Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pumping Legs and Arms, but Gaining Speed Slowly

I have a New York hangover.

As some of you know, the weekend plans to attend my nephew's baptism changed last week when my cousin Ryan passed away from a brain tumor.  He'd outlived his 2-3 month prognosis and survived 18 months past the initial diagnosis.  One of the many blessings throughout his journey.  Being reunited with my extended, Upstate New York family was one of mine.

I flew to Syracuse on Wednesday night, arriving at my parents' house after midnight.  The funeral was the next day, and the reception that followed took place at another cousin's restaurant, which was closed to the public for the night.  As dusk fell, the sound system cranked, and Ryan's favorite band, Tragically Hip, blared through the speakers.  Drinks flowed, lyrics were shouted, glasses were raised over and over, to Ryan.   Perhaps not a traditional send-off, but one Ryan would have appreciated.

The next day, two of my sisters and I hung out, looking at old family photos and enjoying my nieces and nephews.  On Saturday morning, my sister and her son, and my parents and I boarded a plane for New York City.  The regularly scheduled weekend program kicked in, and we celebrated yet another sister's baby's baptism.  (For those of you wondering, I am the oldest of five sisters.  No brothers.  Yep, estrogen and drama -- we have plenty of both in our family.)

The most excellent story line for fiction is playing out in one of my sister's real life.  One day, I hope to write it.  Now isn't the time, of course.  Inner conflict is no laughing matter.  But I took notes...just in case.

I arrived home at 1:30 Monday morning.  Needless to say, I took a couple naps yesterday.  Today, I'm trying to get back into the swing of things, but it seems no matter how hard I pump my arms and legs, I feel like I'm trudging through water.  Leaning on caffeine to carry me through.

I'll leave you with a pic from the baptism of my beautiful sisters:

Natasha (the christened baby's mama), Noelle, Nadine, Natalie, and me

Have a wonderful day, all!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Joyful, Yet Unplugged

I'm coming off a great weekend and streaking into this Monday with ample amounts of energy and purpose.  If only every Monday felt as vigorous as this one!

We had more rain than sunshine over the weekend, but the kids and I stayed busy with a new project that's got our creative blood pumping.  In addition, I learned I won two blog contests -- an Amazon gift card from Amy Holder and an ARC from Shannon Messenger -- and I've been doing a goofy happy dance since.  Hubs and I cooked together, amazing meals both Saturday and Sunday nights, so I have a food buzz on top of everything.

In short, life is good.

Thank goodness, too, because I have quite a week in front of me.  I'm coordinator of the Student Store at my daughter's school, and this is the last week of planning before we open our doors next week.  Lots to do with that.  And, I'm leaving on Friday for NYC, where my family is reuniting for my baby sister's son's baptism.  He is her first baby, and we are all so excited to celebrate this event with her.  Not only do I have to organize myself for the trip, but I have to help prepare hubs and the kids, who are staying behind but enjoying the weekend at Callaway Gardens, in the Black Mountains of GA.  All this, while I WRITE -- 'cause the muse is back in the house!

All this to say: with all that's going on this week, I'm going to unplug and jump in with both feet.  I have the energy and motivation to make great things happen in the next couple days, and I'm going for it!  I hope you have a great week and reach all your goals, too!!


Enjoy it!!

(Brought to you by an annoyingly bubbly and optimistic blogger, for a Monday anyways...!)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Guess That Character Blogfest -- The Reveal

Day Two of Jen's from Unedited's Guess That Character Blogfest is the reveal of my spotlighted character!

Julie Knotts is a young woman in her mid-twenties who is living on her own for the first time, without family or room mate.  It's a scary time for her, because unresolved issues from a childhood tragedy compromise her sense of security in the world.  Most of the time, she's just plain paranoid that the worse case scenario is destined to play out.  She's carefree by nature, so the forced conditioning her personality suffers from fear is her greatest inner conflict.

So, without further ado, here is Julie:


She's highly artistic, but lacks the self-confidence to pursue her talents (What if no one thinks I'm any good? What if I can't pay my bills? What if I have an accident and hurt my hands, or my eyes, and can't paint or play music anymore?  What if...?  What if...?)

