Friday, February 26, 2010
I thought getting my laptop would be easy-peasy lemon squeezy. I'd be able to hook it up and boom- I'd be typing out more novels like a crazed mad woman of words...Flitting from couch to kitchen and bedroom---Not stopping for anything but nourishment and baths---and maybe some interaction with others...
Nope- uh-uh.... I'm not nearly as educated as I thought and it was in NO way as easy as I had first hoped.
When the laptop arrived yesterday, I was just so excited I would be able to start moving around elsewhere in the house to work on my writing that I hadn't taken several things into consideration because I wasn't concerned about getting online for anything.
Registration and Warranty-
If you pay for warranty in whatever yearly increments, you WILL have to go online to activate it. I thought- Okay, that's simple enough- I was instructed to go online and activate it when the hardware arrived. I thought that meant the laptop itself. I figured I could just punch in serial numbers and product numbers and code numbers, blah blah blah...
But--- You can't activate the WARRANTY until your PRODUCT is registered first and that entails going online as well. You have to access the company's website so they know you have it before you can put a warranty on said product.
The customer service associate my husband placed the order through assured him my Microsoft Office would be FULLY installed and I wouldn't have to worry about registering it so I would be able to continuously use it—unlike with the trial versions on most computers where you have a time limit, once opened it has to be used in 30 or 60 or 90 days before you have to decide to purchase the full program or not....OR so many uses before having to register it.
Oh, sure, it was FULLY loaded on and I got the backup disks, and I put in my product code once I opened up the program the first time and therein, it informed me that I would be able to use it 25 times before I HAD to go online or call them to "register" the product in order to use it- otherwise some options might not be available to use.
So, this disturbed me why?
Because I didn't want to use my laptop until the warranty was on it and all that stuff needed to be done online, but via the laptop, not my home PC.
This wouldn't have been that big a deal, except I chose NOT to get the virus and spy-ware programs on my laptop since I wasn't going to be going online with it at this point.
Much as I didn't want to go online unprotected, I realized I would have to, even if it were momentarily to take care of these important issues. I tried to wire into my laptop with our DSL line, but I know NOTHING about configuring ISP codes and whatnot and it wouldn't let me in until I could do that. I finally got frustrated and gave my brain a break until my husband got home from work so he could help me.
In the meantime, it got me to wondering why EVERYTHING electronic these days HAS to be registered online or why you have to access a website just so you can use the item. We never had to register our boom boxes or walkmans or VCRs, but nowadays it just seems they expect everyone to own a computer and have internet access so they can "track" your every move and purchase and it irks me.
Suppose you just wanted to buy your item, be it an MP3 player or a laptop or a PS3- take it home, open the box, plug it up and have the instant gratification of using the item once you have it in your possession? Why does it have to be so complicated and convoluted to buy things anymore? (Yeah, hubby had to go online with his PS3 to get "important" updates! ACK!!)
Well, needless to say, I got my laptop registered. After we tried and tried to figure it out on our own, my husband called our internet and phone provider and they talked us through manually setting up my laptop with all the code numbers for our ISP. I registered the laptop and checked the warranty, which apparently had already been activated several days ago when my laptop shipped via the computer company and I registered my Microsoft Office while I was at it so I won't have to worry about that either.
I can now use my laptop with our internet service- if I want to- and we could even get one of the wireless routers so I could access it from elsewhere around the house- but I don't think I'll be doing that until I check into adding some virus and spy-ware protection. For now, I just want to get used to it and start figuring out Word for my writing and I need to save copies of my novel manuscripts into Word documents so I can work on them on my laptop instead of on this computer.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Male animals living in packs, such as wolves and wild dogs, compete to be the leader of the pack. This brings the strongest and smartest male to the leadership position and every pack has a leader who dominates and leads the other members of the pack. Thus the human Alpha Male refers to a type of man who is strong, smart and a leader. Others respect his decisions, and tend to not challenge him. An Alpha Male moves and stands in ways that show he expects to get what he wants without being questioned or challenged. After all who’s going to attack the biggest and most powerful?
Men can display some of their Alpha tendencies by consciously using their body posture. Standing or sitting erect with chest out, head up, arms relaxed and not flailing about are signs of dominance, and thus Alpha Maleness. Moving only when necessary, and moving slowly and deliberately indicate great self confidence, pride and determination. So an alpha male can be both the protagonist and villain on the page.
Alpha Males tend to display the following behavior patterns.
1. Aggression. This does not mean to be argumentative, belligerent and ready to fight but involves being dynamic and doing what needs to be done. They don’t wait to be shown what to do—they’ll ask forgiveness, not permission.
