Saturday, June 27, 2009

Get a Bigger Gun

Makyla, age 7 months, is ready for the 4th of July. Here she's hanging out on Father's Day weekend. Doesn't care about cellulite. She's in charge of her float. Life is beautiful in 2009.
Whew! Over 100 degrees today - one week before July 4th weekend. Getting psyched for a 3 day weekend - some burgers, hot dogs. Gotta think about those old dudes in their stuffy clothes and powdered wigs - stuck at Independence Hall in Philly - a sweltering July (believe me, it can be humid and stuffy) - contemplating our freedom. Creating magnificent, eloquent words that will enthrall us forever. Read the Declaration of Independence..........
Summer in Texas means crape myrtles in full bloom. Gorgeous until they blow off the tree and into the pool. Then Ray curses nature because it kinda upsets his chemical balance. However, it does offer an Esther Williams moment - swimming up through a garden of blooms. Aaahhh - summertime.

Stars and stripes. Couldn't resist this little dish towel from Crate 'N Barrel. Yep, helped the economy today - movie, lunch, shopping. Vibrant colors. Bold design. Hooray for America - red, white, and blue.

Oh yeah..........definitely ready for the 4th of July. No little water pistol will do. This calls for the big gun. The monster water gun. This baby is dedicated to Ray's grandparents - they are gone but not forgotten. Here's to a memorable 4th. More to come! (Joanne goes crazy at the fireworks stand in Justin. Sparklers, gotta love the sparklers).

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Geyser of Writing Dreams

Here's a flash back to summer 2006. Old Faithful. Amazing, fantastic, awe inspiring. Notice the lovely blue sky and cool clouds in the picture. This was back when Ray had a crappy annoying job, but tons of vacation time. There's a tradeoff, I guess. You pay to play somehow, some way. Thus we enjoyed a two week road trip.
6/25/09 Orange Air Alert - Avoid Outdoor Activity. Hooray - a blessing to sit inside and read and write. Unfortunately chores must still be completed. Hence.......
I mowed the lawn today before it hit 100 degrees. It rained last night - one hour, one inch of torrential downpour complete with thunder and lightening. Thus my plan to mow early was blown and I waited for less soggy grass this morning. But I also wanted to beat the heat - now that's tricky. By the time I finished the front, I was soaking wet before jumping into the pool. Aahh, but that cut my temperature and delirium.
My leap into the pool did not quite create a geyser. And the sky above is a tainted blue/gray nasty haze. But the job got finished and I worked on a Chicken Soup story, a poem inspired by the local 7-11 parking lot, and a critique for a friend. It might be time to head back out to the pool for a lazy dip and a good read. (current choice: The Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England by Brock Clarke - quirky and fun so far)
Time to flash forward and live in the moment and then perhaps write to rekindle travel memories.

Monday, June 22, 2009

grand finale of support the arts and suggested reads

Abigail is five and shall be starting kindergarten in the fall. Right now she loves to be read to - any Dr.Seuss, any counting book, anything. The sheer joy of attention, pictures, and words - she's absorbing it all and I truly hope to continue to influence her amidst the hubbub of television, computer stuff, phone applications, and God knows what else is ahead in the technology world. Sometimes it feels like a losing battle, but when she comes to our house - books are entertainment. (and swimming!!!)

Jump or dive into the pool of knowledge! Gotta love summer, Father's Day, and pool time. These boys are extended family and total cuties. Cade, Zach, and Zeke. I asked them what they were doing for the summer ( okay, the young one doesn't really talk) and the 7 and 6 year old mentionned Wii, Computer Games, etc. I asked about books and reading............oooooops.
So, I've been talking about suggested reading lists from schools or even required reading lists. Bah humbug. How about just reading????? I grew up in a family of literature - books, magazines, comics, and weekly trips to the library. Nerdish - hell, yeah, but that's what we did. However, my late mother was a bit avant garde -she was a believer in free choice. She allowed MAD magazine, comic books,etc. She believed in reading..........and she knew we'd explore other material. I encouraged Kevin as a teen (he's now 27) to pursue SIM City on the computer - he bought and devoured a book on the game - words, the keys to the kingdom. I didn't care - I was happy that he read something!
That's the key. Whether it's Harry Potter, Twilight series, or Dickens, Austen, and Poe. Try to steer kids/folks to read. It shouldn't be a chore. It should be sheer joy, absolute escape, and magnificent freedom.
Selfishly, I want everybody to someday buy my book. Thus they need to get in the habit of reading.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