Thanks everyone who visited my blog and made a guess.  There were a lot of participants!  I wasn't able to visit everyone's entry.  I think I fell short by about 15.  I'm going to try to get around to those I missed yesterday!!

A LOT of you guessed correctly!  I was very impressed :D

Thanks, Jen, for the fun time! *hugs*

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Guess That Character Blogfest!

Thanks to Jen at Unedited for hosting one of the most enjoyable blogfests evah!  Her ingenious idea is this: Based on the character's voice as you read the short excerpt below from my current WiP, tell me in the comment section what you imagine the character looks like.  Tomorrow I'll post her "photo," and we'll both get a kick out of learning: how closely you guessed her physical characteristics; and how successful I was at infusing her essence into the writing.

Keep in mind this is rough, rough, rough -- first draft, for real!  Not a lot of literary magic in there (YET) :D  Okay, disclaimer aside, here goes:

When the digital clock alarm sounded the next morning, Julie was already washing her face in the bathroom.  Early morning was her favorite time of day.  The air always smelled fresher, and her energy was always the highest, just after the sun came up.  If reincarnation was real, and she suspected it was, Julie was quite certain she was once a bird who soared across dawn skies, heralding each new day with twitters and chirps.

She switched the alarm to off and changed out of pajamas and into a cut-off pair of jean shorts and boxy white tee shirt.  She gathered the bottles and tubes from the ledge around the bathroom sink in her one laundry basket, lay the towels from the racks on top, and placed the framed mixed medium collage she’d done in a college art class on top.  She spent the minimum amount of time necessary to prep the room, mostly running a dust rag along the baseboards and window sash.  She prided herself with having a steady hand, plus she’d be armed with the ten dollar detail paintbrush, so she skipped taping off the trim entirely.

When she pried off the paint can lid and stirred the Toasted Pine paint, her excitement grew.  Pouring the thick paint into the roller pan doubled her elation.  But when she drew the roller across the middle of the wall, a swathe of silvery moss-colored paint covering the uninspired perfection of beige, her heart sang.  Within minutes, she was lost in her project and her joy.

So what do you think Julie Knotts looks like? 
Swing by tomorrow when I'll post her photo!  

Also click HERE to read all the excerpts by Guess That Character Blogfests participants!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Look Who I Met!

Summer and me, at Starbucks

Yesterday, I had a GREAT day.  I met Summer (...and this time, concentrate!) for coffee!  Not cyber-coffee, either.  Actual hot beverages, enjoyed face-รก-face, outside the blogosphere in the land of flesh-and-blood.  Those of you lucky enough to have met with writer/bloggers know how thrilling it is to sit across from a 3-D version of your blogger bud's profile photo, to hear her voice, and to talk in depth about writing and about life in general.  It was nothing short of awesome!

I don't have a great deal of support of my writing in my life.  English is my husband's second language, and he has no desire to struggle through my stories.  He's fine with me writing, as long as I don't do it when he's home.  I can live with that.  My kids are very proud of my accomplishments, but they complain incessantly if they are home and I'm "on the boring computer."  Friends listen when I bring up my writing, but very soon their eyes glass over, and I know it's time to change the subject.  It was really, really nice to sit with Summer (for two and a half hours!!) and talk about our projects, our short and long term goals, what it would mean to be published, or not.  I'm looking forward to many more chats!

And, I feel energized to get writing.  Thanks for that, Summer:)

I hope everyone's enjoying their week so far.  Happy Hump Day, everyone!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Have You Heard?

The super talented, extremely generous, and all-around gorgeous Shannon Whitney Messenger has announced the first part of her Mega-Epic-Contest-of-Awesome.  She has SO much prize swag to give away, she had to break her contest up.  That means more chances for us to win!

So what's up for grabs now, in M.E.C.A. Part One? 

FIVE ARCs by awesome authors, whose books release next month!

You must be a Shannon Whitney Messenger follower to enter, so if it's your first time visiting her, please mention I sent you :D  (Enter before August 21st)

Click HERE to enter today!

