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Literary Christmas Gifts, Year Five

25 Dec

IMG_3675This year’s literary themed gift from my sister.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Narnia

Brown “fur” for the coats in the wardrobe
Pastel drawing of a street lamp in the woods
Turkish Delight
“Jeweled” goblet
hot chocolate
tea
Aslan

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And, Please, No Flash Photography (Unless You Really, Really Want to & Are Special)

1 May

Mr. Untitlement was off with our youngest son this weekend, so elder boy and I decided to have some special mother-son time at Disneyland. Always good for a list, if not a laugh.

  • First special moment: sitting in gridlocked traffic, staring at the carpool lanes that are supposedly under construction — empty except for the projected rage of a thousand thwarted motorists.

At Disneyland

  • Number of times strollers ran over my feet: 3
  • Number of times I was struck in the face by a sabre: 1 (but isn’t that all it really takes?)
  • Choice moment of sweetness: Sharing a frozen strawberry lemonade with my son on a shade-dappled bench, and having a butterfly land on his hat. Then watching him stand still as stone, hoping to lure the butterfly back, once it flew away.
  • Opposite of sweet moment: Waiting in line for Peter Pan and watching a man get divebombed by birds that proceed to peck the top of his head in wrath. Their nest was behind a sign for the ride, and apparently the top of his head looked pretty darn predatory. (They bothered no one else.)
  • Best Q & A: Stranger staring at endless procession of dead-eyed, shuffling tourists: “What’s this the line for?” (It was verrrrry long and slow.) Me: “To get out of Adventureland!” (They’re building some dastardly arena for a new Pirates of the Caribbean show, and pedestrian traffic was being tightly controlled, a.k.a. clogged up).
  • First regret: Accepting a table in the sun at Carnation Café on a hot day.
  • Second regret: Allowing my son to sit on my white cotton over-shirt when he complained how hot his seat was.
  • Third regret: Ordering a large Orange Fanta, although it came in handy when our forks were too hot to touch — a quick dunk into my drink, and they no longer branded our fingers with cutlery shapes.
  • First moment of Eeee!: Reaching for the crayons they set out for my son ten minutes earlier, only to find THEY’D MELTED!!! I wound up with blue goo all over my hands.
  • Second moment of Eeee!: Son borrows Fanta while I deal with crayons. Son spills Fanta everywhere, including his cotton shorts and my shirt that he was sitting on. Mmm…sticky. And ever so attractive. Especially combined with my blue-goo covered fingers.
  • Best overheard observations: Woman sighs as we enter It’s a Small World. “Ah, it’s an air conditioned world, after all!” Her companion, upon leaving the ride — “That’s the first ride we’ve been on that lasted longer than its line!” It may be the only one that can claim that honor.
  • Random laugh: Watching the diamond in my wedding ring glow under the black lights in Peter Pan.  Some diamonds fluoresce like that. We first discovered its special powers while touring a cavern  in Arizona. The guide turned off the lights so we could all develop recurring nightmares of a place where you can’t see your hand in front of your face, no matter how long you wait. Then, just as claustrophobia (or whatever you call it) started to seize us, the guide turned on a special light that made some of the cavern’s rocks glow like a black velvet Elvis painting — including my ring. It seemed magical. You know. In the way that roadside tourist science always does.

We had a great time, despite the crowds and the heat. We ended the day with a frantic trip to the grocery store to buy as much fruit salad, fruit juice, fruit sherbet, and fresh berries as we could. I couldn’t imagine ever having enough fruit. The product of theme park dehydration, I suppose.  We dined on big bowls of mixed fruit and drank the sherbet-juice-soda punch I made.  Now I’m ready for a late night fruit snack, and maybe some more of that punch.  I feel as salty and dry as beef jerky.

Now Put Those Two Hands Together

11 Apr

Yesterday’s post was about The Hunger Games and my story board using Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat method.

Last night I found the two combined — a beat sheet created by analyzing The Hunger Games. Very useful and fun! But don’t look at it if you haven’t read the novel — spoilers (by necessity) abound.

P.S. — I asked Mr. Untitlement to read the first volume last night. He started it after 8:00 and could barely put it down, although he had a perfect excuse to do so — tired and wanting to relax with his beer. At one point, he muttered, “You’ve made it very difficult to go to bed.”

