Friday, September 29, 2006

Friday Feast 113

We have to leave in a few minutes to drive to Virginia (600+ hours). We have a funeral we need to go to. But, before I leave, here's this week's rendition of Friday's Feast.

What is your favorite herb or spice? Garlic... beyond a doubt.

Name a song you like but haven't heard in a long time. Joey Powers: Meet Me at Midnight, Mary, 1963. I remember lying in bed listening to that song on a transistor radio my grandmother gave me for Christmas.

If you were to take just one minute to write down as many things as you can think of that you need (not want) to do, approximately how many things would there be? I would run out of time before I ran out of things to list! There's an old bumper sticker I saw: "God put us on this earth to accomplish a certain amount of tasks. I'm so far behind now, I'll never die."

Main Course
Tell something interesting about one of your family members (nothing scandalous, please, just something unique). We have a cousin who used to be a TV show host and a rodeo announcer in Texas.

What's the latest you've ever stayed awake? I've been known to have nights where I don't go to bed until the next night... not as common any more, but still I'll occasionally have a sleepless night. Now, while I was in college.... but that's another story.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Fortune Cookie Advice

DH and I stopped for Chinese yesterday at lunchtime. We have had a killer few days and an even longer weekend upcoming (we have to drive to Roanoke, VA (about 600 or so miles away for a funeral... leave Friday, be back Sunday). Anyway, my fortune was so-so, but I really liked what was in DH's cookie and thought it particularly appropriate to a writer: "A man who trims himself to suit everybody will soon whittle himself away." I started thinking about that in terms of my writing.

As you all know, I've been having trouble with the two longer works, "Lizzie" and "Fiona's Dream." I even have toyed with giving them up completely and working on polishing another novella I've actually finished. I don't know if there's a market for it or not, though. And, it is a novella, not a novel. So... am I wasting my time as well as my critique group's time?

I'm doing research and one publisher who DOES publish in this genre doesn't accept books without an agent. So... herein lies the rub. I'm in a quandary. Do I (as one of my friends suggested) write other novellas along the same lines and try to pitch them as a group to an agent? Do I finish Lizzie and Fiona if they kill me (and I'm telling you now, I'm rethinking their entire premises... not the basics, but the how-to's)? Do I stick with the Green Sister and get her out of the new mess she's gotten herself into and forget about "real" writing?

One thing I have done is print out a copy of these 'shalts' for writers. Now... if I can just remember to read and implement!!!

You know... I think I got away from what I originally planned to write about regarding that fortune cookie. Hmmm... I think I will change the name of my blog to Judy's Babblings.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Friday Feast 112

Thank heaven for Friday's Feast. I'm usually brain dead by this time of the week. And, this week is no exception. Click on the link and play along.

Measured in minutes or hours, how much exercise have you had in the last week? Organized exercise? Like treadmill, crunches, etc.? None. DH and I work outside very actively with our business... cutting trees, running stump grinders, raking, cleaning, etc. LOTS!!!

If you had to change your blog title to something else, what would it be? Hmmm... "The Babblings of Judy"... with a picture of a babbling brook.

Name one television show you watched when you were 9-12 years old. Let me count back on my fingers and toes and fingers again... what years were those? What does Google say was on television during those years? Oh, yes... I remember a lot of these shows, but you only want one. Okay.... The Man from UNCLE I just loved Ilya Kuryakin... sigh.

Main Course
If someone gave you $50 to spend with the one condition that it had to be educational, what would you purchase? I would probably use it for (a)partial payment for my yearly Writers Village University dues or (b)take a creative writing course at the local college.

Do you tend to prefer dark colors, neutral shades, or lighter/pastel hues? It depends on where the colors are. My walls and furniture.... normally neutral, so I can change the color scheme by just changing out curtains, pillows, etc. I have a couple of neutral outfits, but I look better in black or red. My favorite color is blue and I wear that a lot as well. I guess my answer is... "yes."

Monday, September 18, 2006

Will It Matter if People Can't Read in the Future?

I saw the above headline on MSN's home page this morning. In fact, it was the first thing I saw after my computer loading...even before I had my first sip of coffee! My gut reaction was immediately... "well... yeah!" The question was asked by Michael Rogers in today's was to Practical Futurist. He quotes a study that shows that Americans are becoming less able to read long stretches of text and extrapolate from it. And, that this is the way things should be.

Fortunately, he goes on to say that complete illiteracy would be a bad thing. Whew! He had me worried for a moment. Then he said that reading was an artificial invention relatively young. Out of curiousity, I googled "invention of reading" and found this. It has nothing to do with what I was looking for, but wanted to share it with you anyway. But... I digress.

