Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A list worth reading

Interesting list if you haven't read it yet.
Beloit College Mindset List for the entering college class of 2014  
A few excerpts:
Most students entering college for the first time this fall — the Class of 2014 — were born in 1992. For these students...  
6. Buffy has always been meeting her obligations to hunt down Lothos and the other blood-suckers at Hemery High.
12. Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry. 
18. Fergie is a pop singer, not a princess. 
27. Computers have never lacked a CD-ROM disk drive. 
Click on the link to read the complete list and for my more mature readers (Smiles) tell me what you think.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Quote of the day

"The muscles of writing are not so visible, but they are just as powerful: determination, attention, curiosity, a passionate heart." --Natalie Goldberg

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hurray for sidekicks

I love the sidekicks in my novels. In THE LION AWAKENS, Petra is Annie's best friend. She's hyper and crazy and funny and full of life. Here's a fun exchange between them that I think will give you a taste of Petra. Tell me if it does and then tell me about a sidekick that you've created in one of your books.
“Oh. My. Gawd.” Petra blurted out as soon as she saw Annie at lunch. “Did you hear? Did you hear about Jess Gross? She really is gross.”
“What happened?” Annie asked, playing dumb.
“Well, I heard Chad Hoover, he’s the catcher on the baseball team, tell Ryley Martin, he plays first base, in math class that Jess picked her nose and wiped it on his shirt. He was totally grossed out. I mean, I would be, too. What was she thinkin’? You know what this means, don’t you?”
“Jess is off the A-List. Not that I care. I mean, she was the mastermind behind the granny pants incident. Remember that?”
“How could I forget.”
“Yeah, you and everyone else. But maybe now they’ll talk about Jess instead. After Chad told Ryley about Jess, they started callin’ her Boogie Boobs. Cause you know she has big boobs, which they like, but now that boogie deal sort of scratches that out.”
Petra went on and on recounting all of the incidents that Jess and the other Sisters bullied and made fun of others. The boogie incident had clearly made her day.
“And another thing. Did you know The Sisters have rules?”
“Like what?” Annie asked.
“Like they’re not allowed to wear jeans, even on gym days.”
“That’s just plain weird,” Annie said.
“Yeah, I know. But they have this whole list of rules that they all have to follow.”
“How do you know?”
“Well, Jen’s locker (she’s the blonde with the mole on her cheek like Cindy Crawford) is near mine, right? And one day I saw Jen and another girl, I forget her name, but she’s also a sister, yell at another sister because she wore jeans. They were designer jeans, but that didn’t matter. They told her that she had to follow the rules or she was out. That her not following the rules was a bad reflection on the rest of them. Like how stupid is that?”
“Pretty stupid. So what happened?” Annie asked.
“They snubbed her the rest of the day. Didn’t let her eat lunch with them. Haven’t seen her in jeans since.”

Friday, August 27, 2010

Thought of the day

 "The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another, and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it." 
-James M. Barrie

Thursday, August 26, 2010

And the answers are:

Here are the answers to Wednesday's movie quiz. Great job everyone:)
1. "Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn." (Gone With The Wind)
2. "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse." (The Godfather)
3.  "Here's looking at you, kid." (Casablanca)
4.  "May the Force be with you." (Star Wars)
5.  "You don't understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could've been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am." (On The Waterfront)
6.  "You talking to me? " (Taxi Driver)

Quote of the day

"Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing." --Denis Waitley

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Movie magic just for fun

Can you complete these movie quotes and do you know which movies they are from?
  1. Frankly, my dear, ______________
  2. ______________offer he can't refuse.
  3. ______________ at you, kid.
  4. May the ______________.
  5. You don't understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. ______________
  6. You talking ______________

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Finish these sentences

Just for fun:)
1. If I could have written any book, I wish I had written...
2. My favorite character of all time is...
3. I deal with rejections by...
4. If I got 'the call' I'd...
5. The first person I'd tell if I got a publishing contract is...
6. If I won a million dollars in the lottery, I'd...

Monday, August 23, 2010

First chapter of "Mockingjay"

So exciting. Can't wait until tomorrow. What do you think of first chapter? Can't wait to read your comments.

Thought(s) of the day

I enjoyed pastor Greg’s sermon on Sunday. He gave some great advice. I'll try to summarize it here. I think it's worth sharing.

