Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Green Funerals

 Your Last Opportunity To Go Green

Memorial Day brings to mind burials, funerals and such. The modern funeral system is one of the many things I generally keep my mouth shut about. Except here. This will not be a rant, I promise. Just one or two stories, my opinion, a link to some facts and a couple of links to interesting places.

Today a couple of my aunts are visiting. They had a long boring informative conversation with my mother about their trip to several cemeteries. They had been to the cemetery where my mom's mom and my dad are buried.

Okay sidebar - when my dad was buried, my mom wanted to go ahead and have her name carved on the other side of his headstone. All the information except the date that she died. One of my brothers and I absolutely refused to let her do this. It is common practice but IMHO it is morbid and hideous. I do not want to be at a cemetery and see my mother's name on a gravestone when she is not dead. If they can carve the date of her death later, they can carve her whole damn thing later.

Anywho - they were going on about the state of the cemetery, the leaving of flowers, etc. Apparently they had to pull some weeds and fluff up dad's fake flowers. Do you know how old those flowers are? Fake flowers must have a half-life that rivals Uraninum 238. It's amazing they are still in the grave vase as the wind often blows all the flowers away to be trash everywhere. More about flowers later.

So then they went on talked about another cemetery where one of my uncles is buried. They were talking about mowing and weed eating and his flowers. And it was everything I could do to keep from bursting out laughing. See, I got a clear picture of what my dad's reaction and Uncle R's reaction to their concern about the state of their grave sites would have been. They would have laughed at them. They would, in fact, have ragged them endlessly for being ridiculous and acting as if the state of the hole they were buried in was important. Is this really a wise use of fossil fuel resources which are precious and which are causing global warming? Mowing graveyards?

One aunt talked about the florist they had been to in a little, tiny town and the fact that on Friday she had already made 600 memorial wreaths/sprays and would be making no telling how many more the next day. Fake flowers. When did this become the norm? Remember when people put actual flowers on graves once or twice a year and did not worry about the fact that they were going to dry up and blow away? (Still a practice in Mexico - see picture below). It's obscene to think of all those fake flowers creating trash.

Ever heard of green burial? I'm hoping that some day it will be the new norm. There are many ways to do it.

I recently read of a place  in Florida where they mix cremation ashes in with the concrete that they use to make reef balls which eventually become coral reefs.

Another interesting option is some place like the Foxfield Preserve . Foxfield is a nature preserve. From their website: "As a nature preserve, we provide wildlife habitat, a clean watershed, and clean air.  Our walking trails allow the community to enjoy the beauty and serenity of the preserve." I won't give all their details here. If you're interested in all the hows and whys check out their website.

So why wouldn't one want to be buried in the way that has come to be known as 'traditional', though it is anything but? Think of the waste of resources. For facts and figures go here and read the 'Environmental issues with conventional burial' section.

See the above link for how much wood is buried. Is this a wise use of wood when we should be cutting down as few trees as possible?

Then there's the leaching of chemicals, embalming fluid etc, into our water table. Surely there is no one out there who thinks this is a sound practice.

And what about the fact that not so long ago human bodies 'recycled' in a timely manner replenishing valuable things into our soil? Instead we are trying to prevent this from happening as long as possible and instead leaching chemicals into our water system. Is this wise?

On Memorial Day or the anniversary of a loved one's death or Dia de Los Muertes, think about it - do you want to be buried in such a way that wastes wood and resources, keeps your body from decaying naturally, ruins the water table, requires gas and oil to be mowed and where people will bring fake flowers and flags that will end up blowing away and becoming more trash for our landfills?

Or is there not some more natural, creative way that would suit you?

Myself, I'm torn between the coral reef and the nature preserve.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


(I have the most unimaginative troll on the planet so comments already made, minus boring trolls are at the bottom of this. Read them. Everyone else is interesting. To prevent further boringness from appearing on my blog, I've changed the comment thing. Everybody goes in moderation - no trying to read those letters anymore. Don't know how long I'll leave it this way. Sorry if it bothers anyone.)

