Tuesday, December 20, 2011

If you could live anywhere...

If you could live anywhere where would you choose?

I was thinking about this the other day after talking about a close topic at my work place holiday party. For me I would love to live in the mountains near a lake. I've always been fond of mountain scenery and I would love a place off the beaten path a bit. I could envision myself sitting on the back deck in my pajamas enjoying an early morning cup of coffee while watching the sun rise over the surrounding peaks and listening to the birds and other wildlife. Long vision is long.

I grew up in a small town, a mile from Lake Erie. I lived in a house on a small side road with woods and fields directly behind the yard. With the spacing between us and one neighbour and a privacy wall on the other our back deck was a nice quiet spot. When I would be home on college breaks mom and I would have our morning coffee on the back deck. On days off I love bumming around in my pajamas for awhile.

Not that we were antisocial or anything. There was also a nice front porch to sit out on and say hi to our neighbours. Where I live now there are some really friendly people. It's fun going out walking and chatting with everyone. I do like having the option of backyard for quiet time and front yard for being social.

For my mountain retreat the Adirondacks are the spot I have in my minds eye. They are in upstate NY and have many lakes. At least they are in the same state as me. Sometime I would love to rent a cabin up there for a week.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fun Prompt

"It's in my purse!" Patrick eyed the black bag warily. He learned long ago going into a woman's purse was dangerous. #storystarters --  (@jcrosen)

I thought it would be fun to share this story starter I saw on Twitter recently. I'm really tempted to write something with it.

And yes, this isn't my tweet. @jcrosen wrote the prompt. I had retweeted it, so I think that's why Twitter tagged me when I hit the share button. I edited the shared tweet to fix that. So we will see how that formats/links as I post this.

In sharing said tweet here I also figured it would be a good chance to mention the #storystarters hash tag. Writers can look for prompts and / or create some for others.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Of cats and babies

As my husband and I have been preparing for the birth of our first born we've been keeping the cats in mind. I'm excited for baby and I know she is going to require much of or time. I do feel bad for the cats having less of our time. Whiskers in particular, he has been in a major playful mood recently and needs extra play time. Maya will play with him at times so that helps.

So I've been thinking of buying them a cat tree for Christmas. With all the stuff for baby the cats deserve sometime new for them as well. I've been wanting to get them one for awhile anyways. And I'm sure Toby would appreciate a good perch for when Whiskers is chasing him.

I have also been trying out various cat toys to see what they might like. I've been looking at ones they can play with on thier own if needed, but we can still toss around to. Whiskers likes this little play and squeak mouse. As it gets bopped around it makes a mouse squeaking noise. He tosses it then chases it.

When baby is born I'll keep a good eye on how the cats are around her. I don't think any of the cats would harm her, but better to be careful. Heck, she might enjoy being held by one of us and watching the other play with the cats. Whiskers does run after the teaser pretty quick when he wants to play.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Fun: Playing with Color

Needless to say with baby on the way I've been looking at colors quite often. Then again I like color anyways with the various art I've done over the years. Right now I'm pretty happy with the color for the top wall and the trim. The bottom wall was giving me issues for awhile. I think I've found a color I like, I just need to stop by the hardware store for a chip since I've only viewed said color on my computer.

That being said, I've been having fun with the Personal Color Viewer from Benjamin Moore paints. Granted how the colors appear on the computer will differ from actual paint colors, but it is still nice to get a general sense of how various color combinations might look in a room. I like how they have sample room pictures already in their program or you can upload your own pictures. So far I've only been playing with the sample pictures.

This is one of the sample rooms I colored. Here's to hoping it loads alright. I used the share to twitter option then copied the link here. I had tried sharing to Blogger which my browser didn't like. I was thinking that it might be fun to color rooms for my characters, or even to play with the colors then think what type of character might reside in that space. Then again playing with the colors is fun on it's own aside from fictional characters.

On a side note, if you do want to use this to help pick out colors for a room you want to paint jot down the color numbers or names. The application allows for switching between color names and numbers. I had spent awhile with my nursery colors then the website had trouble saving. (If you create an account you can save the various projects to your favorites, to access anywhere you have a web connection). It might have been my browser.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Writing Wednesday: Nanowrimo idea

I do still want to post about writing and I'm currently in the process of figuring out the balance of what to post when. Writing sounds good on this day of the week because alliteration is fun. Not that every topic has to match, it just created a starting point.

With baby on the way I'm planning on getting in what writing time I can now and seeing how things go once she's here. To that end I've decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo / NaNo) this November. I had a glimmer of an idea a few months back which merged with an old short story idea from a few years ago.

My idea is still rough hopefully I can get it to a workable state soon. Ideally I'd like to have an outline ready to go. I'm writing science fiction this year. The basic idea of the story is a less advanced society living in the shadows/ruins of a previous society that was more technological. Right now I'm trying to figure out why the first society left and making sure the reason still leaves room for the current society.

And yes I know it's Thursday. I started this post yesterday over lunch and decided to still run with the title.

Blogfest wrap-up: I had fun at the Labor Day blogfest and am still planning on visiting everyone who stopped by here. These past two weeks have gotten away from me.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Blogfest Starting Now

Today starts KarenG's Labor Day Blog BBQ. I just left my comment over on her post and I'll be taking time this weekend to visit other participants. I decided to bring grilled chicken and veggies to the party, I've been eating a lot of chicken and vegetables recently.

And I also want to take this opportunity to say hello and welcome anyone visiting my blog this weekend. I did a little introduction on the blogfest post, but I can do one here as well for new visitors. I'm Claire, and this here blog in my main one. I blog about my writing, writing in general, and other things that interest me. My cats do pop in from time to time as well. My most recent novel drafts have been science fiction and fantasy. I also like to write mainstream. Heck, I just like to be creative and writing is but one way to do so.

I am thinking about other directions in which to take this blog so that it's not just a blog for other writers. The writing aspect is important, I don't want to loose that theme. I do want to make non-writers feel more welcome while giving my readers a chance to know me a little more as well. To me blogging is about community; getting to know and interact with others. In that vain I have decided to occasionally post some of my short fiction. I know I posted about my visiting local parks possibility awhile back and I'm still planning on doing that. It'll be a good break from getting ready for baby.

Yes I do have another blog. In addition to this blog I also have a blog for my beading work/jewelry. At some point I do want to open an online shop for my handcrafts; once I get set up with all the proper paperwork (sales tax and what not official stuff). I do like to post my works there either way, and I have some tutorials/tips planned as well.

And I have four cats, the ones mentioned earlier in this post. Two we went out to the local shelter to adopt while the other two found us through different situations. And I'm expecting my first child in February. It'll be interesting to see what my lap cat thinks of my expanding belly, and what they all think of baby. DH and I have fun guessing what each cat will do.

Feel free to introduce yourself here, and if you are on Twitter that would be cool to leave your @ here as well. It's fun to connect to bloggers on twitter as well. (I'm @Clairegoverts over there)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Upcoming Blogfest

Short post is short. I just wanted to give anyone who hasn't seen it yet a head's up about Karen's Blog BBQ. I participated last year and it was a blast checking out various blogs and figuring out what food I wanted to "bring" to the party (yes it's a virtual BBQ). She has the details in her blog post I linked, but pretty much it starts Friday and it's not to involved.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

News: "I'm a riddle in nine syllables" +1

I know, my poor blog has been neglected as of late. I've had a lot going on and not much energy in which to do it. But I have good news to share. I'm pregnant, I'm expecting my first child in February of next year. I just started my second trimester earlier this month. I've gotten through the worst of the nausea and my energy level is starting to return.

