Thursday, September 30, 2010

Write Every Day Challenge, Day #18

I've got a couple of things to talk about today.

First of all, I'm so sad to hear about all of these recent teen suicides that are linked with their sexuality.  I know that we may never know exactly what drove some of these teens to take their own lives, but the bullying they endured because of their sexuality had to be a major cause of their depression.  It's so horrible that things like this happen.  I know that "kids will be kids" and that pranks and bullying are a part of adolescence and childhood, but I know that I will be teaching my son that bullying is wrong, and that kindness is the key to becoming a good person.

On a much lighter (and crazier) note, if you haven't heard this story yet, go to this link:  (Actually, I guess this isn't a "light" subject, but it's definitely not as depressing.)  First of all, it amazes me how awesome our technology is these days.  Second of all, is this not what all SF writers dream about???  There has always been ideas of earth-like planets, other planets teeming with life, and now the idea seems actually possible!  Of course, it's 20 light years away and has crazy temperatures so the idea of the life on this planet being like us is slim, and the chance of humans visiting this planet in my lifetime is even slimmer, but this is just amazing!  I have always thought that, given the fact that new species are discovered on earth all the time, we shouldn't limit ourselves to believe that we are the only planet with life out there.  But it was always a theory, an idea, a dream.  And now scientists have discovered that there's this planet out there with a high possibility of life forms on it!  I know, I know, there's no proof yet that there is life on this planet.  But to me, it just seems like life, in general, got a little more limitless.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Write Every Day Challenge, Day #17

I missed another day of my Write Every Day Challenge.  Darn, this is becoming a pattern.  So today is now Day #17 and I will write double today to make up for the missed day.

So today I think I'll voice my opinion on a recent hot-button subject:  Katy Perry's (lack of) clothing on Sesame Street.  (This photo is from the website

So the story goes that Katy Perry did a remix of her song "Hot N Cold" with Elmo for an episode of Sesame Street.   As I understand it (and I might be wrong), they released a preview of the segment and lots of people thought that her clothing was too revealing for the show, so Sesame Street producers pulled the segment.  

I watched a clip of it online, and I have mixed feelings on the subject.  I'm not a fan of censorship, but I do have a son, and that changes my views a bit.  However, my son, who loves Elmo, is only one, and he would probably just be paying attention to Elmo and dancing to the music if he saw this segment.

But then I thought about my best friend.  She has two children:  a 4 1/2-year-old girl and a 2 1/2-year old boy.  While her daughter may be "beyond" Sesame Street, her son probably isn't.  And while her son might not do much but what my son would do, her daughter, upon seeing this, might have a different reaction.  She might begin to want to dress like that.  Yes, Katy Perry is an adult and she can do what she wants, dress how she wants.  But when it comes to performing on a children's program, she has to think of the example she sets for little girls.  I personally would never dress like she does.  And I definitely don't think it's appropriate clothing for children under the age of 18.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Questioning the Ideas Around You: Write Every Day Challenge, Day #16

A "friend" of mine (I say "friend" because he's really just an acquaintance, but we're "friends" on facebook) posted this quote on his facebook profile the other day:

We were not born critical of existing society. There was a moment in our lives (or a month, or a year) when certain facts appeared before us, startled us, and then caused us to question beliefs that were strongly fixed in our consciousness -embedded there by years of family prejudices, orthodox schooling, imbibing of newspapers, radio, and television.  This would seem to lead to a simple conclusion: that we all have an enormous responsibility to bring to the attention of others information they do not have, which has the potential of causing them to rethink long-held ideas. Howard Zinn, 2005

This made me think about the time when I began to question the beliefs around me.  I was in the fourth grade, living in a suburb in the Bible Belt of America.  I was raised Lutheran, and sometimes I would attend a Baptist church with my next door neighbors who had a daughter my age.  Stephanie and I were good friends, but I had another friend, Kelli, who I thought of as my best friend, and I think that Stephanie was a little jealous of this fact, especially since I had known Stephanie longer.  But I enjoyed spending time with both of them, and I enjoyed going to church with Stephanie and her family.