I could not think of a blogpost topic so – from TANGIBLE TAFFY (read carefully because I will be asking you a question before you go)…


“I can not believe I let you talk me into this,” Taffy said, into her new, prepaid cell phone sitting on the seat beside her.

“Just ignore them. Judging from the many times you’ve been mad at me, you have a special talent for ignoring people,” York said, into his new prepaid cell phone sitting on the seat beside him in the car he was driving; currently following the car Taffy was driving.

Taffy looked out the corner of her eyes at the three teenage males, in the ultra-cool, sleek, black Camaro. They had pulled up next to her so they could point and laugh. “But I’m not usually trying to ignore you from behind the wheel of a hearse,” she said.

The guy in the backseat was holding up a sign. She didn’t want to turn to see better but she thought it read, “Are you driving the pink lovemobile?” She ignored them some more.

“That’s true. Think about this instead: at the end of this journey, Shamus will be handing you one thousand dollars,” York said.

“It’s a little easier for you to focus on that than it is for me. You are driving a hearse, yes, but, at least yours is camouflage colored. I am driving a bright, pink hearse. I’m not sure one thousand dollars is worth this humiliation,” she said.

Backseat guy had changed the sign and now it read, “Will you play dead and let us get some corpse loving in the back?” She turned and glared at him as hard as she could. All three of them cracked up laughing before they sped up and left her behind.

“We could trade,” York said.

“Oh yes, because everyone knows the best vehicle to learn to drive a stick in, is a hearse,” she said. “At least mine is an automatic.”

York was quiet and she looked in the rearview mirror to see that he was laughing uproariously at her.

“Oh, great. Now you’re laughing at me, too,” Taffy said.

“I’m sorry sweetheart. I got a vivid picture of you jerking all over the road as you stall the clutch in this camouflage colored hearse,” York said. He pretended to be sympathetic. “Tell you what, next time we stop I’ll buy you some shades that make you look super cool.”

“Oh gee thanks. The right pair of sunglasses and people won’t even realize I’m driving a bright, pink hearse,” she said. “You are so helpful.”

“I try,” he said.


I want a funny, raunchy name for the pink hearse. Pink lovemobile doesn't cut it.

Any suggestions? Hook me up, y'all.

LOL! Nice excerpt. How raunchy do you want to go with the name? "Muffmobile"? ;)

I'll leave that to your much more clever readers. Muffmobile is definitely raunchier, though. And has a nice ring to it!

ahahaa Muffmobile - WoW!! That is something teenage boys would say. I don't have a clue for something raunchier.

Nice excerpt.

Note to self: Never Google "things that are pink."

My brain just exploded. Therefore, I have no idea what to call your necropink muffmobile. I need to go search for the brain bleach now.

lol Linda! Okay muffmobile is what teenage boys might say. But necropink muffmobile is even better. How can I make them seem like smart punks? Volvo stationwagaon instead of a Camaro? Einstein t-shirts?

Sorry about the need for brain bleach, Delia.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The 'force' has 'taken agin' me

Did you ever feel like you were living the opposite of a charmed life? Lately it seems that might be true for me.

I started a diet, right? One of my downfalls is chips. There are only two occasions in which there are chips at my house. One is when I buy them. The other is when they're left over from a family bbq.

Since I started my diet, out of the blue, my brother bought a big bag of chips and left them at the house.

Once a month my mom has a dinner meeting and she brings home leftovers. It is never anything I like. This month it was lasagna. Can you believe it? Lasagna and garlic bread.

Since I started my current job, once my boss has put something in the break room for everyone. Very lousy store bought cookies.

Saturday there were boxes and boxes of pepperoni pizza in the break room. A treat from my boss. My protein powder shake and my salad I eat everyday didn't stand a chance.

