Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Totally Disgusting


Totally disgusting, but I laughed so hard I got tears in my eyes--and I'm really into the laughter this week.

(I found it when I was googling images of Halloween costumes for this post.)

What are you going to be on Halloween night?

[Totally stole this idea from my daughter. You've got to go there and see what her husband is doing. She's giving hints now. She will be posting him in all his glory later today. I died laughing when I saw the photos.]



McKenna reminded me of a song we used to sing when the kids were little. (My kids loved Brite Music, btw, and I can't wait to share it with my grandkids.)

What are you going to be on Halloween night,
A witch or a goblin or a ghoul?
What are you going to be, well don't tell me,
Wait 'til Halloween and let me guess.*


So, tell me about your Halloween plans. Do you dress up? What are you going to be?

I love Halloween. I usually go all out with my costumes and then go around and take treats to my local clients, authors, etc. I was planning to be a bottle of UB parfum spray but I just didn't get it together in time. Maybe if I start working on it NOW, I'll have it done by next year.

I don't have a real costume this year and I'm only visiting two clients. I was very tempted to copy McKenna's idea to go as a Muggle. But what's the fun in that? So this morning, I decided to be a UB Fairy. I'll be wearing my UB Fragrance Designer outfit, adding some glitter, wings and wand. And I'll be giving away parfum samplers. If you see me out and about, be sure to stop me and ask for one.

I'll post a photo later, if I can find someone to take one and e-mail it to me. My camera is STILL broken.


*Halloween by Janeen Brady, from I Have a Song For You Volume 2: About Seasons and Holidays

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Housecleaning


I had some free time this morning while I was waiting for the laundry to finish, so I did a search (4 computers, 5 storage CDs) for all my book outlines and ideas and put them all in one place. I know I have some written notes on other titles, but they're in a box somewhere. It will take more than a free morning to find them.

I made a list of all the book ideas and tagged them by age and genre.

Currently there are 29.

10 Adult books—1 Fantasy/SciFi, 1 Literary, 5 Romance, 2 Suspense, 1 Historical

2 Middle Readers—both Fantasy

16 YA—3 Fantasy, 3 Realistic, 1 Romance, 9 Historical Adventure (LDS), and 1 I don't know how to categorize yet, possibly a coming of age

I know that when I find that box of notes, there will be several other YAs in there. At one time, I had counted 18 YA ideas and that didn't include some of the ones I thought of just this year. Unfortunately I'm not able to recall them at the moment.

But even without the missing files—that's a pretty impressive stack of books!

Could I die happy having written 29 books? I think so.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Words are sacred




Last Thursday, I wrote a creepy Halloween story from a mapping exercise assigned in my writing class. I promised to post it here on Halloween. I spent several hours working on that story and I shared it with my writers critique group that night. They seemed to like it okay, offering only a few suggestions (which were very good, btw).

Friday, depression hit. Bad. I couldn't write, I couldn't think, I could barely get myself out of bed. A couple of times it crossed my mind that the two events might be related. At first I thought that perhaps the adversary was double-timing me since I'd actually written a story. I am certain that was part of it.

But this morning I was reading Elder Holland's conference talk from May 2007. In it he states, "words are sacred." I believe that with all my heart. As I started to capture ideas from that talk and record them in my journal, I realized how important it is for me to remember the sacredness of the words I use and the profound trust the Lord placed in me when he gave me this talent and desire to write.

The story I wrote last week is dark and creepy. It does not inspire nor uplift. It does not teach that we should fight against the darkness. The message of the story is that at any moment, we can become victims of evil that will destroy us, and we will have no recourse, no resistance, no help, no hope. That is not a message I want to put out into the world.

I have no problem with writing about evil, or about using creepy blood-sucking monsters as metaphors, as long as the message of the story is that those monsters can be fought, resisted and defeated, that there is a power greater than evil, a power that will always be stronger, always win.

As I was writing these thoughts in my journal, I could literally feel the depression lifting away from me and feel peace and enthusiasm replacing it. I have thrown away the paper copies of my story and deleted the computer file. I will not be posting it to my blog on Halloween. I believe I have learned a very precious and valuable lesson through this experience and I am very grateful for it.

Friday, October 26, 2007

I wish I were a glow worm


Megan just came home and cured my depression with this little poem. I really believe God sent her to me to teach me how to lighten up and laugh. I had to share.

I wish I were a glow worm
I never would be glum
Cause how could you be grumpy
When the sun shines out your bum?!

Currently on iPod repeat

"We all got a little junk in the trunk
And when you're feelin' good as sunk
Remember, everything will be just fine
If I laugh at yours then you'll laugh at mine..."