Then, one day, Kelli's dad died.  He had a sudden heart attack just after running/biking around a park with Kelli.  I remember my parents telling me about it, and my whole world view changed.  I suddenly was so overcome with grief for my friend, and so scared at what would happen to me if my father was to die.  I spent that school day with Kelli at her house.  I remember giving her a hug and watching television with her while our mothers talked.  While this was a horrible event, and it surely was worse for Kelli than for me, this wasn't the event that started making me question things around me.  

That event happened a few days later, when Kelli came back to school.  I remember being on the playground with her, and Stephanie came up to us, and I don't remember the whole conversation, or if there was even anything said besides what Stephanie said to Kelli.  She told Kelli that her dad, who had just died, was going to hell because he didn't go to church.  Now I know that Stephanie was just a kid (we were only 9 or 10), and that she probably was just upset that Kelli was getting most of my attention before her father died, and certainly was getting all of my attention since her father died.  I do not hate Stephanie for this sentence (although Kelli might), because I do not think that she was really that horrible of a person.  I'm sure, if Stephanie remembers this now, she feels incredibly guilty for saying this.  She is not a bad person.  

But neither is Kelli and she did not deserve to hear something like that.  And her father, although I did not know him well, was not a bad person either.  So this statement did not sit well with me at all.  I disagreed with the idea that not going to church meant you were headed for hell.  I also disagreed with the idea that the simple act of going to church meant that you were safe from eternal damnation.  These two ideas may seem like they are the same thing, but they are not.  People can be horrible and go to church, but this shouldn't mean that they won't go to hell simply because they attend services every Sunday.  

So thus began my questioning of the beliefs that were around me.  I started re-thinking religion.  I started re-thinking things that were important to my 9 or 10-year-old mind:  being popular vs. being a so-called dork; doing what others wanted me to do vs. what I wanted to do or thought was right; etc.  And I realized, at some point, what I now know to be the utmost important thing in life:  kindness.  I know this sounds very "make love not war" or like I'm a hippy or something, but I really believe that being kind to others is the most important thing, for me, in life.  And this affects everything that I do, every idea I have about the world, about politics, about religion, about society.  You might call me crazy, think that I'm unrealistic and too optimistic (actually, I think of myself as more of a rationalist), but I truly believe that, simply with more kindness, the world will be a much better place.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Write Every Day Challenge, Day #15

I missed three whole days of my Write Every Day Challenge!  Boy, I stink at this!  So I'm going to do what I've done before when I missed a day.  Today will be Day #15, even though I should be much farther than that by now, and I will write something for every day that I've missed.  So I have a lot of writing to do!

I thought that I might get a bit of that writing behind me since I went to the first meeting for this year's NaNoWriMo.  But I should have known better.  We never get any writing done in those meetings, especially the ones not in November!  We always have so much to talk about.  But we had fun and we've got some ideas for upcoming NaNo meetings.  This year should be a blast!

I watched the new trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:  Part 1 the other day online.  It was awesome!  It included quite a few scenes that weren't in the previous trailers.  I'm so excited for the movie!  It's less than two months away now!  Yea!!!  Head over to Mugglenet to watch the new trailer (and for all things Harry Potter, for that matter).

Anyway, I'd better get to that writing.  I think I'm going to try some more of the prompts from

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Write Every Day Challenge, Day #14

14 days down on the Write Every Day Challenge!  2 weeks, woot woot!

So I've just got some more random things for you today:

1)  Why oh why do they have to show Dairy Queen commercials on television in a state that does't even have Dairy Queens anymore?  It makes me want a Blizzard soooo bad!  Oh, wait, I'm wrong.  I just went to their site and found out that there are several in my state, just not that close to me.  I apologize, Dairy Queen gods, you have not completely failed me.  I guess next time I see a commercial for a Brownie Batter Blizzard, I'll pick my happy ass up off the couch and drive 40+ miles to get one!

2)  I am soooo loving the blog Mark Reads Harry Potter.  So is my husband.  He said yesterday that Mark can't put down Harry Potter, and we can't put down his blog!  It's hilarious.  A definite must-read if you are a Harry Potter dork like me.

3)  Speaking of Harry Potter, the new trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 goes online tonight at 9/8 central.  I'll be heading over to Mugglenet to view it.  So excited!

