Wednesday, October 31, 2012

NaNonanonano Already!

watur we waten fur? it gotsa b minite sumwherz nanonanonano alredee



NaNo starts for me in about ten minutes now.  I just lost my two hour prep due to taking a face plant on the kitchen floor shortly after ten and having to spend an hour sitting on the floor with icepacks on my face and back of my neck.  Split lip and blood blister.  Bruised left cheek bone.  Probably black eye by tomorrow.  Whiplashed neck.  Jarred ribs.  Heaadache.

Two hours too late to scare the trick-or-treaters without aid of a mask.

But what am I wasting all these words here for?

Read more...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

44th ROW80 Check-In

A Round of Words in 80 Days
Round 4 2012

The writing challenge that knows you have a life
I'm doing things quite differently this round.  Since I joined mid Round 2 this year I have been using a blog-within-a-blog format for these check-in posts with updates stacked atop previous updates and commentary added under each goals section including a string of Ns and Ys for the five time investment goals.  This got quite unwieldy by mid round.

So now I've created a Google Doc Spreadsheet to keep track of the Ns and Ys and have set up a ROW80 page to feature the goals sans commentary.  These check-in posts will now contain only the commentary relating to the previous half week, a screenshot of the relevant lines on the spreadsheet and link to the spreadsheet and goals page.  And as of October 23 the READ CRAFT reading lists.


READ CRAFT:

Currently Reading

What to Do When There's Too Much to Do by Laura Stack (Part of my attempt to organize my life around my priorities. So part of my ROW80 reading list)
Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Go by Les Edgerton
Write Good or Die! edited by Scott Nicholson (a collection of essays by inde authors.  many of them self-published)  
The Act of Creation by Arthur Koestler


Recently Read:

A Cheap and Easy Guide to Self-publishing eBooks by Tom Hua read this online
Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Leher
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg  Just finished this Tuesday and wrote an overview of it for the last check-in along with my musings on how to apply what I learned..  This is where I've been getting the most help with learning how to recognize a habit, determine if it is desirable and if so maximize it but if not change it.


View the spreadsheet Google Doc directly
View the goals list
Last Check-In I implemented a NEW GOAL:  before heading to bed, close all aps but the one I've chosen for free writing and when the time slated for that is up segue directly to working with the fiction files.

I have followed through all three days. See the nice new strings of Ys in the two relevant columns?

It is a struggle against temptation.  Especially with the Sandy news coverage calling to me. The urge to check for an email from my husband.  But I resisted and I got my fifteen minutes of free write and thirty minutes of fiction file fiddling three days running.

It feels weird.  Uncomfortable.  Annoying.  I feel a blade of defiance nudging at the edges of my determination.  It would not take much at this point to push me back into my comfort zone but I hang on to the vision of a new comfort zone.

As described in my overview of Duhigg's Power of Habit and in the last check-in, I think I identified the keystone habit that once created or changed will ripple its effects across the habit tapestry of my days.  That was the tendency for my choice of activity on my netbook each day to be determined by what I started doing the first time I lifted the lid and that was determined by what tabs, windows and applications I'd left open when I closed the lid to go to bed.

I took advantage of the fact that I've just been jerked out of my normal environment by this out of town trip and four week visit at my Mom's which should make it easier to force a new practice onto my days since everything is topsy turvey and all of the familiar cues are missing.

Tomorrow at midnight NaNo begins.  This will be my ninth NaNo but only the second time that I'm not holed up in my room with the whole world shut out for all but Thanksgiving Day.  That was the year my Dad died in 2005 which was my second NaNo but the first one I started on November 1.  I had been at my parents since September and didn't get home until the first of December.  That was the last time I had to try it while having as ROW80 puts it, a life that gets in the way.  My first 'win' was in 2006 and every year since.  But the only way I'm going to 'win' NaNo this year is if I've learned my ROW80 lessons well enough to work writing around serious life commitments as I'm spending this month at my Mom's to be at my sister's service and my help will be frequently needed and not always planned ahead.

Read more...

Monday, October 29, 2012

It's Monday! What are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Share what you (are, have been, are about to, hope to be) reading or reviewing this week. Sign Mr Linky at Book Journey and visit other Monday reading roundups.

With this post I have finally implemented something I've seen on other blogs and found recommended during Blogiesta:  I've created a template for this meme post so that in the future I can more quickly put together my posts and readers can know what to expect and where to find the things they are most interested in.

The sections of this template:

Intro (here)
My Week in Review (list of books finished and links to bookish posts in the previous week)
Reading Now (my current reading list broken up into NF and Fiction)
Upcoming (scheduled reviews and blog tours and list of finished books awaiting reviews)
Recently (links to bookish posts in the last few weeks)
New Arrivals: (lists of recently acquired ARC broken up into snail mail, email and Net Gallery)
ARC in waiting (a list that is getting shamefully long)

My Week in Review:

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg   Part of my attempt to organize my life around my priorities. So part of my ROW80 reading list.   I discussed this in such detail in my mid-week ROW80 check-in post it was practically a review and I'll probably copy/paste much of what I said there into the review.

The week was all about preparing for the month long visit at my Mom's where I arrived late Saturday.  And most any time I did have to read and write was devoted to NaNo prep and ROW80 posts.  I didn't stop reading tho.


Reading Now:

Non-Fiction:

A History of the Present Illness by Lousie Aronson 
Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Go by Les Edgerton (Part of my ROW80 reading in craft list)
Get Your Loved One Sober by Robert Meyers (Research for a fiction WIP)
What to Do When There's Too Much to Do by Laura Stack (Part of my attempt to organize my life around my priorities. So part of my ROW80 reading list)
And So It Goes by Charles J. Sheilds a bio of Kurt Vonnegut.  (I've posted about this biography of Kurt Vonnegut several time in a kind of reading journal. It is past time for another.  Part of the fun I'm having reading this is in stopping to read the stories he wrote as the narrative reaches the point where he writes them.)
This Mobius Strip of Ifs by Mathias Freese (I've posted a reading journal post for this collection of personal essays also.  It is past time for another.)

Most of these I plug way in at a snail's pace--a couple chapters per week as that is my preferred way to read non-fic.  It sticks with me longer. I'm closing in on the finish line for several but as I get close on one I tend to add two or three more. There are some not listed here because I don't read in them weekly.

