Pancake Saturday!

I think I have a secret desire in life to make every pancake known to man…case in point: today’s breakfast!

pancakesChocolate chip and apple pancakes. (I was going to make orange pancakes, but I didn’t have any orange juice. They sound fantastic though!)

I like making them small…they look so cute on the plate.

apple pancakesAnd they are wonderful when paired with any side…Like breakfast sausage, of course.

Today is a lazy Saturday, and I thought I’d take a moment and enjoy it. I don’t get them very often, but when I do, they are glorious. 🙂

I like the sleepy feel of a Saturday morning, when you can shut off your alarm and sleep in. When the sunshine creeps its way into the window, promising freedom…either relaxation in the unexpected warmth, or adventures in the bright sunshine, in the air and the blue sky, of a moment where you can look up and bask in the empty spaces.

A lot happens on a Saturday, or not at all. It’s your choice to do what you will. Maybe shopping, maybe baking…maybe a day trip to the mountains or ocean (if there is one close by). Maybe its the day where you buy antiques…you are forever looking for that pepper shaker that matches the salt shaker that your grandma has.

Maybe its the only day you get to spend time with your kids; so you take them to the park, buy them fast food and send them back to Mom with stinky stains on their shirts and smiles on their faces.

Maybe its a project day: time to get that painting done on the house that you haven’t had time for. Change the oil in your car.

If you are an artist, maybe its the day you paint, or a writer: the day you work on crafting that story that needs a lot of work. Maybe you write a letter to a friend you haven’t seen in a while.

Or maybe, you have to work. And another day is your “Saturday.”

But whatever the case, Saturday is like a gift…something that brings us joy the moment the day unwraps it for us.

I like to spend mine with good food, company and my projects. I have some laundry to get done, to finish painting some picture frames and a story that needs a plot. Today is already a busy day, and I don’t intend to waste it.

How do you like to spend your Saturday, or days off? 🙂

The Beauty of Fall

Trees starting to show their color in a field next to my house. Hopefully we will get some sunny days soon…

Although, I hate the cold weather, I sometimes forget how lucky I am to live in area where I get to witness the changing of the seasons.

To see the beauty of fall: the robust reds, the bright, yellow-greens and oranges of all different shades; light orange, red-orange and some the color of grapefruit.

Bright yellow trees on the corner next to my house.

The smell of the crisp, cool air, the wind that’s got a bite to it; the smell of wood smoke, a hint of sweet, tart ripe apples. Yeah, this is fall, my fall, and I realize I appreciate it a bit more this year than I ever have before.

I don’t know, maybe I’m getting old…Maybe I’m finally realizing that although new places are fun and exciting to see…sometimes, nothing can beat the comfort of home!

Colorful trees in the field behind my house.

Craptastic Cover!!

My craptastic cover for my short story “An Interplanetary Dinner” that I just created in Photoshop!

So, be a dear and go check out my new Short Stories page…it’s up there ^  😀

Did I mention how much I love Adobe Photoshop CS6?! I gotta see if there’s a used version I can find somewhere…my trial is almost up! 😦

The Writer Brain: Seeing the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

Well, went to bed last night and I had a total of 10 views on my blog. Just checked my stats here at about 5 o’clock and I have 109 views! And from different countries, too! (I love that. That you can connect with someone halfway across the world. Oh, the power of words…thank you Mr. Internet!)

So, thank you, Joss Whedon fan out there, who shared my post: A bit of Joss Whedon, Firefly, Dialogue, and Great Writing. It is interesting the traffic change that just one “share” can do…amazing!

More Myrtle Beach…but I love the blue color here – looks so otherworldly! If only it was in better focus…

So, as I was sitting in church this morning I had a thought about what I was going to write about today, I guiltily recorded it in my phone’s notebook as some old lady looked on – no ma’am, I am not texting in church, honest!

I was thinking about this:  How as writers we always try to get the better story.

We twist and we turn things to suit our fancy. (Well, I do sometimes!)

For example, say you are presented with this situation: Your co-worker shows up late for work and then acts awkwardly around the boss.

My thoughts: What is she wearing? She looks sloppy. Okay, there’s a wrinkle in the blouse, her lipstick is smeared…is that cover-up or some kind of bluish-bruise on her cheek? Wait, no, it’s just a freckle. Perhaps the boss took her out for dinner. Maybe he hit on her. Oh, I know! Perhaps they went out to eat, got drunk, hooked up and now they are late because they had to get the morning after pill, but the car ran out of gas and maybe they had a flat tire…oh, and now she’s looking at me funny because I’ve been staring too long at the wrinkle on her blouse. Look away! Look away!