4)  I almost hit one of my friends today.  One of my friends!!!  I'm a dork.  I was backing out of a parking spot and yes, I looked behind me, and he must have been in my blind spot for a second, because when I looked again, there he was.  I wasn't that close to hitting him, but you get the picture.  When I realized who it was I debated whether I should say hi (he worked with me at my previous job and we're friends on facebook but we're not real close) and before I knew it, he was inside.  I'm a double dork.  I sent him a message on facebook apologizing for both almost hitting him and not saying hi.  Triple dork.

5)  I'm only halfway through Oryx and Crake  It's going sssllllooooowww.  It's not that I don't like it, it's just that it's not action-packed and I'm so interested in other things right now (like Mark Reads Harry Potter and No Plot? No Problem! and watching fall shows and taking care of my son, etc.).  I just did an automated renewal online so that I don't have to check it back into the library on Friday, but I still can't seem to want to read it instead of everything else.  Damn you, Mark, you've got me addicted to your blog!  I can't stop!  ;)  Hopefully I'll pick the book back up soon.  I guess I'll have to, or just turn it back in, because pretty soon I'll have to start reading the October book selection for my book club.

So I guess that's all my randomness for today.  See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Mantis in Me: Write Every Day Challenge, Day #13

I thought it might be time to explain why this blog is called "The Mantis Connection."  Well, first of all, when I first decided to start this blog, I wasn't sure what I was going to write about (and I still don't have any one theme, besides the Write Every Day Challenge), so I couldn't give it any kind of specific title describing the content of my posts.

As far as the mantis thing goes, I simply love praying mantids.  Yes, spell-checker, the plural is "mantids," "mantises," or "mantes," so stop it with your annoying squiggly red lines.  

I have always loved them.  One of my first pieces of writing, that I can remember, was a poem about a praying mantis that I wrote in elementary school.  My school actually put together a big book of student's work, and I remember my poem being in there.  I still want to go back and look for it and get a copy of it.

I have had 3 pet praying mantids, named Zorak (named after the awesome mantis on Space Ghost Coast to Coast), Zorak 2, and Buddha.  I also collect all types of praying mantis stuff, but I don't have much because praying mantis knick-knacks are hard to find.  Sure, there's tons of butterfly stuff and dragonfly stuff, but hardly any mantis stuff.

I always thought that if I got a tattoo, I'd get a praying mantis, most likely the praying mantis image that was used by the band God Lives Underwater (great band, btw).  This image is from the website  But, alas, I have always been too much of a wuss to get a tattoo.

A couple weeks ago, on an episode of Leverage, there was tons of art featuring praying mantids on the wall of character Nate Ford's bedroom.  I'm not sure if they were photographs, paintings, or what, but I want them.  I can't seem to find anything about them online, but just take my word on this, they were cool.  

A not-so-well-known fact about praying mantids:  the female does NOT always eat the male after intercourse.  It depends on how well-nourished she is at the time.  She may eat the whole male, part of the male, or none at all.  See, you learned something on my blog today.  Yea!  ;)

I shall return again tomorrow, to continue my Write Every Day Challenge.  See you then!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Still Recovering From Book Club: Write Every Day Challenge, Day #12

So yesterday I forgot to write again!  Gasp!  So I'll do what I did last time:  write this blog and then write in some other way to make up for my lost day, and today will be Day #12 (it would have been Day #13 if I had written yesterday).

Book club on Saturday was fun.  We all had a LOT to say about Mockingjay and then we played The Twilight Saga:  Eclipse Movie Board Game.  A couple of the girls in my book club are total die-hard Twilight Saga fans and they kicked our butts.  I came in fourth, but only because two girls left before the game was over.  We all brought our "last meals" (what we would want to eat as a last meal), and we had quite a spread!  I brought sushi, and the others brought ribs, chicken parmesan, salad, ice cream, and cake.  We all ate too much and drank waaay too much wine and had lots of fun!  I heart my book club!  ;)

My husband and I have been reading the blog Mark Reads Harry Potter ever since I found out about it a couple days ago.  It's hilarious!  I'm still on the posts about Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, but my husband is ahead of me and I keep hearing him giggle and I want to get to what he's reading!  We both think that Mark's next project should be The Hunger Games trilogy.  

