When we first drove into town at night, my first thought was that Breckenridge looked like one of those collectible Christmas villages. I don't have a good night photo to show you, but trust me on this. As we were sitting in a bar one evening, we ran into some college kids on spring break, and they had the exact same description: Christmas village.
As we wandered around town, the sidewalks full of snow and surrounded by big mounds of shoveled snow, I realized that this is the image that Hollywood likes to depict as a typical Christmas.
Maybe that's because all the celebrities vacation in nearby Aspen and Vail. Or perhaps it was simply because so many Christmas decorations were still up along the street and that was influencing my perceptions.
All I know is that a snow-scene in Breckenridge felt so different from a snow-scene at home in Chicago. First off, there was so much more snow. See our rental house? See the mounds of snow? It was crazy.
And what was even crazier to me was that we would willingly choose to sit outside with this snow while having a drink or waiting for a dinner table. We'd never do that at home.
There was some strange Christmas vibe in the air. Even in March. Perhaps it was the altitude.
Monday, March 31, 2008
When we first drove into town at night, my first thought was that Breckenridge looked like one of those collectible Christmas villages. I don't have a good night photo to show you, but trust me on this. As we were sitting in a bar one evening, we ran into some college kids on spring break, and they had the exact same description: Christmas village.
Unfortunately, I had to leave my own dogs home with the dog/house sitter while we were on vacation. But if you go over to Flickr to view the photo-set from my trip, you'll see a lot of dog photos.
Evidently, Breckenridge, Colo., is a big-dog town. More dogs than children, one person told us.
Dogs waiting outside stores. Dogs inside stores. Dogs on the patio outside restaurants. Dogs all over the place.
We loved it. They were all friendly, and provided a lot of dog therapy.
With a grand total of four hours of practice on a snowboard under my belt, I was a little nervous as we set off for the slopes on our first morning in Breckenridge, Colo.
The hills at Wilmot in Wisconsin are nothing compared to The Rocky Mountains. Plus, I'd never even made it off the bunny hill at Wilmot. I'd never even been on a chair lift with a snowboard. Did I even remember how to stand up on the thing?
Can you feel my sense of panic?
So, I took a deep breath, then walked over to one of the instructors and asked about beginner adult lessons for snowboarding. Just my luck, they were starting immediately and they had space for me. I didn't have time to think. I just ran over, paid my money and joined a class.
Day One and traversing on my toes
Since I was a little late, the manager of the snowboarding instructors met me in the corral where the classes meet.
After a basic interview about my experience, she asked: "Have you ever been on a ski lift?"
"Do you know how to stand on your board?"
We walked over to the beginner/beginner area.
"Yes. Climb up to that spot on the hill. Strap your left foot into the binding. Rest your right foot on the board and glide down to me." (She was more nurturing than that, but you get the idea.)
Gulp. There was a steep drop-off to the parking lot behind her.
So, I strapped in, glided down to her and stumbled to a stop.
"Great. Do it again."
I repeated my glide, and managed not to fall.
"Great. Let's do the chair lift."
She talked me through the chair lift. Helped me get on. Rode up the beginner hill (Dyersville) with me and we both exited without falling. Wow. Things were looking good.
Then, she introduced me to another instructor who had only one student. The student was in a similar situation to me. He took one day of lessons last year and hadn't been on a snowboard since. She left and I was now part of a two-person class.
Our goal was to learn to go down the hill on our heels. It's a basic "stop" position. Master this and you can get off any hill safely. Face away from the mountain, dig both heels into the snow and slide forward.
Except, for the life of me, I couldn't seem to stand up in that position, let alone get going. The new instructor took a different approach. Forget the heels with me. Let's try toes. Face the mountain, dig both sets of toes into the snow and slide backward down the slope.
For some reason, I could do that. Great. All I needed to do was add some directional leaning to that and I was traversing down the slope on my toeside. Of course, there was a lot of falling involved, but I made it down twice this way before we broke for lunch. At this point, I was exhausted and drenched in sweat. (And also thankful for having a helmet, wrist guards and a tail-bone guard!)
