Jun
25
2006
Wedding

Here are some pictures of where I spent the weekend. Our friends held the most beautiful wedding I’ve ever seen, and they couldn’t have picked a better location than Ruby Creek Lodge in Cusick, Washington. www.rubycreeklodge.com Lots of mountains and clear, blue water and pine trees.

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Nothing like having a few drinks with your friends while you all sit around a bonfire and visit. Or, to be more accurate, being the only one completely sober, or, at least, as sober as I ever seem, and watching the antics of friends who have a rare chance to sit back and relax and reminisce. I learned so many hilarious things about Marine Corps boot camp this weekend. :) I have to say though, I still maintain coffee is an acceptable drink for Three-Man when someone begins every day uncoordinated and with slurred speech anyway. We didn’t have to spike it with Vodka, Andy. LOL It tasted good though. :) No wonder you’re the bartender. (Although, to be fair, by the time we played, the field was pretty level, or tilted, for everyone. LOL)


All said, everything was gorgeous. Even with the pastor a half hour late. LOL Craig still wishes he would have been later so Craig could get ordained online and marry you two. It might have sparked a whole new career for him. But the pastor was prepared and the service he led was graceful. The bridesmaids were gorgeous in flowing, cool skirts and slip tops. Only the poor groomsmen were ready to melt, but they looked so handsome in their tuxes with the dark lilac vests and ties. And they all looked so broad-shouldered, like a team of line-backers.
I know there were several people who liked the toast I gave, but me being me, I worked on it from six in the morning to around 4, when I actually gave it and I would like the better sounding, written version to go on record. I love being able to revise. It’s just too bad I can’t do it while talking. :) Here’s the toast as it should have been:

 

“We’ve all heard that marriage is just a piece of paper. An institution. A prison. :) And we all know I, especially, disagree with that statement. [versus the slightly tipsy version I actually said… and we all agree, er, duh, know that I disagree. I knew those 3 sips of wine and 4 sips of champagne would get me. LOL] Marriage is reaching over in the middle of the night and knowing you’re not alone. You made promises to love, honor, cherish and comfort each other, in sickness and in health. [And omitting the “for richer or poorer” from your vows really threw me off. Hmmm. What are you two trying to say? LOL] And you made those promises before all your closest friends and family. You know, the ones who’ll never let you live it down if you go back on your word. How are we going to trust you again if you do that? :)

Marriage is keeping those promises and facing life, both good and bad, every minute of every day, with the knowledge that your are doing it together. Someone has your back at all times.
That piece of paper, however, gets lost in a box or file until the day when you have to search it out for a passport or new Social Security card or something. It’s not the paper that defines the meaning of your marriage. The respect and honor that you give to it do that.


And again, as I said then, I wish your marriage to be the best.”

Man, that was wordy. No wonder I tripped up. :)

Thank you both for the wonderful weekend, the relaxation in a beautiful setting and most of all, the laughter.

More Pics of the beautiful bride and handsome groom. :)


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               Roger and Lucia
June 24, 2006
Congratulations!

 

Jun
21
2006
Heavy thoughts

I am so not an authority on anything.  But if anyone is interested, here was a thought process I struggled through tonight.

Is God in control, or isn’t he?  Either he is rushing around reacting to the evil that happens in the world or he is in control.  How is control measured against free will?

I guess the best analogy is parenthood.  My children have free will.  They choose to follow certain rules, or break them, then they reap either the rewards or the consequences.  They go to school, do their homework and get good grades.  Then they reap the benefits of approval and playtime or face the consequences of disapproval and grounding.

So how does sickness fit into that?  Well, God has a dual relationship with the world: Parent and Creator.  He created the rules, the laws, the math and science of how things work.  Like a parent making a home.  Through the process of living, dishes are dirtied, laundry is piled up and bills incurred.  It’s the rule of the society in which we live.  Either we learn to clean and pay bills regularly, or we face the consequences of bad health and loss of utilities or property.  Therefore rewards or consequences.  Yes, God has the role of disciplinarian.