Fiction:

The Adventures of Tilda Pinkerton by Angela Shelton
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness  (audio)
The World Without You by Joshua Henkin (I reviewed this in June but had not quite finished it yet and only discovered that while shuffling around my ARCs in preparation for the read-a-thon last week.  Had to back up a couple chapters and then proceed.)
The Civilized World by Susi Wyss (another ARC that got lost in the mix before I'd finished it.  Have not posted a review for this one either and can't remember when I received it but it had to be at least a year ago before I started packing for our move and likely before NaNo when I typically stop reading fiction while I'm so intensely writing it.  This is a collection of interlocking short stories set in South Africa and I remember I was quite enjoying it.  I've had to start it over.-- And now I've forgotten to bring it with me and won't get back to it until after Thanksgiving)
At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon  (the ebook I was reading aloud to my Mom while staying there in March and April. These short little lighthearted chapters are almost like stand-alone short stories with beloved characters and make great bedtime reading for adults wanting pleasant dreams)




Upcoming:


Blog Tours:

The Adventures of Tilda Pinkerton by Angela Shelton --a YA fantasy-- Nov 7
One Moment in Time by Glenn Snyder --Literary-- Nov 12
Curiosity Killed the Kat by Elizabeth Nelson --mystery suspense--Nov 15
My Journey As a Combat Medic by Patrick Thibeault --memoir--January


Books I've Finished Awaiting Reviews:

The Land of Decoration by Grace McClean
Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Leher.

Recently:

Finished reading:

Hellfire & Damnation by Connie Corcoran Wilson

Bookish Posts:

Review:  Hellfire & Damnation by Connie Corcoran Wilson

Author Interview:  Connie Corcoran Wilson  and giveaway for ebook of Hellfire & Damnation  Giveaway open internationally and lasts until October 31.

My thon post My Brain on Books XI

The Literacy Mini-Challenge I hosted.









Primal by Deborah Serra  A thriller about a mother defending the lives of her children from escaped convicts who invaded their camping site.

My review for this blog tour was posted Monday October 8th






Sheila's BBW Shindig
For Banned Book Week I participated in Sheila's shindig and reviewed Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume






New Arrivals:

By Snail Mail:  NADA
By email:  NADA
From Net Galley:

A History of This Present Illness by Loren Aronson
A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee
What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Muller

ARC in waiting:

The Variations by John Donatich
The Inquisitor by Mark Allen Smith   My husband read this and loved it and is after me to read it so he can talk about it.
The Hunger Angel by Herta Muller  Nobel winner!!
Skios by Michael Frayn
How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti
The Sadness of the Samurai by Victor del Arbo
Me, Who Dove into the Heart of the World by Sabina Berman
Winter Journal by Paul Auster a memoir from an American literary figure that really excites me.
We Sinners by Hanna Pylvaine.   It's another story exploring the impact on family life of a fundamentalist religion.  One of the themes I'm drawn to like Pooh to honey.
The Adventures of Tilda Pinkerton by Angela Shelton  This is for an upcoming blog tour
Our Harsh Logic: Israeli Soldiers' Testimonies from the Occupied Territories, 2000-2010 compiled by The Organization Breaking the Silence

If anyone reading this states a preference I may let it weigh my decision as to what I begin next from the above list.

Read more...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday Serenity #308

Bradley

I've been at Mom's in Longview, WA for 24 hours already.  Have to admit I slept most of it away.  Finally got to sleep about 6am and slept until 5pm  was awake for two hours and crashed again for three more.  If Mom had been here I wouldn't have done that but she had spent the weekend at my brother's in Portland and didn't get home until 10pm then headed straight to bed herself.  I wanted to join her but still had this post to do.

Last night when we arrived their cat Bradley greeted us at the door and has been very attentive to me every since.  I guess he remembers me.  He slept on Mom's side of the bed while I wrote last night's post and was still there when I crawled in and was there when I woke though I don't imagine he never left.  But he usually sleeps with my sister or her son downstairs.

His affection helped some to sooth the missing of my own Merlin who must be feeling a bit confused and bereft today.

Read more...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

43rd ROW80 Check-In

A Round of Words in 80 Days
Round 4 2012

The writing challenge that knows you have a life
I'm doing things quite differently this round.  Since I joined mid Round 2 this year I have been using a blog-within-a-blog format for these check-in posts with updates stacked atop previous updates and commentary added under each goals section including a string of Ns and Ys for the five time investment goals.  This got quite unwieldy by mid round.

So now I've created a Google Doc Spreadsheet to keep track of the Ns and Ys and have set up a ROW80 page to feature the goals sans commentary.  These check-in posts will now contain only the commentary relating to the previous half week, a screenshot of the relevant lines on the spreadsheet and link to the spreadsheet and goals page.  And as of October 23 the READ CRAFT reading lists.


READ CRAFT:

Currently Reading

What to Do When There's Too Much to Do by Laura Stack (Part of my attempt to organize my life around my priorities. So part of my ROW80 reading list)
Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Go by Les Edgerton
Write Good or Die! edited by Scott Nicholson (a collection of essays by inde authors.  many of them self-published)  
The Act of Creation by Arthur Koestler


Recently Read:

A Cheap and Easy Guide to Self-publishing eBooks by Tom Hua read this online
Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Leher
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg  Just finished this Tuesday and wrote an overview of it for the last check-in along with my musings on how to apply what I learned..  This is where I've been getting the most help with learning how to recognize a habit, determine if it is desirable and if so maximize it but if not change it.


View the spreadsheet Google Doc directly
View the goals list


I must keep this short.  I hope.  It's after midnight now and I've been awake since 4:30.  spent the following 12 hours in trip prep--packing and housework and self prep--the next seven hours in travel and then another hour visiting with my sister and getting my netbook set up.

You will note that I reverted to all Ns on the FICTION FILES goal again and continue to have all Ns on the FREEWRITE.  I will cut myself a little slack about it this week as I had to take time out to prepare for this month long visit at my mom's.

So I will leave you with a thought or two I've been considering since my overview of Duhigg's Power of Habit the other day.  While I was busy sorting my craft stuff, writing and reading and office supply stuff all week to both organize my office/craft room and pack what was going with me, I did a lot of thinking about the habits I had identified as the problems and possible solutions.  Two aha moments came of all that thinking.

One, that this trip was going to be like a new beginning because it would force me to leave behind the routines and habits I had at home and if I did not allow myself to fall automatically into the poor routines I have had here at Mom's in the past this could be an opportunity to purposefully create new productive routines.

Two, that I may have identified one of what Duhigg referred to as Keystone Habits, or those habits that when changed tend to have a ripple effect over many other habits causing a significant shift in behavior.  Following the advice in The Power of Habit I started observing myself as I move through my day looking for the cues that set off a routine and the rewards that satisfy the craving.  I noticed that I would head straight to my office upon waking and lift the lid of my netbook and check my email or fb for messages.  The browser would be opened with all the tabs and windows that I had walked away from six to  eight hours before and all of the apps would be sitting on the taskbar open as well--the ebook readers, itunes, calibre library, WhizFolders (my note ap which is also my rough draft editor and fiction files organizer), freecell or spider, a photo manager.  My main to-do list is the open tabs and windows and the email inbox.

What I tend to do is flit around among them getting distracted in the middle of one task to dart off to work on another.  My whole day grows out of that first half hour on the computer.

What if, i asked myself, I were to have closed all windows before going to bed?  What would the first thing I did be then?  If I still checked my email it would not. be because it was sitting on the screen when I lifted the lid but because I'd made a conscious choice to do so.  I tried this a few times and found that on one occasion I did go ahead and call up email and fb but only because my sister was going into the hospital again and these are my only access to the info loop.  On one occasion I opened itunes because I needed to get a podcast downloaded before it was too late.  Another time I opened the ebook I'd been reading just before I'd headed to bed.

