Dancing in memories: a reflection of April

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”~Peter Drucker, American businessman

Back to my regular blogging schedule now that the AtoZ Challenge has ended. Did I complete the challenge? No…and yes.

I did not post all of my alphabet posts on the day-of alphabet days. Why the delay? One: Life interfered. I took some vacation, had a minor house issue which required major effort to contain, and bought and installed a new computer and printer, the latter being not as easy a venture as I expected. The trip to State College to see the Penn State Blue-White game was the highlight. That involved daily Creamery ice cream cones, my husband’s first venture into The Phyrst bar, shopping, photos at the Lion and on the Beaver Stadium football field. That trip was followed by a mini-trip to visit his folks: dinner, a trip to quaint Doylestown and lots of puppy play time.

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The wonders of April 2015

I exercised more on my WiiFit–and it shows;
see Day 14–attended my friend’s book signing, bought three bags of used books for my Found Poetry Zentangle class next week and saw my baby turn 200K in our driveway.

Lots of little things make up one big life. Remember that.

But the second reason all of my AtoZ posts are not posted as of this blog post is that I wrote flash fiction in each of them. Flash fiction. It was spontaneous, not planned at all, but it takes time, more time than I expected. However, after Day One, I couldn’t stop; both for myself and for my readers. It was my first attempt at both flash fiction and AtoZ. My first time writing daily blog posts and daily storytelling.

Not the best idea I had.

So I’m extending the challenge posts throughout the month of May, rather than doing an info dump of alphabets on my readers.I hope you’ll come back and learn all the ways to Procrastinate a Writer. Maybe you’ll learn something. Maybe you’ll feel for Jayne and Tom, and who is that Newspaper Guy? Or maybe you’ll just leave hungry for cookies.

Totally into TV for the AtoZ Challenge

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Welcome to Day T of the A to Z Challenge. What you will learn this month is: 26 Ways to Procrastinate a Writer
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20. The twentieth way to procrastinate a writer is by watching TELEVISION.

Television is one powerful medium for distraction. Any good writer will immerse themselves in the story and approach the TV show in one of two ways.

The writer could look at the show objectively, studying it. Good story elements are found in TV shows. If your writer is stuck on a humorous scene, for example, watching sitcoms is one way to find inspiration. You can’t watch just one show, however. To properly study a genre, a writer needs to watch several episodes of one show, thus seeing different elements of how jokes are portrayed. Does a director use visuals? If so, how can that be translated from pictures into words? Are there specific catch phrases that a writer can use as a private joke to orient readers to a particular time and place? With plagiarism always a concern, a writer must be careful about using official words or taglines. Watching numerous episodes night after night, mingling current seasons with past ones, will demonstrate that to the writer. Television is vital to the writer, and it should be treated as such.

TV is important for use of characters. If a writer’s antagonist is, say, a strong female character, then drama shows become a valuable research tool. There are a variety of shows in different genres that feature such a character, and they should all be explored. Whatever your character and his/her traits, there are sure to be numerous daytime, prime-time and “after hours” cable or satellite shows. Every opportunity to expand the writer’s character should be explored.

If a writer focuses on a particular and ever-popular genre–say, vampires or zombies–research must be done so as to ensure originality is maintained. This is one area a writer should spend hours and hours on. After all, ideas can be gleaned from such immersion and plagiarism can be avoided. It is important to know the rules, if any, of defined genres. If you know the general accepted scenarios, then you can break them. Since the writer is crafting a story on an evergreen subject, there is a wealth of visual information out there, often running at overlapping times. Use of a DVR, On-Demand or subscription service should be utilized for constant content. It is important to stay current with the latest and greatest.

The second way a writer can approach television shows is as pure escapism. After all, the writer has worked hard and deserves a break, so TV provides the appropriate release. The mind absorbs, the eyes are entertained, and the brain is distracted by background noise. This can provide the rest needed to rejuvenate the writer for a productive day tomorrow. Television’s relaxation value should never be undermined. Utilize this as much as possible.

Jayne and writing for television

Jayne grunted as Tom reached over her lap and grabbed the remote control. “Let’s see what’s on,” he said.

What was on TV had been Jayne’s Thursday Night Splurge. She developed an affinity for this particular crime show, one that balanced a bit of law and legalese with drama of the unrequited desire between two of the ensemble cast while solving stories of intrigue and crime. It also had a hot, floppy-hair main character. Jayne decided she should watch that to gain insight into strong male characters and their interactions with coworkers and potential partners. What was now on TV was Thursday Night Sports.

“I was watching that,” Jayne said, brushing her hair behind her ear.

“But the game is on now and I want to watch it,” Tom said.

Jayne knew from his tone that the decision was made and she’d lost the discussion before it began. She walked to the dining table and picked up her notebook.

“You can watch the game with me,” Tom said, looking over his shoulder. “I like your company.”

