Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Book Giveaway: Angry Conversations with God

I'm authorized to give away 1 copy. Rules for entry in the drawing are below. Please read them carefully.

Angry Conversations with God: A Snarky but Authentic Spiritual Memoir
By Susan E. Isaacs
(c) 2009
Pub. FaithWords
256p

Disillusioned, disenfranchised, and disinterested in anything churchy, Susan Isaacs knew of only one thing to do when she hit spiritual rock bottom at age 40. . . . She took God to couples counseling.
In this cuttingly poignant memoir, Susan Isaacs chronicles her rocky relationship with the Almighty--from early childhood to midlife crisis--and all the churches where she and God tried to make a home: Pentecostals, Slackers for Jesus, and the ├╝ber-intellectuals who turned everything, including the weekly church announcements, into a three-point sermon. Casting herself as the neglected spouse, Susan faces her inner nag and the ridiculous expectations she put on God--some her own, and some from her "crazy in-laws" at church. Originally staged as a solo show in New York and Los Angeles, ANGRY CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD is a cheeky, heartfelt memoir that, even at its most scandalous, is still an affirmation of faith.


Book Website





Rules:

  • Leave a comment in this post expressing your interest in entering the drawing.
  • Provide an @ by which I can contact you in case of a win. Either in your comment or in an email to me at joystory AT gmail DOT com If you email your @ be sure to connect it to your entry. If I do not receive an @ your entry will be disqualified.
  • If, in the case of a win, you would like me link to your blog in the winners announcement post, provide your URL in your comment or via email. This is not a requirement for entering nor do you have to have a blog yourself in order to enter.
  • If you blog about this giveaway, send me a link to the post and your name will be entered a second time.
  • Deadline for entering is NOON PST April 11, 2009. I will select the winners with a random number generator using www.random.org
  • Winners must provide a US or Canadian mailing address. Hachette is unable to deliver to PO Boxes.

Read more...

Monday, March 30, 2009

Book Giveaway: The Crimes of Paris

I'm authorized to give away 1 copy. Rules for entry in the drawing are below. Please read them carefully.

The Crimes of Paris: A True Story of Murder, Theft, and Detection
(c) 2009
Pub. Little Brown
384p

Turn-of-the-century Paris was the beating heart of a rapidly changing world. Painters, scientists, revolutionaries, poets--all were there. But so, too, were the shadows: Paris was a violent, criminal place, its sinister alleyways the haunts of Apache gangsters and its cafes the gathering places of murderous anarchists. In 1911, it fell victim to perhaps the greatest theft of all time--the taking of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre. Immediately, Alphonse Bertillon, a detective world-renowned for pioneering crime-scene investigation techniques, was called upon to solve the crime. And quickly the Paris police had a suspect: a young Spanish artist named Pablo Picasso....





Rules:

  • Leave a comment in this post expressing your interest in entering the drawing.
  • Provide an @ by which I can contact you in case of a win. Either in your comment or in an email to me at joystory AT gmail DOT com If you email your @ be sure to connect it to your entry. If I do not receive an @ your entry will be disqualified.
  • If, in the case of a win, you would like me link to your blog in the winners announcement post, provide your URL in your comment or via email. This is not a requirement for entering nor do you have to have a blog yourself in order to enter.
  • If you blog about this giveaway, send me a link to the post and your name will be entered a second time.
  • Deadline for entering is NOON PST April 11, 2009. I will select the winners with a random number generator using www.random.org
  • Winners must provide a US or Canadian mailing address. Hachette is unable to deliver to PO Boxes.

Read more...

Top of My Wish List

Oh, do I need this! This would make life so much easier for me as a writer and researcher with documents and data bases; as a blogger with multiple web sites in production with all their associated graphics.; as a family member who has taken on the task of digitizing five generations of family photos; as a collector of podcasts, ebooks, audio books and music. I just recently spent significant chunks of two weekend days backing up to thumb drives. It is past time to do it again but the audio and image thumbs are full and I'm balking at facing the complex choices involved. I visited Clickfree's site and watched the two videos and what I like most about these drives beyond the ease of backing up, is that you can access and use the files from the drive. This is definitely going near the top of my wish list!!

VanillaJoy has a giveaway going on for this. Go check it out. It's over at midnight tomorrow!

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Serenity #120


Sunset over the Columbia River near Woodland WA.

My sister-friend Jamie took this picture from a car window while traveling on I5 just outside of Longview. She is as enamored with sunsets as am I. Nothing is as serenity inducing as watching color suffuse the sky. Especially when a body of water is mirroring it. Seeing this picture reminded me that it has been weeks since I've seen a sunset. There isn't a good view from my Mom's windows. Too many trees and hills nearby. But I'm loving this picture right now. Especially enlarged to fill the screen. With my tunnel vision it almost has the effect of viewing the real thing.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

YEAH YEAH YIPPEE YIPPEE YAH

This is the winner's circle for last week's three giveaways.

The Giveaway Diva wins MBA in a Book

Cheryl S. , cecilia, & Vanessa win B is for Beauty

donnas wins Put Your Dreams First


Congrats to all I'll be emailing you for your snail mail.

Thanks to all who participated.

And a special thanks to those who helped spread the word. Especially West of Mars Winabook.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Forays in Fiction: I'm In

After putting together the promo post for it last week, I talked myself into joining. I'm going to adapt several of my own already written stories so most of the story building work is already done. My primary goal is to learn the script formats for big screen, stage and TV so I'll probably adapt one story for each format and if I'm still not at 100 pages total bring in a forth story and apply a format by flip of a coin or flavor of my mood.

