Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Oh, Yeah? You wanna be a hero? Heh heh...

It's been rain, rain and more rain lately which usually means no internet so I've been making good use of my time reading, asking questions, taking notes.

While some of my fellow writers were at actual workshops at actual conferences in the past couple weeks, I had to content myself with a very valuable DVD workshop in my living room. I spent the entire day yesterday studying and taking notes. RCPN was in a good place - I'm fixin (one word I would never give up if I moved) to put the notes I'd been taking about world building into my WriteItNow program where I am organizing and dropping all information on characters, settings, notes, ideas, and paranormal beings. I was literally worn out from concentrating on all the information/formula imparted therein and the ideas and solutions it generated for me.

If you haven't been lucky enough to catch Michael Hauge at a writers or screenwriters conference, you can take advantage of some powerful storytelling instruction on The DVD Hero's 2 Journey, a 3 dvd set of lectures by Michael Hauge and Chris Vogler on their versions of the Hero's Journey with a bonus CD of application to the movie, Erin Brockovich.

Hauge's workshops at RWA were called From Identiy to Essence. In both workshops Hauge talks about the identity being like the ego, what we present to the world. And essence being what we are without the masks, money, ego, fear, and excuses. If we take a character who 'says' he wants to have a specific quality and throw everything at him that challenges that, the conflicts and plot points create themselves, throwing him out of his everyday world and into a new one where he has to decide if this is what he really wants. Of course, he's our HERO, so after a few trials and backslides, he will take the bull by the horns and overcome.
This guy looks like he's refusing the call, lol.

Vogler's system which is based on Joseph Campbell's A Hero with a Thousand Faces, lines up nicely with Hauge's Six stage Method. With examples from well known movies, it doesn't seem like so much formula as an effective and proven storytelling process.

Actually, the first time I heard the Hero's Journey presented was on the 2005 RWA CD with Elaine Stirling doing her Heroine's Journey, tuned toward the romance genre. It was excellent. Her paper on the Feminine Myth is still available here.

It was well worth the extra pennies I spent on the DVDs since both Hauge and Vogler use a white board to illustrate their own version of the journey.

Have you seen any of these Journey workshops?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Joie de Vive

Leah sent this to me and I've shamlessly put it on my blog because I want to always have a record of this wonderful group of people with their joie de vive.

If you don't wish you knew them or at least that you'd attended this event, you are dead. It's all over. Call the Undertaker!

Know any weddings better than that? These friends must love the bride and groom because I know at least one of those guys said, "Hey, what?! Not me." But did it anyway. What love.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I feel so worthless, such an utter failure. I set my goal of treadmilling for life and put my ticker on view for the world to see, then five days into my lifetime grind, I had to stop. (I look pretty good here for someone so out of shape.)

The problem is I tend to jump in like I've been exercising for years and not sitting on my duff reading and writing since crawfish season ended, not that I was doing a whole lot during CF season. I pulled a muscle in my shoulder and whether it was on the mail route or due to the stretch bands I have mounted above my machine, I had to take a couple weeks off to let it heal. I have to stop thinking of it as losing momentum. After all, with only five days under my belt, I was still closer to inertia than moving forward toward my goal.

So, today I start again. My goal is to have 365 days of treadmilling in 390 calendar days. That allows me 25 days for illness (I'm never sick) or for holiday mail deliveries which pretty much take care of my leftover energy.

Why don't you get on there with me. Starting July 22, 2009? Any kind of exercise will qualify you. Just give me an occasional update to tell me how you're doing.

Oh, in case the brown hair didn't give you a clue, the very fit bod on this person should have told you - I wouldn't put a full shot of me in shorts on this blog at least until I'm a little fitter. Is that a word? But afterward, maybe I'll post a before and after. Jeez, am I getting brave or what.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Eclipse of the Century


is a picture of what the sun looked like this morning rising above the water in the Pacific.

'The event begins at the crack of dawn on Wednesday, July 22nd, in the Gulf of Khambhat just east of India. Morning fishermen will experience a sunrise like nothing they've ever seen before. Rising out of the waves in place of the usual sun will be an inky-black hole surrounded by pale streamers splayed across the sky. Sea birds will stop squawking, unsure if the day is beginning or not, as a strange shadow pushes back the dawn and stirs up a breeze of unaccustomed chill.'

If we'd been in Asia we would have witnessed the most awesome eclipse of the century.

And another bit of space news - an amateur photographer identified a scar on the side of Jupiter that wasn't there before. Nasa astronomers verified that what he saw was indeed a strike, most likely by the 1994 comet. It brought back memories of nights I stayed glued to my telescope watching for any 'changes' that might take place in the universe in my miniscule place in time. I'd have been waiting a long time. It took 15 years for this scar to show up on Jupiter's surface, and that's a planet in our solar system.

Since we are the center of our own personal universe, it's difficult for us to fully grasp how insignificant we are in the grand scheme.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

In the Mood?

For fantasy, that is.

