New York State of Mind

“Some folks like to get away, take a holiday from the neighborhood.  Hop a flight to Miami Beach or to Hollywood.  But I’m taking a Greyhound on the Hudson River Line. I’m in a New York state of mind.”

~Billy Joel~

ESB NYC

They say it’s a city of lights, a city that doesn’t sleep. It’s true what they say. There is an energy that fills the air and warms my spirit. Of the many places I have been in my life, none affects me moreso than my favorite place on Earth, New York City.

Eldest is visiting her boyfriend up in the Big Apple this weekend. It’s the first vacation she’s taken on her own and it’s over 1,700 miles from “home.” But she loves the place as much as I do, there’s family there and if all else fails, I will hunt down anyone that hurts my baby and they will meet the Hudson face to face.  Can you tell I worry?

I’m trying to get my stuff together for a weekend in my hometown about 6 hours away. Yoda and I have had a really sick dog so this should make the trip that much more exciting. 2 people. 2 dogs. 1 Vehicle. Joy. But I get to see family and the new grandbaby so that’s okay, I think.

Enough for now… just thought I would ramble for a little bit.

Sweetest of dreams…

 

 

 

 

Bang Head Here

I have a migraine. Slamming my head into a wall until I’m unconscious is out of the question so meds are in order. This migraine thing is nothing new; however, the day’s events are rapidly drawing to a close and they shall end with me crawling into bed. More from me later. Bon soir, mes amis.

Tunes to Inspire

“Time stands still
beauty in all she is
I will be brave
I will not let anything
Take away
What’s standing in front of me
Every breath,
Every hour has come to this…”

Red Dragon by Aggiorna
Red Dragon by Aggiorna

~Christina Perri: A Thousand Years~

Dipping into my writer’s toolbox, I dug out one of my favorite topics to share with you today.  Music.

Many writers and authors write to tunes of all sorts of genres.  I find that the music sets the scene, just as it does in the movies. I mean picture watching some of your favorite flicks without the scores. It doesn’t work. Music evokes emotion and that’s what we as writers aim for.

“The Dragon’s Kiss”, the novel I’m currently working on, has about 35 songs attached to it at the moment. Each of which is for a different mood I need to capture in a scene. I thought I would share a few to maybe inspire you today.  These songs aren’t necessarily there because of the lyrics themselves, but the beat, the passion of the song.

“Shatter Me” by Lindsey Stirling. I use this song for two different scenes. One during a transformative moment of my protagonist and the other is a chase scene down the streets of NYC. I also use “My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark (Light Em Up)” by Fall Out Boy when I write chase scenes. It has that kind of throbbing beat that works well. (As a side note, it’s one of my favorite “running tunes.”)

“Rain” by Jon Heintz. Such a lovely song. Originally this appeared in the TV show, “The Deadliest Catch” (which I love.) But it’s a haunting song, dark and deep. It’s perfect for a character who has lost much and is in mourning. Bill Wither’s “Aint No Sunshine” has that same feeling for me. I alternate between the two because the loss is different.

“Kecharitomene” by Loreena McKennitt is brilliant for the fantasy world I have created. It has an etherial quality to it. I alternate between that and “Flying for the First Time” by Elenowen.

Some other songs on the playlist include the Kelly Sweet remake of Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” “Walk” by the Foo Fighters, “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri and “Disappear” by Hoobastank.

Obviously there are more than I’ve listed, but maybe some of these will inspire you to look outside what you normally listen to and expand your writing.

Advice: Score your book while writing it. I think it adds a little something special to what you’ve done. Now go and create something amazing.

The Joy of Adult Parenting

“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”
~Anne Frank~

Sage-Corkscrew Swamp, Naples, FL
Sage-Corkscrew Swamp, Naples, FL

Anne Frank had it right. You can only give good advice and try to teach your children the path to walk down. While our children may inherit or mimic their parents actions, the one thing we have to remember is they are not us and will choose their own lives. But the “remembering” is not so easy and we often find ourselves with adult children who blow our minds with actions and decisions made that “we” would never do.

The first thing as a parent I have to consider as they are both adults, though still young, is sharing my wisdom (such as it is) and insights without being critical. I also have to now respect each of their differences. It’s truly a balancing act and I don’t know that I will ever have it down, but I do so try.

As I have a solid relationship with both of my daughters, I am and will be forever blessed. As they age, I’m learning  they will  (or is it still?) come to me if they need help during a “crisis” and that I need to keep clear of unsolicited advice.  But the discernment from “crisis” to “chronic” is murky at best sometimes – especially if chronic things have escalated into a crisis.

