Thursday, April 28, 2011

American Idol Results - That's Just Wrong

I was wrong about Jacob being the one sent home this week. But Casey? Come on. I don't know that I would give him first place, but I would at least send Jacob and even Haley home first. How am I going to break the news to my daughter?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A to Z Challenge Blogfest - W is for WIP (Work In Progress)

I have many, MANY works in progress. That's one of the drawbacks of ADD. It's great for creativity, but tough for sticking to one thing. But currently I'm using an index card outline system that allows me to jump back and forth from one WIP to another, as the ideas come. So what am I working on?

My main project is "Faithful," an action suspense involving Old Faithful, a cult leader, and lots of explosives. This one has been fun to research. I've got a nephew-in-law who is a physics professor and knows all about which explosives have the effect I need. It makes for some interesting conversations at family gatherings. Another friend is a jet mechanic and was nice enough to answer some questions I had about how to disable a private jet. He did wonder what in the world I was up to.

Currently my secondary project is "I Speak Geek," a humorous YA. I got the idea for this one after attending a writer's conference that was mainly aimed at science fiction/fantasy writers. Most of the attendees there spoke a different language, or at least a different dialect, that I did. (Not to say that science fiction/fantasy writers are all geeks, but a disproportionate number of them seem to have a better understanding of computers than I do.) So I started wondering, what if someone had grown up in a very intellectual family and understood all the vocabulary and inside jokes, and then could act as a "translator" between geeks and everyone else at school. All I need is a good plot.

So that's what I'm spending (most of) my writing time on currently. I'll post status updates again soon.

American Idol - Carol King Week

Carole King is one of the most prolific songwriters of her time. In over 100 hits she has written or co-written, there should be something for everyone. In fact, I thought all six contestants found the right song for their voices and styles, and even the three duets turned out okay.

First up, Jacob Lusk sang "Oh No Not My Baby." I don't remember hearing this song before, but Jacob did a great job with it. And that plaid suit and bright yellow shirt did more for him than the satin and velvet suits he's been wearing. And he danced! It was a fun performance.

Lauren Alaina sang "Where You Lead." It was interesting to watch her push herself even more. She was worried that if she went for the big notes she would miss one, and she did. But it just showed how well she could do if she took a chance.

Scotty McCreery showed a more emotional side than he has before, and a higher range, with "You've Got A Friend." It's like, "Hey, Scotty's a sensitive guy." He even held the microphone in a less dorky way.

James Durbin sang "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow." He sang the first lines acapella and proved (again) he has a really beautiful voice. And backstage after his performance he said that the performance was dedicated to his wife. Awww! Have I said how much I like this guy?

Casey Abrams turned the American Idol stage into a jazz club with "Hi Dee Ho." It was a very entertaining performance, but I thought it was more a platform to spotlight the backup musicians than a showcase for Casey's voice.

Haley Reinhart sang "Beautiful," another song I'm not familiar with. It seemed to be a great song for Haley's voice. But it was a little boring. Nice, but boring.

Tomorrow night, I think Haley is going home.

Steven Tyler's comments were a little boring tonight, too.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A to Z Challenge Blogfest - V is for Vacuity

According to Webster's, vacuity is:

1. Emptiness.

2. An empty space.

3. Emptiness of mind.

That seems to describe the state of both my mind and blog at the moment. But at least we have all learned a new vocabulary word today. Ah, but come back tomorrow, when we will discuss my WIP.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A to Z Challenge Blogfest - U is for Unplugged

No blog today. I am being unstructured. It's nice for a change.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A to Z Challenge Blogfest - T is for The Third

I just read a really great book, one worthy of telling everyone about. It's called "The Third" by Abel Keogh. Here's the blurb from his website:

When Ransom Lawe, a recycler in the Pacific Northwest, finds out his wife is pregnant with their third—and therefore illegal—child, he’s forced to choose between the government who proclaims a desire to save the planet and his hope for a place where his family can live in freedom. But with the Census Bureau Sentinels closing in on his wife and unborn child, Ransom’s choice will either save his family or tear them apart forever.

