Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fall TV

I'm a happy camper because the fall TV season is getting into full swing. Old favorites are coming back with new episodes, and I'm trying a few new series. I can remember when I was a kid and living in the country, we had three TV stations. So whenever the Fall TV Preview issue of TV Guide came out, it didn't take long to figure out what you were going to watch when. If two things happened to be on at the same time, you had to choose which one you'd watch and resign yourself to not seeing the other unless you could convince a friend to tape the other show for you on their VCR.

But now, thanks to the wonders of my TiVo, I can record two things at once on one TV and watch something else on the other TV. I only have to do this during the first hour of primetime on Thursday nights. TiVo also comes in handy if I'm traveling, as I will be next week to the Moonlight & Magnolias Conference in Atlanta, or when I'm on deadline and TV is a big no-no. Shows are so different now too. Instead of weekly episodic offerings, there seem to be more that have big arcs, ones where you have to pay attention to each episode or you miss something crucial. LOST kind of got this trend started in a big way, and one of the new programs I'm watching, FlashForward, is taking this concept and running with it. I'm already intrigued. For those who don't know, the premise is that everyone in the world passes out at the same time and all wake up 2 minutes and 17 seconds later. No one knows why. So we're going to be following not only the investigation, led by main character FBI Agent Mark Benford (played by Joseph Fiennes), but also how people deal with what happened when they passed out -- they all saw the future, specifically what they'd be doing on the same day six months in the future. Some liked what they saw, others not so much. And one guy thinks he'll be dead since he didn't see anything. Can you imagine how you'd react if this really happened? Also intriguing is the fact that video footage of a ballgame in Detroit shows that there is one guy, mysteriously dressed all in black, who is up walking around while everyone else is out cold. Hmmm...

Here's my viewing lineup:

Castle (love me some Nathan Fillion; I need to base a hero on him.)

The Biggest Loser (to help inspire me to stay fit and healthy)
V (starts in November; a remake of the sci fi show/mini-series from when I was a kid)


Bones (a good show to watch if you want to see sexual tension)
The Vampire Diaries (appeals to the YA write side of myself)
Supernatural (my favorite show)

Stargate Universe

Nada. This will be movie night. Remember when there actually used to be shows on Saturday night? I can remember watching The Love Boat and Fantasy Island when I was a kid.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (Hey, what's a week without Ty and the gang making me cry?)

See any of your favorites here? Trying anything new this season?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Small Town Quirks

I recently came across an interesting bit of trivia about Williams Lake, a small community in British Columbia. Since the late 1930s, townsfolk have celebrated Wrestling Day. No, not calf wrestling or mud wrestling. This was an official holiday that fell on January 2, the day after New Years.

Wrestling Day was started by two businessmen who noticed they weren’t getting any business that day—possibly due to cold winter weather or maybe because local residents were still recovering from the holidays—so they closed up shop and took an extra day off themselves. Besides, if Christmas could have Boxing Day, then surely News Years deserved a day, too.

The idea caught on. In 1942 the village council declared Wrestling Day an official holiday, and in 1959 a bylaw was passed, making if official.

For almost twenty years, local businesses remained closed that day but in 1976, the bylaw was struck down. Williams Lake had grown from a village to a town to a city, which meant more business and more businesses. And those businesses wanted to do business, even on Wrestling Day.

From my perspective—as someone who thinks there aren’t nearly enough holidays!—I think it’s unfortunate that Williams Lake no longer recognizes Wrestling Day as an official holiday, although I understand that some businesses do remain closed in honor of the old tradition.

What do you think? Should more communities have special holidays? Do you know of a town like Williams Lake that has its own quirky holiday?

Until next time,
The Writer Side of Life

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Nice Digs Stephenie!

So, I was at the carwash the other day getting my old truck washed and I picked up this little newspaper called the North Scottsdale Times to read while I was waiting. I flipped through the pages, and this article caught my eye. It was called "The Valley's Most Expensive Recently Sold Homes". The first home featured sold for the tidy sum of $7,212,672.00. I don't know about you, but imagining that sum of money simply boggles my brain. I have the same mental trouble when I try envisioning how many light years it is from our galaxy to the next closest one. Even more incredible, the house is a modest 12,244 square feet and includes a game room, theater, two-bedroom guest house, outdoor kitchen and spa. Holy smokes!