Thursday, October 25, 2007

Explanation and Exhilaration

Explanation:
Carter is my grandson. My oldest daughter and her husband adopted him in April, however, adoptions are not final until six months later when you have to appear in court and have the judge rule. Monday was their court date and now he's all ours, as in no one can take him away from our family. He will be all ours forever in December when he is sealed to his parents. They are waiting so that my parents, Carter's great grandparents, can come out for it.


Exhilaration:
I just finished a killer of a Halloween story! I love it. I love it because it sort of creeped me out. I love it because it's a complete work. I love it because it's MINE.

It started out as part of an assignment for my writing class where we had to free associate a cluster chart and then write something from it. I didn't intend to go macabre but I have had in the back of my mind the last few days the desire to write something more for the contest over on LDS Publisher. I've already submitted a piece, but I decided I could do better. So I guess my cluster chart was influenced by that intent and a Halloween story was born. The first two paragraphs won't get me anywhere in the contest because they aren't particularly spooky. But.

I'm going to let the story rest for a day or two before I polish it and then I'll post it here on Halloween. Hope you'll all come back and read it. I would be very interested to see if the images I have in my mind are anything close to the ones a reader will get from my words.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

He's all ours


Yesterday was the final court date for Carter's adoption.
Can you feel my happy dance?


Friday, October 19, 2007

My Ideal Day--October Artsy Essay Contest

I found out about this monthly writing contest through Josie, who learned about it from Daisie at Cre8Buzz, who is a friend of Judith, who sponsors the contest on her Heartsong blog. I thought it sounded fun. Click here for details.





I wake to the comfortable silence of dawn peeping through the mountains outside my bedroom window. No alarms needed. I am rested; I am calm; I am peace. I wait for a moment, letting the morning sink into my skin. I stretch and get out of bed.

I put on my sweats and take an early walk with my husband and my dog while the neighborhood sleeps. Jim and I talk about our plans, our dreams, our children and grandchildren. We talk about UFOs and NLP and whatever else our minds wander toward. We laugh. We hold hands. We are comfortable together. We give each other strength and peace.

When we get home, Jim gets ready for work and I sit on the front porch and wait for the morning to finish its approach, complete with soundtrack provided by the local birds. I bask in the scent of the lilac in the spring, my roses in the summer, the faraway wishes of autumn, and the icy crispness in winter. When my husband leaves for work, I go inside to prepare for my day.

I dress in clothes that fit perfectly, not too tight or too stiff. The outfit I want is always clean because I have a wonderful housekeeper. My hair works, every day, just the way I intend it to work. I spend 30 minutes in prayer, scripture study, contemplation—writing my thoughts and ideas in my journal, my morning pages.

My daughter gets up to prepare for school. We enjoy our morning conversation and breakfast together. We talk about anything she wants; we share stories and ideas.

After she leaves, my housekeeper comes. I give her brief instructions, then go into my writing room to write. My writing room has two very large windows, one facing east and one facing south. I can see sky and mountains out from these windows. I can see my cats stalking through my fairy garden, hunting gnomes, I’m sure.

Every inch of wall not used by the windows is covered with bookshelves. I must have at least 1,000 books in here. Between the books are occasional photographs of my family, one-of-a-kind knick knacks—souveniers from my many book signing tours. There is a large, overstuffed sofa by the east window. That is where I sit to think and create. There is a giant desk at the other end, that holds my laptop, my BIC pens, my project files. The top of the desk is very clean and neat because I cannot create in chaos.

In this room that I love, I write until lunch. I write well. I write fast. I write easy. I write my blogs. I work on my novel.

My housekeeper knocks softly on the door of my writing room to tell me it’s lunchtime. She knows I get too involved in my writing and sometimes I forget to eat. She’s made a lunch that will rest easy in my stomach—tuna (with lots of eggs) on wheat and sweet red grapes with banana slices. It is delicious.

After lunch, I go back to my writing room and return phone calls, answer e-mails. I do the business side of writing—promotion, marketing, networking. I check in with my writing students. I read their assignments. I comment, encourage, instruct.

I take a break at 3:00 when my daughter comes home from school. She tells me about her day, about her homework, about her plans for the afternoon and evening. I enjoy this time with her.

The hours before dinner I spend in household/family duties. I catch up with my other children. I put time into my church responsibilities. I check on family, friends and neighbors. I run errands. I might go to a lacrosse game or a rugby match or birthday shopping for a grandchild.

Dinner is ready at 6:00, again perfectly prepared by housekeeper. She knows exactly what I can eat and what will make me sick. Her meals are light, nutritious, and melt in my mouth. My husband, daughter and I eat together almost every night. We talk about our days, we cheer each other’s successes, commiserate on our disappointments.

After dinner, I choose from a variety of activities. Maybe I’ll hang out with my daughter and husband, maybe I’ll post comments on the blogs of people I like, maybe I’ll scrapbook or watch a movie or read.

