1 X 4 X 9

1 by 4 by 9, the dimensions of the monolith.

The first time I watched the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” it confused me. It didn’t help that it was a drive-in and I was stoned. After a clearheaded second viewing I still wasn’t sure on the point of the story behind the monolith.

By a stroke of luck I came across a copy of the book. My mind was blown. The beautifully artful piece of cinema was compelling, but it didn’t go through the details of the book enough to deliver the powerful punch the book landed.

Years later I was listening to the broadcast of our local public radio which, for a time, had narration of select books. The book I listened to was “2010: Odyssey Two” and it captivated me. After listening to it, I went out and found the book for my library. I read it several more times, before I heard it was being made into a movie. Interesting.

As with 2001, the film version of 2010 was a bit different from the book, some parts left out, but for the most part the storyline it delivered was enough information to uncover everything. I was curious how two aspects would be presented on film-the discoveries on Europa and the supernova of Jupiter. The first had the suspense of the book, but for the second the book description dealt the shock and intensity more fully than the film.

Still…these two books and movies are repeat go to’s for me.

I also completed my hardback “Odyssey” collection of four books in my library.

It always improves the experience, I feel, to absorb the book before, during, or after enjoying the film version.

Cheers!

-N

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Do Not Disturb

Some people don’t seem to understand what it takes to focus on writing. Just because the music is playing and I am walking around talking to myself doesn’t mean I am not in a writing zone and it’s okay to barge in and start chatting. I am seriously thinking I need a “Do Not Disturb” sign on my door.

Some people need silence, solitude – space to make the words flow and the jumble of thoughts to become a cohesive body of narrative. Me, not so much. That works at times I’ve found, especially when I am editing. In most cases I have music – all kinds of music – filling my work room. I dance, pace, wander, talk to no one, and fiddle with my muse.

Right now the playlist is soul/pop from the last forty years. Prince, Jimmy Luxury, Michael Jackson, Sly and the Family Stone, The Temptations. Whoa baby, digging it.

Then the interruptions….

Thus the blog refuge to focus my mind on creating and my fingers a needed a warm up – you get me?

 

Had a fun thing happen yesterday while hubby and I were gardening. Lots of soil was moved, reseeding the back yard and planting flower seeds by the pond. I asked if the spa was hot and he said yes, and I replied after this day we need a soak and alcohol, and who knew what next. He agreed and by 8:30 pm we were in the hot water, staring at the stars, planning our next adventures. It was splendid. In my mind I thought “I’m going to use this in a story!”

Isn’t that great when that happens?

We have introduced Cleo to the outdoors and she is digging it. She has gotten big enough and savvy enough to know to stay near the house while she explores. One interesting aspect is Millie, as the big sister German Shepherd, pays attention to her and when she gets out of Millie’s sight the search is on. Millie kind of whines as she tries to find the wee cat, only calming when she is back. So adorable.

They are so cute and are pretty good buddies. Cleo loves Millie’s big swishey GSD tail, and Millie will nudge and lick Cleo when she is laying on the floor. Their food bowls are in the same place separated by a water bowl they share. 

We had Jake for a while but he went back to his family once they were again able to house him, much to Jake’s happiness.

I have always liked having a dog and a cat. I love the difference in the two animals, and they both nourish the variety of pet lover needs I have. Chuck and I are both this way.

So now the words are flowing. Time to ease back into the past as Jude Tremaine arrives at Fort Bowie, Arizona Territory. It could very well be a bloody night in the mountains around him. Ready for a rowdy ride, a betrayal, and a heartbreaking loss? Volume II of The Tremaines is in progress. Pray for no more interruptions unless the house is burning down or the wine is running out.

Cheers!

-N

 

Picking a name

While I’ve been working stories, especially fiction, the one thing I discovered is the complexity of character names. How do other people come up with names? Sometimes I’ve had a name from the start. In the case of my current story the main characters’ names have been in my head from the beginning. I also had several of the other background and ancillary characters with names I knew I wanted to use.

