Birth of an Idea

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Lightning strikes. In a flurry of activity you quickly jot down every piece of information that has come to mind. Afraid to let even one tiny bit get away.

Having given birth to an idea you slump back, drained. Your eyes are now a combination of dry and itchy and glazed. Reality seems hazy. You look at your creation and beam.

In that instant you know you would do it again. 

Having had three children I very much can attest to the similarities of giving birth and coming up with an idea. The lightning strike is the day of birth. The many years of watching your baby grow are the months of shaping your story into something you will maybe someday publish.

The birth of the creative work – bringing a book into reality for someone else to read – no longer just hidden deep in the imagination.

The wonder held at that initial inception of idea is not the final payoff. Instead you look forward to the months (or in some cases, years) of writing after that inspiration has struck as the first few years of life. Your idea is rolling over for the first time, taking its first steps, speaking its first words. It’s the beginning of many sleepless nights as you run into the other room to check on it.

You have read all the books that are supposed to guide you on the journey.

Every.

      Last.

            One. 

And still, you worry about whether you are doing everything right.

None of the rules, guides, advice from others will matter as much as making sure you are following what feels right in your heart.

After all is said and done you have to care enough to be honest. With yourself. With your story. With your readers.

Then you have to let it go out and find its own way.

Or, to quote Semisonic –

“Closing time –

Time to open all of the doors and let you out into the world”

 

Remember When(sdays)

I’ve had a lot of fun putting together a list of the best books (to me) of the decades from 1980 to now … but what about all of those movies that were adapted from books and short stories to the silver screen?

1980: Somewhere in Time is a movie where Christopher Reeve falls in love with the photograph of a stage actress and somehow, through the magic of hypnosis, travels back to be with her, though this is abruptly ended due to finding one very unlucky penny. This was based on the novel Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson, who also wrote the screenplay for the movie.

1981: The tales of King Arthur have been written, time and time again. His knights and their round table, the different versions of every story. One of those tales was Exaclibur, based on the specific story Le Morte d’Arthur (translates to The Death of Arthur). Very few characters catch our minds as completely as this one does. “The future has taken root in the present” – Merlin.

1982: First Blood – John Rambo first showed up wearing his iconic headband (often innovated by young boys from ties found in their father’s closets for years and years after …) and saying classic 80s lines like: “They drew first blood, not me” – but did you know that he first graced the pages of David Morrell’s novel of the same name 10 years earlier in 1972?

1983: Classic high school literature, S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders touches on truth, and coming of age. Hinton started writing the novel at fifteen, and maybe that’s why it still feels like it gets the perspective right, regardless of the era. The novel translates well to film, too. “Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold” – Johnny.

1984: The Neverending Story is one that I don’t think surprises us too much that it was adapted from a book of the same name. Afterall, our protagonist does find himself avoiding bullies in a bookstore, or diving into a new world through the words on the page as he reads … really it makes perfect sense. “Never give up and good luck will find you” – thanks Falkor. 

1985: The Black Cauldron is an animated fantasy film from Walt Disney, but it’s also from a book series called The Chronicles of Prydain. I not only remember this film from my childhood, but the first video game I ever played was the computer game – on the giant floppy disks that I swear you could remove the center and go play frisbee. “Oh, poor miserable Gurgi deserves fierce smackings and whackings on his poor, tender head. Always left with no munchings and crunchings.” – dear, sweet, Gurgi …

1986: Stand by Me, the super iconic coming of age tale, was adapted from a Stephen King novella, The Body. Stephen King worked on the screenplay for the movie as well (along with two other writers, Raynold Gideon and Bruce Evans). “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?” – The Writer.

1987: I don’t know very many people who aren’t familiar with The Princess Bride; there was a good chance if you hadn’t seen it at home you were going to catch it on a down day at school (Middle and High schools, of course), and if you haven’t seen it you’ve probably seen a meme or heard a quote (at least one) from it – “As you wish” surely is running through your head by now … Anyway, this beloved movie also comes from a book, though perhaps you knew that given the grandpa reading the story at the beginning of the movie?

1988: In true 1980’s fashion action movies were the name of the game, and one of the most iconic action heroes was John McClane from Die Hard. Nowadays it’s revered as one of the best Christmas movies, but when it came out (in middle of July, mind you), it was the adaptation of Roderick Thorp’s Nothing Lasts Forever. Interested in John McClane pre-Die Hard? Check out the first book in the series, The Detective. “Welcome to the party, Pal.” – John McClane.

1989: “If you build it, they will come” went from a movie quote, to a motivational speaker’s dream speech. Field of Dreams taught us that all we had to do was have a dream, build said dream (so long as building something was required, if not … well, good luck folks), and BAM! Success abounds. Okay, I’m really oversimplifying the movie – and the book, Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella, as well (I think, I didn’t realize it was a book until 5 minutes ago).