I am planning on easing back into blogging soon. I miss reading other blogs and taking the time to write out posts for mine. I'm guessing blogging should be a little easier to do once I'm back on regular hours at work. This is the last week of summer hours, which means working longer Monday through Thursday to have a half day on Friday. I'll miss the half days but I'm looking forward to being done at 4pm again the rest of the week.

I am also thinking about posting the occasional piece of flash fiction. I figure writing time will be scarce once baby is here, and this will be a good time to exercise the ol writing muscles now with some short sprints. I can leave the more complex novel revision preparation for some time later.

And yes, the title of my post is from Sylvia Plath's "Metaphors" poem.

 BabyFruit Ticker

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th

Happy Independence Day to US peeps, and happy Monday all. :) With the holiday here I have today off from work and the weather couldn't be better. Low 80s F and low humidity.

My husband and I spent some time outside today with Trixie and Whiskers. Whiskers got snappy so he went inside after a short while. I wandered around the front yard with Trixie who was rather happy to be outside eating grass. The picture here is her picking the grass out of the one spot in the garden.

I'm back inside now, watching a TopGear marathon with my husband on BBC America. Kind of an ironic way to spend the fourth but its a fun show. We would probably be watching Babylon 5 at some point if it hadn't just been removed from Netflix instant watch. We'll have to put the DVDs in our queue. While I've seen it before it is fun to watch again and see the various bits of foreshadowing. ( Yes pun intended.)

Monday, June 20, 2011

New Blog Series

Since A to Z wound down and the cool days of spring are shifting into the warmer days of summer I've been pondering what to write about for my blog. I do like blogging about writing but I don't want to only blog about writing. I want to get some more of my other interests in here, which I'm sure others share some of them.

With those thoughts, and thanks to Julie's Travel's with Clancy I decided it might be fun to have the occasional blog post of my visits to various places around my area. I live in central New York state and I enjoy getting out into more natural settings. Luckily we have parks galore around here; nestled in the rivers, lakes, and mountains. I'm probably going to put up a wish list of places I'm planning on visiting soon along with farther away places that I would like to visit someday.

For this summer I'm hoping to get to both Letchworth state park and Chimney Bluffs. Both destinations are under a two hour drive from where I live.

Letchworth is referred to as the "Grand Canyon of the East". The Genesee river flows through a gorge in the park and down waterfalls. At one of the falls there is a set of stone steps that lead down into the gorge for a closer view. I've been there several times and I'm looking forward to visiting again.

Chimney Bluffs is a park along the shore of Lake Ontario consisting of a series of pointed bluffs perched on the edge of the beach. It looks like some rock formations from the US southwest were dropped into New York. The Wiki page has more detail on this park than the state website does. I've been here once before and unfortunately didn't have time to explore the various hiking trails. When my husband and I heard a thunderstorm approaching we went to the local winery instead.

If I get out towards Buffalo, there is Chestnut Ridge park. I used to go there fairly often when I was younger and wander the creek with my brother. In a book my mom had picked up a few years back I read about the Eternal Flame. In a waterfall just outside the park proper there is a natural gas fissure that causes a flame to burn in a grotto behind the falling water.

So basically this is the start of figuring out where exactly I want to go and what I want to see. I'd really like to go to Letchworth for a weekend trip. While it is fairly close I'd like to stay at the Glen Iris inn. I read in the AAA magazine that the inn has a porch with plenty of chairs within earshot of the falls. It sounds like a relaxing way to enjoy the day after going hiking and taking pictures.

Of course there is Niagara Falls not to far. But for this blog series I think it would be more fun to focus on lesser known places. Though if I wind up at the Niagara Falls park I'd like to photograph Tesla's statue and the three sisters islands are always interesting.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Introducing Mr Whiskers

Awhile back I had posted about my three cats. It was for my T post in fact for the A to Z challenge. Well my DH and I recently adopted another cat. Our next door neighbor passed away in early May, leaving behind her four year old male cat. No one else in the neighborhood could take him in, and the plan A house didn't work. So my husband and I decided to provide a home for him.

Here is is. I took this picture a few weeks back. He was sitting in the window watching the birds outside then he had turned to look at me. Luckily I had my cell phone handy.

Here he is outside. His previous owner used to put him out in her backyard on a tie out. He would sit out there enjoying the fresh air and watching the yard from underneath the bushes. I'm getting him used to a harness and leash. I took this picture yesterday while following him around in the front yard. The only time I had directed him was when he tried to crawl into the basement window well.

I'm not so much training him to walk like a dog would. Rather I'm aiming to have him comfortable wandering at his pace. We do have a tie out which I'll have to see where in our yard he would like to spend time. It would be someplace where I could keep an eye on him while gardening. With all the neighborhood cats wandering through our yard I don't want to leave our cats outside on their own. Plus to if the cat moves just right they can back out of a harness, and they can manage to get their leads/tie out tangled in ways a dog rarely could.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Games Blogfest

I signed up way back when for Alex's Games Blogfest. Here is my post with my favorite games.

Drod - I love this game. I first started playing it years ago when I bought a disk with many various games and Drod was one of them. This is part puzzle, part monster slaying and it now has more games. The first game starts in King Dugan's Dungeon (KDD) where Beethro is tasked with cleaning out said dungeon. The player controls Beethro through various rooms on various levels of the dungeon slaying all the monsters. Each type of monster has specific rules it follows, moving only when Beethro moves/"waits".

In addition to many many puzzles in all the various rooms across the three games there is also a level editor. Anyone who wants to can create their own levels to play through and can share them on the community forum. I'm still working on the official game levels so I haven't downloaded any other levels yet. I have played with the level editor though and have had fun doing so.

Sims - I've played this game for years starting with the original Sims on the PC. I even had downloaded a tool to make custom objects for the game. Right now I have Sims 2 and various expansion packs for my computer. Because I'm going to be upgrading my computer soon I'm waiting on installing everything and I miss the game. Maybe it's because I'm a writer, but my favorite way to play Sims is simply making up families/friends and seeing how they interact. I don't get into the game aspect of it as much, I don't pay much attention to getting my sims to the tops of their careers or having them make tons of money.

I do have Sims 3 for the Wii, which I've played a few times. While I like it I'm still getting used to the console controls for everything. My poor sim family has a couch facing the wrong way because I can't get it to rotate. (Then again I had cat on lap while playing and the instruction  booklet was out of reach).

Labyrinth - The game not the movie (though the movie is great to). This is something I played with my mom and brother when I was a kid. I couldn't not include a board game for this post. For the game play each player has several cards each of which have the picture of an object on them. The player's token starts at a corner of the board then has to move around the maze of the board to land on the spots with the matching object pictures. The first player to reach all their pictures wins.

The challenging part comes in with changing the maze. The board is comprised of flat pieces with pictures of the maze walls/path on them. Some pieces are permanently fixed on the board while others move. At the start of each turn a player picks up the extra maze piece and has to shift the maze once before moving their token.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Blogfest approaching

Alex J. Cavanaugh: A to Z Challenge - Y - Blogfest!!!

I signed up for this awhile back and am looking forward to it. The event is on the 6th, almost here. I've gotten a draft post started with the three games I want to blog about.