But altho it would be nice to have the win, I'm not going to stress on it or even have high expectations of crossing the finish line. I"m still helping out here at my Mom's in Longview WA and am still hoping to be returning home to Pheonix OR before the end of April which means the month will be broken up by the need to pack travel and unpack. And I don't acclimate to change well.

The only reason I was able to commit to this much is by taking the story building aspect out of the equation. When I read in the FAQ that adaptations of ones own work in other formats was allowed I realized that I could make this about learning the ropes of script format. Something that I've been meaning to do for years. Seeing all the how-to and other support available on the site and especially during the month I knew I wouldn't find a better opportunity or motivation to take the plunge.

So I spent the last few days combing through my files of stories and novels in progress trying to select four or five to settle my focus on. Meanwhile I managed to get another task I've been procrastinating on accomplished. I made hard copies of sceens from the last five years of fiction writing--the five NaNo and three Sweating for Sven stories and others and while I was at it all the poetry I've written in the last eight years. I was without since 2001 so have no hard copies for the work I've done since the. Much of the poetry, existed only on my blog as it was composed there. I'm taking advantage of the computer I've got available here at my Mom's. But I'm only printing the stuff that is in fairly good form and that's only 4% of the total output. Most of it is such a mess--a mixture of sceens in proper form with notes and babbling on about my intentions for the scene. I would like to get hard copy of much of that too but I'm not going to spend my Mom's ink and paper on it.

When I get back home I will finally get to introduce my new printer to my laptop. I got it for my birthday in November but chose to wait until I got back from my Mom's before I cleared a spot in our room to set it up. At that time I thought I would be back before Christmas. That was before Mom broke her hip and had the mild stroke following surgery just before Thanksgiving. I left home just after Christmas thinking I would be home for Valentine's Day. I'm still here. Still hoping I'll get to go home before Easter. When is Easter this year? If it's in the first half of April chances are slim I'll be able to leave.

Hmmm. Apparently its April 12 this year. That's right on the cusp of possibility. But it might take a miracle or two to make it happen as we need to be sure I can be spared before I start making plans, getting a ride coordinated and getting packed. I would probably need a week of preparing for the trip after I'm able to set the date for it. Soooo. I guess Easter is hoping for too much. Sigh. Guess I'll set my sights on end of April? *pout* I'm soooooooo homesick. So missing my husband and family down there. But I've been here so long this time that I'm going to be homesick for here the moment I'm unpacked there.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Book Giveaway: Girls in Trucks

I'm authorized to give away 3 copies. Rules for entry in the drawing are below. Please read them carefully.

Girls in Trucks
By Katie Crouch
(c) 2009
Pub. Back Bay Books
272p.

Sarah Walters, the narrator of GIRLS IN TRUCKS, is a reluctant Camellia Society debutante. She has always felt ill-fitted to the rococo ways of Southern womanhood and family, and is anxious to shake the bonds of her youth. Still, she follows the traditional path laid out for her. This is Charleston, and in this beautiful, dark, segregated town, established rules and manners mean everything.

But as Sarah grows older, she finds that her Camellia lessons fail her, particularly as she goes to college, moves North, and navigates love and life in New York. There, Sarah and her group of displaced deb sisters try to define themselves within the realities of modern life. Heartbreak, addiction, disappointing jobs and death fail to live up to the hazy, happy future promised to them by their Camellia mothers and sisters.

When some unexpected bumps in the road--an unplanned birth, a family death--lead Sarah back home, she's forced to take another long look at the fading empire of her youth. It takes a strange turn of events to finally ground Sarah enough to make some serious choices. And only then does she realize that as much as she tried to deny it, where she comes from will always affect where she ends up. The motto of her girlhood cotillion society, "Once a Camellia, always a Camellia," may turn out to have more wisdom and pull to it than she ever could have guessed.




As a writer of fiction myself I'm very intrigued by what Kate Crouch has to say about character creation in this essay.

Rules:

  • Leave a comment in this post expressing your interest in entering the drawing.
  • Provide an @ by which I can contact you in case of a win. Either in your comment or in an email to me at joystory AT gmail DOT com If you email your @ be sure to connect it to your entry. If I do not receive an @ your entry will be disqualified.
  • If, in the case of a win, you would like me link to your blog in the winners announcement post, provide your URL in your comment or via email. This is not a requirement for entering nor do you have to have a blog yourself in order to enter.
  • If you blog about this giveaway, send me a link to the post and your name will be entered a second time.
  • Deadline for entering is NOON PST April 4, 2009. I will select the winners with a random number generator using www.random.org
  • Winners must provide a US or Canadian mailing address. Hachette is unable to deliver to PO Boxes.

Read more...

Book Giveaway: Work in Progress

I'm authorized to give away one copy. Rules for entry in the drawing are below. Please read them carefully.


Work in Progress: An Unfinished Woman's Guide to Grace
By Kristin Armstrong
(c) 2009
Pub. FaithWords
240p.

When Kristin Armstrong was in the pit of her divorce, she eagerly read every spiritual book and devotional she could get her hands on out of a hunger to connect with someone who knew exactly what she was going through and how she felt. Now, at a time when society offers so many conflicting messages about what it means to be a woman, Kristin invites readers to discover grace as a way of life.
Using real-life anecdotes, biblical wisdom, and insight born of hard experience, Kristin teaches women the twelve traits of grace, inviting reflection and interaction. Warm, engaging, and practical, WORK IN PROGRESS examines what God has to say about being His kind of woman in the twenty-first century.