I’d love to hear your favorite quotes from these, or any others that maybe I missed.

An Optimistic Realist Kind of Moment

The glass is half full. Even if we have to fill it ourselves.

Some days the world really makes it hard to keep a positive mindset about things. Things like burst pipes when you would have sworn you never had water in the pipe for the sprinkler system to begin with certainly has a way of putting a damper on things. That happened earlier today.

But there’s always a bright side.

And I always find it.

The silver lining here? We don’t use the sprinkler system. As a result we don’t have to pay to repair it, well … at least not today. Possibly even a good opportunity for some DIY learning moments when the weather is nice enough to be outside for many potentially frustrating hours.

Hey! I said I’m an optimist, but I’m also a realist.

Some days you just have to consider that things are going to get stressful. It doesn’t matter how much you prepare for things there are always moments where the unexpected crops up.

It rears its ugly head just to remind us we aren’t actually in charge.

Sometimes it’s a burst pipe, sometimes it’s a story we thought we’d get done in a certain amount of time, or a project we anticipated tackling. It happens.

Tomorrow is coming whether the pipe burst or not. We get to decide how we start the day. That’s the thing we are in control of … no matter what else happens.

So take a moment and check your cup. Is it full? Do you want it to be? Go ahead, take a moment to fill it up. Then take a few sips.

Remember When(sdays)

How many books from the last decade have you read? Or are you like me and maybe have a floor to ceiling to be read pile?

Remember when in 2010 …

The Mayan Calendar ended, and the world didn’t (at least I don’t think it did), social media became a huge deal, and nostalgia lead to a LOT of remakes and reboots …

2010: Tweets managed to get published as a book in Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern – and if I remember correctly the brief lived t.v. show starred William Shatner as the dad who said sh*t.

2011: Stephen King’s 11/22/63 was a pretty amazing book, and show – I’m a sucker for time travel, and all of its variations, but this one tops my favorite time travel books lists (well, number 2 behind Outlander).

2012: John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars has been a phenomenal hit – I’ve also heard great things about the movie, and it introduced a new round of pretty heart felt YA novels out into the world. A shining piece of nonfiction came out this year too – I Am Mulala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Mulala Yousafzai – if you haven’t read it, I strongly recommend it.

2013: The Ocean at the End of the Lane Neil Gaiman. ‘Nuff Said. Okay, you convinced me, I’ll gush some more. This book is a shorter read, but hands down deserves every award ever. It’s definitely near the top 10 all time favorite books list I maybe will get around to putting together officially someday. (Hard to settle on 10 – it might become a much longer list).

2014: I’ve maybe mentioned my love of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series? The 8th installment, Written in my Own Heart’s Blood was published after a bit of a wait, and man was it worth it.

2015: JoJo Moyes had me crying again with Me After You, and I won’t spoil it, but I can appreciate that she was pretty raw in how she handled her protagonist from the first book – sometimes we need real emotions, even if it makes them spill out of our eyes for days.

2016: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, John Tiffany wrote this one, and it’s considered part of the series – definitely an interesting read, although I go back and forth on how I feel about it as part of the series proper, but don’t let that take away from checking it out.

2017: The last Kinsey Millhone book effectively ended that alphabet with ‘Y’ after Sue Grafton’s battle with cancer ended later that year. Y is for Yesterday seems appropriate – if you haven’t had a chance to get to know Sue Grafton’s spunky character, please do, I think you’ll really enjoy her.

2018: I have a large blank in my books from this year – not sure what happened, but on the bright side I have quite a few new novels to dig into … although I have to be careful to not neglect any good ones coming out this year in the process.

2019: The Forgotten Hours by Katrin Schumann was a really good book, but a really hard read. It was a journey of discovery for the protagonist, but for me as well. I do recommend it, but disclaimer – it has some rather difficult topics and themes.

Honorable Mentions: Stephen King’s Full Dark, No Stars and they weren’t kidding about the full dark, pretty sure we all had to do some serious palate cleansers after this one. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was published in 2011, the movie was good – but nothing can ever top a really well loved book series (it got the kiddos to read like there was no tomorrow too, thanks Ransom Riggs). Andy Weir’s The Martian – fantastic movie, but the book hits a lot of really amazingly fantastic science jargon, appropriately applied (or so I’ve heard from my more science-fluent friends, I just thought the story was great). Want to cry? JoJo Moyes Me Before You – worth every salt filled drop that landed on the book. Dave Eggers, The Circle is a highly recommended digital dystopian novel I am actually terrified is going to land in the 1984A Brave New World territory.