As I read further in the article, I was stupefied to discover that the house was purchased by none other than Christiaan Meyer, the sole trustee of Marrowstone LLC, an Arizona Limited liability company. Christiaan Meyer, as in the husband of Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series. Okay, so Stephenie is obviously doing pretty well for herself, not that I doubted it. Do you think she paid cash for the house or has a mortgage? Yeah, maybe she put down, say, five hundred thousand dollars and financed the rest.

I studied the picture of the house, which is actually an estate – a HUGE estate – and I began to wonder how many full-time people it takes to keep the place up. Two maids, at least, a caretaker and a groundskeeper for sure. For fun, I Mapquested the house and was pleased to discover Stephenie lives only about nineteen miles from me. Why, she and I are practically neighbors.

While the carwash guys finished up with my slightly dented 2001 Ford 150 (what kind of vehicle do you think Stephenie drives?), I start fantasizing about being so successful as an author that I, too, could afford a home valued in the seven digits. One that I don't have to decorate with sale items from Ross and TJ Maxx. Next thing I knew, my brain started to do that shut-down thing again - like when I try picturing dinosaurs the length of a football field and living amongst them fifty million years ago.

Cathy Mc

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Writing Advice

Here's September's Writing Advice tip from Roxann Delaney.

I can think of a dozen writing tips, but the one that jumps out at me the most is to KEEP WRITING, especially during the tough times in life. It's often hard to do that when life is throwing curve balls, but immersing yourself in your characters and your story will often save your sanity and give you the break from a crisis that's needed to see things more clearly.

Has anyone turned to writing--stories, diaries, poetry--during a difficult time in their life and found the experience helpful?

Roxann Delaney

Monday, September 21, 2009

Retreating to Florida

Hello from sunny Kissimmee, Florida. My writer friend, Rebecca Russell, and I arrived yesterday afternoon for a getaway, to celebrate 20 years of friendship, and to work on our current books. She's writing a mystery and I'm doing a contemporary romance, but what we're writing isn't as important as the fact that we are writing.

I have to admit, I have little to report, comment on, or ask. My brain has completely chilled out. This morning I didn't have to feed my four cats, conform to my dog's rigid "rules" of morning decorum (which include when and how to have a chew stick, where I should sit while she eats it, etc.) or unload a full dishwasher. I didn't feed the birds, do a load of laundry or make up a bed. (Well, I probably should sorta make up a bed, since I'm in a condo instead of a hotel.) But the point is that I'm not in my ordinary world. I don't have to go to work at our office, where I manager the financial functions for our company, nor will I play grandmother later to my two granddaughters. (Well, that's kind of a bummer, but I'll make up for it when I get back.)

It's nice to get away. Now I hope I can actually get a new proposal ready and also prepare for a workshop I'm giving on Saturday to the Dallas Area Romance Authors.

Sorry I don't have any words of wisdom or suggestions or profound thoughts. My brain is on vacation! Have a great week, and if you're in the Dallas area, come see me on Saturday in Richardson, TX at the Holiday Inn Select. I'll be there unless my plane gets grounded in Orlando. Best wishes.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Soul Searching

Pam's blog on the 15th has inspired a bit of my own. First, I must disclaim that I don't work in corporate America. I'm a teacher, so I have a totally different set of pressures. Right now it's taking 60 ninth graders through To Kill a Mockingbird, teaching photojournalism, and reminding intro to journalism students to stop using I, you and our in news stories.

I confess, I've written very little this month, which is a tad worrisome to reveal as I know the Harlequin American editors read this blog and I have a deadline looming. But this is the time of year I must focus on getting school started. And as much as I love writing, when I die I'd rather have it written on my tombstone that I was a good mom and a good teacher rather than a good writer. So August and September are always about family and job before writing.

I am a huge believer in priorities. I'm also about trying to tackle fear and push through what TS Eliot called the Shadow in his "The Hollow Men." I also believe that if you wait for something, often times "way leads onto way" and as Robert Frost indicates, "I doubted it I shall ever come back."

Because I now you can't. This moment that you are reading this, this speck of time, only exists right now. Then it's gone, relegated to the past. It's the directions you are going, the choices you make and the paths you follow that matter.

So as I write this blog I'm headed back to the long weekends and weeknights of writing. Now that there are only 2 weeks left to the first quarter, I finally know all of my students names and can match those to their faces, and I have a better grasp on what I need to do to reach them. My own children are settled in school, and I can turn my attention to the people talking in my head clammoring for me to get their story done.

I learned long ago not to seek happiness, for that giddy feeling is often fleeting, and so I instead seek contentment with who I am and what I stand for. I've just come through a bit of a rough patch, but I'm in a better place, and excited for the future. And ready to get that book done.