February 28, 2007

Writing Conferences

Writing conferences are a great resource you should consider if you haven't already done so.

We have two wonderful conferences here in Oklahoma that I enjoy attending.

Oklahoma Writer's Federation, Inc. (OWFI)

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)

At a conference you have the opportunity to meet editors and agents one-on-one. I've met several and they don't even bite.

I'm always amazed at how young most of them are but then that's just me showing my age.

Some agents and editors will only accept manuscripts from people they have met at conferences. I wasn't aware of this until I started going to conferences. This is a wonderful way to get your foot in the door.

Do a Google search for conferences in your area. Most states offer them and there's no need to travel a great distance unless you can't find one close by.

Did you realize you can take the cost of a conference off of your taxes? You sure can. If our writing was only a hobbie we wouldn't be seeking out agents and editors. So keep your receipts for food, lodging, writing materials and whatever you had to buy for the conference.

Our SCBWI conference always has a dinner after the conference at a restaurant with all the editors and agents that came. This is a great opportunity to get to know them on a more personal basis. Even if you are too shy to ask a question; just by listening you learn about their children, if any, their personal interests and spouses, if any. I picked up a few pet peaves of one agent and wrote them on a notepad under the table.

So check out the conferences in your area. If money is an issue start saving those pop bottles, no wait we don't have those anymore. :? Well start saving your change or whatever you can so you can take advantage of this great oppurtunity. :0)

February 26, 2007


Most of us have been guilty of it at some point in our lives. We don't mean to---but we unintentially exclude others from our group.

I have gone to the same church for 24 years and have friends there that are practically family. We know more about each other than anyone probably should. Visitors haven't always felt comfortable attending our sunday school class because they feel left out of our closeness. They don't know the inside jokes and so they feel excluded.

It's easier to talk to people we already know and harder to get to know new people. I think this is the real reason we forget to make others feel welcome and included.

I'm fairly out going and make myself at home just about anywhere. It takes a lot to deter me from a new group so I sometimes forget to go out of my way to make new people feel at home and welcome.

Sometimes we just need to go that extra mile, take a little more effort to make a shy, introvert person feel needed and cared about. :0)

February 25, 2007

Stranger than Fiction

Stranger than Fiction is coming out on video Tuesday. I saw it at the theatre and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Will Ferrell plays the main character. Emma Thompson plays a writer, writing a story about Will Ferrell's character. He hears her voice narrating his life as it's happening and he thinks he's losing his mind.

Will Ferrell ends up going to Dustin Hoffman, a college creative writing teacher, for advice.

I won't tell you too much but all of the characters are great. I think writers and non-writers alike would enjoy this movie.

I saw the movie with a group of my writer friends and they all like the movie too.

The two know-it-all movie critics gave it two thumbs up if that tells you anything. :0)

February 20, 2007

30 Hour Famine

My daughter will be participating in a 30 hour famine this Saturday through Sunday with the youth at our church. They are allowed to drink juice and water but can't eat anything.

The fast is an international youth movement to fight hunger sponsored by the United Methodist Churches.

My daughter collected money and is really excited about it.

She's talked about how hard it will be to go without food for a day and a half but she also realizes the importance of this drive for people who go without food on a daily basis.

They will work at the compassion resource center to keep them busy and help keep their minds off their growling stomaches.

I am proud of her for doing this. :0)

February 18, 2007


I'm not talking about the chicken restaurant even though they do have great chicken.

I'm referring to the kind we attend to worship God. It amazes me at the different types of churches people go to. Everyone needs something different.

Some people like to be yelled at by a red faced man. I haven't figured out if these people need this to stay awake or if the intimidating approach keeps them on the straight and narrow. Maybe they're just hard of hearing.

Some people don't believe in musical instruments. Another mystery. This is okay if you sing well but there are those of us who need something to drown out our bad voices.

Some churches believe it's a sin for women to cut their hair. Maybe this comes from the Rapunzel version.

Some churches worship on Saturday instead of Sunday. This one makes sense although I attend church on Sunday.

Some churches make the women cover their heads with a little scarf.

Some churches don't allow drinking.

Some churches are against women preachers.

We all read the same bible and yet there are many interpretations.

There are people who show up at my door preaching their views to me. It's not enough that I go to church. Oh no. I must attend their church or I will surely go to hell.

Some will even ask me if I believe I am going to heaven. When I tell them yes they seem surprised that I'm so sure. I feel sorry for them if they go through life feeling unsure about their here-after reservations.

Personally, I don't care what church you go to and I hope you don't mind the one I attend. Wars have been started over differences in religious beliefs. It's sad really that we can't just agree to disagree.

I went to church this morning. I didn't wear a scarf over my head, it was Sunday, nobody yelled at me, we had a woman preacher and we had musical instruments. Oh and if I had a drink or cut my hair it would be okay. :0)

February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day

Well it's that time of year again, when we show our appreciation to that special someone in our lives.