Better but still not ideal.  Not so flutterby but still hit and miss.  Too random.

What if, I wondered again, I were to leave open the app representing the task that I did want to be the first one for the day, the one I'd like to develop the habit for?  What if I then had the intent and a plan in place to immediately go from that task to the next so those two tasks were tied together?  What if, I left open one application, a word processor or note ap waiting for a free write session and held the firm intent to move immediately from that to working on a task in my fiction files?

I would not have to be the first tasks of my day but it would have to be the first ones on the computer.  It would be better actually if I did not go directly to the computer upon waking.  It would be healthier if I spent a few minutes on the mini-tramp first, washed my face, fixed a real breakfast, maybe meditated.

Regardless of what I decide to do with those first minutes of my day,  those first minutes on the computer, it is clear to me that the effects would ripple out across the whole day.  Which makes it a Keystone Habit according to how I understood Duhigg's definition.

So NEW GOAL:  before heading to bed, close all aps but the one I've chosen for freewriting and the time slated for that is up segue directly to working with the fiction files.

Who knows where this could lead for one other thing I've observed about my behaviors is that once I've turned my attention to a thing for over twenty minutes it is more than likely I'd still be attending to it four hours, five hours even ten hours later.  Whether its crocheting, watching video, playing spider, manipulating metadata in my ebook libraries, or writing fiction.


Read more...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Praying for Jamie

Jamie and her Nicholas who's missing her tonight.
My sister, Jamie, is in the hospital yet again.  She was having surgery to replace the T=tube in her throat but they discovered her throat was too inflamed for it so that had to put the trach back in.  She'll be having surgery again on Monday to get a biopsy of the affected area around her voice box to see if she has yet another auto-immune disease.  I'll let her tell you the details.

We'd all appreciate your prayers and good thoughts.  She has had a rough year.

I hate being so far away when she is going thru these surgeries.  I'm in Southern OR and she is in Seattle WA at the University Hospital.  That's a good 700 miles I think.  I know it is 500 odd miles to Longview WA from here.

Speaking of which.  I'm going to be leaving for Longview tomorrow afternoon.  So Monday i'll only be about 200 miles and maybe I'll even get to visit her in the hospital.

But now I need to get some sleep as I've been awake over 24 hours.  I've still got hours of work left to get read but most of it I can't do while Ed is sleeping so I might as well sleep too and get up with him at 5 and maybe that will serve to put me back on a day schedule so I can be of use at Mom's.

Read more...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Did I Miss My Calling?



Still busy sorting and packing.  2pm Saturday is when I have to be ready to load my sister's van. That's less than 36 hours as I type this and I have to leave time for sleep (6hrs minimum) and a shower.  Have already been awake for almost 12 hours.

So, to the point of the title and pictures.  While packing and sorting I began to notice how many things I've made out of other things or repurposed in some way or another.  I seem to have quite a knack for it.

Pictured to the right is one of my crochet wrist bag kits.  Such kits will hold the ball(s) of thread and the project and sometimes the hook and the pattern.  This one is made out of a ziplock sandwich bag, a child's elastic headband and one of those clips for paper designed to lie flat after you fold the little rods used to pinch it open down.

When the project uses multiple colors I'll put the individually bagged balls into a larger bag together.  If it is just two or three colors that could be a gallon sized ziplock but for larger projects using many colors I use things like gift bags or the packaging for bed sheets like the one in the next picture.


The baggie pictured above is one of tenseparate kits all part of one large project--the crafter's tote which is my Secret Santa project.  Actually there are only 9 kits now as one of the 9 strips of squares is finished so there are now kits for 8 strips of squares and the Moebus strip that will be the bottom, sides and shoulder strap of the bag.  Waaaaaaaaaaaay behind on this project btw.

That project is sitting inside a gift bag atop a plethora of small projects ranging from bookmarks, to fingerless gloves, to headbands, and a drawstring purse.  That gift bag sits inside the lid of an apple box.

More repurposing.

Behind that gift bag are three more gift bags and a drawstring bag made of the same material as a set of our bed sheets as it was their packaging.

There are a total of 17 separate projects in the apple box.  I didn't count up the kits inside the projects.


Another example of re-purposing and dare I say, ingenuity is represented by this picture of the headphone jack on my netbook.

During my last visit at Mom's she started hearing voices coming out of my netbook when I was wearing my earbuds.  Around that same time I notice there was static that I couldn't eliminate unless I positioned the wire just right and did not move it.

When I looked at the two jacks--headphone on the left and microphone on the right--I noticed that the right one had a red ring around it and the left one a green ring.  The colors are not visible in the picture because I was too close an the flash bleached out the color.

I had always thought that those rings were just decorative and two colors possibly to identify them.  But when I started looking closer around the time the problems started last spring, I noticed there were tiny cracks in the green one.  I pushed on it and a tiny crumb fell out.  After that the problem seemed to clear up but only for a day or two so I don't know how or if that helped or hurt.

This problem has been on my mind as I anticipated the return to Mom's because my workstation is beside the bed in her room so I can't have it making noise.  It meant I couldn't watch video or play games while she slept but there was also the risk of the computer beeping and such.  To prevent that I would mute it but that made me miss a lot of important cues.  Seems to me there should be a way to mute the speakers without muting the headphones.

So yesterday while I was sorting I was thinking about it and it popped into my head that those rings might be some kind of insulation and thus the static when the plug touched something it shouldn't or was not seated properly in its connection.  I've heard that having such things fixed can cost more than replacing the computer so I was racking my brain for some way to test my theory by sticking something non-conducive in the spot where that crumb fell out.

Among the stuff I'd been sorting were a stack of labels off deli meat containers. Those reusable ones with the brightly colored lids.  I collect those containers and reuse them for various things both in the kitchen and office and bathroom and....  But why collect the lids you might wonder.  Well they are stuck on with an interesting glue that is kinda rubbery and stretchy and will stick to most surfaces and come off without leaving a mark.  A bit like post-it glue.  The best way to save those clumps of glue was to sandwich them between two of those labels as their slick surface was ideal.  Their slick surface is also ideal for holding post-its inside a book instead of sticking them to the page.

Anyway I decided to stuff a bit of that glue into the spot where the green ring was broken.  This was quite a tricky procedure because that glue has a property of returning to its original shape after you let go of it no matter how you have stretched and squeezed and twisted it.  But I finally managed to stretch a piece of it out thin as a string, hold it in place over the crack and push it int with a needle.

I've tested it several times in the last 24 and some hours and so far I've heard not peep out of the speakers.  Here's hoping.

i was quite pleased with myself.  Also feeling justified in my hoarding.  LOL.  Which came in a moment of deep questioning of my hoarding issue because of all the time I've spent in the last two weeks sorting boxes, bags, jars, cans, cartons and bottles.  Not the stuff inside such things but empty boxes, bags, jars, cans, cartons and bottles.  Nearly all of it is product packaging.  But there are the gift bags and the normal tote bags, backpacks and purses, and grocery bags and trash bags.