Rogers' final statement, "[reading]is a luxury, not a necessity," sent shivers up my spine. In his opinion (which he's entitled to) is that "young people today ...have plenty of literacy for everyday activities such as reading signs and package labels, and writing brief e-mails and text messages that don’t require accurate spelling or grammar."

E.D. Hirsch, Jr. would agree with Rogers that there is indeed a decline in reading skills, but unlike Rogers, he does not see the decline as a good or even inevitable thing. I find myself more on the side of Hirsch's thoughts.

What of the great texts of the past that make up part of our civilization? IMHO, just not being illiterate is not enough. There is a high correlation between reading ability and learning ability. The better a reader, the more able he is to learn in other areas.

Hirsch says, "Language arts are...knowledge arts. We have now taken a first step in understanding the correlation between reading ability and learning ability. We have established that high reading ability is a multiplex skill that requires knowledge in a wide range of subjects. It turns out that the same is true of learning ability. A basic axiom of learning is that the easiest way to learn something new is to associate it with something we already know. Much of the art of teaching is the art of associating what kids need to learn with what they already know. The process of learning often works as metaphor does, yoking old ideas together to make something new. In the nineteenth century, when people wanted to describe the new transportation technology that went chug-chug-chug, they called the engine an “iron horse” and the rail system “track way” (if they were Dutch) or “rail way” (if they were English) or “iron way” (if they were French, German, or Italian) or “narrow iron lane” (if they were Greek). All of these metaphors successfully conveyed a new concept by combining old concepts. As a consequence of the fact that we learn most easily when we attach the new to the old, people who already know a lot tend to learn new things faster and more easily than people who do not know very much."

I agree with Rogers: not everyone will love to read nor will they all read for pleasure and enjoyment. I don't love to do math, however I recognize the necessity for basic math skills. And, I'm afraid the schools are also doing a poor job of teaching those... teaching children, instead, to rely more and more on calculators. But... that's an issue for another blog. This one is already long enough!

Reading touches every area of our life. It saddens me and makes me feel sorry for future generations who, if Mr. Rogers is accurate, will miss out on experiences they can gain through reading that enriches their lives and makes them part of a greater civilization.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Friday Feast 111

Brought to you, as usual, through the kindness of Friday's Feast. Play along; you'll like it.

What was the very last song you listened to? The last song that I heard was something by Jerry Garcia on the classic rock music station on my cable. I had put it on before I left so the bird wouldn't get spooked by the silence. The last song I listnened to was some song I don't know the name of from the musical, Rent. It's Ashley's new favorite song. I don't remember the name (can you tell how impressed I was by it?)

What is one company/store/corporation you would recommend that people stay away from? I'm not one to recommend people stay away from anything, esp. if someone hasn't asked my opinion. Now, if someone asks me about a specific question, what I will do is tell them what experiences I have had with that company. I tend to be more vocal about places I've had good experiences. I figure anyone can have a bad day and that maybe the day I had a bad experience was just an "off" day.... for either them or me!

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being highest, how much do you enjoy having your picture made? Probably about 5. I don't try to stay away from the camera or hide from it, but I don't go out of my way to have pictures made. (Unless, of course, I happen to look drop-dead gorgeous... then take all the pictures you can so it can be proved that I don't always look like a stump monkey!)

Main Course
Besides a bookmark, what is something you've used to keep your place in a book? Just about everything and anything... a piece of tissue (unused, let me hasten to add!), an emory board, money, paper clips... whatever happens to be handy. Right now in the book I'm reading, Memory of a Mystery, by my friend Earl Staggs, I'm using a flattened box that something or other came in.

Name a food that you like that most people don't. Spinach.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

After all... a quiz can't be wrong.

Your Blog Should Be Purple

You're an expressive, offbeat blogger who tends to write about anything and everything.
You tend to set blogging trends, and you're the most likely to write your own meme or survey.
You are a bit distant though. Your blog is all about you - not what anyone else has to say.

Fun Quizzes

Thanks to Marianne for today's quizzes.

You Are Sunshine

Soothing and calm
You are often held up by others as the ideal
But too much of you, and they'll get burned

You are best known for: your warmth

Your dominant state: connecting

Held up to others as the ideal,huh? News to me... esp. when it comes to my writing! I'm far from the ideal for that... unless it's the ideal in procrastination. I'll buy that.