What is love exactly? Is it a dependency on another soul for self worth and personal importance? Is it the recognition that we somehow matter to another person?

As human beings we need love. We need to be loved and to love someone else. It could be as simple as the love you have for your cat or the love you share with an aging neighbor or it could be as deep and serious as the love for your childhood sweetheart you've carried with you for decades and when you see that person everyday you can't imagine life without them.

Love is a complex emotion. It isn't the same for every person. We love each loved one differently. There's a different love for our children and maybe even a different love for each individual child. There's a different love for our spouse or significant other. And still there's yet another kind of love for our friends and extended family.

The English language has one word for love yet many other languages have several separate words to define the various kinds of love we feel.

I hope today you feel loved and give some of that love back to others. :0)

February 12, 2007

Limit Being and Helping Verbs

One of the big no-no's in writing is the over use of "Being Verbs":

is, am, were, was, are, be, being, been.

You can edit these out by using the "Find" tool in Microsoft Word. After putting in a search see if there is a better verb you could use in it's place. Sometimes rewriting the entire sentence helps.

It's hard not to write these words into our writing because that's how we talk. I have to make a concious effort to write without them.

Action verbs are a much better choice. My writing sounds better when an action verb has replaced a being verb.

Anna saw. Replaces- Anna was seeing.
Robert showed. Replaces- Robert was showing. or Robert was being shown.
Lisa learned. Replaces- Lisa was learning. or Lisa was being taught.

You get the idea.

We also need to watch the overuse of "Helping Verbs":

may, might, must

do, does, did

should, could, would

have, had, has

will, can, shall

Someitmes they are necessary but when used too much they lose the reader.

This list is for myself more than anyone else, but if it helps you too than great. :0)

February 11, 2007

Pan's Labrynth

Yesterday we went to see this movie and I've got to tell you I don't recommend it to the faint of heart.

Mr. Red and I decided we would celebrate Valentine's early and beat the rush. I love fantasy and Mark loves war movies so we thought this was a good compromise.

I liked the movie. It had some good special effects and was well written, however, I think it could have been every bit as good; no better, if it wasn't so graphic. There were scenes of torture that could have been left out or at least toned down and I would have liked it much better. I spent quite a bit of time covering my eyes. I'm a wimp.

It's like two stories interwoven. The first is a fantasy story about a little girl around 10 years old and the second is a war story about an evil man. I won't tell you too much in case you decide to go and see it.

It is in spanish with subtitles. We were afraid that might be a distraction but it wasn't at all. Luckily no one in the movie is a fast talker or long winded.

Well it wasn't what most people would have thought of as a sweet heart day movie but I'm glad I saw it. :0)

February 9, 2007

No Such Thing As A Simple Fix

In remodeling our kitchen dining room we've decided to put in a pocket door leading out to our utility closet. It's a little room (I use this word very loosely) between the dining room and garage. We had two small doors that closed together and they needed to be replaced. They opened into the utility room taking away even more room. My husband decided a pocket door would be a better solution. I agreed but was afraid it would be complicated to do. I was right.

Our first clue should have been when the carpenters who looked at our kitchen remodel said they didn't do pocket doors.

Mr. Red said, "It can't be that hard, I think I can do it."

Well we now know why the carpenters didn't want to do it. The light switch had to be rerouted to the other side of the door. A power outlet had to be moved over and four studs had to be removed. He's passed the hard part now, but we see why the carpenters didn't want the job. It wasn't easy.

It's difficult to find anyone willing to do remodeling jobs. It's easier to do new construction so they would rather do that given the choice.

Being a homeowner isn't for whimps. :0)

February 7, 2007

Dogs Are Strange Little People

Well my dog is in the dog house. Well not really since he is an inside dog but you know what I mean.

I was gone for several hours yesterday and he decided to have a party while mom was away.

He has a tissue fetish. Don't ask me why, he just does. He won't get into the kitchen trash but the bathroom and bedroom waste baskets are fair game. He picks out the tissues, he won't touch anything else, and shreds them into confetti.

He's not supposed to get on my bed and I keep my bedroom door closed when I'm away because that's the only time he will try to get on it. Well he managed to push the door open yesterday and got on my bed. He loves all over our pillows and gets them quite nasty.

He won't, under any circumstances, potty or tinkle in the house but the garage, he has decided, is not really inside. Being a male, he feels the need to mark his territory and will every once in a while tinkle in the garage. We have a fence built around the garage door to keep him out of the main garage area for safety reasons. We have two doggie doors, one in the house/garage door and the other in the outside/garage door. This way he can go outside whenever he needs to.

Yesterday he made tissue confetti, wallowed on Mama's bed and had a garage peeing good time.

He's almost eight years old and the older he gets the more set in his ways he gets. I guess he figures he's older than we are in dog years and he's going to do as he darn well pleases.