2. Assertiveness. Alpha males tend to communicate in a clear, straight forward fashion, respectful of others as long as others are following the Alpha’s direction. Alphas are used to leading and taking responsibility for others so they assume others will acknowledge this by following blindly and without complaint.
3. Courage. Alphas are ready and willing to confidently tackle problems and see them resolved. They take responsibility not only for themselves but for those under their protection—their family, their group, their community. There’s a reason why organizations such as the military or law enforcement abound with Alpha males. There is a structure, hierarchy and willingness to accept responsibility for doing the hard jobs, as well as an awareness of what protection of others entails that attracts Alphas to these fields.
4. Persistence. Alphas can and will keep focused on their goals and apply all resources until goals are achieved. These are not easy men to divert or stop once they’ve determined what they see as the right course of action to take.
Research has found that males, especially young ones in their teenager years, compete in many subtle ways for a perceived Alpha Male position on sport teams, gangs, or in neighborhoods. One way they demonstrate their Alpha Maleness is by taking risks and doing dangerous things. Risk-takers are advertising their fitness to potential mates by showing off their strength and bravery.
More body language cues the dominant person uses can include:
· Directs and controls the conversation. A true dominant steers the conversation without resistance from others in the group. An Alpha Male-wannabe will hog the conversation.
· Freely asks questions and expects a response back but gives little or no self-disclosure. The Alpha male-wannabe will assume the conversation is all about them and steer it in that direction.
· Stands with hands on hips, elbows out to sides. Takes up more personal space that way and wants to look bigger. If sitting tends to also take up more space.
· Stands or sits taller than others subconsciously.
· Freely interrupts others speaking, not to shut down others but because he and others are willing to listen to him. Others don't interrupt him. Alpha Male-wannabes will override others to prove their points and shut others down.
· Long pause when answering a door knock, or replying to someone. Makes others wait. Not as rudeness but as the highest in a hierarchy.
· Freely touches others whereas others don't touch back. Example – a boss would pat an employee on the shoulder or back but the employee does not feel comfortable initiating or returning the gesture. Alpha Male-wannabe will use the touch in inappropriate ways.
· Will stare at others and as a result demand their attention. Others don't do the same back. Think of law enforcement officials in any kind of public interaction.
· Never breaks eye contact first. Others usually break eye contact first by looking down, signifying submission.
· Occupies a bigger personal space and crowds others on purpose but only because they are used to protecting their space and wanting, subconsciously, the strongest offensive or defensive position.
· Takes the lead purposefully when walking and going through doors.
· While sitting, will put hands behind head, put feet on desk, remove eye glasses and put ear-piece in mouth, or turn chair away from others and stare out window. [though many of these gestures are more common to men than women]
To learn more from Mary about the wonderful dynamics between male and female characters check out her upcoming live workshop in Lexington, Kentucky:
2nd Annual Kentucky Romance Writers Spring into Writing Workshop
on Saturday, March 20, 2010 - 9:00 A.M. - 5:00 PM
Sex Between the Pages: Understanding and Writing Sexual Tension
with Mary Buckham
COST: $25/MEMBERS; $30/NON-MEMBERS
HOST HOTEL: Hyatt Place, 2001 Bryant Road, Lexington, KY 40509 (For reservations call: 859-296-0091)
For more information visit:
Award-winning author Mary Buckham has worked with thousands of writers both on-line and in live workshops throughout the U.S. and Canada. She loves meeting writers at all levels of their development. She’s also the co-author of the ground-breaking plotting book BREAK INTO FICTION®: POWER PLOT YOUR NOVEL (Adam’s Media/June 2009).
To learn more about Mary visit her website www.MaryBuckham.com or www.BreakIntoFiction.com
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
I'm feeling less than joyous, less than accomplished- less than interested in what I know I should be doing and that's WRITING.
I just can't seem to wrap my mind and my heart around my characters when I don't have the emotional aptitude in recent days, weeks, months to achieve what I would like to...Perhaps I have a bit of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) or perhaps I've burnt out on romance and love from writing so much in so little time that my love tank is sitting on empty...
I'll give only a 1/4 of that to SAD though and the reason for that is because I have been out of the writing loop for over a year now—not just for a month or so. I can't have SAD year round...At least, I sure hope not! LOL
No, I've pushed myself, burning the candle till both ends have sizzled out and there's nothing left of the wax in the middle except a puddle and no wick to ignite.
I want to embrace the characters of my story and have them pull me down the rabbit hole- sucking me into their world so I can escape mine for a time and get their story finished.