After lunch, we regrouped into another class. Now there were five of us of similar skill level. Except everyone else had mastered their heelslide and heelside-traverse, and I was the “freak” who'd mastered my toeslide and toeside-traverse. (Apparently, most normal people prefer going down heelside and resist toeside.)
The new instructor was determined that I learn heelside traversing, and after one run with the new instructor, I was going down the slope on my heel side.
The advantage was to me, as I was now comfortable on heelside and toeside.
The next two runs were with yet a new instructor, and he had us quickly trying J-turns. Straighten the board, then go heelside, straighten the board, then go heelside, repeat several times. Then straighten the board, then go toeside, straighten the board, then go toeside, repeat several times. It forms a "J" if you can visualize the movement.
We were just starting to link the heelside turn with the toeside turn, which is called a C-turn because of the shape of the movement, when the day ended.
I made it home on the shuttle bus, stumbled in the door, changed my clothes and discovered a light bruise forming on my knee.
Day two and the "double-diamond" green
At this point, I'd talked my husband into taking the class with me. He was a master of heelside traversing and "falling leaf", but he couldn’t do his toeside. (This was good enough to get him through several green runs the day before, but is an exhausting way to snowboard because the same muscles are engaged all the time.)
We signed up for an after-lunch class, and soon we were both doing heelside and toeside J-turns, and even linking them together into C-turns. If you string enough of them together, you start creating S's.
The class ended with about 20 minutes until the lifts closed. I was feeling brave, and agreed to try a new lift and new run. We were still planning to be on green (easy) runs, but were going to take a long series of runs from Peak 8 to the bottom of Peak 9.
We met Kly, Wilko and Elle at the top of Chairlift 5 and start with the 4 o'Clock run.
Since this was all new to me, I took it very cautiously and instead of doing a lot of turning, I mostly traversed from side to side down the slope.
And here's where a little reconnaissance would have helped. It turned out that to get from the Peak 8 slope to the Peak 9 slope the way we’d planned, you had to do a little bit of a trail called the Crosscut. It's still green, but it's really steep and there was an injured person in the middle of it waiting to be stretchered away. (Really, there was an injured skier.)
In retrospect, we like to call that part the "double-diamond" green. It was hideous for a beginner. Even Kly and my husband, who had been on various green slopes for two days thought it was a killer. (Wilko and Elle were experienced skiers and agreed that it was tough for a green.)
We made it and survived, but then found ourselves in a new kind of hell. A stretch of the hill that was virtually flat. Those people on skis could use their poles to propel themselves like going cross country, but if you were on a snowboard and didn't have momentum going into it, you had to detach a foot and skate. Me? I took off my board and walked.
By the time we got to the sloping part of the hill again, I was so exhausted I was constantly falling. At one point, after catching a toe edge and falling on my knees again for the umpteenth time, my husband had the temerity to say, "Don't do that." Since my bruised knee was really hurting every time I fell, it was all I could do to keep my reply to a polite "I know." (Or something like that.)
Day Three and the heavenly massage
With almost every muscle aching and a nice big bruise on my knee, I took the day off from snowboarding.
In fact, I moaned and groaned so much, my friends shuttled me off to a spa for a massage. When the woman saw my knee, I swear, she said, "Wow. You're crazy."
Day four and a lack of confidence
Despite my new set of knee pads, for some reason I was really nervous today. I managed two runs down the beginner (Dyersville) slope, then two runs down the Springmeier (green) slope. Every run, it was a real feat to talk myself into getting going.
Kly brought his camera, and we got some fun photos. I’m even smiling in some of them.
But after four runs, when the guys suggested trying a new chairlift and new slope, I decided I was too tired for something new and agreed to meet them at the bar. There was a glass of wine waiting for me. Bonus: The bartender carded me and told me I look young. :)
Day six and the beginner blue slopes
After another day off we met Wilko and Elle at the VistaHaus for lunch. It was at the top of a new lift for me, but today I was feeling rather brave. Especially because the only way out of the VistaHaus required, at the very least, a blue (intermediate) run. Granted it was the easiest of the blue runs on the mountain, but it was still blue.
And I made it. Falling leaf the whole way, but I made it. Fortunately, the blue run turned into a green fairly soon, which was a relief.
