Thursday, December 29, 2005

Barnes and Noble University

I don't know if I mentioned this, but I'm going to take some online writing classes through Barnes and Noble University. I'm going to take the sci-fi and fantasy class and the mystery class. I was going to sign up for some actual classes at my old university, but I think I'll wait until the summer courses. Jan-May are pretty busy, and I want to find a martial arts class, so if I take a writing class one night a week, a drawing class one night a week, and a martial arts class two nights a week, I won't have very many nights left. I'm still thinking about the drawing class, though. I think it would be so interesting to attempt to learn how to draw. But anyway, I'm really excited about the online writing classes. I hope they are good. I plan to get as much out of them as I can, especially the mystery one, since I'm working on a mystery series.

Today was uneventful, but nice. It was a beautiful day. The sunset was awesome, and I didn't have my camera with me. From now on, I will...

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Fun with graphics

I've gone insane. I've become obsessed with novel graphics. See the film loop at the bottom of this blog for proof of the insanity! NaNoWriYe starts very, very soon.... Am I ready? Who knows? But I've got lots of ideas, and that helps. I can't wait to start!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Happy Holidays!

Well, the dollhouse was a hit. Look at it! I'm so proud. See, I've never built anything before without my dad's help, but my mother and I built this house almost entirely by ourselves, which is quite an accomplishment! Isn't it cute?!

Anyway, Christmas was lovely. I don't remember having a better Christmas. My sister's kids got everything they ever wanted and some things they didn't know they wanted until they unwrapped them, and everyone was happy and friendly with each other. When you consider that my sister and her husband have been having some problems, that was a miracle in itself. I was glad they seemed happy. Hopefully they will work things out.

So Christmas Eve was basically a mad dash to get the house finished. We managed to do everything but the gingerbread trim, which we decided to put off for a couple of weeks because we're tired of looking at the thing, lol. So we have a tiny bit of work left to do, but we're waiting on that. Christmas Day was a very nice, calm day. My family gets together on Christmas Eve, so Christmas Day is a day for everyone to do whatever else they need to do. I personally needed to lie in bed all day and watch the "Scrubs" DVDs that my best friend gave me. She gave me seasons 1 and 2, and they are both great! I love that show. I've loved it since the first episode, but have lost track of it because it came on opposite other shows I was invested in, so I sort of stopped watching. But I have a little crush on Zach Braff, so watching two seasons of the show in a row all day on Christmas Day was really nice. ;) Today, I went out and bought the thing I really wanted for Christmas but didn't ask anyone for because it was too expensive. I bought a new TV! yay! It's a flat screen, 24 inch TV that fits perfectly in my entertainment center. So this afternoon, after I got it home, I spent several lovely hours watching different DVDs on it and playing each of my X-Box games (just for a few minutes each) to see what they look like on the new TV. It's awesome to go from a little portable TV to a real TV with a flat screen. I love it!

So other than Christmas stuff, things have been pretty normal. There's a strange feeling, though, like I'm waiting just a few more days for my life to start again. Everything happens after the new year, so I'm just sort of waiting until then. January 1 is the day I start NaNoWriYe, the most insane resolution I've ever had. January 1 is the day I write down my resolutions and start working on them. I already know what they are going to be, but I won't start working on them until January 1. I plan to get up an hour earlier every day and exercise before getting ready for work. It'll be a challenge to start with, but I'm sure I'll get used to it, just like now I can't sleep past 7, which is when I normally get up. After a year of getting up at 6 to exercise, I won't be able to sleep past 6. Which is kind of sad, because I do enjoy sleeping late on weekends, and I can't even do that now! I can't even imagine automatically waking up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday! ugh. But I'm going to do it, because I'm determined to get into an exercise routine that really works for me.

Anyway, that's just one of them. There are more. Many more. Oh, and January 1 is when I start looking at classes I want to take (just for fun, probably writing classes and maybe an art class or two) and I will start looking at where I want to spend my summer vacation after the first of the year. I'm actually leaning toward a writing conference in Florence, but it might be too long. It's a 7 day conference and I only get 7 days of vacation, so I'm afraid I won't be able to do it. There's also one in Prague, which would be completely amazing, but I'm not sure about it either. I may have to save the overseas trips for 2007 and beyond, when I get more vacation time. My boss keeps telling me I should take a cruise, so I might consider one. I'd have to go alone though, because nobody I know wants to go on a cruise.

Anyway, so 2006 is the year I turn 30. So I have many things to do this coming year. I may have to strike a few things off my list because they were pretty unreasonable to begin with, but I'm okay with that. But I will submit a novel for publication before I turn 30. That's something I can do. I will do it by February, 2006. Let this be a record of that promise.

Well, it's late and my bed is calling my name. Work starts back again tomorrow. I hate to say it, but I really missed work while I was off. I'm sick, I know... lol.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Dollhouse progress and a shiny new obsession!

Made a little progress on the dollhouse this evening. I actually managed to put the porch rails and posts up and put the wallpaper and carpet in another room. Now just two full rooms left to paper and three very small rooms (without windows, so they will be easy!) Still have to do the shingles, though. Can you tell I'm avoiding them?! They scare me. I'll probably work on them tomorrow, though. I have to get this house done by Christmas. The kids have had a very rough year and I want to make sure they have a great Christmas. It may not make up for the awful time they've had recently, but at least it will give them some joy.

In other news, I've developed a shiny new obsession! A couple of weeks ago, I ordered a handheld computer with GPS, and Marcus (thanks a lot, man!) told me about geocaching. For info, go here: And Marcus, I'll be coming to P'cola to find some caches there, and I expect navigation assistance from you! lol

It's like a treasure hunt! How fun, right? I plan to get very obsessive about this. My mom wants to join me on my hunts, and I thought I'd take Noah along too, so we can spend some time together. He's growing up so fast that soon he's not going to care much about hanging out with his silly aunt, so I've got to enjoy the time I have left! But I think this could be a really fun thing for us to do. And anytime I go on vacation somewhere, I'll see if there's a cache somewhere for me to locate while I'm away. I've been wanting to get outside more, to spend more time doing something active and interesting, so here's something that will do both!

Still editing Summer's Blossom. Rewriting some scenes and adding parts that I knew I would need to, but left out because of time during November. It should be ready to be sent off by February at the latest, hopefully. That's what I'm shooting for, anyway. Still planning the three novels for next year. Unless we get hit by another hurricane, I'm going to do the hurricane story for NaNoWriMo next year. If we get another storm, I'll be in the same place I was this year, just not ready to write about it. I REALLY hope we don't get another storm!

Work has been great this week. Very productive. I have almost finished creating all the pages for the Web site. I can't believe there will be more than 50 by the time I'm finished. I figured out some sneaky ways of getting around the FrontPage limitations, so I think the pages will look really nice when I'm finished. There will be cool archive pages about our disaster relief efforts and links to the photo galleries for each year. Our photos from Katrina relief will go there.

I revamped my personal site the other day. I should probably think about getting a domain name and a site without ads so I can make a truly professional writer's Web site. It would be a little premature right now, but sometime in the future, I'll need to do that. For now, the geocities site will do. I even made graphics to go with each piece of fiction on the site and linked the graphics to the corresponding story. It was fun. (yes, I find very strange things fun, lol)

Anyway, it's midnight and I'm sleepy. Visions of shingles are sure to dance in my head. Or perhaps a clown mafia, due to an extremely enjoyable and funny phone conversation I had earlier today. I'm actually hoping for the shingles.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Getting really worried...

Okay, so it's Monday and Christmas Eve is Saturday. That means I only have a few days to wallpaper and carpet 6 rooms (I completely finished the kitchen yesterday but didn't get anything done today) on the dollhouse, and I haven't even started shingling the roof yet! What am I going to do?? Tomorrow night is Noah's Christmas play, so I'll be going to that. He's playing Santa this year and is really excited about it. I'm sure it'll be great. Then, I'll come home and try to wallpaper a few more rooms. This dollhouse is turning out to be a much bigger project than I anticipated! On a nicer note, the dolls I ordered for the house came today. They're so cute!

Work was good today. Everyone is in a good mood because the holidays are coming up and it's a short week. When I leave work on Wednesday afternoon, I don't have to be back to work until the next Tuesday. I won't know what to do with myself, having all those days off!

Speaking of days off, I'm considering attending an extended writing conference next year for my vacation. I'll have to check them out and see what looks good. And the next year? Europe! (hopefully)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

2005 Review and 2006 Goals

I borrowed these from Devon, whose blog I enjoy reading daily. It seemed like a great way to get things in order for the end of a year and the beginning of a new one. I'm always very introspective this time of year, so this will be great for me! Here goes...


1. Take some time and look back at 2005. Write a few summary paragraphs (NOT A LIST) to evaluate the year.

At this time in 2004, I was graduating from college, so at the new year in 2005, I was beginning a new phase of my life. So I started the year with great expectations for 2005, and most of them were fulfilled. I had a great job with a local nonprofit org. waiting for me when I got out of school. It was the perfect job for me at that point, and it still is. I'm enjoying my work very much, and I feel great that I'm working in my field.