Oh yes.  Some people call it a sickness.

Read more...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Nostrums for NaNo Nerves


As NaNoWriMo startinng time closes in I can feel the panic rising.  This year my October NaNo prep time is being eaten up by trip prep.  And the reality that this year for the first time I won't be holed up in my writer's cave for the whole month is looming like a locomotive that just jumped the tracks on the bridge over my head.

I'm leaving in two days and I have four days of packing and other prep for the trip so I don't have time to also prep an involve post.  And wouldn't you know but that the minute I started having to spend hours away from my desk and netbook the words started flowing like sap in spring just when it wasn't possible to do anything about it but jot a word or two and pray that later they will trigger the thoughts bursting the bounds of my brain pan as my hands are busy shifting stuff in and out of bags and boxes and cupboards and closets.

Back to work.

I leave you with a couple of links I'm finding useful as anti NaNo anxiety.

Book Goodies/We Writers is a community of writers supporting writers with tips, encouragement, forums for promotion and much more.  Check them out.

There is even a free podcast to subscribe to featuring previous NaNo winners sharing their methods: Tips from Authors for Authors

Author Brian Sanderson also has a free podcast.  These are interviews with other authors sharing their tips and advice.  You can subscribe at iTunes.  But if you do don't neglect to stop by it's blog post at Brian Sanderson's blog Writing Excuses as there is more stuff to see including a writing prompt.

Read more...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

42nd ROW80 Check-In

A Round of Words in 80 Days
Round 4 2012

The writing challenge that knows you have a life
I'm doing things quite differently this round.  Since I joined mid Round 2 this year I have been using a blog-within-a-blog format for these check-in posts with updates stacked atop previous updates and commentary added under each goals section including a string of Ns and Ys for the five time investment goals.  This got quite unwieldy by mid round.

So now I've created a Google Doc Spreadsheet to keep track of the Ns and Ys and have set up a ROW80 page to feature the goals sans commentary.  These check-in posts will now contain only the commentary relating to the previous half week, a screenshot of the relevant lines on the spreadsheet and link to the spreadsheet and goals page.  And as of October 23 the READ CRAFT reading lists.


READ CRAFT:

Currently Reading


Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Go by Les Edgerton
Write Good or Die! edited by Scott Nicholson (a collection of essays by inde authors.  many of them self-published)  
The Act of Creation by Arthur Koestler


Recently Read:

A Cheap and Easy Guide to Self-publishing eBooks by Tom Hua read this online
Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Leher
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg  Just finished this today.  This is where I've been getting the most help with learning how to recognize a habit, determine if it is desirable and if so maximize it but if not change it.




View the spreadsheet Google Doc directly
View the goals list

I've got a solid string of Ys for FICTION FILES now--all NaNo prep.  Yay.  Still all Ns for FREEWRITE though.  But I got some ideas now on how to change that.  Thanks to the book I just finished, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.  I'd been reading in it sporadically since early spring but in the last two weeks nearly every day while also doing some deep thinking about how to apply what I've learned.  Also making observations of my behaviors, moods, motivations and results with an eye towards designing amping those that work and ditching those that don't.  But for the latter you must replace with one that does work.

According to Duhigg, "a habit is a choice that we deliberately make at some point, and then stop thinking about, but continue doing, often every day."  They are routines once repeated often enough our brain programs itself to do on automatic pilot and unless we make a conscious choice to insert choice again it isn't part of the habit loop.

Habit loop=cue-> routine -> reward

To change a habit keep the cue and the reward but substitute a different routine.

Some habits, called Keystone Habits are so powerful changing them has a domino effect on other habits.  For example, starting an exercise  routine often leads to changing diet and visa versa and making the bed upon getting up is correlated with increased productivity overall.

But there is a specific framework in which one must work to change a habit which I will quote directly from the appendix of the book::


THE FRAMEWORK:
• Identify the routine
• Experiment with rewards
• Isolate the cue
• Have a plan

Experiments have shown that almost all habitual cues fit into one of five categories:
Location
Time
Emotional state
Other people
Immediately preceding action



One thing that stands out from my observations is that almost nothing in my routines are tied to time.  Not even eating and sleep.  I might stay aware of how close midnight is on the days I've not yet posted so that I can at least get a draft open by 11:59PM gut often I will just fudge the datestamp to reflect pre midnight.  Like I did for this one.  It was only thirty seconds after midnight when I got it open.  But it was 2:44AM on Wednesday by the time I started putting this together.

In the last week I observed only two other instances of time being tied to what I was doing and that was streaming the two presidential debates.

Time for me is as disorganized as my physical and digital files, as the boxes and bags and drawers of stuff I'm still sorting from our December 2011 move, as my clothes, as my mind.  As sleep.

Sleep for me looks something like:  awake for 27 hours>sleep for 6>awake for 30>sleep for 10>awake for 36>sleep for 4>awake for 6> sleep for 3>awake for 19>sleep for 7.....  with occasional awake for 40 and very occasional sleep for 15 to 20.  My average sleep is 4.5 to 6 and my average awake is 18 to 20.

I've tried to force myself onto rigid 24hr schedules before and never succeeded in keep it up for more than a few days at a time and always slid back into the chaos inside a month with nothing but the misery of abject failure to remember it all by.  I determined that will power was not going to work so why even try.

I have struggled with insomnia since early childhood.  I've clear memories of it going back as far as first grade and faint memories of it from as early as age 4.

My sister, her son and my brother's son have all been diagnosed with ADD and my sister suspects our Mom and I would be too if we sought the evaluation.  Though since Mom's 2008 stroke it would be impossible to separate out what was caused by the stroke and what was always there.

But then, when my sister's son was diagnosed with Aspberger's she thought I should be evaluated for that too and suggested our Dad probably had it.

I have been officially diagnosed with anxiety depressive disorder and more than one doctor has contemplated Bi Polar but no definitive diagnosis has ever been made.

Today I slept for 3 hours after being awake for over 20.  I'd started to prepare for bed at hour 15 but got sidetracked after attempting to give our cat Merlin a sliver of roast beef out of my sandwich and when I dangled it over his head he rose up on his hind legs and grabbed the sleeve of my jacket with one paw and slapped at the meat with the other but caught my finer which caused me to let go.  It didn't drop it flew and I don't know in which direction.

I spent the next five hours looking for it in this room I call my office but which all but one corner is a large sorting station with lots of open boxes and bags.  That set-up was working for me even though at a glance it looked chaotic I knew it was getting there and keeping it set up meant I'd be more likely to dabble at it daily whereas keeping it all out of sight between times would mean those times might be weeks apart--or months.

I never found the beef and since I didn't think to close the door to keep Merlin out while I slept I'll never know if he found it unless someday I find it rotting iamong my craft stuff, in my paper files, on a book shelf, or in a box of unsorted misc....