If anyone else wants to join in the signup is on the post I linked to.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Spring has finally sprung

We've had a few warmer days over the past few weeks mixed in with chilly rainy days. This week the weather has been getting nicer, especially today. It was sunny and warm with a soft breeze. The sort of day that simply begged to be spent outdoors. This week is also the start of summer hours at work. Monday through Thursday has slightly longer days to allow for half day Fridays. Needless to say I made the most out of the afternoon off.

After lunch I took the camera outside to capture the various blossoms with the wonderful light. We have crabapple trees which have been budding this week. There were a few blossoms Wednesday and yesterday. Today they really filled out, there are almost no buds left. The buds are pink but they turn white as they open. The pink crabapple is nice to it has pretty colored blossoms. Unfortunately it has a few dead branches that need pruning.


This is one of the pictures I took today, there are more in the set I created on Flickr. Most of the pictures in the set are from today, with three pictures from two weeks ago. I love this time of the year. The warmer days and everything growing is such a mood boost.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

I wanted to post quick to say happy Mother's Day to all the moms and moms to be out there. Moms of 2 and or 4 legged children :)

Strawflower bud

Monday, May 2, 2011

A to Z Wrap up

Well, maybe call this more of a lessons learned for next time post instead.

First off I have to say that participating in A to Z was a blast. It was great to meet new bloggers, write on a theme, have a posting goal, and be a part of something exciting like this. There were times I got overwhelmed with trying to get my posts written while visiting other bloggers and leaving intelligent comments.

That said I have four things I want to do for next year. The first one is the planning ahead item and the other three I can balance time between during the challenge.

1) Write and schedule posts ahead of time. While it was fun posting just about every day it did take time away from visiting other blogs. For me I would have enjoyed the challenge more without balancing posting (as much) with commenting / visiting.

2) Set aside a block of time for Google Reader to visit blogs I'm following. I enjoyed all the first time blog visits, but I found myself missing out on some of the other A to Z blogs that I wanted to read more of. It was tricky to balance those first visits with return visits. I plan on prioritizing the A to Z blogs though I could still comment on other blogs I'm following.

And yes, with Google Reader I created a folder for A to Z for ease of seeing the posts. Reader does allow adding a blog to more than one folder. There were several blogs that were in my A to Z folder along with my writers folder. And I can also use Google Reader on my phone. With visiting blogs I'm already following I don't need to check them off on my spreadsheet which is tricky to view on my phone.

3) Set aside another block of time to visit the people who have been to my blog. When people comment it does make it easier to find their blog/blogger profile than following only. It depends how they have their account setup. I tried to visit everyone who had commented/followed my blog and I think I did a fairly good job. Though I may have missed some people with my time being hit and miss between everything.

4) Set aside another block of time to visit other participants blogs. Pretty much this is the getting out there and meeting new bloggers part. For me this is where I made the most use out of my spreadsheet. I would scroll through it then click a random link to a blog. After reading their most recent post and commenting I would put the date down on my spreadsheet. I figured that way I could do some after challenge stats and see how many blogs I visited and when. (I was also checking off blogs from point 3 if I hadn't been there already - a visit is a visit). I wasn't keeping track of return visits, only when I got a chance to stop by each blog for the first time.

It really doesn't matter in which order I'll do the last three points. And heck, 3 and 4 can overlap. Over the course of the challenge when I would visit back a commenter (point 3) I would find their blog in my spreadsheet. Then after reading and commenting I would return to my spreadsheet and visit some other blogs listed near that one. In a way it was my method of randomly visiting other blogs.

I do also want to figure out how best to reply to comments. I tried to reply individually to comments on my blog but quickly got overwhelmed with balancing things. And I was wondering how many people would stop back and see if their comment was replied to with the mass of other blogs to visit. I did have some people reply to my comments via e-mail which was handy. When I comment on another blog I try to revisit to check for replies but don't always manage to. A to Z or not.

Oh and I am going to put together a spreadsheet again as it was helpful to me to keep track of who I'd visited.  And I can share a copy out for anyone else that would want to use it.

So what were your experiences with the challenge? What worked well for you? What would you do differently next year? Granted what works for one person could be stressful for another person. Though seeing what others thought of the challenge sounds fun.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

A to Z: Zip Zap

Yes, with it being the end of the challenge I've run out of good ideas to post about. Then again this whole last week has been random. I was playing with the auto complete on my phone typing in letter combinations starting with z and seeing what it suggested. It did Zip which made me think of Zap. Now I have comic book images in my head, with all those great sound words. And pow, which also has an action element to it.

Not just comics, but sound descriptive words are fun in various other types of writing. Maybe a character has favorite ones, or maybe it helps emphasize a certain component within a scene.

Do you have any favorite sounding words? What about your characters? Have fun with the A to Z challenge? Hard to believe today is the last day. It feels like only yesterday when I was blogging about altruism, books, and culture.

Story a Day in May

I still have yet to write my Z post, but I wanted to take the time to let anyone know who may be interested about the Story a Day challenge over at Forward Motion for Writers. I decided this morning to join the challenge and while I'm going to try to write a story a day I'll probably end up writing 10 stories.

10 stories? The challenge originally started out as a story each day, but for the past few years (I'm not sure how long ago) different levels were added for people to aim for. There is the 10 story level, the 15 level, the 20 level, and the 31 stories level. The 31 level is there for those who do want to try for a story a day. Stories for the challenge need to have a minimum of 500 words and have a beginning/middle/end. A group of 5 drabbles can also count as a story. A drabble is a story of exactly 100 words.

The challenge also involves using various story/idea generators for most of the stories. There are a variety of generators linked in the challenge thread, and participants can keep playing with a generator until it sparks the muse. I have fun with the generators, it adds a nice little challenge to writing a story and it is a good push to write something different then I might have otherwise.

The challenge is only open to members of FM Writers, but anyone can join the forum. I've mentioned the forum in my R for resources post, there is plenty there for writers. Here is the thread with all the details about the challenge. This link will only work for people logged into the forum.

There, now off to write my Z post, visit back people who have stopped by here, and check out some more A to Z bloggers.

Friday, April 29, 2011

A to Z: Yoga

Short post for today, and a bit of a revisit topic wise. Yoga. Exercise with focus on controlling the mind and body. I also like to think about the stretching and balancing aspects of it. For me my favorite part of yoga is striking a pose and feeling myself balance and my muscles stretching.

What do your characters do for fitness and to unwind? What about your favorite exercises?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A to Z: X =10

Yes, I had no idea what to write for today's letter. X is very tricky like that. And it doesn't help that everything that first came to mind was only X sounding, not actually starting with the letter (exciting). I even pulled out a dictionary, which had only one page for the letter X.

Nothing really struck me for a post topic until I read through the X definition. Webster's 2 mentions that X is the Roman numeral for 10. I like numbers and all, plus 10 has a nice metric vibe to it so I figured what the heck.

Which of course got me thinking about years. Awhile back I put together a 10 year plan for myself in MS Project. The main goal being to have several finished novels. I set a specific length of time for first drafts and revisions, and research, having one task lead into the next. Unfortunately I got behind in my writing which threw the whole thing off. For now I'm going to concentrate on revising one of my current drafts and seeing how long a revision pass takes me. Then maybe I'll revise my 10 year plan.