I started the summer planning to do a summer writing challenge and finished Summer's Blossom, but it didn't work out. My laptop died halfway through and was completely unfixable. There is some very important info on that machine that I still can't access, but I'm working on a plan to get it transferred to my current computer. Hurricane Katrina pretty much turned everything upside down for awhile. Work was fierce during the three months after the storm. The months of September, October and November were filled with 10 hour days, working 6 days a week. It was hard, but very rewarding. I suffered hurricane burnout around the middle of November, right in time for my birthday, but it passed pretty quickly. I'll be ready next season, in case we get another bad storm. Anyway, I did NaNoWriMo this year and won for the first time! I couldn't believe it! I was ML for my area (one of two) and we had a great time encouraging everyone in our area to win the contest. We had 38 members, which was awesome for a first-time regional group. Did anything else happen this year? I'm not sure. It went by so fast!

2. What achievement left you proudest last year?

I'd have to say my finest moment of the year was winning NaNoWriMo. But it wasn't really because I won NaNoWriMo, it was because I finished a novel that's been in my head for a very long time. Finishing Summer's Blossom was the greatest moment of the year, for sure! It was the moment I realized I could be a writer after all.

3. What were your disappointments?

I am disappointed that I didn't keep my resolution to exercise for 45 minutes every day. There were days when I skipped it altogether. I need to make more of a commitment to that.

4. What do you wish you had done differently?

I wish I had been more committed to my writing and to exercise. I wish I had taken more risks.

5. How did your goals for the year evolve and change over the course of it, and what were the unexpected experiences?

A lot of things were changed by the hurricane. I had so many plans that were destroyed by that storm. But I can't complain, because others had it a lot worse. So many people lost their lives or their homes. So plans are incidental compared to that.

6. What was the best unexpected thing to happen in your year?

My two trips to Chicago. I have never had so much fun! I loved the city and really enjoyed the people I met there. Who knew business travel could be so much fun?

7. Looking ahead, what are your goals for 2006?

Finish at least 3 manuscripts
Write Every Day
Exercise at least 3 times a week for 30-45 minutes
Polish Summer's Blossom and send it off!
Move to a place closer to work
Meet some new people

8. What steps do you plan to get you there?

So many of these are related to each other. To finish at least three manuscripts, I will have to write every day. To write every day and to exercise every day(well, at least three days a week), I will need to create a better schedule for myself and stick with it. I've already done all the research on where to send Summer's Blossom, so all I have to do is polish and edit and then send the query. Moving should be easy enough if I can find a place. As far as meeting new people goes, I just need to put myself out there more. I'm planning to take some recreational learning-type classes so maybe I'll meet someone there.

9. What are your dreams for 2006?

Be published!

10. What steps will you take to bring you closer to them?

Already working on it.

11. What are your resolutions for 2006?

-Lose weight and get into better shape
-Keep Writing
-Try something new each month
-Live each day in such a way that I will look back on the year and not have any regrets
-Concentrate on my spiritual life and my creative side

12. How do you plan to get there?

Exercise and eat right, write every day, even when I don't feel like it, and always be mindful of how short life truly is

13. What changes has the last year brought to your long-term plan?

I'm not as anxious to move away as I was before. I think I'm going to stick around for awhile, especially if the job continues to go well.

14. Where would you like to be one year from now?

Contemplating grad school. I just need one more year out of school before I will feel ready to go back!


1. Where do you want to be with your writing in the long-term?

I would eventually like to write full time.

2. Where are you with your writing now?

Well, it's more serious than a hobby, but it's not something I can do for a living yet.

3. What project did you leave unfinished last year that you need to finish for your own peace of mind?

I must get to the point where I am comfortable sending a query for Summer's Blossom! I've been cooking up this story for way too long!

4. What creative goals do you want to achieve over the next year?

I'd really like to get two Deadlines books finished, and there's another one I want to work on too. I'd also like to do a short story each month, just for a change of pace. I'd also like to work on different genres (probably in the short stories) so that I can say I have a command of all types of writing.

5. What financial goals do you want to achieve over the next year? Yearly? Monthly? Weekly? (Note: There is no need to post this information, but you should have a figure that you feel comfortable with in your own notes).

There is a number in my head. If I continue getting raises at work, I will reach that number by the end of next year. I'd also like to make some money on a piece of my writing. It doesn't matter what, I just want to say that I've been paid for writing something that wasn't a part of my job!

6. What steps do you see necessary in your life to achieve these goals?

Continue doing my best at work. Gain more confidence in my abilities at work and in my writing ability so that I can continue to work toward those goals.

7. What will make you refer to yourself, first and foremost, as "writer"?

I guess just writing every day would allow me to refer to myself as a writer, but I think ultimately it hinges on being published. I know that's the worst way to determine if you are a writer or not, but it seems to be everyone else's standard.

8. What steps do you need to take on the technical front to achieve your goals (such as improving spelling, grammar, and a general widening of skills)?

I'm taking classes in different genres of writing to hone my skills in those different genres.

9. What steps do you need to take on the creative front to achieve your goals?

Write every day (I keep going back to that, don't I?) Journal and keep an idea notebook for future projects, spend time watching people and writing down observations about them.

10. What changes do you need to make in your daily life (interaction with friends, family, job) to make this work?

I need to schedule creative time each day. This includes time for writing, journaling, prayer and meditation, and making an effort to really observe the world around me.

11. How much time each day do you vow to devote to your writing?

I'd like to spend two hours writing and one hour editing/brainstorming if at all possible.

12. With what new type of writing will you experiment in the coming year?

I want to try sci-fi and fantasy. I'd like to write a children's story and a young adult story. I want to play with all genres. And I'd like to finish my Harry Potter fanfic.

13. What new non-writing interest do you wish to add to your life this year?

I want to learn to draw. I plan to sign up for a drawing class that starts in January. I'd also like to take martial arts. I'm thinking TKD. There are some decent schools around and I think I can find one that suits me. I want to go further with photography, since it's something I really enjoy. I'm going to try to take more nature photos, since those are the ones I really love to take. Of course, I'll continue taking pictures of my sister's three lovely kids! I'm finally going to become involved with one of our theater companies in town, and perhaps the opera company. I'd like to get back into singing, especially on stage. I miss it terribly! Of course, I may need to resume voice lessons if I want to try to get into the opera company. It's been a few years...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Web sites and other things....

So I'm working on the Web site for work and things are finally moving along. I've had lots of help, though, so I can't take all the credit. But if we want to launch the thing in Jan. or Feb., I need all the help I can get. In fact, if anyone out there knows anything about building Web sites...

Nah, I have to figure all this out myself. ;) It's actually kind of fun to play around with the code and see what each little change does.

Other than that, things are pretty boring around here.

I'm still working on editing and polishing Summer's Blossom, and am getting ready to outline some other stories for NaNoWriYe. Still planning to start with Deadly Council, but am thinking I might actually do Under the Magnolia Tree before the second Deadlines book. I've been getting all kinds of ideas for that one, and it just seems to want to be written.

I was thinking today about how strange it is that the two genres I enjoy writing the most are inspirational romance and mystery. They're kinda... not similar. I guess that's good, though.

Anyway, nothing really big to report. I hope I do something interesting this weekend. It's been several weeks since I've had free time during the weekend and I happen to be free tomorrow night. Hopefully I will have some great plans by tomorrow! (actually, I'll probably end up taking my nephew to see Narnia, but that will be fun!)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Pre January Writing Prompt

So my group is doing writing prompts each month, and here's my pre NaNoWriYe attempt. Before you read it, please note that I am aware of the switch in perspective throughout the story. It was done on purpose! ;)

This is a tribute to all the people who suffered because of Hurricane Katrina. May your recovery continue and may your hope never die.

Jenny was sleeping peacefully, blissfully ignorant of the war nature was waging outside her window. She was only five years old, after all, and her parents wanted to keep her in the dark. And was it ever dark, outside and inside, even though it was mid morning and the sun should have been out hours ago. But the sun wouldn’t come up that day, and it would be a long time before it would shine as brightly as it had before the storm.

Hurricane Katrina was bearing down on the Mississippi coast, where Jenny lived. She was unaware of the storm, all she knew was that the grownups kept talking about a girl named Katrina and how she was going to be bad. Before going to bed the night before, Jenny heard her mommy asking her daddy if they should run away from Katrina, but her daddy was strong and brave and said no, that they didn’t run from anything. Jenny was proud of her daddy for being so brave. She thought about her brave daddy as she drifted off to sleep that night, the night before Katrina came to their house.

Jenny slept on, even while the house rocked slightly in the wind. Her mother, Alissa, was in the living room, sitting on the couch and alternatively looking out the little circular hole in the board her husband had nailed over the window before the storm hit and then looking through Jenny’s open door to make sure she was still sleeping. Her husband, Robert, was pacing the hallway, looking at the ceiling for leaks and checking the windows for cracks or other damage. They had already lost power, so there was no television, but the little weather radio squeaked instructions and comfort for everyone listening. If they could just get through the worst part of the storm, everything would be okay.

Outside, the war raged on. In almost total darkness, clouds swirled angrily above the little house, lashing the sides and windows with rain. Shingles were torn off the roof with loud cracking sounds, then they chased each other across the roof with thumps and bumps that sounded like animals running a race over their heads. Alissa looked out the hole in the board again. She could see very little through the curtain of rain, but she could make out debris flying across the lawn. A loud crash against the front of the house made her jump. A lawn chair had slammed into the front door, knocking one of the boards loose. Robert ran to the door and opened it to see what had happened. As the door swung open with the push of wind that struggled to enter the house, Alissa saw something she had never seen before. A wall of water was coming toward their home.