Sunday, the leftovers from the company picnic were in there. A refrigerator full of bbqd hot dogs, hamburgers, pasta salad, a box full of chips, tubs full of cookies that look delicious and soda galore. Again, not much chance for my protein shake. I did eat my strawberries, though.

On my way to work, I was driving down the road on a beautiful sunny day when suddenly, I couldn't see in front of me. It was hailing so bad I had to pull off. Others pulled off, too. Wind blew and hail rained down for ten minutes before it let up and I could continue up the road.

First diet saboteurs. Then deadly weather forces.
Now I'm writing this and I'm trying to dredge up a third thing, because these things always happen in threes.

In the words of Marian Keyes, the forces have 'taken agin' me.

I'm scared, y'all.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Pandora and snap! - the saga continues

If you don't understand something here, refer back here .

The gas clears and I go back in to write some more. To refresh your memory, that would be towards a word count for the next day.

When I sit back down in my chair I glance at a calendar that reminds me there is a writer's sprint at 12:30 pm central today. So I actually don't want to write much because I need to sleep and write during the sprint where my word count gets doubled towards winning the chocolate.

I write a brief 106 more words to finish the scene I was writing and go to bed.

I wake up before my alarm goes off and shower. My daughter calls. Something good has happened but it's created a bit of a quandary for her and I'm going need to meet up with her at some point today.

I sit down to sprint, crank up the pandora.com, and chat until time is called. Then I'm off, fingers flying again. Slowly I start to realize, what happened to my pandora?

The internet has gone down. Dammit. I look at the clock. If I rush to the library I can finish the sprint.

1494 words to double later, I'm chatting and goodbying. While I'm at the library, I pick up some more Marian Keyes books. Still loving her!

Off to spend some time with my daughter.

When I go back home I'm out of the mood to write but I don't want to waste this one and only day where I have no obligations.

I'll just watch a little television. Maybe there's an episode of the Big Bang Theory on somewhere. Sure enough...

Big Bang over, I'm flipping around and I land on the movie, Uptown Girls. I love that movie. I have no business watching it right now though. Just a few minutes. Must stop. Oh well, it's almost to the end which I love passionately.

I watch it, laughing and crying as usual. Then suddenly - snap! Part of my main characters arc falls right into place.

And as for my own arc:

I'm my own worst enemy for watching the movie right now and yet, at the same time I'm my own best friend for watching the movie right now. (Because it solved a WIP problem for me.) It happens more often than you'd think.

See if this stimulates anything in you: (The sound is low and you have to turn it up all the way but I love this video particularly because he says - 'she lent us a little bit of her magic and now we want to give some back' in his lovely British accent.)

Off topic - Dakota Fanning is an amazing talent. And it makes me sad to think what the world has missed out on because the talented Brittany Murphy died so young.

If you're a Brittany Murphy fan, here's a longer version of the song with scenes from the whole movie:

Okay so now I'm going to write some more. Think I'll write a quick blogpost first. Or two... 

 Bootcamp update: I'm loving bootcamp. I know I would not have written all that I've written if not for bootcamp. I'm 27,166 words into act 2. That's about 8000 from my goal for act 2. I really want to finish the whole book this month, but I don't know if I'll make it.

I'm second in the running for the chocolate. April is first. But London Mabel is third even though she started late. Will she pass us all up? Possibly!

How was your week?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Meet Natasha aka eviltwit - my shelfari friend

Time to meet another of my shelfari friends – Natasha.  

Shelfari, of course, means books. This blog is about books, pretends to be about books, sometimes is about books, therefore; 

JJJ - My first question for Natasha is - what kinds of books do you like to read?

N - I've read Sci-Fi and Fantasy since I was nine years old. Some of my favorite authors have been and are Anne McCaffrey, Piers Anthony, Tamora Pierce. Marion Zimmer Bradley, Elizabeth Moon, Douglas Adams, and Tery Pratchett, Raymond E. Feist, Guy Gavriel Kay. However, I also love mystery&suspense and historical fiction - especially the combination of both [Elizabeth Peters]. Lately, I've been reading a lot of science and social commentary. The most recent books I read were a book which profiled the lives of four kids from four walks of American high school life and a book about the psychology of astronauts. 

