Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I saw "Casino Royale" over the holiday weekend. I've been reading a lot of posts about Daniel Craig in the role of the new blond Bond. I felt that he was right up there with Sean Connery in portraying 007. He could play him cold and emotionless and compassionate when it worked for him to be compassionate. Suave. James Bond always has to be suave, and Daniel Craig did not disappoint (especially in the swim trunks). I felt all of the actors did a good job in portraying their various roles. I especially enjoyed Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre (guy with the bleeding eye). Maybe that's in part because he reminds me of Freddie Mercury.

Maybe I just find the game of poker to be rather boring, but I didn't enjoy the story of this movie. I'll have to read the book now to see how it compares with the film, but anytime I'm looking at my watch during a movie, it's not a good sign. The first 45 minutes moved very quickly as it was all action and little dialogue, but most of the story did not engage me and the end of the show could have been wrapped up better. I'll watch Daniel Craig in the next Bond film, but I won't watch "Casino Royale" again. What was it about "Casino Royale" that you liked?

Monday, November 27, 2006

The World According to Murray

There are times when you encounter someone that profoundly affects your perspective on life, when you meet someone that shares an instant rapport with you and with whom you feel a natural kinship. That happened for me recently when I met Murray. It was love at first sight.

Upon arrival at my Thanksgiving destination, Murray ran across the room to greet me. It was a very pleasant introduction. It didn't take me long to realize that Murray knows how to get what he wants out of life. When he wants his belly rubbed, he just rolls over on the floor and lets you make his life a little better. And his personality is so winning, he usually has multiple persons pampering him simultaneously.

Murray easily plays with children of all ages and temperaments. He can schmooze with the adults, too. He rounded up a fairly hearty supply of turkey that day. Murray seemed to have his life together so well, I knew I had to gain some insight from him.

I asked him some questions about a couple of my writing projects:

"Would it be more fun to write my novel humorous or erotic? Humorous erotica?"

"Is the hero in my film project likable enough?"

Murray looked at me and rolled his eyes in that precious way that only Bassett Hounds have mastered, then walked back over to the center of the living room for some space. He rolled over and stretched his legs, sighing. He appeared to be in a Zen state of mind. It didn't take long before he returned. He lowered his head so I could pet him. I knew his answer for all of my questions:

"Just kick back and chill."

I should have known the wisdom exuded by this marvelous creature would be so simple. May we all follow Murray's advice for at least part of the day today.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Need a Quick Writing Break?

Are those words not flowing as easily and quickly as you would like? Is your hero becoming more difficult than the primary man in your life? Would you like to slap your heroine silly because she just doesn't get it? If you answered, "Yes," to any of these questions, it might be time for a break. Visit Judson Laipply's "Evolution of Dance." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMH0bHeiRNg (It's also listed in the 'Links' section.) It's six minutes of good, clean fun. It's apparent from the start that this guy has experience in aerobics. The breakdancing and Mony Mony are my favorites, but it's all good. Have a good laugh and then get back to that manuscript.

If you like this video, he's working on another one. More information at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judson_Laipply.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Quintessential Hero

Oh, yeah. Paul Newman.

He's been my quintessential hero for some time now. I'd seen him in movies off and on since I was a kid, but it wasn't until I saw him in "Absence of Malice" that I thought, "You know, for an older gentleman, he surely is handsome." Age was still kind of an issue for me then. He's 81 years old and still hot. It wasn't until fairly recently that I saw "The Sting" for the first time. Oh, baby. Or as we used to say in college, "He's a BOB - baby, OH, baby." Whenever I'm creating a new hero or struggling with making my current hero come to life, I think of Paul Newman. I'll watch "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." I'll spy the Newman's Own labels at the local health food store. As the song says, "Baby's got blue eyes." And how. Yeah. Paul Newman always gets me on track when it comes to making those heroes jump off of the page.

I tag each person reading this to tell us all about your quintessential hero, what about him inspires you, and how you discovered him. This can be a man you know in real life (or as in my case, reel life), one you'd like to know in real life, or one that only you know inside the creative genius of you.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Thanks to all of the many wonderful people who have been a part of my life this past year. Family, friends, co-workers, the mystery people who performed random acts of kindness just to perform random acts of kindness. Special blessings go out to the writers, though. Fellow writers are the ones who usually "get" you. They can kindly point out the holes in your story and tell you when you need more character development. They know what it's like to want to finish a story but at the same time be so sick of it that you never want to look at it again. Blessed are the writers. They put into words what many fear to say and what others fear to think.