It was at least six feet high, because it covered cars and small trees as it made its way up the street. They were a mile from the shore, they shouldn’t have flooding here, but the water was on its way. Even in the gray light of the day, the near darkness they had experienced since twilight the night before, they could see the water rushing toward them. She ran down the hall, to Jenny’s room. Robert tried to slam the door, but it was too late. The water roared into the house with a force neither of them had ever experienced. Robert was swept out the back door, which was forced open by the wave. Alissa threw herself on Jenny’s bed, hoping Robert was okay and that she and Jenny were safe in the bedroom.

The haven they had created for their daughter was unsafe in these conditions, however, and the wave found its way in, even though there was no door to the outside. It crashed into the boarded windows, breaking them with tremendous force. The windows broke and shattered into the room with them, and Alissa held the comforter over their heads to protect them from the shards. Jenny awoke and screamed, and Alissa held her close. The wave kept coming, forcing itself into the room higher and higher, until the bed was wet and the sheets floated around them. They looked like flower petals floating on a pond and Alissa watched, fascinated, as the water rose higher still. She was not able to think, couldn’t focus on where her husband had gone and why he didn’t join them in the bedroom, but knew she had to protect Jenny.

The water rose higher and higher. First it was a foot over the bed, then two feet. The wind continued to roar outside. Alissa could hear trees snapping beside the boarded windows, and what sounded like a large branch fell on the other end of the house. Alissa held Jenny tightly, stroking her hair, as they both sat on the bed, in two feet of water and almost total darkness, with the sound of the wind outside fiercely screaming through the trees and the vents in the attic.

As suddenly as it had begun, however, the wind slowed and then stopped. The water began to subside, and Alissa climbed off the bed and waded to the door. When she opened it, she couldn’t believe what she saw. The entire house was gone, except for the room they had been in and the attic above it. Everything else had been swept away by the water. She ran through what used to be her home, looking for Robert. She could not find him. Though the swirling clouds were moving away and the sun was peeking out from behind them, it was the darkest day of her life. She screamed his name, waiting for some response, but none came. Forgetting about everything else, she ran into the street, looking all around for Robert, for some sign that he was okay. When she saw the bright blue baseball cap he always wore, her heart sank. It was stuck in a tree, but Robert was nowhere to be found. She fell to the saturated ground, crumbling under the grief as her tears fell and mixed with the remnants of the wave that she knew had swept her husband away from her forever. After several long minutes, or it may have been an hour, a hand closed on her shoulder and she looked up, expecting to see Jenny, or perhaps one of the neighbors.

Robert was standing there, she could only see his silhouette as he blocked out the harsh sunlight. It was as if a ring of sun rays surrounded him. It was a sign of hope, and Alissa jumped to her feet and hugged him as closely as she could. She didn't know how he survived, and she would be concerned about hearing the story later, but for now, all that mattered was that he was alive, that they had all survived. They gathered Jenny to them and looked at their home. It was shattered, a shell of its former beauty, but they would rebuild, they would survive, knowing that, as long as they had hope, as long as they were together, they could face the darkest hour and still see the light at the end.

What's this? An actual post???

I feel terrible about not posting for so long. But there are good reasons for it, I promise. I've been busy designing my club page for NaNoWriYe 2006 and I've been working on building a dollhouse every evening when I get home from work. So between Web design and building the dollhouse, I haven't had much time. But here's a good update for everyone out there in Blogland who cares about my life. (if there are any people out there who care about my life, lol!)

Last Friday, I was invited to go to dinner with the people who worked on our Saturday event with us. They had just come into town and wanted a nice dinner. So, that evening, I had dinner with them and with a few of the Harlem Globetrotters at The Pillars, a lovely restaurant in Mobile. I really had a great time at dinner. The communications team that we worked with from Western Union and from the ad agency in Atlanta were all very nice, and the Globetrotters were absolutely hilarious. Especially the one I was sitting by, whose name is Ethan. He was a trip. Seriously.

On Saturday, we had our event. It went soooo well! Here's a great article about it. I really couldn't be happier about how great it was. The people came hungry but left full, not just from the food, but also with hope and laughter. Can a person be full of laughter? I think they can! The picture posted here is of me and Ethan in the gym of the high school where we held the event. It was a blast. He was so good with the kids and the crowd in general. All the guys were incredible. What great entertainers!

The progress on the dollhouse is slow, but it's going well. My mother and I (neither of us are builders by trade) managed to get the sides, the front and the three floors put together, and have painted the body of the house a nice pale shade of pink. Hannah is going to love that, it's her favorite color. The trim is all going to be a light blue, and we are in the process of painting the second coat on all of it. There are tons of pieces! We stained the shingles with walnut stain, so they are a nice dark brown. We have to shingle the roof this weekend. I'm hoping to enlist my dad's help with that, since neither of us have ever shingled a roof before! I can only imagine how crooked it will be if we do it by ourselves! Last night while we were waiting for the glue on the window frames to dry, we put some of the furniture into the rooms and looked at how it's going to fit. The living room is going to be so cute, with the leather couch and chair, and the little TV on the TV stand. I can't wait to see the kitchen, but we have to build the furniture for it, so that will have to wait just a little while longer. I'll post a picture when we are completely finished. It's going to be beautiful. I can't wait to see Hannah's face when she sees it.

On the writing side of life, I've been thinking about what stories I want to write this year. I figure I can do two books and then one during November (NaNoWriMo) to bring my total for the year to three completed manuscripts. It's time to get serious about this writing thing. I'm still working on editing Summer's Blossom. I need about 4,000 more words, but that shouldn't be hard. There are several scenes that I know I need to flesh out a bit, and one that I want to put in, so that should cover it. By the time I'm completely finished, the book will be a little over 70,000 words, which is just what they request on their site.

Oh, I went Christmas shopping on Saturday after the event. I was just in a Christmas mood. I bought so many toys for the kids! I fear what kind of parent I will be someday, because I really enjoy spoiling those children! It was so much fun, though. I can't wait until Christmas Eve, which is when they open the gifts from family. And I made a DVD for my sister with a slideshow of pictures of the kids and a really awesome cheesy song playing in the background. When I showed it to my mom, she cried, which is always a good sign, lol.

But I think that's what's going on these days. Sunday is our Christmas Cantata at church and I have a solo, so I'm trying to ward off any type of illness that would hurt my voice. I've been sucking on Halls Vitamin C drops like they are candy for the past week and a half. At least they taste good. Very citrusy. Well, back to work...

Monday, December 05, 2005

National Novel Writing Year

Well, I enjoyed National Novel Writing month so much, that I decided to challenge myself even further. I need to maintain the discipline and the momentum from November, and the best way to do that is to continue to challenge myself to write every day. So I've set a goal for next year, beginning in January and ending in December, to write 250,000 words. Of course, 50,000 of those will be in November. So I'm going to break it up like this: two 100,000 word novels (books 1 and 2 of the Deadlines series) and then a 50,000 word novel in November. The great thing about this schedule is that I'll be able to edit as I go along because it's nowhere near the amount of words per day as NaNoWriMo.

So anyway, here's to a year of insanity and great creative projects. On Jan. 1, I will be starting "Deadly Council: A Deadlines Mystery"

Here we go again!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

So very pretty...

My sister has the prettiest kids. Aren't they pretty? I guess I'm a little biased, but that's okay. Yesterday, we dressed them up in the Christmas outfits I bought them and took pictures of them. It was fun. We even did some of them "coming out of" a wrapped gift box. So cute. Anyway, I just had to share.

Nothing else to report. I started reading my book yesterday. I'm actually surprised at the way it turned out, since I wrote it so quickly. It actually has a decent plot and the dialogue isn't nearly as awful as I feared it would be. I'm going to read a little more this evening before bed. I can already see places where I need to add scenes and/or dialogue. It'll be fun to finish it out completely. I can't wait to see how it turns out when I'm finally, completely finished.

In other news, we started building Hannah's dollhouse today. She knows about it, but I don't think she quite understands that it's going to be taller than she is, and that it will be fully furnished when we are finished. With carpet. And wallpaper. And books for the bookshelf. I had so much fun picking out the furnishings for it and can't wait to see what it looks like in the house. I need only a few more things for the house, and then the doll family that will fit in it, and her Christmas will be done. Then it's on to the boys, who are proving to be a lot more difficult to shop for, unfortunately. I'm still not sure what to get Noah. As the oldest of the three, he's the most difficult to please. He wants everything, so it's hard to figure out what he wants the most. Ah well, 'tis the season to go shopping and stress about what you're getting your loved ones, right? And you know what's worse? Thinking about buying Christmas gifts while wearing short sleeves and running the air conditioner! It was actually hot today! Well, it's time to go to sleep now. It's going to be a busy week...

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Ah, the joys of working in PR

I love my job. I really do. It provides so much material for great stories down the road. I recently spent some time in Moss Point, Mississippi for a work related project and I got a chance to talk to some people who had been affected by Hurricane Katrina. So many people have stories of survival and helping others to survive. It's truly inspiring.

Now to the thing I couldn't talk about before. We are going to be involved in a very special event next Saturday. We are going to serve a holiday meal to hurricane victims in Mississippi, sponsored by Western Union and the Harlem Globetrotters. I remember the Globetrotters from when I was a child, when they used to do various TV guest spots. I loved them then and can't wait to see them! And the event is going to be so great for people in Mississippi who have lost everything. I can't wait to see them enjoying all the turkey, ham, and other trimmings of a real holiday meal. So we've been busy planning this thing for the last month or so.

Another interesting thing I've been working on is a massive update on our Web site. It's pretty ugly now, but we're working on something that looks a lot better and is very functional as well. Problem is, I don't know anything about Web design, so I'm going to buy HTML for Dummies today and see what I can figure out. We were using Frontpage, but we got Dreamweaver in, so I need to learn how to use it. Maybe I'll buy a copy of Dreamweaver for Dummies too. I'll just have a whole library for dummies before long!