I'm doing a lot of writing this week, so I'll appear absent.  I will be reading your blogs, but I'm going to restrict my commenting time.  You know how it is: sometimes, you have to just write! :D  Thinking of you and hoping you have a fab week!

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Truth Is in the Eye of the POV

I'm a fan of stories told from multiple viewpoints.  

(Note: To clarify, I do not enjoy omniscient POV.  When I say multiple viewpoints, I'm referring to novels where there is a clear shift in POV, ie: at the beginning of a new chapter or scene.  Head-hopping causes me to throw the book across the room.)  

For me, a central conflict is infinitely more interesting when I'm able to sympathize, or at least understand, different characters' interpretations of the situation.  In the end, there are very few truths in life.  Perceptions, ideologies, right verses wrong: all are highly subjective and relative notions.

I was thinking  this morning about it while watching Good Morning America.  The show highlighted yet another side to what's becoming the multi-faceted story of "modern folk hero" Steven Slater.  He is the Jet Blue flight attendant who lost his cool on August 9th, cussed out the entire plane of passengers, grabbed his carry-on luggage and a couple brew-skis, deployed the inflatable emergency exit slide, and used it to deplane.

The original story, told from Slater's POV, alleged that upon arriving and taxiing to the gate, a passenger stood and opened the overhead luggage bin before the fasten seatbelt light was turned off.  According to Slater, the passenger argued with him and her luggage fell from the bin, striking him on the forehead.  He snapped, fed up with a career of dealing with rude, unruly passengers, and acted out the climactic scene of his original production "Take This Job and Shove It."

Today, Good Morning America interviewed a passenger from that flight, who told a different story.  As the GMA website recapped, "Witnesses have also told police that it was Slater who was rude to passengers, and the cut on his forehead came at the beginning of the flight, not during an altercation with a surly passenger after the plane landed, as Slater has claimed."

What's fascinating about this story is the incident took place within the tight confines of an airplane, yet it's very difficult to sort out what really happened.  How could one person claim the suitcase conked Slater on the head, and others claim it didn't happen?

And around the globe, news audiences are interpreting this unfolding story according to their own past experiences and  personal codes of ethics.  Flight attendants have been quoted as applauding Slater's actions, understanding how much they have to put up with in their service-oriented careers.  Others feel dealing with rude customers is part of the job and those in service industries have to handle themselves with professionalism, at all costs.  Whether Slater is a hero or a villain is becoming a lively debate.

In fiction, we should remember that no conflict exists in black and white.  Life is like that: complicated, subjective, and messy.   By allowing the reading into the minds and hearts of different characters, we explore the shades of gray in every incident.  In turn, the emotional impact on the reader will elevate, and the story with ring true with authenticity.

So what do you think?  Is Steven Slater the hero or the villain of his story? 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Method For Every Madness

[Awesome artwork by the talented Leon Harmon. Visit his blog and DeviantArt gallery!]

I once read that it takes a writer ten years of work to learn to write.  I scoffed at that.  If your creative mind is brimming with story ideas and you have natural word-smithing talent, I reasoned, what's there to learn?

Three years and approaching 100 short stories later, I am humbly aware of how much I still have to learn.

Case in point:  What's the best way for me to approach a new story?

The first couple of stories I penned were by the seat of my pants.  I had ideas and I went with them.  As if by magic, the beginnings, middles and endings emerged as cohesive tales with rich exposition and suspenseful climaxes.

A funny thing happened as I delved deeper into the craft.  The magic started to fade.  Not in the end result, but in the process.  Was I thinking too hard?  Did trying to finesse the story damped the creative kindling?  I didn't have any answers.  All I knew was the honeymoon phase was over.  And the real work began.

I've attempted outlining my stories with various tried-and-true methods touted by published, award-winning authors.  I've tried working a story out from start to finish in my head before sitting down and banging it out.  Once, I began with the ending and worked my way back to the beginning.  (Not my favorite experience.)  I prefer working at a snail's pace and editing as I go, but I have tried writing a fast draft and then spending weeks editing paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence.

