send it out again and hope, HOPE that it's good enough to make it to the next step.
Sigh. Why does it have to be so hard???
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
In honor of seeing Life As We Know It this past weekend and it becoming one of my new fave chick flicks, I thought I would make a list of my top ten favorites. Comprising of romantic comedies only- not teen movies, dance movies, period pieces, etc.
And there you have it folks- movies I can watch again and again and again. Watch 'em and you'll love 'em too.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Now, you'd think that criticism hurts. But actually, all I could think was, finally, something I can work on. So my query letter isn't totally bad, my word count and title- ditto, but the voice wasn't there- at least for her. It's almost a relief to know that there's something I can fix instead of having to just keep on plugging without any clue as to why I'm getting rejected.
Of course I realize that maybe, somewhere, another agent won't agree and WILL be swept away by the voice. But chances are, if one agent sees that as a problem, others will as well.
Let me just say that I'm glad to have something to work on, something to improve, even if it drives me crazy. Because that kind of crazy is a lot better than the not-knowing-what-the-heck-is-wrong kind of crazy.
So thank you to that agent (who will remane nameless) for a rejection that actually gives me hope, instead of crushing it flat for all time.
I've been a Boys Like Girls fan for a year now. But for some reason lately they're all I want to listen to. I'm not sure why. They have two CD's out- Boys Like Girls and Love Drunk. The Love Drunk CD is one of few CD's where I actually like every song. Every single song. I don't skip any. That's rare. So in honor of my love for their music I thought I'd post their music video for my second fave song of theirs (Two is Better Than One is my first fave): Love Drunk. Enjoy.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Last night I watched the movie "Letters to Juliet" starirng Amanda Seyfried, Vanessa Redgrave and Christopher Egan.
The movie was cute and I liked it, although they overdid the cheese in the end. Seriously, the writers could have done better with the whole balcony scene- I was thisclose to rolling my eyes. And I usually don't mind the cheese, but it was a bit much.
There was one line that really stood out though.
They're driving up to a mansion of what could be the guy they're looking for and Christopher Egan says something about how she can skip all the messy bits and go straight to the good high-style living. Then Vanessa Reedgrave replies,
"Life is the messy bits."
Never has a line in a chick-flick stood out to me more. Life is the messy bits. It's not all perfect and wonderful and mansion living with no problems. Sure there are great moments, and there are awful moments. But if you try and skip out all the messy, then you've basically skipped your life. And if you try to avoid it, then you won't ever learn and grow and become better.
It was a total ping moment for me.
I was watching J.K. Rowling on Oprah and she said the same kind of thing. If it weren't for her failures, for hitting rock bottom, and her mother's death, Harry Potter never would have existed. Because she wouldn't have had it in her to write it like it was. There never would have been a Harry Potter.
Now that doesn't mean that those things weren't hard, or that they're better now because of her success, but look at the person she has grown into and what resulted. It's truly amazing.
I think it's a good lesson for us all to learn. Life is the messy bits. But that's what makes it life. And that's what makes us who we are. And hopefully who we are is better for all those messy bits.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
I'm talking, of course, about the brain freeze. And no, not the kind you get after taking a big sip of slurpee. More the kind where you're in the middle of talking and suddenly- BOOM- your mind goes completely and utterly blank.
This happened to me yesterday while I was doing my visiting teaching. I was in the middle of giving the message about nurturing the rising generation- something that should have been easy for me to talk about because I do it every day (or at least I hope I do!). But right in the middle of me expressing my feelings about the topic, all thoughts instantly and suddenly disappeared from my head, leaving nothing but emptiness.
Even after blushing and stammering and saying 'yeah' alot and explaining what had just happened, it still took me like five minutes before coherent thoughts returned to my head.
And that's not the first time this has happened. Before having kids I could speak in church or bear my testimony with no problems. My talks would be written in point form and then I would get up and talk easily, using only my notes as my guide. Now I have to write every single word down and I spend most of the talk staring at my paper so I don't lose my place and then start babbling and then suffer what's sure to come- the brain freeze.
The last time I bore my testimony (which has been more than two years now- yikes!) the brain freeze descended. I was in the middle of it and suddenly- whoosh- there went my thoughts and I was left standing there, blushing and saying 'yeah' over and over until I could get some sort of intelligence back. It's no wonder I've been reluctant to bear my testimony since, not because I don't have one, but because "yeah... yeah... um, yeah" isn't much of a testimony.