1. Happiness is something that’s found from within. It’s not something that’s acquired.
So if you think a new car or a new house or an Ipad or smart phone is going to make you happy, think again. True happiness comes from within not from materialistic things.
Pastor Greg also said to just get it out of your mind that when bad things happen you’re being punished for something. God’s not that petty. It’s not like he’s saying: Just suck it up until you die. God wants you to have blessings.
2. Put away your pride and vanity and ask for help.
Too often, people are too proud to forgive or too proud to ask for forgiveness. Vanity keeps us from asking for help. When you need help, ask. There are people willing to help.
3. Free yourself from that need to be loved by everyone, to be in the popular group in school, etc. You don’t need people who won’t let you be the person you want to be. Don’t follow the losers, follow the Lord.
4. Make decisions about your lifestyle. Pastor Greg talked about people who are drowning in busyness. He said to step out of the water and look at the bigger picture and make decisions. He said Jesus didn’t heal everyone. Jesus didn’t help everyone. Jesus had limitations and he allowed these limitations to guide him. He said to learn from the master. We can’t be all things to all people all of the time. That’ll only lead to burnout. Think about what you are doing and why you are doing it. Are you doing it because you’d feel guilty if you didn’t? Because of your pride? It so, it’s time to rethink things.

Are there any here that you need to work on? For me, definitely No. 4. I tend to take on way too much. It’s not out of guilt or pride, though. It’s because I truly want to help and enjoy being a part of things. But Pastor Greg’s right. We can’t do it all. We have to pick and choose and NOT FEEL GUILTY when we tell someone “no.”

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Building sand castles

Writing a book is like building a sand castle. You start with a teeny-tiny grain of an idea and you add other grains (plot, setting, characters) and you mold these grains into this amazing work of art, shaping it with your voice, revising as you go and patting it down to make it solid and sturdy. And then you show people your work, hoping that they’ll like your castle and want to show it to others. But they don’t like your castle as much as you do. Waves of rejection reduce your beloved castle to a smooth small mound that is then kicked by a kid traipsing along the beach. And you shout, “Why do I even bother!” But you love building sand castles so you start a new one – this one farther back from the water and away from the main walking path. You’ve learned from building the last one how to make this one stronger, better. And you’ve come to realize that building the castle is the real reward. Yes, you want to share your castle. Yes, you want other people to love your castle. But if they don’t, you’ve still built something grand out of relatively little. We’re talking teeny-tiny grains here. So build those castles and don’t fear the crashing waves. And remember, sometimes when you least expect it, the sand will catch the sun just right and your castle will sparkle like millions of diamonds.
--This is for the castle builders in all of us, Buffy

Friday, August 20, 2010

Quote of the day

"Because this business of becoming conscious, of being a writer, is ultimately about asking yourself, How alive am I willing to be?" -- Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life)
So cyber friends, how alive are you? And what do you think Anne is trying to tell us in this quote? Wake me up with your great thoughts. I've been feeling more dead than alive lately. (Smiles) Have an absolutely terrific Friday.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A note from Ella

Sometimes, life sucks. Bad crap happens and you think you’ll never be happy. I get that. I really do. That’s how I felt after Grandma, who raised me, died. But I survived, with the help of my guardian and Grandma’s best friend Maddie. So why am I telling you this? Well, I promised myself I would share my story. Not because I want your pity, but because I think my story is one of hope, of pushing past the ugliness in our lives when all we want to do is crawl into a dark hole. I’m not going to lie. You might cry. My story’s a little sad. Well, maybe a lot sad. But it’s also happy. A lot happy. And the best part is the 365 letters Grandma wrote to me before she died. Someday, when my children are old enough, I’ll share the letters with them. But today, I’m sharing them with you along with my book, ELLA’S DANCE. I hope you join me on this literary journey and discover that despite life’s crappiness, it’s still pretty damn good.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Harry Potter travel tips from A to Z

As promised, my insider’s view of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter from A to Z. I hope you enjoy. If you also visited this attraction, please add your tips and comments.

Arrive early. I could also say Awesome Adventure. (Smiles) If you missed my tip on staying at an on-site hotel in yesterday’s post, read it now. It explains the early entrance perk for guests.