JJJ - Do you have a book that you’d call an all-time favorite? If so, what is it and why do you like it?

N – Tamora Pierce's Alanna: The First Adventure is my all-time favorite book. I read it when I was around 10. Alanna is a wonderful character with a unique voice. She's a girl in a boy's world and literally fights to keep her head above water (in addition to using her brains). It's a series of books called The Lioness Quartet. They are all fantastic and it is still my favorite series as an adult.

JJJ – You’ve done some writing. Tell us about that.

N – I started writing Sci-Fi and Fantasy several years ago. It made sense. I have not written regularly, but have gotten several short stories published. I write stories in a sci-fi or fantasy setting, but concentrate on the characters. My main protagonists are almost always girls or women. I think it's important that I try to carry on the work of the fantastic authors I have read.

JJJ – Are you still writing for Harlot's SaucePaikea's Blog ?

N – I also have written political commentary occasionally for the online non-partisan magazine, Harlot's Sauce Radio. Unfortunately, between traveling, moving, and studying, I have no time to write such things anymore. I am sad that I do not get to write on my blog these days. I intend to return to it at some point. Right now, Facebook is enough of a venue to display my views, and share music and thoughts for right now.

JJJ – Tell us about Throw Like A Girl.

N –What I intend for Throw Like a Girl is to get a group of women together and go into schools to talk to girls, aged approx. 9-11 - as an assembly and/or in a two-part workshop. We would talk to them about self-esteem, confidence, strength courage. We are interested in strengthening the role of women in today's society through teaching girls and young women that they have the tools within themselves to strive and succeed by pushing through boundaries and refusing to accept limits imposed upon them by the media and society. We would love to network with women across the world to find ways to teach girls and young women that they should get out there and make our voices heard and make an impact in the world - whether among their peers, in their community. Visit us at ThrowLikeAGirl!

JJJ – Paikea is a reference from the movie Whale Riders. You took on that moniker because you’re an American transplanted to New Zealand . What’s it like being a kiwi?

N – I feel like a Kiwi, because I do love being here. New Zealand is beautiful and low-key. I felt at home as soon as I moved here 10.5 years ago, but it is far from everywhere. It may someday be a home-base while I live yet somewhere else [like Germany - since I am taking it at university for the next two years].

JJJ – You are one busy lady. How long have you been learning to play Bass? How do you feel about your progress there? Are you in a band?

N – I have been playing the bass on and off for a year, but just started studying it in university here in March. My bass professor is this awesome guy named Rob Burns. Look him up. I can't believe I am lucky enough to be taught by him. I am making progress, especially since I already play piano, violin and percussion. There are a good group of musicians who are taking first-year classes like me. I am sort of in a band in that I have been invited to play with people as soon as I get around to learning yet more music. There isn't enough time in the world!

JJJ – You’ve turned me on to some nice music in the past. Anybody new and good that we need to link to?

N –Absolutely! Civil Twilight - a drum&bass band from South Africa. Check out their self-titled album as well as their new album, Holy Weather. There is a rock band from the US called Animals as Leaders - the guitarists are awesome. Also, check out Breton - an electronica group from the UK.

JJJ – Speaking of busy – we better make this the last question because – you’ve gone back to ‘Uni’ full time. What are you studying and what’s it like being back in school?

N – Yes. Well, even though I am not getting another degree, I seem to have really entered the Twilight Zone of university again full-on. I am studying German - entered into 2nd year, because I already spoke some enough to skip 1st year - so it is really a lot of work. Also, I am studying bass guitar, which is fun, but again, a lot of hard work. I think the commonalities are the technical things. With German, it's grammar. With bass, it's the theory you really have to know. I am so busy, I barely have time to think, and to my consternation, have turned into a morning person! I am also worried about my grades, even though I don't really have to be. Once a student, always a student for me! Like I said before, there is simply not enough time in the day or night, as it happens. I love being back in uni. I found a fabulous group of friends - who are all mostly 20 and are really great people. I'd forgotten how much enthusiasm uni student have, and it is invigorating to be around. And, I feel young again. It is good. And, I am finding a sort of alternate future for myself.