And here I am, with a new story idea ready to go, stuck because I don't know how to approach it.

Then last night, I had an a-HA moment during Curriculum Night at my son's middle school.  We were in a session with the Language Arts teacher who was talking about her approach to teaching creative writing.  Her students outline their idea, sketch the scene, write the first draft, then edit and revise until it's finished.  Writing 101, right?  So why the a-HA moment?

This new story is stalled because although the basics are worked out in my mind, I haven't decided the order of events.  Open on the balcony or in front of the computer?  Climactic moment happens in the apartment or out on the street?  Is the character involved in the twist a sideline character or will she join the others center stage?

If I sketch the scene first, screenplay style, I'll have the freedom of auditioning different scenarios.  Sort of like thumbnail images before the brush strokes canvas.

It's worth a shot. Who knows, maybe I'll learn this is the method that works best for me.

Or, maybe the real lesson is every project calls for its own process.  A different method for every madness.  If the opening statement holds truth, I still have seven years to figure it out.

What about you?  Do you approach every new story in the same way?  Or do you find your process changes with every project?


Monday, August 9, 2010

Sweat, Tears, and Story Ideas

There's a creative writing contest I'm interested in entering which calls for a short story with a maximum word count of 2000, inspired by this quote:

"The key to change...is to let go of fear."
-- Rosanne Cash

I've been chewing on the quote for a couple days now, but no characters have whispered to me and no story lines have wiggled their way into my imagination.  Until this morning.

There I was, on the treadmill for the first time since before my trip to France, going at a much slower pace than what's "normal" for me but getting my sweat on just the same.  (How come it takes so long to get INTO shape, and such a short time to fall OUT of shape??)

And a story began to reveal itself, a tight skein of fiction unraveling with each quarter mile into a colorful pile of plot and character threads, ready for sorting and weaving.  I was so inspired, I almost pushed the 'end workout' button and dashed for my car.  But how ungrateful would that have been?  My faithful writing partner, the treadmill, deserved a full visit, especially since it's been so long since we last enjoyed each others company.  So I finished the program, happy, my heart rate elevated and skin glistening with sweat.

And then I dashed for my car.

I'm off to bang out my first draft of the new short.  (*raises arm and sniffs pit*)  ...And then I'll really need a shower.

I'm often inspired to write when I'm on the treadmill.  Where are you when story ideas frequently come to you? 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

High Drama Blogfest!

     My entry for DL Hammon's High Drama Blogfest was originally written during a two-week long challenge I took earlier this year.  Inspired by a different photograph prompt each day, I was to write for exactly fifteen minutes.
     On this particular day, the prompt was a manipulated photographic image of a seductive woman stood poised, as if dancing, at stage right. She was almost in silhouette from the glare of stage lights.  But dead center was (obviously Photoshopped in) an enormous pair of heavily made-up eyes.  The immediate impulse was to write a voyeuristic piece of erotica, but the contest asked us to look deeper into the photo, up our bars, and find an unexpected story.  That's what I tried to do.  You decide whether I was successful. :)

By Nicole Ducleroir

My hand pauses midair, inky mascara wand quivering.  I stare at my eyes in the mirror, but all I see is the photograph of my mother, wedged into the upper corner of the mirror's frame. In my peripheral vision, she seems to be moving, swaying her hips in slow figure eights of seduction. When I shift my eyes up to it, she freezes, arms stretched over her head, her body’s curves exaggerated.

The photo is old; Mom could have been my age in it. The photographer captured her during some performance, in some city, during some tour. I don’t even remember when it came into my possession. It feels like I’ve always had it. 

I think of my mother and chords of emotion tangle up, choking my heart. She is a loving woman, angelic even. The scrapbook of my mind falls open to a random page, of her singing softly to me when I had the chicken pox, to distract me from tearing at my itchy skin. Mental fingers rifle through more pages; memories surge of us lying on a blanket in the shade of a tree in the park, tickling each other until our laughter lost its sound and we gasped for breath. Or the summer nights neither of us could sleep, when we’d crawl out the upstairs window and lie on the hot roof, counting stars. 

