Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Update: Axle is healing, Tanner is ONE and our granite

Here's a short update on a couple of things:  

Puppy got his stitches out today!  2 weeks post-op.  He is lookin' good!  (This photo was taken the first day after surgery - so the swelling and bruising has gone down.)  He's so strong now, it's difficult keeping him from pulling on his leash.  

Tanner is ONE year old!  Here he is on his first trip to the aquarium.  He can barely stay in his seat!

Tanner wanting to swim with the fishes.  (Sting ray, actually.) 

Tanner enjoying his first taste of spaghetti.  (He cried when he was presented with his yellow cake / chocolate icing birthday cake - I guess the icing was too gooey and messy!)  No matter...the more for the rest of us.  He doesn't know what he's missing yet.   

Tanner showing Bryan a big leopard at the zoo.  

We were all mesmerized by this beautiful show of feathers.  

Here's our granite for the bathroom vanities.  Matt really wanted something orange, lighter in overall color with a lot of movement.  I didn't want orange...but we found this one and both liked it.  This'll go on top of two different colors of cherry wood vanities.   

That's the update for now.    
More later.  


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Social Networking Tools

Things are changing so quickly with technology and communication, it's difficult to keep up; but I fear that if we do not make an effort to adapt, we'll all be left in the dust.  

I've been trying to encourage fellow authors who want to promote their books to get a handle on social networking tools like blogging, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  There are many other sources out there, of course, but these are the ones that I seem to be able to manage at the moment with everything else going on.  

I am still learning about all of the features and possibilities these things have to offer, but what I do know is that these tools give us the ability to communicate quickly and effectively to those we're connected to.  

I'm sure you've noticed that I have Twitter updates on my blog and that I always tweet that I have a new blog post.  This is a way for me to let people I know on Facebook and Twitter that I've written something I'd like them to read.  It's a way to drive traffic to the blog.  (Yes, you can link your Twitter to your blog and to your Facebook profile status.)   

I think the biggest thing that holds people back from using these tools is that they don't understand what they're for or how to use them.  What I'm discovering in adults around their 40s and above, is that there is a huge apprehension to these changes and advances in technology.  And, as I said before, if you don't jump on it now, it's only going to get more confusing because people take the technology that's out there currently and build on it for future advancements.

This is a huge portion of what Internet Marketing is becoming today.  So those of you with businesses need to know how to apply social networking to building your business and communicating with your consumers.  I know for many, it seems complicated and intimidating, but once you play around with it a bit, it's really useful and yes, can even be fun. 

I'm sure that most of the people who read blogs already know all about this stuff, but there are some regular readers of mine who really are hyperventilating right now.  (You know who you are.)  And that's okay.  Take a deep breath.  Just know that you're not going to push the wrong button on your computer and set off a bomb.  It's okay to try things and play with these applications until you really understand how to use them.  And no one thinks you're stupid for no knowing how to use this stuff or what it's for - just ask someone (like me!).  
I had to ask questions at first too.  We all did.  

Some of you may not even be interested in social networking.  I remember when I was in college, I heard about Facebook and I wondered "what do I need that for?  My friends already know what I'm up to."  But it's fore more than just the small circle you talk to on a regular basis.  It's a way to stay in touch with your family and friends who you may not see or speak to much at all - and in that way, it increases the flow of communication exponentially.

My Grandmother is on Facebook.  She doesn't go on there very often, but it's a way to communicate with her nine grandchildren and find out what we're up to.  Even though users may not share everything with the Facebook community, we give enough to where there's a pretty accurate picture of who we are and what we're up to.  

Now I can know moment to moment what's happening across the country with my cousins or on different continents with other family members and friends; and that's pretty awesome.

So - anyone with questions?  I'm happy to help.  
I can think of several of you who may not even know what questions to ask.  And at that point, just say, "where do I start?"  