The five of us stuck together for the afternoon, and took a different path to get to Peak 9. After our second blue run, though, I had to beg for a green run. The blues were just too challenging for my skill level, and therefore not as much fun.
For the final run of the day (and trip), my husband and I took a green run down Peak 9, while Kly went with Wilko and Elle to do a blue/black run (the easiest of the hard runs).
My triumph? I was actually linking my turns on that last run and starting to look like I knew how to snowboard. And I was having fun.
Unfortunately, by that time, the trip was over. And since the season is over here in the Chicago area, that means the end of snowboarding until next year.
As a handy-dandy reference for myself next year, here's my suggested packing list:
- snowboarding pants
- wrist guards
- tail-bone guard
- Under Armour shirt
- zip-up fleece
- winter jacket
- ski gloves
- sun screen/moisturizer
- sun screen/lip balm
- athletic watch
- bandana or hat to cover the “helmet hair” when finished
- (and, obviously, snowboard and boots)
Thursday, March 27, 2008
It might seem like I've fallen off the edge of the world this past week, but in reality, I've been on vacation. My husband and I rented a house with four other friends near Peak 8 in Breckenridge, Colo. It's the first ski vacation the two of us have ever taken, and we've been having a blast, even though, technically, we're snowboarding instead of skiing. (Don't you hate reading about how much fun other people are having on their vacations?)
To my EntreCard friends, I apologize that my dropping has fallen to virtually nil. It's a temporary situation that will change when I get back to a regular schedule next week.
I've taken a lot of photos and have mostly gotten them organized, so expect to start seeing more posts on a regular basis. If you want a sneak peak, here's a link to the public photos in my vacation photo-set on Flickr.
Friday, March 21, 2008
~Random ramblings from the past week~
Eddie Izzard is touring again
Thank you to Beeker for posting about Eddie Izzard, because that's how I learned that he was touring again and tickets for his Chicago performances would go on sale last Sunday. So I organized a group of Eddie-loving friends and bought tickets. If you haven't discovered Eddie Izzard, you're in for a treat. Beeker has a clip from Eddie's "Dress to Kill" performance, so I thought I'd post something a little different that I found on Wilko's Blog -- a Lego-ized version of one of Eddie's most popular sketches from the same show. Tea and cake, or death?
I actually discovered this last month, but earlier this week I found myself on El Gigante Verdoso with the luxury of being able to click on the YouTube links, so I got to listen to the Viking Metal again. Viking metal. Hmmm... Oddly compelling. Slightly amusing? (I know, I should never call metal amusing, but some of the really hard core stuff/death metal does that to me. I think I'm mostly amused by the fact that I find it so intriguing.) So I went to iTunes and explored, but unfortunately I couldn't find Ensiferum listed. I did find their MySpace page, though. Apparently they'll be in Chicago on May 1. Since I'm trying to craft some Viking characters, maybe I'll find some inspiration there...
The Dog's Bollocks
I knew bollocks were bad, but I didn't know the dog's bollocks were good (that's why he licks them!). Thanks, Candy, for educating me. :)
Cutest Easter Puppy Photos
Of course they feature Bernese Mountain Dogs, because Berners are some of the cutest puppies period. (Yes, I'm a little biased. I admit.) I'd post a photo, but they're not mine and they're copyrighted. Follow the link and explore the Flicker set.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
It's the first day of spring. I have the next six work days off. My Drake Bulldogs are playing in the NCAA tournament tomorrow. I'm leaving for a week-long vacation on Saturday.
Yes. I'm feeling good.
It doesn't even matter that my husband is annoyed that I didn't finish the laundry while he was on a business trip last night. It doesn't even matter that we have a winter storm warning in effect for tomorrow predicting 6-9 inches of heavy, wet snow.
Nope. I'm in a good mood.
Taking a cue from Kevin Numerick at Words of My Life, I'm embedding the video of Barack Obama giving his speech A More Perfect Union.
I normally shy away from posting things of a political nature on this blog, but I think this speech transcends politics. Even if you don't agree with Obama's politics, listen to the speech or read the transcript. You'll get something out of it.