Abel Keogh offers a stark and haunting look at a not-so-distant future in this chilling new novel. Crossing lines between good and evil, freedom and oppression, and political and environmental responsibility, The Third is a gut-wrenching tale of intense loyalty and unconditional love."

I had heard about "The Third" from other friends, and I went over to Keogh's website to check it out. I like the dystopian genre, and it sounded interesting, so I read the first chapter, which is available free on the website. I was hooked immediately. The main character, Ransom Lawe, is a flawed everyman. There is not much remarkable about him, other than his above-average height. Honestly, the guy gets his butt kicked fairly regularly by the bad guy. But as soon as he goes to the aid of a stranger when everyone else just watches, he becomes the hero you root for. You have to keep reading, just to see if everything will be okay, because the possibility that everything might not be okay is so strong. "The Third" is a view of what might happen if people allow their government to take away too many basic freedoms in the name of the common good. I was riveted until the end. I hope there will be a sequel, because I really want to know what happens next for Ransom and his family.

So, seriously, if you want a really good book to read, click on the link above, go to Abel Keogh's website, and order "The Third." It's available in both hard copy and e-book format.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A to Z Challenge Blogfest - S is for Sigh of Relief

Today was my last working day on my day job. For another week and a half, I am using up personal leave, holiday leave, and some vacation time. It hasn't quite sunk in yet - still feels like I just finished my work for the week. Maybe by Monday, when I don't have to sign on and start typing, it will seem real.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A to Z Challenge Blogfest - R is for Results of American Idol

I was half right. I predicted Jacob, Stefano, and Haley in the bottom three, and I was right. But I thought it would be Jacob going home this time, and instead it was Stefano. I'll go out on a limb here and predict Jacob going home next week.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A to Z Challenge Blogfest - Q is for QUIT

How fortuitous. Today is brought to you by the letter Q, which stands for Quit, as in, I just quit my job today. Really. I officially gave my two-week notice this very morning.

For 11 years, medical transcription has been my day job, and writing has been my "whenever I can fit it in" thing. Except it just didn't fit in very well between the 8 hours a day of work, the wife thing, the mom thing, the homemaker thing, the church lady thing, and all the other things yelling for my time and attention.

Well two weeks from now, writing is going to have a firm time and place on my schedule every day. The kind of time which may only be interrupted by blood relatives and then only if they are in imminent danger of death. Except my mother, who can call any time.

American Idol - 21st Century Week

This season just gets better and better. The judges keep saying anybody could win. I don't know about that, but I think at least half the contestants right now could win IF they make the right song choices and have great performances for the rest of the season.

That opening number, though, kind of made me wish I hadn't watched the first few minutes of the show. "So What" by Pink is a fun song, and the girls did okay, although their voices are so different they should never sing the same note all at the same time. They just didn't match up. Then Paul came in and he didn't harmonize with anybody or anything. It was painful.

On to the real show.

First up, Scotty McCreery singing "Swingin" by LeeAnn Rhimes. (I've never heard her version. This was originally sung back in 1983 by John Anderson.) I liked this one so much better than what he sang last week. It was upbeat and fun and he got some of the "low ladykiller notes" in there. The judges were a little bored and wished he would take more chances. Luckily, they don't have a vote anymore. Scotty is doing what Scotty does and doing it well.

Next up, James Durbin sang "Uprising" by Muse. I finally understood the lyrics of this song and I like it. He brought in a drum corps! I love this guy! Every week I look forward to seeing how he is going to top his last performance. Does it hurt his vocal cords to sing that high?

Haley Reinhart took on "Rolling In The Deep" by Adele. I think the style was a good one for Haley, but she was losing control of the notes, which I thought was odd, because Haley has a lot of vocal control, normally.

Jacob Lusk sang "Dance For My Father" by Luther Vandross. I couldn't help comparing Jacob to Luther and the comparison was not good. Yes, everyone (the judges) compares Jacob to Luther, but I don't think the comparison bears much close scrutiny. At least not this close. Luther's voice is like butter and Jacob's was a little more like the chunks of butter floating around in the buttermilk when the churning is only half done.