Does that mean sickness is our discipline for something?  Well, if we eat too much candy and don’t brush out teeth, then we will get cavities.  That’s a consequence of our bad decision.

But cancer, until we learn what we’re doing wrong to cause all the forms of cancer, is similar to having lightning strike our house.  Is it the parent or the child’s fault if lightning strikes our house?  No.  We have positive and negative charges, which builds and organizes our universe.  It’s how it works.  And with those charges, we have electricity and lightening.  Some of it we harness and use to power our cities, but some of it is wild and free and uncontrollable.

So if lightning strikes, it is a thing of nature.  Part of living.  And if it lands, it must land somewhere.  Where it lands is reduced to mathematics and probabilities.  Wild and uncontrolled.  Like blowing the puffy white seeds on a dandelion, where will they land?  And if it happens to be in mom’s flower pot, should the child be in trouble? 

Or should the parent recognize the forces of nature and simply pull up the weed when it sprouts?

So, God disciplines us when we are bad.  Like when Adam and Eve were grounded from the garden of Eden.

And because he created the world to work in mathematical and scientific ways, sometimes there are natural disasters that aren’t punishments but simply part of living in this creation.  And if this creation sometimes sucks, well, make your own and see how easy it is to do.

So is God in control or do humans have free will?  Yes to both.  How does that work?  Like a parent.  We aren’t puppets controlled by his strings.  We make the choices and he stands back and lets us.  But he knows what we’re going to do.  He knows us the way a good parent knows their child.  When are they likely to sneak out?  When are they lying?  When are they not working hard enough at school?

As a parent, I have a good idea of what my kids are up to.  Sometimes I see them heading for a mistake and I have to let them make it or they won’t understand why it’s a mistake and they’ll keep trying to do it.

Staying up late on a school night, for instance.  I can tell them to go to bed.  I can argue and fight them and force them to do it my way just ‘cause.  Or I can let them stay up late a few nights and realize how tired they are the next morning.

I can guide, direct, govern, discipline, provide, but they aren’t my little Sims people.  I can’t force them to obey.  Which means they sometimes cause things to happen and sometimes they face life without me blocking them from it.
 

Imagine you built a perfect house for your 5 billion children.  Then because of natural things like the Law of Entropy, sometimes the plumbing breaks and the lights flicker.  And your kids rebel and fight and argue and fall in love and learn things really well.  And sometimes you have to let them argue it out so they learn how to get along with one another, even though you know things will get broken, like the lightbulbs or door hinges, and you know they’re going to blame each other, and you could stop it and prevent them from learning what it’s like to live with a broken door hinge, but they need to learn fixing doors is expensive and difficult and it would be a better use for their time if they learned self-control?

Overall, I keep going back to the paragraph above.

I can guide, direct, govern, discipline, provide, but they aren’t my little Sims people.  I can’t force them to obey.  Which means they sometimes cause things to happen and sometimes they face life without me blocking them from it.
 

I was speaking as a parent at that part of the thought process, but it really seems true for God also.  And when I think further, because I love Sims 2 and have even created the main building in my books in one neighborhood, and I played with all the facial features to make the Sims fit my characters as best as possible, I also see the process of free will versus control.

I keep them set to free will.  Sometimes I just don’t want to make every single decision for them.  They can go to the bathroom on their own if I’m off working on something else.  But sometimes, they argue with me.  They stamp their feet and forget what I’m telling them to do, then they end up wasting all their energy and not getting the dinner made so they can eat before they starve so they can sleep.  Then they die no matter how much I tried to help.

I’m pretty adept at the game by now.  I’ve played it for a while.  I make neat homes and neighborhoods and I can make the Sims easier for me to get along with (low on the Outgoing points so they’re not always whining about talking to someone.  High on the Active points so their energy lasts longer and they are more willing to do things.)  I fill their homes with the best furniture and help them gain skills so they advance in their jobs and build up their families.  In short, I do with Sims what I never do with my characters in my books.  I’m nice to them try not to let anything bad ever happen to them.