I fell asleep.

Around 11:30, I heard him drop the book and leave the room. He said, “I have to stop reading.” I thought it was because he was going to bed.  A short while later, however, the light clicked back on. He strode to the book and grabbed it, grimacing. Said, “I’ve calmed down now. I can read again.” He finished it at 1:30 then read my blog entries, Samantha’s review, and the Hunger Games beat sheet.

I love my husband. He’s better than a thousand Peetas.

May the Beats Be Ever in Your Favor

10 Apr

Jennifer Lawrence will play Katniss Everdeen in the upcoming film

Okay.

A little embarrassed by my fangirl squeeing over Hunger Games last weekend.

But…

Yes…

I read the whole damn series again this week.

Josh Hutcherson as Peeta

In my defense, this time I was reading it with a critical eye, looking for technical elements — how she set up the plot, her sentence structure, et cetera. I’m still amazed at how well she grabs the reader and never lets go, not for an instant. There’s always a sense of peril. Safe times are found only in retrospect, in that, “Okay, I guess it really was okay after all,” kind of way. But you don’t believe it at the time because everything and everyone is suspect. Blake Snyder talks about how a character’s goals and stakes must be primal at their root — love, survival, hunger, protection, sex… It doesn’t get much more primal than this!

It took me until the second book to realize the story was written in present tense. Unbelievable. That’s usually something I notice in the first paragraph and have to grit my teeth to get past.  She executed it perfectly, I think, and it could not have suited the anxious, fast-paced immediacy of the story better.

On second reading, I was equally engrossed. Only in the third book did I start skimming. Exposition galore. Necessary, though, I suppose. We’re in a new place with new rules.

I do wish the last bits of the series were a little more fleshed out instead of summarized, but I guess it couldn’t go on forever.

M. Howalt — you asked in the comments last week what made the series compelling. My friend Samantha wrote an excellent post on the series here. Check it out. I agree with everything she says (and am clearly still fangirling because I got happy chills reading the title of her article, heh).

***

In my personal realm, I remain a foggy-headed, migraine-laden hermit. Gotta snap out of that somehow, someday.

But, hey, it hasn’t been a total waste. Besides falling in love with a series (which is such a great feeling), I also managed this:

My novel! All in one place! All the pieces! (Although some are vague [solves problem] or drawn in broad strokes.) Redoing  the major beats on red cards was a treat. I’m an office supply junkie and a visually-oriented person. The red cards make it feel concrete and prove to me that it’s not all an amorphous smear of a cloud. It has the bones! Look! Right there! 😉

Look at Act One — so many cards. Look at the second half of Act Two, so few cards. Not that big a deal, I think. The second half of Act Two is where I’ve drawn in broad strokes, labeling major elements. I think I pretty much  wrote the entire first act on the cards up there! Lots of details that don’t need to be there. I’m still figuring all of this out, though.

The pirate ship was already there, an unintentional metaphor for how my sons like to shoot cannons of distraction at me at all hours of the day.

Bogus

29 Mar

Spring pollen has entered my brain. It’s swirling in there, leaving me blank, scattered, and sleeeeepy. Hypnotic, that stuff. All I’ve had energy for lately is slow-poke reading on my Nook (Kerouac’s On the Road, at the moment) and hamster-like refreshing of American Idol blogs. More! More gossip and grousing, please! Why do I care? I shouldn’t. I don’t. But I do. When I’m this tired, it takes big manipulative shiny things to keep my attention. Plus, I just love that stupid show.

Last night, I dreamed about James Durbin. (No, not like that.) He was still in high school, and I was this Rufus-like character (Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure) who had to make sure he stayed on track to become an AI contestant in the future. Somehow, this involved helping him and his friends set off the school sprinkler system.

I’d say I need to turn off the television, but that’s my one and only TV vice, so I don’t want to. I’ll just say it’s because of my son’s asperger’s diagnosis and my hope to support him in his dreams. Okay? Okay. Good. ‘Nuff said.

On the writing front, I realized that if I ended my early chapters on a cliffhanger note, it gave me more momentum in starting the next chapters and kept each from having a happy ending (which is kind of a no-no).

