Bye Bye Dark Ages

Technology can be the best time-saver in the world. In an instant, we can contact friends and loved ones and share all the tiny details of our lives.

Look what I ate for lunch.

Look at this awesome sign I passed while running errands.

This small thought run through my head, and I wanted to share it.

For years, I didn’t want to give up the time to learn all of the ways I could keep in touch. After all, if it’s that important, I’ll pick up the phone later and tell them the experience in a long-winded conversation while learning what they were up to since we talked last.

But, later never came. I always found something else to take my time. I had chores, work, cooking, and then I was too tired to pick up a phone. I’ll do it later I thought.

So I chose not to get a smartphone, or a tablet. Another factor that led to this decision was the fact that I lived in an area that did not receive cell phone reception. I’d always had a cell phone for emergencies, like a flat tire. I never felt the need to upgrade phones because I was limited to when and where I could use it. I’d also found a great plan. I had 150 minutes for $15. Since I never went over 150 minutes, I rarely paid over $21 a month. If I upgraded to a smartphone, and had access to all kinds of features, I’d lose my cheap plan, and still would rarely use the phone, so I’d be wasting money.

A week ago, I received noticed from Sprint. The old flip phone I’ve had for 8 years won’t work after they perform some kind of upgrade.

So I walked into the store, grumbling under my breath because I didn’t want to upgrade. The woman was wonderful. She listened to me and understood my predicament.

After discussing my options, I got another flip-phone with the same $15 a month plan, and I got a tablet with a $15 1G plan. Now, I may have to upgrade plans on that in the future, but until I know how much I will need, I’m not going crazy with a large plan.

I’m happy with my Sprint plan.

Here’s to the future and being able to do things I only dreamed of before.

The Voice Marathon

What would we do without a DVR?

I never watch anything at the time it airs. What usually happens is we end up with several episodes of something and we watch them all in one sitting. This weekend we’ve been having a The Voice marathon.

If you’ve never seen The Voice, it starts with the blind audition. People sing and the coaches choose whether they want them on their team or not. The catch is that they don’t see the contestants, so they are only judged by their voices. This is good in the fact that someone who may not be ‘pleasing to the eye’ gets a chance to prove they can sing. Which is actually sad. It also shows how judgmental people are in everything we do. I could get into talking about Milli Vanilli, but that needs to be another blog in itself.

What I love about The Voice is how it emulates life. It is motivating. Inspiring. And Heartbreaking.

People work their hardest for what they want. We’re given their backgrounds, see their journey, and what they had to overcome to get where they are. We’re also with them when they are eliminated.

I can’t tell you how many times I wanted one person to continue, only to have them sent home.

This is real life. Only one person, or duo, can win The Voice. Being sent home doesn’t mean they can’t continue to sing professionally. It just means they aren’t going to win this one competition. I would love to see an episode where they give follow ups on past contestants. I’d like to know how many stopped singing altogether, and how many continued to pursue the career they claimed to love.

I can’t help but think that if they are sent home, and they quit the singing career they wanted, they did it because of one person’s opinion. Even though they may have gained thousands of fans after being on TV, one person demotivated them so much they quit.

I hope I never let one person derail me from my dream. I understand if they win the voice, they have coaches, and people right there to give them career advice. Without a coach, they have to figure it out on their own. They have to build their fan base, find their own singing gigs, etc… In other words, it is a lot more work. No matter what career you have, it’s work.

Would you rather work at a career you love, or one that you have to pursue, because you have to make money?

Watching the Voice reminds me to follow my dream and work hard at it. It also reminds me not to quit, no matter what one person said.

Time for the battle rounds, so I’m off to watch, actually listen, to the music.

I’m Innocent

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This was the sight we came home to yesterday. Our sweet, curious puppy, Shadow, had chewed up an entire roll of toilet paper.

He’s a puppy. These things are to be expected, but we’ve had him long enough that he’s learned what belongs to him and what doesn’t. He is very familiar with the phrase, “That’s not yours!” I have no doubt the moment he stood on his hind legs, reached his paw across the bathroom counter, and snagged the roll of toilet paper, in his little doggy mind, he knew he was doing something he shouldn’t do.

One of the traits I love about him is his curiosity. He sticks his nose where it doesn’t belong. He looks at everything, sniffs everything, and loves to explore. So, when I opened the door to find a pile of shredded toilet paper, I couldn’t be angry.

I was hysterical with laughter.

As always, when we come home, he’s excited to see us. This day was no exception. If anything, he was more excited that we’d come home. He’d had so much fun shredding the paper, I think he wanted us to share in his delight. I was surprised this picture turned out as well as it did. Shadow was so excited he wouldn’t stand still for me to take it.

I understand his excitement. I have to admit I’ve done things I know I shouldn’t do, but was still excited when I did it. I’ve eaten the large Banana Split when I was on a diet. The day I got my wisdom tooth pulled, I had a margarita when I took my pain pill. Neither one of these things are recommended, but at the time, I still did it, enjoyed it, and knew I shouldn’t have done it.

Have you ever done anything you shouldn’t have and failed to feel guilty?