FYI- I'f I'm saying 'yeah' a lot, that's a sure sign the brain freeze has hit me.
I can't help but wonder if the brain freeze is a physical complication of bearing children- like stretch marks and a flabby tummy- or if it's actually the result of spending the last six years at home with mainly small children as conversation companions.
Either way, when the brain freeze hits, I'm screwed. And embarrassed. And red as a beet.
So if you happen to be around when this happens, please cut me some slack. Because I will eventually get my brain power back. It just might be a few minutes and a lot of 'yeahs' later.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
This time I've put on my top five songs that I'm really into right now. Starting with Flo-Rida's Club Can't Handle Me. This song makes me want to get up and do my very un-cool hiphop moves (which I only do if no one's around). Then we've got Taylor Swift's new one Mine. I am a huge Taylor Swift fan and I love her new song. I can't help but love the line, "you made a rebel of a careless man's careful daughter". Then there's Sky Ferreira's Obsession. I first heard this song on that Vampire Diaries clip I posted a few weeks ago and I've loved the song ever since. Although I'll admit I like the clip version better than the one I found on playlist, but what can you do?
Last but not least, a song I've been loving ever since I first heard it probably more than a year ago. Untouched by the Veronicas makes me want to get up and dance too. But not in a cool way. More in like a jumping up and down and bobbing my head in a sort of 80s frantic way. Listen to it and you'll understand. And the song is kinda hot. There, I said it.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Now let's put aside the fact that 1) I'm too old for school, and 2) both Hogwarts and the Gallagher Academy don't actually exist (sigh). I'm just going to ignore those two things because in my world, well they're just not true. AKA 1) I am an innocent and stretch-mark-free sixteen year old, and 2) those schools are out there somewhere training young witches, wizards and spies to be.
The best thing about these book though is the girls are strong, smart, and talented instead of the whiny, angst-ridden, and sometimes idiotic girls that are often portrayed in teen books. These girls are genuises. They know over a dozen languages. They take classes like Covert Operations, Culture and Assimilation, and Protection and Enforcement. They know how to kill someone with a barbie doll or a piece of uncooked spaghetti. Translation: these girl kick major patootie.
Who wouldn't want to read a book about that? And more importantly, who wouldn't want to go to a school like that? So if I can't make it into Hogwarts, I'm holding out hope that I'll get in to the Gallagher Academy. Because who doesn't want to go to spy school?
Monday, September 20, 2010
So I can't help but wonder if that makes me a geek. Or a dork. Or a nerd. And is there a difference between those three?
I never thought of myself as a geek (or dork or nerd). I was never great in school, I loathe science and math, Star Trek only has appeal because of Chris Pine, and I only ever played Dungeons and Dragons once. And to defend myself on that last one- I was like fourteen and at the time it was totally cool to get to stay up until after midnight to play the game with my older sister and her friends.
On the other hand, I love to read, I have a collection of expensive dragon statues (not big ones), and my favorite t-shirt says, "I never got my letter to Hogwarts so I'm moving to Forks to live with the Cullens."
Do those things make me a geek? The fact that I own that t-shirt (as well as two more Harry Potter and Twilight t-shirts) shows that I'm a Twihard or have Pottermania, but does that denote geekiness? I would say no. But others might disagree.
To them I would say, have you watched The Big Bang Theory? I am nothing like those dudes! In fact, I would consider myself closer to Penny with her "blonde" moments rather than the nerdy Sheldon who spouts things I've never even heard of and would never have the brain power to understand.
As I was watching Bachelor Pad a few weeks ago, Tenley, one of the so-called "cool" crowd in the house, described herself as a dork, after which Kypton quickly agreed and also called himself one. It reminded me of the movie Sydney White, where everyone stands up at the end and proclaims themselves dorks for one reason or another.
So is it cool to be a dork? When I was a teenager, one would never admit such a thing. But it seems like everyone is saying that about themselves these days. And again, is there a difference between a dork, a geek, and a nerd? And if there is, which one am I?
Maybe that's a question I don't really want to know the answer to...
Friday, September 17, 2010
Ok, I know I already said how much I love this song, and I still have it sitting there on my playlist, but I just saw the video and I think it's so hauntingly beautiful with the dancing and that whole sucking the heart out of the jar... LOVE IT!
You're gonna catch a cold/From the ice inside your soul/So don't come back for me/Who do you think you are?