For All This and So Much More, I Give Thanks…

I had a blog post written and all ready to do today, and I decided that post can wait a while because I’ve been following a small phenomenon on Facebook this month. I noticed it last year during November, too. Every day of the month, my friends are posting something different every day they are thankful for, rather than just mentioning those things only on Thanksgiving.
I didn’t do that last year and I’m not doing it this year. Don’t get me wrong—it’s not because I’m not thankful. Heaven knows, I am incredibly grateful, thankful, and consider myself blessed for a myriad of reasons. If you follow me on my professional FB page, you know that I’ve been having some difficulty with my sight. Fortunately, it’s only affected one eye. For that I am thankful, because the thought of a life with very restricted sight or without any sight at my age is terrifying.
I’m thankful for my family, immediate, extended, and those have chosen to count me as family—such as very close friends. Yes, these people can be exasperating, frustrating, and even annoying at time, but I can also be all of those things. It doesn’t mean I am not thankful for their presence in my life and count myself as blessed. The people in my life who are my family are also my greatest source of strength and encouragement.
I am thankful for a job I held a few years ago where I was honored to work with so many talented, gifted people. I had a nick-name there I am still proud of, that of Benign and Benevolent Dictator and it was my loyal “minions” who gave that name to me. I am so proud of those people and have been blessed to know them, to watch them leave their academic careers behind and go on to much greater things than at times I think they knew they were capable of. I always knew each and every one of them was more than capable, and they were all destined for greatness. My minions, you have truly blessed my life, and so many of you continue to be blessings to me today.
I am thankful that I am involved in a hobby where there is so much support and genuine friendship. Too often, those involved in this hobby/sport of dog showing forget that it is just a dog show and there will be another one next weekend. Fortunately, for the most part, the breed that I am committed to has people who truly want to be the people that our dogs believe we are. As an added bonus, on any given weekend, I get to spend time with my dogs, my friends, and see beautiful collies from all over the country. And, just outside my back door are some of those beautiful animals. For this, I am very thankful.
I’m also thankful for all the support I receive from “friends” I have never met for my writing career and endeavors. I reached a goal I have long dreamed of, and that was becoming a published author. A few months ago, I signed a contract for a second romance novel with my publisher. Not only am I a published author, this book makes me a multi-published author. I get to hide from the world in a place I’ve created, populated with people who only exist in my head, and then share them with the world. I’m thankful my husband is understanding and supportive of me when I vanish for days on end into my office, creating the next story. He truly is one of the best. I’m thankful for my Muse, even if She can be a total bitch at times (but that is a whole other blog post—for another time).
I’m thankful that I can sit at my desk and browse the Internet. The days of having to go to a library for research are over. Not that I still don’t like to go to a library, because there is something relaxing and calming about wandering in the stacks of a library, but when I need to verify a fact, I usually need to find that information immediately. Browsing the Internet also allows me to go to places that I know I can never afford to go and see things I would never see otherwise. There are so many beautiful places and things I’ve “seen” through an Internet connection.
I’m thankful for the roof over my head, that I have enough to feed my family, and that there is heat in the winter, and air conditioning in the summer. So many people in this country right now are struggling to keep their homes, worry about whether or not they will have enough to feed their loved ones. Part of being thankful for what I have must be the willingness to share what I can, when I can.
Part of the reason I don’t participate in the month-long celebration is I believe we need to be thankful every day for the people who bless our lives with their presence, we need to give thanks for the blessings in our lives, and we need to share our bounty with gratitude and a humble heart.
May you all have a blessed, bountiful Thanksgiving.

What Do You Listen To?