The tangle tightens, reining in my nostalgia.

Darker pages divulge… The mornings, too numerous to count, when I’d wake up in my frilly, pink bed and stumble to the kitchen, dragging my teddy bear by the arm, to silence broken only by the ticking clock over the sink. No smell of brewing coffee. No boxes of cereal laid out on the table for a little girl to choose. No sign of an adult, anywhere.

Or the late night jam sessions and long-haired musicians.  Flashes of frightening tattoos and the strangers who flaunt them, given free range of our house. And me, cowering in the shadows of the stairwell, listening to the sound of glasses clinking and smelling smoke, its various perfumes wafting together in a haze. I learned curse words I knew where vile even at that young age. And when I wanted Mom to tuck me into bed, she’d stare at me with black eyes that should have been blue, as if she didn’t recognize me.

More often than not, she didn’t.

A knock at the door startles me.  Mom resumes her dance in my peripheral vision, and in the mirror I see the door behind me open and Ted stick in his head.

“You’re on in five.”

I thank him and he closes the door. I go to stand, but my head spins and I grip the dressing table to steady myself. One hand strays to my still-flat tummy, rests on the coarse, sequined material. I wait for the nausea to pass, but it won’t. I glance once more at Mom as I turn and rush to the toilet.

(499 words)

l'd love to hear what you think!  Also, click this link check out all the participants in today's

Happy Writing the Weekend!

Friday, August 6, 2010

This Newbie's Twitter 911 Call

My Twitter 911 call is below, but first off: Don't miss uber-awesome Lola Sharp's epic give-away contest.  Her recent vacation in Maine inspired the prizes up for grabs, including Stephen King's On Writing, the scariest fridge magnet you've ever seen, featuring that freaky clown from It (the movie), a bottle of Lola's signature scent (Marc Jacob's perfume sharing her name), AND a surprise prize from Maine, (I'm hoping it's a lobster, but that's just me :D).

You have to be a Sharp Pen/Dull Sword follower to enter (and she's one of the wittiest, most creative bloggers I know, so you "win" just by following!)

Contest ends August 20th!  Enter HERE!

Now...I need your help.

I joined Twitter...and I'm a little confuzzled and would love some help figuring it all out.

Anyone with answers and/or tips regarding the following, please feel free to comment below or email me at heftynicki(at)writing(dot)com:

*  Is there some sort of main page where everyone's tweets stream in real time?  Or do you only see what's on your home page timeline, ie: the tweets by the people you follow?

*  If I search in Twitter, do I have to know the hashtag, or can I type any subject/keyword in there?

*  Is there a place on my Twitter homepage where I can store people's usernames, so I don't have to go to their page to remember their @username?

*  And if so, how do I add their @username at the end of my tweet?  (Gawd, I'm such a Twitter newbie *blush*)

*  What in the hell is #FF????

*  ANY tips on Twitter etiquette are greatly appreciated, including:
-- Do I thank people who follow me?  ...how?
-- Do people direct tweets at other people, or only respond to general tweets people send out?
-- What's an example of being rude on Twitter?
-- What's the general "follow back" policy?

Okay, that's enough questions, for now.  If these spark ideas in areas I didn't cover, don't hold back!  Share your thoughts in the comment area!

Huge shout-out to everyone who's already noticed little me over there and clicked the follow button.  I appreciate you so much!!

To find me on Twitter, just click here:  NicoleDwrites  Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What Does It Mean To Be Present? -- Blog Book Tour

I’m thrilled to participate today in the Blog Book Tour for Little Pickle Press and their newly released children’s book What Does It Mean To Be Present?  This little treasure’s beautiful message, illustrated with whimsical brilliance, is capturing the fancy of children and parents alike.

(One Significant Moment followers are able to purchase What Does it Mean To Be Present at a discounted rate online.  Receive your coupon code below!)

Author Rana DiOrio's third book in the What Does it Mean... series is a refreshing, vibrant picture book aimed at children 4-8 years old, which engages all of the senses and explores answers to a deceptively simple question, “What does it mean to be present?”  Each colorful page reveals how to seize the moment and "be present," sharing ideas that will open important dialog between children and parents, and teachers and students.