To make matters worse, I can't devote much more time to specifically looking for it as I'm supposed to be packing for my 4 to 6 week visit at my Mom's which commences on Saturday.

But a lot of the craft stuff I want to pack is mixed in with the stuff being sorted.  As are a lot of things I need frequently now.  Like my eye drops.  I lost three hours looking for them after I got up Tuesday evening.  That was one of the reasons I was late getting to this post.

This time though, I didn't just move things about looking in, on and under them.  I started a serious sort session hoping that at least one of the two would show up but I found neither.  I did find a few other things that had frustrated various projects when they went missing in the last month.  It was probably in early October when I rearranged my reading/writing station three times in one week and also set up the first sorting station that was one third the size it is now.

That is a lesson to remember: being able to put your hands on the item you need to do the task you want to do is critical to success.  Of course I've known that for a long time.

Well, my next check-in will be made from my Mom's the night of the trip or the next day.  So I won't be able to work on routines tied to the home environment until I return sometime after Thanksgiving.  But I will work on the iffy habits I developed during my frequent visits there since January 2009 when I started going up to help my sister out after Mom's hip surgery and stroke.

This is the first time I'll be doing NaNo without being able to hole up in my room and tune the word out and hyperfocus when on the clock it suits me.  I told my sister that I was at her service and she should not hesitate to ask, expect, require whatever she needs of me.  So this time I will be like 90% of the other NaNo participants working it around other serious commitments.

Read more...

Monday, October 22, 2012

It's Monday! What are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Share what you (are, have been, are about to, hope to be) reading or reviewing this week. Sign Mr Linky at Book Journey and visit other Monday reading roundups.

With this post I have finally implemented something I've seen on other blogs and found recommended during Blogiesta:  I've created a template for this meme post so that in the future I can more quickly put together my posts and readers can know what to expect and where to find the things they are most interested in.

The sections of this template:

Intro (here)
My Week in Review (list of books finished and links to bookish posts in the previous week)
Reading Now (my current reading list broken up into NF and Fiction)
Upcoming (scheduled reviews and blog tours and list of finished books awaiting reviews)
Recently (links to bookish posts in the last few weeks)
New Arrivals: (lists of recently acquired ARC broken up into snail mail, email and Net Gallery)
ARC in waiting (a list that is getting shamefully long)

My Week in Review:


Finished reading:

Hellfire & Damnation by Connie Corcoran Wilson

Bookish Posts:

Review:  Hellfire & Damnation by Connie Corcoran Wilson

Author Interview:  Connie Corcoran Wilson  and giveaway for ebook of Hellfire & Damnation



Reading Now:

Non-Fiction:

A History of the Present Illness by Lousie Aronson 
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg (Part of my attempt to organize my life around my priorities. So part of my ROW80 reading list)
Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Go by Les Edgerton (Part of my ROW80 reading in craft list)
Get Your Loved One Sober by Robert Meyers (Research for a fiction WIP)
What to Do When There's Too Much to Do by Laura Stack (Part of my attempt to organize my life around my priorities. So part of my ROW80 reading list)
And So It Goes by Charles J. Sheilds a bio of Kurt Vonnegut.  (I've posted about this biography of Kurt Vonnegut several time in a kind of reading journal. It is past time for another.  Part of the fun I'm having reading this is in stopping to read the stories he wrote as the narrative reaches the point where he writes them.)
This Mobius Strip of Ifs by Mathias Freese (I've posted a reading journal post for this collection of personal essays also.  It is past time for another.)

Most of these I plug way in at a snail's pace--a couple chapters per week as that is my preferred way to read non-fic.  It sticks with me longer. I'm closing in on the finish line for several but as I get close on one I tend to add two or three more. There are some not listed here because I don't read in them weekly.

Fiction:

The Adventures of Tilda Pinkerton by Angela Shelton
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness  (audio)
The World Without You by Joshua Henkin (I reviewed this in June but had not quite finished it yet and only discovered that while shuffling around my ARCs in preparation for the read-a-thon last week.  Had to back up a couple chapters and then proceed.)
The Civilized World by Susi Wyss (another ARC that got lost in the mix before I'd finished it.  Have not posted a review for this one either and can't remember when I received it but it had to be at least a year ago before I started packing for our move and likely before NaNo when I typically stop reading fiction while I'm so intensely writing it.  This is a collection of interlocking short stories set in South Africa and I remember I was quite enjoying it.  I've had to start it over)
At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon  (the ebook I was reading aloud to my Mom while staying there in March and April. These short little lighthearted chapters are almost like stand-alone short stories with beloved characters and make great bedtime reading for adults wanting pleasant dreams)




Upcoming:


Blog Tours:

The Adventures of Tilda Pinkerton by Angela Shelton --a YA fantasy-- Nov 7
One Moment in Time by Glenn Snyder --Literary-- Nov 12

Curiosity Killed the Kat by Elizabeth Nelson --mystery suspense--Nov 15


My Journey As a Combat Medic by Patrick Thibeault --memoir--January


Books I've Finished Awaiting Reviews:

The Land of Decoration by Grace McClean
Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Leher.

Recently:

My thon post My Brain on Books XI

The Literacy Mini-Challenge I hosted.









Primal by Deborah Serra  A thriller about a mother defending the lives of her children from escaped convicts who invaded their camping site.

My review for this blog tour was posted Monday October 8th






Sheila's BBW Shindig
For Banned Book Week I participated in Sheila's shindig and reviewed Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume






New Arrivals:

By Snail Mail:  NADA
By email:  NADA
From Net Galley:

A History of This Present Illness by Loren Aronson
A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee
What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Muller

ARC in waiting:

The Variations by John Donatich
The Inquisitor by Mark Allen Smith   My husband read this and loved it and is after me to read it so he can talk about it.
The Hunger Angel by Herta Muller  Nobel winner!!
Skios by Michael Frayn
How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti
The Sadness of the Samurai by Victor del Arbo
Me, Who Dove into the Heart of the World by Sabina Berman
Winter Journal by Paul Auster a memoir from an American literary figure that really excites me.
We Sinners by Hanna Pylvaine.   It's another story exploring the impact on family life of a fundamentalist religion.  One of the themes I'm drawn to like Pooh to honey.
The Adventures of Tilda Pinkerton by Angela Shelton  This is for an upcoming blog tour
Our Harsh Logic: Israeli Soldiers' Testimonies from the Occupied Territories, 2000-2010 compiled by The Organization Breaking the Silence

If anyone reading this states a preference I may let it weigh my decision as to what I begin next from the above list.

Read more...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday Serenity #307



My fingers have ached from the cold during my late night session at the keyboard or crochet hook.  Especially my right hand which is on the mouse when my left can crawl up inside my fleece jacket or snuggle up with the warm keyboard.  I can't believe it has only be a handful of weeks since I was talking about that heatwave.