I'm gearing up for NaNoWriMo, and I think I may be onto a plot.  I think we're supposed to have our first meeting this coming Sunday.  I'm excited!

I'm not sure what else to write about today, so I'll go ahead and work on my other writing task.  I'll be back tomorrow (hopefully) with Day #13 of my Write Every Day Challenge!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Few Random Things: Write Every Day Challenge, Day #11

A few random things today...

On my last post I decided that, since I had missed a day of my Write Every Day Challenge, I would write more than just a blog post on Day #9.  I looked online and found a website called Creative Writing Prompts.  I perused the different prompts and found one that caught my eye:  #4 challenges you to rewrite the ending of Cinderella so that the glass slipper actually fit on one of her ugly stepsisters.  This is right up my alley, because in high school I wrote poem that was a different take on Cinderella, and I love the books of Gregory Maguire (Wicked:  The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the WestConfessions of an Ugly Stepsister; and Mirror, Mirror).  So off to write I went.  I wrote a bit that day, and a bit more yesterday (to fulfill my quota for Day #10), and let me tell you, I had so much fun doing it!  It reminded me just how much fun I can have while writing, while making up characters and describing their actions.  If NaNoWriMo is anything like that for me this year, I'm sure to reach the goal of 50,000 words!  I also found No Plot? No Problem! at the library yesterday!  Score!

I went to see Scott Pilgrim vs. the World last night with my friend, Courtney.  It was great!  I'd like to write a review of it someday, but I think I'll watch it again first.

I was on Mugglenet the other day and they had a post about this really cool looking blog:  Mark Reads Harry Potter.  It's this guy who is reading the Harry Potter books for the first time, and posts about each chapter after he reads them.  He only knew a few things about Harry Potter before he began his quest, and he asks his readers to not reveal any spoilers within their comments (he is currently on The Half-Blood Prince).  I've only read one of his posts, but this seems like a great blog!  He uses a lot of adult language, so this blog isn't really for kids, but adult lovers of Harry Potter will get a kick out of it!  Oh, and there's supposed to be a new trailer for The Deathly Hallows, Part 1 online on Wednesday!  Sooo excited!

So tonight I have book club!  We're (finally) discussing Mockingjay.  We all love this series, so we are all going to have a lot to say!  We are also doing a kind of potluck thing this time:  only we're each bringing a dish that we'd want to have as our last meal.  We were inspired by the meals that Katniss and Peeta eat on the train on their way to their first Games.  I'm bringing some sushi.  I wanted to bring escargot (my absolute favorite!) but I wasn't sure that others would like it as much as I do.  I'm so ready for the meeting;  it should be a blast!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A New Writer: Write Every Day Challenge, Day #9

So I completely forgot to write yesterday!  Shame on me!  But instead of starting all over again, today will be Day #9 (yesterday was supposed to be Day #9), and I will write two different ways today:  this blog and another type (free write, work on my old Script Frenzy script or NaNoWriMo novel, etc.).  I know this kind of negates the "Write Every Day" idea, but I can't keep starting over every time I miss one day.  I really will try not to miss any more days, though.

So since I've been doing this Write Every Day Challenge (or actually, since I participated in NaNoWriMo last year), I've been feeling like my old self again.  I can actually say I'm a writer again.  I've always considered myself a writer, but for a long time I hadn't written much of anything, so I felt like a poser when I would call myself a writer.  But now I feel like I'm telling the truth.  So I started doing this challenge and I even bought myself an issue of Writer's Digest (I know, fancy, right?).  [Note:  I wanted to make a link to their webpage but every time I try to go to the page, it says "Server Error."  I'm not sure if this is an error on my end or their's - my husband would know, but alas, he is not home right now (he's at work - he's the one who makes the money in this family until I find my big story and become a famous novelist ;) )]

Anyway I read the magazine and have been looking at things online and suddenly I feel like I'm a new writer.  Like I don't have years of experience writing and a Bachelor's Degree in Creative Writing.  I do have these things, but all this advice on character and plot, tips on getting a literary agent, and terms like "blurb" and "beta reader" have me baffled.  I feel so green.