Life in the Bermuda Triangle

9 Mar

What do you get when you combine the following?

  • strep throat
  • lingering influenza
  • migraines
  • an emergency root canal, extraction, crown, and fillings for one’s kindergartner
  • a husband working long painful hours
  • a broken axle followed by a complete engine fail on one of your two (aging) cars (leaving you stranded since said husband has the other car with him at work day and night)
  • ongoing deposits of mutilated rabbit parts in your side yard from some unknown predator*
  • etc.

My month! Woohoo!

It’s all made extra special by the fact that we owe $$$ in taxes this year, and that we have a bad, bad, bad case of The Economy, doing things previously unknown outside of games like Monopoly or Life. So, yeah, this one-car situation? It’s gonna last.

Yummy.

Nevertheless, things go on. I haven’t had a single speck of inspiration for blogging, and I’ve been kind of caving it from the outside world (working on a long hermit beard), but I’ve been reading like crazy, and, better, I’m writing. Nothing special. Nothing good. Nothing important. And that makes it all the better. I just sit down, dim-minded, and I go, just see what happens. I’ve written 22k words over the past two weeks. I’m grateful. It’s made a big difference.

I also have the distraction of American Idol — hours of frothy television I’m actually happy to watch this year. Let us never speak of last year again. (And, if anyone cares, I’m rooting for James Durbin and Casey Abrams.)

So, relevancy shall return, but, for now, I leave you with a few funnies. First, a short from Britanick Comedy. Second, an ad that makes me happy — cats with thumbs!

*[ETA: The predator revealed itself today — a redtail hawk who ate two pigeons in our yard to entertain my children.]

Life Is Good (My 1st Blog Award)

26 Jan

I received my first blog award this week. Thank you to Tony Benson, luthier, musician, and writer. (Check out his blog at Fireside Park.)

The requirements of this award are:

  1. First, thank and link back to the person that gave the award.
  2. Answer the 10 survey questions.
  3. Pass the award along to other bloggers whom you think are fantastic.
  4. Contact the bloggers you have chosen to let them know about the award.

The ten questions are:

1. If you blog anonymously, are you happy doing this? If you are not anonymous, do you wish that you had started out anonymously, so that you could be anonymous now?

I’ve gone back and forth. I have a family blog that detailed my son’s pediatric melanoma and its treatment. That was public and under my real name.

When I started writing fiction, however, I was shy and wanted to stay anonymous. Plus, how cool is a pseudonym? Made me feel like a real writer. I chose Bridget Carle because it’s like my real name turned upside down and backward. After a while, though, I relaxed. Why not use my real name? I can still use Bridget Carle on a novel, should I ever get published. (Especially if my antagonists turn out too much like my ex. Heh!) Right now, I’m happy being me. Guess it’s time to update the About section…

2. Describe an incident that shows your inner stubborn side.

Right now, the attempt to answer this question. My mind is stubbornly refusing to come up with an example although I know my stubbornness to be inner, outer, and all over the place.

3. What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror?

Someone who’s really grumpy about having to be up so early, getting dressed, and taking the kids to school. Not a morning person. No sir-ee.

4. What is your favorite summer cold drink?

Diet cola. Any season. Love the stuff. I can’t drink it anymore, though. The sweeteners give me headaches. Also, once I start drinking it, I drink tons. Gets expensive.

5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do?

I nap, I write, I stare into space — anything quiet and private. I’m a hardcore introvert and need that time alone to recharge. I also like to take long baths and sing along with my iPod. LOUDLY.

6. Is there something that you still want to accomplish in your life? What is it?

I want to be a happy, satisfied (and hopefully good) writer, whatever that might mean. Maybe it will mean getting published. Maybe it will mean never publishing but always having the words and ideas pour forth so I can maintain that writer’s high. I’d like it to include eager readers. It will have to mean a good family life.

7. When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever, the shy person, or always ditching?

I was SHY. I tried my best to be invisible so other kids wouldn’t crush me. But I had a close-knit group of friends that stuck together from fourth grade through the end of high school. Among ourselves, we were loud, giggly, and boy/girl crazy.

8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment in your life, what would you see?