Extra special blessings to my bestest and life-long pal, Kimber. Words can't begin to describe how thankful I am to have you as my friend.

Now get out there and enjoy those turkeys, giblets and cranberries!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

I have some fun, interesting, beautiful friends. While on a trip to New York, Stephanie bought me a copy of William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray's book, "Walter the Farting Dog." She is going to be writing a children's book in the near future. Randy is my dieting/nutrition/fitness guru. I lost 100 pounds last year and Randy helped me get there. I got myself on "The Randy Diet." Randy told me that I could eat as much as I wanted whenever I wanted of fruits, vegetables and proteins and lose weight and keep it off. He's right. Randy is currently writing a book about golf. He is the world champion hickory golf professional player.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Hypnotizing Connections

My friend Bruce asked me last week if I would let him hypnotize me. He's currently studying hypnotherapy and is very easy on the eye (they make 'em handsome in Tulsa). I had the nanowrimo thing going on, but felt the magnetic pull when I thought, "Hmmm . . . someone helping me to relax, potentially opening up more creativity for my work and it costs me nothing." And I was off to west Omaha.

The class is held in the instructor's apartment since students practice hypnotherapy techniques on each other and a quiet, private venue is needed. When I got there I learned that there had been a misunderstanding about me coming to serve as guinea pig. Apparently Bruce had not received the e-mail message confirming my participation. When he arrived we attempted to sort it all out:

"Why didn't you think I was coming?"
"Because you never responded to my e-mail."
"Yes, I did."
"No, you didn't."
"You may not have received it, but I replied to your message and hit 'SEND.'"

Ahh. It took me back. For thirty seconds there, it was like being married again. My friend calmed down and I enjoyed meeting the instructor and two other students. The apartment had a calming ambiance to it. The lights were dim and a fire was burning in the fireplace. A small bright light of multiple colors swirled around on a table. Its purpose was to tire my eyes so I could relax and let myself get hypnotized. It gave me an instant headache, so the light was turned off and I stared at the fireplace.

I'm a fan of Southern accents, so when Bruce lowered his voice and attempted to get me into a relaxed state, and stressed the pronounciation of the second syllable of my name instead of the first, I was halfway to bliss. However, things are not always what they seem. I'm a fairly intuitive person and having this gift (or curse?) for sensing many of the nonphysical phenomena around me, it didn't take long to become distracted.

Although my eyes were closed and my body was becoming more relaxed as my friend guided me through some lovely imagery, I suddenly became aware of the other students on my side, studying my body movements and jotting down notes. I saw myself as an animal in a cage at the zoo. Not very relaxing.

Then Bruce had me step into a cosmic elevator, a beautiful, ornate brass elevator with a comfy chair and ottoman in it for my comfort. My mind was starting to get lost in his words and forget about the notetakers. Then I sensed the presence of my little Schipperke dog at my side. She was sleeping, as she was likely doing at home, so that was fine. However, then I sensed my 18-month old puppy Briscoe on the other side of me. Briscoe had been at my brother's farm last summer and disappeared, most likely killed in a car accident. If you're intuitive at all, you know that when spirits sense someone who is open to their presence, they come in droves to communicate with you. My big bubba Briscoe would not let his visit go unnoticed. In my mind's eye I could see this big dog (a Sharbador - half Shar-Pei, half Labrador Retriever) wagging his tail to the point where the entire bottom half of his body was shaking, then jumping up and down and licking my face.

I was determined to make the most of this hypnotherapy session for both Bruce and me. He needed to practice his new skills and I needed to chill out. I mentally sent Briscoe off to the side and came back to the melodic voice talking to me. Bruce told me he was going to touch my arm with his finger and when he did, it would feel as if he had given me a shot of something that would relax me. When I felt his finger touch my arm, it was as if codeine had been shot into me. My arm felt instantly numb and the relaxation quickly washed over the rest of my body. All would have been well had we continued to focus on the effects of this mind-made drug.