Casey Abrams did "Harder to Breathe" by Maroon 5. (Side note: My daughter could barely contain herself, saying, "My favorite contestant is singing a song by one of my favorite groups! I love Casey!") As Randy said, "Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!" Casey is a rocker, too! He's another one that brings something new every week.

Stefano Langone channeled Neo with "Closer." So Producer Jimmy gave him a lecture about being confident, so Stefano was really acting confident on stage. This guy is improving every week. All the little girl voters just might put him through to the finale, but I hope not. Yeah, he's improving, but he's still not one of my favorites. When he throws his head back and hits those really big notes he reminds me of that little kid's fishing game where you have to get the magnet on the little plastic fishing pole to grab the magnet in the little plastic fishes mouth.

Lauren Alaina closed the show with "Born to Fly" by Sara Evans. Lauren really does have a very special voice. She lets it show a little bit more every time. The judges gave her a huge pep talk about just going for it and seeing what her voice can do. I look forward to seeing what she does with all that encouragement next week.

My picks for the bottom three this week are Jacob, Stefano, and Haley. I think Jacob will go home.

Unless Lauren comes out next week and knocks everyone sideways, I still think this is going to come down to Scotty and James in the finale. The winner will depend upon which is stronger, the country vote, or the rocker vote. But Lauren and Scotty could split the country vote, giving James the win.

This week's Tylerisms:

"I wish you would have boot scooted around a little more."

"God says all men are created equal and some are more equal than others."

And this was all for James:

"You stay out of my closet now. Mad Max meets storm troopers on Melrose. You'd be surprised how expensive it costs to look this cheap. I sounds like you're going in a T-Rex direction."

But Ryan, coming out in a fake red beard, had the funniest line of the night. "This is what it feels like to be a man??"

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A to Z Challenge Blogfest - P is for Pioneer Woman

Have you heard of the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond? I discovered her through a friend on Facebook. She has this blog, where she shares fabulously yummy recipes and documents her life as a former big city girl transplanted to a ranch. After reading her blog, I discovered Ree had written a book chronicaling the true story of how she met and married a cowboy, whom she refers to as Marlboro Man. The Pioneer Woman, Black Heels to Tractor Wheels is romantic with some hilarious moments thrown in, and just when you think that's all there is to the story, she throws in some drama. I've had a lot of fun reading it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A to Z Challenge Blogfest - O is for Oh, How I Hate Filing Taxes

I've been working on filing taxes for most of the day. I tried to find our 2009 AGI, but last year's return has mysteriously disappeared. I looked EVERYWHERE! Then I found out we didn't really need it. Urrgh! Every year I promise myself I will start the tax return in January, and every year I wait until the very last minute. So that's all I'm blogging about tonight. My brain is tired. Goodnight.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A to Z Challenge Blogfest - N is for New Background

Today is brought to you by the letter N. For quite a while today, the only N word I could think of was "nothing." It didn't help that I looked at my friend Christine's post over at DayDreamer this morning.

But then as I looked at my blog, I realized I had not changed the design for quite a while. Voila! N is for New Background! I picked this one up at Scrap-E-Blogs. It's called "Green Blue." How do you like it?

Friday, April 15, 2011

A to Z Challenge Blogfest - M is for Mom

Right now I'm being a mom, waiting up for a teenager to get home, when I would really like to go to bed and go to sleep. But knowing that my child is home safe is a higher priority than sleep right now. That's one of the amazing things I've learned since becoming a mother. It is possible for a sacrifice to be no sacrifice at all, because my priorities changed. I'm a mom.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A to Z Challenge Blogfest - L is for LDStorymakers

That's pronounced LDS Storymakers. Yeah, I know, why didn't they just put another S in there? Anyway, despite the missing S, they are an awesome group of writers who originally got together to support each other, and later branched out to support up and coming writers. To that end, they created the annual LDS Storymakers Writers Conference, which has grown from a group of about 35 attendees at the Little Brown Theater in Springville, Utah, to this year's conference in Salt Lake City, which will have over 400 attendees.