If I tell him before I leave, "Don't get in the tissues, don't pee in the garage and don't get on Mama's bed," he won't do any of those things; but he has to be reminded those are no-no's. He'll look at me like, "Oh darn, I was going to do that too and now you messed me up by telling me not to."

It's kind of like the little devil that used to sit on Flip Wilson's shoulder. I'm the angel telling him not to do those things but there's that little devil with an over powering voice that tells him it's happy-fun-time.

He used to mind my husband and grown sons. But now that he's an old man he only pays attention to me. They'll say, "Basil, get down." Basil just ignores them. But if Mama tells him he falls all over himself minding.

He's really a good dog and I hope I haven't led you to believe otherwise he just has these week moments where he can't control himself, kind of like an evangelical preacher. :0)

February 6, 2007

Treadmill Update

Well here it is February 6 and I still don't have my treadmill repaired.

I called the treadmill people. After ten minutes of elevator music a fast talking northerner answered the phone and asked me all the questions I already answered on line. I asked her, "Don't you already have that information since I filled out that form online?"

"Well, you must be talking on a different phone than the number you gave online." I was talking on my cell phone.

I told her, "you didn't even ask me for my phone number."

"What's your phone number?"

After fifteen minutes of information, rigamorole and ordering parts I find out I wasn't supposed to even talk to her. I need to call the extended warranty people.


The extended warranty people's phone was down the day I called, go figure, so I had to call back the next day. Well, I should have appreciated Nordic Tracks elevator music because the extended warranty people use Rap music. Good thing I'm not a heart patient.

After, Oh, ten minutes a sleepy sounding fella answered and took some information. He told me they would be sending me some parts and that a repair person would call me to make an appointment. So at this point I still didn't have an appointment. I didn't bother to ask how the man knew what parts I needed when no one had even seen my treadmill.

Well about another week went by and a woman called me to give me a repairman's phone number. She said to wait until the parts had arrived before calling to set up an appointment.

A tube came in the mail later that day so I felt like we were moving right along. Boy was I disillusioned. I call to talk to a depressed sounding man who said he didn't have a repair order for me yet and that when he got it he would call me.

A couple of days later he calls and when he finds out where I live says, "Oh, you'll have to wait until I get another call for out in your area. It isn't worth my time to go all the way out there for one call." I said, "I only live 20 minutes east of the city." Well he apparently lives way northwest of the city and it would take him almost an hour to get to my house. That was Wednesday of last week and now here it is Tuesday.

I will be calling Mr. Depressed Repairman today to see if he has forgotten me and assure him how lucky he is to do business with me and not Mr. Red who is getting quite impatient about the whole thing. Well really I am too, I just sound calm.

Hopefully I will have my treadmill fixed before Hell freezes over. I don't think I could take anymore ice after last months ice storm. :0)

February 5, 2007

Boob Tube aka The Idiot Box

People are often surprised that I don't watch television. I do watch the news and weather so I guess technically that statement isn't completely true, but compared to most people I really don't watch television.

There are few shows that hold my interest. I feel that watching t.v. takes up time I could use to write or read a good book. Because of this we don't have cable. We had cable for years, mainly for better television reception. When we had cable we watched more t.v. but not much. We occasionally tuned into the discovery or history channel for an educational program.

I'm not into reality television. Watching other people argue isn't my cup of tea. Finding out if little Johnny is in fact Big Johnny's baby doesn't make my day. Whether or not the lady wins the court battle between her and her ex-roommate really doesn't matter to me. The sitcoms with the obese men married to the thin attractive wives who puts up with their obnoxiously rude behaviour has really been over done. How many crime shows do we really need before enough is enough.

I'm not sure if America is really entertained by all this or if it's just a habit to turn it on and there just isn't anything else to watch.

I know people who turn the t.v. on in the morning and do not turn it off until they go to bed. They're not really paying attention but they're used to the noise it makes and can't imagine not having it on.

Many people use the t.v. as a babysitter. Kind of scary. What kind of role model is that for our future generation.

How about we all just read a nice book? :0)

February 2, 2007

Weaving the Story

Writing is like weaving fabric--each sentence a thread woven into the body of the story that can strengthen or weaken the finished product.

Our characters might be the colors we choose. Sometimes they clash with each other and sometimes they blend. If we are lucky the overall affect will be pleasing to others.

Getting the right thread in the right place can be difficult and sometimes we get knots and kinks that we have to smooth out. We may have to remove an entire section or row of stitches to make a better piece but in the end we'll be glad we did. Redoing, in any art form, is inevitable. We rework the craft over and over again until it feels right void of lumps and imperfections.

Somedays I have an awful lot of knots in my thread and wonder if it is all worth it. Then there are days the ideas flow and the weaving is smooth and I say, "Yes, it is all worth it."

May all your days be without kinks and knots. :0)