Well, you get the point. As writers we are always looking for the better story. We are always striving for that little bit of detail that will tip our readers off to the fact that hey, something important is about to happen here, pay attention!

In truth: The co-worker was probably late because her kid was sick and she acted uncomfortable around the boss, because he said something to irritate her the day before. That darn boss!

But, the other story was much, much more fun. I stumbled upon an episode of Castle the other day. It was a rerun of the first episode in the whole series, where Castle more or less accidentally helps Beckett solve a case. She gets irritated because he pushes and he prods: Why do people do the things they do? What’s their motive? What makes the better story? But he ends up helping her solve the case. Again, now, who doesn’t love Nathan Fillion?

For me, I am always seeing writing opportunities in normal situations.

For example: The old lady sitting next to me in church. She is wearing brown shoes. She’s got a hat on. White curly hair and sun spots on her legs. She is wearing a green skirt, a forest green in color, but her blouse that she wears is a turquoise green, patterned with flowered embroidery. Her clothing is old, but so is she. But the smile and sparkle in her eyes says that she is in excellent health. She acts nervous though; she told me during the greeting and welcoming portion of the service, it is because she is new, she doesn’t know anyone. But she is so kind to me, with a warm smile. She asks me about my interests. She smiles and pats my shoulder. She encourages me. This perfect stranger, who I only met five minutes ago.

My writer brain is thinking: Holy crap! This woman is a guardian angel. She’s one of God’s own. Oh, and she smells nice. Angels are supposed to smell nice, right? Perhaps she’s on a mission. I haven’t been feeling well…maybe she’s here to heal me, oohh, hallelujah!

(Laughs). Well, you get the point. Again. And I actually did think that today! What a nice elderly woman! I hope I see her again next time. And if I don’t…*cue creepy music*

I guess she was there for a reason. To inspire me to write this post to say: Hey, we writer’s do think differently sometimes…we prod and we poke and we stretch. We look for the detail that no one else sees. We look for the extraordinary in everyday situations. There is art in life. Just like we can create art. And going above and beyond the usual…

Well, that just makes everything much more fun!

Found a short story while I was cleaning!

My mother got these roses for me the other day, ’cause I was feeling so miserable this week. I think it’s safe to say, that I have the best mother ever! 🙂

Felt better today than I have in about a week and I managed to actually get some things done! Was cleaning out my desk and I found this surprise of a short story. I must have written it when I worked at my old job. (It was a customer service position that used to get really boring on week nights, so sometimes I would sit at the desk and work on some of my stories.) I used to joke that it was the first time I could say that technically I was getting paid to write, hehe…

Anyway, I love finding things when you clean! It’s like, I didn’t know I had that…I love the play on words here, too. I think this clever story came from the prompt:

“Before the end of dinner…”    

Before the end of dinner, Earth told everyone he had an announcement. “It is very important everyone and I want you to listen,” he said loudly. Jupiter cleared his throat and moved his chair closer to the table. Saturn pulled out a mirror and started reapplying her lipstick. The other planets exchanged glances with each other and then looked on. Some rolled their eyes; others picked up forks and continued eating. “Pluto, you too, I want you to listen, even if you are just a cold, little bastard…”

Pluto just glared.

“Now,” continued Earth, “I know I’ve mentioned this trouble with global warming…”

“Only about a thousand times,” cut in Mercury. She wore her long, red hair in waves down her back, and flickered gorgeous blue eyes at Earth.

At the long, rectangular table that the planets all sat at, Mercury was the most beautiful. In the past ten years or so, however, Earth only seemed to be getting a little grayer and fatter. He sat at the very end of the table and his black hair drooped over his forehead and into his eyes. And he licked his lips constantly, as if he were thirsty.

Venus had even gone as far to ask if he was sick. Was it Acid? Chemical Wastes? And Uranus told him he looked a bit tipsy and then asked if he’d brought anything to share.

Earth always thanked them when it came to inquiries about his health and pointed out that it was just the same old problem: pollution and global warming.

Ceres, their newest and budding member and perhaps a little nervous, (he’d only been at a few meetings and so far didn’t understand the other planets great importance,) suggested that perhaps a Meteor had struck Earth; he was certain that he had seen some of their cousins floating dangerously close in the outer limits.

Earth took this comment with a dry laugh, a grimace and then took a swig of his coffee. “Anyway…now, my fellow planets,” he continued. “There is something new happening in the outer hemisphere. Some kind of new development. My earthlings inform me that it is Aliens, but to me it is quite a dark matter.”