Last week I read Keri Arthur's first book in the Riley Jensen series. I can't pick up the second in the series until Friday when D goes for his training and I couldn't find anything in my home library of probably a thousand-plus books until I saw Storm Born by Richelle Mead. The title intrigued me because of my er, affinity, no that wouldn't be the word, fear and fascination with storms and my current wip. This is another great read in the paranormal genre.

From her site: Eugenie Markham didn't want any of this. Until now, she's been content with her job as a freelance shaman, battling and banishing Otherworldly creatures. When a prophecy makes her the Otherworld's most popular bachelorette, Eugenie finds herself fighting off supernatural suitors, as well as the evils that begin emerging from her past...

This is Richelle's second series for adults. Patricia Briggs, author of the Mercy Thompson series, described it as: "Great characters, dark worlds, and just the right touch of humor. A great read."

It's the first paranormal I've read since C.L.Wilson's Fading Lands series with no vampires. Actually Kensington lists this book as fantasy. Halfway through the book I felt I was experiencing a movie, so rich is her world of fae and human characters. I'm looking forward to Thorn Queen on August 4th.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New (to me) Author

One of my friends suggested a series to me since I'm working on the world building of RCPN. Keri Arthur's Riley Jensen series is a wonderful world of paranormal beings - werewolves, vamps, griffins!, Hellhounds.

Riley and her brother Rhoan are twins, half vamps and half werewolf. (It's always cool to find a new spin on one of the standards in the paranormal genre.) Keri pulls you into this world as smooth as silk. Before you know it you are in the scene with Riley, Rhoan, sexy beings like Quinn, and other members of Melbourne's Directorate of Other Races. Yes, the stories are set in Australia which is something else that sets the series apart.

I could waste time whining that I didn't read her sooner but I'm glad because now I have five Rileys I can read until the new one comes out in October. And it's not just the paranormal world that intrigues and holds your interest, Arthur's writing is superb and fresh, making her books keepers.

When I was reading Gabaldon's Outlander series, I'd have to wait until I got a glimmer of another book coming out then I'd allow myself to slowing savor the book I'd bought as soon as it was released. Like fine chocolate, it was difficult to eat the last piece until you new there was more in stock.

To read more about her books check out her website.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dusty's New Attitude

Dusty had his surgery a few days ago and I'm watching him closely to see if less testosterone will make a difference in his aggressiveness. So far, it looks like it's worked except for his sudden desire to make love to my leg. Repeatedly. CFM said it's probably the last gasp.

He does seem to be a little more controllable. This week we start walking on the leash and learning to unwind it from around my body. Neat trick that!

It will be interesting to see how it affects his sleeping. He takes his nappies under the love seat and once he's under, he's in another world. If you walk within two feet of the couch while he's there, he growls and threatens attack. Yesterday morning, he was howling in his sleep. I'd love to get a picture like the one of this little fella singing.

This dog isn't nearly as cute as Dusty but the actions are identical. I keep waiting for him to slam into the side of the desk or door.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Why am I doing this?

I'm sure you've asked yourself that question at some time. I try to stay in denial so I can maintain my positive (read that - head in the sand) perspective when it comes to delivering the mail. There were probably a thousand substitute mail carriers asking themselves that very question Monday. The Monday or Tuesday following a holiday is always a nightmare.

It seemed like the only thing I didn't have to load was a saddle for the mail pony.

Substitutes get mostly the heavy mail days and since we aren't paid by the hour but by estimated average time to deliver the route, it's easy to get discouraged. Some substitutes wait for 5, 10, 12, or even 17 years to become a regular with a regular route, benefits, annual and sick leave, and their own personal slave (known ever so fondly as the sub). The regular gets their choice of a day off during the week. I'm just lucky that my carrier likes Saturdays off because Mondays are hell.

There are a lot of misconceptions about delivering the mail which I will address in a separate blog. But something more urgent on the horizon is the talk about eliminating Saturday deliveries.

While that might seem like a great idea for the postal service's budget, there are serious problems with the concept. Think what those Mondays would be like with no Saturday delivery. I can tell you the word would be IMPOSSIBLE. If they eliminate a weekday, then the businesses who depend on mail during the week will be unhappy and their schedules disrupted. Once they eliminate a day of delivery, the current system of categorizing routes and scheduling employees collapses.

The whole postal delivery system depends on a bank of part time/on call 24/7 employees called substitutes to make sure the mail goes through. We know that. We know we will get the bad days, the heavy days, the inconvenient days. We know we can be called in the day before, the morning of, or in the middle of the regular carrier's route. We know we are expected to use our own vehicle and pay for all our expenses out of the usually insufficient gas allowance. We know that until we get on regular we will work every holiday, every Thanksgiving, every Christmas.

What kind of job is that? Why do we do it? Remind me again?

Is it to get a regular forty hour a week position as a regular which will probably never happen (I'm so far down on the totem pole)?

Oh that's right. The pay is good and it allows me to write.
Well, okay then. Bring on the mail.