It's hard to take just a few quotes out of the speech, because it truly works best as a whole. But in looking it over, here's the easily blurb-able part of the message that resonates with me:
It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.
In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
Just for good measure, I'm also embedding Obama's speech from the 2004 National Democratic Convention. It was the first time I heard him speak, and it wow'd me (validating my vote for him in the Illinois Democratic primary for U.S. Senator in 2004). This is the speech that got so many people excited about him as a candidate in the first place. It was a breath of fresh air in the middle of a bitter, bitter election cycle.
This concludes our political commentary. We now return to our usual programming.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Which do you prefer? Having to fill out a word verification form so that your comment can be posted right away? Or waiting for the site owner to moderate the comment before it gets posted?
Or should we just track down and kill comment spammers and be done with the whole thing?
Bonus question: Have you ever clicked the wheelchair icon on the Word Verification form and listened to the audio version?
Followup on Thursday, March 20, 2008:
OK, so death (or misfortune) to comment spammers! It seems like most of us are in agreement on that. :)
No-one seems to hate moderation (as long as the comments get moderated in a timely fashion), but some people passionately hate word verification.
I, personally, was shocked at how obnoxious sounding the audio verification is. I feel for anyone who has to use that.
For those of you who don't like the way Blogger handles comments and wonder why it's not consistent across all blogspot websites, that's because we have a number of administrative options when setting up comments. Here is a screen capture showing a few of the options that directly affect your commenting experience.
What I personally don't like about Blogger comments is that you're taken away from the original post page to do your commenting. I like to be able to see the post in its original context when crafting a comment. Plus, that time spent on the comment page doesn't seem to get counted as time spent viewing my blog.
As an experiment, I've turned off word verification and enabled moderation. I'll probably keep it that way today to see if I like it, but then switch it back because I'll be on vacation next week and probably won't be able to moderate in a timely fashion.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
I saw this on Cromely's World and had to try it myself.
You Are a Question Mark
You seek knowledge and insight in every form possible. You love learning.
And while you know a lot, you don't act like a know it all. You're open to learning you're wrong.
You ask a lot of questions, collect a lot of data, and always dig deep to find out more.
You're naturally curious and inquisitive. You jump to ask a question when the opportunity arises.
Your friends see you as interesting, insightful, and thought provoking.
(But they're not always up for the intense inquisitions that you love!)
You excel in: Higher education
You get along best with: The Comma
I laughed when I saw this video on Beeker's Words because it reminds me totally of Jules' cat Muffin (see photo at right). Funny thing was, when I emailed the link to Jules, she responded that her son had sent her the link yesterday of the same video for the exact same reason.
Here's a second video by the same artist.
Monday, March 17, 2008
~random ramblings from last week~
Yep. I didn't get this written or posted last week. I meant to do it on Friday. Oh well. Since there wasn't anything very profound, I'll keep it short. :)
Yes. The snow has melted and I saw the lawn for the first time since January. It's brown and dormant. (See, lacking in profoundness.)
Center clicking my mouse
On the EntreCard forums, someone posted that center clicking the mouse (the scroll wheel) in Firefox will cause a link to open in a new tab. Also, center clicking a tab in Firefox will cause it to close. I love handy-dandy time-saving tips like that.
I joined BlogLog this week and was surprised to see that it's affiliated with Yahoo! The concept of BlogLog is very similar to BlogCatalog. I've barely explored the advantages of either site yet for promoting this blog and discovering other new ones, but I'm registered and that's a start.
I was on Hunting the Muse one night and noticed that Brady Frost had switched to a three-column layout and uses Blogger/Blogspot as a host. I've been wanting to try that for a while, but couldn't find any easy-to-use templates. When I found the link on his page, I followed it to discover my exact Blogger/Blogspot layout (minima) available in three columns! Yeah! That, of course, led to a lot of playing and tweaking and redesigning of this site. I'm not sure I love what I've done so far, but it's a start. I'm really frustrated that I can't figure out how to hack a white background behind the main column of content. I'm open to ideas and suggestions.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Five questions as posed by The Friday Five and my responses:
1. What were the events that led to your being in the most trouble with your parents ever?
The summer after my senior year in high school, my parents and sister were away for the weekend, so I invited over my then-boyfriend (now-husband) and a few others for an overnight party. Fatal mistake: I didn't check the machine to hear my parents' message that they'd be on an earlier flight in the morning. So, the driveway was full of cars and people were still waking up when my parents got home...