So anyway.  I got the idea of fingerless gloves and wondered how hard they would be to make.  I started experimenting with some Paton's Grace cotton size 3 thread.

In the process I took out nearly as many stitches as I put in.  Or at least once I'd gotten the wrist band worked up to the bottom of the thumb.  I had to keep trying it on and looking at the shape of it and my hand and guessing what stitch and how many where would shape it right.

It is going to be hard to duplicate it for the second one since I didn't keep notes.

I test drove it with both the mouse and the crochet hook for a couple of hours this morning.  It was working well for both.  Though I've only worked with it on the hand holding the hook and not the left hand that holds the thread and the WIP.  I expect there to be issues with that.

I haven't tried typing with it yet.  OK I just did.  Not liking it so much but it is doable.

After all of that tho I caved in and turned on the heat after Ed got up this morning.  The floor was so cold that even with socks in slippers my feet were feeling it and it felt like the cold was creeping up my bones from my feet.  When Ed told me it was in the 30s outside at around 6am I checked the thermostat and it was sitting right at 52 which is where we had set it as the lowest it could go without risking the pipes.  So if it had dropped one more degree in the house the heat would have had to come on anyway.

Poor Merlin was standing over one of the vents when the air kicked on.  He about jumped out of his fur.

Read more...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

41st ROW80 Check-In

A Round of Words in 80 Days
Round 4 2012

The writing challenge that knows you have a life
I'm doing things quite differently this round.  Since I joined mid Round 2 this year I have been using a blog-within-a-blog format for these check-in posts with updates stacked atop previous updates and commentary added under each goals section including a string of Ns and Ys for the five time investment goals.  This got quite unwieldy by mid round.

So now I've created a Google Doc Spreadsheet to keep track of the Ns and Ys and have set up a ROW80 page to feature the goals sans commentary.  These check-in posts will now contain only the commentary relating to the previous half week, a screenshot of the relevant lines on the spreadsheet and link to the spreadsheet and goals page.


View the spreadsheet Google Doc directly
View the goals list



Finally some Ys in the writing collums!  Just two but hey, that's 2 more than zero.  All the blame can be laid on NaNo.  I's spent a lot of the DAYDREAM STORYWORLD time in the last month trying to decide which story idea or story WIP I wanted to work on for NaNo or would I do as I did at least one other year and designate the whole Fruits of the Spirit storyworld as NaNo territory even tho there are more than half a dozen unfinished novels set in it and nearly as many potential novels carried in their subplots or the story arcs of minor characters.

Last year I went totally outside of FOS and worked on a YA about gamers and virtual reality  I had a handful of ideas so far still free of FOS that I was considering.  But I've decided on a sequel to my 2008 NaNo even tho itself is still unfinished and its files a massive mess.

I discussed my intent and something of how I settled on my choice in yesterday's Friday Forays in Fiction post so I'll just give a brief concept description here.

nanowrimo.org
Joy Renee @ NaNo

The 2008 novel was called Mobile Hopes and featured a large cast of characters living in a mobile home park superficially like the one I live in, each of whom were dealing with personal crisis either created by or exasperated by the economic conditions that year with the presidential election season serving as context...  This sequel, Occupy Hope, will continue to carry that theme..

Makes sense right?  With this being the next presidential election and all.  A good time to check in on old friends and see how they fared in the last four years.

Here is a snippet from Mobile Hopes.

Here is a snippet of my 2011 script for Script Frenzy based on that novel snippet.

They feature irascible Gerta aged 97.


Meanwhile regarding the subject of my last two post--those strings of Ns in the writing columns on the spreadsheet--I'm still doing some deep contemplating of habits and observing how mine are working or not working toward my stated goals.  Will probably have more to say about that next check-in.

The date has been set for my extended visit to my Mom's.  My sister is coming down from Longview WA to pick me up next Saturday.  I'll be there until at least the week of Thanksgiving and probably longer.  I've promised my husband to be back for Christmas tho.  Since my family doesn't celebrate it and his does it is only fair.

Read more...

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Forays in Fiction: NaNoWriMo 2012

Find me on nanowrimo.org as user joywrite
Twelve days until NoNoWriMo 2012 kickoff.  Halloween night as the clock ticks over to midnight where ever you happen to be.  for me that is USA Pacific Coast.

I've decided on my 2012 NaNo novel.  It's going to be a sequel to my 2008 NaNo novel tho that one is still unfinished and a massive mess.  But it makes sense to do it because that story was set during the summer and fall of the 2008 election season and now this one can be set in the 2012 election season and follow up with some of the characters' last four years.  The mobile home park setting is well established as is the theme which means a lot of prep work is already done.

The 2008 novel was called Mobile Hopes and featured a large cast of characters living in a mobile home park superficially like the one I live in, each of whom were dealing with personal crisis either created by or exasperated by the economic conditions that year.  This sequel, Occupy Hope, will continue to carry that theme..

Here is a snippet from Mobile Hopes.

Here is a snippet of my 2011 script for Script Frenzy based on that novel snippet.

They feature irascible Gerta aged 97.  She would be over 100 now.  But tho I never wrote the scenes in 2008, she was supposed to die before the end of that novel and keeping her alive for Occupy Hope would mess with the structure of Mobile Hopes. 

No worries.  There are at least 30 odd remaining characters to play with and surely there will have been babies born, new neighbors, marriages and divorces, high school grads moving on, vets returning from Iraq, and Afghanistan, addicts getting out of rehab, drug suppliers getting out of jail, evictions, a  new crop of migrant workers, other deaths from illness, old age, accident and murder.

Speaking of murder.  I'd been playing with this idea for over a week but could not close the deal in my mind until this evening when I heard what sounded like 3 successive gunshots very near by.  There was not following sound of sirens so if it really had been gunshots, surely someone else would have heard it and called the police.  Unless everyone is like us and doesn't want to get involved and maybe isn't quite sure what they heard and not sure what direction it came from.

At any rate my novelist imagination took off on all of the what ifs.  I made a special note of the time just in case it ever because an issue.  6:56pm.  One shot followed by 5 seconds or so of silence followed by 2 back to back shots.

But Gerta has come to symbolize that whole novel for me somehow.  I guess if I can't stand to do without her this time she can be a ghost.  There was a ghost in Mobile Hopes so there's precedent for it.

Read more...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Author Interview--Connie Corcoran Wilson & Giveaway



Yesterday I posted my review of Hellfire & Damnation today is the author interview along with an ebook giveaway.

The giveaway is below the Q&A next to the book cover.

Connie (Corcoran) Wilson graduated from the University of Iowa and Western Illinois University, with additional study at Northern Illinois, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Chicago. She taught writing at six Iowa/Illinois colleges and has written for five newspapers and seven blogs, including Associated Content (now owned by Yahoo) which named her its 2008 Content Producer of the Year. She is an active, voting member of HWA (Horror Writers Association).