Rules:

  • Leave a comment in this post expressing your interest in entering the drawing.
  • Provide an @ by which I can contact you in case of a win. Either in your comment or in an email to me at joystory AT gmail DOT com If you email your @ be sure to connect it to your entry. If I do not receive an @ your entry will be disqualified.
  • If, in the case of a win, you would like me link to your blog in the winners announcement post, provide your URL in your comment or via email. This is not a requirement for entering nor do you have to have a blog yourself in order to enter.
  • If you blog about this giveaway, send me a link to the post and your name will be entered a second time.
  • Deadline for entering is NOON PST April 4, 2009. I will select the winners with a random number generator using www.random.org
  • Winners must provide a US or Canadian mailing address. Hachette is unable to deliver to PO Boxes.

Read more...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Book Giveaway: Never Give Up!

I'm authorized to give away one copy. Rules for entry in the drawing are below. Please read them carefully.

Never Give Up! Relentless Determination to Overcome Life's Challenges
By Joyce Meyer
(c) 2009
Pub. FaithWords
272p.

Joyce Meyer is probably better equipped than anyone when it comes to never giving up. She overcame an abused childhood, a bad marriage and extremely limited opportunities to become one of the most popular author/speakers in the world. Joyce Meyer Ministries was the first ministry in America to be headed by a woman, and it's one of the largest in the world. If anyone knows how to hold on to a dream and realize it, it's her. Packed with examples of people who pursued their goals relentlessly, the book profiles nearly fifty individuals who prevailed against all odds. From the builder of the Brooklyn Bridge to the chemists who invented Post-It notes we meet people like Bessie Coleman, an African-American who had to go to flight school in Paris in order to learn how to fly. But she did, becoming the first woman in America to earn her pilot's license in 1920.




Rules:

  • Leave a comment in this post expressing your interest in entering the drawing.
  • Provide an @ by which I can contact you in case of a win. Either in your comment or in an email to me at joystory AT gmail DOT com If you email your @ be sure to connect it to your entry. If I do not receive an @ your entry will be disqualified.
  • If, in the case of a win, you would like me link to your blog in the winners announcement post, provide your URL in your comment or via email. This is not a requirement for entering nor do you have to have a blog yourself in order to enter.
  • If you blog about this giveaway, send me a link to the post and your name will be entered a second time.
  • Deadline for entering is NOON PST April 4, 2009. I will select the winners with a random number generator using www.random.org
  • Winners must provide a US or Canadian mailing address. Hachette is unable to deliver to PO Boxes.

Read more...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Book Giveaway: The Unlikely Disciple

I'm authorized to give away one copy. Rules for the drawing are below. Please read them carefully.

The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University
By Kevin Roose
(c) 2009
Pub. Grand Central Publishing
336p.

No drinking.
No smoking.

No cursing.
No dancing.
No R-rated movies.

Kevin Roose wasn't used to rules like these. As a sophomore at Brown University, he spent his days drinking fair-trade coffee, singing in an a cappella group, and fitting right in with Brown's free-spirited, ultra-liberal student body. But when Roose leaves his Ivy League confines to spend a semester at Liberty University, a conservative Baptist school in Lynchburg, Virginia, obedience is no longer optional.

Liberty is the late Reverend Jerry Falwell's "Bible Boot Camp" for young evangelicals, his training ground for the next generation of America's Religious Right. Liberty's ten thousand undergraduates take courses like Evangelism 101, hear from guest speakers like Sean Hannity and Karl Rove, and follow a forty-six-page code of conduct that regulates every aspect of their social lives. Hoping to connect with his evangelical peers, Roose decides to enroll at Liberty as a new transfer student, leaping across the God Divide and chronicling his adventures in this daring report from the front lines of America's culture war.

His journey takes him from an evangelical hip-hop concert to choir practice at Falwell's legendary Thomas Road Baptist Church. He experiments with prayer, participates in a spring break mission trip to Daytona Beach (where he learns to preach the gospel to partying coeds), and pays a visit to Every Man's Battle, an on-campus support group for chronic masturbators. He meets pastors' kids, closet doubters, Christian rebels, and conducts what would be the last print interview of Rev. Falwell's life.

Hilarious and heartwarming, respectful and thought-provoking, THE UNLIKELY DISCIPLE will inspire and entertain believers and nonbelievers alike.






Join the Facebook Group



Rules:

  • Leave a comment in this post expressing your interest in entering the drawing.
  • Provide an @ by which I can contact you in case of a win. Either in your comment or in an email to me at joystory AT gmail DOT com If you email your @ be sure to connect it to your entry. If I do not receive an @ your entry will be disqualified.
  • If, in the case of a win, you would like me link to your blog in the winners announcement post, provide your URL in your comment or via email. This is not a requirement for entering nor do you have to have a blog yourself in order to enter.
  • If you blog about this giveaway, send me a link to the post and your name will be entered a second time.
  • Deadline for entering is NOON PST April 4, 2009. I will select the winners with a random number generator using www.random.org
  • Winners must provide a US or Canadian mailing address. Hachette is unable to deliver to PO Boxes.

Read more...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Serenity #119

A sectional view of the New Yo... Digital ID: 805999. New York Public Library

Still enthralled (see yesterday's post). So yet another embedded image from the NYPL digitized collection. This is a cross section view of the floors of the New York Public Library above and below ground as they were early in the last century.

Oh the Sundays I could while away in complete serenity and bliss in a building such as this!