If you asked them, where would your characters see themselves in 10 years time? What do you have in mind for them in said time. And what about you? Any hopes, dreams, goals, of where you would like to be in the next 10 years? For me I'd love to be a published novelist, with several novels out. I'm not sure what else right now.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A to Z: Wii

Today's post is about the Wii, from Nintendo. My husband and I bought one used from a friend about a year ago and I love it. One of the games we got is the Wii Fit plus which I've been using on and off since last Memorial day (end of May for the non US folks). I particularly enjoy doing the yoga poses along with some of the strength training, balance games, and aerobics. They also have a Fit Plus category which has rhythm Kung fu. After a day in the office it is nice to come home and get in a half hour of exercise.

Mario cart for the Wii is also fun. I'll admit I get the music from the various race tracks stuck in my head. I usually race as Peach with her wild wing car.

What kinds of games (electronic or otherwise) do your characters enjoy? What sorts of games do you like. Heck, I have favorite board games I could blog about sometime.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A to Z: Victory!

Now that we are in the home stretch of the challenge I thought victory would be a fun post topic.

Victory can be seen in multiple ways. It can be winning the big game, or it can be a more personal victory like a newly achieved goal. And there are even victory dances.

What have your characters done that they would consider a victory? Would other characters see it as such?

And with the challenge what victories have you had? For me I've met some great people and I've also been blogging regularly for a few weeks now.

A to Z: Utopia

This is going to be more of a random week for post topics. While I have been coming up with some topics on they go here I've at least had some ideas ahead of time for possible topics. Though for this week all the letters in my notebook are blank. And I don't have as much time as I'd like to research topics.

So I'm going with whatever pops into my head, and today's U post is for utopia. Basically utopia is an ideal community or society, but if you think about it that can mean different things for different people. In fiction we tend to steer away from a utopian society because there needs to be conflict to help drive the story forward. Sure, sometimes a world might look utopian at first glance, but as you get into the story more you can see the little negatives piling up and realize what the characters are up against.

I was out at my mom's house for Easter yesterday, and my husband and I drove along Lake Erie on the way out (and back) to see her. Since husband was driving I got to take my time and gaze across the lake. Looking directly across the water there is a little ribbon of land where water meets sky; Canada. And looking diagonally the city of Buffalo is visible. Buffalo was cool in the day, but when we drove home at night It was all lights against the inky black sky and lake. I had some fun letting my imagination ponder over the scene and how it could fit into various world setups. Without much of the landscape to frame the buildings those lights could have been of any future/past city in any sort of world.

So what types of things would your character want to see in a utopia? What 'tweaks' on utopia do you like to write into your books or read in other books?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A to Z: Trixie Toby and Maya

T is for cat? I wanted to do something random today and I remembered how Julie had done her pets' names to match the letter of the day. Seeing as how I have two T-kitties I figured I could post about my cats today. Plus Maya is a tabby cat so I can sneak her into the post.

This is Trixie, my husband and I brought her home from the local shelter shortly after we got married. She's been my pal ever since. This is my lap cat, the cat who loves to get attention all the time, and who still likes to chase the string. She's 9 years old and still fairly active.

She likes to greet us on weekend mornings. She'll wander into the bedroom and crawl all over us, then she'll nudge my face to get me to pet her. 

Toby came to us from family and he's quite happy here with us. He loves my husband and I though he's not to fond of Trixie. The two of them are still vying for top cat position.

He does have a bad habit of stealing spots. He waits until one of us gets up of the sofa then will jump right into the recently vacated spot and make himself comfortable. In this picture he's in my spot on the sofa, that's my lap blanket he's up against.

And Maya, the tabby cat. She's not just a tabby, but she's a ticked-tabby. Basically her individual hairs have bands of color on them. She also has ghost stripes on her torso. Depending on the light her stripes down her torso are easier or harder to see. Her leg and tail stripes are always visible. And her fur is incredibly soft, it feels like silk. Her fur also has a downy quality to it, when I give her a bath the water beads up on her and rolls off. It takes awhile to work water into her fur so I can then lather her up.

This is our plays with water cat. She loves to drop toys in the water dish, sometimes getting water on the floor in the process. I had to take away their knit toy because it would wick all the water out of the dish.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A to Z: Senses

Senses. How the stimuli in the environment around us are perceived. Our internal connection with the outside world. The usual five come easily to mind; sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. These are common place enough that people sometimes talk about the sixth sense as that beyond normal human perception.

But there are more then five senses that us humans have, even if we are not aware of them at the same level as the traditional five. These other senses include proprioception, pain, and balance amongst others.

Proprioception is our body's way of determining location of our body parts relative to other parts and objects around us. This is what tells us that our arm is resting against a surface, perhaps the arm rest of an easy chair. This is something that we can notice the absence of. When I was younger I used to toss and turn at night, and there were a few times I had pinched a nerve in my arm. With me having been asleep it was past the point of simple tingling that usually happens. I couldn't feel my arm at all, and I didn't know where it was because the nerves in said arm weren't communicating that information back. I had to find that arm with my other arm, and once I massaged the feeling back in it was fine. But it was the weirdest sensation to not know where a limb was.

Balance is something else that we normally aren't aware of but can be. Most of the time our body simply uses that information to make adjustments to our movements/position without us having to think about it. For me I became more aware of balance when I took ballet lessons. When we would be doing various dance steps we had to find our center of balance, the point at which we wouldn't fall over one way or the other. With making a point of concentrating on that I could feel the point at which I was centered. I have that same feeling now when I do yoga on the Wii. With the different poses I have to make different adjustments to find that center of balance. (Yes, I love doing yoga)

I could talk about pain, but I'm sure people are more familiar with that then the other two I discussed. Plus to I don't want to make this post to long. I think senses are interesting when applied to characters. How would your character react to the sudden loss or impairment of a sense? Or what if one of their senses is stronger than normal? Which senses provide information they are more likely to remember? Do they picture that scene from the trip to the mountains, or do they have an auditory memory of the birds singing in the woods? Or perhaps they can still taste that stew they had the other night.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A to Z: Resources

I thought that I would take a brief break from the psychology topics to have a more writing related post. This is a listing of some handy resources I've picked up along the way.

Forward Motion for Writers - This is a community site for writers aiming for publication. I've been a member for a few years now and I adore the community of the site. There are a variety of areas to participate in, from weekend challenges, yearly word count/edit marathons, writing related dares, daily/yearly writing goals, and more.

Holly Lisle's Shop - She has some very useful e-books for writers, at reasonable prices. I've bought different titles from here over the years, some of which I've read on my PC, others I had put on my Palm. My favorites are the clinic series (Create a Character Clinic), the 33 mistakes series, and Lazette Gifford's 2 year novel series (I have book 1).

Unrestricted Stock Photography/art - This is a listing of stock art accounts on DeviantArt that allow unrestricted use of their stock (see the rules on the page). They can be handy for sprucing up a blog, making a scene from a novel, visualizing your characters. They are commonly used for photo manipulation, and other visual art references.

Database Stuff: I've been working on an Access database over the years for my writing, and I have an empty version of the file that I might share out at some point if anyone is interested. I does require having the MS Access program. I started the database before I had Access 2007, so some of the forms and report formatting is a bit off. I'd want to clean it out before sharing.

I'm also open to discussing database design, so maybe some of the ideas I've had might help others in organizing their writing stuff. My current database is for top level data on a variety of areas. For example I can enter in all my characters names, personality type, goal (in 255 characters or less), who they are related to, ect. But for more extensive notes I still use Word.