It doesn't seem I have the touch anymore though. I keep looking for it, but half the time I feel like I sit and stare at the words in the file in front of me and I just don't SEE what I need to see. I can't seem to unlock that door or window that leads where I need to follow.
Even making the schedule for myself only takes me so far. I have hours laid out for writing, but when I open that file, nothing happens. I'm not connecting with the characters the way I did before. I even talk to them out loud—thank goodness that's when I'm home alone!—I ask them to talk to me, to open up, but I get no response.
It's frustrating and discouraging and well, when I woke up this morning feeling "less than" it was just all the more discouraging. Yesterday was a bust and today's not looking much better. Going to open the file anyway and see if I can get through some of it.
Got a special blog post coming up tomorrow, so stay tuned!
Saturday, February 20, 2010
I had noticed them before today, honestly, but the wintry weather we've been foraging through seems to make their arrival a bit premature. It's not Spring and yet, bluebirds have begun staking their claim on nesting sites around here.
Pretty little fluffed up things, bring a smile to my face when the sun is shining brightly and I see that vivid splash of blue as they take the wind and glide away.
It's that shock of blue that catches the eye and inspires a feeling that Spring is truly on it's way. You don't see colors like that in the midst of winter's gloom. Only around the holidays in the mix of sparkling lights and paper and ribbons. After that....it's all grays and browns till Spring's colors start to show.
It makes me wonder what my little co-residents know that I don't.
Do they feel the changes coming? The warmer weather on it's way? What exactly is it that tells them it's okay now to start house-hunting and sprucing things up and chattering amongst themselves so loudly that I can hear them when I'm indoors with the doors and windows closed?
I'm glad to see their arrival. It gives me renewed hope that we'll make it through the rest of this cold nasty season to welcome the warmer weather, sunny days and the awakening of the earth from its months' long slumber.
The bluebirds of paradise already think it's on its way.
I think it is, too.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
I can't believe I got through so many pages yesterday, even with my two snowbound kids who needed nothing UNTIL I started working on things writing related.
I only have 15 pages to read through now before I can get back to writing this story again- and 160 before the story needs to find closure. That's not really that much when I stop and think it over.
This morning has been rather busy, considering how most of my days go anymore. After two cheerful days of being snowbound, I put two very unhappy campers on the school bus this morning. I remember the dread of going back after a few days off because of snow, but they've missed SO many here in our county that the kids are going to be going to school into the middle of June—unless they come up with an alternative to making up the hours...like 1/2 day Saturdays or giving up Spring Break- but even that won't be enough to make up for all the days they've missed...I've honestly lost track of how many it's been so far.
This morning I had every intention of getting on the Gazelle and I might still, but for the moment, that's off to a back burner. While the kids were eating breakfast, I made tea and put up laundry and started a new load of clothes and started the dishes. I finished up the dishes shortly after the kids left and made strawberry jell-o for them for dessert tonight and fixed a new jug of kool-aid, too.
It was while I was doing dishes and rockin' out to some tunes that I got to thinking about how non-routine my daily life has become. I just sort of take it as it happens and have nothing that's set in stone to do, besides checking email and games, etc.
That's when the bulb lit up. I need a schedule.
Right now I feel shipwrecked on dry land. I'm getting no where fast and its because my boat's stuck. I need to get back to sailing the high seas- of writing and life, that is.
So- instead of lolly-gagging around like tend to I do, I need routine. I always work best under a schedule and perhaps its time I make one for myself for my "work week." I don't like being stuck or perpetually drifting along stuff in the least. I want to see I have things that actually need to get done and know at the end of each day that I was productive.
So, I think this morning, which is getting away from me fast~ I will make a schedule sheet for myself. Today will be off kilter, since I'm going to be figuring out what will work best for me, but hopefully tomorrow morning I'll have things laid out to do and accomplish and I'll start feeling like I'm on the road to recovering from this rut I've gotten myself into.
Have a Happy Day!
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
In the warmth of the house I have kids who are snowbound from school hollering at every turn in need of something or fussing with each other and cartoons hopping and skipping across the television screen behind me and plenty of other distractions—and trust me the distractions just KEEP coming—but when I was staring out the side door this morning and watching the fat fluffiness collect on the lawn and then later on my hushed walk to the mailbox to put a few bills out, I realized where the solitude is—it's out THERE. Unfortunately, it's very COLD out THERE and not very conducive of staying outside for extended periods of time no matter how peaceful it is.
See, out there is a kind of muffled, muted alternate world. The ground is blanketed in glistening white and the only sound is the occasional car driving cautiously over the icy layer on the road or my snow boots crunching lightly over the fresh fallen snow. The snowflakes whisper solemn warnings as they swish past in hurry—"Move slowly...do not disturb...the earth is sleeping beneath our cold comfort and in our wintry embrace."