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

The New York Public Library

Fifth Avenue - West 42nd Stree... Digital ID: 1557925. New York Public Library


I finished Linda Fairsein's novel Lethal Legacy Thursday and have continued to be enthralled and haunted by the rare book trivia that spiced its pages and the the description and history of its setting: The New York Public Library. A place I've long wanted to see in person. I of course had to go search out its web site and explore it.

I found a lot of things to enthuse a bibliophile like me. The find I'm most enthused about at the moment is the free online access to NYPL Digital Gallery's more than 685,000 images digitized from the The New York Public Library's collections, including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints, photographs and more. Not only is browsing the images free but they provide the link and embed codes for each image. A practice common to video sites like YouTube which makes this an invaluable resource for images to illustratrate my posts.

The image at the top of this post is of the New York Public Library in its early years. The image below is of a world map about a century newer than the one that plays a significant role in Fairstein's novel.



Nieuwe Werelt kaert. Digital ID: 1619020. New York Public Library

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Forays In Fiction: Script Frenzy


Ever since I learned that the creators of NaNoWriMo had created a second month-long challenge for script writing I've played with the idea of participating as a spur for learning the formats for play writing--screen, stage, TV--something I've had on that perennial ToDo list with the heading Someday.

When I set out to write this post I intended to just put up a promo for the challenge while admitting that I was capitulating to circumstance beyond my control which make it impossible for me to participate this year. You know, the whole sad story about my being over committed as it is what with helping out with the post surgery/post stroke care of my Mom and how I'm hoping to be able to set a date to return home in 3-4 weeks which puts packing and traveling and unpacking smack in the middle of Script Frenzy month. Thus participating would be impossible by any sane calculation. Wouldn't it?

Then I spent an hour wandering around the Script Frenzy site reading the FAQ and the How-Tos and I began to feel myself caving to a seductive whispery 'Why not? It's only half the word-count of NaNo. You can even adapt one or more of your already written stories (or any existing story for that matter) to play or graphic novel format. And it is after all the learning of the play forms that is the point. Plus who says you have to win the first try? It took four trys to win NaNo and you never considered not participating even after two abject failures followed by a third half-abject failure to cross the 50K finish line. So why not? In fact, instead of thinking of it as yet another burdensome commitment, why not think of it as a play date?'

EEEEEE Gads! I must be even more sleep deprived than I thought.


Note: Sorry this is so late publishing. I started work on it before midnight Friday and sometime after midnight Blogger stopped saving my draft and started giving me a 403 error 'forbidden access'. It wouldn't even let me back in to my dashboard for hours--til after 6AM!!!

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Book Giveaway: Put Your Dreams First

I'm authorized to give away one copy. Rules for a valid entry in the drawing are below. Please read them carefully.

Put Your Dreams First: Handle Your [entertainment] Business
by Thembisa S. Mshaka, Vanessa Williams
Pub. Business Pluss
320p

There is a great mystique about the entertainment industry and a fervent desire in many to be part of it. But what many women don't realize is that most entertainment career guides are written from the point of view of the male executive, or are filled with industry and legal jargon-making them difficult to read and understand.

Now, in PUT YOUR DREAMS FIRST, Thembisa Mshaka uses her 15 years of experience in the music industry to expose the hidden truths that women need to know as they aspire toward entertainment careers, such as how to avoid compromising one's self-respect and the little-known fact that women run a large part of the business. This highly informative guide is for every woman wanting to know how to navigate the entertainment superhighway and find that job of a lifetime.


Rules:

  • Leave a comment in this post expressing your interest in entering the drawing.
  • Provide an @ by which I can contact you in case of a win. Either in your comment or in an email to me at joystory AT gmail DOT com If you email your @ be sure to connect it to your entry. If I do not receive an @ your entry will be disqualified.
  • If, in the case of a win, you would like me link to your blog in the winners announcement post, provide your URL in your comment or via email. This is not a requirement for entering nor do you have to have a blog yourself in order to enter.
  • If you blog about this giveaway, send me a link to the post and your name will be entered a second time.
  • Deadline for entering is NOON PST Saturday, March 28, 2009. I will select the winners with a random number generator using www.random.org
  • Winners must provide a US or Canadian mailing address. Hachette is unable to deliver to PO Boxes.

Read more...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Book Giveaway: B as in Beauty

I'm authorized to give away up to three. Rules for a valid entry are below. Please read them carefully.

B as in Beauty
by Alberto Ferreras
Pub. Grand Central Publishing
352p

Everyone in the world, it seems, is either prettier or thinner (or both) than Beauty Marie Zavala. And the only thing "B" resents more than her name is the way others judge her for the extra 40 pounds she can't lose. At least she has her career. Or did, until she overhears her boss criticizing her weight and devising a scheme to keep her from being promoted. Enter B's new tax accountant, a modern-day matchmaker determined to boost B's flagging self-esteem by introducing her to rich, successful men who will accept her for who she is. As B's confidence blossoms, so do her fantasies of revenge. But will B find true happiness or true disaster when she unwittingly falls for the one guy she shouldn't?



Reading Group Guide




Rules:

  • Leave a comment in this post expressing your interest in entering the drawing.
  • Provide an @ by which I can contact you in case of a win. Either in your comment or in an email to me at joystory AT gmail DOT com If you email your @ be sure to connect it to your entry. If I do not receive an @ your entry will be disqualified.
  • If, in the case of a win, you would like me link to your blog in the winners announcement post, provide your URL in your comment or via email. This is not a requirement for entering nor do you have to have a blog yourself in order to enter.
  • If you blog about this giveaway, send me a link to the post and your name will be entered a second time.
  • Deadline for entering is NOON PST Saturday, March 28, 2009. I will select the winners with a random number generator using www.random.org
  • Winners must provide a US or Canadian mailing address. Hachette is unable to deliver to PO Boxes.