“What is it?” asked Mars, impatient. He fidgeted in his chair and asked for more coffee. He wore dark rimmed glasses, had an ash colored face and coal-black hair. It was rumored that Earth was his distant father, but Mars was rebellious and in denial.

“I’m not sure,” said Earth. He cleared his throat and ran a hand down an invisible wrinkle in his gray suit. “They won’t tell me much.”

“Is that why you’ve called this meeting?” said Saturn as she flicked her blond hair away from her face. “To tell us something is happening but you don’t know what? What kind of use are you?”

“Now there,” said Venus, who was motherly by nature and couldn’t really help herself. By all appearances, she looked young, but something like unrest swirled behind her dark, purple eyes. “He is trying. Why don’t you be quiet so the rest of us can listen?”

“I, for one, want to know about these Aliens, if that is really what these mysterious creatures are,” said Jupiter with great importance and a voice that boomed and resonated across the room. He was handsome, this Jupiter, with his dark, smooth face and tall, strong stature.

“What are Aliens doing in the upper hemisphere?” asked Uranus, dumbly. He had wide, blue bat-like eyes.

“My God, why can’t you pay attention?” said Saturn.

“Lay off, Sat,” said Neptune as she patted Uranus’s shaky hand. She had dark, brown eyes, and dull brown hair. “Where’s your rings, Sat? Huh?”

“Now, if we can call this meeting to order,” put in Jupiter.

“Did you try the veal?” said Mars to his neighbor, the young Ceres.

“I don’t eat that dirty stuff,” said Earth instead.

Uranus stared rocking back and forth in his chair. He chewed on the ends of his fingernails. “The stars are too loud,” he murmured. “The stars are too loud! Make them stop! Neptune!”

“Now, look what you’ve gone and done!” said Neptune and she grabbed Uranus’s hand and pulled him gently away from the table. “You’ve all frightened him! I hope you’re proud!”

“I don’t see what there’s to be proud of,” said Venus as she glanced about the room.

“Something about the Veal,” said Mars, thoughtfully.

“I thought it was all about that dark matter,” said Saturn. Her perfect tan forehead crinkled, uncomfortably.

“I don’t know what you are all talking about,” said Jupiter. And he looked uncomfortable, like he was too important for such conversation. “Earth,” he said loudly in his deep voice. “You called this meeting. You bring order.”

A glass was rapped harshly on the table until its pieces shattered into Earth’s lap.

“Nicely done,” said Mars smartly.

Quiet!” said Earth. “I am sorry everyone. I did not mean to cause you all worry, nor was it my intention to cause chaos. I just wanted to take a toll to see how everyone will all be effected by this alien business.”

“Not effected at all on my end,” said Mars and for once he looked happy as he sipped his fifth cup of coffee.

Venus gave mars another glance, the coffee was making his dark hair stand on end. “There will be no troubles here,” she said. She smoothed a hand over her gray-brown hair which was pulled back in a French braid. “Although…it is getting harder for me to see.”

“I talked to you about that,” said Jupiter. “Red dots are not good for the sight…”

“Please,” said Saturn. “She can handle anything.

Mercury cleared her throat. “The sun informed me that the Aliens don’t like heat.”

“Where is he this time?” said Venus.

Earth shrugged, but it was Mercury who answered. “On vacation in Oahu. He informs me that there will be extra sun-burns there. He was almost giddy.”

Saturn snorted.

“If we’re done here,” said Neptune. “I’d like to take Uranus home now.”

Earth nodded and the two friends left.

“Close friends, those two are,” observed Jupiter.

“Yes,” said Earth.

“Why can’t we all just get along?” sighed Pluto.

Ceres glanced uncomfortably around the table. He wasn’t sure if that was a question that he was supposed to answer.

“It’s fine,” said Earth. “Meeting adjourned. Until next time.”

“Next time?” said Saturn.

“Yes, the earthlings inform me that there’s going to be a war soon.”

“Interplanetary?” asked Jupiter.

“Possibly,” said Earth.

“That should make life more interesting then.”

“Perhaps it will. I’ll see you all in another thousand years. Meeting adjourned. Oh, and Mars, would you please take care of your coffee cups? They’re littering up my trash.” He glanced pointedly at the waste bin next to the table, which was spilling over with plastic cups and plates from the dinner that they just had. Mars gave him a sullen look.

“Thank you,” said Earth, smartly, and he left the table with everyone else.