But this one guy. My main female’s ex-husband. What the crap is his name? Todd, Alec. Oh he’s dead, a jerk, and only referred to in past tense.

I’ve come up with those two names so far, but they just don’t strike me as the right one. All you writers out there. Where do you look for names? Do you have a proven method to find the one that works?

I am currently trying to blog, listening to classical music and eating a sandwich while trying to keep the cat from my food.

So let me know the way you find the best name for a fictional human.

Cheers!

-N

A Catalina Party

I’ve been on a blogging hiatus, primarily because I was struggling with inspiration for any kind of writing. The stresses of life hit me like a category five hurricane. Thoughts and ideas were destroyed like 200 mph winds throw around a metal shed, and rip off the roof. The next step in my story plot was washed away from my mind like the storm surge will swipe the surface of the ground away, debris lost to the tides. I have struggled, cried, complained, and spent quiet time in thought. Where can I start? Author Twist Phelan gave me a suggestion, to start with just a paragraph, so that is what I am doing. This is Nancy fighting back, rebuilding the house, pumping out the water, throwing away the ruined furniture, and repainting.

*******

Last Saturday I held a farewell party for my nephew, Austin, who is leaving for Army basic training. He is actually my great nephew but I never make those distinctions. This party was important to me for a couple of reasons. The first is I was there when Austin was born. I helped his mom be calm through a difficult delivery. I watched as he was helped to take his first breaths, when he made his first cries, and when he peed on his dad.

Austin has always been important to me.

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He has struggled with some poor life choices, let the wrong people influence him, dealt with abuse, and turned the corner to focus on a direction that is healthy, both physically and emotionally. He has found his spiritual voice giving him a strength to release detrimental humans in his life. I am incredibly proud of him.

The party was here at my house, in the “party yard” and was filled with family and friends who came to celebrate this step in his future.

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The music was rocking, the kids were running, the drinks were flowing, the food was plentiful, the ice cream was homemade, and the cake was Army cammo.

Once the sun went down the bonfire was lit and the little ones were entertained by waving sparklers.

Austin represented third and fourth generations at the party – how cool is that! He was able to tease and chase his young cousins. He had cousins present who were older by a decade to as young as a year old. He had friends there who grew up with him. It was perfect.

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I took a moment to share with everyone how proud I was of him and to give him a cheer.

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It was fun. I think he was a bit surprised at the whole thing.

 

He will leave for basic training on October 2nd. But he will stay in our hearts and minds as he serves his country and makes us all proud! dsc0043.jpgSo I leave you with this special picture of Austin and I, and the party.

This is a Catalina AZ party!

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Homemade lunch

Today is going good so far. Its cookin for hubby day. I spend time each week making meals for his lunches. Some things are old standards like mini meat loafs with peas or green beans. Today is chicken marinara with penne.

20170822_095708I make what would be a meal for four, then divide it into four containers. I will include in his lunch bag a container of fresh grated parmesean. With a fresh fruit, peanut butter with celery sticks or crakers, a serving of greek yogurt which is good for his belly and he is set for tonight.

Another thing he likes is an Arnold Palmer. It’s easy, just iced tea and lemonade. He takes a big glass of that to work.

I love making sure he has a good meal for his work day. I walk him to the truck when he leaves, making sure to say I love you and plant a big kiss on him.

December 22nd will be 39 years together.

Cheers!

-N

Crazy and fun weekend!

Last week, hubby and I rented a very cute and fuel efficient Ford Focus to drive to So Cal for our grandson’s second birthday festivities. We left Thursday early afternoon and arrived in the San Fernando Valley that night. We managed to hit Phoenix I-10 gridlock, but missed LA traffic. Our bed was adequate, not perfect, but it would do. Thankfully I remembered to bring an Ambien to ward off the sleeping in a different place insomnia. Hubby and I were tired and ready to relax.

Ha!

My daughter told us there were 52 humans who had RSVP’d!! I looked at my daughter with gaping mouth. She said of the 52 she expected 14 children. OMG!