Natasha and I first bonded on Shelfari in a much maligned group called Just For Atheists. We have since emailed and IMed on facebook.

Even though we don’t get too much face time, we tend to stalk each other round the webz. I’m glad to have her in my life. Thanks for being a guest on my blog, Natasha.
See ya soon in cyber space!

Who has become your internet friend and in which corner of the webz did you find them?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Popcorn and pandora

Writing is an amazing thing. It's full of order and chaos, planning and going with the flow, things you know and things you research.

I'm part of this bootcamp with dedicated writers who are glad for a place to hold them accountable, just like I'm glad.

It's ten pm and I haven't written any words. That will never do.

I fix myself a snack:

Popcorn - I like to pop the old fashioned kind. In the bottom of an old, very heavy, pressure pan with a pie plate for a lid. A couple of Dove dark chocolate truffles and a glass of Airborne to keep the sinus blues at bay.

I'm set. I put on the pandora.com and listen. Currently my WIP is being fueled by a Katie Costello station I've created. I added in Big Head Todd and the Monsters and viola. Ingrid Micheals appears frequently as well as Dave Matthews.

My fingers start to fly across the keyboard. Pandora is keeping my internal editor at bay. I stop at midnight exactly. I've just written 1294 words. Yay - a word count for one more day!

Now I'm going to continue on and I'll have a word count for tomorrow. Wait, what's that smell? Wow, deja vu, I had that thought earlier. What is that? Smells like it might be... Is it?


Yes, gas. I didn't turn the stove off properly after popping the corn and for the last two hours gas has been leaking into the house. Now to open doors and windows, here, alone, hopefully not pass out while doing so.

I ended up on the back porch for a half an hour talking to my daughter on the cell phone. She's a night owl. Wonder where she got that?

I'm okay. The gas is long gone. But there's a next day to this story.

We'll continue this saga next Friday.

Meanwhile: bootcamp update - I'm in second place for the chocolate. I wrote 6 days out of 7 this week. My wip is currently 48,493 words long.

Everyone else is doing well, too. And we are having fun sprinting!

What are ya'll up to?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Meet my shelfari friend, Ursula

Those of us who love her are glad that Jayne Ann Krentz is a very prolific writer. She has written under many names but appears to have settled into three.

This is from her website:
“Those of you who know me are aware that I write romantic-suspense with a psychic twist under three different names: Amanda Quick for historicals, Jayne Ann Krentz for contemporaries and Jayne Castle for my futuristic/paranormals.”

Ursula, who agreed to be a guest on my blog and answer some questions for us, is an admirer of all things Krentz much the same as I am. We encountered each other in a JAK fan club of sorts on shelfari.com..

Hi Ursula. I promise not to ask you anything that I’m not prepared to answer myself.

JJJ – It’s hard for me to pick a favorite pseudonym of JAK because I love certain books in each one. I generally prefer contemps but my favorites of hers are in the other genres. If I make a list of favorites it would be long and weighted heavily with Amanda Quick books.

Do you have a favorite pseudonym of JAK? If so, why?

U: I love everything JAK writes but my favorites are her contemps. She has a way of pulling you into the story.
JJJ – I really enjoyed the latest JAK book, Copper Beach, which is the first in the Dark Legacy series. I’m going to say that is my favorite of hers.

What is your all-time favorite Jayne Ann Krentz book?

U: I love all of her books but my favorite one so far is Copper Beach.

(In fact, Ursula reviewed Copper Beach on her blog here.)