I’ve been asked by a few people what’s on my play list when I’m writing. The answer to that is it all depends on what I’m writing and where I’m at in the process. If I’m working on a rough draft, I want something that I can type in rhythm with. Usually that’s my favorite collection of heavy, hard rocking classics: stuff from Sammy Hagar, Def Leopard, Led Zepplin, Aerosmith, and AC/DC. I’ve tried to listen to my favorite movie soundtracks and learned rather quickly listening to that had me starting to envision the movie rather than writing. Movie soundtracks=bad for a rough draft.
If I’m fleshing out the rough draft, I try to create a play list that fits the work. For the novel I just signed a contract for, which I wrote last November for NaNoWriMo, I listened to a play list that incorporated a lot of the music from the musical The Civil War and Civil War era pieces. I can sing the whole of “Bonnie Blue Flag” now. (But, don’t ask me to sing, because I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.) Come to think of it, that was the play list while I was writing that novel last November, too.
If I’m eye-ball deep in editing, I can go with the movie soundtracks. Eye-ball deep in edits usually means it’s very close work and I have to pay extreme attention to what I’m doing, so the sound tracks become background noise. While doing the edits for the second romance novel, however, I found that I couldn’t get into the time period or the character’s heads, so I put the Civil War play list on. Viola! Once more, I was back in the late 1870s, chugging across the country in a railroad car pulled by a steam engine.
However, if I’m listening to the soundtrack to one of my favorite movies (whatever that movie happens to be), I can’t listen to that soundtrack and work. It’s that simple. I listen to the soundtrack and decide, “The heck with it. I’m going to watch THAT movie.” Kind of like right now. I’m listening to the soundtrack from newest favorite movie and thinking I really want to watch that movie again. We won’t mention how often I’ve watched my latest favorite movie in the past five days, but let’s just say that’s it been enough to memorize some of the best lines. (I’m seeing registered names for a few of my show collies coming out of this movie, too.)
Anyway, to answer the question about what I listen to while writing, it all depends on where I’m at in the writing stage, if I can get back into the character’s heads for edits, and what stage of the editing. Now, I’m going to watch a movie.

Filling those bright red boots…

Because I’m not really into going to a movie theater to see movies, I usually wait until the movie comes out on DVD. I can honestly say the last movie I saw in the theaters was Les Miserables with my daughter last winter. The only movies I actually planned to see in theaters on their release were the Harry Potter movies (and yes, I was one of those people standing in line to see a movie that started at midnight!) and before that, the Star Wars movies. We also will not discuss how many times I saw the first Star Wars movie the summer of 1977. (Oh, dear Lord…that was how many years ago?)

Tonight, I bought Man of Steel and came home to watch it. (Yes, I buy the DVD because even at $20, it’s still cheaper than a movie ticket, a bucket of popcorn, a drink, and the gasoline to drive to the theater.) I’ve got a few things to say about the movie. First of all, it did drag a bit in places, but HOLY MOSES! the fight scenes between Kal-el and General Zod…no spoilers, but they had me on the edge of my seat a few times.

I was also incredibly impressed that a British actor (Henry Cavill—remember Charles Brandon in the BBC series The Tudors) could do such a dead-on Kansas accent. While I was skeptical that this re-imaging of the Superman legend/canon would fly (sorry, bad pun there), it was done well. For a change, as an audience (albeit of one in this case), we got to see the “human” side of Kal-El, how he struggled with his unique abilities, fought to keep who/what he was hidden even when everything in him wanted to do what was right and help people. The movie also brought up the question of how much of who we are is nurture or nature. I don’t think it totally answered that question because I don’t think there ever will be a definitive answer. And without any spoilers, this imagining of Superman did what for many would have been the unthinkable–and Clark/Kal-El/Superman was filled with a horrible remorse.

Christopher Reeve as Superman

This Clark Kent/Kal-El/Superman is also a momma’s boy. I loved it. One of my favorite lines from the movie happens when General Zod and Company have arrived at earth and threaten Martha Kent. In defending her, Clark is pounding the crap out of one of the bad guys and says, “You don’t go after my mom!”

Brandon Routh as Superman

I was also pleased that Zod wasn’t a Snidley Whiplash kind of villain. He had depth and dimension. What he was planning to do to earth was all wrong, but he was doing it for all the right reasons (at least in his own mind). And, I could understand where he was coming from (which should frighten some people). He had a chance to restore/rebuild Krypton. For all of his life, his job, his reason for being, was to protect and defend Krypton. Zod’s motivation raises the moral and ethical question if something happened to earth and a small handful of survivors had the chance to reform another planet into earth and restore humanity, what would we do?

 Also, for a change Lois Lane isn’t a total moron. I mean, for years, after seeing the first Superman movie with Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder, and even before that with the old T.V. series, I always asked myself just how stupid was that woman. When did a pair of glasses become such a fantastic disguise that Lois Lane couldn’t tell Clark Kent was actually Superman?

Henry Cavill as Superman

In the first Superman movie with Christopher Reeve, I absolutely loved how as Clark Kent, Reeve slouched a little, fumbled with things, and stammered, but when he became Superman, the posture straightened, he stopped stammering, and he was as graceful as a sleek cat. In the previous Superman movie (Superman Returns), with Brandon Routh, there were times that I was unnerved with how much Routh looked and acted like Reeve. There are a few of those moments in Man of Steel as well.

 I wanted not to like this imagining of the Superman canon. Part of me wants to think that with Christopher Reeve’s performance, all others would have a set of really big red boots to fill. Brandon Routh tried. I think, Henry Cavill fills them a little better.