Friday morning we got up early enough to see Charlie before he went to daycare and then the rest of the day was spent taking care of some legal stuff on our part for the foster/adoption thing and birthday party prep.

Did I say she expected 52?

Chuck was tasked with making a cut out frame for party selfies, a birthday banner, a bean bag toss game thing, and putting stickers on cups. I made 72 cupcakes. Red velvet, chocolate, and vanilla, with frosting. I also made a small cake for Charlie to demolish as is the custom with birthdays for little humans.

Melissa and Charlie got home and we had fun hanging with the munchkin. Gosh he is so cute and he has elastic arms so we spent a lot of our time keeping him out of the party stuff. At one point we gave in and took a bunch of bags to the cars for safe keeping. After he went to bed we opened a bottle of wine for the girls and a beer for hubby and proceeded to fill a crap load of goodie bags! Bed time for big humans.

Saturday. Party day. Chuck made a bunch of pigs-in-blankets so they would be warm for the party. We loaded the cars with pigs-in-blankets, cupcakes, goodie bags, selfie frame, bean bag game thing, Charlie, and headed out by 9am to do set up. My daughter’s good friends and landlords brought the helium and balloons, we got busy setting up and managed to be mostly ready for the first arrivals at 10am.

I did say she expected 52, right?

The party was held at the private school where my daughter teaches, just outside her classroom. There was a great covered area with tons of tables and next to it a huge grass lawn for little humans to run. Happy Birthday was sung, candle blown out, and Charlie was properly covered in chocolate after eating fistfuls of thickly iced cake. He looked like he had a beard, and was thoroughly happy and on a sugar buzz.

We were cleaned up and gone by 1pm. I was impressed. My heart was warmed by the wonderful friends of my daughter who are there to support and encourage her and Charlie in this life adventure of theirs. She is a fantastic person and it is obvious by the long-time good friends she has. We headed back to her place to unload and open gifts-what a haul! I took off and got us Cavaretta’s deli sandwiches for dinner. Yum!

Sunday morning was departure day for us. We got our stuff together though, as I found out after we got home, we left several things there. Breakfast was at Weiler’s, us, Melissa and Charlie, then it was time to come home.

It was fast and furious-Vaughn style.

Cheers!

-N

 

Using social media

Aside from spreading the word about my writing, I am using forms of social media more as an outreach and to market myself and my work. This blog is a favorite form of connection. I also have a Facebook author page, Amazon author page, Twitter, LinkedIn, Discus, and Instagram accounts.

I am curious about other bloggers and writers use of social media, and what success people have had with a personal web page. How have others been effective in marketing? What options and venues have been most productive?

I can’t really afford to pay a professional web designer. Has anyone found a good tutorial I can get about doing the process myself? I get tweets about promoting my book or getting followers for a fee and I wondered if anyone has experience with this?

There have been good results for me using Facebook boost for posts about new work or special deals I’ve run with Amazon KDP, and the cost is manageable for me. I’ve linked the author page to this blog and my Twitter so the word gets out.

So I just keep plugging away writing and blogging, having fun with all the new followers, and hearing what’s happening in the world of words.

Cheers!

-N

What makes a friend?

What makes one human appealing as a friend? Are there certain characteristics and behaviors that attract others and draw them into a circle of friends?

Because my father was military we moved a lot when I was young. Consequently my friendships were very transient.  I believe this made it difficult for me to form lasting friendships.  My sisters and I are close, but they now have their own families to concern them. I had no real idea of what a lasting friendship looked like.

Until I met Kristen. For some reason she wanted to be my friend.

We met at work in 1985 and are still friends to this day, although she now lives in  St. Louis. We connected immediately, even though she was ten years younger than I. She would call me and want to hang out, would invite me to join her for a weekend at Rocky Point, Mexico. She thought of me when she was going somewhere and would often get me a small gift. She would drop in with a rose bush or small tree for my yard. She spent weekends with Chuck and I and the kids, she liked being with us.

She taught me how to be a friend. When she married I actually was a bridesmaid, not the wedding singer I usually was (although I did sing a song too), which felt very special. We spent lots of years enjoying our families together.