I was lucky enough to attend the first conference at a time when I was just starting to get serious about my writing. I've been to every conference since then, and I plan to keep going, because I made a great discovery there. Published writers are real people, just like me. They started out with a talent for writing and a desire to share that talent, just like me. I found a whole new peer group of writers, both published and unpublished, who actually think the way I do. I've also learned so much about the craft of writing and the world of publishing. I've learned to believe that someday soon, I'll be a published author too.

American Idol Movie Week - The Results

So Haley, Paul, and Stefano were in the bottom three, and Paul was sent home. It's about time. I'm sure Paul has an audience he appeals to, but I am not part of it.

American Idol - Movie Week

Drat! Our cable went out for a while last night and we missed the first three performances. Luckily, they were on YouTube today.

Paul McDonald had the first spot of the night and sang "Old Time Rock and Roll" by Bob Seiger, from the movie "Risky Business." This was a better song for his voice and style, but I couldn't help comparing him to Seiger. He just didn't own it. And every time I hear that song I think of Tom Cruise sliding across the floor, and I'm afraid Paul didn't measure up to that performance either. Was that a new rose suit, or the same one dyed black?

Lauren Alaina sang Miley Cyrus' "The Climb" and I think she did it better than Miley. This young lady could have a bigger career than Miley Cyrus, without the boost of her own Disney Channel show or a famous daddy to get her started.

Stefano Langone sang "End of the Road" by Boyz II Men from the movie Boomerang. I think Stefano has found his niche - boy band songs.

Scotty McCreery sang "I Cross My Heart" by George Straight from the movie "Pure Country." This wasn't one of my favorite performances of his this season. Yes, it's very country and Scotty's very country and all that. But I thought it was a little high to really show off his voice. Still though, this guy is radio ready.

Casey Abrams sang Nat King Cole's "Nature Boy," from the movie "Moulin Rouge." I'm so glad he stood his ground and sang the song he wanted, rather than what the producer wanted him to sing. It was a great song to showcase Casey's talent. And he brought out the bass again!

Haley Reinhart chose "Call Me" by Blondie from "American Gigolo." She pulled it off. I think she chose another song that really showcased her unique voice.

Jacob Lusk sang "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon and Garfunkle from the "The Pursuit of Happyness." Okay, I grew up with this song BEFORE it was in the movie. This was an okay cover, but not the greatest. Sometimes, Jacob's vibrato is so overpowering I can't tell if he's singing the right note.

James Durbin chose (of course) Sammy Hagar's "Heavy Metal" from the movie of the same name. Who would have ever believed we would see heavy metal on American Idol? No doubt, James has the chops for metal. With the difference between last week's song and this one, I think he is proving himself to be one of the most versatile singers this season.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A to Z Challenge Blogfest - K is for Kindle

I do not have a Kindle. Or a Nook. I have an Android, on which I have downloaded both the Kindle and Nook apps. So far I really don't see any difference between the two. Of course, I'm seeing them both on a 2" x 4" screen. Maybe if I was looking at an actual Kindle or Nook I would be able to see the difference between the screen resolution or something. But I don't really need that. When I'm reading a good book, all I need is to lose myself in the words. It doesn't matter that I have to turn the virtual page every two or three paragraphs or that I'm reading a column only as big as in a small Bible. It doesn't matter in what form the words are presented. "The story's the thing." And I didn't have to buy an expensive gizmo just to read books.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A to Z Challenge Blogfest - J is for Just Shoot Me

Tonight I'm wondering why I signed up for this Blogfest. I have been doing laundry and other assorted household chores all day, none of which start with the letter J. Bleh.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A to Z Challenge Blogfest - I is for Inspiring Blogger Award

Deirdra Eden-Coppel at A Storybook World gave me the Inspiring Blogger Award last week. I saved it until now, for the letter "I." Thanks, Deirdra!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A to Z Challenge Blogfest - H is for Hermit

According to Professor Wikipedia, a hermit is "a person who lives to some degree, in seclusion from society. That would be me. I don't live in a cave up in the mountains and avoid contact with others or anything. But because of my work, hobbies, and natural inclinations, I'm not a social butterfly.