Read more...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Book Giveaway: MBA in a Book

I'm authorized to give away one copy. The rules for a valid entry in the drawing are below. Please read them carefully.

MBA in a Book: Fundamental Principles of Business, Sales, and Leadership
By Leslie Pockell, Adrienne Avila
Pub. Business Plus
336p

MBA IN A BOOK offers the kind of information graduates of MBA programs ought to have, but usually gain only after years of hard-won experience. This volume contains essential advice about the fundamentals of business, sales, and leadership from some of history's most influential thinkers and doers: entepreneurs, executives, scholars, statesmen, and philosophers.

The business principles section includes wisdom about the fundamentals of business practice and theory and important advice on investment, leadership, management, marketing, and success. The following section includes observations and insights that offer useful sales advice and ingenious techniques. Readers will discover gems of wisdom that address both the daily practicalities and the grand ideals of leadership in the final section.

Updated with a new introduction, this valuable collection will provide readers with the keys to mastering timeless and essential business skills. MBA IN A BOOK will inspire, guide, and support anyone interested in mastering the complex strategies that lead to success in business.




Rules:

  • Leave a comment in this post expressing your interest in entering the drawing.
  • Provide an @ by which I can contact you in case of a win. Either in your comment or in an email to me at joystory AT gmail DOT com If you email your @ be sure to connect it to your entry. If I do not receive an @ your entry will be disqualified.
  • If, in the case of a win, you would like me link to your blog in the winners announcement post, provide your URL in your comment or via email. This is not a requirement for entering nor do you have to have a blog yourself in order to enter.
  • If you blog about this giveaway, send me a link to the post and your name will be entered a second time.
  • Deadline for entering is NOON PST Saturday, March 28, 2009. I will select the winners with a random number generator using www.random.org
  • Winners must provide a US or Canadian mailing address. Hachette is unable to deliver to PO Boxes.

Read more...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Guarded Optimism


My shins beside the dastardly dishwasher door guarded by my sister's gardening knee pads.


Several signs of Mom's progress this past week or so give me a guarded optimism that I'll be able to set a date for my return home soon. Meanwhile I continue on KP duty. Mostly cleaning up after meals though sometimes I will make dinner and serve Mom and myself when my sister is running an errand too near dinner. My being here makes it possible for my sister and her son to be gone at the same time. There are a lot of occasions requiring a single mom and her home schooled teen to be out of the house at the same time.

Sunday evening I was setting up Gilmore Girls Season 4 DVD for my Mom and talking to myself aloud about whether we had watched the last episode on the disc still in the machine and thus time to switch discs. Mom said she was sure we had watched the last one but I went ahead and clicked play to bring up the menu to check, saying that if she was right we would have to start wondering why I was still here 'cause that meant her memory was now better than mine.

She laughed like I'd made a joke a la Lorelei Gilmore.

She was right too. About the fact we'd finished with that disc the night before. Not the joke which wasn't that good and little enhanced by being delivered more in the tone of the science teacher on Boy Meets World than that of Lorelei Gilmore.

Very good signs at any rate. Don't you think?

It'll be four months since Mom broke her hip and had the mild stroke following surgery. The end of March will make three months since my arrival here.

Further good signs are the outings she has been on. She went out to brunch at a restaurant a couple weeks ago and the following Sunday went to Church. She has been to the Y for swim therapy several times in the last two weeks. And Saturday she attended a support group for the visually impaired.

But she is still dependent on the walker and we had hoped to see her gaining competence with the cane by now.

And she pulled a stunt this afternoon which leaves us questioning her judgment. She took four lurching steps sans walker or cane and with nothing sturdy nearby to grab onto incase of loss of balance. She did this without announcing her intentions first and her path took her just inches from my outstretched legs which I could have flexed or shifted at any moment. None of us in this house are known for our ability to sit still. Especially the motionless aspect of the still part. And with Mom and I both lacking peripheral vision neither of us see anything until it is smack in front of our noses.

I was watching Oprah and my minuscule field of vision was filled by the TV screen. I heard two ominous THUMPS before this zombie shaped silhouette filled my visual field. I heard two more THUMPS before I recognized the shape as Mom with arms outstretched. And I yelled, "Mom!!! What are you doing?!!!"

OMG. I yelled at my Mom.

The role reversal aspect of this whole situation is one of its biggest stressors. I just can't get comfortable telling my Mom what she should or shouldn't be doing.

Her sense of independence and her ability to initiate action (lack of initiation along with aphasia were the primary fallout from her stroke) are excellents signs of imporvement. But that lack of judgement is the worrisome aspect. The reason why we're afraid to leave her home alone. It is hard to tell how much to blame those occasions on the stroke damage and how much on the typical impulsive (ADD-like) behaviors common to her and all three of her children and several grandchildren.

Afterall she and I have both tangled with that dastardly dishwasher door several times each in the three decades since our family moved into this house. And it isn't like it shifts its position on us. Like my legs could have done to her without notice when she lurched past them without notifying me. And yet she claims not to see anything wrong with what she did. Or any of the other times she did similar things.

I'm all trembly at the thought of what might have happened. Not to mention the memory of having YELLED at my Mom. Oh, my gosh! I feel like I'm fifteen instead of fifty-one.