Her move made me realize I didn’t have a network of friends.

The people I know don’t seek me out. I would love to have a couple of girlfriends to do things with yet, I hesitate. Maybe I’ve become the kind of human that others say “Hi” to but I offer nothing to motivate them to be buddies. Perhaps I need more self reflection to know what is about me that keeps acquaintances from getting closer. I see pics on social media of people getting together, making the effort to connect, enjoying human interaction, and it gives me pause.

I know writing and sewing are solitary activities, but I love talking and laughing at happy hour or at my house with the music playing and a bonfire fire going and sharing a bottle of wine with friends.

Is it me?

Cheers!

-N

Holiday insanity is over

My life is finally coming under my own control. Beginning the first of December I felt as though I was being let loose in a maze with no direction and doubtful resolution.

I started the month with a colonoscopy. Ugh, nasty thing, but I got a good report and don’t have to do it again for ten years! The prep is the worst, the procedure is no big deal since you are asleep. Wish I was asleep for a lot of other things. Then it was the eye doc and mammogram. I hate to admit this stuff because it’s old people crap.

Chuck started plans for a new deck on the north side of the house, running the length of the house, and will incorporate our spa. It is quite the undertaking, and as usual the two of us had “discussions” about what we wanted. Most of these things are done in sections since the construction budget is based on what we can afford when the bills are paid!

We also started working on rearranging the inside of the house, moving furniture and putting the television in the living room, installing in the old tv room large bookshelves that need sanding, wood filler, painting and molding. It’s lots of work to make it look rather like a built in. We are about halfway done with it. Also are planning to put in a wood stove in the same area, it will be a den filled with my beloved books.

We were very busy making Christmas gifts, two of which had to be mailed so the rush was on to finish them in time. We were also preparing the guest room for Melissa and Charlie who were coming for the holiday. I was trying to work on my newest book during all of this and feeling frustrated when I couldn’t spend time on it. I had about twenty pages of corrections, edits, new scenes and rewrites I had to finish. Also needed chapter numbers before I set up the format for publishing.

We planned to set Charlie’s pack & play in the sewing room/office giving Melissa her own digs but before they left for Catalina he got really sick with bronchitis. He was on the mend when they arrived but he did not want to be away from momma, so we moved his bed in the room with her. It was an interesting visit with a coughing, snuffy little man who moves constantly.

During her visit there was a lot of running around seeing people, shopping, having visitors at home and watching Charlie enjoy Christmas. It did take three of us to corral him! He is an amazing little guy, very bright, a bit mischievous, but we love him to bits.

During their time with us Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds passed away. I will admit it made me feel very strange. Especially just after Alan Thicke passing, I felt very mortal.

The day after they returned to LA I came down with a stomach bug that hung around for three days. It was hellacious. Chuck and I managed to stay awake on New Years Eve long enough for 2017 to show up on the east coast. As far as the book, I did manage to finish the cover, format the text, so now I just need to submit for my proof.

I don’t know what to expect from this year, but I hope and pray for success, happiness, prosperity, and health for my family.

Cheers!

-N

 

Christmas wishes

I shared on Facebook something a friend had posted about what she wanted for Christmas from her kids. It spoke to me profoundly. She said she just wanted them.

I miss my kids. They live on opposite coasts and in different states from me. When my daughter Melissa started at the University of Arizona she moved out and never moved home again. After graduation in 1997 she moved from Tucson to Los Angeles and is in California still.

My son Aaron left for Northern Arizona University in 2001 and spent a couple of summer breaks at home, then moved to California to attend school there. He met his wife there and after about a year they moved to Oklahoma, then Texas and now will be living in  Florida.

I admit I am envious of mothers who live near their grown children. It would be wonderful to have them over for Sunday dinners, be able to share birthdays with them, and plan holidays together. Just being able to spontaneously go to a football game together or share a bonfire party would give me such pleasure.

So my Christmas wish is time with my children. To laugh, love, and spend precious moments together.

Cheers!

-N