Today is our TGIO party for NaNo, so I have to get ready. We're meeting for lunch, which will be fun. I was going to buy something for everyone, a little trinket for participating, but I spent all my money on Christmas presents for my sister's kids. Such is the life of an aunt, I'm afraid! So I guess I'll do that next year. Oh well, off to the party!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

No clever title

Today was World AIDS Day. I didn't know it until I started my computer this morning and went to Google to do some research for work. The red ribbon was there and it made me think of my very first World AIDS Day. I was in high school and my friend Jamie made red ribbons for all of our friends. We wore them around school that day. That ribbon is in a collage that I made of pictures from high school. The collage is in a frame and it's hanging on my wall to this day. So when I saw that red ribbon, I thought of Jamie. Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, if you read this, Jamie... please contact me. You were my oldest and dearest friend and I haven't spoken to you in many years. For some reason, when I saw that red ribbon today, I missed you intensely and felt a need to get in contact with you again. And if any of my friends out there who are reading this know how to contact him, please send me an email with his email address or phone number. I need to talk to him.

But back to World AIDS Day. When I saw the ribbon, after I realized how much I missed Jamie, I was then struck by how many people have been taken by this disease. I thought of them and their families and I sent good thoughts and prayers their way. I hope everyone else in the world did the same. Last year, when I was a journalist, I did a story about an AIDS walk in my community. The theme was Walk to Remember. When I graudated from high school in 1995, AIDS was a really "hot" issue. Everyone was talking about it, everyone was interested in preventing and curing AIDS. We have become complacent about it, or so it seems. I hope that today, people renewed their commitments to finding a cure. I know I'm going to contact my local AIDS support center and see if there's something I can do to help their clients. Maybe I can participate in the next Walk to Remember.

On another, lighter note, I went to my very first "professional party" tonight. It was a media appreciation party, held by the Public Relations Council of Alabama. I was terrified that I wouldn't know anyone. I was afraid I would just be standing there by the trash can, waiting for someone to talk to me. (not really a great fear for a PR person, right?) But it wasn't bad at all. In fact, I had a nice time. It was outdoors, there was a lovely jazz combo playing and pretty lights making the whole thing very festive. The weather was nice too. Not cold at all. I was only wearing a sweater, not even a jacket. Anyway, I found quite a few people to talk to, some I knew and some I didn't. I have a lot more confidence about the next five parties I have to go to in the next two weeks. I felt a little like Bridget Jones when she's preparing to go to the launch party in the first book/movie. I actually caught myself introducing people with "thoughtful details" and I had to chuckle a bit. Seriously, you guys should have heard me go!

"Hi, how have you been? Have you met ____? She graduated from ______ with me and now she works at _______, where she is in charge of _________."

It was great. I actually can't wait for the next one. I have a party on Monday, one on Tuesday and one on Thursday of next week, and then a few the week after that. Some of the people who were there tonight will be at the other ones, so at least I know there will be people there that I can talk to! I used to be so great in social situations, and then I spent years not having to do that, so recently I've been a little hesitant. But tonight showed me that I can do it again. It was good.

I going to sit down with my NaNo novel tonight. I haven't read it all the way through yet, and although my mother said she really enjoyed it, I need to read it myself before I really start fleshing the thing out and editing it. I probably won't finish reading it tonight, which means I will have to finish it over the weekend, because I wont' be able to do it tomorrow night, since I have plans to go see Rent! I'm sure it's not as good as the stage show, because... well... they never are as good, but I've heard nothing but glowing reviews. The touring cast I saw a few years ago was fabulous, but I've never seen the original cast. It's so great that almost all of them are in the movie. So I'm looking forward to seeing it.

Well, that's about it for tonight. I need to do a little Web research for work before turning in, so I'm going to do that now.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Life after NaNoWriMo

Well, it's the last day of the month. November has been completely crazy, but I loved it! I can't wait for next year. In fact, I'll probably have my own little NaNoWriMo events a few times next year before November. I will definately do the summer one, where I will set a more ambitious goal for myself.

One thing I really learned during NaNo was that it is possible to write almost every day. In fact, a strange thing happened as the month went on. I actually found myself wanting to sit down and write, and when it was time to stop each night, I wanted to keep going. I really got to know my story and my characters, so much that they seemed like real people to me before the middle of the month. By the end, I was so attached to them that I wasn't really sure I wanted to end their story! So it really showed me that I can be a writer, that I have the ability to really force myself to be creative even when I don't feel like it. (which actually wasn't that often, when I think about it!)

So here's the plan. I'm going to edit and flesh out the story in December and then send a query letter to my publisher of choice. Then in January, while I'm waiting for a response, I'm going to polish the story. I really, really, really hope I get a response!

But in December, I also want to start back on the first Deadlines book. That story wants to get out of my head too. It was last year's NaNo (that I never finished.) It's a good idea, but it needs a lot of work. I have to go back and outline it first because it's a murder/mystery and I didn't outline it before I started, so I have absolutely no idea who the killer is! lol

So anyway, there are exciting projects ahead. I have about five ideas I really want to develop, but I really feel the need to finish the ones I've started first, so I'm going to dive into them and see what happens. I can't wait to write some more! In fact, I'm going to go do it now!

Sunday, November 27, 2005


That word says it all. As of today, I have finished my novel. Well, except for the fleshing out and the layering, which I will get to work on straight away. But here's the progress meter with today's total.

Zokutou word meter
50,287 / 50,000

I'm going to finish today...

Here we go... I'm going to finish today. I've already written over 3900 words today and I only have a little over 700 to go, so I'm going to go for the finish. I'm sure I can do it.

And the cool thing is, it looks like I will almost finish the novel when I hit 50,000. I'll have to add the Epilogue and then go back in and layer a bit, which will account for the rest of the words I have to write before I can submit.

They want 70,000-75,000 words, so if I take my 50,000 and then go back, adding dialogue and detail where it is lacking those things, I should be able to make it.

Okay, I'm going to go ahead and finish now. I'll post when I'm done.

Friday, November 25, 2005

90% Finished!

Okay, so I've done over 45,000 words, which means I'm over 90% finished! This is so great! I may even finish tomorrow. Unfortunately, I am certain that I won't be writing "The End" when I hit 50,000 words. I still have a lot to do before the story is over. But it will be so great to finish the contest, and with a couple of days to spare! Maybe I'll put in some extra effort tomorrow and really try to finish.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

To all my loved ones... and people I don't know...

Happy Thanksgiving!

I had a lovely holiday, I must say. It's always nice to be with family. In fact, Thanksgiving is pretty much the only time I see some of my family members. It's always fun catching up with people, especially since I've had a completely crazy year this past year. Anyway, I really enjoyed the day.

I think I'll enjoy tomorrow just as much, though. I'm going to write, write, write! All day! In fact, I may even finish tomorrow. If not tomorrow, then I will definately finish on Saturday. And then it's back to Chapter One to flesh things out a bit all the way through, then editing in December. With the help of some very critical editors, I should have this baby ready by the end of January. At least, that's what I'm shooting for. I hope it happens.

Anyway, I'll post tomorrow with my progress. It's the home stretch now. Only over 6,000 words to go. I can't believe I'm going to finish this contest for the first time ever! I can't even begin to express how excited I am about that.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Sick today...

I went to work today even though I've been sick since Sunday. I hope nobody there ends up getting this virus or whatever that I have, because it's really unpleasant. If it doesn't ease up a little by tomorrow morning, I may just have to call in. I really hate calling in, though. I always feel like I'm letting everyone down when I'm not there. I even felt like that when I was on vacation this summer. I know, I'm strange.

Anyway, due to the illness, I didn't write enough words to count. I wrote a hundred or so, but I'm just going to tack them onto tomorrow's totals. I really hope I'm not sick over Thanksgiving, because we're having the family dinner at my house this year. It will be completely miserable if I'm sick for that.

I wrote an email yesterday to Vaclav Havel, the guy who said my quote of the week. He's a distant relative, but I don't think he knows about my family. I'll probably never hear from him, but if I do, I'll be so excited. He's the only person in my family (besides me) who writes. I have admired him for as long as I can remember, and I really hope I hear from a secretary or something at least. I read online that he is starting to write a new play. He said the coolest thing about it, that it was already written in his head and the only thing he really had to do was write it down. Oddly, that's how I feel about my story. It's all done, completely written in my head, it's really just about typing it up now. Unfortunately, the way I feel today, the time I spent writing this post was enough time out of my bed. I think I'd better climb back into bed now.

Monday, November 21, 2005


So I actually managed to make it to 40,000 words tonight. It's amazing when you're in the zone. I only have 10,000 words left to write now, and a four day weekend coming up. The story is still going well. I'm in the "falling action" stage now and it's literally downhill. Hopefully it will be as fun to read as it has been to write.

In other news, FOUR DAY WEEKEND! Oh, did I mention that already? Can you tell I'm excited about this? Well, just in case I'm being too subtle, I'll just say it straight out... I'm really excited about the four day weekend. I need the rest. Last week was crazy and I fear I'm starting to get a little bit sick, so it'll be good to have a few days to recover.

Anyway, it's time for bed so I'm going to close this post. I hope everyone out in NaNoWriMo land is making great progress. Only one week to go!