JJJ – My favorite stand alone Quick book is Wait Until Midnight. In that book Carolyn Fordyce serializes a novel in the fictional newspaper, the Flying Intelligencer. She uses hero, Adam Hardesty as a model for Edmund Drake, the villain of her sensation novel. There is a running joke in the book where people keep assuring Hardesty that Fordyce always kills off her villains in some nasty manner.

"Ah I see you're following the story sir. We haven't seen much of Edmund Drake yet but it's plain that he's a very menacing sort. Safe to say that he'll come to a nasty end just like Mrs. Fordyce's other villains." Wait Until Midnight by Amanda Quick

I also love the Vanza series. Lavinia and Tobias are two of my favorite characters.

What is your all-time favorite Amanda Quick book?

U: My favorite Amanda Quick book is Wicked Widow. Madeline Deveridge and Artemas Hunt are two of my favorite characters.

"Her enthusiasm for the new day instantly plummeted. A spectre might prove easier to face than Artemas. She stared at  her sleep-rumpled image in the dressing table mirror. It was one thing to blackmail the Dream Merchant into helping you to hunt for a missing maid and then bargain for his assistance in tracking down the vengeful phantom of your late husband. It was another matter altogether to make casual conversation with him over eggs and toast the morning after you had allowed him to seduce you." Wicked Widow by Amanda Quick

JJJ – I love the Ghost Hunter books by Castle. Outside of them my favorites are the St. Helen trilogy, Amaryllis, Orchid and Zinnia.

What is your all-time favorite Jayne Castle book?

U: I've only read one book by Jayne Castle. Midnight Crystal, I really enjoyed it and I plan on reading more.
JJJ - In all three categories, JAK writes series. In fact sometimes she writes a series using all 3 psudeonyms. It can get confusing and yet, I love it when she does that.

What about you? Do you like her cross-pseudonym series such as my personal favorite, the Arcane Society?

U: Yes I like her cross-pseudonym series, I loved the Arcane Society.

Enough about she-who-has-too-many-names. Tell us about you.

JJJ - I know you’re a reader. Have you always read books?

 U - I have been reading books for as long as I could remember.
JJJ - I know that you blog. Is Reader’s Corner your only blog? How long have you blogged? Why did you start blogging?    

U - Reader's Corner isn't the only blog I have. I have another blog called Romancing the Cowboy. I have been blogging since October 2011. I wanted to share my love of books.

JJJ - Are you enjoying blogging? Is there anything blogging gives you that you didn’t expect before you started?

U - Yes I'm enjoying blogging. I've gotten a lot of support that I didn't expect to get.

JJJ - Do you write as well as read?
U - No, I don't write.

Thank you, Ursula, for being a guest on my blog.

You’re Welcome, I really enjoyed it.

I neglected to ask Ursula, but I know from our shelfari group that she, like me, is anxious to read Krentz's latest. It's the first book in Amanda Quick's new Ladies of Lantern Street series

and it's out NOW!

When is payday again? I need to make an amazon order!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Romance Novel: Last Chance Saloon, Author: Marian Keyes, savvyauthors.com

 I'm in love, y'all.

Yes love. Swoony, hearts and flowers everywhere, love.

Her name is Marian Keyes.  I finished reading the first book that I've read of hers, hours ago, and the laughter is just now subsiding.

She's not all about laughter though. Her characters definitely arc and overcome tragedy.

I'd be reading along thinking, this is so REAL it's very similar to something that happened to me before, and suddenly the characters would do and say something so outrageous that I'd realize I picked the wrong moment to take that big drink of lemonaid cause it's gonna be a bitch to get out of my keyboard.

Her voice moves the stories along at the perfect pace and gives life to lovable, flawed characters.

She uses wonderful words like:
>insouciance - cheerful, carefree lack of anxiety or concern
>intransigence - stubbornly or unreasonably refusing even to consider changing a decision or attitude
>avuncular (don't you love to say that? uh vunk you lar - kind of rolls around on your tongue) -  resembling an uncle, especially one who is friendly, helpful, or good-humored

Before this romance winds down, I will have given her my heart completely because - she's very prolific. There are 14 books listed on her website. Most of them are in the library although I'll happily buy the later ones if they're not. She is permanently on my automatic-buy list of authors from this day forward.