support the arts, convoluted tales part 2

Upcoming free author talks, sponsored by the Star-Telegram and other local underwriting trusts, need to be attended. Support the arts - events at the Bass, Jubilee Theater, Circle Theater, etc will broaden your views, offer new perspectives, and generally give you a laugh. Here's new dates for authors - 10/7/09 Garrison Keillor at Bass Hall. 11/23/09 - Clive Kussler at Bass Hall. Send a SASE to Star-Telegram, Author events PO Box 1870 Fort Worth TX 76101 and be sure to list the author you are interested in seeing. These are FREE!

I'm still thinking about Jeffery Deaver's chat at Casa Manana. Engaging and forthcoming, he encouraged new writers to analyze books in their genre. If you intend to write a thriller, then take Deaver's latest Roadside Crosses and outline it. Think about his pacing, his characters, his clues, the logic, and the organization of his book. He might take eight months to outline and create the book, before he even writes the thing. Perspiration and preparation. He says he writes for us - the readers and that gives him enjoyment (and plenty of success and money). In this crazy publishing business he is one of about two hundred authors who are ongoing "sure things". That's not many - all the more reason to edit, edit, and rewrite the edit.

I promised a convoluted tale, so I'm switching gears here and introducing you to Colorado (picture above courtesy of Crystal Hines). Again, check out Crystal's work - this talented photographer on her blog - and pass the word if you know anyone interested in having their portrait done.
It'll be a fun experience. Colorado, above, had a good time. Now, what will encourage her to read and grow? I hope she's read aloud to now or at least chews on some picture books. Then Dr.Seuss, Richard Scarry, and onward to Amelia Bedelia, The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, and more. How do you keep kids interested and wanting to read?
I've got very mixed emotions about summer suggested reading lists. I believe this begins in junior high and on into high school. Yes, I want kids to read. But, if they are made to read, then it is forced and I've seen it suck the joy. It becomes a chore and a job. I'm generalizing about those kids who aren't avid readers. They are on the fence and can be swayed to hate to read. Sigh - that's so sad. I can't imagine saying, "I don't like to read." Wow - miss out on adventures, characters, and escape.
I'll be curious to know what folks think about this and/or what they've witnessed with their kids. I plan on continuing the discussion too - more convoluted tales to come.
Now, it's time for me to pluck a book from my huge pile and read and roam.........

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

support the arts - convoluted tales part 1

This cute fellow, Jamil, shall be our introduction to a multi-part support the arts blog series. Somehow I'll pull it all together and declare a finale in a week or so. First, I'm putting in a plug for Crystal Hines, an extended family member, who is enthusiastically starting up a photography business. She captured Jamil's engaging personality and can do the same for you.

Check out her blog: She's competitive for formal or informal shots and has an exciting, exuberant style. More on her biz later. I shall also pose a question - what can be done so that Jamil wants to read, is thrilled to read, and will spend life as an avid reader?

Guess I needed Crystal to take this indoor pic - hard to tell but there are two chairs and two posters of Jeffery Deaver's new book Roadside Crosses. Fort Worth makes it easy to support the arts in so many ways. Thanks to the Star-Telegram and other fantastic underwriters, the author series was held at Casa Manana tonight.

Mr. Deavers, author of suspense thrillers, answered questions by Jeff Guinn in a very informal discussion mode. He quoted Mickey Spillane, "People don't read to get to the middle...folks want to read to the end." That's the mission - keep the pages turning and keep the reader guessing.
Jeffery Deaver's unassuming manner and quiet humor kept the audience entertained for an hour. As a writer, I always come away with a nugget or two. He writes 8 hours a day, 6 days a week. It's his job and he loves it. He outlines thoroughly - every twist, turn, and nugget of information. His goal is to fool the reader, not cheat the reader.