With databases the actual data is stored in tables. Access is a relational database, so data in one table can be used along with data in other tables. These are the tables in my database:
Agents, Characters, Goals (my writing goals), Markets, Progress, Series, Submissions (what work was sent to which agent when), and Works.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A to Z: Questionnaires

Questionnaires (aka surveys) are a method of gathering data for research. They can also be used for various assessment purposes. There can be used in any field of psychology or any other area. They also can cover any sort of topic.

With writing and characters it can be interesting to think about how your characters may answer various questionnaires. For some of my characters I've taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) answering the questions as my characters would. Figuring out how my characters would answer the questions helps me to get to know them better. Plus to taking it for multiple characters lets me see what range of types I have within my cast of characters. I linked to this awhile back, but here is a handy blog post (Plot to Punctuation) that really has some nice examples of using the MBTI.

As I was struggling to think of a Q post I started thinking that it would have been fun to blog about Q from Star Trek. Though I was able to get a Q that fit into my topic.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A to Z: Psychology

I had a few ideas for today, such as persuasion, pessimism, and perception. Then I had a "well duh" moment when I realized I could have a post about my theme for today. Well, a brief introduction at any rate seeing as how psychology is a broad area. It would be like saying I'm going to blog about biology, or writing, or something else in that vain.

Basically put, psychology is the science of human behavior which includes thoughts and feelings. Early on in my studies we learned about the "ABCs of Psychology"; which are A for affect (emotion/feeling), B for behavior, and C for cognition (thinking/thoughts/attitudes).

Psychology also has many areas of study; social, personality, cognitive, behavioral, biological and more. These areas cover more specific parts of psychology. Social psychology studies how humans interact with each other. When I posted about altruism for my A post, this is a topic I learned about in my social psychology class. We also covered group dynamics.

Personally, I love how nicely psychology ties into writing. Characters are mostly human, or at the very least intended for humans to be reading about. For me it is fun to apply various psychological concepts to character development. I like to think how my characters turned out the way they did, how they interact with others, how they see the world. These are things you can think about your own characters, or favorite characters in books you have read.

And yes, psychology is a science.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A to Z: Optimism

Optimism, a positive outlook on life. A view about the successful outcome of a future event. These are the "glass is half full" people. According to Wikipedia, the word comes from the Latin optimum, meaning "best.". I like to think of it as seeing the positive elements within a situation instead of focusing on the negative.

It can be interesting to think about which of our characters may be more optimistic than others. How has being optimistic helped your character? For those less optimistic characters, do they get bothered by overly optimistic people? Do they sometimes wish they could have a more positive outlook?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A to Z: Names

Names, what we call each of our characters and ourselves. Something that first answers the "who are you" question at a basic level. I've always found names to be interesting, their means and their origins are fascinating. And of course I like to play with different names for my characters.

When I first started writing I used to spend time matching name meanings to my characters personalities. Then I had an epiphany. If anything a character's name is more reflective of their parents then the character (at least in some cultures). Parents choose a name for their child that they like. It could be passing a relative's name down, it could be an attribute they wish for their child, or simply be something that sounds nice.

I can use my name as an example. For a few months while pregnant with me my mom had the name Amanda in mind. Then she saw a movie (Brother Sun Sister Moon) about St Francis and St Clare of Assisi. She ended up choosing St Clare as my namesake. She is an interesting choice, she started a religious order amongst other things. I remember learning about how St Clare defied her father to join St Francis when I was younger. I like to take out of her story that she was a strong woman who had in mind how she wanted to live her life and did so.

So how do your characters come into their names? Do their parents have anything specific in mind? Are your characters in a society where they choose their own names as a rite of entering adulthood? Do you have any interesting stories about your name?

And because this relates well to my topic, Valerie Comer wrote a nice post on naming characters. She has some good tips in her post.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A to Z: Monster

Monster in the closet. Monster in my closet. Red glowing eyes peering out of a swatch of darkness beyond a partially open door. Haven't we all been scared of something (or someone) at some point in time. Monster in the closet is a nice analogy for whatever we are scared of, from the imagined monster in the closet (or under the bed) of youth, to the very real fears we face as adults.

So what scares your characters? What makes them think twice about doing what they need to do? What fears did they have that they now have overcome? Do they confide in others about their fears? Do they take advantage of the fears of others? Do they reside in a world with actual monsters?

I had been planning on writing about memory tonight, but then I decided I wanted to do something fun. I still may write about memory at some point as it is interesting to think about in terms of characters. "Monster in the closet" was a theme at one of the meetings of the writing group I'm a member of. I guess it stuck a bit.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A to Z: Learning

Learning, the acquisition of knowledge, also can apply to the learning of behaviors. I thought it would be fun for this post to touch on a few types of learning.

Imitation is an early form of learning, before we have enough cognitive development for other types of learning. As the name implies this is learning through copying the actions of others.

Classical conditioning is a pairing of two stimuli, once the learning occurs there is an association between the two. For example, Pavlov and his dogs. He would ring a bell then give the dogs food. The dogs learned to associate the bell with food, and would salivate when they heard the bell.

Operant conditioning is a little more complex than classical. This involves reinforcing a behavior with the purpose of increasing occurrences of said behavior or decreasing occurrences. For example, Thorndike and his cats. He had put cats (one at a time) in a puzzle box with the intent of them figuring out how to escape. The cats would simply lie down, he had to have food outside the box (the reward) to get the cats to engage the door in the box.

This list not exhaustive there are other types of learning. I just thought these would be interesting to blog about today.

What types of actions might your character have imitated from others while younger? How has their behavior been shaped by associations made? How might their parents/friends/others reinforced various actions? How do they want to influence the behaviors of others.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A to Z: Knowledge

Knowledge in which Wikipedia defines as:
"Knowledge is a detailed familiarity with, or understanding of, a person, thing or situation. It can include facts and information, as well as understanding that is gained through experience, education or reason. It can be implicit (as with practical skill or expertise) or explicit (as with the theoretical understanding of a subject); and it can be more or less formal or systematic."

The Wiki article also mentions how knowledge is acquired through various processes; such as perception, learning, and communication amongst others. I think the perception piece of acquiring knowledge is particularly interesting. If you think about it, we all perceive things differently which can influence how we learn what we learn. So different people can learn different things from each other, even in the same situation/environment.

And of course this is fun to think of for our characters. How easy is it for them to learn new things? How comfortable are they with learning? What types of knowledge to they value? And what about the culture they live in, what values are placed on knowledge and the acquisition of that knowledge.

Yes, this poor post is a bit disjointed, I spent about 2 hours at the dentist's office this afternoon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A to Z: Job Descriptions

I had a few possible J ideas that might have worked. Then this morning while getting ready to head out "job description" popped up into my thoughts. Sure, maybe it doesn't look like it fits my theme at first glance, but there is a whole chapter on job descriptions in my industrial organizational psychology text book. (social psychology as applied to the workplace). Then when I came across the Occupational Outlook Handbook later today I figured this would be a fun topic to write about.

A job description, a document that defines someones responsibilities. Some workplaces have more specific ones while others have more general ones. There is much more that could be added in this section, but I'm keeping it short because the character part is catching my muse more.

Characters need some means of support, and it can be useful to think about what sorts of tasks they do on a regular basis for that pay check. What sort of job do they have? What do they like about their job? What don't they like about their job? How does their job influence their identity and self-esteem? How did they get their job?