The 2010’s was by far the hardest decade because there are so many I haven’t gotten to yet, and quite a few more I have added to my to be read list as I’ve been digging into publisher dates. Now that we have gotten the decades down, what’s next? I’m compiling a list of my favorites, but I’m also diving into comic books and movie adaptations of books for the same time periods, looking forward to all of it, and if you have any lists that I’m not thinking about I’d love to consider those too.

 

 

Another Sunday Night

It’s another Sunday night. The end of one long week and the preparations begin for the beginning of another. How many times do we do this dance? How many times do we tell ourselves that this will get easier … someday …?

Seems like it’s a never ending cycle, if I’m being honest. One foot in front of the other and we just keep doing that over and over again until we meet some arbitrary end point. For some that’s retirement.

Well, I hinted a few weeks back that I was coming into the final countdown of some big changes. I am just over 4-weeks out from the first of those changes now. In 32 days I am ending one career and starting a new one.

And that thought is absolutely terrifying.

And thrilling.

And … And … And …. so many emotions coursing through me at the idea.

I’ve been planning this for awhile now though. And some of the pieces are going to take a lot longer, have more moving parts. But the biggest part of it all? I’m taking a really big chunk of time off and going to spend it being self-employed.

The plan is to be gainfully so.

I’ll try to write full-time, and at first that means getting familiarized with things like the AP Style Guide and the Writer’s Market Guide. How to write for what publication and who to ask about publishing that thing I wrote.

And I want to try to get this novel I’ve been outlining for the last couple months written. I’m pretty excited about it.

I have a lot to learn and I’m looking forward to the initial time off to learn it. And there is a part of me deep down inside that is worried about what if I fail?

Funny thing is, this isn’t the first time I’ve had that thought.

The first time it was moving to a new High School.

After that it was my first date with a boy. Or buying my prom dress.

Then it was the interview for my first (real) job.

And then my wedding day.

And I can’t forget the day I found out I was pregnant (all three times) and the fear that came with that news.

But here’s the thing …

I graduated High School, and went to prom without any wardrobe malfunctions.

I married the boy, got the job, and the kids are all alive and well.

The things that matter we make work. The things that don’t will be whatever they will be. We always find new things to fill us with fear.

It’s okay to be afraid to fail, but it’s not okay to let that fear keep us from trying.

I might fail. If I do I’ll just have to try again using what I learn to try harder and fail better.

I’m looking forward to it.

Friday I Learned …

This week … a Friday I Learned poem.

Today it snowed. A lot.

And while we weren’t stuck at home due to the weather it still felt stifling.

Tensions flared.

And I learned how to say sorry.

And how to accept an apology.

Because no matter how much we try, no one is perfect. Sometimes we will get angry.

Or say the wrong thing.

And when that happens we have to show our loved ones that we can come back from it.

So today, I took a deep breath.

And admitted I was wrong.

I said, “I’m sorry I yelled.”

And then they said they were sorry too. We could all be more patient.

We can all learn to be more understanding. More giving. Learn to show more empathy to others.

Hardships today doesn’t stop us from making tomorrow a better day.

When those tensions flare, take a deep breath, center your mind.

Tomorrow is a new day.

When the sun comes up you can try again. And again.

And again.

Remember When(sdays)

What books do you think of when you think of the first decade of the 21st century (and the millennium)?

Remember when in 2000 ….

Dial up modems were a thing, the dotcom bubble burst, and everyone panicked about Y2k?

2000: One of the most touted books on the craft of writing, On Writing, by Stephen King is published (he was working on this one when he was hit by a van the summer before).

2001: Easily on my top 10 list, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, (a television show on Starz now). Neil discovered a side of America that perhaps we needed the year this novel was published, a reminder of things when the year took a turn.

2002: A Stephen King anthology, Everything’s Eventual, gets published, one story in particular “1408” gets turned into a movie with John Cusack (who doesn’t love John Cusack?).

2003: So many books in this year that hit a number of notes for me … The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (and its movie adaptation that I highly recommend) – lots of tears, and if you tell me you read it and didn’t cry I don’t think we can be friends. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown was a huge hit, and really put the character Robert Langdon on the map (Tom Hanks does pretty well on screen for this one).

2004: P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern – a young writer when this one came out (22), but perhaps the Irish gift of the story found in her the powerful storyteller it needed with this one … another tear-jerker (I’ve found I have a hard time thinking about this story without becoming a little teary eyed … also, check out the movie adaptation, Girard Butler and Hilary Swank do an honorable job bringing these characters to the screen.

2005: J.K. Rowling’s 6th book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is published, the same year my first child was born – by this point I’ve become an avid Harry Potter fan, and reading certainly took the edge off the pregnancy.

2006: Sara Gruen wrote Water for Elephants during NaNoWriMo and published it in 2006 – not that I’m subscribing to the write a novel in a month theory, but it can be done, and done well (Also adapted into a film with Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon). Also this year, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks – I do not consider the movie to be an adaptation of this novel, instead it merely borrows the title, the book is by far the superior story (and believe me, they are two totally different stories …).