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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday Serenity #118 Joyful Reunions



Who are you missing today?

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Drum Roll Please



The Winners of my drawing for the novel Sway by Zachary Lazar

Darby
traymona
olympianlady
Mel K.
Carlene

Congratulations to all and thanks to all who participated.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Forays In Fiction: Creativity

A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative (25th Anniversary Edition)
by Roger von Oech
(c) 1983; 2008
Published by: Business Plus
256p

My sister handed me her copy of this book this evening saying that she thought it was something I'd be interested in. I was flipping through it a bit idly getting a kick out of the cartoon illustrations that fill more than fifty percent of the space, reading the quotes heading up sections and glancing at some of the section headings. Much of it seemed familiar and I suspect I may have read an earlier edition of it. Which wouldn't be too surprising seeing as how the source of creativity and ways of stimulating it has been one of my passionate interests for decades.

As I grazed the pages with my eyes a snide inner voice asked what more I needed to know about creativity anyway. 'You already have sixteen novels in progress,' it sneered. 'Not to mention three websites with two more in the planning stages, a half dozen needlework projects in process and dozens more waiting in line and...and...etc. Getting ideas is not your problem so why be fiddling away your precious time with this book now? You need to be working on today's Friday Forays post and you're just procrastinating because you don't want to admit you let a whole week slide through your fingers without doing one significant thing for any of your fiction WIP. Significant? Strike that 'cause you've done squat for your stories for seven whole days.'

Just as I was about to shut the book with a sigh, my eyes landed on this line on page 228:

Ideas are great, but they aren't worth much if you don't use them. It's important for you to get your ideas into action. Your problem is that you're not using all four roles of the creative process.
OK that was spooky. Like the book poked that sentence out to answer that snide self-flagellation. And of course I had to find out what those four roles were:

Explorer=info and resource gathering
Artist=idea generating
Judge=evaluating info and idea
Warrior=implementing ideas aka Making It Happen.

The role titles are Oech's the descriptions are my shorthand for his.

Oech explains that the most effective creative people are those who can shift between these four roles at need. I realized that my Explorer, Artist and Judge are all well developed but that I tend to get stuck in one or the other of them for inexorable periods of time. I also had to admit that my warrior was a wimp. I eagerly read through the rest of this last chapter for the tips on how to activate the Warrior:

Take A Whack At It aka Step up to the plate aka Just do it
Put A Lion in Your Heart aka Take heart aka Have courage of your convictions aka Believe
Get Support aka surround yourself with those who expect nothing less than success from you
Get Rid of Excuses aka Burn your bridges aka Kick Ms Yeah But to the curb
Flex Your Risk Muscle aka Take chances
Have Something At Stake aka Put your money where your mouth is. Where money stands for whatever is of most value to you.
Be Dissatisfied aka Change it up aka Don't settle
Use Your Shield aka Grow a thick skin
Sell, Sell, Sell aka Know what its good for: give three answers for the end user's question: "What's in it for me?"
Set a Deadline aka Be goal oriented. Use time as a whip
Be Persistent aka Try, try again!

The phrases in bold above are Oech's ten tips and those following are my paraphrases or well known cliches close in meaning. The scorecard for my wimpy warrior is zero across the board. For a bit I thought maybe WW had some strengths in the Be Dissatisfied area. But that is probably just my propensity to get stuck in the Judge role wanting to keep fiddling and fixing and fussing.

Visit Oech's blog where you can find many tips like those in this book. Also other books and products like this creativity toy the Ball of Whacks:





Oh, wow!! I want for my desk toy collection. That's better than Koosh Balls! Maybe even better than Rubrik's Cube.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Just Finished

I prepared the shell for this post well before midnight in anticipation of finishing this book in the next couple of hours. Which I did just before 1AM. But then I had to load the dishwasher which I'd put off in order to finish the book first. And then, having discovered an email announcing I'd won another book on Goodreads I headed over there first and hung out for quite awhile. I updated my profile by changing this book from 'currently reading' to 'read' and added some first reaction type comments to my review there. I also broke in my new status at Goodreads as 'librarian' to update their info on this book with its number of pages and a cover image.

After all of that I'm too wiped to do anything like a review here as planned so I'm going to paste in the comments I left on Goodreads with links to it. Which serves the purpose of sharing my Goodreads profile and/or introducing the book lover's community:

My Goodreads review of The Weedkiller's Daughter by Harriette Simpson Arnow:

rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just finished this in the wee hours of March 13 and am still sorting out my feelings about it. It's quite a disturbing story, which I expected it to be having read Arnow's The Dollmaker.

I'm also still sorting out what is safe to say about it without divulging spoilers.

For now I'll say this is a must for any who is already an Arnow fan; for any with an interest in feminist issues or the coming of age of a young girl; for any with an interest in stories that highlight the hypocrisy embedded in The Establishment; in environmentalism; and in the culture of the Suburb as it developed throughout 1960s America.

View all my reviews on Goodreads.

Next, I'm picking up the first book I won on Goodreads: Linda Fairstein's Lethal Legay.

The book I learned I'd won tonight was Randy Davila's novel, The Gnostic Mystery

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Rather Be Reading

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lake Sacajawea, Longview, Washington



The north end of Lake Sacajewea is only a few blocks from my Mom's house and is one of my favorite places around here. Second only to the library.

I don't know whether I've been scoping out the Longview vids on YouTube in order to share a bit of the local scenery here or if it is more that I have a raging case of cabin fever and it's been three weeks since I've been further from the front door than the mailbox on the curb.