What a weekend

Well, not much to report on word count. I'm up to 35,000 words, which means I'm 70% finished. Tonight I will try to up that further. I wonder if I can make it to 40,000 this evening. There's nothing good on TV, so maybe I can do it! The only problem is, I'm not really feeling well today, so that might be an issue when I try to sit down and write. I'm going to try not to let it be an issue, though, because I want to get ahead again.

This weekend was really good. My best friend took me to dinner and then to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. She even bought me some jelly beans at our local Target to sneak into the theater. I got brave and picked the flavors I hadn't tried before, such as buttered toast and cream soda, in the spirit of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans. They were all good, which was nice. And by the way, I LOVED Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire! It was awesome. The kids are really growing up, which was most evident in the scenes where Ron was wearing a short sleeved shirt (you could actually see muscles on his arms) and Harry's hairy legs in the second task. And of course, little Hermione in the dress for the Yule Ball. She really looked great. They did a fantastic job casting her all those years ago and I can't wait to see what's going to happen in the upcoming movies between her and Ron. I absolutely loved Neville and Ginny dancing together at the Yule Ball. You can see a hint of what she's going to look like in a few years, when she finally steals Harry's heart, and it's going to be great! I really can't imagine how the casting people managed to pick the perfect kids for the roles, even as those kids are growing up and changing, just the way the characters would grow and change. It's amazing, really.

Anyway, enough of that. Saturday I took Noah to see Harry Potter and he loved it. He wasn't scared of Voldemort like I thought he would be. He just said Voldy was ugly and strange. I really loved Voldemort. He was just as I imagined him when I was reading the book. After the movie, we went shopping and I bought The Sims 2 for myself (for my birthday) and I'm having a great time playing it. Unfortunately, playing The Sims is cutting into my writing time, but I have to practice discipline. I keep telling myself over and over, "I will be finished with my novel by Nov. 30... I will be finished with my novel by Nov. 30..."

So that's pretty much it for the weekend. I should go now because my lunch break is almost over and I want to check my email before I have to get back to work. I'll post again later.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Happy Birthday to me!

There are 28 candles on this cake and I'm 29 today, but I didn't want to spend forever looking for a pic of a cake with 29 candles. If this bothers anyone... too bad! :)

So it's my birthday, which is good, I suppose. At this point in the day, I'm still not sure if I have any plans, but I suppose I'll find out later. I never know what I'm doing until I'm actually doing it anyway. Such is my life, I'm afraid. ;) So right now, I'm at work... on my birthday... but it's not bad because we're giving away turkeys today to our agencies, who will use them to feed hungry individuals and families in our community. I can think of worse ways to spend a birthday, so it's cool. I'm looking forward to tonight, though. Because regardless of what happens, even if I have to go by myself, I will go see Harry Potter tonight. I'm so excited to see this movie. The fourth book is my favorite in terms of what happens (the third book was my favorite in terms of characters, etc, but the fourth has the best action!) Anyway, so I'm excited to see how they did the movie. It should be fabulous! Anyway, it's getting a little busy here, so I'd better go.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I couldn't stand it...

I just couldn't bear to miss two nights in a row, so I sat down and did a few. 577 to be exact. It's not a lot, but it is further toward the goal, so that's okay. Plus, it got me to 33,000. (it's actually more like 30,006 words, but I rounded down to make it nice and even. Not that it matters, of course, but I'm just strange. lol

So anyway, I actually managed to write a little today. It feels good to write. I missed it yesterday. I miss the story when I don't work on it. I miss the characters. I sometimes wish these characters could jump off the screen/page and live actual lives. I like them so much, I'd definately hang out with them, lol. I can't decide if that makes me really insane or just eccentric, as all writers should be.

Another no-word night

So it looks like I'm headed toward a 10,000 word weekend again. This is the second night in a row I haven't written. The awful thing is, I really want to write, and the story is right there in my head, I just don't have the time right now. Hopefully I won't be working too late tomorrow night and can come home and write some. Hopefully. I really wanted to get to 35,000 by Friday, but I don't think it's going to happen. But if I do a good 10,000 word weekend, I'll be at 42,000 by Monday, which would keep me ahead. I've never written a story this long before, so it's amazing to me that I've done this much.

Meanwhile, in "real life," I've been having the craziest week ever. Tomorrow is going to be insane, and so is Friday. This is why I wrote so much in advance, so I wouldn't have to stress over word counts this week. So even though I feel kind of guilty for not writing every day, I'm still ahead, so I shouldn't. But I do. How silly is that??!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

No words today

Well, I knew it would happen and I am so glad I prepared for it. I wrote nothing today. NOTHING! I got home from my meeting at a sort of decent hour, but it was just such a long day that I didn't have any creative mojo left. That's one thing about having a job where you have to be creative. Sometimes the job sucks out all your creativity. I'm hoping tomorrow will be better.

On a more positive note, a very important person in my org said I've been doing a good job since I started in January. That was great to hear. This being my first professional public relations job and all, I like hearing that I'm doing a good job. :)

Well, The Daily Show is on so I'm going to stop now... hopefully I'll have a better report on word count tomorrow.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Only 1000 words today :(

Well, I got started and had to stop. Then I started again and had to stop again. Having things to do is so annoying. I had to do laundry or I wouldn't have anything to wear to work tomorrow! So after about 6 starts and stops, I decided to give up for the evening. I'm going to try to write a little on my lunch break tomorrow so I won't fall behind, but at least I have a good cushion, thanks to the crazy writing I did over the weekend! I have a little over 32,000 words as of today and if I can make it to 35,000 by Friday, I'll be happy. And still ahead!

Busy, busy week

Okay, so tonight is my only night at home this week. Yep, the only one! Tomorrow night I have a meeting with my special event committee. It's our first one, so it should be interesting. Wednesday night I have choir practice, Thursday night I have to go to a county commission meeting, and Friday night is my birthday, so I assume I'll be doing something fun.

So anyway, I'm going to get as much done as I can tonight so I won't feel badly about not writing when I drag myself home just in time to watch The Daily Show and go to bed the rest of the week. I'm sure I'll post an update when I'm finished tonight.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Made the goal, yay!

Well, I managed to write my 5,000 words today and then some, getting me past 30,000 words total! So now, if I can't write a couple of days next week I'll be okay. The story is going so well, I'm almost afraid. I've never written anything this easily before. It freaks me out because it makes me think it's not any good. I hope I'm wrong. I'm not reading back over anything I've written in November until I'm completely finished, just to keep me from trying to edit. Of course, December is going to be fun, because that's when I'll be editing. I guess then I'll find out if my November writing is bad or good. :) But for now, I'm not going to worry about that. I'm going to kick back and relax the rest of the evening because I'm finished for the night! Unless inspiration strikes again...

Here goes nothing!

Well, it's 11:30 on Sunday morning and I'm staying home from church because I have a sore throat. If it is something contagious, I don't want to expose everyone to it, so it's safer to stay at home.

There is good news, though, about staying at home today... I can really work on that 5,000 word day I wanted to do! Well, a little less than 5,000, actually. I just want to make it to 30,000 by the end of the day today. The most I've written in one day was a little over 4,000, but if I really sit down and concentrate on the story, I know I can do it.

So this morning I am issuing a challenge to myself. I will make it to 30,000 today. 30,000 will push me ahead 5 days, which will be good for all the meetings and other "life stuff" that will get in the way next week. Of course, I will write on the days I can next week, but at least I will have some leeway. So I'm going to start writing now... wish me luck!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Halfway! *Does dance of joy*

So I hit a really important milestone today. I have made it halfway to my NaNo goal! And the funny thing is, the story is still flowing really well. I had a few difficult moments last week, but on the whole, things are going really well. If there is one thing I've learned from this experience so far, it's that you just have to write. Every day. Even if you don't feel like it. So I'm going to start doing that from now on. Maybe if I write every day, I will actually be able to write all the stories that are in my head before I die! :) So many stories, so little time...

So anyway, I'm going to try to write a little more tonight after I play a game on MSN games and answer a few emails. And tomorrow, I'm going to shoot for a 5,000 word day! Wish me luck!

Friday, November 11, 2005

22,000 and counting

So I hit 22,000 today and I think I'm going to keep going for awhile. First, though, I think I'll play a game or something, just to give my brain a little break. Meanwhile, everyone make fun of what a loser I am for being at home on a Friday night, writing instead of out doing something fun with my friends. Unfortunately, all my friends are busy or unavailable right now, so I sit at home. I did it last weekend too. :( If the same thing happens next weekend, which happens to be the weekend of my birthday, I will be very upset.

I swear, sometimes life really stinks.

But that's not what I want to talk about right now. I want to talk about 22,000 words and more in my head, and I want to talk about the awesomeness that is my new computer! The keyboard is so soft that it feels like you're typing on springy, square-shaped clouds. I'm DYING to try it out on some kind of cool, 3-D graphic heavy game, but I can't do that right now because if I get involved in a game like that, I'll never finish my book. I'm going to go for 25,000 by the end of the day tomorrow, and 30,000 before Monday is over. Next week is going to be very hard for me, so I want to get way ahead so I can take a couple of nights off. I'm working late three nights next week (meetings and other "important" stuff) so I don't really want to get home at 10 p.m. and then try to write 1,667 words. Imagine how awful those words would be!

Anyway, I'd better get to my game and then work on some more words! I think I'll play Zuma. It's a great time waster!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Breaking News!

I just had to drop by here and announce something cool. My membership to the Public Relations Council of Alabama has just been approved! I'm an official member! So in four years, when I am qualified, I will go for accreditation. Of course, by then I will hopefully have my Master's degree. Hopefully. Anyway, just had to share that.

