Wednesday, March 16, 2016

My Chaotic Life by BL Hamilton

Not too long ago a friend came to my house to help me out for a little while since I wasn’t feeling well and really needed a few things done. At one point, we were talking and I apologized for my place being a bit of a disaster area. She laughed and said my place was more, “Organized chaos than disaster” then said, “I bet you know just were everything is.”
Well, yes and no. My spare bedroom is a huge mess, and will take a long time (if I ever get to it) to clear that up and organize it. The hall shelves are another mess, but yes, I pretty much know where everything is, I have lived here a while and I do pass that a lot. I can’t help but see it. And another huge mess is my couch, most of the time.
Frankly, give me a warning before you come to visit, otherwise the only seat available will be the recliner across the room. Well, and the kitchen chairs. There is literally no room for anyone else on my huge, monster of a couch because spread out next to me are a ton of things I use or need at hand’s reach on regular basis, starting with my blood pressure cuff, my equipment to check my blood sugar, and my medicines.
I also keep my laptop and my reader, and a few reference books. (Let’s face it folks sometimes books are better!) And, during the day, I usually have a couple bottles of water with me. Of course, sometimes one is empty, but with two, I don’t have to get up as much.
Okay, yeah I’m lazy! Not! I only take one bottle with me when I’m out and about to do errands, unless I know I’m going to be more than a couple of hours, and hey, I don’t want to run out. No, I keep two bottles at my side, because I don’t want to interrupt my writing that often to get a refill.
And there are other things that have found a home on my couch, instead of somewhere else, because I simply haven’t put them away, or they just plain belong there.
Like Scotty, my big shaggy Scottish stuffed dog which was a gift from my husband years ago. And the throw pillows, most of which are on the other end of the couch. And of course, my phone’s base is on the sort of shelf at the back of the couch, within easy reach. It would be easier if I remembered to keep my phone on the base because then I wouldn’t have to search for when it rings.
It would also be easier if everything on the couch stayed in the exact same place, but I’m constantly tossing through this stuff looking for either my remotes or phone, or both.
Why is it always those things that are buried? Okay, honestly, unless I’ve straightened up the mess recently, I generally end up searching for something. About the only things that doesn’t get lost in this mess are my laptop and the zippered binder I use to try and keep my finances organized. But that, like everything else, only works, if you remember to use it.
Yeah, my life is a mess and try as I might, I think it is going to remain this way for a very long time, mostly because I can never seem to stick to any one task for very long. Take yesterday morning when right in the middle of fixing my breakfast it dawned on me I didn’t get any laundry done the day before, even though I had gathered and sorted it. And that I really needed to get that going, before I forgot again, so I set aside what I was doing and to just real quick get a load in, figuring it would only take a couple of minutes, since after all it was already sorted.
Yeah right.
When I finished getting a load in, I remembered something else I’d forgotten and the next thing I know I’m getting a little light headed and there’s my breakfast half fixed sitting on the table. Yeah, that wasn’t a good start to the day.
I’ll try harder today.

Happy writing everyone! :) 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Wimpy Men by Konnie Enos

Why are men such wimps?
My husband in the last few years, due to age and an inherited tendency to dislocate kneecaps, has developed arthritis in his one knee.
I’m not saying he’s not in pain but he takes this to extreme.
Because of his knee, he can’t drive. (It’s an automatic and his left knee.) Or sit and wait for his kids for an hour. (Yes, sit comfortably.) And, even though he insisted we rotate everyone through doing the dishes, because of his knee he can’t take his turn.
And frankly I’m getting tired about how often he complains about his knee hurting.
Then there’s me.
Sometime in the spring of 1972 I fell off the monkey bars at school, right onto the bed of pebbles. One small stone hit the small of my back just right to break it. The doctor told me I came within centimeters of being in a wheelchair the rest of my life. He also said I was young and would heal, feeling no ill effects from it.
I don’t think doctor’s back then understood enough about how arthritis works back then.
By a year later I noticed I could no longer do the exercise called the bicycle where you held your lower body up in the air by your shoulders and peddled your legs. Well, I could, but I couldn’t get as high as I had before.
Not long after that I noticed standing long enough to say the pledge was a strain on my back. In fact, it started to hurt. If I stood for even one second too long the sweat would bead up on my forehead and I’d feel the desperate need to relieve the load on my back by sitting, or at least bending forward and leaning on my legs. It hurt.
By the time I was in my late teens even sitting to long could cause me a few moments of problems. I’d go to stand up and couldn’t walk with anything more than a shuffling gait for a few seconds. In the morning, when I first got up, it could take a couple of minutes for me to be able to move normally again.
After I got married I did my best to keep up with the cooking and cleaning and caring for babies and toddlers, despite my back, but it wasn’t ever easy. Try chasing a toddler who is just learning to walk and they can still move faster than you can.
     Try standing in front of a sink for half an hour washing dishes once, or twice a day when you can’t stand anywhere for more than a minute without you back screaming in protest. Try mopping a floor when doing so will for sure tie your back up so bad that you won’t be able to move again for at least two days afterwards. And bending over to get clothes out the dryer isn’t much easier.
I did it for fifteen years.
Then I realized my kids, and husband, were quiet capable. Now I have help with most of the household chores. Though I still do my share.
In fact when I had bursitis in my shoulder and couldn’t possibly wash dishes, I still helped. My youngest washed while I rinsed using my other hand. Oh, I also sat down while I did it. I’ve been sitting to wash dishes for years, because I obviously can’t stand that long.
So tell me. Why are men so wimpy?
Smile. Make the day a brighter day.                                                                                     