My Shadow, a Lifesaver

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As a writer, I find myself sitting in a chair most of the time. I type out a story idea. I string along sentences and paragraphs to bring a small idea to life. I sit at the desk, pounding away at the keyboard to get just a few more sentences written. I’m driven to fix those few odd sounding sentences that aren’t clear. I scour the thesaurus to make sure I have the correct word. I hear my high school English teacher bugging me when I have the wrong verb.
It takes hours to develop just a few pages to as close to perfection as I can get.
Those hours sitting in a chair create havoc on my health.
I own a treadmill, a Bowflex, and numerous work out machines. When my mind is preoccupied with a story, and driven to get it finished, no work out machine can make me stop.
Then I feel a small paw on my leg. My Schnauzer named Shadow. In late spring I came across him, and he was in desperate need of a good home. He was sitting inside of a tiny cage, looking at the ground in front of him. Quiet. Scared. There was no way I could turn my back on him. He’s gray, with crooked ears, and black eyes that make me think of an Opossum’s stare.
“Get up,” his eyes beg. “Will you walk outside with me,” he’d say if he could talk like a human.
Some would say I saved his life by taking him home. I argue that he saved mine by forcing me off the chair, and by being a companion that encourages me to walk in nature. It’s not only that I get more exercise, but I relax more. We walk in the woods, watch the butterflies flutter, and he pounces on every lizard he sees. I get to laugh at his futile attempts, further relaxing more.
Thank you Shadow, for improving my health and making my life enjoyable.

Yearly Goals- A month early

new-years-eveI know I’m more than a month early, but in order to achieve my goals, I have to be sure which ones I want to accomplish. As a writer, accepting a project is a big deal. To draft, edit, and improve a story takes time. Not minutes or hours, but days, weeks, and even months. Is the project worth the time I must invest?

I can’t say I’ve ever made a wrong choice. I’ve written novels that weren’t published, but each project was a learning experience, so I don’t feel like I wasted time.

I started a new project a few months ago. It is a longer story with a more complex world, so it is taking me longer than I thought it would. Yes, I am learning as I go. However, I have another project that is beginning to surface. I’ve tried to suppress it, but I don’t think I can.

This means if I take on this new project, it will take time away from the current story. It won’t stop, but will take more time to finish. It is a shorter story, and less complicated. No way could I try and write two ubber-complex stories.

As I plan what I want to accomplish for the New Year, I have to look at this past year. Did I use my time wisely? Did I accomplish everything I could have? My honest answer is NO. I failed to write as often I could have. That means if I work to take advantage of all my time, I can do more.

I can have my cake and eat it, too. I know that is pretty lame and cliche’, but you understand what I mean. I can continue working on my current project, and begin work on this other one. In order to do that, one must be a priority, and the other is second fiddle. That one gets worked on after I have worked the number of hours I planned for the first project.

I have to remember to set aside time for leisure and resting. I have to allow myself to accept changes that are beyond my control and not allow guilt to interfere with my life.

As long as I record my progress, I can continue to evaluate my progress.

To Thanksgiving shop, or not.

wild turkeyOn Thanksgiving we are supposed to be…um…thankful.

It seems everywhere I look, one person or another is complaining about stores opening on Thanksgiving. It’s unfair to those that have to work. It’s fueled by greed. It’s horrible.

Wait a minute, I thought on Thanksgiving we were to be Thankful. Be glad you have a job. Be glad that the economy is so good most of us can go out and spend money. Be Thankful……. I can write for hours things we can be thankful for, but I’ll cut this paragraph short. You can fill in the blanks what YOU are thankful for.

I know we all want to be with our family and friends on this important day to celebrate. In the real world, we can’t control everything-including large corporations that know they need to bring in the money while there are people wanting to spend. Big corporations answer to shareholders that demand a large profit. They aren’t about to turn down a chance for more earnings.

Many people have jobs and they are required to work. Doctors, nurses, those in the travel business, policemen, firemen.

Are these people giving up Thanksgiving? NO

They celebrate on another day, or before or after work.

Why can’t people be flexible and celebrate around work schedules without complaining? After all, that is what the season is about. Being Thankful.

Feel free to comment. I’ve already seen I am the minority in my thoughts on this.

To answer the title of this blog, NO I don’t shop on thanksgiving. I prefer to buy online, but I am not about to tell someone they shouldn’t shop on that day. If they want an item on sale, I urge them to buy what they want and save money. And I am not about to make them feel guilty for what they choose to do.

The Thanksgiving spirit isn’t confined to one day a year. I urge people to embrace the Thanksgiving spirit and be thankful that we can choose to be happy. We can also choose to celebrate on any day. My family of police officers, nurses, air traffic controllers, and Postal workers (they may not deliver mail on that day, but sorters are required to work) are celebrating on the 22nd.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Nano and why its not for me.

ancient authorsI love the idea of Nano. It pushes writers to accomplish something they want and need to do. Write stories.

I would love to write an entire novel in one month. It isn’t that I can’t write 50,000 words in a month. I can do that easily. I just can’t write words for the sake of writing them. The faster I go, the longer revisions take. The longer they take, the greater the chance that I will get frustrated or bored with the idea of the story. Trust me on this. I have many novels that I have started and never completed. (I swear I’ll go back to them one day)

I thought I would be ready this year if I outline and plan. I planned, plotted, and outlined for 2 months. I’ve written the first scene probably eight times. I’m about to go for the ninth time.

I can’t imagine continuing with a story if the beginning isn’t set. There are no small fixes. When I fix something later, like thoughts, it seems goals and motivations change. Then, everything after that scene changes.

Good Luck to everyone Nanoing this year.

I’ll write at least 50K this month, but I’ll write my story my way. I’ll write a scene as many times as necessary in order to get it right. The good news is that the first scene is always the hardest. Once I get that one down, the rest usually falls into place.