You Are From Mars

You're energetic, althletic, and totally hyperactive.
You love playing sports and being in the middle of all of the action.
You're independent, courageous, and brave. Unafraid to do things your way.
Mars can be reckless, quick tempered, and a little too spontaneous.
So think before you act - and resist your natural urges to dominate others.

Energetic? Sometimes. Athletic? Don't make me laugh. I was always picked last for sports games in school. Hyperactive? Only late at night when I've been up WAY too long. I don't enjoy playing sports. I do like playing board games, but I don't think that's what they mean. Independent, courageous, and brave. I hope so. Think before you act. Well, that's good advice for everyone, I would think.

Your Lucky Underwear is Purple

Dreamy and idealistic, you envision great things for your life. Your lucky purple underwear can make those dreams come true!
You're a busy little butterfly. You have the most projects, interests, and friends of anyone you know.

You also have a flair for the dramatic. Sometimes too much drama comes in to your life and brings things to a stop.
If you want to focus more, and flutter less, put on your purple underpants. They'll help you get the important things done.

I'm with Marianne. I'll always wear purple knickers from now on!!!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A New Goal

Yes, I knew what I was doing when I posted on Monday's entry that I had a quote I wanted to use for my blog Tuesday. I knew that Marianne would hold me accountable, and I wasn't disappointed.

Here's the quote:

"That was the moment I changed from an amateur to a professional. I assumed the burden of the profession, which is to write even when you don't want to, don't much like what you are writing, and aren't writing particularly well." -Agatha Christie, An Autobiography

I had that quote as my signature for a long time, but over the last several years, I'd about forgotten it. Now, I need to make up my mind whether I'm a hobbyist or a professional writer (whether I make enough to live on or not). As a hobbyist, I'm free to write whenever I want to and to go days if I don't want to write. To write "when the spirit moves me." To write only when I'm not suffering writer's block. To write only when I can find the time to write in an already hectic life.

Or... I can be a professional and do what a writer does: write. I can make the time to write... even if it's fifteen minutes here, or a half hour there. After all, I don't have any trouble killing thirty or forty minutes a day bloghopping! I can make sure I have notecards with me and, when waiting is necessary, use the time to jot ideas or scenes down, rather than reading my time away. If I am "dry" and can't come up with something on my WIPs, I can use prompts to work on short stories or contests.

My biggest enemy when it comes to my writing is myself and my procrastination. I'm setting myself a new goal. I WILL write every day...something. It might be on this blog. It might be an episode of The Green Sister. It might be a short story or a response to a prompt (any suggestions on good sites for daily prompts would be appreciated.) And, I'm setting this goal here, publicly, knowing that my blogfriends will help hold me accountable.

Thanks, my friends.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Monday Madness

Thanks a lot to Otto for today's post. We are busy stripping the wallpaper off our bathroom walls and the hall bathroom walls... so, Monday Madness is a lifesaver for this procrastinating blonde!

1. How long have you been blogging? I had to go check. My first blog entry was October 18, 2005... so nearly a year. Here's the link: First post. Yawn! I do hope I've gotten better. lol Does it count if the first day I posted four times????

2. How many times have you taken a break from blogging? Marianne would say WAY TOO OFTEN! I've never actually taken a real "break"... except for when I went on vacation. I do admit, though, I'm not as committed to it as I know I should be. That goes hand-in-hand with my writing. There's a quote from Agatha Christie I'm planning on blogging about tomorrow that talks about this. Of course, tomorrow we are screening in my mom's front porch for a birthday surprise for her. Ssssh... don't tell her. Anyway, she'll be 74 tomorrow and has always wanted a screened-in front porch... now she will have one! I'm telling you that to let you know my blogging plans MAY fall by the wayside.

3. How long is the longest you've gone, so far, without posting on your blog?
Heavens... let me go back and check..... OK... probably about two weeks... (Nov. 15-Dec. 2). Now, in my own defense... I was doing NaNo and was out of town for Thanksgiving... does that help any?

4. How many fellow bloggers do you keep in touch with, through your blogs, on a regular basis? I don't know... several.

5. Have you ever met, in person, a blogger on your blogroll? not yet.

6. How often do you update/change the 'extra' stuff on your blog? Only when something new comes up... such as when I gave Green Sister her own blog and moved her story there (or here).

7. Do you think you'll be blogging for years to come? I don't see any reason why not.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Bad Poem

I was going through a file of some of my old writing the other day and found this entry to a "bad poem contest." So... for your amusement, here it is.