In other news, I'm buying my new computer today. It's my b'day present to myself, and I can't wait to get it home! It's been five years since I've had a new computer to play with. Yay! A new toy!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Yet another very special milestone for my NaNoWriMo experience, I reached 20,000 words today! I also let my mother read what I've written this November, which was kind of a huge step because I haven't read back over any of it yet and it could be complete garbage, lol! Anyway, it's very late and I'm very tired, but I had to post this milestone.

Favorite part of the day

I haven't posted a picture in awhile, so I thought I would post this one. I love sunsets and this one was particularly good. I love the bird sitting on the birdhouse. What a view, right? I want beach front property like this little bird has! But seriously, I think this picture reflects something that is missing in most people's lives, and is often missing in mine: quiet moments. We don't have enough quiet moments these days, and I think that's one reason we get so angry, so frustrated, and so impatient. If we would learn to stop and watch a sunset (or smell the roses, to use a cliche) we may just be calmer, nicer people with more focused and harmonious lives.

Progress meters

Okay, this is just a quick rant. Every progress meter I've tried for my NaNo progress on my blog has crashed. The first one (the one I really liked) crashed yesterday and the person hosting it is not going to put it back up. I put the second one up last night and it crashed this morning. Is it me? I guess I'll know if this new one, the third one I've tried, crashes before the end of the month.

On a slightly related note, I'm loving my blog makeover! I'm playing with settings and adding links and other fun stuff like that. When November is over, I plan to give The Casual Critic a little makeover too. I've neglected that one a little recently, but not because I don't want to write. I haven't been to any movies lately! That's very strange for me. I usually go every week. Hopefully I can get back to that, because it was fun!

Anyway, I hope this progress meter works for the rest of the month!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

18000 words finished!

Well, I managed 2,000 words tonight, even amidst all the insanity that invaded my world today. Something very exciting is going to happen at work in the next few weeks. I can't talk about it right now, but when I can, I most certainly will. And I heard from my first intern tonight. She has a job and is taking the world by storm. We're going to have lunch one day this week or next. It should be fun. And she has agreed to be on my special event committee, so that's another great person to help! I'm a little nervous about the special event for 2006 because it will be totally in my hands, but I know how it's supposed to go and I have a very detailed event plan, so I'm pretty confident about it.

Work is much better this week than it was last week. There was just so much going on last week that I had a momentary stress attack. And to top off the work stress, my sister had some drama this weekend, so my family was pretty busy with that. But it's all better now!

The novel is going well. The hero and heroine are having their first date right now. They are in an Italian restaurant. I'm pretty sure a walk on the beach under the stars is next in line! So what if I am interjecting my favorite type of date into my story. That's okay, right? Right?? :)

Writing this romance novel makes me wonder if I will ever experience what my characters are experiencing. Is true love real? I look at my parents and I see that they have something very special, something that is forever. But then I look at all the people I know who have been married and divorced and I wonder if true love only happend back then, when my parents were young, and only happens now in stories written by people like me, who want to believe in it so much that they invent characters who do fall in love and whose love does last forever. I'm not giving up on it just yet, though. I feel certain there is someone out there for me. I just need a little help finding him, I guess! :)

Not that big a deal

Okay, so 29 isn't really that big a deal. I know it's true, but last night, after having a lovely conversation with my friend Chris on the phone, I was thinking about life, love and other mysteries. And after the clock struk midnight and I realized I was only ten days away from being a year older than my mother was when she had me... well... it was a little sobering for a moment. But I'm okay now. Mostly because I know that I am a totally different person than my mother and there are other things in my life that I can be proud of. Besides, anytime I start feeling sad that I don't have a child, I can spend time with my sister's three kids. I immediately feel better about my status when I do that! They are wild! Sweet and wonderful, but wild! lol

But anyway, I received some encouraging and sweet messages (comments here and emails) after I posted my last entry and I appreciate all of them.

But the song lyrics still resonate, and I will continue to say the words in my head. It's not what you accomplish in your life, it's your friendships that are ultimately important. And in that department, I think I'm doing okay. :)

I love all of you! Thanks for being my friends. You are all so important to me.

*this cheesy post is over, we now return you to your regularly scheduled blog entries*

A Sweet Reward

For reaching 15,000, I rewarded myself with a Krispy Kreme doughnut, my first in something like 6 months. It was awesome, too! lol I totally blew my diet, but I had to reward myself, right? Right???

On another, slightly more depressing note, in 10 days I will be 29. TWENTY NINE!!!! I can't believe it. And the stupid thing is, I'm not even waiting until I turn 30 to have the 30 year old depression. I'm having it right now. I have this list of things I want to do by the time I turn 30. Let's just say if I want to do all of them, it will be a very busy year!

Here's the list:

Finish a novel (almost done!)
Have a novel published (good luck, right?!)
Sing the national anthem at a sporting event
Record a song
Ride in a hot air balloon
Be in a movie (although technically I've been an extra, but I don't think you can even see me!)

I'm pretty sure I have more things on the list, but I can't think of them now. The memory is the first thing to go, lol! So you see that I have a very busy year in store. I'm such a slacker, I should have been working on these all along. But it snuck up on me! 29. I can't even believe it.

I'll end this post with the words of a song that speaks to me. It's from the Broadway show and upcoming movie, Rent. I have to keep saying these words to myself to remind me that the things listed above don't really matter in the grand scheme of things.

525,600 minutes,
525,000 moments so dear.
525,600 minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
In 525,600 minutes - how do you measure a year in the life?
How about love? How about love? How about love?
Measure in love. Seasons of love.

525,600 minutes! 525,000 journeys to plan.
525,600 minutes - how can you measure the life of a woman or man?

In truths that she learned, or in times that he cried.
In bridges he burned, or the way that she died.

It’s time now to sing out, though the story never ends
Let's celebrate remember a year in the life of friends.
Remember the love! Remember the love! Remember the love!
Measure in love. Seasons of love! Seasons of love.

And I'll leave you with that.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Week 2 of NaNoWriMo

Okay, so by today, I was supposed to have 10,000 words and I'm stopping at 15,000. I think that gives me enough cushion for the days ahead. In a couple of weeks I'm not going to be able to write every day, so I'm trying to plan ahead.

Today, I planned to do at least 3000 words and only managed 1000. I really hope this is not an indication of how it's going to be the second week. My biggest problem today is that my head hurts. I mean it really hurts! Probably because of the 4000+ words I did yesterday. I don't ever want to do that again!

So is this what it's like to be a professional writer? Until today, it has come pretty easily, and I think the only reason it didn't come easily today is because I'm not feeling well.

I keep going on the NaNo boards and seeing people who hate their stories. I feel extremely lucky (blessed, really) that I actually love my story and my characters. I do hope it's good enough for publication when I'm finished.

Oh, progress report on the characters... they know they care about each other, but can't be together just yet. They have to wait until he's not her teacher anymore before they can have a real relationship. So there's lots of angst and longing going on right now. Which I can relate to, lol.

I'm looking forward to seeing what will happen next. Tomorrow, though. Definately not tonight. Tonight I need to watch Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy, and go to bed.

Shiny new template!

So I'm trying out this new template. I hope everyone likes it. I'm fond of it for the moment. I'll eventually try to make my own, but that will require learning HTML or something, so I'm not sure I'm ready for that! I know very little HTML, definately not enough to create a site, even a blog. I have lots of cool ideas for it, but there's no way I can do anything about it, especially during November.

However, the good news is that my NaNoWriMo report card spreadsheet says at the rate I'm writing, I'll be finished on November 18, which also happens to be my birthday! So I'm shooting for that goal. I'll write another 4,000 or so words tomorrow afternoon between church and church. At least, that's my goal. Well, it's extremely late and I really need to get to bed.

14,000 and counting

I didn't quite make my goal for the day, I managed 14,000 instead of 15,000, but that's okay. I wrote over 4,000 words just today. I think that's pretty good. The story is still going well.

Okay, now I have a problem. I've decided I hate my Blogger template and I really need a new one. I've been doing research on the templates available online and I don't really like any of them. And I don't really like the Blogger templates on Blogger, mostly because there are only a few of them and tons of blogs, so chances are, there are thousands of blogs that look just like mine. Since I am all about being different, that doesn't sit well with me.

So if anyone out there knows how I can edit my template, or knows where I can get a new, creative one, please let me know! Until then, I should get back to my book!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Okay, I lied...

I didn't make it to 10,000 words yesterday. In fact, I didn't write a single word. I actually went to bed at 8:30! On a Friday night! What's that about? I think it's about me writing until midnight three nights in a row this week and having an exceptionally stressful week at work. So now I get to spend today catching up. But that's okay, because I'm still ahead and the story is still coming to me in my head, so it shouldn't be too hard to write. It is obvious now that the hero and heroine now know they are mutually attracted to each other. I think from here on, it's just coasting. At least, I hope that's how it will work! There's an obstacle, the resolution of it, and then another obstacle and its resolution before they can be together, but I know exactly what I want to do with those, so it should be okay.

It's 1 p.m. on Saturday and I am going to start writing. I won't finish until I have 15,000 words. Or that's the plan, at least!

Wish me luck!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Progress Report

My fingers hurt and my eyes are tired, but it's worth it! Today I will hit the 10,000 word mark on my novel. And the funny thing is, it's going really well. The characters are not annoying me yet, it hasn't spiraled downward into the abyss of bad dialogue and cheesy situations (that was my greatest fear) and I haven't wanted to throw the entire manuscript into the bay yet (although I'm sure that day will come!)

