Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Tao of FreeCell

Okay, I admit it. I'm addicted to FreeCell - that dumb game that comes preloaded on almost all new computers. I play it when I'm bored, I play it when I'm nervous, I play it 'cause I want to, I play it to up my score. (Which currently stands at 73% after I will not admit how many games.)

This game actually took me two tries (starting over) to win.

I rationalize my waste of time by telling myself I am warding off Alzheimer's by keeping my brain cells working. But actually, I've decided that my obsession with FreeCell has helped me in other areas of life - including writing.

Oh this is getting good now. Tell me more.

Okay. When I was a beginner, I only played the easy games. The ones with aces down low, so you can put them away easily. The ones without many high face cards on the bottom - yuck. And if you can't win a game, you just hit the button for New Game, right? That way it only counts as one loss in you statistics.

But the heck with statistics. I wanted to get better at the game (and it's not like anybody really cares about your score, right?) So now, if I come to a stuck place where there are no more moves, I start the game over and play again. (On really difficult games I may have to do this several times!) This plays havoc with your stats, but I'm stubborn, and each time I unlock the puzzle, it teaches me to be a better player.

So transpose that to writing. If you can't make your plot come out, or your characters behave, or if you get stuck somewhere in your manuscript, sometimes you have to do a Game Over, put it away, and restart it. Turn it around. Try a different track. Keep going until Something Works.

The same with publishing. Sometimes you just have to pick up and go down a different path.

The same with life, really. If something doesn't work, turn it around, try something else, until finally you find your way.

Boy, I'm really good at rationalization, huh? The Tao of FreeCell: How I learned everything about life from playing a card game on my computer.

So there you have it. Are you a FreeCell addict? Any other games you play instead?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Downloading the Beatles

Last night I downloaded songs to my iPod using an iTunes gift card I received recently. Guess what? You can now download The Beatles!! Yay!

Regular readers of this blog might remember my earlier post about The Beatles, and the fact that I grew up listening to their music. So scrolling through all their songs and trying to decide which ones I wanted really brought back a lot of memories. Let It Be? Hey, Jude? In the end, I chose (for now) my four favorite songs. Want to know what they are?

  1. Here Comes the Sun (Not only is this the number one requested song, it's also a much needed anthem of cheer for life in the soggy Northwest.)
  2. Yesterday - The classic song - covered by so many people, but the original is by far the best.
  3. Norwegian Wood - This haunting song features the sitar, which gives it such a distinctive flavor.
  4. If I Fell - I've always loved this song, and I'll probably sing along and try to pick out all the intricate harmony parts.

And to round out my list of downloads, which is a collection of mostly country, bluegrass, and vintage rock, I choose:

Te Voy a Perder - by fantastic Latin singer (and heartthrob) Alejandro Fernandez. Don't know him? Look him up.

Are you a Beatles Fan? If you had to pick your Very. Favorite. Beatles tune ever - what would it be??

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge

I made a goal for myself this year to read 111 books. Why? Oh, it seemed like a doable number, since I often read 1-2 novels a week, and if I get super busy I can always fill in with picture books (which I love and often don't take time to read.)

But mostly, as a writer, I hope that by reading lots of good books, good writing will seep into my brain and my pores by osmosis and come right out my fingertips onto the page.

Reading lots of good books makes me a better writer.

Don't believe that can happen? Then make your own reading challenge. Even if you're not a writer, but just someone who loves reading.

I made my challenge on Goodreads, and you can do it there also or just keep your own records.

You can follow along to see how I'm doing by watching the graph at the bottom of my sidebar on the right, or click on the link there to see what I've actually read. As of today, since the new year started, I've read nine books: four novels and five picture books.

Are you a reader? Want to set up a challenge for yourself?

It can be five books or five hundred - it makes no difference.

Join me!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New Friends

So our barn was sad and empty, right? Not anymore.

Now there are two new occupants.

Yes, they might need some grooming tips, but then it IS winter.

Meet Mr. Chocolate -

And Mr. Big.

My New Friends.

(Excuse their mudball look. They've been rolling, and aren't quite prepared for company:-))
Aren't they handsome??

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Empty Barn

An empty barn is a sad, sad thing.

And we've had an empty barn at our house for some months now.

I've always thought it would be freeing - not having outside animals to feed or worry over, especially in the dreadful cold winter months. I could just stay in the warm house in my jammies - and write.

But I've found it's quite the opposite. Even though it can be a pain to pull on jeans, turtleneck, warm fleece, warm socks, old boots, scarf, warm beanie, and heavy barn jacket just to go feed in the morning (and in the evening) I've also been missing my most peaceful and relaxing part of the day - time spent in the barn with my animals.

So today - with luck, and weather holding - that should change. Hopefully I'll be able to post a picture soon of some new friends in the barn.

Keep watching this space . . .

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Room Divider

A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction. ~ Virginia Woolf

We won't talk about the money situation (but no, I'm not independently wealthy.)

But for my entire writing career I've been dreaming about a room of my own.

"In our next house," I constantly say, "I'm getting my Own. Office." *Sigh*

The reality is that my writing desk and computer have always been in a corner of our living room. A very nice corner, mind you, with a window and a lovely view, but subject to the noises, conversations and distractions of anyone else who happens to be home and wandering through the living room.

So this year, to start the new year off right, I had a brilliant idea. Why didn't I think of it sooner??? I went to a local used office supply store and purchased -

ta da - The Room Divider.

Tucked behind that lovely grey wall is my little private writing cubby, in all its messy glory. I have peace (sort of.) I have privacy! I have my own writing nook!!

Yes, I know this side of the room divider looks a little bare. I'm contemplating ways to spruce it up - perhaps a pretty piece of fabric draped across it? What do you think - any suggestion?

But for now - I don't care. Because I have my Very. Own. Writing. Space.
Shh! Quiet - I'm working ;-)

How many of you have your own writing space or office, or your own spot to do other projects?? Have you found that it helps?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Something New

Happy 2011, Everyone! I like the sound of that - don't you? Twenty Eleven. Kind of rolls off your tongue like poetry.

I know I promised you Something New. And here it is:

A New Look for the Blog.

It's bright. It's beautiful. It's Blue!

Remember my old look - green, woodsy, and traditional? Yeah, I got tired of that one.

So I'm bursting out of my shell, so to speak, and will probably tweak this some more as I go.

And what are my New Year's resolutions - you might ask? Eat better, exercise more, write more often?

Nah, those are tired old resolutions.

This year - I've decided to find JOY in my life Every. Single. Day.

Even if I'm having a terrible horrible no-good bad, bad day, I hereby resolve to find something JOYFUL Every Single Day.

And, at the risk of sounding like an old Dolly Parton/Whitney Houston song - that's what I wish for you, too - Joy! Hope you all have a great year!