5 Reasons Why I Should Never Read a Mystery Novel

When I visit my local ELA Library, I usually do a quick pass through the New Mystery section. If the latest Alex Delaware (by Jonathan Kellerman) or Kinsey Milhone (by Sue Grafton) novel is available….YES. Mine, grabbing it like a child and holding it close.

I then put aside whatever I am reading and delve into those books.

Most genres I can set aside at the appropriate times. But, when I get engrossed in a mystery, forget it. The details, the short section breaks, the quickening pace, keep the pages turning long after they should.

Here are a few of the reasons why I should not even start a mystery, unless I have a day to focus on it:

  1. Dinner -what dinner? Are you really hungry tonight?
  2. These woeful eyes staring when their walks are delayed.IMG_4713
  3. Pages might get warped near the shower.
  4. At 11 pm I will resolve to read “one more chapter”; suddenly it is 2 am. And I have to be up in 4 hours for work!
  5. Can’t read it when at the gym. So postpone the workouts, right?

The same often happens with the latest Stephen King or a few other authors, but it always happens with a tight mystery.

The journey continues.

C

Note: feel free to substitute “binge watch the latest HOT series”, “start a puzzle”, “search online for cheap airfares” in the title, depending on your tastes.

2017 Direction of My Blog Decided

imgp2037_2
Love the remnants of this sign I saw on the highway. 

I am choosing action and positivity, despite the ugly, misogynistic, racist, ranting posts, emails, and behavior this election has spurred. I have un-friended, defended, commented, ignored, and now decided it is time to engage, influence the change in direction of the conversation.

On my last post, I wasn’t sure what to do with this blog. But, now I have a plan for 2017. Each week my posts will focus on something to get us through these turbulent times.

I asked my family and friends on Facebook for some ideas of what to write about. The initial suggestions I threw out were: family, inclusion, action, exercise, technology, activism.

Here were some wildly varied and unexpected ideas inspired by people who read that post, in no particular order:

  • Nature and my photography
  • Reasonably prices wines and champagnes (there were a couple suggestions for this topic. You know me well, my friends!)
  • Exercise and healthy eating during the holiday season
  • The art of a civil conversation when there is disagreement
  • Favorite places to travel and why
  • Choose a word (like ‘peace’, ‘inclusion’ ‘determination’) and tell a story around it
  • Find an inspiring person and tell how they have moved me
  • Research my past and find a lasting impact a relative has had
  • Good books to read
  • Gift ideas for 20-something aged children
  • Favorite holiday traditions – how and when they came to be
  • Acts of Kindness that I see in the world
  • Charities and groups that need attention and help

What creative ideas, many that I would not have thought of! A couple people also volunteered to help guide some of the posts (ie. a friend who is a nutritionist/trainer).

Now I need to decide if I should use this blog as the forum for 2017, or if I should start a totally new one. Feel free to add other ideas below! I welcome other ideas, since I have 52 weeks to fill.

A new direction, a changed journey.  How exciting.

C

Where Does this Blog Go Next and other New Year’s Resolution Conundrums

I resurrected my blog this year as part of my New Year’s resolution to spent 10 minutes a day (10MaD) to “explore the arts” in 2016. The idea came from an article by Eric Zorn in the Chicago Tribune. 
My resolution included writing in this blog, my work blog, and taking photographs. You can read about my first blog post about my 2016 plans here. I wanted to also start on a novel, but the time is too fragmented to do much more than flush out characters.
What have I enjoyed? 

  • Verbalizing my opinions and ideas
  • Sharing my essays
  • Writing poetry again
  • Taking personal photo assignment days to improve my work
  • “Meeting” other bloggers
  • Keeping my business site, along with the personal site, current
  • Coming up with new ideas to write about
  • That 10 minutes often turns into 30-60 minutes of creativity.

What has been stressful?

  • Carving out that 10MaD during travel or very crazy days
  • Coming up with new ideas to write about
  • Sharing my ideas and thoughts with friends and strangers, opening myself up for criticism

The next month I will be reviewing the type of content I have added to both my sites this year. What topics resonated? what formats? Interestingly, many more people post comments an my Facebook and Twitter links. Should I keep this site active in 2017? Start something new that focuses on one topic?

 I will certainly keep posting on my business site. I often share those posts with clients, prospects can learn from it, other industry sites have shared some posts, and I get feedback from other database marketing industry professionals. 

If you have any ideas or feedback, I would love to hear from you.

Updating My Blog Design

I didn’t think it would be this stressful, updating the design for my blog. The old look was outdated, with clashing colors and hard for people to share. Time for a new attitude! For the past couple weeks, I checked out other blogs, tested different formats.

What image was I trying to evoke?

Which had a clean design? Uncluttered?

Where could I best highlight some of my photographs?

Which allowed easy and obvious sharing?

Which said ME?

Which formats would best show the work I have already shared?

After searching a variety of sites, I can say that there certainly are a wide variety of WordPress formats to fit many personalities, uses, and goals.

I selected a handful I thought I might like, then ignored that list for a couple days. After a final review, I whittled that list down to 2 I liked. Time to test! I tried one, and it was way too in-your-face. I changed it to the one you see here: Hemingway Rewritten. Spare, lots of white space, like his writing, of which I have become a huge fan over the last couple years.

Once I finalized the theme,  I added the widgets, cover shot, re-organized the columns.