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

My Unproductive Week by BL Hamilton

The things I hate the most about how different Konnie and I are is number one, she doesn’t have ADD, and number two, she’s ambidextrous. It annoys me no end that when my right gets tired, I can’t just switch and use my left hand with equal ease.
This doesn’t just apply to writing longhand. The other night, my carpal tunnel was acting up in my right hand, while I was trying to eat soup! Try doing that left handed. I’m sure Konnie could do it. I did manage, but was it hard.
Then there’s Konnie and her magnum opus, which she worked on for years and finished it, working on it a little here, a little there, . . . well, I admit she took breaks once in a while and worked on some of her other stories, she even started a couple more. And there are whole blocks of time where she doesn’t get any writing done at all every month; she’s too busy being a mom.
But well, she can keep at one story for a whole month. This last Nano (National Novel Writer’s Book In A Month Challenge) I didn’t even manage that. I started two new stories then, and guess where they are right now?
Yeah, you guessed it. LIMBO! Just like every other story I’ve yet to finish.
Oh, yeah, I do have six stories that I reached “The End” on, but let’s face it. Two of those have been cut up so bad they are far from complete now. And the other five? Well, the first one, first two really, took me twenty years to complete, and most of those twenty years, they were sitting in a box gathering dust. And one of those two I have since lost something like five or six chapters of so I pretty much have to start over.
Then the next one I finished took me eighteen months. But I have a certain friend who would periodically ask me how it was going for the entire eighteen months. You would have thought he’d be content with the fact he’d managed to convince me to write the dang story in first place, but no! I had to finish it.
And I thought I’d never ever manage that stunt again, but I did keep writing. I started another one then suddenly, as usually happens to me, a new idea popped into my mind and wouldn’t let go. So I started writing it and ten weeks later, I had me a hundred and thirty thousand plus word rough draft.
I figure that one is a fluke, it’ll never happen again!
But boy what a ride!
Yeah, I know there are authors who can pound out a rough in six to eight weeks, if I ever manage that, it’ll be a miracle. I usually don’t stick to one project that long. Either I get bored with it, (need a break) or some other story intrudes.
Except for this past November, I can usually manage to stick to one for four weeks, but six? Hasn’t happened yet.
And I’m such a slow typist, four weeks just isn’t enough time to finish a novel.
Though I admit, I’m getting closer. This last year, I did complete sixty-three thousand words. For the last two years, I’ve managed to complete way more the fifty thousand words during the Nano, but that’s because I have more time to do it. Except I’ve never been able to maintain that level of intensity all year round. Sort of wish I could.
But tomorrow is another day.

Happy writing everyone. J

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Everything is Relative by Konnie Enos