Excellent evening. Support the arts - photography biz, established authors, and engage youngsters like Jamil in the pursuit. More to come.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

the secret gardens

Shhh! I'm hiding out on one of the many tiered patios on one of the properties in Ridglea Hills. This picture is not from there. All top secret, no cameras, but there were flowers like the above. Plus daylilies, water features (yes, friend Cecil - you need water tumbling over rocks and a cute little bridge arching over it), yard art (start welding), and comfy patio chairs nestled into cute little nooks and crannies.

The Hidden Gardens Fort Worth Tour offered six fabulous private gardens. Truly breathtaking vistas and plenty of seating around the properties. I'm thinking I can hide out with a book, dip into pools, and no one would find me for quite awhile.

Lots of hard work goes into these Texas Master gardens - sweat, dirt under the nails, and an eye for color. These folks probably don't have time to read or sit down. Now that's a shame, so I've decided to enjoy their hard work and ramble from tier to tier. It's been hot, but the one home with a private lakeview offered a breeze.

By the way, I did my part for beautification. I actually plucked some stray nut grass from a lovely section of rock garden at one home. I must say I was a tad shocked at such shoddiness - a teensy crack in perfection.

Hmm. Getting hungry. Do you think a pizza delivery would blow my cover?

Fun times in Fort Worth and I do thank these folks for allowing this tourist malingerer to trample their turf.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

curled pages

Summertime reading tips. Don't leave your book open under the crape myrtle tree - tons of little pink flowers will line the crease.

Wear sunscreen while reading and do move about or else you'll have odd tan lines.

Don't read anything too serious - like economics, politics, or religion - it's steamy enough outside. You don't want to get hot under the collar.

Laying your magazine or paperback on your lap after just getting out of the pool results in curled pages.

Be mindful of chair placement and sprinkler timing.

Watch for any kids or husbands who thinks it's hysterical to tip your raft. Save the book - practice reaching high over your head. Stretch those arms. That pilates and yoga this winter did help.

Try to NOT spill your margarita or drip mustard from that hotdog you grilled and are now consuming. Wipe those cheetos fingers.

Have fun, but follow safe reading practices.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

random thanks

It's a very random Saturday and I decided to choose a picture that exemplifies the concept. Summer 2006 we had a western road trip and stopped at the Devil's Tower monument. This monolith rises out of nowhere and gives a very "what the...?" moment. Now I realize there's geological, blah, blah reasons, but I kinda like the idea of a higher being saying "Hmm, I've got this thing and I'm not sure where to put it." Closed eyes, finger points to a map - yeah, in the middle of Wyoming. That's cool.
More random thoughts - I've got errands to run today that are annoyingly unorganized and rather than a clean circular route, I'll be crisscrossing Bedford and sitting at the stupid light at Harwood and Brown Trail multiple times.
But, I can sit at the traffic light and contemplate D-Day - 65th Anniversary. I've never been to Normandy Beach, France but it is on my list of places to see one day. I salute all soldiers and give a special shout out to my Uncle Bill (now age 90) who fought in WWII.
I can't begin to write of my gratitude for freedoms. What can I say? I can just fart around today, jot a poem, think up a haiku, read, and relax...... and yeah, be totally random. I'll just say
Thank you

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

volley rejection

This writer did play at 3.0 level tennis, and every so often managed to fool her opponent with a wicked lefty return. Unfortunately, tennis elbow has cramped my style, and now just about the time I think about hitting a few, I get a serious twinge. So, I settle for watching tennis on television - does that count as exercise?

French Open this week (hence the French dictionary in the pic) and seeing the fall of Rafael Nadal (who practically was annointed the champ before playing) made me think again about rejection and frankly, the ups and downs of life.
Confidence in your game can equate to confidence in your writing. An overpowering serve or fancy footwork can keep you in the game, same with the pace of a plot and a charismatic protagonist. One clunker into the net can rattle you, same with a brutal rejection letter. Tentative strokes and a slumpy shoulder attitude will convince your opponent that you've lost your game. Unpolished manuscripts set the writer up for a fall.
Tennis is a game of skill, pacing, and fitness (and some luck). Writing is a game of verbal skills, plot pacing, and mental agility (plus some luck).
Game, set, match, plus a lot of sweat (and maybe a few tears, too). Write, re-write, mail (plus sweat and tears too).
This week we can also scream "Zut alors"!