Butterbeer. One word: delicious. You can get it cold or frozen. I recommend the frozen. It was so refreshing, especially in the August heat. I heard from a Waitress Who Will Not Be Named that the drink, which was approved by J.K. Rowling, is a mixture of A & W Root Beer and butterscotch syrup. I have no idea if that’s true, but what I do know is that people line up to buy this treat all…day…long. Waitress Who Will Not Be Named told me that one hotel guest waited in line more than two hours to get a butterbeer for her child. Now that’s love. I’m sure Lily would have done that, too.

Castle. Towering above Hogsmeade is the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The castle, with its stately turrets and imposing presence, houses the signature ride: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Do not miss this ride and do not go in the single rider line because you will miss the incredible queue experience and the treasures it holds. I did single rider once and was sorry afterward. And yes, you can go through the queue and see all the cool stuff and NOT get on the ride.

Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. As you wind your way through the castle you’ll pass through this classroom where Harry, Ron and Hermione convince Muggles to skip the boring lecture on the history of Hogwarts and go with them to a Quidditch match. Watch the terrific trio as they wrap the invisibility cloak around them and vanish right before your eyes. Who thought an invisibility cloak wasn’t real?

Experience at night. This recommendation comes from my sons. They loved walking through Hogsmeade at night. They said there were fewer people to navigate around and that the darkness and lighting added to its ambience.

Frog in window. What I love about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the attention to details. Each store window is an adventure in itself. There were things I didn’t notice on my first two visits that I noticed on my third. You will find a croaking chocolate frog in the window of the Honeydukes candy store. Go inside and you’ll find everything from Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Jelly Beans to white chocolate skulls.

Greenhouse. The queue for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey snakes through Professor Sprout’s greenhouse dressed in hanging greenery. Look for the mandrakes. Don't worry, they don't shriek.

Howler in window. Don’t miss the screaming red howler in the Owl Post window. Another magical touch that helps bring this world to life.

Intimate. The shops are small but their size really makes you feel like you are in a real place. I read somewhere that J.K. Rowling wanted it this way. She felt it would be more authentic. I have to agree. I didn’t mind the narrow aisles or tiny spaces, but then I didn’t have a stroller to maneuver through the shops. Come to think of it, I don’t remember seeing any strollers in the shops. Probably was too tight a space for them.

J. K. Rowling. The woman who created it all on a train ride from Manchester to London 20 years ago. Wow! I can’t imagine what she must have felt when she visited the Florida attraction and saw the fabulous world she had created. Here’s to literary dreams and J.K., whose imagination lives on not only in books but also in films and now an actual place.

Keep moving. There’s a lot to see and walking will help work off the calories from the butterbeer. (Smiles)

Living pictures. These talking portraits are so unbelievably cool. As you snake through the castle on your way to the Forbidden Journey ride, you’ll see various living portraits, including the founders of Hogwarts’ four houses (Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin) arguing. They can’t believe Muggles are in Hogwarts. Also, don’t miss the living portrait of Gilderoy Lockhart, surrounded by his many memoirs, in the bookstore (Tomes and Scrolls) window.

Mandrates. You will find mandrates, plants with roots shaped like babies, in the Hogwarts greenhouse. Don’t miss the animated one in the shop window in Hogsmeade.

Nimbus 2000 broomstick. Harry Potter leads us to the Quidditch match in the Forbidden Journey ride on his Nimbus 2000. We follow on an enchanted bench that Hermione makes fly. The journey includes Dementors emitting a chill, spiders dripping venom, a dragon breathing fire and a Whomping Willow moving toward you.

Owlery. Again, gotta love the attention to detail here. Owls perch on the rafters. Some move their heads, others flap their wings. Best part, there’s owl poo on the beams. Well, not real owl poo. But the creators splashed a little white here and there (sometimes under a sitting owl) to resemble crap. I know I have the mind of a 12-year-old, but you gotta love this attention to detail.

Post. Want to mail a letter with a Hogsmeade postmark, you got it. Just visit the Owlery.

Quidditch and Quill. Both of these can be found in store windows. Catch the quivering Quidditch equipment at Spintwitches (and look for the snitch that’s loose) and don’t miss the quill writing by itself across the street. Also, look for windows that contain: a cello playing by itself, pages of music flying through the air, Hermione's Yule Ball gown and tape measure that move, a spoon stirring in a cauldron and I’m sure there’s more that I just can’t think of right now.

Rides. Besides Forbidden Journey, there’s Dragon Challenge (formerly Dueling Dragons) and Flight of the Hippogriff (formerly Flight of the Unicorn). Don’t miss the hippogriff (part horse, part eagle) nestled behind the Flight of the Hippograff ride.