I work as a medical transcriptionist, which involves listening to dictation of a medical procedure and turning it into a legal document. You've heard of voice recognition software? I do the same thing, but I'm better at it. I am also paid according to the amount of work I produce, so interacting with others, live or virtual, is an interruption that cuts into my paycheck.

My hobbies include reading and writing, both of which tend to be solitary pursuits. I have been known to hide from everyone so I can read a really good book or get some writing done. When someone interrupts me, I try not to be annoyed, but it can be difficult.

By natural inclination, I'm an introvert. I heard this great comparison once that made perfect sense. Introverts and extroverts may be equally skilled at social interaction. But that very social interaction will charge an extrovert's batteries at the same time it drains the introvert's batteries. The extrovert could be with friends 24/7. The introvert must withdraw and have some personal time to charge up again.

The funny thing is, my "hermitting" disappears when I am with another group of writers. I morph into an extrovert, or as close as I will ever be.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A to Z Challenge Blogfest - G is for Green Smoothie

Not too long ago I started hearing about green smoothies. It's more than just running fruits and vegetables through a juicer and strip out all the fiber. You start with a really powerful blender and throw in all kinds of good stuff - fruits, vegetables (particularly dark leafy greens), odd things like flax seed, and whatever else is good for you. Whip it all up into a drink, fiber and all, and you have the equivalent of about 10 or 15 servings of fruits and vegetables. But instead of chewing through a humongous salad, you just drink it. I'm not really a big fan of vegetables. I know I need to eat right to be healthy, but most vegetables are kind of hideous. I decided to give it a try.

So I found this Ninja blender. That's really what it's called, the Ninja blender. It has blades that could be lethal weapons. The first time I tried it, it minced raw spinach into bits the size of pepper flakes. I was impressed. It's so much easier to get enough servings of veggies when they don't look like veggies. Add enough fruit and they don't taste like veggies either.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A to Z Chhallenge Blogfest - F is for Favorite Family

I've bogged before about the way my family plays favorites. We treat everyone as though he or she is the favorite. It's not too complicated. We just treat each other with love and respect. If someone is your favorite, you make sure they get a piece of the birthday cake. You ask about what they have been doing and give sincere compliments. It makes an environment where everyone feels welcome and safe. It's a nice place to be.

American Idol Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Week: Results

Are you KIDDING me? Stefano, Jacob, and Pia in the bottom three? Stefano, sure. Jacob, maybe. But Pia? And she was the one sent home? The only thing that makes sense is that everyone thought she was safe, so they didn't vote. Whatever. It's only a TV show. It's only a TV show.American

American Idol - Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Week

You know the contestant who impressed me most last night? Jacob Lusk. It wasn't because of his performance, per se. It was because of what he said before his performance. At first, he was supposed to sing "Let's Get It On" but chose not to because it was all about sex. Jacob is a church boy, you know. He decided Michael Jackson's "Man In the Mirror" was more reflective of his values and beliefs.

My second favorite performance of the night was James Durbin singing George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." I've seen him performing this on YouTube and I was hoping he would find a way to fit it into one of the categories this season. He has a really beautiful voice and this showed it off.

The rest of the performances were:
Haley Reinhart - Janis Joplin's "Take Another Little Piece of My Heart"
Casey Abrams - Credance Clearwater Revival's "Have You Ever Seen The Rain"
Lauren Alaina - Aretha Franklin's "Natural Woman"
Scotty McCreery - Elvis Presley's "That's All Right Mama"
Pia Toscana - Tina Turner's "River Deep Mountain High"
Stefano Langone - Percy Sledge's "When A Man Loves A Woman"
Paul McDonald - Johnny Cash's "Fulsome Prison Blues"

Everyone had a pretty strong performance, even Paul, although I had a hard time believing him singing about being in prison and looking so happy about it.

My pick to go home tonight is either Stefano or Paul.

Unfortunately, there were only two Tylerisms really worthy of note.
1. "You ought to put some wheels on that thing and ride it around town."
2. "You were all hat and no cattle."