Her stories and interviews with writers like David Morrell, Joe Hill, Kurt Vonnegut, Frederik Pohl and Anne Perry have appeared online and in numerous journals. Her work has won prizes from "Whim's Place Flash Fiction," "Writer's Digest" (Screenplay) and she will have 12 books out by the end of the year. Connie reviewed film and books for the Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa) for 12 years and wrote humor columns and conducted interviews for the (Moline, Illinois) Daily Dispatch and now blogs for 7 blogs, including television reviews and political reporting for Yahoo.

Connie lives in East Moline, Illinois with husband Craig and cat Lucy, and in Chicago, Illinois, where her son, Scott and daughter-in-law Jessica and their three-year-old twins Elise and Ava reside. Her daughter, Stacey, recently graduated from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, as a Music Business graduate and is currently living and working in Australia.

Connie's Website: www.ConnieCWilson.com
Connie's blog: www.WeeklyWilson.com





Joy Renee:  When did you know fiction writing was something you wanted to do? Once you had decided that you were going to write stories, what obstacles did you have to overcome to make it happen?  (circumstance, personality emotion, relationships, craft/industry knowledge etc.)  Did you seek any formal education for fiction writing?

Connie:  I decided to explore writing fiction in 2003 after writing for newspapers (and blogs) since 1955. (And teaching writing for 33 years.) There are many obstacles, but many of those (i.e., the need to have an agent, etc.) have more-or-less disappeared. I do have an agent (in Chicago), but self-publishing is now much more commonplace. I have attended classes within the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop, (although I mostly audited them under the Journalism number 19), and, since 2003, I have taken classes at the University of Chicago as an adult in both novel writing and short story writing. I also attend classes at conferences, when someone like Gary Braver (Goshgarian) is teaching it.

Joy Renee:  What does your work routine and environment look like?  Is it respected by friends and family?  How about by yourself? Is it a struggle to acquire and maintain self-discipline?  Do you listen to music while writing? If so what kind?  Did your writing career predate word processors and if so how have they changed your work habits, productivity etc?

Connie:  I write in a condo in Chicago that I originally bought to be my daughter's college "dorm" (although she ended up attending college in Nashville, Tennessee). As I look out the window, I see the head of the fake dinosaur in front of the Field Museum and part of Lake Michigan.  I am a night owl, have no routine, and write till I'm done, often. I wrote each ghost story book in a week, but they were pretty short and had to be "G" rated for that publisher. I shut myself up in Chicago in what I refer to as my Writer's Lair and sometimes don't leave for days, if I'm behind on getting a novel completed. It is always a struggle to write rather than fruit-loop around and go have a good time (dinner and a movie come to mind). Fortunately, my husband of 45 years is very understanding.  I get a lot done when I get away by myself, so I can concentrate. I don't listen to music while I am writing. I learned to type on a manual typewriter in 1962 (250 wpm) so, yes, my writing career predates word processors, but I was hired to write a book on a WANG PC in 1985, [before Al Gore had invented the Internet], by a New Jersey company, and I've adapted and adjusted to computers rather than typewriters, since I've been forced to learn to use them and write on them over the past 27 years. I also maintain my own blog (www.WeeklyWilson.com) and Twitter myself  (the link Ms Wilson provided here was broken JR) and use Facebook. Plus, I have an author site (www.ConnieCWilson.com).

Joy Renee:   Are you able to support yourself with writing only yet?  If so, when did you reach that milestone?  What jobs have you had besides fiction or freelance writing and how have they impacted your writing life and/or your stories?

Connie:  I definitely could not "support myself with my writing" if, previously, I had not been the founder of 2 successful businesses, which I sold in 2003. Today, I cashed out $103 of profits, and it was a good day. I've had 19 jobs over a rather lengthy working career, most notably as a teacher of 7th and 8th graders at Silvis Junior High School from 1969 to 1985, as an educational writer for Performance Learning Systems, and as the founder and CEO of two businesses, established November 15, 1986 (Sylvan Learning Center #3301) and in 1995 (Prometric Testing Center). I sold both businesses in 2003 and began writing fiction. My initial investment had increased ten-fold. That's how I ended up with a Chicago place, too. I had been the Film and Book critic for the Quad City Times for 15 years prior to that (part-time work), and I conducted interviews for the Moline "Dispatch" with local celebrities and wrote a humor column ("The Write Stuff") as well as interviewing a variety of famous authors for online and print publications, including Kurt Vonnegut, Anne Perry, Frederik Pohl, David Morrell, William F. Nolan, Joe Hill, John Irving, Jane Smiley, r. Barri Flowers, and Eric Bogosian. I also taught writing and literature at 6 IA/IL colleges as adjunct faculty. I do have an agent, but if you're a freelance writer, it's pretty tough to make a living at it. With something like 12,000 books being published daily, I believe I read,  I'd just be happy to break even with income from writing "long," as I call it. I actually make more, right now, as a Featured Contributer to Yahoo, [which named me its Content Producer of the Year (Jan., 2009) for politics.]

Joy Renee:  How did the encountering of story from earliest childhood to the present inform your own storytelling?  From oral stories told by family and friends, including religious stories, to stories read to you before you could read on through your own reading experiences and video, TV, song lyrics and theater?  Which of those stories and which of those formats do you think had the most impact on your sense of story?  And concomitantly how do your years of experience at writing story influence the way you read/view story now?  When did you first begin telling/writing stories out of your own imagination?

Connie:  [Whoa! You said a mouthful!] All I can tell you is that I've been a movie fan since I was old enough to fight my sister over the armrest at the Saturday matinees and I've continued to love film ever since. I'll be covering the Chicago Film Festival from October 11-31, so check out my articles on Yahoo by signing up for "notices" and sign up on www.WeeklyWilson.com if you like movies. I never wrote fiction at all until 2003, (although I've been writing for pay for 57 years) but no less an authority than William F. Nolan (author of "Logan's Run")  told me, "You're a born storyteller." I hope to prove that he's right. Jane Smiley said, "All writing is gossip," so you may be on to something with that statement about "oral stories told by family and friends" part of your question, but I honestly am not aware of any "oral stories" I was told by families or friends inspiring or even showing up in any stories of mine. Most come out of experiences I've had as a child or an adult, interesting articles or tid-bits I've read, or from my teaching experiences, in the case of "The Color of Evil." Since 5 of my students ended up on Death Row in Illinois, and I taught in a pretty "rough" district, as well as growing up in an Iowa town with the largest Mental Health Institute in the state (of 4) and then moving to a town with a mental health institute that has been transformed into a prison, someone said to me, "Whoa! You were just born to write horror, weren't you?"

Joy Renee:  When stories begin to form in your mind which of the senses is primary--visual, auditory, tactile etc...and how hard is it to include the ones that aren't present in the beginning in the final product?