Around 9:00, I get ready for bed and read for an hour. Then it’s lights out and I go to sleep easily and soundly, waiting for dawn to peep through the mountains outside my bedroom window.

Content copyright © 2007 by Karlene Browning. All rights reserved. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Karlene Browning for details.


Now playing on my iPod: Top of the World by the Carpenters

Thursday, October 18, 2007

NaBloPoMo

I have some friends who are participating in the annual NanoWriMo in November. I just can't do that. It would be like trying to eat an elephant in one bite.

But I can do this—NaBloPoMo. You sign up and agree to post a blog every day (including Saturdays and Sundays) during the month of November. I can handle that. I think.

Supposedly, these things help drive lots of traffic to your site. And there are prizes. I love prizes.

So if you're up to the challenge, come join me.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Breast Cancer Awareness Giveaway

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I have a friend, Mary N., who passed away from breast cancer a few years ago. Even though she was 20 years older than me, she was still way too young to go. I wanted to do something to honor her and to help raise awareness.

To honor both breast cancer survivors and those who have succumbed to this disease, I have created a special fragrance called "Hope for Tomorrow"—a light fruity blend of Passion Fruit, Coconut, Asian Spice, Egyptian Musk and Heliotrope. I think Mary would like it.

Hope for Tomorrow is available for sale at CustomScentsOnline through the end of October. 10% of each sale will be donated to the National Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation.

I'm also giving away an 8 oz. bottle of "Hope for Tomorrow" lotion to three lucky winners. You can win in one of three ways: write a short tribute to a breast cancer survivor; post a button with link on your blog sidebar; suggest a recipe for the "Hope for Tomorrow" fragrance. Enter all three ways and triple your chance of winning.

To get the details, visit my Signature Scent blog before October 31st.


Now playing on my iPod: I Am Woman by Helen Reddy

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Thank you, Mom and Dad

Hi Mom & Dad. I know you think I came out to Kentucky to help you move, but I have to confess, I had less than altruistic motives. Here's one of them:




FYI to other readers: This is the bed I grew up in. It's a canopy and came with a frilly pink floral bedspread and canopy cover. But since this is my DH's bedroom* I decided not to put the canopy up and to use a more manly comforter.

The dresser is from a bedroom set my parents bought when they were first married. They're keeping the other two pieces for their new house, but didn't have room for this one.

The little night table is one my grandparents, Grace and Gudgell—the Champion Garage Salers of the World, picked up and refinished.

Now, don't you all agree that this alone was worth the drive from KY to UT?


*He snores. I kick. It's better this way, believe me.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Healing through writing

I've previously mentioned the online writing course I'm taking and this book, Writing Alone and With Others by Pat Schneider that is our text. I don't like to gush or be repetitive, but I have to talk about this again.

I am having the most amazing writing journey of my life! When I first began to read this book, I was so inspired that I started working on my middle reader. I did okay the first week, but then I hit a block. The same block I've hit at least 20 times before when I've started to seriously work on a novel and can only get so far--usually chapter 1--and then nothing. Even if I have a plot outline, I just cannot go any further. My internal editor kicks in, all my doubts and fears gang up on me and gag me until no words can escape.

But I am now at the end of chapter 1 in WAWO (I'm a week behind the class due to my trip) and have had two days in a row of super fantastic writing.* Not on my WIP. No, that needs to wait a bit while I heal the stuff inside me that is preventing me from writing.

It's sort of like when I weighed 300 pounds and started going to 12 Step meetings. I thought I was there to lose weight, but very soon realized that the weight was the least of my problems. I first had to lose a lot of emotional baggage I was toting around. Once I had healed to an adequate place, the weight loss solution presented itself and the process was very quick, though not simple and easy.

That's what my writing feels like now. Not being able to finish my WIP—any of the 20+ WIPs I have sitting in my drawer—is the least of my problems. First I need to deal with the issues preventing me from writing. This book is bringing them up and allowing me to write about them and expunge them; disarming the demons in my mind that taunt and ridicule so loud I can't hear anything else.

Yesterday I wrote 2,200 words—creative words, metaphorical words, healing words—that all worked together to create a scene, an experience. It was draining and I went semi-catatonic for a few hours, but then I realized something: with that kind of chatter going on in my head it's no wonder I can't finish a book!

Today I did the exercise on Getting Rid of Internal Critics (p 22). I have 17 handwritten pages of a metaphorical story in which I face down and eliminate the demons that keep me from writing. It ended with me finding my "writing place"—that wellspring of inspiration, that safe place from which I can create. It was wonderful.

I know that a lot of you who visit my blog are writers also. I cannot recommend this book more strongly. If the rest of the book is even half as powerful as this first chapter, it will be worth it's weight in pure gold—not just the measly $19.95 plus tax that I paid for it at Borders. (It's cheaper on Amazon. Follow the link.)

