Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I Fought The Lawn

The past few non-rainy weekends, I have been doing landscaping and gardening for my mother and in my own yard. It's really nice to get my hands dirty and plant things! My neighbor gave me several hosta plants for free because she no longer wanted them in her yard, so I planted them in my own backyard. That took me two hours while the little peanut took his nap.

There's something good about doing all that work. It's good, honest work, and I feel like I accomplished something that day. Maybe I ought to look into landscaping as a "day job." Heck, fresh air, sunshine, birds singing, and green, growing things. Can't be all bad, right?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Dangling The Carrot

Anyone who knows me knows I am a big fan of the TV show, "NCIS." In addition to great acting and characterization, I believe the show's biggest plus is that they know how to hook you. One minute into the show, they've set up the mystery and you've gotta know whodunit and why. They end most of their scenes this way, and by the time they go to commercials, you'll follow that big ol' dangling carrot right through to the end. Watch the first couple minutes of any of their episodes, if you don't believe me.

Writers, take note. This is homework. The setup of their scenes and shows overall is a perfect example of what we need to do as writers. It's what editors mean when they say "end on a hook." Each scene, if possible, and each chapter for certain, needs to end on a moment that's sure to pull your reader along through the pages into the wee hours of the morning. The reader has to need to know What Happens Next. Even the end of your book should do that, if it's part of a series. Give that reader a reason to snap up all of your books!

So go watch some television. If anyone gives you guff about it, tell them I said so and it's work. (Real tough, staring at Mark Harmon and Michael Weatherly.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Art Imitates Art

I don't know about you, but I'm excited about the upcoming "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." I remember seeing the original Indy releases in the theaters as a child, and getting wowed by all the adventure and excitement. (Plus, hey, Harrison Ford. Even as a kid I crushed on him. And I still do. The man has the stuff, lemme tell ya. *sigh*)

Here's the funny thing. In a way, I think Indy inspired me to write what would become "Gemini" and its sequel, "Flashpoint." I wanted to be an archaeologist, and part of me still does. I knew that the real archaeologist wasn't the whip-cracking, tomb-raiding, explosion-dodging wonder Indy is, but I wanted to explore ancient worlds and learn what they knew. I guess writing is the next best thing. We writers are armchair travelers/academics. I can go to all those cool places, and I don't even have to get all those nasty shots.

But I would love the fedora and leather jacket.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

It's Easy Being Green

Inspired by Earth Day (and in part by my current WIP, starring a heroine who is fast becoming my healthy-eating, green-living voice of reason), I purchased a couple of books on green living, including The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Maier. This book has several "recipes" for biodegradable, earth-friendly cleaning products. And here's the bonus: they're cheaper too! One box of do-everything borax cost me $2.30, whereas a bottle of off-brand all-purpose spray can cost three times as much. And it's still not gonna be half the workhorse borax is. Other green products that make great cleaning "potions":

* Vinegar
* Baking Soda
* Lemon Juice
* Olive Oil
* Herbs/Spices

You probably have all of these on hand already! I went through my house and removed no less than three totes of hazardous cleaning products which I would be afraid to let my 16-mo son get his hands on. By contrast, cleaning with natural products means using stuff we already eat. It's about three times cheaper, it smells good, and some of it can be used in cooking, too. Can you say that about your cleaning products?