I simply mustn't leave town without visiting the lake and filling my camera with pictures.

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Monday, March 09, 2009

I Can Almost Smell It



This was where my Dad worked for about thirty years. Though he was the book keeper then office manager then expediter he still had to go out in the foundry area, machine shop and pattern shops frequently. I visited the site a number of times as a child and teen. Two or three times in my teens I subbed for his secretary/receptionist when she went on vacation.

Once, while still grade-school age, I was allowed to watch--from the outer yard doors--the men pouring the molten steel. It looks much as I remember it from forty years ago. I can almost smell it. I cringe as I watch that one guy put his foot so near that bucket of fire, remembering the time my Dad's boss got splashed during a pour and molten metal got inside his boot. I didn't witness that just heard my Dad's many retellings of the event and of seeing the damage done to the man's foot.

Oh, yeah. Ed worked in the machine shop here where they grind and polish the product after it cools for about a month in the early years of our marriage.

Just on a lark I did a search on YouTube for Longview Washington and this was one of the videos I found. I've no connetion with whoever uploaded it and only hope they don't mind me embedding it here. I'd had the thought I might find some nice vids of local scenery and historical parks and buildings etc. It never occurred to me I'd find a flashback.

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Sunday Serenity #117


print for sale at art.com

Now it probably seems bizarre to associate tightrope walking with serenity. Especially after I just used the metaphor to stand for the extremely stressful experience of getting my files backed up in yesterday's post. But as I contemplated tightrope walking (especially with the help of this awesome photo) I realized that it would not be possible to do this if one had not learned the art of serenity: centeredness, focus, the ability to be here now.

Something about gazing at this picture triggers a semblance of serenity for me right now. Maybe it is contemplating the serenity the man on the tightrope must be experiencing. Maybe it is considering the joy the photographer must be tapped into. Or maybe it is the simple lines, the blue sky the stark contrast between light and shadow. Or maybe it is the grandeur of the landscape implied by those massive rocks against that crystalline sky.

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Walking Tightropes



I spent the day backing up my files. It took me six hours. But it is the first time I have done this task myself since 1996. I had to run to my nephew for clarification every time I hit a snag or something unexpected happened for the first several hours. The last two hours I was getting the help via IM from my husband who stayed up ninety minutes past his usual bedtime to walk me through the last two hours of the backup, including zipping a file that was too big to fit on the thumb drive I was backing it up on. I had been using the copy command for all previous backups. I had never zipped a file before either.

I guess it is about time I learned to do these things for myself. I've been dependent on computers for my writing since 1987 so one would think I had gotten the hang of regular file backup. Well, I did mostly fine with it through 1996 while backing up was just a matter of saving another copy on a separate floppy. It was when we got our first multimedia computer in 1996 and I started saving my work on the hard drive and depending on my husband for all file backup. Well we've been in two separate states for two months now. A month ago, my fourteen year old nephew did it for me. I was supposed to be 'learning' how so I could do it myself the next time. Just like I was supposed to be learning how the last several time my husband did it while I looked on.

But my learning style just is not compatible with listening and watching as someone else does it. It never has been. Not when my Mom tried to teach me the proper way to stir gravy when I was thirteen; not when math teachers worked problems on the board; not when a cousin tried to teach me how to grab the ski-lift rope on the kiddie slope. Nope. I've always had to go through the physical motion my own self. But I've always been hesitant to do so for any new task unless someone who knows how is nearby coaching my every move and answering every anxious question.

So now I can probably count on being able to repeat this process the next time it needs doing. Except that it will have to be a variation on what I did today as two of the three thumb drives I used today are at capacity. That would be the audio files and the picture files. Remember, one of the projects I'm working on here at Mom's is scanning the family pictures onto my laptop.

Which reminds me. One of the silly newbie mistakes I made today was to copy the My Pictures file off my laptop hard drive and send it to the My Picture folder on the thumb. So when it got about halfway through the copy process it stopped and said it was out of room. I just thought at first that all those pictures I had scanned the past couple weeks had used up the space. But then I was comparing the file sizes of the My Pictures on the laptop and the My Pictures on the thumb, hoping to discover how much bigger it had gotten since it had been backed up a month ago. And the one on the thumb was way bigger than the one on the laptop. Which really befuddled me for several moments before it dawned on me what I might have done. And sure enough when I opened the folder on the thumb there among all the folders as they existed January 29 stood the folder 'My Pictures' with evidence of the changes made to it yesterday.

Ed, who was IMing with me at the time, advised me to delete everything on the thumb and start from scratch. Which I did. It took over forty minutes to back up My Pictures. That's how big it is. Because it contains: all the family pictures I've scanned in while here at Mom's both this visit and December 2007; every image I've ever posted to Joystory; all the pictures dumped off my digital cameras since 2006; images and graphics created in graphics programs like Gimp, Paint, Open Office Draw and the bazzillion freeware, shareware and trial editions we have tested; the images I've downloaded for use in my jigsaw puzzle program and/or for turning into needlework patterns; and screen shots. I think it is past time to organize the My Picture folder in such a way that I can back up several files on three or more separate thumbs and/or CD.

Arrrrgh. I cringe at the thought. My brain is quivering and sloshing in its pan.

I hate these tasks with a passion. And the back up project was just the first step!!!!

I'm suppose to download and install a new free virus and spyware protection ap and I've been warned by both Ed and my nephew to expect to be without the use of my laptop for as much as six hours once the install is complete as it does a deep scan of every file on the computer which took six hours on my Mom's Vista PC last month.