I read a small snippet of the novel to my mother last night and she cried. Frankly, I was shocked... and a little afraid.

So anyway, once I break 10,000 I will only have 40,000 words to go. If the entire novel comes as easily as the last 10,000 words, I'll be finished in no time! Then comes the extremely painful and tedious process of editing. I'll save that for December, which I have hereby dubbed, National Novel Editing Month. It won't be nearly as fun as November, but I want to be finished with the book, and I mean completely finished and ready to submit to publishers, by the first of next year. I will send it on January 1. That's my goal.

I hope all you other NaNoWriMos out there are doing well on your novels. I intend to really work hard this weekend since it's the first weekend of the month. I hope all of you get a lot done this weekend too!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Word verification

I'm sorry I had to turn on word verification for comments, but I kept getting all this stupid spam. Since I did it, I haven't gotten any spam at all, so thankfully it works! But I am sorry for all the trouble it causes actual people who are trying to leave comments. Please continue commenting, I love to hear from you!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Just had to post this

I kept seeing these cool signature pictures at The Official NaNoWriMo Site and just had to make one. So I made this.

Image hosted by

My friend Chris says my working title sounds like a porn book or movie, but I don't care (Hi Chris! I love you!) I think this name fits the tone of the story. And there's going to be a part at the end that makes that particular phrase very meaningful. (or at least, I hope it's meaningful!) The outline is going very well and I've done a detailed synopsis and a timeline that goes from before the book starts to after it's over. I've got a few pages of back story done and some pretty detailed character sketches. Yeah, I was a Girl Scout, always be prepared! So I think I'm ready for November to start. By the end of the month, I hope to have a finished novel. My very first finished novel! But back to the picture, it's made from a rose pic I took about a year ago, using some really fun features of Paint Shop Pro. (I love that program so much!)

In other news, I'll be working hard on some video editing in the next few weeks for my church's Christmas program. I love video editing, so I'm looking forward to working on that. There's a lot going on, but that's the way I like it!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Shots (Not) Fired

Okay, if anyone saw the news last night that said there were shots fired at my place of employment, it was not true. The news was mistaken. There were no shots fired at the place where I work, nor have there ever been shots fired here, nor will there ever be. (hopefully)

I actually work at a very safe place. The shots were fired at the old location of my organization, a place I've never even been because we moved three years before I started working here. Everyone has been calling here today because they caught the incorrect part of the report but not the part where they corrected themselves. So it's been kind of interesting today.

You know, it's scary to me how much trust people place in the media. People at my church were afraid for my safety because they saw something on the news. We are supposed to be able to trust the news, but sometimes it fails us. So today's lesson is: don't believe everything you hear, even if it's on your evening news.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

"Anita needs"

I saw this on someone's blog today and had to do it for myself. What you do is go to google and type in "(your name) needs." For example, I typed in "Anita needs" and then list the top 10 results. If two of the top ten are the same, go to the next unique one. Make sure you use the quotes or it won't work correctly. Try it, it's fun!

Here are my results:

Anita needs me - obviously someone is obsessed with me, lol

Anita needs team members - what kind of team, I wonder?

Anita needs more than a slap - hey, wait a minute! what have I done to deserve this? It appears that there is a naughy soap opera character named Anita that some fans want to torture and kill. Glad it's not me!

Anita needs help - don't we all?

Anita needs to know more about vampires - Everything I know about Vampires, I learned from Joss Whedon.

Anita needs to sort out her priorities - actually, I think my priorities are pretty good, except that I'm doing this at work instead of working. (In my defense, I am on lunch break!)

Anita needs to be rescued from the oppressive hand of the brothel keepers in Bombay - Huh??!

Anita needs to put all her addresses within this spreadsheet under each of these headings - ugh, I feel sorry for this Anita. I absolutely hate spreadsheets.

Anita needs a huge portion of diplomacy and persuasiveness to get everyone out unharmed - or we could just let everyone die, right?

Anita needs to go rescue a couple of wereleopards (and you thought there were only werewolves, right?) - hmm.... well, it is almost Halloween, I guess stranger things have happened...

I wonder if there's a way to make a story out of these. I think that's something I'll work on after NaNoWriMo this year. I'm particularly fond of the brothel keepers one and the wereleopards one. I'm pretty sure these are taking about fictional Anitas and not real-life ones. At least, I hope it's fiction...

Monday, October 24, 2005


So I started my workout program again today and... OUCH! I was doing so well before the stupid hurricane and then work sort of took over my life. For the past few months I haven't wanted to do anything but crash when I get home, but I have really needed to get back into the exercise routine. It's funny how a couple of months away from something can feel like a year, especially exercise! My X-Box exercise program told me to do the flexibility workout, which means lots of yoga. You would think a pose called "plank" would be just sort of lying on the floor like a plank of wood. Guess what... it's not like that at all! You know the "up" part of a push up? That's plank pose. And you're supposed to hold it for 25 seconds, which, let's be honest, feels like half an hour when you're as out of shape as I am!

So now I'm in pain when I move, and when I'm not moving... and when I'm lying down. But I know it gets better if you just keep doing it, so I'm going to get back into the routine of working out every day. I'm considering getting up early every morning to do it, maybe start my day off doing something energetic so that I don't have to fight the urge to nod off during my morning commute. That's a little scary, trust me!

I'm sure there's something I'm forgetting to say, but The Daily Show is almost on and I need to concentrate on the adorableness that is Jon Stewart! I hope he has a good guest tonight. I loved Viggo Mortenson on the show a couple of weeks ago. It was great!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

My insane ramblings...

Nothing really important to report. I was off work on Friday, which was nice. I spent the day wandering around the beautiful virtual world of Myst III: Exile on my X-Box. I actually solved the first two ages and am now stuck on the third. It was a very relaxing day. Friday evening Rhea and I went to see Stay, a movie starring Ewan McGregor and Ryan Gosling. I will most likely post a review of it on my Casual Critic blog, but not yet. I'm still working out what it meant, if anything. I will say that it was interesting and fun to try and figure out. Plus, it was scary in a way, and I've been in the mood for scary movies lately.

Actually, I'm still in the mood for scary movies. I always am this time of year. Last year, the weekend of Halloween, I watched scary movies pretty much nonstop, because several of the cable channels were broadcasting scary movie marathons. I watched several that I hadn't seen before, which was cool. Maybe they will do it again this year. Or maybe Rhea and I can have another scary movie marathon like we did last year. That was fun. She says she wants to go somewhere this year where she can dress up. I don't have any idea where that might be, but I'm looking into it. I have no idea what kind of costume I would wear, but it will be fun to figure out if I can find a place to go. None of our friends are having parties, so I'm not sure if I'll be able to find something.

It's funny, today I was telling my mom that I'm in the mood for Christmas already. I guess because this summer was so bad with the hurricanes and everything that I just want the holidays to come. It's always so much fun to decorate and buy gifts for everyone. I really want to go caroling this year. So yeah, I'm completely insane for thinking about Christmas in October. I guess because I was cleaning out my closet the other day and found my little fiber optic Christmas tree that I bought for my office when I worked at Thomas Hospital. This year I'll probably take it to my office at the food bank. I guess I'll have to wait until Dec. 1 to do that. :)

In other news, I got my car title in the mail this week. My car is officially mine, after five years of paying for it! yay! Hopefully it'll last awhile, since absolutely can't afford a new car at this time.

And can you believe it? Tropical Storm Alpha? What in the world???? We are in no danger from this storm, but it still amazes me that we have gone through the entire list. I can't recall that ever happening, at least not in my lifetime. Very strange times.

That's pretty much all I can think of that's going on right now. For anyone who is interested, my family is doing great. My nephew Kohl (2 years old) just had surgery, but he's doing fine. Gina's other two kids, Hannah and Noah are also doing great. Hannah (3 years old) wants to be a ballet dancer and Noah is reading at a 7th grade level (he's 9 years old, by the way) so they're both amazing kids. My parents are also doing fine. Dad's gearing up for a busy Christmas season, his handcrafted ornaments are more in demand than ever. I'm thinking of getting him to do a few for my coworkers, just as a nice little Christmas gift. So now I've arrived back at Christmas. That's strange. I guess that means it's time to go. I'll do more later.

Monday, October 17, 2005

More news on NaNoWriMo

I'm working on an outline. It's not going well. I may have to forget about the whole thing and do something else. At least I have about 5 or 6 different ideas, so I can do one of them. I think I'm still too close to the whole hurricane thing to do it now. That particular idea may have to wait awhile.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


This song by Switchfoot totally describes how I'm feeling now.

Maybe I've been the problem
Maybe I'm the one to blame
But even when I turn it off and blame myself
The outcome feels the same
I've been thinking maybe I've been partly cloudy
Maybe I'm the chance of rain
And maybe I'm overcast
And maybe all my luck's washed down the drain
I've been thinking 'bout everyone,
Everyone you look so lonely
But when I look at the stars
When I look at the stars
When I look at the stars, I see someone else
When I look at the stars
The stars, I feel like myself

Stars looking at a planet
Watching entropy and pain
And maybe to start to wonder
How the chaos in our lives could pass as sane
I've been thinking 'bout the meaning of resistance
Of a hope beyond my own
And suddenly the infinite and penitent
Begin to look like home
I've been thinking about everyone
Everyone you look so empty
But when I look at the stars
When I look at the stars
When I look at the stars, I see someone else
When I look at the stars
The stars, I feel like myself.
Everyone, Everyone feels so lonely
Everyone, yeah everyone feels so empty
When I look at the stars
When I look at the stars
When I look at the stars, I feel like myself
When I look at the stars
The stars, I see someone...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


I love this picture. The building is currently a library in a small town, but it originated as a church. The American flag reflected in the window is actually flying from a pole on the front lawn. In a time of great trial, I think it's good to reflect on what our country really means, what makes it great, and what we can do to make it better. I think that's why I love this picture, because it reminds me to reflect on the good things. Our flag is beautiful and so is our country. In the past month, I've seen that beauty in the people who have volunteered to help storm victims in Mississippi, and the people who have given their money to organizations who are trying to help. I've seen beauty in the way we take care of each other, and it makes me proud.