I wish that all of you—my virtual writers support group—could take this class with me. I would love sharing specifics and discussing our respective insights. This particular class cycle was by invitation only because it's a prototype, but it looks like it will be repeating the first part of next year. I don't know what the exact dates or cost will be, but I will definitely post about it as the time approaches so that if any of you are interested, you can sign up.


*I emphasize SUPER FANTASTIC because each day that I do classwork, I have great writing experiences. These past two were exceptional.


Now playing on my iPod: The Rose by Bette Midler (substitute "writing" for "love"; and thanks, Suan, for reminding me that I've been forgetting to do my tagline.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Specials by Scott Westerfield

I was a little worried after finishing Pretties. I had really loved Uglies. Pretties was okay, but it seemed to unravel a bit and loose ends were left hanging. But as I said in my review, I was willing to withhold judgment until I had a chance to read this one.

Specials did not disappoint.

Backliner (contains spoilers if you haven't read Pretties): Tally thought they were a rumor, but now she's one of them. A Special. A super-amped fighting machine, engineered to keep the uglies down and the pretties stupid.

But maybe being perfectly programmed with strength and focus isn't better than anything she's ever known. Tally still has memories of something else.

But it's easy for her to tune that out—until she's offered a chance to stamp out the revels of the New Smoke permanently. It all comes down to one last choice: listen to that tiny, faint heartbeat, or carryout the mission she's programmed to complete. Either way, Tally's world will never be the same.

Being a Special is totally cool; but to be a Cutter, Dr. Cable's elite group of Specials, is even better. Specials are scary beautiful, very strong with reflexes so fast they're almost unbeatable. Tally and co. are sent to bring down the New Smoke and almost start a world war in the process. But as they hunt down the location of the New Smoke, the wild works its magic on Tally again. It changed her once; it's changing her again.

The pace is fast, a little faster than book 1. The pretty slang wasn't as annoying as in book 2. In fact, Megan and I find ourselves using it on occasion. Westerfield wraps up most of the loose ends from book 2. We meet up with Andrew Simpson Smith again. I would have liked more resolution (information) about his clan—like what happens to them—but the little bit we get is okay.

We revisit the cycle of friendship and betrayal between Shay and Tally, explore the relationship between Tally and Zane, catch up with David, and visit another city that is very different from Tally's.

There is a little bit more swearing in this book than in book 2, but compared to many teen books it's not so much. There is violence and people die. One of the deaths is particularly sad and I really didn't see it coming, but after considering it for a few days I guess I can see why Westerfield wrote it that way.

There's a great quote in the last chapter: "You see, freedom has a way of destroying things." I thought it was great. Interestingly, Westerfield says it's his most quoted phrase.

Some of the themes in this book are how our actions often have serious consequences that we never intended, and yet we're responsible for them all the same; how we stay the same inside, regardless of how often or how drastically we change our outsides; the Star Trek classic of the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the one. I also really liked the portrayal of Tally's struggle against her internal programming. We all face this struggle on some level, to overcome the programming of our past. All of this makes for some great conversations with teens.

I love this series.

Rating: 4.5
.....................BUY NOW

It's good to be home

For anyone who doesn't know, I've just returned from a three week "working" vacation in Kentucky. I went there to 1) help my parents pack up their house and prepare to move into a much smaller home; 2) lay claim to some of the items my parents were giving away; 3) do some Urban Botanic workshops for my long-distance customers. Mission accomplished on all three fronts.

My husband flew out that last week and we drove a Budget Rental Truck home--that's 2,000+ miles through seven different states. On the way, we stopped by to visit his sisters. I had intended to take lots of pictures and post them each day so you could journey with me but my digital camera still isn't working. (To donate to the "Buy Karlene a New Digital Camera" fund, click here.)

Three weeks is a long time when you have a grandbaby. Carter learned to sit up while I was gone. When I went to see him, he gave me the I-guess-you're-not-dangerous-but-I-really-don't- know-who-you-are look. I could barely get a giggle out of him. But that's okay. I'm determined to win him over.

And my other grandbaby? He's growing even faster. Only 5 1/2 weeks and I get to goo-goo at him.

I missed my kids too. Can I just tell you how grateful I am that I live in the age of e-mail, cell phones and text messaging? How did people do this 100 years ago? The only way I survived missing them is because I talked to/texted them nearly every day and they kept me posted on the important things in their lives, like the streaker at Megan's Homecoming pageant, and Melanie's itchy, schizo pregnancy rash, and the effects of snow on Christopher's work schedule, and the never-ending saga of McKenna's soon-to-be-finished basement. I like being in the loop on those things.

Although traveling across the country is pretty amazing, I'm glad to be back home to my simple, boring life--even if it does mean dealing with a mountain of snail mail.