Connie:  I think the best answer to that question would be to tell people to read the "From the Author" portion at the back of "Hellfire & Damnation II," and, if your readers say, "Well, I don't want to BUY it!" tell them it's FREE for 5 days leading up to Halloween as a Kindle download (October 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31). You can download it on your computer and there's a program that will allow you to read it on your computer, if you don't have a Kindle. If you DO have a Kindle, so much the better. Now, as for "which sense is primary: visual, auditory or tactile," I'm thinking of a story within the collection entitled "The Champagne Chandelier" which starts with a phone call. So, that would suggest that a ringing phone is the trigger for that story. I've been working on incorporating the olfactory senses more into my plot-filled stories after interviewing Audrey Braun, but nothing is more boring, to me, than reading 15 pages of description of something like a bicycle leaning against a wall, (which one famous author actually did include in her work) or people going on a picnic with NOTHING HAPPENING. My stories will have some description, but expect the emphasis to be on plot and character development in equal measures. I hope that answers that question, although I'm not really sure that it did. Mea culpe.

Joy Renee:   What do you believe is the source of creativity and the best way to tap into it?  I'm assuming that with so much published you no longer, if ever, subscribe to the notion that writers are at the mercy of the muse--must wait for the fickle inspiration.  Do you have any creative hobbies besides writing and if so how do they impact your story telling?  Or in other words, how do you see creativity in one area spill over into others--or not, as may be?

Connie:  Much of creativity is a gift from God. It's like singing. Some people cannot carry a tune in a bucket and others are ready for"American Idol" or "The Voice." In my own experience, writers often have many different creative talents. For example, if they write fiction, they often are also musical or artistic. ( Stephen King, for instance, plays in a band). I am musical, as is my daughter, and play 4 instruments, and sang in a group called Old Gold Singers all through college at the University of Iowa. I like to read, and, in reading, I often come across intriguing articles or concepts, which I attempt to save, remember, and use in stories. William F. Nolan advises keeping a notebook always ready to record such ideas, but that would require me to be far more organized than I am. One story within "Hellfire & Damnation II," for instance, was inspired by reading about the black market for organs in the Philippines. ("The Bureau").  I do think that there are times when a writer is less "creative" than at other times. I'm not sure I'd call it being "at the mercy of the muse." What I would say is that personal issues and situations can put a damper on your writing output. I remember reading David Morrell's ("First Blood") heart-wrenching story of how difficult it was to write after the death of his teenaged son from a rare form of cancer. I found it impossible to write humor when my own mother was dying. Other hobbies you can list for me are traveling, playing trivia, music and swimming. My husband and I are planning a trip to Australia and New Zealand in January, in fact, because my daughter has been there since last February working.

Joy Renee:   Having read your essay collection Laughing Through Life I know of your interest in politics and social issues.  How if at all do these interests contribute to your understanding of character--psychology, motivation etc which is the root of all story?  And how, if at all, did they influence the inspiration for specific stories.  Do you find it at all difficult switching back and forth between writing fiction and nonfiction?

Connie:  I enjoy "politics as a spectator sport." My involvement in things political began when my dad ran for Buchanan County, Iowa, County Treasurer.  I was about 8 and we went out and stapled posters to telephone poles. I remember him saying, "Con, politics is a dirty business. Don't ever get involved in politics." He lost in a heavily Republican county, but his opponent (who won) died before being sworn in. They came to him and offered him the job, saying, 'John, your opponent died. Do you want the job?" He was re-elected to four consecutive terms and then founded a bank (Security State Bank of Independence, Iowa) in 1941, which is still going strong today.  The one "political" story within "HELLFIRE & DAMNATION II" would be "Oxymorons," which was an attempt to both use straight dialogue to carry an entire story, to have some funny oxymorons within it, and to weave a compelling and believable tale that incorporates and weaves together some of the biggest (and most recent) political scandals of the day.  I don't find it difficult at all to switch back and forth between fiction and nonfiction.  I actually make more money writing nonfiction, so far, so one wonders why I bother knocking myself out writing an 80,000 word novel that probably will only be read by 2 people in a closet somewhere. But, hey! I want to leave my mark for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and a book lasts longer than a blog article.  I continue to write short. I'll be covering the Chicago Film Festival from October 11th through October 26th and Opening Night has Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Julianna Margulies and Alan Arkin in a film directed by Chicago native Fischer Stevens, so I'm looking forward to being there with Press Passes, as I have been for the past several years. My articles will be displayed on my own blog (www.WeeklyWilson.com) and, also, on various Yahoo outposts. Sign up to "follow" me on my blog or on Associated Content (Yahoo absorbed it) and you'll get a notice when I publish something, which should be a lot during that period of time.

Kitty Kelly
Joy Renee:   Do you have any beloved pets now or in the past?  If so would you share a picture and an anecdote or two?

Connie:  I've always had cats. As a child, we had a black Labrador from the pound named Blackie, but we didn't have him long because we lived in town. My first cat was "Newcomb." The second cat, a Siamese, was Sam. Then, there were Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Beane. Fraidy was the first cat for my then 10-year-old son (Scott) and, later, Kitty Kelley, for my daughter (Stacey). Right now, we share space with Lucy, a 17 lb. black-and-white cat that adopted us from our ravine. (Picture of Kitty Kelley attached, picturing her looking evil, which she sort of was, according to my spouse.) One memorable Thanksgiving she scared the crap out of a roomful of teenagers who actually jumped up on couches and screamed as she hissed at them and growled at them. I went and got MITTENS to pick her up. (What was I thinking?) She probably would have bitten me, too, but, as my husband pointed out, mittens would have done no good at all. I think I meant to get leather gloves, but people were screaming and jumping on the furniture at the time, so I sort of grabbed the first pair of hand protective items I saw in the top of our closet. Kitty Kelley has shuffled off this mortal coil and is now buried in Paw Print Gardens with Fraidy Cat, our other calico cat, and now we have this 17-lb. behemoth who goes in and out whenever she feels like it and looks nothing like our other cats did. (All were calico cats and looked alike.)




Giveaway


Hellfire & Damnation II
by Connie Corcoran Wilson
Publisher: Merry Blacksmith Press, August 1, 2012
168 p

This collection of 11 short stories in the horror genre is organized around Dante's 9 circles of hell in the Inferno--limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, wrath, heresy, violence, political corruption, and treachery.


The book is available for giveaway in ebook only, and thus open to international entrants.

Deadline is October 28 at NOON Pacific Coast Time

Enter by leaving a comment expressing interest on this post along with your @ so I can contact you.

Extra entries can be had by:

  • Following Joystory on Twitter  if you already do leave a separate comment saying so
  • Like  Joystory's page on Facebook   if you already do leave a separate comment saying so
  • Tweeting once per day (leave the tweet's url in a comment here)
  • Add Joystory feed to your reader.   if you already do leave a separate comment saying so
  • Following Joystory on Networked Blogs   if you already do leave a separate comment saying so

Remember to leave a separate comment for each task as the individual comments will be the entries that I assign numbers to in the order they are made and then use random.org to select the winner. The @ need only be in the first entry as long as the rest are easily attributed to the same entrant.

Follow the blog tour to see more reviews, guest posts by the author and giveaways:


http://www.virtualauthorbooktours.com/

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