For example: The ongoing struggle between my sun and moon daughters over cleaning their apartment is a chronic situation that often turns into a small crisis filled with yelling and bitching. But learning to live with others and respecting each other’s choices as adults is something they have to do which means I struggle not to interfere unless called upon by one or both parties. I offer the requested advice and a shoulder, but as young adults, they must learn how to deal with “difficult” people. And each of them finds the other difficult and they have for years.

Again – the whole issue is about respect. They need to respect each other despite their obvious differences. Yoda and I have worked hard to show respect to them and to each other as a model for our lives. They each have to learn they are not the other and will choose their own paths. If they can respect that and respect each other, I believe that at the end of the day, the sun and the moon can come together to create something truly beautiful.

The path we all follow is not easy. It is a lifetime of learning and growing. But in choosing to be a counsellor and friend to my adult children instead of their coach or referee is a better option. In the end, they will each have their own strengths and their own character to be passed down to the next generation.

Sunday’s Big Screen Adventure

I have felt a wee bit under the weather today so I spent most of the day in bed watching some movies. Now this is entertainment, but also educational. A great story is still a great story whether it’s on the written page or if it’s shown in theatres worldwide.

Some of today’s list included “The Matrix,”  “The Longest Yard,”  “Pitch Perfect,”  “Wanted” and “The Heat.” I think just before I retire for the evening, I shall watch “Pleasantville” or “The Bourne Identity.” I haven’t quite made up my mind yet.

Longest Yard A remake of the original that I find to be better. It’s my favorite Sandler movie and Burt Reynolds cinched it for me.

The MatrixThe original mind-blowing concept which makes us question our lives, our reality. The red or the blue pill… which is it?

The Heat

Sandra Bullock is one of my favorite actors. Combined with Melissa McCarthy and the F-Bomb dropped more times than I cared to count, I was amused. And yes, I know law enforcement officers like these characters. More amusement.

Wanted

Angelina Jolie, guns and the suspension of reality. An excellent combination. Jolie always makes a great flick. Have you seen Maleficient? Wow.

Pitch Perfect

I didn’t think I would like it the first time I saw it. Honest. However, it’s an infectious sort of cute and the tunes will bounce around my cranium for the next few days.

Each of these movies from some different genres have stars I enjoy and, like Calgon, they take me away. When you feel like crap on a cracker, away is very, very good.  On the morrow, I’ll be back, feeling better and writing something a bit more and “me.” Top of the evening to you all.

The Dragon’s Kiss

In case some of you were wondering what I’m working on. It’s a fantasy novel tenatively entitled “The Dragon’s Kiss.”

I have had the idea for this work running through my head since I was 16 years old. Names, places and the plot have changed over such a vast period of time; however, the constant has been the nagging to get the story “out.”  Over these long years, I have learned to hate the question, “What’s it about?”  As this book will be part of a planned trilogy and there are several plots and setups, here’s what I can say with concrete certainty.

In a time of war live the daughters of the Dragon Lord, Ruler of Strakath. Oathbound to protect her land and Soulbound to the dragon she rides, the youngest must make a choice – to save her sisters and those they love or the heir of their sworn enemy, the king of Osenfal, in an attempt to gain peace for all.

This piece of “art” is a hybrid of sorts. Combining contemporary fantasy with high fantasy is my challenge and it’s taking a while to actually make sure all of the plot points aren’t left to die in some great writer’s wilderness somewhere.

I’ve pretty much decided Word is the program I do my best work in; however, Scrivener can be rather helpful as well.  My problem with Scrivener is that it is overly cumbersome and I haven’t found a program that I like to help with the outlining, character charts and whatnot. I used to use index cards which were not at all helpful to me.  I also keep a notebook where I jot down the who is who and what is what. I found that may actually be more helpful than software because I can take it with me wherever I go and note things as they come to mind.

Now as it’s NaNoWriMo, I must leave you be and carry on with the real task at hand.  If you are interested in reading excerpts, let me know and I’ll share with you The Dragon’s Kiss.

Let the Games Begin!

” There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. ”  – E. Hemingway –

Photograph: Sarah Reid
Photograph: Sarah Reid

As Mother Nature puts all her babies to rest and the world sees the greens turn to brown and the skies turn gray, writers must learn to pull upon inner resources for creativity and dedication. Today is the beginning of an important period of time – NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo.