I plan on reading every word she's ever put to paper so Marian and I will be together for along time.

That will be us when we go on vacation to a Northern Ireland beach. (Marian lives in Ireland. Not that I plan on stalking her. Much. Wonder what she eats for breakfast.)

According to her website, she, like many other clever writers, suffers depression. That just makes me love her all the more.

This book was copyrighted in 1999 so I don't think it's unethical of me to quote the last paragraph here. It isn't a spoiler unless you consider the mere knowledge that the book has a HEA ending a spoiler.

Anywho - it's this great toast.
"To life!" Seven glasses clinked in the middle of the table while seven voices chorused, "And men with big willies!"

I want to use that toast. Of course the likelihood of that happening is pretty remote considering that I live in a DRY COUNTY (can  you believe that shit?). And I mostly socialize with my family which includes my mother, the teetotaler who spends every other moment in church.

And there's that other factor. The I'll-never-think-of-it-until-it's-too-late factor. You know the one. I'll be remembering some event when I was presented with the perfect opportunity to use this toast and, head:desk, instead of saying - "To life and men with big willies!" - I will instead have said the ever brilliant "Cheers."

Back to my love for Marian, I would like to offer to name my first born after her but I had my first born 30+ years ago. Would you think it wrong of me to ask her to change her name?

I don't want to risk becoming one of those women who talks non-stop about her new love so - moving on:


My Savvy Authors Bootcamp update will be a bit of a let down. I didn't win. I know this even though the amazing Dawn McClure, who facilitated bootcamp in a most excellent manner, doesn't announce the winners until some time on Friday.

Actually to say I didn't win is not correct. I wrote words that moved my story along 27 out of 30 days in April. That's a big win for me.

I'm sorry to say that I've lost track of exactly how many words were in April and how many in May but my total to date is: 39,540.

I learned some things in SAB, also. I learned how to fast draft and that fast-drafting is definitely a good way for me to start a novel. I learned how to turn off my internal editor and doing so makes my writing flow better.

And I learned that part of my methodical nature is a bitchy, officious twit. Actually I already knew that, I just confirmed it. See - there is no whining in bootcamp. So it pushed my buttons that my teammates repeatedly posted their word counts with excuses for why they were so low (even when they weren't.)

My daughter, Marian (formerly Ruthie), observed that the word count of their excuses for why their word count was low, often exceeded their word count. Isn't she clever? Just like her namesake.

Chocolate bootcamp got off to a terrific start. We have nine writers, including moi. We had our first writers sprint with four people attending. And turning in a word count to the same place as other writers do everyday - is still keeping my butt in my chair with my fingers on the keyboard.

Now, I'm off to eat some strawberries. What are you up to?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Memoir: The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup, Author: Susan Orlean, Story:Maui Surf Girls, Romantic Comedy Movie: Blue Crush

I know I said that I would do a bootcamp wrapup today, but I'm going to put that off until Friday. For once, it's not procrastination motivating me. Rather it's the fact that the bootcamp directors haven't done their wrapup yet. They are still waiting for numbers and tallying. I myself just turned in my last numbers a few minutes ago. 

Also, I wanted time to digest the experience as a whole. It was useful, educational and fun for me and I want to offer up some of that experience to you. 

And on Friday I will have my first report on Chocolate bootcamp which starts today! 


"The Maui surfer girls love one another's hair...Not long ago I was on the beach in Maui watching the surfer girls surf, and when they came out of the water they sat in a row facing the ocean, and each girl took the hair of the girl in front of her and combed it with her fingers and crisscrossed it into braids." from The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup by Susan Orlean

"Joyce Hoffman became one of the first female surf aces, and she was followed by Rell Sunn and Jericho Poppler in the seventies and Frieda Zamba in the eighties and Lisa Andersen in this decade, and thousands of girls and women followed by example.In fact, the surfer girls of this generation have never known a time in their lives when some woman champion wasn't ripping surf." The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup by Susan Orlean

Is that not awesome? And, for me, it's what's great about Orlean's writing. She created the niche in which she writes about what interests her. I love it when people do that.