Decisions.. decisions...

Well, I'm pretty sure I made the decision about which novel idea to use for NaNoWriMo. I think I'm going to go with the second Love Inspired book. I hate to fall back on the easiest option, but those books pretty much all follow a certain formula and I think I can do the whole thing in 30 days without too much trouble, due to previously mentioned formula.

It'll be interesting, though. I think I'm going to set it in a disaster zone, after a hurricane perhaps. Since that's been on my mind lately, with Hurricane Katrina. I'm thinking a female relief worker and a man who has lost his house. Maybe even his family. Maybe his wife drowned in the storm and he's angry with God for allowing it to happen, and she can help him back to his faith. Or something like that.

Anyway, at least I made a decision, which is something I don't do often. Now I just have to write the thing. Easier said than done, I'm afraid!

Monday, October 10, 2005


Okay, so I didn't manage to come back later. Yesterday was crazy. Unfortunately, I've started the usual cool weather cycle. My sinuses are driving me insane. They drain and then I get a sore throat, which eventually leads to congestion and coughing. (I know you wanted to know all that)

So anyway, I didn't manage to do any work on my novel planning, but that's okay. I have the rest of October to do that. Only problem is, I can see that November is going to be looming before me in no time at all, and I will have done NO preliminary work. So tonight I'm going to sit down and start planning.

Here are my options:

Second book in Deadlines Series
Second Love Inspired book
Children's book involving a brother and sister who discover a fantasy world
Coming of Age story
psychological thriller with such a complicated premise that I can't describe it here :)
First book in Preacher's Kids Series

Anyone care to weigh in? I'll happily take suggestions at this point. I'm only starting to panic a little, I promise!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Naming of Characters

So I thougt I would blog the progress of my NaNoWriMo venture, just to have a record of the insanity. Before November starts, I can do any preliminary work I need to do on the novel, I just can't actually write a word of it. So I'm going to start today, working on preliminary things, such as deciding which idea to use, sketching a rough outline, and naming the characters. I always have the hardest time naming characters. It's actually the hardest part of the process for me.

In other news, my littlest nephew, Kohl, just turned 2 this week and we are having a birthday party for him today. I'll post pictures of it when I can.

Oh, and I took my parents to see Serenity last night. They loved it. Move over, Corpse Bride, Wallace and Grommitt, Flight Plan and all other movies that have been coming out. The toughest critics in the world (my parents) liked Serenity! My dad said it was just as good as the original Star Wars trilogy. How about that? He's a huge fan of the trilogy, so that's a big compliment.

Anyway, I've got to go clean up a bit before the party. I'll be back later with (hopefully) my decisions about NaNoWriMo. It's going to be fun, no matter what I choose to do. I love novel writing month!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Preparing for NaNoWriMo

Well, it's almost that time again. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short) is held every November. It is a grand challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, organized through the official National Novel Writing Month Web site. The site has forums and tools that writers can use for moral support and writing help. It is actually an International competition and historically there are more participants and winners each year. The winners don't actually get any kind of official "prize" but they do get the satisfaction of knowing they have written a novel, something that a lot of people dream of doing but never get around to doing it. NaNoWriMo forces those people who have always wanted to write a novel to just sit down and do it, without worrying about editing while writing. It's all about actually getting the words on paper and editing it later. Some participants have actually sold their novels from NaNoWriMo and are now published writers! I'm hoping that will be me after this year.

The exciting news is, I'm going to be taking a more active role in our local NaNoWriMo group by being a Municipal Liason. This means that I will be organizing meetings and write-ins for the Baldwin County participants, and will be sharing duties for the Mobile Bay Area with another Municipal Liason, who will be doing local events for Mobile. We are going to do some combined events too, so it should be a lot of fun!

So if anyone from Baldwin or Mobile Counties reads this blog, email me and let me know if you want to participate in NaNoWriMo! Or check out the site and register, but when you do, please let me know that you did, so I can let you know when the parties are going to be. We are planning to have a lot of fun!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Serenity: Anything But Serene

Remember the first time you rode a roller coaster? You can usually predict that first big drop, because of the build-up and that moment you sit, suspended in midair, looking down at the track stretching below you, but after that... you are at the mercy of the coaster.

I am of the opinion that a good movie is like a roller coaster. There may be a predictable first drop, but the rest should be unexpected and thrilling, like a great Six Flags ride. Of course, it's even better when you can't even predict that first drop. And that's what Serenity delivers. Over and over until the very end.

Set 500 years into the future, Serenity follows the story of Captain Malcolm (Mal) Reynolds, a veteran of the galactic civil war that happened between two factions of humans: The Alliance and The Independents. Capt. Reynolds was a member of the Browncoats, Independent Faction soldiers who were opposed to the Alliance in the Unification War. Capt. Reynolds, played beautifully by Nathan Fillion, owns a ship called Serenity, named after the location of the Independent's final defeat. For Reynolds, Serenity is freedom. The ship allows him to take jobs (both legal and illegal) and stay as far from the strong arm of the Alliance as he possibly can. His crew is made up of similar (and not so similar) minded peole who have their own reasons for being on Serenity. These crew members include Zoe (Gina Torres), who fought with Reynolds in the war, and who also happens to be married to the pilot, Wash. Wash, played by Alan Tudyk (28 Days, A Knight's Tale, Dodgeball, Into the West, and Spamalot on Broadway) is the perfect everyman character who is always ready with a well-timed quip. He also plays with plastic dinosaurs in his free time. Kaylee (Jewel Staite) is a young, spunky mechanic who wants to see the universe. She is everyone's friend and brings out a very brotherly protection instinct in Reynolds. Jayne is an assassain, played hilariously by Adam Baldwin (Independence Day, The Patriot, The Inside). Other crew members include a companion named Inara (Morena Baccarin) and a preacher named Book (Ron Glass). Together, this crew makes up a kind of family for Reynolds, and he is fiercely protective of this family.

When Reynolds and his crew take on two passengers, everything changes. Simon (Sean Maher) and River (Summer Glau) are siblings with a secret that some would kill to keep and others would die to spread. Simon, a young and accomplished doctor, took River out of an Alliance facility, and they will stop at nothing to get her back.

The crew of Serenity faces an immense challenge in keeping River and Simon safe from The Alliance, but they face other threats as well. In their travels, they come across the real-life incarnation of camp fire villains called Reavers, canabalistic savages who are said to have gone crazy at the edge of space. Caught between the murderous Reavers and the unrelenting Alliance, Reynolds is not having his best day ever.

If the characters and premise sound a little familiar, you are probably one of the few who saw "Firefly," the television show that ran on the FOX network in 2002. Created by award-winning writer/director Joss Whedon and hailed by critics, the show was cancelled after the network aired the second episode first and the first episode last, pre-empting episodes in between for sports coverage and other events, and keeping it in a traditionally difficult time slot on Friday nights. Fans of the show were unwilling to give up on it, though, and they rallied together on the Internet and made their voices heard. A DVD set of the series, including three unaired episodes, was released and spent months in the #1 position on online retailers such as The active fan base decided the DVD wasn't enough, however, and began rallying for a movie to be made. Universal Pictures stepped up to the plate and greenlit the movie, and Whedon was able to get the entire original cast to return for the feature film. Whedon and the cast have even talked about making the film into a trilogy in the future, depending on how well the first film does. One important thing to note is that you do not have to know anything about the series before seeing the movie. An absolutely stunning opening sequence serves to refresh old viewers and to bring new viewers up to speed in a very elegant and interesting way. However, after seeing Serenity, you may want to purchase or rent the DVD set because you will want to know more about these characters.

Serenity is a blend of all genres: action, sci-fi, adventure, western, comedy, romance, and foreign (the characters speak a little Chinese as part of the blend of Chinese and English-speaking cultures in this version of the future). Though the sci-fi and adventure elements are prominent, the most promient feature is the humor. Whedon is a master of witty dialogue and the intelligent quips that go back and forth between characters is delightful. Character is a focus in this film, and that, in addition to the big explosions and cool space battles, is what makes the film work as well as it does.

Fillion owns the screen as Reynolds in a performance that rivals Harrison Ford's Han Solo. In fact, Serenity has been described as the story Star Wars would have been if it had been about Han instead of Luke. With better writing. And a more believable story. Summer Glau's River is psychotic and scared, vulnerable but extremely powerful. The origin of her abilities and the story behind the secret she carries will not disappoint even the most cynical moviegoer, and the outcome of the film cannot be predicted even by the most perceptive viewer.

In the grand tradition of great Sci-Fi, Serenity has fantastic special effects, spectacular space battles, beautiful scenery and complex, satisfying plots. It will engage every emotion and keep you guessing until the last second, just like a good roller coaster does.

Serenity is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense violence and action, and some sexual references. It is 119 minutes long and is coming to a theater near you on September 30.