For the uninformed, those are acronyms not gibberish. They are National Novel Writing Month and National Blog Post Month. Both are month-long challenges for writers and pretty daunting ones at that.

NaNoWriMo is the mother of them all. 30 Days. 50 thousand words. This averages out to around 1,666 words a day. Putting this into perspective, an average blog post for most people is 400-500 words. Basically triple or quadruple that and make it part of a continuous story – the bones of writing an entire novel in a month.

The novel won’t be pretty. There’s not much time for editing or refinement during November. However it is about getting the novel out of you – projectile vomiting it on the page. The cleanup comes later.

NaBloPoMo is a lesser “evil.” 30 blogs in 30 days. This contest actually makes you dedicate time to writing for a month. It’s far more lenient in its rules and regulations and is a great start for people who want to get into the habit of writing – sitting down at the keyboard (typewriter) and bleeding, but for shorter periods of time.

For the past couple of weeks, I have debated entering one or both contests. Honestly, NaBloPoMo is a pretty easy decision. It’s an automatic “game on.” But the novel… it’s had me up at night thinking about it.

I’m more than a few pages into the piece I have been working on for a while. Do I dare challenge myself to get the 50 thousand words in that would bring that novel closer to completion… in a month? I’ll be honest. The prospect rather terrifies me.  I’m the queen of procrastination and it’s so much easier to not run that guantlet. Can I balance home, a job search (potentially starting a new one) and writing for 30 days? A lot of people can. Can I really do it?

The answer is yes. Yes I can. I can do anything I set my mind to. I just have to do it.

So welcome to November… a month for writers and authors. As I go through this month, I’m sure you will be hearing about what’s happening, but more importantly the amount of Band-Aids needed as my fingers bleed from the constant pounding of the craft.  Let the games begin!

http://www.nanowrimo.org/ 

http://www.blogher.com/blogher-topics/blogging-social-media/nablopomo

Mellow Yellow

“Look at the stars,
Look how they shine for you,
And everything you do,
Yeah, they were all yellow.”

– Coldplay-

Chris Ford ‘A Foggy Empire’, United States, New York City, 5th Avenue & 20th St., Cold Spring Night

 Have you ever noticed how music reflects your mood, puts you into a specific frame of mind or just invites you to feel “something,” whatever that something may be? Today is one of those days for me.

I hate October 30th. I have to keep myself busy, too busy to think and maybe, too busy to breathe. But the music reminds me of how much I hate this date. And to go a day without music would be worse than not breathing, than today.

When I woke up this morning, I had Coldplay’s “Yellow” on the brain. It’s from their album “Parachutes” in case you were wondering. I can’t say I’m a “can’t-wait-for-the-next-release” fan of Coldplay, but I admittedly have a couple of songs from each of their albums in my music library. If this had been my record collection, I would probably have more than my fair share of albums, but gone are the days of vinyl, eh?

I wish more than anything, I were anywhere but here. I found the picture Chris Ford took (Ford is a great photographer) and it adequately describes my feelings about “today.” Rain. Walking alone down the streets of New York. Yes. There is where I would like to be. Not here. Not today.

Pops showed me the stars… and they were all yellow.  I wonder which star you are…

Thoughts on “The Book Thief”

“A snowball in the face is surely the perfect beginning to a lasting friendship.”
Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Book Thief

Apologies for the delay in communication. I have spent quite a bit of time as of late with the new grandson. Small. Cute. Easy baby. All in all, I will give him a 10.

It was during my travels to and from my hometown to my new home I encountered “The Book Thief.” I wanted to watch the movie, but I tend to read the books prior to watching a film as films can only grasp a tenuous amount of plot-line  However, I have to say this time I took it a step further and listened to the book narrated by Allan Corduner during the long, straight drives through the plains under blue or starry skies.

I have listened to some other books on tape including “Watership Down” and “Storm Front” (Dresden files by Jim Butcher-awesome), but while both were excellent stories, this one entangled me. Zusak wrote a great novel and Mr. Corduner’s read is delightful, moving and spot-on with the German, which is a necessity in a book of this magnitude.

Set in WWII Germany, we learn about Nazi fanaticism, a Jewish fist-fighter, thievery, friendship and death. They are all intertwined in the story of a girl seeking out an existence. We learn, we laugh and we cry. We learn that death indeed has a heart.