Luckily I have some friends who know way more about this than I do, and NaNo is coming up fast, so I'll have other writers to talk to.  I also hope to go to a writer's conference next year.

But until then, I'll just keep on writing, just keep up with my Write Every Day Challenge, and my writing can only get better!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Love Conquers Hate: Write Every Day Challenge, Day #8

It's been a couple days since I posted a blog, but I still wrote in other ways, so the challenge continues!  Write Every Day, Day #8 - one week down!

First of all, I would like to make a little disclaimer.  I know that my opinions are just that:  my opinions.  We all have our own, and they are all a bit different.  In fact, that's what makes this world so interesting:  we are all different.  And the thing that makes the U.S.A. so wonderful is that we are free to state, discuss, and display our own opinions.  I know that I am a Democrat in a mostly Republican state and that many of my friends are Republican.  When I say "some Republicans" or "many Republicans," I don't mean all Republicans.  I don't wish to create enemies.  I also know that I don't know everything about politics and religion and things like that, and I do not claim to.  I will never claim to.  Actually, in my day-to-day life you might often hear me stating something, and then saying, "But I could be wrong," because I could be wrong, and I know it.  I am also mostly Agnostic, with a hint of the Lutheran religion mixed in (I was raised Lutheran), which is also not the norm in my state.  Christianity is big here.  But that's another wonderful thing about America:  our forefathers came to this country to escape religious persecution of any kind, and we now are free to worship as we wish.

And there's the rub.  I hear a lot of Christians speaking of Christianity as if it is The Religion in America.  It may be the most popular religion in America, but it is not the National Religion, like English is the National Language (and that's a whole different bag of opinions there, but I won't get into that).  Also, our government is not ruled by religion.  Many people base their daily lives on The Bible, and that is fine.  But The Bible is not our constitution.  It is not the rules of America.  It may be the rules to many people, and, like I said, that is fine.  But it does not govern us all.  It also may be the largest religion in the world (I looked this up - I thought that it wasn't the largest, but several sources showed that it was the largest, closely followed by Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Non-Religious/Secular/Atheist/Agnostic - not necessarily in that order.  But then again, these sources that I found may be old, biased, or simply wrong - or they may be correct.  They were all a tad different, though.) but it does not rule the world.

My whole post today stemmed from the fact that I've been watching a lot of documentaries lately, mostly about religion and homosexuality.  First I watched Jesus Camp (see my previous post, "Harry Potter and Jesus Camp," dated 09/10/10), which was about children attending an Evangelical camp which "trained" them to be soldiers of God and where the adults preached to them not only about The Bible, but about how Harry Potter is evil(@#$!), and inundated them with Pro-Life propaganda.  Then, yesterday, I watched two documentaries about the war between Christianity and homosexuals:  Fall From Grace and One Nation Under God (1993).

Fall From Grace follows Fred Phelps, pastor of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, and his family as they attend church, spend time together, and picket events like the funeral of an American soldier who died in combat (I think it was in Iraq).  There are so may things to say about this.  I have known about Mr. Phelps ever since one of my friends called me one night in high school, crying and severely shaken up, telling me to call a certain phone number.  I called the number and was greeted with a recording of a pastor speaking yelling about "fags" and "niggers" (two words which I never use, and only use here as quotes) and how they're all going to hell.  Then, about a year later, I heard of the story of Matthew Shepard, and how Mr. Phelps and members of his congregation were picketing Matthew's funeral.  A few years later, I heard about a controversial group being formed in my former high school, where my brother was then a senior.  An openly gay male senior formed a group for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and heterosexuals alike - a group to discuss their diversity and to accept each other.  My brother was not a part of this group, yet he and all the seniors in that class endured picketing by the Westboro Baptist Church at their graduation ceremony.  The student who formed that group, however, got the upper hand - he heard about their plans to picket ahead of time and sent out emails asking people to pledge money to GLAAD or PFLAG (I don't remember which) for every hour that Phelps and his followers picketed.  The email went viral, and more money was raised than expected.  I've heard more stories about Phelps and his followers throughout the years, as they picketed more and more events, often dealing with homosexuals.