“I can see it from over here,” Jayne said.

“Okay. I tried,” Tom said and turned back to the game.

Jayne wrote a bit of backstory of her protagonist. She sketched the apartment of her antagonist. She swirled lines and abstract shapes and drew little patterns. The sound of sports was not conducive to her writing. She had certain requirements for background noise, and this was not it. In fact, she shouldn’t even have background noise; she should be watching her show, the only program she mentally scheduled into her week.

Jayne sighed and shuffled back to the couch. She reclined on his chest, but he pushed her up, saying “That’s not comfortable.When Tom went to bed, she knew she had to stay up late and catch the rerun of it.

It had been comfortable for Jayne. Not anymore. She shifted over, hunched down over her sketchbook. She’d be up late tonight watching her show when it repeated in two hours.

Penn State Blue-White Weekend 2015 in photos

“Life is one big road with lots of signs; don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality.”~Bob Marley, Jamaican musician

Sights for the senses from Blue-White Weekend, April 2015

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My THON 2015 discovery

“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”~Helen Keller, American writer

It didn’t take me long to discover the reason I was not meant to attend and dance in THON this year. During THON, I connected with some old friends and THONmates on social media. We shared memories and stories, and I relived THON through them. While the students and other alumni danced on the floor, I danced with my friends. Together.

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Catnap and I are watching in Canton, MI

All my best to the dancers and the children this weekend. May everything be successful. FTK.

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The Men’s Hockey team kicked it during Saturday night’s Pep Rally

Remember December

“Work hard for what you want because it won’t come to you without a fight.”~Leah LaBelle, Canadian musician

It’s the middle of the month. Right about now, resolutions are falling faster than snowflakes.  Mine have been sidetracked by one nasty, lingering cold. Now is a good time to reflect on the past.

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I’ve been doing a December-Photo-a-Day project since 2007. Great memories. Every year it’s amazing what I do that’s new. It’s fun to see the events that have become traditions and how those same events have changed. My Deadwood Writers Group is one of those. We have a holiday party the first week in December, and I insist–dare I say “force”?–that we do a group photo. The size of the group has grown, yet some faces are the same since that first year. My husband and I always see It’s a Wonderful Life on the big screen at Penn Theater in Plymouth. My compositions of the photos are interesting to compare.

It reminds us, especially during the busiest of seasons, to stop and appreciate what’s around you. To remember.

That is different than my Photo 365, which has turned into a year-long adventure.  Here, as in other months, I was with friends, I played Yahtzee and wrote in coffee shops, I created art and I played with Zentangle.  Unique to this month was that I published my third book, visited family out of town and hugged a long-time college friend, discovered new used book stores, and had a tooth filled in the Fun Room at my dentist’s new office.  My husband cooked me breakfast, a Tweet of mine was favorited by a famous TV show actor.  I cheered the Nittany Lions and celebrated victory from Yankee Stadium section 409 when Penn State won the Pinstripe Bowl.

What do you remember from December?

Our last day in Philly

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.”~Joseph Campbell, American writer

This trip ended the way it began, with a Penn State game. The men’s basketball team played in New Jersey at the Rutgers Athletic Center. My husband surprised me with the tickets. After all, how could we miss seeing our team play at an away game that was near home?

This basketball game did not end up like last week’s Pinstripe Bowl (win!) nor like Rutgers’ Big Ten inaugural football game in September (win!).

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Look at that cool blue flag in the background!

Still, it was fun. My husband could watch sports on TV all day long, but I prefer seeing sports live. The atmosphere, the sounds, even the smells make it a memorable experience. Not only that, this was an arena I had never been to before. I love the new. Turns out our seats were in a mini-Penn State section, and there were a lot of “We Are” chants throughout the game, especially towards the end. Penn State came back from a huge deficit to lose the game by only 4 points.

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Penn State takes the court at the RAC

I also take comfort that Penn State was the more athletic team; their heads were just not in the game. They had many opportunities to pull ahead, but they didn’t take advantage of them. If Rutgers had been a good team, the score would have been embarrassing, not simply close.

The day was full of other fun things: another shopping trip to A.C. Moore; playing Yahtzee in a new-to-use Starbucks; and breakfast with the ‘rents. Tomorrow, we say goodbye to the puppy–and the ‘rents–and make our long drive back to Michigan. Good night.

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The Happy Couple selfie #107,409

Do you remember when…?

“Frustration, although quite painful at times, is a very positive and essential part of success.”~Bo Bennett, American businessman

I didn’t intend that quote to be reflective of this blogpost; it’s just serendipity.

Today is December 1. I’m reading social media posts about personal success (or failure) of NaNoWriMo. I did not participate because I had other writing obligations that were more important to me this year than cranking out 50,000 words, but I know I would have won. I’m stubborn like that. My perspective on NaNo is that if you have more written words on November 30 than you did on November 1, then you succeeded. In that sense, I succeeded because I wrote more words in my memoir and in my Day-Night story.