Would anyone but me notice? Would anyone care? And is this representative of who I am, today? tomorrow?

Personally, I like the updated design. I think it easily shows who I am.

Now I wonder–do I like my content? My posts are simple, honest, emotional, reminders. There are short articles, photos, poems, rants, feelings, growth.   Too much? Too little? For now, like Goldilocks, I say just right. Or write.

C

P.S.  The day after I wrote this, I noticed that People.com updated their design.  I wonder how many people and how much time went into their changes?

P.P.S  Feel free to share your feedback or suggestions on the new look.

 

Sunday Night Blues

Sunday, during the daylight hours, has that “weekend” feel. We enjoy some free time, pursue hobbies, run errands, start or complete projects, or just chill. But by dinnertime, it whispers in our conscious that the Week is starting soon.

Sunday, after our evening meal, that voice is hammering in my head: time to start the Monday-morning-prep. Mentally and physically, it can tarnish the end of a stellar weekend.  During the school year and with fewer daylight hours, time seems to compress further. And it is the whole family who feels the end of the weekend, not just me.

The minutia starts to over power my restless mind—the upcoming week’s work and family schedule overlaps. I set priorities now so we can start Monday by doing, not necessarily thinking. We are not all morning people, especially on Mondays!

I keep trying to think of ways to extend the weekend feelings until Monday morning. But, I think it would exhaust me out more to wake up Monday and not be ready to jump into the week.

I wondered, do similar feelings reverberate through our neighbors homes?   Asking a couple friends, they confirmed that similar routines and emotions run through their households. After writing most this piece, I found a 2015 Monster.com poll that showed a whopping 78% of American workers have these “Sunday Night Blues”. Wow, I had no idea!

How can we extend that weekend feeling a little longer? Most weekends we try to have a family dinner on Sunday night, which brings us together to relax, catch up, and plan for the week. We recently took a spontaneous drive to the beautiful Lake Geneva WI to wander and eat alongside the lake, which was a great change of pace. Maybe we should tweak our Sunday schedules, allow for a little more flexibility and surprise. Keep the weekend feeling alive just a few hours longer, leaving us just a smidge of time to gear up for Monday’s alarm clock ring.

If you have found successful tactics for easing into Monday morning, let me know!

C

Novel Writing & Procrastination

How many words, books, articles have been written about the actual process of writing a novel? How many lectures have been given by teachers, authors, researchers, brainiacs,or idiots about this topic?

imgp4242Yet, writers tackle their work in a variety of ways, just how we can each see a different image in the floating clouds. Some authors start with outlines, some the themes, the characters, or the essence of the idea.

I have been frustrating myself, diving into this endeavor. I have written in many formats, but my goal is to craft a novel. I could procrastinate further, simply researching the methods people use to complete their novel.

Do I create new characters, the theme, the tone, flush out a character already created in a short story?   Do I write it in long hand or type it on the computer? And how do I make it MY story, without turning a real event or person I know into a blip, a chapter—especially if it’s going to hurt someone? Do I write when the mood hits, or set aside time each day to write, amongst all my other responsibilities?

It’s so easy just to get lost searching online, trying to find the ”best” way to write a novel.   But, we are all artists. We all have our own creative flow—so when that story comes, we need to capture the words and mood before they vanish from our thoughts.

We also need the discipline to actually finish the draft. It’s a lonely process. Then be unafraid to show it to someone. Even if it remains unpublished, sometimes creating the beginning to the end is enough.

How many unpublished manuscripts sit in drawers, closets, on DVD’s, in notebooks?

Now, I better stop procrastinating and start writing. My notebook with my character sketches is waiting to be further filled out.

C

Tap Dancing

Tap. Tap. Tap. What is that noise? I thought, glancing around my office while on a call.

Tap. Tap. I watched papers I had posted on my bulletin board. Were they gently blowing with the air coming through the vents? Nope.

Tap. Scratch. Tap. Were there stacked folders, making that noise? Nope.

What the heck?

Silence for a short while, or maybe the music playing drowned it out.

Another phone call, so off went the radio.

TAP. TAP. What the hell is creeping inside my walls that connect to the exterior of the house? Is it a squirrel? A skunk? A bird?

I walked outside the front door, looking up at the front of the house. No hole, no nest, no landing spot. I meandered around the corner, still looking up. No animals climbing up the walk, hooked to a drainpipe.

There, in the corner under fascia were 2 bees. 10 bees. No, 15+ bees swarming in and out of a hole.

Uh oh. I jogged back to my office, then silently listened. THAT was the persistent TAP. TAP. TAP.   I could now distinguish multiple creatures moving in the wall.

I immediately called the exterminator. The opening the bees found was 3 floors off the ground, so I had no clue how we would remove those wasps without help.

I tried to work at my desk, but the consistent noise was creeping me out. I kept envisioning them working through that drywall—I know it happens—and flying angrily around my house. Of course, my office is lofted so there would be no way to isolate them into a single room.

The next morning, that same wall was quiet. Had they moved? No, still swarming outside, so they are building somewhere in that tiny opening.

Were building, as our trusted exterminator Brian stopped by in the afternoon. With protective covering, an extremely long pole, and some white powder, he exorcised that hole. I watched from inside as those angry wasps tried to attack the end of the pole, then flew off.

No more tap. Tap. Tap. Just a few confused wasps outside, the bulk of them having moved on.

Silence. Sigh. Relief.

C