Sorting hat. You’ll find the sorting hat at the end of the queue for Forbidden Journey spouting off directions. I wish the ride creators could have used the sorting hat to sort people standing in the queue into the various houses. That would have been way cool. If not in this ride, perhaps build an attraction that does it. Just a thought – and a dream.

Train with conductor. Don’t miss getting your picture taken with the conductor at Hogwarts Express, just inside the entrance to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The dude is very friendly and might even tease you about being late for a lecture at school.

Umbrellas. I saw plenty of these during the hot August days. People not only used them for the typical Florida afternoon showers but to shield them from the sun. Also, take plenty of water.

Very tired. Expect to be this after you spend a day at this park. But I think it’s worth it.

Wand shop. Ollivander’s was by far my favorite shop. It was more like an experience than a shop. Don’t miss this. I know the lines are long, but they take a group of 20-something into the shop at one time so it moves right along. The dude they had playing the store clerk was totally awesome. I kept thinking, “Gawd, this guy’s for real.” He had to be an actor. He was that good. Anyway, you watch as a customer is helped. (The person selected in my group was right in front. Not sure if that improves your chances of being picked or not, but wanted to share). The customer tries a few different wands (surprises happen) until the right wand is found. The skit lasts about 5 minutes but I truly felt like I was a part of something special.

Xtra time. I know that’s not how you spell extra, but it’s getting way late and it’s back to work tomorrow. So I’m cheating a bit. But give yourself plenty of time to take in all of the magic in this place. There’s so much I haven’t even talked about that’s so incredibly cool, like Moaning Myrtle sobbing in the bathroom, the awesome hologram of Albus Dumbledore in Hogwarts and The Monster Book of Monsters snapping inside Dervish & Banges.

Yo-yos. I was walking through Zonko’s enjoying all of the joke gifts when I came across screaming yo-yos. What fun! If you’re interested in buying Hogwarts school uniforms, robes, scarves, T-shirts, and broomsticks, head to Dervish and Banges.

Zonko’s. I end with some fun, the best joke shop ever created. You’ll find sneakoscopes and extendable ears and chattering teeth and tons of other fun stuff. Don’t miss the extendable ears hanging from the ceiling as you go from Zonko’s into Honeydukes candy store.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Harry Potter: Travel tips

I absolutely loved the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. From the steaming Hogwarts Express to the towering Hogwarts castle it was not only a feast for the eyes but also an incredible experience. To walk through Hogsmeade and its intimate shops with snow-covered roofs and crooked chimneys was pure magic. The world I’ve grown to love unfolded before me and whisked me away to a place where Dementors and Moaning Myrtle seemed as real as the never-ending line for Butterbeer. Here are a couple of travel tips on a Universal/Islands of Adventure vacation. Check back for Harry Potter: From A to Z.

Traveling tips

Stay on site if you can afford it. It’s worth every penny. I recommend Hard Rock Hotel. It’s a short walk from the hotel to both theme parks – Universal and Islands of Adventure – and City Walk. Plus, as a perk, Islands of Adventure is open one hour early so hotel guests can enjoy Harry Potter before the general public. Also, as a guest at an on-site hotel, you get to use your room key as an express ride pass that allows you to bypass the regular lines at select attractions. The hour-early admission and express ride pass save tons of time. And since I’m not patient, this was perfect.

My second tip is to take your AAA card. Your card can save 10 percent at select gift shops and restaurants at both theme parks and at Universal City Walk. I discovered this my first day when a cashier noticed the card in my wallet and told me about the discount. From then on, I was using the card and saving, saving, saving.

I recommend hitting the park in the morning then heading back to the hotel to relax in the afternoon. I enjoyed cooling off in the hotel pool and sipping a frozen drink (or two). After a few hours of downtime, head back to the park(s) and stay until closing. The parks really do look different at night with their colorful swirls of bright lights.

I like to hop from park to park so I always get a park-to-park pass. This means I can jump back and forth between both parks throughout the day. There were days that I was in Islands of Adventure in the early morning, Universal in late morning, Islands early evening, Universal late evening. A park-to-park pass gives you the most flexibility. I would hate having to stay in one park for the entire day.