Fortunately for me, I was leaving on a six-week trip with my grandfather in a few days, and it would have "killed my grandfather" to not let me go. I was able to get out of dodge and the smoke had pretty much cleared by the time my parents met up with us on the trip four weeks later. Also fortunately for me, I was a pretty good kid with a decent track record. (Except for that other party that caused me to be grounded from the car for two weeks.)
2. What happened when you received your worst childhood physical injury?
The worst injury I had was a few stitches in the bottom of my foot. I was painting some closets in the house and had gone into the basement barefoot. I hit my foot against the corner of a toolbox and tore it open pretty good.
3. What was the worst trouble you ever got into in school?
Wow! Am I boring or what? Worst trouble in school? A few detentions for being chronically late.
4. What kind of trouble have you been in at work?
There was a management mixup when I was waitressing. I had arranged to swap shifts with another waitress, and it didn't get recorded correctly. They thought I no-showed and wrote me off as having quit. You'd think they would have tried harder to get ahold of me. Imagine my surprise when I showed up the next day. Worse yet, they discipled *me* for their error. And what about the girl I swapped with? She showed up for the shift, and like a ditz let them send her home because she wasn't scheduled to work.
5. How do you usually deal with the knowledge that you’re about to be in big trouble?
Panic. A lot. I don't deal with it well at all. That's why I behave myself. Did you see the How Evil Are You? quiz a few days ago? :)
Friday, March 14, 2008
My big confession is that I don't like coffeehouses. Well, maybe that's not right. It should be that I don't like coffee. I actually loath the stuff and hate the smell. (Yes, I'm aware that I'm a little freakish in this regard.) Because I don't like coffee, I don't frequent coffeehouses.
Not that this is particularly important, except that I'd hoped for a few minutes that it would get me out of Brady Frost's invitation to participate in his Coffeehouse Confessional.
Then I realized that the coffeehouse was irrelevant. All I needed was a place where I like to go and write, where I could sit at a table with my notebook and work longhand. I have a place like that. It's the little restaurant where I regularly eat lunch -- by myself, with my notebook.
So what is a coffeehouse confession?
Brady explains the challenge in a very entertaining way, but I'll summarize it here: Go to a coffeehouse/place where you like to write, draw a doodle on a napkin, then write something on the napkin, and when you leave the place, leave the napkin behind for others to find. Pretty simple, right?
I'm not so sure. I mean drawing and writing, and then leaving it behind for people who know me to possibly find? (I'm a regular at my little lunch place. We're on a first-name basis.)
Shut up, Haley, and just do it.
So, Thursday, I sucked it up, grabbed a napkin and sat down. After an aborted attempt at drawing a patio table and umbrella, I decided to draw the table centerpiece, which was a bottle with a flower.
Then I forced myself to relax and just write. And I came up with something that I think doesn't suck.
Here it is. Proof.
(Notice the Diet Coke and the printout of my current work-in-progress? It's printed four pages to a sheet, because I like to save trees and I find it easier to see the bigger picture of the story that way.)
What does the napkin say? I blurbed it to the side, here. You can read it.
So that should mean I accomplished my mission, right?
Well, here's the part where I chickened out. I couldn't totally drop my inhibitions and bring myself to leave it on the table. Instead, I dropped it on the shelf next to the garbage can, where it could be oh-so-easily swept into the trash by the next person. I wouldn't know, though, since I scampered out the door and didn't look back.
I think I need to try this again some day soon. Loose my self-consciousness, don't you think?
Wednesday marks the one month anniversary since I joined EntreCard. Let me just say, it's been a really good month.
Following in the footsteps of BloggingMoRe and Wordsofmylife and the other fine bloggers I've seen do this on their sites, I thought I'd acknowledge the 10 people who dropped the most EntreCards on my site in the past 30 days. Thanks for stopping by.