A bit of Joss Whedon, Firefly, Dialogue, and Great Writing

Well, had a busy, girlie day with the mother and sister shopping and while me and my sister came home both tired and worn out because we both have some kind of nasty flu bug, I’ve been veggin’ on the couch watching firefly. Did I mention how much I love Joss Whedon?

I love everything about the show. Great characters, great story, great setting, great writing…I love Nathan Fillion. (Uh, how dumb were they to cancel this show??)

Myrtle Beach. Was pining for some place warm and sunny.

Anyway, Joss Whedon is just an amazing inspiration and someone I look up to when it comes to great fiction writing. For those of you who don’t know who is he, he is the master mind behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Doll House. In the earlier years, he was on the writing team of Rosanne. Although more recently, he was the brilliant writer and director behind the movie Avengers.

He is also the reason why a lot of my writing is dialogue-based. From his example, I am inspired by what my characters say, and I want what my characters say to reflect who they are and have them contribute to the overall theme of the story.

There is some annoyance to read a book where the characters just sit around talking to each other and nothing happens. How boring. Just like with a movie, or a TV show, dialogue can make or break a story. And I don’t want that to happen to my writing. I want my characters to say something that actually means something.

Anyway, was playing around with new themes last night for this blog, and settled on this one (for now). That is until (if it is worth it) I will purchase the upgrade so I can fool around with the settings anyway I want! 🙂 Just wanted something that was more accessible to my viewers! Shiny!

Fun in the Sun – Losing the Grip on Reality

Soo, this weekend was a busy one…saw Nemo in 3D, went to a memorial service, shot some bow and arrows at a sporting event at a local church-camp, held some adorable barely month-old kittens and went to an ordination ceremony last night.

Well, Nemo 3D wasn’t as impressive as I thought it’d be, the memorial service was sad but beautiful, and the shooting just left me sore. (I have a chiropractor appointment on Wednesday.)

My mother holding two of the gray and white kittens. There are really four of them…when I am there again, I will take more pictures.

My aunt has these adorable kittens and when they are old enough…I’ll get to take one home! Yay! And the ordination ceremony was interesting, (my brother-in-law was getting ordained as a minister)…

Anyway, the point I was trying to make was this:

Woke up with a sore throat and sinus headache this morning, so I must have caught something at that ceremony last night, uggh!

So here I am huddled on the couch with a blanket, my laptop and some soothing music and wondering how sleepy NyQuil will actually make me…I doubt it’s advisable to apply for jobs in a drug-addled state…hmm…

But of course I did everything else this weekend, instead of writing. I managed to create another cover page for a story…but nope, no writing done…

It made me think about some of the things that I’ve read from other writers on here:  How a writer is an observer. Sometimes we become so preoccupied with observing, that we forget that we are also part of the reality that we live in.

Some emphasize that as a writer, it is just as important to live your life outside of the fiction world. Although things were certainly busy enough this weekend, it is something that I seem to be having more and more trouble with lately. Living in reality. Instead of zoning out…plotting, planning, hearing character’s voices in my head…

***One of the songs I was just listening to. I love the music in the Chronicles of Narnia movie. Another fine example of losing yourself in another reality!***

As the winter months come upon us, I start to dread it a little more…

Every year since I was a senior in high school, I’ve had what people call “the winter blues.” My doctor diagnosed it as “Seasonal Affective Disorder,” where my mood, attention span, etc. seems to be dependent on how much sunlight we may or may not get in a given winter. (I know, move some place warmer, silly! As soon as I get moolah, that might just be my plan!)

There is some correlation between serotonin and the brain, and for some reason, in the winter months…things are a little ‘off’ for me.

Things are certainly better than they were. I have a special sunlight lamp, my diet is much better and I try to exercise more, but there is something else that I notice. As I lose focus on the reality around me, I am able to lose myself in my writing and fictional worlds just a little bit more.

Anyone ever notice that a lot of great writers suffer or have suffered from some form of Depression? Robert Frost…Sylvia Plath…just to name a few…(one day I will do the proper research!)

While I am in no way planning to shut my head in an oven door, I find it interesting that as I become more withdrawn from the real world, the fictional world is welcoming me back with open arms.

This summer, I had the best summer of my life. (Everyone loves a summer romance!) I saw new places, I spent more time with my friends than I ever have before. I see this summer as bright and shining, full of sunshine a warm yellow; and the bright, rippling blue lakes that I drove by when I went to and from various places in the Finger Lakes area.

Me and some girlfriends at Robert Treman state park earlier this summer. (I’m in the brown t-shirt.) What a beautiful day!