It's perfectly wonderful to decide to be a bank teller or something like that and pursue that if it makes you happy. I totally understand that.

But what if it doesn't? Should you just be unhappy? Not when all happiness requires of you is that you drum up the courage to do what fascinates you or engages your passion whether you do it for love or livelihood. And when you can do what you love for a livelihood - SNAP! 

Isn't it symmetrical that what she writes about are people forging their own paths?

"I realized then that a surfer is always in one of two conditions: wet or about to be wet." The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup by Susan Orlean

If you ever get the opportunity to spend some quality time where people surf, either join them or observe them for a while. I loved watching them when I lived in SoCal.

"It must be hard to imagine an ordinary future and something other than a lunar calendar to consider if you've grown up in a small town in Hawaii, surfing all day and night,spending half your time on sand thinking in terms of point breaks and barrels and roundhouse cutbacks." The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup by Susan Orlean

I always wondered - how does surfing change the basic nature of how a person approaches life? It almost has to change you. All that time out in the sunshine bobbing on the water. I suspect it makes your thinking more fluid, more mellow. Ebb and flow - roll with the waves or whatever life sends your way.

"Or maybe they don't think about it at all. Maybe these girls are still young enough and in love enough with their lives that they have no special foreboding about their futures, no uneasy presentiment that the kind of life they are leading now might eventually have to end." The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup by Susan Orlean

"Theresa said...eventually she wanted to become an ambulance driver, and I could picture her doing it, riding on dry land the same waves of adrenaline that she rides now." The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup by Susan Orlean

Indomitable Sense of Myself

During the five years I lived in SoCal I used to love to go to the ocean and in the ocean. I considered it free therapy. So why didn't I ever try surfing?

"Sometimes watching them I couldn't believe that they could head out so offhandedly into the ocean--this ocean, which had rolls of white water coming in, as fast as you could count them, and had a razor-blade reef hidden just below the surface and was full of sharks." The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup by Susan Orlean

The girls couldn't believe Orlean had never surfed. They asked her why not and she answered in much the same way that I would - that she grew up where there was no surf - her in Ohio, me in Missouri.

"but that didn't satisfy them; what I didn't say was that I'm not sure that at fifteen I had the abandon or the indomitable sense of myself that you seem to need in order to look at this wild water and think, I will glide on top of those waves." The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup by Susan Orlean

"the abandon", "the indomitable sense of myself" this is why - this is the reason that I so enjoy reading MS Susan Orlean.

I love that abandon - that indomitable sense of myself. I have it now. I didn't have it at fifteen or even at twenty-five, although it was a seed at that time. I have it now and though I paid a price for it, I'm happy I have it.

Maui Surf Girls is only 14 pages in the book and yet it inspired a screen play that was made into a movie - Blue Crush. I confess to watching Blue Crush several times.

They didn't try to follow the book. They made up a plot that formed a structure to wrap the spirit of the Maui surfer girls around. It portrays them with authenticity.

And it does something else profoundly Orlean - there is a brief scene toward the end of the movie that captures the core motivation of every person with a passion - be they surfer, football player, writer, dancer, lyricist, singer, orchid collector, etc.; a moment. That perfect moment. For a football player it's the perfect pass; a surfer, the perfect ride; a writer the perfect sentence.

A moment of beauty that makes life worth living.

BTW if you haven't seen it, Blue Crush is worth watching for the cinematography alone. The crush and the pipes are breathtaking.

"When I left Maui that afternoon, my plane circled over Ho'okipa, and I wanted to believe that I could still see them down there and always would see them down there, snapping back and forth across the waves." The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup by Susan Orlean

Me too, Susan, me too.