In DiOrio's words, being present can mean “listening carefully when other people are speaking”; “focusing on what’s happening now instead of thinking about what’s next”; or “savoring each bite of your delicious food.” The book helps children judge what’s truly important in life.

The author's powerful messages resonate with adults, too.  As I read, I reflected on my own rushed, often hectic daily life.  It’s easy to forget to slow down,  to indulge the senses, and to listen to your heart sing.   Children learn to behave primarily through the example set by their care-givers.  This book is a wonderful tool for grown-ups who know there is no greater gift than teaching a child the importance of “closing your eyes and being still enough to hear your inner voice.”

DiOrio’s words come alive accompanied by the magic of Eliza Wheeler’s whimsical illustrations.  Through Wheeler's drawings, a story emerges of two children, a boy and a girl, as they move through their day.   Wheeler creates the book's wonderful sense of flow as the background scenery moves from setting to setting, with each turn of the page.    And children will be delighted to hunt on every page for the blue butterfly and the orange fruit, sometimes out in plain view, sometimes slightly hidden.   When Wheeler was asked about the butterfly in a recent interview, she said:

Whenever a butterfly is around people seem to stop to watch them. They are fragile, gentle creatures that don't usually live long, yet they bring such beauty while they are here. I included blue butterflies on each page because kids love to search within drawings and find repetition. Searching for the butterflies slows them down as they read the book, and helps them to be "present" and fully experience each page.

I love that!

I was completely enchanted by What Does It Mean to be Present? and I highly recommend it.  Be sure to seek out the other two titles in the series: What Does It Mean to be Green? and What Does It Mean to be Global?

An Offer Just For You

Rana DiOrio and the Little Pickle Press are offering One Significant Moment followers a great deal!  You can order online any two books in the series and a free poster of choice, all for just $29.95.  

Go HERE and type the coupon code MOMENT at check-out.

Grand Prize Give Away

You could win all three books in the What Does It Mean... series, plus four posters and a DabbaWalla backpack.  Click HERE for full details!

About the Author

Rana DiOrio was born in Providence, RI and grew up in a colorful Italian-American family. Her curiosity about the world began in kindergarten, while studying Western access to China and, obviously, panda bears! She has written her way through life – as a student, a lawyer, an investment banker, a private equity investor - and now as an author of children’s picture books and owner of Little Pickle Press.
Rana’s motivation for writing What Does It Mean To Be Present? was deciding that she had a Blackberry® addiction and hoping that the best cure would be to write about how best to live without it. Her interests include reading nonfiction, dreaming, effecting positive change, and, of course, practicing yoga. She lives in Belvedere, California with her husband and their three Little Pickles.

About the Illustrator

Eliza Wheeler, an award winning children's book illustrator, was born into a family of musicians, artists, and teachers, and was raised in the north woods of Wisconsin. As a toddler, she adored crayons, and drawing has been her favorite creative outlet ever since. Eliza received her BFA in Graphic Design at the University of Wisconsin-Stout; shortly thereafter, she abandoned the mouse and embraced pen on paper to pursue a career in illustration. She began studying illustration in earnest and fell in love all over again with the picture books of her childhood. Now, Eliza has found her true calling — illustrating for the children’s book market and creating illustrated gifts for her online gallery.

For the schedule of all the blogs on this Virtual Book tour, click HERE.  Don't miss tomorrow's tour stop at It's Not All Flowers and Sausages.

Thanks to Dani Greer at Blog Book Tours for inviting me to participate today.  And thanks to Alex Cavanaugh for thinking of me and passing my name to Dani!

Monday, August 2, 2010

~H.A.P.P.Y D.A.N.C.E~

7:10 a.m., and the house is quiet.  And it isn't because the children are snug in their beds, dreaming of carefree summer bliss.

The beds are already made.

Any dreaming of carefree summer bliss is happening on the school bus.