When it comes to fantasy, historical fiction, and characters who don't have traditional "being employed by someone else" jobs there aren't going to be job descriptions. In these cases it can be interesting to still think about what sorts of tasks a character does to make sure they have food clothing and shelter.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A to Z: Identity

Identity, a person's sense of self. It can be seen as how someone defines who they are. In the interest of not letting this post get to long I'm going to touch briefly on a few components of identity.
  • Different people focus on different attributes/traits for their identity.
  • Culture tie in - what is important to a culture influences what traits/attributes individuals within the culture use to define themselves.
  • People don't exist in a  vacuum, identity also has a self verses others. People compare their self to others and see who others are and who they are.
  • Sometimes occupation can define a person, which can have a greater or lesser influence on the person's identity depending on the individual and the culture. It can be seen as a bad thing if their occupation is their whole identity.
  • And identity is comprised of a mix of attributes. For example someone can see them self as a compassionate generous person who is cleaver and creative and outgoing.

How do your characters identify themselves? What is important to them in said definition for them. While identity can be useful for characters of any age it is especially important in young adult (YA) fiction. In YA the main characters are in the process of figuring out who they are. They are moving away from their parents' idea of who they should be and flexing their own sense of who they are. Of course peer influence can play a part in the process.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A to Z: Hope

H was tricky, I had a few ideas which I though might be fun to write about for today. I ended up choosing hope because I'm in a mood to write about something positive this morning. And I have part of a lyric from Flogging Molly stuck in my head "without hope you might as well be blind" (Tomorrow Comes a Day to Soon). I love Flogging Molly, they are one of my favorite groups.

Hope, to wish for a positive outcome in one's situation. To cherish a desire with anticipation (Merriam-Webster). A distinct form of positive thinking (Wiki). Hope is a feeling that can take on different forms. Hope is what keeps us going when times get rough, or simply give us something positive to look forward to. Heck, it gives us a goal, a drive for working hard towards something.

With writing it can help to think about what our characters hope for. And are they the type to try to attain what they hope for or do they simply wish for it? How do they handle being thwarted when something happens to deprive them of their hopes? Do they rise to the challenge to continue trying or do they simply give up?

Back in Catholic school I remember one of my teachers had said something along the lines of God rewarding those who work for things. She wanted us to be able to pray for things, but also continue to strive for what we wanted. That's something that had stuck with me, in part I think because it encourages more of a self determination. It is good to pray, but we can also rely on ourselves to help bring out our desired outcomes. And of course expressing gratitude when we do attain things is good.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A to Z: Gratitude

Some letters are easier to fit with my theme than others. So I figure I can always do emotions when I need a post topic.

Gratitude, feeling grateful or thankful. Appreciating someone or something.  While conflict is necessary to move the plot along it can be useful to think about what our characters may or may not be grateful for. Knowing that can help us get to know them better. For the characters that are grateful how do they express their gratitude?

I've had gratitude on my mind for awhile thanks to Kerry's 30 days of all things good. I had been posting for that here for awhile, but when my mood got a bit low it was hard to blog about gratitude. Gratitude is good though it can help to focus on the positive. In the future I would like to do more gratitude posts. Probably once I'm done with A to Z.

And I'm grateful that I can save a draft post on the Blogger app on my phone and have it available in my Blogger dashboard online. It would have been tricky linking on the phone, plus I have my saved labels here. It is nice to work on a post while offline on my phone (I seldom use the data plan, my phone also has WiFi which is what I mostly use). 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A to Z Resources/advice

Because there are a ton of people participating (yay), and I tend to get a little over organized I created a spreadsheet to keep track of which blogs I have visited. That way I can make a point of checking out new (to me) blogs over the course of the month.

The link to the spreadsheet. - This is in Google Docs, and I've set it to shared. I didn't set editing on this, it is view only for others. Anyone who wants to should be able to download it, and either use it as a local file, or upload it into their own Google Docs. (If saving then uploading you shouldn't need Excel). Because I've been blogging on multiple devices I left my own copy in my Google Docs and am updating it via the web.

Google Docs does have a mobile option, and some phones can edit Google Docs. But with the long list of blogs in the spreadsheet I've found it tricky to use on my phone. I ended up writing down blog names on paper to be updated later.

I also put together a list of possible topics. Again this is in Google Docs, and set to view only shared. Reading a document should be easier than downloading and uploading a spreadsheet. Feel free to use any of them for the challenge, or simply let your mind wander and think of other things. No credit is needed if you do use a topic as they are only words. Though if you want to share the link, or link back to my blog so others can find said resources that's fine to.

And more of an FYI than an actual resource, but take a moment to see how you look on someones widget when you follow them. From their blog click on your icon and Blogger will pop up a little window. Hopefully you should see a link to your blog. This makes it easy for someone you followed to visit your blog.

When you comment you can link back to your blog that way. Comments do link to profiles, but it can take a bit of time to figure out which is a person's AtoZ blog when they have multiple blogs in Blogger. What I've done to help point out my A to Z blog is put "AtoZ" in my blog title for the duration of the challenge. That way it is easy to spot for other challenge participants.

Also, I created a Twitter List of AtoZ bloggers. Yes, I know there is a hashtag (#atozchallenge) which is good to use. I also like to use lists, they are a handy way to keep track of who else is participating, no matter when they last tweeted with the hashtag. If you are on Twitter and are not on my list let me know and I'll add you. (Comment here, @ me on Twitter, whatever works).

A to Z: Family

Family; what series of psychological related to writing series would be complete without discussing family? Many things can influence a person's development. I already mentioned culture in a previous post. A family brings a person into their culture, a child first learns from their parents what is culturally acceptable. Parents pass down values they think are important to their children. As children grow older they have influence from other sources, but their family members provide that initial learning in their early formative years.

Whenever I create a character I spend some time working out what their family dynamics are. Was the character's mother nurturing, or was she emotionally distant? How has this shaped the character? Was the character expected to follow a certain path in life by their parents? Did the character have older siblings to emulate? Is the character the eldest and grew up with being expected to be the role model?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A to Z: Emotion

Emotions, our state of mind, our feelings, how we react to what is going on. Emotion can have many different definitions, and be seen differently by different people. In addition emotions can also be viewed on a dual level; what we feel internally, and how we express that externally.

One way of showing emotions externally is through facial expressions. Some emotions are easier for others to notice on a person's face such as pain and anger. When I'm writing, I like to try and visualize my character as they are expressing an emotion. I try to see their eyebrows lower in anger, and their eyes narrow. And I try to consider what reaction that will cause in the other characters they are interacting with.

What about your characters? How do different situations effect your character's emotions? How do they express those emotions? Are they more likely to talk out their pain or frustration with other characters? Do they use other characters as scapegoats? Do they try and pretend they are fine?

Yes, I guess I focused on more "negative" emotions here. I could have mentioned more "positive" ones. Though with fiction the ones that cause conflict between characters are more interesting.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A to Z: Dreams

I'll admit, D was giving me a harder time than some other letters. I had been thinking of dream for awhile, along with desire, drive, and a few other random D words. But then I when I went over to the Wikipedia main page and saw their picture of the day is "Hall of Dreams" I figured that was a sign.

There are many different theories on dreams, even within psychology. Instead of delving into current theories to much I thought it might be fun to mention some things I think of in regards to dreaming. There are parts of theories mixed in there. And yes, for this post I'm talking about dreams that we have at night while asleep. Dreams as in things we aspire to/want is a topic that could be fun for another day.