Liesel Meminger is a character I shall not soon forget. Deep. Well-rounded. Flawed and yet still flawless. She inspires me in ways I have not yet fully realized as she is each of us in our own unique ways. How did Zusak do that?

Beyond the well-scripted plot, the word economy and the descriptions of things seen yet unseen, I found Zusak to not be a writer or an author, but a natural story-teller.  And to add to this, Allan Corduner is a BRILLIANT talent who brought to life this poignant story.

Now, there are some who have trouble getting into the book as Zusak’s writing style is unique. It flips and flops until it settles into a rhythm such as a cha-cha or something of that nature. By the end of the first hour of listening, you are well into the story and transformation has indeed begun.

I generally steer clear of writing about books I have read, but “The Book Thief” changed that for me. I hope you will take the time to delve deep into the pages or the audio-book and breathe in a fresh and inspiring look at the beautiful piece of work Zusak shared with us all.

Almost Five Years….

The older I get, the more I find myself acting like my mother or father – especially my father. This is good because even though he’s been gone for almost five years this month, I still have parts of him with me. You see, some memories have begun to dim a little and I cling to those I remember with crystal clarity.

My pops was a baseball player, umpire and minor league manager. He was with the Yankees, Braves and Brewers in various capacities over a 14 year career, yet never made it on the field in the majors. (Thank you Lou Gehrig.) I bring this up because when I was five, pops and I were in the backyard and he was teaching me how to throw and catch a ball. Apparently my aim at a young age was spot on and his catching sucked because I felled him like a giant Redwood. We didn’t play any more games after that, but I learned the inadvertent power of an accidental curve ball at an early age.

Thought: Dad’s favorite movie was “Pride of the Yankees.” He loved “Hogan’s Heroes” and couldn’t stand watching anything bloody or gory in movies or TV.

At thirteen, when I was nearing the peak of teen angst, my father morphed into a big, bad knight in shining armor. Now, he was an actual knight – bestowed on him by King Peter the Second of Yugoslavia. But this day was awesome. I had a teacher who believed yanking my hair when I got an answer wrong, spoke up/out or under my breath or even silently wished her dead was a good idea. As a result I cut my hair ridiculously short and punky (as it was the 80’s) to mitigate the damage. She actually pulled my hair out this one day and when I told pops, he marched on the fortress of that school and threatened to throw her out of her 3rd floor, un-air conditioned classroom window. She never yanked my hair again. My hero.

Thought: Pops did this one other time at his agency located near the top floor of a bank building. This led to an early “note to self” – don’t lie, cheat or try to steal your way to success.

Sixteen brought an accident on Halloween night. I BADLY burned my hands at work and the man that couldn’t deal with medical stuff sat in the room as the doctors helped heal my hands. The night he brought me home, he set a green glo-light next to the bed so I could see so as to not bang my useless appendages against anything and sat in his office outside my door for hours. He helped with a lot of things I had taken for granted.

Thought: Pops HATED purple with a passion – especially lavender. Mom and I occasionally wore it to tick him off. Purple became my favorite color.

The man that drove more than 2.5 million miles before his first accident taught me to drive. He was not a patient man and I STILL hear his voice in my head while parallel parking, breaking or backing up.

Thought: He loved Obsession cologne and I can’t ever smell it again without his face coming to my mind.

He walked me down the aisle when I was 23 and held my first daughter the following year. Eldest was soon followed by Youngest and he loved the girls in a way I couldn’t imagine until five days ago when I held my grandson for the first time. I just wanted to scream to Heaven, “Hey Pop! I get it now!”

I saw my pop slowing down, his back stooping over and his gray hair turning silver then white as time trudged on. His once big frame leaned out as he couldn’t really eat much any longer. He lived on milkshakes from Malcolm’s. I remember the day my dad became like my child and I loved him even more. I no longer took the knight for granted. It was my turn to care for and save him. But you can’t save someone from the grave.

When it came time to say goodbye, we had his friends come by hospice. My mother came. My sister Chris and her husband came. But…My oldest sister came and together we stayed with him at the hospital. We told him stories and sang to him for a couple of days. The night the nurse brought in a roll-away bed was the first night I slept in days. Dad waited until Ker and I were asleep to whisper his last breath.

I have hundreds of memories and moments throughout any given day when I suddenly do or say something that is “him.” God knows he wasn’t a perfect man nor a perfect father. He tried though and I think that’s what counts. But I wanted to share these with you because memories are better when shared.

Continue reading Almost Five Years….

Words are as air… one cannot survive without them.