1. Aerten Art
2. The Writing Journey
3. Life's Context
4. My Den
5. Third Rock From The Sun
6. Fighting With Writing
7. Sharp Words
8. Cromely's World
9. The Hunter's Wife
If you haven't checked out their sites yet, please do.
I've met some really fabulous people through EntreCard. I can't wait to see who I discover in the coming month.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Daylight savings time got off to a rocky start Sunday, as my husband and I had trouble adjusting to that loss of an hour and getting out of bed for our nephew's baptism. (The late night with friends didn't help.)
We ended up just going to the post-baptism luncheon, and were only minorly hassled by the family. (This is one of the few photos that anyone took where my nephew is actually smiling -- perhaps he didn't like wearing a dress?)
But the payoff for the switch to daylight savings time was huge on Monday evening, when I could commute home while the sun was still up.
And now that the weather has decided to warm up into the 40s and 50s this week, I'm starting to feel frisky -- wearing lighter jackets, opening windows, wanting to get outside.
Speaking of opening windows, I had to air out the house last night. Apparently, one of the dogs got sick on Sunday and we didn't notice. Monday as I was leaving, I stopped in the family room. What is that smell? I look around, don't see anything on the floor, then notice dried vomit on the sofa. Yuck. And right where Loki likes to lay.
I cleaned the cushion as best I could, but that wasn't good enough. The room still reeked yesterday. So now, the sofa cushion has been banished to the garage while I figure out how to remove the odor from it. My concern is not just the odor, but cleaning it in a way that won't cause the cushion to fade. I guess it's a downside of dog ownership.
Another downside? Fur. Everywhere. Loki and Thor are majorly shedding. They have an appointment with a set of clippers as soon as it's reliably warm enough outside. Maybe in a month. And while I'm complaining about dogs? Poop. The snow has mostly melted off and it's time to get out and really clean that backyard. *shudder*
You know, I think I'm due some extra tailwags and snuggles when I get home today.
On the bright side, our Colorado vacation is fast approaching. Just 10 more days. Our tax refund should be direct deposited the day before we leave, so it'll almost feel like a free vacation. :)
Monday, March 10, 2008
Maybe you've noticed, maybe you haven't. In an effort to tame this broadly focused blog of mine, I've started using tags in the headlines of each of my posts. The tags are based on my old description for this blog, which was "Illuminating writing, life and the world at large."
Writing: These posts have to do with the subject of writing.
Life: These posts are my personal journal posts.
The World: Happenings from around the world that don't necessarily impact me, but I find them interesting.
At Large: The fun stuff, like quizzes, some memes and random things that don't fit the other headings, like posts about the blogosphere in general.
Every once in a while a post will come through with no tag, and that's because I think it covers the broad spectrum, such as the Things I've discovered posts that I've started running on Fridays.
The added benefit to me of doing these tags is that I can easily filter out the articles that I don't want syndicated in the BlogRush widget (see the right column of this blog).
So, I went on a photo-shooting excursion with Marriott and JC to downtown Naperville yesterday. Marriott had some old cameras she wanted to test out and, well, I don't need any excuse to pull out my camera and start taking photos.
Marriott decided to make up an art project whereby we'd take photos of letters and make a collage of our names. I started out with the intent of doing "Haley Hughes", but failed to collect the required three H's -- not sure how I managed that.
So, here's my first effort:
The "H" is from the window of Ethel's Chocolate Lounge. The "A" is from the window of an antiques shop. The "L" is from a sign for a noodles restaurant. The "E" is a door handle from Eddie Bauer. And I can't remember what sign the "Y" is from.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Writing is a crazy process. Or is it that the process makes me sound crazy?
Did you ever see the episode of Malcolm in the Middle where Francis, who is away at military school, isn't pulling his weight on a joint research project? The student he's working with gets so annoyed with him, he locks Francis into a totally empty dorm room to finish his project. No distractions, right? Well, when he comes back, he finds that Francis has done none of his work, and instead has spent the time unraveling his sweater and winding the yarn around the room.
That's me sometimes. When, no matter what, I cannot get my mind to engage in the project at hand.