However, this was a class for practice, so Bruce tried another technique on me. This one involved imagining cement being injected into my arm. I can only speculate that I was given a pair of concrete overshoes in a past life and tossed into a river, because that visualization did not work for me at all. I could feel myself being stripped of the fictional codeine, my body becoming taut. The straw that broke the camel's back, though, was when Bruce tried to make me feel safe and said that I was "loved." He learned then that every client has unique perceptions and that words are powerful. While I was hearing a friend say, "loved," I saw my ex-husband and knew there was no correlation between the image and the word. I was quickly guided out of the meditation.

The other students practiced some techniques on me and Bruce gave it another go, too. By the end of the night I was in the zone, in my happy place. I learned that one of the other students does soul retrieval work (something I know little about, but have heard of and want to explore) and the other one works at the same bank where I work. Despite the dead dog distraction and the terrifying ex-husband flashback, I was still asked to come back for another session. It was fun not only participating in the hypnotherapy session, but also in listening to and participating in the critiques of each student. The perspectives revealed and ideas expressed were insightful into the character development process for my current story. I got more work done on my novel that night than I thought I would.

Monday, November 13, 2006


Last week I learned that one of my classmates from high school, another Waverly Viking, had died. His funeral was the next day, so I attempted to reach as many of my other classmates as I could. In talking to one guy, we were speculating on whether our deceased classmate was involved in an accident or an illness of some kind. It wasn't until much later in the evening that it even crossed my mind that it might have been a suicide. Surely enough, I got back an e-mail from another classmate who had heard it had been a suicide. I was unable to attend the funeral, so I don't know any other details. However, in cases like this, I don't really need to know any of the cause-of-death details. The details I did learn were tragic enough: He left behind a wife, two daughters (one still in high school) and at least one grandchild.

I remember Doug as pretty much just another face in the crowd like me, not a jock, not Homecoming King, not a petty thug, just common everyday class fodder. I remember hearing him laugh in the hallway in between classes and saying "Hi" sometimes when we'd meet. I remember he was a nice guy and never caused me any grief during those often emotionally turbulent teenage years. I will always praise anyone who did not burden me during those sometimes trying times.

As a result of this news, my writing took a more introspective turn last week. At times I'd ponder why my classmate made the ultimate choice in going past the point of no return. I know all the reasons I've contemplated it over the years, but I don't know why he decided to hang it up one final time.

I found that not only was I going more within, but so were my characters. They were more in tune and reflective about their actions. They created a few interesting nuances in their story, but for the most part they reserved their wild impulses and considered future consequences for their actions. They're forging onward a little more this week, braver to explore new frontiers, yet they're forever changed. As am I.

May you find peace, Doug.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Stellar Workshop: Judith Arnold

I recently had the opportunity to attend a series of weekend workshops by novelist Judith Arnold. Ms. Arnold has published over 85 books in romance fiction, with additional projects in the works. Her highly acclaimed book, Barefoot in the Grass is also due to be re-released in the near future. This novel is an uplifting story of hope and courage as the heroine struggles to reclaim her life after a devastating illness (breast cancer). The workshops were a part of the Fourth Annual Nebraska Romance Writers Fall Conference. Nebraska Romance Writers is an affiliate of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) in Lincoln, Nebraska.
(Judith is on the right in the above photo.)

The topics presented were: SELF-EDITING--how to edit your own manuscript before you submit it; MAKING PEACE WITH CONFLICT--how to use conflict to propel a story and shape a plot; IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL--how to keep writing over many years without losing your passion for writing and how to keep going when the Evil Gods of Publishing keep knocking you down.

Ms. Arnold is a wonderful presenter, full of enery, humor and a plethora of knowledge concerning the publishing business. She allowed plenty of time for questions at the end of each session. She began work as a playwright before switching to novelist. Should you ever have the opportunity to attend one of her seminars, I highly recommend it. If you're interested in booking her to teach one or more of her workshops, she can be reached via her Web site at: http://www.juditharnold.com.

Details about the 2007 Nebraska Romance Writers Fifth Annual Fall Conference will be posted when available at: http://www.nebraskaromancewriters.com. Hopefully, Christine, the dynamo that was in charge of publicity for the 2006 event, will be assisting again next year. She did a fantastic job of promoting the workshops and presented some fun door prize events.