2007: The sequel we didn’t know we were waiting for is published, Kingsbridge #2, World Without End by Ken Follett. No, I didn’t gain back any of those romantic notions that he did away with in the original novel, but I was pleased to see some of my favorite characters return, and a little frustrated to see some of my more hated characters also made it into this one unscathed. Oh well, they do say a good hero is made better by a particularly good villain.

2008: Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games, this one is particularly special to me because I read it, such a long time ago, and my oldest just read this one recently.  It created new conversations for us, and opened doors to new stories for him, thanks Suzanne! (We’re looking forward to binge watching the movies for this series too.)

2009: The Magicians by Lev Grossman has been referred to as the “grown up Harry Potter” series, and in a way I think that description seems apt – but it certainly does a fine job branching into its own thing, and building its own world. (I keep meaning to check out the show, but waiting for someone who’s read the books to tell me if they seem similar or no?).

Honorable mentions – Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons. Charlaine Harris wrote Dead Until Dark (the first Sookie Stackhouse novel, maybe more commonly remembered from the HBO show True Blood). James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club #1, 1st to Die, came out, these women solving mysteries holds a very special place in my heart. Christopher Paolini publishes his first book Eragorn (in 2002, when I was graduating high school, and he was 19 – mind you he wrote the book at the tender age of 15 … what was envy when I was younger has turned into more of an admiration for the dedication that took, teen years are a hard time to stay focused on any one thing, amiright?). Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven (I did a blog post review on this one, aaand there’s a sequel that came out last fall), and Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas series kicks off (Anton Yelchin played a very endearing Odd in the movie). Stephanie Meyers Twilight series begins. Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series should be noted – although I know it’s sparked some controversy here lately, it’s a fairly fun (if somewhat distracted romp), I think it mostly just gets confused about what it’s really trying to be when it grows up.

There are so many more books that I felt were just going to make this post feel more like a list than a personal “best of” that I couldn’t really list all of them, but let me know if any of your favorites didn’t make the cut, just in case I haven’t read them, I’m always looking for something new to sink my reader’s teeth into.

A Little (lot?) Sunday Night Thought

So I’m taking a class. A couple of classes actually. Almost to the end of my (counts on fingers and toes) 13 year long journey to my Bachelor’s degree.

Hard to believe it’s almost here. When I started I was a young mother, and wasn’t really sure what I wanted to be when I grew up, aside from set an example that I felt was good enough to get the kids to do it much earlier than I did.

I dabbled with administration, I thought I’d work my way into management, spent some time in hospitality. I eventually fell (almost literally) into computer security. I was pretty good at it too. So good, I finished my Associate’s and took time off from school to focus on what I saw as my future career.

[Record scratch]

What’s that? I need to be technically savvy to keep surviving in the fast paced world of software hacks and database breeches. Hmmmm … well, now, that’s not what I thought I signed up for.

See, originally, when I stepped foot into the awe-inspiring career of security (and the kind that deals with computers) I was kind of under the impression I’d be doing a lot of reading. Like lots. And providing feedback.

Sure, it was technical documentation. And lots of it. But I was able to understand what the documents spoke to. I wasn’t writing them. And now. All these years later. I am.

And not just writing them. But creating the ideas that get you to the writing of the processes that tells someone how to do what it is our requirements tell us we have to do.

Sure, that makes perfect sense.

Except.

I like writing about things. Even technical things. When someone else provides the details. I don’t exactly do well having to come up with the details. I CAN do it.

I’m just NOT actually comfortable with any of that. I mentally hyperventilate into imaginary paper bags when I think about it.

So anyway … I got myself back into school studying something that had potential to be in line with my current comfort zone. And now I’m so close to the end I can taste it.

And as a result I’m doing more reading, which is what I love. And it’s helping inspire me to write more on this blog. And I’m working on the outline for my novel.

And I’m starting an awful lot of sentences with the word and …

Then we come back to my dreaded nemesis … Technology.

I want this blog to be as awesome as it can be … and I’m tweaking, and adjusting, and battling against my own incompetence when it comes to how the back end works. I think it’s turning out okay.

And then … now we’re coming to my thoughts from when I started this post … I goof up on one of the most important things about maintaining a good blog.

I don’t maintain my consistency.

Somehow, I just completely lost track of a day. And not even in any way that makes sense. I downright spaced a blog post on Friday night. I remembered the 100’s (yep, big time exaggeration here) of things I had to do earlier in the day and for the next day. But instead of writing my latest post on the newest day of my lineup I went to sleep.

SLEEP?!

So … although the technical side is important. And the researching side is important. It’s the consistent schedule and following through on the regular posts that matters.

Sooooo …. keep your eyes peeled for me to actually follow through next week.