I wish there were some way to bring that solitude and honest peace indoors~ minus the cold and snow, of course. There's such a wonderful sense of connection to nature and the world around us when the is snow on the ground and falling all around us. It puts me at ease and I can breath a little easier, even as the sharp cold air hits my lungs on a deep intake. I exhale and feel thankful for the momentary illusion that all's right with the world as I allow the calm chill to bundle me in quiet resolution. It would be perfection to write under those circumstances, but as I said, I will NOT be staying out there for any length of time more than I HAVE to.
I hate to say it, but much as I've missed real "snowy" winters since I moved further south, I'll be glad to see this season go. Perhaps, for all my whining over past 8 years that I haven't seen enough real snowfalls and accumulation it came back to bite my tush. I think I've seen plenty enough snow to last me for a while again. I have a feeling the snow's not done with us yet though, even though I know most of are certainly done with it.
Spring is more than welcome here!
In fact, I'd be more than happy to have her for a house guest. She could pack her things and come stay with me until it's time for her job to truly start next month. That would be wonderful!
I don't mind Winter, really I don't, but I think it's time we part ways.
I see it as a time to rest before new growth begins. I feel new growth in my own life—hibernating beneath the surface, waiting for Spring so that it can awaken and break the surface~stretch its limbs toward the warmth of the sunlight and unfurl its leaves to dance in the breeze and turn its budding face to the great stretch of crystalline blue sky with a smile. That's what I look forward to.
It will come~ even though it seems we're buried beneath this white crusty blanket of Winter that will never lift off of us- it WILL come and I'll be so glad when it does!
Have a wonderful day everyone. May it be productive in ALL the right ways and bring you the solitude and comfort you need.
Friday, February 12, 2010
I was intending to post a blog like this a week ago on my birthday, but I got sidetracked and completely forgot I'd started a document just for that reason.
So- since I can't really think of anything noteworthy to write about in regard to my writing (though I did get through about 96 pages of "catch-up" on my WIP in the past two days)- I thought I might share some of the more vivid memories of things I've experienced or remember about my past 35 years.
These birthday musings conjured up all kinds of memories from childhood...things I don't talk about much anymore because it was either so long ago or I usually don't remember it unless I stumble across something that reminds me of a moment long passed. I try to share those memories with my kids so they will know how I spent my childhood.
Through my childhood I lived in 3 different houses. One was called the "Ripy" place- named after the original owner. It was my parents first house and the house they brought me home to after I was born. My sister was also born during the time we lived in that house. It was way out Highway 44 in Lawrenceburg in a small place called Glensboro. After my sister was born, we moved and lived for a very short period of time in a place I refer to as "The House at Wolf Creek." Sounds ominous, I know.... LOL
It's the one we thought might be haunted and my memories of it make me think—abandoned, ghostly plantation with a creaky dangerous balcony and lots of ancient history. Well, not "ancient" but old. That's one I will hopefully delve into further in a later blog. No one lives there any longer and I haven't seen it in years, though the last time I did it was in a dilapidated state and it nearly broke my heart because—though we didn't live there long—I still feel connected to that creepy old house and it's the inspiration for novel idea I have. I guess it's been nearly 9 or 10 years, perhaps. One of my exes took me to see it because he was fascinated by the ghostly tales and description I had given him and since I wanted to go see it again, he took me. I would like to make a trip down there and take pictures of it and surrounding area- mostly for my own reference and inspiration for when I begin writing the story I plan to that has it as a setting.
Of course, it was after that house that we moved to town and the suburbs and where my parents and sister still live, tucked into that little neighborhood that I love so much. Even being in town though, Saturdays were always my favorite day of the week because that's when we went to visit my grandparents who still lived in the countryside out 44. That's where I spent a lot of time running around the junk yard and going on scavenger hunts in old car bodies to find shiny little treasures or hidden litters of kittens or puppies. I plucked huge fat purple grapes from the vine behind my grandparents’ house that hung over an old broken refrigerator and climbed over the carcasses of long dead automobiles and car parts.
I “helped” my grandpa build the kitchen onto the house—mind you, I was probably somewhere between 3 and 5 and I hit my thumbnail with a hammer and ended up losing the nail- though luckily a new one grew back in its place. I drank water out of an old pump with a bright red painted handle that you had to yank into an upward position to turn it on and it would spit and sputter something awful. I tramped through the junk yard to find a can of udder salve for cuts. My first pet was a dog I named Macaroni because I loved “Yankee Doodle." He was a black lab I think or possibly a mutt, but when we moved to town, we had to leave Mac with my grandparents and they kept him chained up behind the tall fence they had to have for the junkyard so it wouldn't be an eyesore. I stepped on a rusty nail one time going with my aunt to feed Mac and and drove it through my flip-flop and nearly through my foot.