Then, there are the other times, when I get so far engrossed in a project that I feel like I'm in a state of deep concentration. Where everything feels easy. It flows and it makes sense. And it feels so good I don't want it to end. Time slips away. I can't get my brain to shut off.
Sounds a little manic and depressive, huh?
But those are the two extremes. The reality is the time in between. When I'm trying to work and it's just plain old... work. Each paragraph is a labor. That's what I've been experiencing a lot lately. If writing is something I want to do so badly, why is it so difficult?
I know it's not unique to me.
The Internet is full of communities meant to help writers tame their muse. Ever heard of Book in a Week? NaNoWrite Month? 100 Words a Day?
Some writers resort to setting timers. I remember reading an author interview somewhere -- I think it was Dan Brown -- and the author said he used an hour glass.
I need to find some strategy that gets me back on track again. (And, no, my husband standing over me making threats doesn't work. We've tried that. It just makes me bitter.)
Ultimately, I know it comes down to that old piece of writer's advice: Plant your butt in a chair and just do it.
Friday, March 07, 2008
~random ramblings and reflections from the past seven days~
I still have the stamina to pull an all-nighter
I'm not sure that's a good thing. I mean, I wish I was motivated enough to finish the task during normal hours. But if I need to stay up all night to finish something and still function at work the next day, I'm capable. Let's just not make a habit of it, OK?
I'm an old-school emoticon kind of girl
Yeah, I like my emoticons built out of old-fashioned text characters. None of this flashy animation for me. :P
This photo is generating hits
I don't get it. This photo is horrible. It's available light using my camera phone. It's not even flattering. But my SiteMeter says at least three or four people have visited my site in the past week because of this photo. Huh?
My journalism professor was right
Way back in the late '80s, before the Internet age, my favorite journalism professor, Bob Woodward (not *the* Bob Woodward of Watergate fame), liked to tell me that my byline should be "haleyhughes, one word, lowercase." This week, as I was typing my name for the umpteenth time on some web form, I realized that the Internet has proven Professor Woodward right and, indeed, my byline is now "haleyhughes, one word, lowercase." And I like it that way.
I write at a sixth-grade level
A post I read on Bloody Computer! reminded me that Microsoft Word has a feature that allows you to judge the readability of your writing. It's through the spelling/grammar check tool. Anyway, after reading the post, I copied the text from my blog's main page into Word and ran the check. It came back as a sixth-grade readability level, which I think is great, because that means it's easily readable, like they taught me in J-school. I'm not trying to write a dissertation here. An enjoyable reading experience is the goal.
Avon Romance Blog
I've been reading romance novels since I was 13 years old. Some of the first that I read and many of my favorites have been published by Avon Books. So imagine my surprise when the Avon Romance Blog dropped an EntreCard on my site and then requested to place an ad here. OMG, Avon! I have since become a regular reader of the blog. If you like to read romance novels or if you're writing a romance novel and want to learn more about the acquiring editors, go visit this blog.
A cool way to keep track of comments you've made on other blogs, and track followup discussions. Unfortunately, a few comments do manage to escape its tracking system, but I'm not sure how. Maybe if there's no RSS feed?
I haven't felt the need to place advertising on this blog before, simply because I know the return would be minimal. Plus I'm not blogging for the money, although money is nice. Sometimes, though, my curiosity gets the better of me and I sign up for something just to see it from the inside. So, I signed up for AdSense (see the Google ads in the right column) and I've been discovering the inner workings. I think I've earned all of 1 cent so far. :)
Not everyone has an EntreCard widget yet
Every blog I visit now, I find myself searching for the EntreCard widget so I can drop my card. When I don't find one, I wonder: Why hasn't this person signed up yet? Are they afraid of the extra traffic and exposure? Seriously, follow the EntreCard link, take the tour, create an attractive 125-by-125 pixel calling card for your blog, sign up and see what happens. (I'm talking to you, Don M.F.H. And Wook. And Stanimal.)
Take a quiz and create... art?
Because once wasn't enough, I did it twice. I changed up a few answers, though. What do these two images have in common? Quiet. Summer. Travel back in time.
Click here to create your own painting.
Click here to create your own painting.