I'm also supposed to do a defrag which also takes upwards of four hours. That has been past due for months already. I was supposed to do it following the file backup in January but I kept procrastinating. Sigh.

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Friday, March 06, 2009

Friday Forays In Fiction: Music and the Muse




For the past several weeks I've been listening to a station on XM radio online called The Loft. It's been a long time since I've listened to radio of any kind on which more than two songs in a row grab me and make me listen and keep me yearning for more. I have always been drawn to songs that tell stories and of them the stories that have deep affective resonance. Stories of hardship faced with hope; of injustice met with defiance; of hypocrisy called on the carpet with courage; of betrayal answered by loyalty; of lives immersed in the mystery and wonder of living. The Loft has been giving me a heaping helping of such stories in every hour I've listened.

After I had been listening casually for a few days, I began to notice themes that echoed the themes in my WIP NaNo novel Mobile Hopes and decided to start recording the artist and song title for these in the Mobile Hopes WhizFolder file. Occasionally I would also jot some of the relevant lyrics with it. I was able to copy/paste the artist's name and song title off the XM radio page so at first it was barely interrupting what I had been working on while I listened to the music. But it wasn't long before I began finding relevance in so many songs it became impossible to listen to this station while doing anything else productive, especially when, as soon as I had dropped the copied artist/title info, I would start typing the lyrics as I listened. I would find myself racing back and forth between the XM web page and the Whiz note.

I just scrolled up and down the list tonight and discovered I've collected nearly two-hundred songs. Many of them contain urgent notes to myself to hunt for the lyrics online or to find a way to own that one. I'm finding this so stimulating to my imagination in fleshing out my own characters and feeling the depth of emotion that the situations I place them in ought to immerse them in but which I often find myself as the story teller staying too much in the abstract and thus keeping my characters there also.

I am even finding the info offered in the chatter of The Loft's disc jockeys helpful as I am fairly uninformed about so much of it. This is interesting on the personal level but it amounts to research in as much as several of the characters in my Mobile Hopes novel are immersed in music in some major way--either listening, playing, dancing to, or writing.

When I began contemplating what I had to report regarding progress on Mobile Hopes or any of my fiction projects for this week's Friday Foray's post, this engagement with music the past month is the only thing I could come up with. At first I brushed the thought away as not relevant enough but when I realized how much the engagement with the music was keeping me engaged with my story even though I haven't been making the time to write anything but my daily posts while I've been at my Mom's this winter I realized it was far from irrelevant.

Now I'm wishing I had the ability to pull up some of these songs at will to listen to repeatedly, to assign them to a character, to set the mood of a particular scene, to make part of the very settings of scenes by having a character listening to, playing, singing to, dancing to or thinking about. Oh so many ways owning some of these songs would aid in this and other of my fiction writing projects. Its been awhile since I was so revved up about collecting music. And its probably going to be awhile before I can do much about it other than check out YouTube for some of them.

I'm going to drop a longish section of that list of artist/song titles I've collected right here just to give an idea of the eclectic mix involved. I'm leaving in my notes to myself and my attempts to transcribe the lyrics on the fly which I can't guarantee I got right:

  • The Byrds - I Wanna Grow Up To Be A Politician
  • Billy Bragg & The Blokes - NPWA 'no power without accountability' 'i lost my car. I lost my house.' 'is anybody listening?'
  • Bruce Hornsby - Dreamland
  • Magnolia - Aimee Mann 'prepare a list for what you need before u sign the deed because its not going to stop, its not going to stop its not going to stop so just wise up'
  • Ani DiFranco - Knuckle Down
  • Luka Bloom - Holding Back The River
  • Colin Devlin - Light Years From The Sun - Democracy Of One
  • Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - Dragonfly Pie 'i want to go home'
  • Tom Waits - November
  • Lucinda Williams - Cars Wheels on a Gravel Road
  • Elizabeth Cotten - Shake Sugaree 'o lordee me, shake sugararee. everything i gots been pawned'
  • David Byrne & Brian Eno - Home >>get lyrics
  • Counting Crows - album: August and Everything After. song: This Land is Your Land (Acoustic Demo)
  • Eagles - Business as Usual
  • The Hollies - 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) Springsteen covers
  • annie lennox--walking on broken glass
  • Bon Jovi w/Jennifer Nettles - Who Says You Can't Go Home
  • U2 - In God's Country
  • Mike & The Mechanics - The Living Years
  • Laura Branigan - Gloria
  • Cher - Believe ('98)
  • Supertramps - Take the Long Way Home
  • Hall and Oates - You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling
  • Gloria Estefan - Rhythm Is Gonna Get You
  • Tears For Fears - Head Over Heels
  • Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - Who Built The Road
  • Emiliana Torrini - Big Jumps >>sounds like eddie brickle
  • M. Ward w/Lucinda Williams - Oh Lonesome Me
  • Bob Dylan - Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again
  • Graham Parker - Don't Let It Break You Down
  • Bert Sommer - America They've all come to look for America
  • Backyard Tire Fire - Shoulda Shut It - The Places We Lived
  • Willy Mason - Oxygen re the dream of justice; hypocrisy; 'we can be richer than industry..we can speak louder than ignorance... GET LYRICS. must have this song someday!!!!
  • Starsailor - You Never Get What You Deserve
  • Maria Taylor - Time Lapse Lifeline 'oh the dreams of life....it was just like that, it was just like that and just like that its done.....an image of a boy, a man...'
  • The Sacred Shakers - Gospel Plow

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