But then, my characters have a higher level of consciousness than my Sims.  My Sims can’t learn from  their mistakes.  Or their difficulties and tragedies.

I did have one house that, no matter how beautiful I’d made it or how hard I tried to help the Sim, she kept getting sick and died.  So, I made another Sim and moved them into that house.  Things were going well, when one day the ghost of the first scared the second to death. 

So, now I had two ghosts and gates and fences around their headstones didn’t keep them in.  Making Sims who loved knowledge didn’t work because they didn’t want to see a ghost when they did see it.  So the ghosts would float around and do whatever they wanted, then step up in front of the live Sim, suddenly appear and screech, “Boo!”

I lost four Sims this way.  I had to come to the conclusion the house was too haunted for anyone to live in it.

Now, God is perfect and has the knowledge to reign in those ghosts.  But then, if he does that, what was the point in making them?  There is a purpose.  To make the whole world more interesting, to give the characters things to learn, etc.

Is He in control?  Is He guiding and nudging us in all the directions we should go while allowing us the room to make mistakes and learn and grow from them?  He knows the choices we’ll make because He’s not stupid, and though He tries to help us along and avoid the worst when we ask Him to step in and sometimes when we don’t, we have free will and need to learn lessons.

May we learn something new each day.  That’s a pretty tall order over a lifetime.  It’s a very fine balance.

Yes, I am supposed to be working.  Free-writing this helped figure out some thoughts I need to use in my book.  I think I’m rambling in a few spots.  Or something.  CS is such an intense story.  Every page so far is engaging and thought-provoking.  Yes, I realize I’m biased.  J 

But it’s now 65,000 words and only a little over half way through the plot.  I think I’ll be over-shooting the 100,000 word goal and struggling to figure out what can be cut.  But that’s a worry for another day, right? 

Is God in control or do we have Free Will?  Is there a Grand Design or is our destiny our own?  What if he sees and watches it all, knows what’s coming and tries to step in and help each person while knowing what lessons they need to learn so they can face the future better?  Thus he’s in control of the good and the bad and has a plan.  And since we don’t know the design or the plan, we just go along making our own choices according to what we see fit, therefore deciding our own destiny?  So both are true, in an incredibly complicated way. 

Jun
18
2006
Sample Synopsis and Query Letter

Charlotte Dillon has excellent resources on her website, www.charlottedillon.com.  Two of her pages are wonderfully informational.  To view a bunch of Query Letters that have garnered the interest of editors and/or agents, go to http://www.charlottedillon.com/QuerySamples.html  For Samples of a winning Synopsis, check out http://www.charlottedillon.com/SynopsisSamples.html 

And yes, mine are also on there.  Not sure if they’ll help anyone, but there they are in case they do.  :)

Have a great, Happy Father’s Day.  Hug the Dad you’re with.  :)  And call the one you aren’t with.  ;)-

Jun
15
2006
Honesty

Honesty.  I think that’s one of the things I like most about writing.  Weird, I know, since I write fiction.  But just think, I can make my characters be brutally honest.  I mean, lies are usually told to smooth troubled waters.  Either because the liar doesn’t want to upset someone else, or get in trouble, or to manipulate and get the things they want without looking bad.

Could you imagine if someone simply said, “I’m in love with your boyfriend. I want him.”

No, that wouldn’t be smooth.  It would cause a lot of conflict.  Which is what stories are about, right?  Conflict and resolution.  Whether it’s action, mystery or romance, there is a conflict needing resolution.

So yeah, we loose the tired story of the bitchy best friend who strives to break up a happy couple because she thinks she deserves him more ala My Best Friend’s Wedding.  That whole plot line is thrown out the window. 