That's right, the children have gone back to school...and now my vacation begins.  Just kidding!  Sorry if I sound a bit giddy.  And please don't misunderstand.  It isn't that I haven't enjoyed my children immensely this summer.  I have!  It's been one of the best on record.  But, this schedule-oriented, deadline-loving, early-to-bed-early-to-rise, muggy weather-hating, I-need-silence-to-work writer is doing the happy dance today!

Back to business as usual.  And the first step is:

Re-evaluate my goals for 2010.

I approach the year in two five-month blocks.  Think about it.  On January first, it's easy to look the year to come straight on, as a twelve month entity.  But summer derails all my best-intended goals.

In reality, I'm on-track in all aspects of my life (my writing, the housework, my health and fitness routine, etc.) from January through May.  Then, school lets out -- and all hell breaks loose -- for summer break.

We sleep in, sometimes staying in our jammies until it's time to put the swim suits on and head for the pool.  We eat Cheez-Its and Diet Coke for lunch.  I put baskets of clean, badly-wrinkled laundry back in the dryer, because I never get around to folding the clothes the same day I wash them. Every evening I remember I didn't take meat out of the freezer, so I dash to the store to buy steaks for dinner.  We start a feature-length movie at 8:30 at night, eat dinner on the living room coffee table in front of the TV, finish the dishes at 11:30, shoo the kids off to bed by midnight, and finally fall into bed in the wee hours -- only to get up late the next morning and do it all over again.

And my WiP gathers dust in the binder where I put it, back when I was preparing for the trip to France.

But today begins the second five-month block of 2010.  August through December sees the return to normalcy around here.  My beloved daily schedule resumes!  (*fist pump*)

So, re-evaluation time.  I took pages of notes in France, for a new story floating around the edges of my mind.  But I won't turn my attention there just yet.  First things first.  I'm sticking to my original deadline of finishing the first draft of Overcome by November first.  I want to attend the Georgia Writers Association's Red Clay Writer's Conference on November 6th with a completed manuscript in hand.  So I need to write, on the WiP, e.v.e.r.y.d.a.y.

Also, I need to get my @ss back in the gym.  I've managed to maintain my weight, more or less, this summer, but my muscle tone is disappearing.  I can't wait to get my sweat on.

This week, I'm easing into things.  Organizing my desk, mopping a sticky floor here and there, actually planning a couple meals.  Tomorrow I hit the gym with Lorri.  (But afterwards, we're heading over to a friend's pool where she's hosting a "Our Kids Are Back In School Let's Drink Margaritas and Celebrate Party.")

And I'm going to write.  At least 500 words.  E.V.E.R.Y.D.A.Y.

By next week, I should be completely transitioned back to my regularly scheduled life.

What are your goals this week?  Please share -- it'll help me to feed off your motivation energies!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Don't Do It -- Evah!

Other distracting activities include:

  • Using a cell phone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a PDA or navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Changing the radio station, CD, or Mp3 player.

Did You Know?

Research on distracted driving reveals some surprising facts:

  • In 2008, slightly more than almost 20 percent of all crashes in the year involved some type of distraction. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration - NHTSA).
  • Nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted driver, and more than half a million were injured. (NHTSA)
  • The younger, inexperienced drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes.
  • Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
  • Using a cell phone use while driving, whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver's reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (Source: University of Utah)
(The above facts were copied from the Official US Government Website For Distracted Driving.
Please visit the site today: DISTRACTION.gov)

I have a steadfast rule in my car:  NO CELL PHONE USAGE.  I won't answer a call, not even with a blue tooth accessory.  I won't read or respond to a text message.  If my kids are in the car with me, and if it's appropriate, I ask them to type a text I dictate, or answer the phone.  Otherwise, I wait until I'm parked, engine off, to use my phone.

My cell phone voice mail message is:  "Hello!  I'm either away from my phone or driving the car, but I'll call you back as soon as possible.  Until then, have a great day!"  Of course, I worry that someone may take me for a snooty Oprah-wannabe.  But if that message-leaver is a friend or family member I love, making the call from her car, and she is reminded not to risk her life or the lives of others by driving distractedly, then I don't care if labels are cast on me.

Some things are worth that climb atop the soap box :D

Have a wonderful and safe weekend!