Being told that my father didn’t survive a  heart attack, having to say goodbye to his body when I’d just waved a cheerful goodbye to him a few hours earlier when he left my house for home. I couldn’t wrap my mind around what it meant that he was gone. I still don’t think I get it.

9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people or events?

It’s easy for me to share myself in a blog — so easy that I have to edit myself. It’s much more difficult to talk about others or try to teach a concept. I see too many shades of gray, know there’s so much more to another person’s story that what I see. I don’t say that to sound wise or virtuous. I’m just afraid of being wrong or getting beat up. 😉 I’m working on blogging about writing methods and/or tips, but I need to find the confidence. I don’t feel I have the least bit of authority to be telling others what to do when I’m just flailing in the muck, learning on the fly.

10. If you had the choice to sit down and read a book or talk on the phone, which would you do and why?

Read. I have a severe phone phobia. Really bad. It’s all on my end, though. I love to get calls, just can’t make them.

I’d like to pass the award on to writer/blogger M. Howalt, who has been a frequent commenter on my blog. It makes my day every time someone steps forth from the fog of anonymous statistics to wave or say hi or talk about my entries. More importantly, the mysterious M has a great blog full of thoughtful, useful posts. Do check it out.

(The questions were surprisingly tough to answer. Sorry to take so long, Tony.)

Literary Christmas Genius

25 Dec

Proof that my sister is a creative genius.

Oz gift theme

This is the third year in a row that she’s created a literary theme for her gifts. I love them.

This year was The Wizard of Oz.

  • Ruby slippers (literally slippers)
  • poppy seeds
  • lions and tigers and bears (oh my)
  • emerald earrings (green crystal & silver, she made them)
  • apples (a la the angry trees in the movie)
  • a silver heart frame (tin man)
  • a book of word puzzles (scarecrow/brain)
  • a bottle of Professor Marvel’s Liquid Courage for the Cowardly Lion (mini wine bottle with a custom label she created)
  • Wizard & Gale’s Wicked Witch Repellant (bottled water with a custom label she created)
  • a gingerbread village to represent home

Last year was Alice in Wonderland.

  • tea
  • teacup
  • drink me (soda)
  • eat me (a cupcake, not shown, eaten)
  • pea soup (more pepper)
  • marzipan (in lieu of mushrooms)

The inaugural year, 2008, she did Little House on the Prairie.

  • a “tin cup”
  • sticks of candy
  • little heart-shaped, golden-brown cake
  • a shiny new penny

Three-Scarf Weekend

21 Dec

A visit from the in-laws, Christmas pageants for two kids, and a three-scarf weekend means zero words written. Well, nearly zero. I did have a few ideas while knitting scarf number two, so I recorded those in my Ideas file. That ideas file is going to be thicker than the OED soon, but much less useful.

It will be interesting to see the scarf/word tally at the end of the holidays. I’m looking forward to some family time, so I’ll bet the scarves win. Or maybe the dark horse, cookies, will dive in and take the crown. Yeah. That’s more likely.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Dumb Dora Is So Dumb…

23 Nov

Today, I realized that my children have no idea why I reply to their assertions that something is sooo [whatever] by shouting, “HOW [WHATEVER] IS IT?”

They’ve never heard of The Match Game. Heck, most adults in their twenties and thirties probably never heard of it. But, in my head, I’m hearing a studio audience roar it in unison as Charles Nelson Reilly and Brett Somers snicker drunkenly in their upper tier seats and Richard Dawson tries to hit on everyone in America from front row center. Someone was always smoking, too.  That’s how old these memories are.

Hi, I’m the Dennis Miller of my own household. Which…in and of itself…is an obscure reference… Sigh.

Old Mama was sooo old [that’s your cue], she went to blog about something interesting but instead wound up {BLANK}.

He Wore the Feet

31 Oct

 

So did Nana

I’m a Bad Influence

26 Oct

My children have joined the Middle Earth side of the force. This makes me happier than I should admit.

My little hobbit refused to wear the hairy feet that came with his costume, but can you blame him?

Even Frodo and Sam look horrified, peering at the monstrosities from behind a wall. I think I’ll hang them in the back of a closet to scare people. No Narnia in my wardrobes. Just dead halfling feet.