Random Amazon

I am addicted to Amazon, I admit it. I'm not sure how I ever lived my life without it....y'know, the days when I had to actually get in the car and GO to the store if I wanted to buy something?

la la la...

Sometimes during my online shopping travails I come across items that:
  • I never knew existed
  • I didn't want to know existed
  • make me wonder how exactly they made the cut for my potato peeler search results

So I decided to share five of those gems here, just in case any of you out there are unfortunate enough to have never been similarly entertained on your own adventures exploring the depths of the mysterious Amazon algorithms.
Please to enjoy:

1) The Gangsta Rap Coloring Book

This looks like loads of fun for the whole gang...just be careful which colors you use.  Brought to you by the author of "Heavy Metal Fun Time Activity Book". 

"The Gangsta Rap Coloring Book is just as it sounds: a series of images in thick black lines of the most popular gangsta rappers from hip-hop. The juxtaposition of hard-core thugs portrayed through a children's medium made this book an underground hit in Aye Jay Moreno's first, self-published edition. Now expanded from 20 to 48 pages to include even more of the music's superstars, this collection is a witty hall of fame of gangsta rap."

2) Fat Old Fred

Fred is not looking good. I'm just glad this "life form" comes with a convenient carrying bag. Imagine the looks you'd get carrying Fred around town...or if you had to roll him up in a rug.
And in Fred's previous life...he was apparently a balloonist.

"Students always wonder how CPR manikins [sic] will compare with real victims, especially those who are older or obese. This unique manikin [sic] helps to prepare students to respond to a more typical cardiac arrest event with a victim who is elderly and overweight. Features: elderly physical appearance, large body type with extra 'fat' layer, realistic head tilt and chin lift for opening the airway, and palpable and visual anatomical landmarks, including the sternum, rib cage, and substernal notch. The airway can be manipulated to simulate airway obstruction or choking situations. Also includes three mouth/nose pieces, three disposable lung/airway systems, and a convenient carrying bag."

3) Dancing With Jesus

Cover Jesus shows us his best Carleton...after all, he is the Fresh Prince of Peace. ☮  And the fact that the cover is lenticular ROCKS!
Just saying.

"Singing hymns of praise is standard practice—now it’s time to set your feet a-tapping with a collection of original dance moves inspired by Jesus and the likes of Moses and John the Baptist. Dances include: the Water Walk, the Temptation Tango, the Judas Hustle, and The Apostolic Conga. Each dance move is outlined with: how to, inspiration, and an illustration. Slyly irreverent but ultimately festive, Dancing with Jesus is illustrated in full color. Best of all, two of the dances are animated for full effect by a lenticular cover and last-spread finale, making this a truly one-of-a-kind novelty item!"

4) Teeth Magnets

Two words that should NEVER be put together.
These make my teeth hurt...but they would be a perfect present for Jeffery Dahmer, maybe...or Ed Gein.
Why does one look like corn?

"Ideal for posting notes and photos on your fridge or other magnetic surface, these fun teeth magnets feature five white teeth and one gold tooth. Made of plastic."

5) Penis Cactus

I really don't have much to say about these...except I bet they're really prickly.

"Trichocereus Bridgessi Mostruosa "Penis Cactus" Cuttings. Each cactus is approx. 3", the powder on the cut end is sulfur which is an anti -fungal. This is for 1 cactus. These plants root very easily and are shipped individully [sic] wrapped and packed in a sturdy box. Complete with instructions on rooting, soil mixture and watering requirements. These cacti are hardy to 20 degrees. Or, they may be brought indoors in the winter and require minimal care. All cacti come with 7 day money back guarentee. [sic] Wholesale inquiries welcome."