We are constantly exposed to various stimuli, sights, sounds, smells, etc. Some of these we pay attention to and remember while others are relegated to lower brain centers or simply slip by. When we sleep, I like to think that our dreams are composed of all this 'raw material' along with our imaginations. Our minds can mix and match anything to create completely different scenarios then what had happened. Dreams can also tap into our fears and our deepest wishes using the same raw material that is available to us.

Of course this can be fun to think about for our characters. What sort of dreams to our characters have? How likely are they to remember their dreams? Do they consider their dreams to have any sort of prophetic element to them? Have they had any intense dreams that caused them to fear things?

Monday, April 4, 2011

A to Z: Culture

In which Wikipedia defines as:
"-An integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning.
-The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group."

When considering human behavior one should consider the culture from which that person is from. As individual as humans can be, we are all shaped by our culture at some level. What one culture considers normal can be seen as abnormal in the next. In my cross cultural psychology seminar we learned that in some cultures dissociative identity disorder (what used to be referred to as multiple personalities) is seen as someone touched by the divine/gods.

And this is also fun when creating our characters, even ones that exist in the real world. It can be easy to overlook culture in our mainstream fiction characters, but it is still worth considering their culture and subculture. Then with the more speculative types of fiction we have more control over the elements of culture(s). What is normal social interactions for a culture? How does the main character fit in with these cultural norms? Having a character that doesn't quite gel with their cultural norms can be a nice way to work in some conflict.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A to Z: Books

I'm deviating from my theme for today's post. I had a few psychological related ideas, but they weren't seaming to work for me. Behavior would have been fun, if it wasn't so broad of a topic. Bacon would also have been fun if it wasn't completely random. What can I say, it's Saturday and I want  my bacon.

Anyways: Books. I was thinking last night about different types of entertainment/story telling and was pondering how reading can be more engaging than watching TV. At least for me. With a book, there is something about not having predefined images to really allow me to interact with the story at another level.

With having only words readers have a certain amount of flexibility and a certain expectation that they will fill out their own mental image of the characters, places, and objects in the story. Of course everyone has had different experiences, so people will make different associations from the same group of words.

Which then got me thinking about my characters. Which ones of them are readers? What would one character take away from a book that another character would totally miss. Would a late night reading session of a more suspenseful book keep a character up the rest of the night? What types of books do they like best? Or maybe a character just doesn't like to read at all and prefers TV or video games to keep them entertained.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A to Z: Altruism

Altruism, the psychology of helping others. I figured this would be a good topic to start on for the challenge. Altruism is the unselfish desire to help others. There are many theories about why people help each other, and in what situations are more likely to produce helping behaviors than other situations.

So you have your character. Maybe they are the type of person more likely to help. Or perhaps they are in a situation where they are the only person available to provide help. Each character could have different reasons for helping another character out. The different motivations for helping can make for different courses of action in the scene and consequences for the characters.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

30 Days of all things good: A to Z Challenge

I'm excited about the A to Z blog challenge, so why not call it something I'm grateful for. I've been struggling to keep up with blogging recently, and the possibilities of what I can blog about for the challenge have gotten me excited about blogging again. I spent part of tonight with my notebook out and jotting down possible post topic ideas.

With all the people participating in the challenge, I'm going to keep my posts short around 100 words or so. If any of the topics end up really needing more I can write a longer post after the challenge.

Though this leaves me wondering about the all things good posts. At first I was thinking of doing them along with A to Z. Two posts a day for awhile wouldn't be impossible. But I don't know how that would work out for other A to Z bloggers stopping by to have more to read through. And I've missed a few days already for all things good.

It had been nice blogging about positive things, maybe it might be good to have a weekly post of gratefulness after A to Z is over.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gearing up for A to Z

I feel bad for neglecting my blog for a little while, it's been a rough few days.

But at any rate I had a wonderful idea for a theme for my A to Z posts. I had been planning on general writing related posts (which I mentioned over on KarenG's blog post). I got to thinking some more after that and thought it would be fun to do psychological topics as they could relate to writing. Things like emotions, personality archetypes, and such. I might not be able to fit that theme for every letter, but I'm going to see how many will. And it helps that my list of topic brainstorming falls partly in that direction.

And talk about timing. After I had decided on my theme I was browsing through my dashboard and saw this post on using Myers-Briggs for characters by the Plot to Punctuation blog. I recommend reading that post it has some good advice. It was nice to read that, now I don't feel so weird for having taken the Myers-Briggs test as my characters. I think it's even a field in the characters table in my writing database.

Not that this is related to the rest of the post at all, I just want to share. The Bronx Zoo Cobra is on twitter. I was literally laughing out loud at some of the tweets.

Friday, March 25, 2011

30 Days of all things good: Wine

I had though of something else earlier for today's topic, but it slipped my mind before I could jot it down. So for today I'm going to call wine my grateful post. I'm enjoying a nice glass of red wine while I write this, it seams fitting somehow.

I do enjoy a good glass of wine every now and then. My favorite is a chardonnay aged in four different types of oak from a local vineyard. In general I prefer white wines to red, for me a red can get to heavy flavored to fast depending on the grapes used. White tends to be a lighter flavor whether it's sweet or not.

And of course there is always ice wine, which is really sweet and makes for a wonderful dessert wine. It is good served up in a glass or it can be drizzled over some ice cream. To be sold as ice wine in the US, the grapes have to freeze on the vines. That extra time on the vine allows for more sugars to build up in the grapes. Though some vineyards will produce a "delayed harvest" wine, which has grapes on the vine longer than normal but not quite long enough to be called an ice wine. They are pretty good and not quite as expensive as standard ice wine can be.

With writing I like to have a clear head, so I wait to have any wine until I'm done writing for the day. With wine and other drinks sometimes it's fun to think about what my characters may or may not drink. There is a social aspect to it, and in one scene a character of mine is picking out what particular wine he is going to bring to a dinner.

So do you like wine? Any favorites? What do your characters like to drink at the end of a long day or out with friends?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

30 Days of all things good: Humor

I enjoy humor. There is nothing like a good laugh to get in touch with a better mood or for simple enjoyment. It reminds me of the "Laughter is the Best Medicine" jokes in Reader's Digest. Well, the laughing part of humor at any rate.

I was thinking of Conan earlier in that no matter how cruddy my mood seams to be I almost always get some laughs out of his show. I'm so glad TBS picked him up for their network. His humor seams to resonate with me, I think it's his off beat style. Plus to if a joke isn't going over as well as planned he just rolls with the audience reactions and keeps on being funny.

I know humor is very subjective, what makes one person laugh can annoy the next person. Who do you find funny? What types of jokes? What about written humor? 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

30 Days of all things good: Music.

Today's post of all things good is music. I love many different types of music and listen to it often. I even listen to it while writing. When I'm writing I tend to tune out the words and it becomes known background to cover noises of random distraction.

Other times when I'm not doing to much I like to take time and enjoy both the lyrics and the rhythm. When I need a mood pick me up something upbeat does the trick. Or even when I'm in a good mood It's fun to listen to something upbeat. Just this evening I was listening to Ayumi Hamasaki's Fairyland song a few times.