The celebrity mentor, Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas really had the best line when working with Lauren Alaina. "You combine Country and Soul, and it's C-O-U-N-T-R-O-U-L." He tried to do the same thing with Country and Rock, but stopped short of calling it C-R-O-C-K.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A to Z Challenge Blogfest - E is for Embarrassing

I really dislike being made to look bad. Today on Facebook, I saw that a friend had "liked" a list about 100 things to do before you die. I thought that might be interesting, and so I clicked on it to look at the list. There were several things that looked fun, but then I started to see things about drugs and alcohol and things that I just had no interest in promoting. So I closed that list and left Facebook and got on with other things I needed to do. A few hours later, my sister messaged me and told me to go look at my Facebook wall. That little list I had looked at had automatically posted something on my wall that was quite embarrassing, and not the kind of thing I would voluntarily put there. I deleted it immediately. Why do people create these things? Is it supposed to be a joke? Not funny people. Not funny at all.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A to Z Challenge Blogfest - D is for Daydreams

I know sometimes it may look like I'm totally spacing out and daydreaming. What I am actually doing is working on another book plot. Okay, sometimes I'm just drifting. But I do find daydreaming helpful in writing fiction. I just think of a situation using the "what if" technique and we're off and running.

What's really fun to think of things that actually happened back in high school or college and think "What if I had done/said something different? I was a little more shy and awkward than your average teenager and had this bad habit of saying or doing things to completely embarrass myself. But with my characters it's a different story. They may say or do stupid things (wouldn't be much of a story if they were perfect), but they can somehow go back and fix what went wrong. I can have a character say that perfect comeback that I thought of years too late.

I wonder if that really cute guy from high school will recognize himself when my YA novel is made into a movie? What if I turn him into a football player instead of a . . . um, never mind.

Monday, April 4, 2011

A to Z Challenge Blogfest - C is for Christian

I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church. You can see by the official name that we are a Christian church. But still there are those who say Mormons are not Christians. How can anyone look at another person's belief system and say, "No, that's not really what you believe." To me, a Christian is one who follows Jesus Christ.

Of course, there are different definitions of the word "follow."

You can "follow" a sports team by watching what they do and talking about it a lot, even if you don't play the sport yourself.

Or you can "follow" in someone's footsteps, either by literally stepping in the footprints they have left, or by trying to do what they did.

My religion is a combination of both types of following. We talk a lot about Christ. We study his life and teachings. All of our prayers and ordinances are done in His name. We also do the best we can to live as he did, and incoroporate his commandments and teachings into our everyday lives. If that doesn't qualify as Christian, what does?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A to Z Challenge Blogfest - B is for Book Bargains

I love books. And I love bargains. When the two are combined, like they were tonight at Deseret Book's Ladies Night, I get a little euphoric. (And spend more than I really should.) Here's what I got.

Hometown Girl by Michelle Ashland Bell
The Lonely Hearts Club by by Elizabeth Eulberg
The Jaguar Prophecies by Phyllis Gunderson
Dearly Departed by Trust Pinkston
The Overton Window by Glenn Beck
Quick and Easy Freezable Meals from Barbour Publishing

I'll probably blog about the ones I like. So far, my daughter is enjoying Lonely Hearts Club, except she says the author tried too hard to make one of the characters speak "teen."

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools Day

This month I am participating in the A to Z Challenge Blogfest. "It’s blogging a letter of the alphabet every day the month of April (with Sundays off for good behavior.) It begins April First with the letter A and ends April 30 with the letter Z."

A is for April Fools Day

One of my favorite April Fools Day pranks was perpetrated by one of my college roommates. (I was the innocent bystander. Honest!) Janet was an assistant in the college chem lab, so she had access to all kinds of nifty things, like syringes. She filled a syringe with green food coloring, which she then injected into our roommate's eggs. So the morning of April 1st, the roommate took a couple of eggs out of the fridge for breakfast, cracked them open and saw dark green yolks. It was a little unsettling first thing in the morning. She got us back by spraying our toothbrushes with perfume. I had the strangest taste in my mouth all day long.