I hope you had fun on our little foray into Amazon weirdness...if you find any good stuff on your own search of "the 'Zon", come back and leave a link here in the comments. ♥

much love



Finding & Keeping Focus

Writing is hard. Not the actual writing part...but being able to get focused and stay focused long enough to get the writing done. It's been a real problem for me lately. By nature I am very distract-able (note the excessive use of parentheticals). Some people (read: my husband) have said I might be slightly ADD, but that has never been officially diagnosed.

Just sitting here writing this post my focus has been lost to:
  • barking dogs
  • Facebook
  • The Real Housewives of OC
Writing, or any other work that involves a computer, puts your focus at a disadvantage. While you're writing on the computer you could get stuck...decide to do a quick check on your FB feed...see something you feel you must comment on...get stuck in an IM convo---focus derailed. Or you could be busily typing away...stop to look up a word...notice that you have 23 interactions on Twitter...check all 23---focus derailed. It's hard to be on the computer and not give into the urge to wander around the internets when your writing gets laggy. Maybe the only way to prevent this is to ...write by hand.

 Tuzki Bunny Emoticon

My right hand just cramped at the thought of it. I know that some people do this, or even prefer it, but not me.
I ♥ my keyboard.

Tuzki Bunny Emoticon

The only thing I've ever found that gets me focused (besides coffee, of course) is music. I can write in complete silence, but listening to music...sometimes with lyrics, sometimes without...puts me in the right frame of mind for writing.  I use movie scores a lot because of their dramatic effect. For a fight scene...a romantic scene...a haunting scene, movie scores set the mood like nothing else.
Sometimes I like to listen to the same songs I played while writing my first book. Hearing them puts me right back in the moment...writing and re-writing. I even have them grouped into a playlist called "writing focus" because I know those songs will get me into writing mode. I'm actually listening to them right now.ツ  The only drawback to the playlist is during writing lulls I tend to break out into song. This is probably part of why I have my own little tucked away space where they send me to write...and yes, very loud singing is happening now as well......don't you wish this was a vlog? ツ

So what helps you focus? What helps you stay focused long enough to get into the groove (Madonna!) and let it flow from there? What gives you the strength to fight the lure of FB and Twitter? Is that even possible? 

Tuzki Bunny Emoticon


Character Counts

Or more precisely, characters count. They're arguably the most important part of any story. Plots are great and everything, but even the greatest plot ever written won't shine with weak characters.

For a reader to get into a story - to be fully engaged - they must care about the characters.  They need to identify with them at some level, or at least sympathize.  If the reader couldn't care less about a protagonist, then not even the most masterfully crafted twists and turns will save the story.

For example - if I tell you about a young boy who stepped off a street curb to the cheers of those around him - you might say that sounds like it could be an interesting story. You might want to know why they cheered for the boy, but it's likely at this point you don't particularly care.

Then if I told you it was an adorable little 4-year-old blind boy who was stepping off the curb for the 1st time by himself, the story becomes more appealing and heartwarming because now you actually care about this boy and why he's stepping off the curb. ♥

Unless you're heartless......just kidding.......ok, not really. ;o)

So whether you're writing a story that's plot-driven or character-driven, pour your heart and soul into your characters......make them your best friends forever......fall madly in love with them so readers will, too. ツ

"I think books with weak or translucent plots can survive if the character being drawn along the path is rich, interesting and multi-faceted. The opposite is not true." 

~ Michael Connelly

Further reading:

Moody Writing - "A Plot Problem is a Character Problem"

Writing Forward - "Plot vs. Character: Fiction Writing"



Patch of Blue

"It stood calm against the storm raging around it. The thunder screamed across the sky; it slapped the clouds into a heated turmoil that flew towards the south."
~JD Stroube, Caged in Darkness

Through all the rain and storms surrounding, this little tree stood underneath a patch of blue sky and sunshine.  It seemed like a reminder to stay smiling through all the craziness around......to focus on the patches of blue in life and not the dark clouds that threaten. ♥



Quotes on a Theme...

