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Showing posts from March, 2010

Killing Birds and Golden Apples

I'm speaking figuratively here! I love birds. And golden (delicious) apples. What is up with me lately, metaphorically killing frogs and now birds? I'm not violent toward animals, I swear.

What I'm trying to do is reference the phrase "killing two birds with one stone." Better yet, I like to kill (not literally, of course) as many birds as possible with my limited stones. For example, I am currently attempting to:

a.) write a novel while experiencing some of the things my characters do and enjoy,
b.) eat healthy,
c.) save money, and
d.) keep up my house.

So I had a brilliant idea as I sat at the kitchen table, alongside my trays of vegetable seedlings, and worked on Chapter 4, which touches on how the Queen likes apple blossoms. I thought, I like apple blossoms too! Why not plant some apple trees in my front yard?

I have to believe that a few apple trees won't require a huge amount of maintenance. Up at Mr. G's family property Up North, a whole orchard of apple …

Experiencing Your Characters

As I get deeper into my novel, I need to know my characters in greater detail. What are their different worldviews, motivations, feelings, and experiences of the world? How can I learn to write from the perspectives of a diverse group of people, from princesses to priests to peasants?

Lately, I've been bringing experiences into my daily life that connect me with the people in my WIP. My characters live in a fantasy realm, in a distant location and time period. But I can share a few of their experiences to gain insight on how they might experience life.

I've gotten serious about my vegetable gardening this year, and I'm trying to do as much as possible without modern conveniences like power tools and chemical fertilizers and pesticides. I'm learning how it feels to watch the weather, to hope and pray, and to labor in the soil with my hands, like a medieval peasant or servant. Just trying to grow a few vegetables to supplement my diet gives me a taste of what it must be …

Trashy Gardening

Because unpublished writers gotta eat!

On the top shelf of my plant stand, in that cardboard box top, I have lettuce and parsley seedlings starting in toilet paper tubes, folded shut at the bottom, filled with a delicious mix of peat and compost from my kitchen vermicompost bin. The worms have been eating my kitchen scraps and pooping all winter, and I have a nice bucketful of rich, black compost. I hope my baby veggies like it. Yum! It's fun turning would-be garbage into something valuable, like a vegetable garden.

Wish me luck for this year's crops... Last year, I had a bajillion tomatoes, one giant pumpkin, and a few dinners' worth of green beans. This year, I'm shooting for a bit more variety with 300 square feet of my backyard dug up and ready for planting when it gets warm.

Along with the kitchen scraps, my worms enjoy shredded drafts of my novel. So I'd better get writing and editing so they have more to chew on... Tomorrow, on to Chapter Four!

The Black of Spring

The black spring has arrived! We've had a few sunny, warm days here lately. Right now it's bright and cloudless, the temperature is in the 60s... and there's a vicious, cold wind blowing. Spring is a time of increased energy, positive and negative. It's celebrated as a time of joy, but it's also the time of year when the suicide rate is highest. The black soil in my backyard is thawing and wet and ready for digging. But in the next couple of days, we expect hard frosts again. The sun is coming, along with wind and rain and storms and floods. The birds are making a racket in the mornings. Soon, flowers and bunnies and butterflies will be coming from every direction. So will spiders, centipedes, and raccoons screaming in my walnut tree.

Spring will be a significant time for many of the characters in Sleeping Beauty and the Beast of Vepreskastel. Curses will be given and taken away in the spring. The "Beast" character, King Gustav, will hate the spring as the…


Here is a short story, or a character sketch really, that I wrote in college. It's eerily similar to a short story I just read, so I'm posting it here for others to see. It's not as developed or polished as the other (published) short story, but it has a similar style and subject. I wonder if this is the kind of thing many young people write. My writing pal Miss Moppet recently discovered that many young people, like her, wrote short stories about people in bathtubs. Go figure.

Anyway, here's Danny:

"I'm really a normal guy," Danny would say to you through the shaggy hair and cigarette smoke, and he'd mean it. "I'm always meeting these crazy people, though. You wouldn't believe it." Danny would need to pause here for a quick suck on his Camel. Then with a trembling, smoking sigh: "Don't know why it always happens to me."

If you were paying close attention to Danny, you'd notice his head tilt back just a bit so he could…

Irony of the Week: Unshopping is so hot right now.

Have y'all read the April issue of Glamour? I love this magazine. Don't judge me. I just think it's funny that a fashion magazine (which makes most of its money selling ad space for products that nobody really needs) is covering the trendiness of being eco-conscious, health-conscious, and non-consumerist.

See that little cover headline down by Zoe's hip? It says "Everyday Habits that Save You $1000 (And Help the Planet, Too)." This article basically boils down to stuff I've been saying for years: Don't buy stupid crap you don't need. Prepare your own food and/or go vegetarian whenever possible.

Other gems of wisdom in this issue include using natural home-cures instead of pharmaceuticals and a great free tip: Supposedly having sexual fantasies boots analytical thinking skills. Sinful thoughts make you smarter. Who knew?

Thanks, Glamour! Usually Monday is my grocery shopping day, but I'm skipping this time. Off I go to stick my hands in some homem…


I work for two nonprofit organizations that call on their members to live out their values by taking action to make the world better. So I interact with a lot of passionate, hardworking people.

Also a lot of burnt out, overwhelmed, tired people.

There are so many ways to do good for our world, and technology has made it so easy to push them--phone banks, rallies, meetings, forums, demonstrations, volunteer days, collections--that "walking the walk" can feel like running a marathon.

But it doesn't have to. I think, culturally, we Americans have trouble with the mindset that more is better and the busier we are and the harder we work, the better. Not always so. Sometimes less is more and not-doing is better than doing. Sometimes strategic inaction can be good for us and for the rest of the world at the same time.

For example, sometimes not buying a "convenience" that most people have means you have to buy and use less other stuff to maintain that so-called conve…

Job Charming

Remember that thing in my Killing Frogs post about the mythical Job Charming? Omigod, you guys, I think I met mine. (I mean, besides "author," of course.) I was blown away by the sheer joy of the legendary Robert and family of the Robert Is Here produce market in Homestead, Florida.

We happened to stay just a short drive from Robert on our trip to the Everglades, and my parents had heard of his famous produce market, so we visited. It was one of the highlights of the trip. Robert started selling produce when he was a little boy. His father sold produce by the roadside but got more business when his cute little son was there handing out the cucumbers. So when Robert came along, he would put up a sign that said "Robert is here." The habit stuck, and now Robert is a middle-aged guy with a beard and a big, happy family who ooze contentment as they sort, squeeze, describe, taste, and slice all kinds of tropical fruits and vegetables--and share samples of their favorites …

In Like a Lion

Enter the lion. While the weather here in Michigan has been sunny and mild at this beginning of March, my start to the month has had some bite.

It started with a wonderful family vacation. My parents treated me, Mr. G, and my brother to a trip to the Florida Keys. We had a great time, though we showed up at the tail end of the coldest winter in Florida's history. Note the sweater I'm wearing under that tiki umbrella.

We visited Mr. G's fabulous parents. Madame Antonia packs the most ridiculously good picnic lunches--homemade breads and hummus, sandwiches with aged gouda, fresh-picked fruits, brownies, and even cute graham crackers with our initials on them. Sadly, a downpour cut short our seaside lunch.

We stayed a couple nights at a marina and learned that the winter had been so cold, the fishing waters had been filled with dead fish and manatee that couldn't survive the freezing temperatures.

In Key West, all of the freaks wearing boa constrictors stayed inside, out of t…