And of course certain songs can remind me of my characters or a work in progress. "I'm a believer" from the Shrek soundtrack always makes me think about my main character from my romantic mainstream novel draft. The lyrics speak to what he's going through.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

30 Days of All Things Good: Books and Story Telling

Something I'm grateful for today is books. I've always loved to read and I'm currently working my way through through CJ Cherryh's Foreigner Series. Well, I'm taking a slight break to read some of Chekov's short stories, but I'm going to get the next Foreigner book after that. I've been enjoying the series, the world is really well put together and the characters are interesting.

I'm also grateful for stories in other media. Sure a movie has different presentation tools to work with to tell a story, though the basic elements are still there. This past weekend I watched Despicable Me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The girls were a riot, and the story moved along nicely. It was a Netflix rental that I would like to buy sometime. I can see myself watching it again.

Monday, March 21, 2011

30 Days of all things good: Creativity

Writing isn't the only creative thing I do, and I'm sure other writers also have other ways of expressing their creativity. In addition to writing I like to make jewerly, draw, digital art, and photography. To me there is such a joy in the creative process no matter what media I'm working in. Plus sometimes to doodling in a notebook or taking some pictures is a good way to move past a part I'm stuck in for a writing work in progress.

One of the things I like about the jewerly is most projects I can finish in an evening and have something complete to enjoy. I like to bead while watching TV, and then I have a new necklace to wear to work the next day. I do tend to look at my jewerly as wearable art. When I look at the necklace, or whatever other piece I have the memory of the time spent making it and that brings a smile to my face.

With the digital art, I've been playing with the Flame Painter, an online painting tool. The Eagle's Aerial Perspective blog posted about it Saturday and I've been having fun with it.

Here's one of the paintings I made:

What creative things do you enjoy?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

30 Days of all things good: Family

I spent a good three hours chatting on the phone with my mom today, it was one of those days when we both had a lot of stuff to catch up on. While I've grown and moved 100 miles away it's still nice to have a connection with family.

And I could almost lump phones in here, as I don't get to see my mom to often. Usually I see her at least once a month when she comes to town for the writer group, though she doesn't come up when the winter weather is bad. Now that spring is almost here we are planning when to get together next. In the mean time it's good to be able to have a reliable phone to call her on, my old cell phone had battery issues.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

30 Days of all things good: My Cats

Today I'm grateful for my cats. As I'm writing this I have one of them on my lap. I've always loved cats and the three my husband and I have now are really sweet. My lap cat Trixie we adopted from the local shelter shortly after we got married, and she decided that I'm her person. She greets me in the morning as I'm getting up, and she is happy to see me when I get home.

I'm also grateful that we are able to provide a home for the three of them. Earlier this week I saw Mutts shelter stories on tv, two animated cats were talking to each other about getting picked to get homes. Something about that commercial hit me and I had tears in my eyes thinking about shelter cats waiting for their homes.

I think it reminds me of Trixie, when we went to look for a cat I locked eyes with her and as we were walking out of the shelter I had a feeling that she was meant to come home with us. So we went back and when the staff brought her into the visiting room she was all over us. We took her home that day and she's been my pal since.

We adopted our second cat, Maya, two years later when the apartment complex changed their rules from allowing one cat to two. Trixie wad lonely during the day and she needed a pal. Within the week they were playing together and Trixie was grooming Maya. Maya came from another location of the shelter Trixie came from.

Toby came to us from family. He needed a home and decided he liked us. He and Trixie butt heads as they both want to be head cat and have all our attention. They are getting better at getting along.

The picture is Trixie on the sofa, having made herself comfortable on my lap blanket.

Friday, March 18, 2011

30 Days: friends and community

I decided to include both friends and community together for this post as they overlap. Friends is rather self explanatory. By community I'm referring to my fellow writers and artists I've connected with via blogs, Twitter, TM writers, and other places. I'm grateful for both friends and community, I've met some wonderful people both online on off.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

30 days of all things good: Spring

Via Kerry Schafer's blog I decided to join in on her 30 days of all things good. Starting today I'm going to post daily about something I'm grateful for.

I’m grateful for spring. Right now the bulbs in my garden are just starting to break the surface of the earth, days are getting longer, it’s getting warmer, and it’s simply a joy to be outside again. The air has that early spring fresh smell. It's not the floral scent that is in the air from later in spring when the flowers are blooming. I could go on more about spring, but I have already blogged about it in a previous post.

So what are you grateful for?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Muse Prompting Monday - Signs of Spring

Signs of Spring:

Spring: growth, change, new life, these things come to mind as I look at the bulbs starting to sprout in my garden. It also makes me think about the characters in my various works in progress, which could easily be applied to anyone's characters. What changes are they they going through? What new things will they experience? What new things will they learn?

In regards to the plants, I'm pretty sure these are the daffodil bulbs coming up based on the location of the garden.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A to Z

I decided to join the A to Z blogging challenge, and I'm excited about the prospect. It sounds like a fun challenge to pick a topic to blog about  based on a specific letter. I am getting a little jump on things now so I don't face blogging block come April.

I decided to brainstorm topic ideas. While I'm going to try to focus on writing or reading related topics I'm sure some days will be random fun. I created a new document in Google with the alphabet typed out, a new line for each letter. Then as I get ideas I type them after their letter. I already have a bunch for C, and some for B, and H. (Things like creativity, books, character, hope, joy and such). As I said, I'm brainstorming. And yes, feel free to use any ideas if they strike the muse, they are just words/post ideas.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

February reads

With February being a short month I only have two books for this post. 

Defender (Foreigner #5) Cherryh, C.J.
I enjoyed reading this book, though it seamed a little slow in spots. The way this one is placed in the series it setting things up to have the characters arriving at the distant space station in the next book. There were a few jokes towards the end of the book with mistranslations, and the dowager character makes a good power play move. The dowager is one of my favorite characters in the series.

Explorer (Foreigner #6) Cherryh, C.J.
This one was rather enjoyable to read with the various levels of intrigue going on. With the space ship dealing with both the space station and new (to them) aliens and the two groups of humans not wanting to cooperate with each other conflict is present through the whole novel. There was also a nice bit of action in this book.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

January Reads

Because I've had a lot going on I've unintentionally neglected my blog. I have been reading though and have read 5 novels over the month of January. I figured I'd share what I read here, and I'm hoping to write some proper reviews at some point. As opposed to a quick few sentences on what I thought of the books.

These are listed in reading order, and I've linked them to their Goodreads pages.
Islands Siddons, Anne Rivers
The first novel read in 2011. This is one my mom lent me I might not have picked it up otherwise. That being said I did enjoy reading this one. The characters were interesting and I enjoyed how she described the setting related details.

Tara Road Binchy, Maeve
Another loan from mom. While the story started out quite a bit earlier than I had expected it worked for the book with setting up the characters and the plot. I enjoyed how much the two main characters grew from their experiences over the course of the novel.

CassaStar Cavanaugh, Alex J.
I really enjoyed reading this book. There were enough details about the setting to create a mental image of the world around the characters, without getting to bogged down in details. The characters are fleshed out nicely and their actions kept the story moving at a good pace.

Scarlet Feather Binchy, Maeve
While I did enjoy this book, I liked Tara Road better. There were developments between some of the characters that felt a little forced. Though the nine year old twins in this book are a riot. I was laughing out loud a few times while reading.

Precursor (Foreigner, #4)  Cherryh, C.J.
I started reading this series last year and I enjoyed this book better than some of the earlier ones. The world is well defined and the alien species is really interesting. Because this is book four I don't want to say to much because it would spoil things in the earlier three books.