The other day I was having a conversation with a couple of young girls and my older son in which I was saying to those girls that my younger son was a big boy. My son with me insisted he wasn’t that big.
I said, “Size is relative.”
For my son, who is only an inch or so shorter than his younger brother, his brother isn’t that big. However to a couple of six year olds, a boy who is well over five and half feet tall and close to 200 pounds is pretty big.
I told my son when I was younger, like those girls, my dad would get huge Christmas trees and put them up in the living room at Grandma’s house each year. They were really tall. When I got older however the trees got shorter. Or so it seemed.
Then one day dad told me that he always got trees about six foot tall.
The trees weren’t smaller. I was bigger. Size is relative.
Now take this a step further. Many people today say everything is relative, meaning what is right and what is wrong can only be defined by the individual and their circumstances.
I watched a recent CSI: Cyber episode in which a man and his father-in-law took upon themselves the task of finding a kidney for the man’s wife by kidnapping people to harvest a kidney from them. (It should be noted the father-in-law was a surgeon.)
While the man was apologizing for kidnapping these people, however, the father-in-law saw nothing wrong with his actions. He had no intend to kill anyone, he simply wanted to save his daughters life.
The fact that without written consent he not only perform surgery, but took an organ from someone to save his daughter’s life never entered his mind, even though he would have lost his license for attempting such a thing had he still been a practicing surgeon. He felt he didn’t do anything horrible, because he didn’t plan on killing anyone.
Not that it mattered. Laws are absolute, not relative. They kidnapped, and one person died because of it. They were charged with three kidnappings and one murder.
But in this day and age far too many people think everything is relative. They think they can define morality or what’s right and wrong by their own code.
Just for a moment imagine the chaos that would exist if every human being could actually affect the definition of what was moral for themselves. Imagine a society where everyone defined their own laws.
How could you prosecute someone for killing if by their definition of murder they hadn’t killed anyone? How could you get them for theft if by their definition of stealing they’d just “borrowed” it? How could you get them for rape if by their definition all they did was enjoy some sex? How can you get someone for lying if by their definition they weren’t misleading the truth? How is it cheating if the person doing it doesn’t define it as such?
Do you see how that is chaos?
When people define their own morality they start justifying lying, stealing, cheating even killing other human beings.
So as I talked to my son and told him size is relative. I thought of all the things that people today like to say are relative, like morality, which really aren’t.
Somethings are absolute. Like all those Christmas trees over the years have been about six feet tall. What changed is my height, so I viewed the size of the trees differently.
Other things never change, no matter the era or how people view them.
Dystopia stories are popular right now. Just imagine one with a world where everyone defines their one moral code, their own laws.
Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

ADD and Me Again by BL Hamilton

Okay, I set out valiantly trying to add a good deal to my manuscript Cruise To Love, and I did start out okay, I added about 3k.
Yeah, I know, it isn’t much for two weeks. And yes, part of the problem was my ADD, but not all of it, in fact only a little bit of it. The problems started when my feet started hurting. Not only was nothing helping, but it got worse. At one point, I bawled just trying to walk from my bedroom to the bathroom, and I’d taken some pain pills before that! It was awful.
I couldn’t write while I writhing in pain. I couldn’t even think beyond the pain. Then I started the new medicine, the stuff to make my feet not kill me, and that meant taking the time to be sure the stuff didn’t make me drowsy before I started driving again, which was a hardship since that very week my sister-in-law, who depends on me to chauffer her around town had several appointments. I couldn’t take her. Plus our niece’s wedding reception was that weekend. 
Then there was the fact I couldn’t concentrate. Well, no that isn’t quite the right word, I couldn’t focus on writing, reading I could manage, and I did a ton of it, reading through several of Konnie’s manuscripts, some finished, and some unfinished.
And mentioning things I noticed in one of those, spurred Konnie into action. She’d worried before she needed to take one storyline out of one of her manuscripts, and now she’s finally working on doing it.
Problem is, that means deciding how to change things, which means brainstorming.
And guess who her brainstorming partner is.
Of course, it hasn’t been all her stuff we brainstormed on, since at one point, I did finally get writing again, and I realized I didn’t understand one character at all, so we spent one brainstorming session discussing her motivation. The results were that I had to go clear back to nearly the beginning of the story, at least a point in the first chapter, and do some tweaking.
At least it wasn’t completely back to the drawing board, totally open a new file, and start all over again, but I didn’t get very far. And I actually have one more excuse for not doing much. Or is it two? 
Okay, one was my niece’s aforementioned wedding reception, which, since it was down in Bountiful, Utah, took a whole day. And then there were two Sabbath’s in there. Though I admit one of those Sabbath’s I spent the whole day with my feet up and watching videos, but that was the day before I finally got into see a doctor, and got on the right medicine. I just couldn’t manage anything beyond the basics that day — food, water, and trips to the bathroom, period.
Anyway, I’m back at it, and trying, so, well instead of wishing me luck, why not try kicking me in the you know what if you discover I’m not working? I could really use the incentive.

Happy writing everyone. J

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Diversity and Barbie Dolls by Konnie Enos

