Tag Archives: Connecticut

Memoir Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Friend

On Saturday, my niece and I said hasta pronto to my husband who we dropped off at the Stewart International Airport for his birthday trip to Guatemala.  One of his goals this year is to become fluent in Spanish and when a local Norfolkian recommended a Spanish immersion program in Antigua, I couldn’t resist surprising him for his 34th birthday.

Heath and Jori Fixed

My husband will be gone a total of 10 days, but on the plus side I get to spend this time with my niece.  She’ll be visiting for the next week and I’m super happy to spend this time with her. She just wrapped up her sophomore year at UT Austin and I am 100% confident that she has now surpassed me in some educational ways seeing as she is a double major in chemistry and economics.

One of the aspects I’m most enjoying about her experience is listening to the sounds she makes while reading books. She just finished Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons yesterday and she cracked me up with her gasps and shouts of shock, surprise, and frustration.

Angels and Demons Cropped

We’ve also been watching season 1 of Gilmore Girls because she is a huge fan and on our agenda this week is to go on a Gilmore Girls driving tour.  The show takes place in a fictional CT town called Star Hollows, but it is based on Washington Depot, CT, and Kent, CT.

I’m not sure how much I’m enjoying the show because I find one of the main characters to have a rather obnoxious and grating personality. She always has a wise crack for every situation and her relationship with her mother is rather tempestuous but it appears to be a lot of her own making.

However, despite the show being on television I feel like I am learning some useful writing techniques for crafting characters. One of the comments I received from two individuals about one of the dogs in my Top Dog book is that he’s bordering on obnoxious.  The other four people who read my pages found him hilarious. So the majority wins, but the former comment still gives me something to consider.

Ultimately, I think it’s a good comment because the main character in the book also thinks this dog is obnoxious, but others think of him as a lovable bloke. It’s good to know I’m reaching different perspectives with the writing of him.

Also, in a pivotal scene in the book, this character then does something thoughtful and gracious and I like how I provided insight into the true heart of the character. The main character also recognizes this and it’s why she can forgive him for his many past deeds.

Yet, I don’t want children turned off by the character so much that they put the book down.  I have yet to say to my niece, “No more Gilmore Girls,” and part of that is because I want to keep watching this character to see if I ever reach a tipping point where I’ve had enough of her and never want to watch the show again. I think that would highly instructive in my own writing and I’m feeling good about the fact that I can “multitask” while spending some quality time with my niece.

I also like that I can get my niece’s perspective on the show and hear about what plot and characters she loves or hates. It’s so useful to have this kind of feedback to then inform my writing process and she’s obviously a brilliant and insightful person. For the record, so is my husband, but the insight of a 34-year-old man is quite different from a 20-year-old woman.

All in all, I think this is going to be a wonderful visit. Lots of pups to love, lots of books to read, one show to watch, and visiting attractions all over the state of CT. So who else wants to come visit? Think of how much you can help my writing!

Smudge and Faith

Memoir Monday, November 21st, 2016

back-to-ct-we-go-title

We are back in Norfolk, CT!  My husband I enjoyed it so much here that when our next pet and housesitting job ended up being canceled, we accepted an offer to return for the holidays.   But now that we’re back it’s time to set some new goals based on what I learned the last time we were here.

One of the things I’m trying with these goals is to make them S.M.A.R.T.(er) than my previous ones.  For those of you who don’t know, I spent several years conducting program evaluation research.  One of the keys for measuring success is that objectives must be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.  Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1)      Write 6,000 words per week specifically for one of my novels

Rationale: I want 2016 to be the year I start and finish a novel.  If I stay on track with this goal, that gives me an additional 36,000 words.  Since I already have 35,000 words written for my middle grade novel, this should be more than enough to finish and make substantial progress on some of my other unfinished writing.

2)      Attend a weekly writer’s group

Rationale: Writers’ groups are invaluable for providing feedback and connection to other writers.  I cannot say enough good things about them and I’ve been blessed to belong to some outstanding ones (Durham Writers’ Group, Schenectady Public Library, United Church of Christ Congregational Norfolk, and SCBWI Eastern CT).  Attending a writers’ group on a weekly basis will also keep me writing a variety of projects.

3)      Listen to at least one Brandon Sanderson lecture on writing each week

Rationale: From my 8 years of teaching research writing, I have good technical writing skills.  Imagination and creativity are also two of my greatest strengths.  But after reading Libbie Hawker’s Take Your Pants Off: Outline Your Books for Faster, Better, Writing, I realized I still have a lot to learn about fiction to take my writing to the next level.  One of my good friends highly recommends Brandon Sanderson’s lectures and my husband reads his books.  Since I write a lot of fantasy, I thought this would be a good fit for me.  Plus, he’s got a lot of material freely available on the internet.

4)      Read at least five chapters of a novel every week

Rationale:  It’s simple – if you want to be a better writer, you need to read.  A LOT.  This is something I don’t always prioritize, especially when I’m reading a book that has slow pacing.  If I can learn to identify the strengths and weaknesses of others’ writing, though, I think this will make me a stronger writer in the long-term.

5)      Complete 3 sets of PT exercises every day

Rationale:  My right hamstrings, hip, and quadriceps are much weaker than other muscles in my body.  I know, weird, because my left hamstrings, hip, and quadriceps are doing just fine.  What these weaknesses amount to is, however, is pain.  As a big believer in prevention, these exercises should help me stave off any long-term issues.

6)      Spend 20 minutes every day on physical exercise

Rationale:  I’ve gotten blobby both physically and cardiovascularly.  I’m only 39.  I should be able to walk up a hill without getting winded.  Last November, I LOVED how I looked and felt.  I even kept up with my workout routine when I spent two weeks at the UN climate change conference in Paris.  I have no excuses.  I let myself go by making choices that did not honor my health and body on a regular basis.  I will always love myself unconditionally, but that doesn’t mean I won’t hold myself accountable for risking my health in this way.

7)      Eat one salad every day that contains at least four colors of the rainbow

Rationale:  See points above.  We cannot do it better than nature and that includes food choices.  I love rainbows, so I might as well start eating them.

8)      Meditate twice daily for 20 minutes each time

Rationale:  Nothing has improved my life as much as meditating on a regular basis.  It started in November 2013 with Oprah Winfrey’s and Deepak Chopra’s Desire and Destiny Meditation series.  I started making some real life changes after I started meditating and I can honestly say I’ve never been happier.

9)      Spend 20 minutes every day reading or listening to spiritual material

Rationale:  With my meditation time, this gives me approximately one hour per day devoted to spiritual health and my relationship with God.  In all honesty, I don’t think seven hours a week is actually enough and there have been times when I devoted two hours a day to spirituality.  Once I am successful with recreating these life goals as habits over these next two months, I’ll check in to see if I can amp up my spiritual time because time spent reflecting and connecting with God and the Divine is never wasted.

10)   Explore someplace new every week with my husband

Rationale:  My husband and I like to go on adventures and we especially like to be out in nature.  This will ensure that we actually do the things we say we’re going to do.  As an added bonus, I get to spend time with my husband and he’s super fun and cute.

So there you go – 10 goals and two months.  You may be thinking oh my goodness, that’s a lot! I thought the same thing when I typed the list out, which is why I limited it to only 10 goals (believe me, I could have come up with a lot more).  The truth is I do a lot of these activities on a regular basis already; the only difference is now I’m trying to measure and quantify them to help me manage and be more productive with my time.  I am confident I can do it!  I will keep you posted and in the meantime, please send me all the love and support you can.