Go see Blue Man Group show. I ordered the tickets online before we left and picked them up at the box office upon arrival. We had great seats: two rows from the stage and dead center. I had never been to a performance like this and didn’t know what to expect. I’m not even sure how to describe it. The men are blue. They don’t talk, and their eyes look like golf balls. They’re awesome drummers and they do funny things that will crack you up. And the best part – at the end, tons of toilet paper rolls (and I mean tons) unroll forming waves of white across the entire auditorium. The show is just plain fun and you laugh so much your jaw hurts.

So those are my travel tips. If you been to Universal/Islands and have additional tips, please share in comments. Oh, and did I tell you, it’s great to be back with all of my cyber friends. I have a lot of catching up to do.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Unplugged but will return

I'm unplugging for a bit. Be back on Aug. 17. I hope you all have a terrific week and that when I return you'll have good news to share.  

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Writers and their ideas

"You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we're doing it." --Neil Gaiman

Where do you get your ideas from? Do you daydream? Do you get them from watching your kids? Or do they just zap you like a bolt of lightning?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Movie quote answers

Thanks to everyone who participated in yesterday's post. Here are the answers:
  1. "Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn." (Gone with the Wind)
  2. "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse." (The Godfather)
  3. "Here's looking at you, kid." (Casablanca)
  4. "May the Force be with you." (Star Wars)
  5. "You don't understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could've been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am." (On The Waterfront)
  6. "You talking to me?" (Taxi Driver) 

Quote of the day

"Persistence is the twin sister of excellence. One is a matter of quality; the other, a matter of time." --Marabel Morgan

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Quote of the day

"The greatness comes not when things go always good for you. But the greatness comes when you're really tested, when you take some knocks, some disappointments, when sadness comes. Because only if you've been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain." --Richard Milhouse Nixon
I'm really trying to keep this in mind as I deal with rejections this week. How about you? How's your week going?

Ella's Dance: A Grandma note

Note 161

My dearest Ella,

I’m really tired today, Ella. The chemo treatments take a lot out of me. Maddie offered to write what I tell her, but I didn’t want to do that just yet. But I might have to eventually. I want to keep writing these notes myself so you have them in my handwriting as long as I’m able.

So today is rough and I can’t write much. The notes might be a little shorter for awhile. Depends on how I feel. But I want to say that I love you. Three simple words that are worth more than all the treasures in the world combined.

Love you bunches and bunches, Grandma

Dear Grandma,
I keep all of your notes in the jewelry box you bought me. You know the one with the ballerina that goes around and around and plays music when you wind the gold key in the back.  Whenever I'm feeling down or lost or lonely, I read your letters. Reading them makes me feel close to you. You've given me a wonderful gift, Grandma. You've left me 365 letters and given me the greatest treasure of all -- your love. Thank you for knowing what I would need and for loving me and taking care of me -- long after you were gone.
Love you bunches and bunches, Ella

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ella's Dance: A Grandma note

We haven't heard from Grandma D in some time, thought we were due.

Note 289

My dearest Ella,

Success means different things to different people. What’s important is what it means to you.

I knew a woman who lost her vision. Her goal was to be able to continue living on her own. She moved to the city so she could use public transportation and developed a system of identifying objects that included using rubber bands. She was successful in modifying her life so that she could remain independent. She was truly an amazing woman.

For you, success might be earning a college degree or having a book that you’ve written published. Whatever it is, your success is your own. You define it and you achieve it and it doesn’t matter if no one else sees it as success, it’s what you see it as that’s important. My blind friend’s idea of success was far different from my own, but that doesn’t mean her success was any less important.

Love you bunches and bunches, Grandma

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Quote of the day

"It's an adrenaline surge rushing through your body. You have this spark of an idea that keeps threatening to burst into flames and you have to get the words out on paper to match this emotion or picture in your head. After this comes the work of cleaning up the mess that you made." --Janet West

Oh. My. Gosh. She descibes the process completely, no?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Quote of the day

"Forget all the rules. Forget about being published. Write for yourself and celebrate writing." --Melinda Haynes

And a second one because I just couldn't help myself.

"The first step is to find out what you love -- and don't be practical about it. The second step is to start doing what you love immediately, in any small way possible. I've seen what happens to people when they get to do what they love. They light up. They glow. They have a kind of energy that's wonderful." --Barbara Sher

To all of my cyber friends, let's celebrate writing and be grateful that we are able to do what we love. Even in your posts I feel your energy and passion. I hope you never lose that. Blessings, Buffy