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Since it is December, a lot of people are looking to the end of the month for the end of the year. I’m jumping in here to be a persnickety trendsetter and reflect on the past now. I hate getting lost in the flux of it all.

The Photo365 app reminds me of the month that has passed. “Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?” November was exciting: hearing Alice Walker read her poetry in person; reading my current Michigan Scrapbooker Magazine article published as the centerfold; traveling to Illinois for the Penn State football game; wearing funky socks for funny feet; watching the new season of Major Crimes; and recalling family traditions.

I have become so dependent on my smartphone. The Timehop app accessed my past December 1s, and last year’s Photo365 calendar popped up.

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Even the Photo365 app has changed look

Last year, I participated in NanoWriMo and won. There’s a lot of NaNo in that month. Artwork and Zentangle. Games. Starbucks. Coffee. Thanksgiving stuffing once again. New restaurants. Random roses and holiday Peeps from my husband.

How awesome is that?!?

So many things that get lost in the shuffle, especially as we enter the Mega Holiday Month of December. Do you want to capture your memories? Just do this. Write a short journal entry. Scrapbook one 4″x6″ photo on an 8″x8″ page. Post a random conversation on Facebook. It’s as easy as that. Really.

Need some inspiration for a starting point? Check out the Fat Mum Slim blogsite for the Photo a Day challenge. There’s an app for that, and an active community on Instagram posting images.

I’m participating in the #fmsphotoaday challenge most days, having become more active on Instagram. “A natural social media site for you, a scrapbooker,” a friend commented. Come check out my Instagram images. I’ve almost reached 500 posts. Be there to witness the momentous event!

Consider the prompts as beginnings for a journal entry, a piece of art, or a Tweet. The idea is to be creative; how can you choose that creativity? Remember, if you save one more memory or create one more piece of art by December 31 than you did on December 1, you are a success.

A #tbt for #PSU24 day

“What people say, what people do, and what they say they do are entirely different things.”~Margaret Mead, American scientist

As a rule, I don’t like blogpost titles that includes hashtags. It’s a sloppy shortcut to do double-duty without proper social media promotion. But in this case, rules are made to be broken.

Today, Penn State University showcased a 24-hour look at all the various actions going on at campus. However, this event turned into its own World Campus as students, alumni, employees, students abroad, other campus locations and anyone connected to Penn State showed their pride.

I made my alumni contributions on Twitter, Vine, Facebook and Instagram. In case you missed my day, here are some highlights:

(A special shout-out to author Marcie Hill who reminded me that it’s okay to do a picture-only blogpost.)

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A letter and eBook to my dad on Fathers Day

“To a father growing old, nothing is dearer than a daughter.”~Euripides, Greek poet

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.”~Jim Valvano, American basketball coach

It’s a double Words of Wisdom day today. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.

My father will not be reading this post, or any other post I write. If he wasn’t dead, Dad didn’t own a computer. Besides, his sight was declining with some form of Macular Degeneration.

Dad preferred old-fashioned communication anyway. He called people on the phone. He wrote letters sent in the mail. I know, he was a fighting dinosaur.

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My ongoing novel about our relationship is in editing stages (so far; who knows what new elements will be discovered). In honor of Father’s Day, I snagged some of the best moments from the book and self published them on Amazon as an eBook. It’s a short story, somewhere around 21 page. Here’s the link to: Lessons from Dad: A Letter to You. It’s the kind of letter every dad wants to read from his children, knowing the impact he made on their lives. It’s the letter that every child should write to their father while he is still around to know the impact he made on their lives. My dad knew; I told him every day without this letter.

Currently, this book is not supported on other formats. If you want to read it on another device, get the Kindle reading app for your computer, tablet or smartphone. It’s free, and my books are worth the download!

To whet your appetite for some good parent-child love and respect, here is a sample from the book:
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When the letters began, that’s when we really became close.

Mail was important to you back in your army days because letters were your only connections to home. You kept that connection between us by writing a letter to me every morning before breakfast. I don’t know who benefitted more from them, me or you. You told me about the weather, any exciting bus rides and updates on Mom’s at-home job. You tucked any newspaper clippings about Penn State or my high school you found in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette or Pittsburgh Press inside the envelope. Then there was the money. You mailed me quarters taped to thin cardboard so I could buy laundry tokens without worrying about changing a paper bill to coins.

And when you thought my friends got jealous of all the mail I received, you sent letters and cards to them as well.

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My senior prom: love those 80s fashions

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If you read the book, I ask that you leave a review. Good or bad, it helps me become a better writer.

And I have a lot more stories to release into the world. Dad would probably say, “Go get’em!” and that’s what I plan to do.

If you have a strong father figure in your life, give him a hug today. And tomorrow. And the following day. And the following….

He deserves that.

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