"My Love"

My love is like a red, red rose
That came to life in May.
I think of him and curl my toes.
Can't wait to hear his "hey."

His face is handsome as can be;
It makes my heart aflutter.
I yearn to perch upon his knee.
My heart will melt like butter.

I'll love him all the livelong day
And also still the night.
I'll love him till I hear him say,
"Just please put out the light."

Friday, September 08, 2006

Feast One Hundred & Ten

Welcome to the newest edition of Friday's Feast. You can play along here.

Name 3 things that you are wearing today. Gee, I hope you don't mean right now! I've not been up TOO long and all I'm wearing is my robe. Let's see... what will I be wearing today? Probably jeans and a cotton sweater. It's overcast and a little on the cool side (yea, for cooler weather.... maybe fall's really going to make it). Shoes: I have a comfortable pair of black flats I like to wear... kinda ballerina-looking shoes. I'm sure there's a real name for them, but I'll look it up when and if a character decides to wear them! UPDATE: since Marianne and Melli both said I'm cheating, here's what I'm really wearing: a gauzy white peasant dress, my wedding set (band and engagement ring) and the cross necklace DH gave me when we got engaged.'s all, folks!

Who was the last person you hugged? My darling husband. We enjoy hugging :-)

What do you like to order from your favorite fast food place? I don't really order a lot from fast food places and I don't have a favorite one. I'm constantly watching my weight, so from Taco Bell, I usually get taco salad. From the burger joints, whatever salad they have. What I crave the most (and am real good about quelching that) is curly fries and a Jamocha shake from Arby's. Mmmmmmmmmm.

Main Course
What time of day do you usually feel most energized? If I've slept well, the mornings are my best time of the day. I normally wake up ready to go. I've been accused of being "perky" in the morning on purpose just to tick people in the house off (yes, gentle readers, some people in this house wakes up grumpy... and it's not my DH!) DH takes a while to wake up in the mornings, but he's pleasant about it!

Using the letters in your first name, write a sentence. (Example: Sweet unusual spaniels are nice.) HMMMM..... Jake understood despite youthfulness.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Mama Spice?


Ashley and her friends were "playing make-up" tonight (these girls are college students, btw) and decided that I needed to join in the fun. Heather decided I looked like one of the Spice Girls... lol. Whachathink? Should I save this for my next book cover? Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 01, 2006

Friday's Feast One Hundred & Nine

Here's the newest edition of Friday's Feast. Come and play along. (And don't forget to read my other post ;-) for today.)

What are some lyrics you have misheard (such as, instead of "Gettin' Jiggy With It" you heard "Kick a chicken with it")? Probably the one I remember the most is "Judy in Disguise," by JOHN FRED and his PLAYBOY BAND. I thought for years that is was "Judy in the Skies." I'm sure that's not an unusual mistake. Another that I always think of when this topic comes up is one that I didn't mishear, but I love the story. A boy told his mother they had learned a song about a turtle in Sunday School... "lead on oh kinky turtle."

What is the worst movie you have ever seen? I don't know about the worse, but the movie I thought was one of the highest over-rated and over-hyped was "The Blair Witch Project." Of course, my favorite worse movie is "The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes." Then "Plan Nine from Outer Space."

Using the letters from your favorite number, write a sentence. Example: Tomorrow has really easy experiences. She eventually viewed excellant neighborhoods.

Main Course
What was the most interesting news story you have heard this week? I don't watch the news very much (I know, as a writer, I should, because there are all kinds of story ideas). DH says the most interesting news he heard is that it's supposed to cool off! I guess the most interesting one would be the woman in China who crashed her car... while giving her dog a driving lesson (Maria.... now this is something for Camilla!!!) Only goes to prove... truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

Which word(s) would you choose to describe your wardrobe? Mostly VERY casual... shorts and t-shirts during the summer, jeans and sweaters during colder times. I do have a few dressy clothes that I enjoy wearing when we go out (to remind my husband he married a girl instead of a stump monkey!!) When we work, I wear jeans and a royal-blue golf shirt with our business name on it.

Just a bit of self-indulgent bragging

Several weeks ago, Marianne told our writing group about a contest at The Story Starter. I absolutely adore writing prompts (I think one of my other stories, "The Sixth Day," was composed almost entirely of prompts!), so I figured... why not. And, thanks to all the help from my great Timeless Tales buddies at WVU, my submission actually won. I have to admit, I squealed with delight.

If you want to read the story, here it is.

Have to run and get ready (I have an appointment in an hour and have to leave in half an hour... what a day!), but will post Friday's Feast when I get back.