And for the first time in about a year: I didn’t write.

Four months went by. I hadn’t written a single thing. (Handsome guys will do that to a girl…) But it makes me question myself. Should I still call myself a writer?

My notebooks didn’t get forgotten…I still had them with me wherever I went. I jotted down a few ideas, came up with a character name, a different story plot, but I didn’t string more than three or four sentences together. No dialogue got written. I might have started two paragraphs in a story and then, hey, there was swimming to be done, and kissing and movies to watch and cuddling…

But here I am, back to reality. Ironic, really. Summer romance done, full-time job over. The reality that I lived in this summer was probably as close to a fiction one as I’ve ever saw myself in.

I suppose the idea is this: When dreams aren’t being fulfilled in reality, I try to live them in the fiction world. What happens then, when I have a really good day?

Hmm, it’s a troubling thought. But I understand, (maybe more than some,) how important it is to maintain a good balance.

And I blame it on that movie, The Words…damn that clever, thought-provoking writing!

“Eventually, all writers have to make a choice,” says a character in the film. Do you live in the fictional world? Or maintain a grasp on reality?

Hmm. Here’s a thought: Why can’t a person do both??

Random Drivel – Job Search Continues

Well, the job search continues…as I’m panning through the various jobs that are out there (or not out there) the anxiety is starting to rise…

It is becoming evident that in order to find a job, and in order to find one fast–I’m going to have to do something that I told myself I would not go back into– the dreaded RETAIL INDUSTRY…

What is it? It’s a bird? It’s a plane? No, it’s my car covered in about 2 or 3 feet of snow we got winter of 2011. Oh, fun times at the University..(been feeling very Binghamton nostalgic case you haven’t noticed!)

Now, okay enough with the drama okay, it can’t be that bad right? Well, for the past three or four years, (while attending college or after college,) retail is all I’ve done and I told myself, that I will not work one more Christmas in the dreaded retail business. (Plus, it pays crappy too!)

Oh, sure, you can make great friends and the discounts in some stores…not too shabby…but every year the Christmas music starts playing just a little bit earlier, the prices get just a little bit higher and the customers get a little more crabbier. Most Christmas music starts playing the day after Halloween. Halloween! Thanksgiving is not even considered!

I like some great turkey and mashed potatoes as good as anyone…but to ignore Turkey-Day completely..Puhleesse.

Anyway, I digress…Christmas in the retail business BAD. And leads to a very unhappy Amanda. It is hard to enjoy the holiday when everything is so commercialized…it really puts you in a very un-holiday like mood. Grr.

So…where does that lead me? Hoping I can snatch a job real quick in the next month while still applying for other opportunities. The idea of just randomly sending out resumes to various states and opportunities is sounding more and more appealing…

I shall go where the wind takes me…

PS. I’d like to focus next week on more of my eBook publishing and my novel itself. So look forward to updates then. Perhaps, this weekend, if there is time…there will be posts on Dawn’s Rising.

How is it that an unemployed person can have no time at all lately?? Aghh!!

I think I tripped over my mountain somewhere between this morning and noon today…Grrr.

Climbing My Mountains, One Step at a Time

In case you didn’t notice…I had a bit of a rough time last night.

The weight of the world was on my shoulders and sometimes you can’t help it, you feel yourself sinking down into that deep, dark abyss.

Heavy and dreary skies at the beach at Wilmington, NC.

I watched my niece earlier today and as I was playing the “Be Patient” song to her on YouTube from the music machine, it had me thinking about the other songs my mother used to play for us as kids, and among them were the Psalty Song Book Praises.

Now, for those who don’t know who or what I’m talking about it was a series of music tapes created by a church group aimed to spread the love of God through kids songs.

And yes…I grew up in a very christian home and as I’m certainly not as innocent and trusting as I was back then…sometimes a message meant for kids, hits just as close to home when you are an adult.

And that is a song called “One Step at a Time.”

No matter what gets you down in life, you can climb your mountains… one step at a time.

Whether it be school, job, your kids, your homework…everything is easier to tackle little by little. I shouldn’t let that mountain-load of stress get me down…even if it does seem a heavy load to bear…

Rainbow in the sky over Binghamton University. Taken about April 2011.

Remembering that if I climb on top of it, look at the larger picture, one itty-bitty step at a time… “I’m gonna make it!”

And whether it be God, your parents, your husband or your best friend, no one is alone in their troubles…or you don’t have to be. A friend is there to lighten the load. Just like laughter is, just like love.

And loving something or someone other than yourself, other than your troubles…makes the world brighten.