This is the same grandparents who owned cows, pigs, chickens, mules, ponies, etc. I believe I've posted about Midnight Lady before- the black mare my grandpa had and oh, how I loved her! I always rode her bareback. Come to think of it I’m not sure I’ve ever used a saddle. Maybe once and it freaked me out cause I was always scared she would blow her belly out when the saddle was put on and then it would be loose when I tried to get on her. That's a pretty scary idea when you're 14 or 15 and you think about it- supposing the saddle slid and flipped you upside down when you're that high up off the ground and then you would get dragged along with stampeding hooves so close to your head or dropped in the mud. LOL I spent a lot of time currying and combing her and talking to her. I also spent a lot of time shucking corn for feed with an old-fashioned crank handled iron shucker mounted on a huge barrel down in the feed shed where my grandpa stored the animals' food and the harnesses, bridles, reins and such. I love—and miss—the aroma of leather and oats and sweet molasses.
I also went fishing a lot at the "slab" with my grandmother down 44 near the old distillery or sometimes we'd go to the pond up behind the garage behind the house or the neighbor's pond up the road. She never failed to make sure we had our fishing trip supplies- peanut butter crackers, Vienna sausages or potted meat and saltines, Hershey’s bars and Coca~Cola for our outings. I learned about using crawdads for bait from her though I haven't been fishing in years and honestly don't think I could bait my own hook now and I sure haven't ever gotten fish off my line. That's one area where I will always still be too much of a girly-girl to do so. I do miss fishing though- more so because it was time spent with my grandma and grandpa and something I can't get back now.
I learned about the life cycle of “skeeters” from my Aunt Debbie. I stood on an old bucket flipped upside down while we fed Fred and Barney- two cows my grandpa bought to raise for meat. She pointed the mosquitoes out in the water trough and told me how they grew in the water and then took wing, etc. She also helped me explore the worlds beneath stones and bricks- watching ant trails and roly-polys and earth worms wiggling across the gravel after a rain. I have a slight penchant for stray and abandoned baby animals like my aunt too, and I have nursed baby animals with eyedroppers—in fact, I took care of a pair of orphaned baby possums at one point, for a very short time(until my grandma had my uncle set them "free" cause she hated them- at least I think that's what happened LOL).
I spent rainy days indoors and sometimes my uncle would bring me a steering column, wheel, key and all up to the house so I could sit in a chair and pretend I was driving. When I was really little I remember there being a "board" swing out behind the house and I'd spend a lot of time making mud pies in old pots and pans. When I got older, my grandpa and uncle put a tire swing up out in front of the house and me and my sister and cousin would stay out there all day long. We also sat on the hoods of cars out in front of the house and waved at everyone going by on hot summer afternoons. That was a big thrill of course- made you feel like you knew everyone in the county if they waved back or honked at you! LOL It also wasn't uncommon to find us girls sitting on hay bales or tramping around down near the creek, just to feel like we were journeying into the wild- going deep into the "jungle" in search of undiscovered creatures and mysteries.
These memories don't even encompass much more than a few years of my life though- perhaps five, ten—maybe fifteen. Thinking about it brings a sort of melancholy ache to my chest, my heart- for loved ones long gone and moments spent lazily believing that time moved too slowly and the hazy humid days of summer and the long cold nights in winter would never pass quickly enough until I could be all grown up and really "have a life of my own." LOL
Who knew? I didn't realize it was actually moving faster than I could have imagined and those moments were gone in the blink of any eye- the flip of a switch and my life transitioned seamlessly from childhood to adulthood without my really knowing it had happened.
That's a lot and yet it barely skims the surface...
Have a wonderful weekend everyone and I hope you have a beautiful Valentine's Day with your significant other and/or your family and friends.
It's a day set aside (albeit a bit commercially) for LOVE—So love everyone within your life's circle and be grateful for all who have crossed your path, who are in your life now and those who may be just around the corner. Love comes in array of sizes, shapes, and colors that can fit all, so don't forget someone just because they aren't your "romantic" love. Celebrate all the loves in your life- friends, parents, children, etc. They are all special because you love them and they love you. You probably have far more Valentines than you can possibly know.
Don't forget to let them know that, cause time does move faster than we can imagine!
Happy Valentine's Day!