Recently Mattel announced they were coming out with new models of Barbie dolls. Basically they were making them in more diverse sizes so girls could find dolls in their shape. From the articles I read they added like three new shapes, petite, curvy and tall.
Most everything I’ve read is praising this move saying now girls will find a doll in their body shape, pointing out how the dysmorphic shape of Barbie has caused girls for generations to have issues with their own bodies.
Since I received my first Barbie doll nearly forty-two years ago (I still have her, and then a great deal more), I feel I’m in a unique position to comment on this debate.
My favorite, and first, Barbie was Skipper. Forty-two years ago when I got her, Malibu Skipper was a pre-teen flat chested, flat footed, short doll. Back then I was a pre-teen, short, flat footed and extremely far from flat chested girl. Barbie, with her impossible to accomplish waist size, still had a chest size in keeping with what I had going on. Yes, I have a Malibu Barbie as well.
Then I see the article about the three new body shapes. You mean you have a whopping four body shapes to account for all the diverse shapes in the world?
I’m going to guess one of them isn’t petite, curvy and overweight. Though at twelve I was just petite and curvy. Nope, they don’t have that shape either. So no Mattel. You’re still not diverse enough.
But then people are saying girls have poor body images because they played with Barbie dolls.
I have five stuffed full trunks at present count. I’ve never in my life expected to be tall, with a way to skinny waist, big hips and still have my well-endowed chest. I wouldn’t have minded making five foot tall and not weighing more than 120 pounds, but I also wouldn’t have minded not being as well-endowed. So I don’t think I’ve ever expected or even wished I looked like Barbie.
I’ll admit girls who already have body image issues, thinking they’re fat when they’re clearly not, could easily have a problem with dolls like this, but let’s bear in mind that we’re talking about girls with health concerns. I seriously doubt the shape of a doll is going to be a problem for healthy girls. Sorry, it’s just a doll.
If you want to address diversity, make more male dolls. I’ve looked. A handful in the adult male sizes and at present none in the boy sizes. Seriously Mattel, I want some boy dolls for my Kelly and Stacy dolls to play with. While you have whole lot of friends for Kelly, absolutely none of them are boys.
In other words, Mattel, you’re not doing enough to be diverse. Step up your game Mattel. Include everyone. Make boy dolls in younger sizes.
And while you’re at it, make a larger selection of clothes for your adult male dolls and for your child size dolls.
And once upon a time you made Grandma and Grandpa Heart and a sheepdog dog for the Heart family collection and I really wish I’d been able get them for my collection while they were available because that, along with several child sized boys, would make my large family of Barbie dolls complete. And some large cars, and more trunks. I never have enough of those.
Then all I’d need is a room just to display them all.
Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

ADD and Me by BL Hamilton

One of several things Konnie and I do not have in common is ADD. I have it. She doesn’t. Which probably explains why she has only four incomplete manuscripts and a whole slew of complete ones while I have six manuscripts for which I have finished the rough draft on, and well over 20 for which I haven’t finished at all, and that doesn’t the count all variations of any one story which I’ve kept, but discarded.
And, if you count her monster sci-fi manuscript as five novels (it’s certainly long enough to be that many), she has ten completed novels, whereas I only have six, and that’s counting two for which I did finish the rough on but have since done some major rewriting on, and the rewrites are not finished. And here I am the one with loads of time to write and she’s the one who has a daily battle with her family to get even five minutes to write!
Somehow, I’m getting the feeling being able to come up with new stories so often isn’t as such a good thing after all. I mean, how can it benefit me if I can’t finish what I start?
I don’t think I can, or would even want to change how I often start a story, decide I need to change or delete some major point in the story, and essentially start over. I mean, really, if you were to open my documents, you’d find tons of files; and in each folder there are several files, most are older versions, or variations of the story then there’s the “clips” file for that story, and character list, and a calendar of events for that story. Some also have lists like who’s in what class, or I have three with essentially family group sheets for the story. Two of those have family groups for several different families but the other one is for just one very large family.
And, if I hadn’t lost them before I got a scanner, I’d have floor plans and/ or maps for several of these stories in the file too. I really need to work on replacing them. I drew them once; I should be able to draw them again.
And in some of these files, without my various “notes” files, I wouldn’t even know what the story was now, or why I started it. Why I have one or two files, which are just notes (nothing more than an idea) that I’ve yet to expand into a story! I’m not even counting them on my incomplete story list.
In fact, just counting the ones which have reached a word count of twenty-five thousand or higher I have seventeen unfinished manuscripts, not counting the two finished but now in the middle of major rewrites. And not counting all the variations of any one story or the ones, which are just notes, I’ve started another eighteen stories. I have just notes on four and one scene that hasn’t got a story to go with it at all!
On top of this, for the last three years, my writing goal has been to complete at least two novels and I haven’t done it once. So here I am again, hoping to complete a rough. I’m only going for just one at a time, and maybe I’ll finish one or two of these before November comes around again, when I know I’ll start a new one. I’ve started a new one every November for the last thirteen years. (Last year I actually worked on two novels; one is on the under 25k list, and the other is on the over 25k list. I did manage over 60k this past November.)
Anyway, my goal for the next two weeks is to at least add around 25k to my Cruise To Love manuscript, which would bring it to almost done, but not quite. If I can maintain my Nano average, I should be able to finish this manuscript in three weeks. That’s if I can stick to it. Here’s hoping I do.

Happy writing everyone, and wish me luck! J