I love quotes.
Sometimes I run across quotes that really strike me in some way for whatever reason.  I usually post them on Facebook or twitter ......but there they get lost in the timeline. =P
So I thought it might be a good idea to do a quote post here on my blog every once in a while. Then I can refer to them more easily......and keep getting inspired by them. =)

The theme for my first quote post is writing for an audience of one......yourself.
I'm a big believer in writing something you would want to read. If it's something you would want to read, it's likely others would, too. Please yourself with what you write and go from there.
You could be the best writer on earth......with a perfectly composed and edited book......and yet all you have in the world to offer that's different from other writers is yourself.
Your voice.
Your POV.
Your writing.

"Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself......It's a self-exploratory operation that is endless. An exorcism of not necessarily his demon, but of his divine discontent.” ―Harper Lee

“Concentrate on what you want to say to yourself and your friends. Follow your inner moonlight; don't hide the madness. You say what you want to say when you don't care who's listening.”
Allen Ginsberg

“Gaze into the fire, into the clouds, and as soon as the inner voices begin to speak......surrender to them. Don't ask first whether it's permitted, or would please your teachers or father or some god. You will ruin yourself if you do that.” ―Hermann Hesse

“You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.” ―Stephen King

“Literature is strewn with the wreckage of those who have minded beyond reason the opinion of others.” ―Virginia Woolf

“The thing about a story is that you dream it as you tell it, hoping that others might then dream along with you, and in this way memory and imagination and language combine to make spirits in the head. There is the illusion of aliveness.” ―Tim O'Brien

“I never asked Tolstoy to write for me, a little colored girl in Lorain, Ohio. I never asked [James] Joyce not to mention Catholicism or the world of Dublin. Never. And I don't know why I should be asked to explain your life to you. We have splendid writers to do that, but I am not one of them. It is that business of being universal, a word hopelessly stripped of meaning for me. Faulkner wrote what I suppose could be called regional literature and had it published all over the world. That's what I wish to do. If I tried to write a universal novel, it would be water. Behind this question is the suggestion that to write for black people is somehow to diminish the writing. From my perspective there are only black people. When I say 'people,' that's what I mean.” ―Toni Morrison



2013…A Goal Odyssey

It's here…January 2013.
Still kind of feels like the future, but the future has arrived.
We survived yet another apocalypse AND the holidays.
Now all we have left is to figure out what we want to do over the next year.

...and then DO it.

I am the worst at making New Year's resolutions.  Actually I'm not so bad at making them…I really suck at keeping them.  It just seems so cliche…make your resolutions in January and break them all by spring…blah, blah, blah.  Seriously, why bother?
A year is fairly long-term…allowing more time for us to give up on our resolutions.  I think we should start setting shorter terms for those resolutions.  And maybe call them goals instead of resolutions.  It sounds less gimmicky that way…or at least it feels like less pressure.

Yeah, the goals should probably be more specific than that. They should be specific and quantifiable…no general terms…we don't just need direction, we need a destination or we're setting ourselves up for failure.  But sometimes even so-called failures can turn out to be better than we thought.  Think of all those times in your life you were devastated because something didn't work out the way you planned…then think of all the wonderful things that came into your life because it took that turn you weren't expecting.  Call it a blessing in disguise, an unanswered prayer, fate…whatever you want.  Just don't be so quick to mark down a failure on your list of goals for this year just because you didn't get where you thought you'd be.  If your goal was writing 300 pages, but you only wrote 100, that's not failure.
You wrote 100 PAGES! =)
It's not nothing…it's progress…it's success.

I read an article recently by Dean Wesley Smith that expands on this thought and is very inspiring…you can read it here.

So make your goals and I'll make mine…we'll make them reasonable…we'll make them specific…and I just might post mine here.  But only if I put it as one of the goals on my list…otherwise I'll probably procrastinate. ;o)

I hope y'all had a great time over the holidays…and I wish the best for you in the new year!

Oh, and Happy Easter!