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Show and Not Tell

For my writing critique group, we meet in a coffee shop every other weekend to discuss the writings of two of the group's members.  But last weekend, it was a warm, beautiful day and there was a fire alarm so we decided to sit outside.    
The two previous days, I did yard work and I diligently wore my sunscreen.  I was so proud of myself that I was finally being responsible with my skin; I was so happy I hadn't burned.  On Saturday, I wasn't expecting to sit outside for a couple of hours, and I was not armored with my 30 SPF.

I am now a lobster.  Red as I can be.  But just on my shoulders and chest, so I look like a red and white zebra!  Today is the first day I can really lift my shoulders fully (but not without pain).        

On Saturday, it was my turn to have my first critique with the writing group.  

I was nervous to show the first round of my first novel to anyone, let alone a group of writers.  
I did try and clean up the first draft a bit before I submitted the first 20 pages, but there's still a lot of my book to finish, so things will probably change once I get to the final stages and complete the manuscript.

The overall impression I got from my colleagues was that they liked the story.  
They liked the beginning a lot - I got a lot of compliments on that, so that was very encouraging.  
I was glad to learn that there are some things I can do to make my writing stronger; specifically, using the "Show and Not Tell" technique.

Rather than saying "the water was freezing,"  I should say something like "her numb fingers clung to the keel of the capsized sailboat."  
Talking about "numb fingers" indicates that the water was freezing without actually saying it.   
This way, my story become more engaging and creates a more vivid image in the minds of my readers.  

I did do a lot of "show and not tell," in the story but I hadn't consciously made the decision to do that.  It just sort of came out that way.  

I know that when I go through and edit my story, I will be a lot more deliberate in how I deliver a scene, but if I can finish the book with this in mind, I won't have so much to fix when I go back through in my second draft.  

I do want to be careful to not make every single sentence SO flowery and rich that it becomes difficult to read and it's still my unique style.  I think there's a balance I need to achieve.  Sometimes I do want a short, succinct telling, indicating a fact without room for interpretation.  I think there are times when that could be very useful.  

There are many things that I don't know about writing.  I just know what I like and how I want to tell my story.  Do I know what a dangling participle is when I'm writing?  No, not really.  And I do want to learn that, but for now, I need to finish the first draft and then worry about grammar.  

I may come to the conclusion that I don't really care if everything is grammatically correct.  
Maybe I want it to sound more natural, like the way people actually talk.

It's all up to me.  It's my book and I can write it however I want.  I think that's the main thing to remember when getting critiqued.  

I was at Michael Kintz's book signing a couple of weeks ago (a writer in the group), and I met his publisher, EJ Thornton, of Thornton Publishing.   She said something to me that really helped: 
"Critiques don't have anything to do with the writer, they have to do with the person who is critiquing the writing."  
She explained that each person has their own hang ups and things they look for in their own writing and project those feelings into how they critique the work of others.  
This is something I will hang on to.  It helps me not be so sensitive when others tell me something I may not find particularly nice.  It's just their opinion.  I take what I want from the critique and leave the rest.     

Thankfully, everyone in the group was really encouraging and I am no longer scared to share my work with people.  I think this is a much healthier place than I was in about critiques and writing only a month or two ago.  I've learned so much in a short amount of time and I am so grateful for that.  

Update on Axle: 
We picked him up at the hospital today.  His left rear leg was opporated on with a proceedure called "TPLO" - it basically fixes the angle of his leg since he ruptured his CCL (dog version of the human ACL).  His meniscus was not damaged, so that is a HUGE blessing.  He is bruised and on pain medication, but he's already putting a little weight on the leg, so Matt and I are encouraged.  

House Update:
We are really starting to see things happen in the house.  We got our doors back, Matt laid the new subfloor, we picked out materials for the floors, cabinets, paint, granite, and took out a few walls while we were at it.  It's amazing what small changes can do to change the flow of a room.  We are really excited to get past the drywall phase, but we're not quite there yet.  I'll post pics as soon as there's something interesting to share.  ; )   

Happy 30th Birthday today to my big brother Bryan!!  I love you!  

Oh, and my nephew Tanner turns 1 in a couple of days too!  I can't believe it!