To send out a little bit of link love, I saw this on Enchanted Crafts.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
It's time for a photo. Because I haven't been out with my camera this week, I'm pulling a favorite from my Flickr photostream that I haven't featured here before.
I took this while on vacation in Las Vegas in November 2006. It's from the observation deck at the top of the "Eiffel Tower" at the Paris Hotel. I made sure my camera strap was firmly around my wrist, then stuck the camera through a viewing hole in the safety fence, then pointed it straight down.
Does it make you feel a little dizzy? Like the world is spinning?
No? Then check out the larger-size version of it on Flickr by clicking on the photo to follow the link to the photo's Flickr page, then selecting "all sizes". When it's large enough that I can actually see the people on the ground, then I feel it.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
One of my writing/critique partners, Grace d'Otare, recently published a short erotica story for Spice Briefs through eHarlequin.com.
Right now on the Harlequin forums, there's a Q&A discussion going on with the Spice editor, Susan Pezzack Swinwood, about what they're looking for in Spice and how the process works. (As way of background: Spice is the full-length printed novel format, and Spice Briefs are the short-story electronic download format.)
As I'm slowly (I emphasize *slowly*) working on my own submission for Spice Briefs, I find the discussion wonderfully informative, especially the information about the editing process and audible versions. Check it out here. Oh, and beware of the clown jokes -- I mean, who wouldn't want to buy a collection of clown erotica? (And if you do, talk to author Megan Hart. It's her idea.)
On a similar vein, there's also a forum discussion going on amongst the Spice writers with a lot more good information about writing, especially in a short format. Check out To be Brief...
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
I have a rule in February, which is that I cannot even mumble about the approach of Spring. It's February. It's winter. Period.
And that wasn't so difficult this February, what with all the snow. In fact, I didn't even see our lawn for the entire month.
But then Saturday, the calendar turned to March. And, magically, we started to thaw out. The yard turned into one big, swampy mess, with puddles of standing water on top of thin layers of unmelted ice.
And I look at the calendar and see that Daylight Savings Time starts in 5 days (in the United States), Spring starts in 16 days, and Easter arrives in 19 days.
And now I see myself entering that seemingly endless wait for Spring.
The problem is, in the Chicago area, Spring doesn't arrive with a gradual increase in temperature. No, Spring is measured in the ratio of cold days vs. warm days. One day it'll be snowing, the next it'll be 70 degrees, and the next freezing again, with some fantastic thunderstorms and windstorms thrown in for good measure. Two months of teasing us until at least May 1, when we can be confident that it won't snow again.
But, today, it's only March 4. And as the snow melts away, I start looking at the landscaping in the back yard, wondering what the dogs have managed to trample, and when I can get out there and do a Spring cleanup.
In a few weeks, the grass will start to green up, and in a few more weeks, the trees will start to bud. But at the moment, it's pretty darn ugly outside.
Monday, March 03, 2008
I tried snowboarding for the first time in January. People said I did well, but one bad fall on my tailbone left me in pain for the next two weeks. I begged off the next few opportunities to go, but with our Colorado vacation fast approaching, Friday night I decided it was time to give snowboarding a go again.
This time I was a little better prepared, with my new oh-so-sexy, grandma-panties tailbone guard. (Just what a girl wants -- padding to make her butt look bigger!)
So, Friday after work, we headed back up to Wilmot in Wisconsin. I was nervous, and the conditions were really icy. Let's just say I got off to a very hesitant start. There was probably even a little cursing at my husband and Kyle over their persistent offers of advice. The fun quotient started out at virtually nil.
But at some point in the evening, I loosened up and actually had a little fun. Bonus: I actually came down the learning hill executing something that resembled the beginnings of turns and stops. And most importantly, my falls were controlled and there were NO INJURIES.
There may be hope for me yet.
The best part of the night was the après-ski. And who knew that après-ski translates to "cheap buzz"? I do now.
I ran into this via a post on That Grrl's site. The idea is to take the background image and add your own message to it. Here's what I came up with:
If you're interested in trying it yourself (consider yourself tagged) or want to see all the different versions other people have made, go to this page. Here are three (that other people made) that spoke to me.