So, tell me, what kind of story could you tell if one friend turned to the other and said they wanted the one’s boyfriend?  Would it result in a catfight?  The destruction of a friendship?  Or, would the one turn to the other and reply, “Thank God!  I’ve been wanting to get rid of him!”

Talk about a comedy.  Just reading that last line cracks me up.  J

I like to tell stories by being honest.  In your face, brutal honesty.  There’s not enough of that in the world, I think.  Here’s an excerpt from later in Betrayed that will show you what I mean:

<>

“What are you doing?”
Kalyss flipped the pages.  It was probably too late to call 911.  She needed a direct number to the police station.  “Calling the cops.”
“What are you going to tell them?” Baron leaned against a wall and crossed his arms.
Kalyss paused with her hand on the phone.  “The truth.”
“You’re under a thousand year curse and your personal serial killer attacked you again last night?”  Baron kept his voice carefully blank.  His words would irritate her enough.
Kalyss huffed and stared at the ceiling.
“He killed your friend and another man, who’s probably resurrected already and you escaped to break into a church and crash for the night?”
She rubbed the tension headache beginning at her temples.
“You woke to a statue, kissed him and are now waiting with him in a hotel for them to make sense of everything you can’t?  That truth?”
Kalyss glared at him, nearly exhausted from frustration.  “I was thinking more like ‘I’ve been attacked, my best friend killed and I can’t return to my business for mortal fear.’”
Baron smiled regretfully.  “And you waited how many hours to report this?”
She snapped. “What are you, a cop?”
Baron shrugged, his worried expression belying his casual attitude.  “Just trying to help.”
“Go back to being a statue.”  Kalyss snatched up the phone and dialed.  But he was right.  She couldn’t think of anything to say that wouldn’t point to her as Alex’s killer.  In the end, when the operator answered the phone, Kalyss was forced to give an anonymous tip and hope they didn’t consider her a crank.”
<>

Man, I loved writing this book.  It took 5 years and umpteen drafts, but I think I got my craft in order.  The hero faced the heroine and told her what she needed to hear, even though it wasn’t something she wanted to hear and he risked making her angry. 

Cinderella’s Shoe is brutally honest in a much more personal way.  Here’s a bit where the heroine is talking to her 14 yr old niece.

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Elizabeth shook her head and started putting together a fresh salad.  “I’m sorry.  I just can’t believe…”
“What?”  Shelly scoffed.  “That they care more for their addictions than for their kids?  Don’t stress, Aunt Beth, it’s not your fault adults are losers.”
“I meant I couldn’t believe he still thinks he deserves your respect.”  Elizabeth paused, looking at her.  “I’m an adult, too, Shelly.”
The teen didn’t say anything, just met her gaze in stubborn defiance.
“You think I’m a loser, too?”
Her gaze held, then wavered.  Finally, Shelly shrugged and stirred the spaghetti sauce.  “Doesn’t matter what I think, Aunt Beth.  Soon as you find a replacement, you’re gone.”
And that, Elizabeth knew, was what made her a loser in both their books.
<>

It’s fun to make everyone tell the truth despite the consequences they might face.  And then it’s fun to make them face those consequences.

Yeah, I’m cruel that way.  I don’t like being mean to my characters, but if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that great strength comes from great struggle.  I want that strength for my characters.

Jamie

Jun
9
2006
Finally here!

Hi everyone,

I’m a bit slow today.  This whole blogging thing is very new to me.  :)  The good news is I finally received the new power cord for my laptop, so I can go full bore on Cinderella’s Shoe. While without the laptop and using the desktop to get the website up and running, I did manage to write 3 long scenes in my notebook, so I’ll get them typed in.  :) 

Wow, as soon as everything seems to calm down, chaos erupts again.  And what’s more chaotic than when you have children home for the summer?  Just think, within the next two weeks, we’ll all be surrounded with excited little kids, over-active pre-teens and bored teens.  Can’t wait.  ;)

What are your plans for the summer?