I don't really even know where to start on this.  I feel so hurt, so angered, and so infuriated by the message that Mr. Phelps and his congregation send out into the world.  They give a horrible name to Christians everywhere.  I am so thankful that I do not live in a country or time where this is thought by the majority of the population.  But then again, it seems like many people in America believe that gays and lesbians are inferior to heterosexuals (sure, some may say that they don't believe gays are inferior, but then they disagree with the idea of same-sex marriages.  Translation:  inferior, sinful, unnatural).  At one point in the film, Mr. Phelps says something about how at one time all the churches in America preached the same message that he preaches.  Sure, that may be true.  Back in the day, everything was hell-fire and brimstone.  But many things have changed for the better in this country.  We used to have slaves, and the majority of Americans now realize that this was wrong, that racism is wrong.  Women used to be considered inferior to men, and weren't aloud to vote, and the majority of Americans now realize that this was wrong, that sexism is wrong.  Things have changed.  Things will always be changing, whether you like it or not.  And I guess the main thing that got me with this film, because I was already used to their extreme hatred of homosexuals, was their hatred for America.  They think it's already down the toilet, that we're all going to hell.  Their hatred for homosexuals aside, they believe things that most Christians, most Americans don't believe in.  And they think, because we don't believe what they believe, we're all going to hell.

Going along with that whole statement he made about previous American churches preaching what he does, I found a wonderful quote from the second film, One Nation Under God.  This film was about Christian groups who exist simply to "cure" homosexuals.  They have used shock therapy, regular therapy, and a whole myriad of things to try to turn gays straight.  They base their view of homosexuality as curable on the out-dated thought that homosexuality was a mental disorder, and they use the Bible to convince these people that homosexuality is wrong.  Now I know that apparently in the Bible (see, I say "apparently" because I don't know this for a fact) it states that homosexuality is a sin.  But take the following quote into consideration.  Reverend Dr. Rembert Truluck,  of the Metropolitan Community Church, said on One Nation Under God:
One of the great problems that we face is that the Bible has been incorrectly translated by using the word 'homosexual' to translate a word in Greek that does not mean homosexual.  And so in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10, there are millions of Bibles in print that use the word 'homosexual' to translate the Greek word for 'male bed'.  The word cannot possibly mean homosexual and was not translated as homosexual in any English version of the Bible until 1946.  In fact, in the New Testament there is no Greek word for homosexual.  There is no Hebrew word for homosexual.  There is no such word as the word 'sodomite' which is used in Deuteronomy and in Judges.  This mistranslation of the bible to be used against gays and lesbians is not found parallel in any other field.

Also, on one of the films (I don't remember which one), a historian stated that this word that has been translated to mean "homosexual" actually meant something closer to "pedophile."  After taking down the above quote, I did some research on the Bible verses he referred to.  I was amazed to find that there are so many different translations of the Bible, and that, with each one, the wording was slightly different.  Some said "homosexual," some didn't.  And I'm not even talking about interpretations.  I'm simply talking about translations.

All I know is that I feel sorry for the people who are filled with so much hatred.  It is such a worthless emotion.  Why live such a life of hatred when you can live a happy life full of love?

I'll finish with another quote from Reverend Truluck:
Instead of just defending ourselves and saying that the Bible does not condemn gays and lesbians, let's go ahead and say what the Bible does condemn.  The Bible does condemn self-righteous bigots who decide what is right for other people, and try to enforce their religious prejudices and their hates and their ignorance on other people in a kind of Bible abuse that has been a great damage to the lives of many people.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Finding the Plot: Write Every Day Challenge Day #5

So with NaNoWriMo coming up in a month and a half, I've been trying to think of a plot for my novel.  As I said on a previous post ("Writing Away," on September 3rd, 2010), I came up with a plot but I think I've finally decided to save that for Script Frenzy next year.  It seems very visual to me, and I can definitely see it as a movie.  I also realized that it might be hard to put into a novel format.  

So now I'm officially on the search for a new NaNo plot.  I'm really leaning toward Science Fiction, because I really enjoy reading books (and watching movies and TV shows) in that genre.  The post-apocalyptic idea is really sticking in my head.  But I keep thinking these what-ifs (like, "What if this crazy thing happened to the earth?") and each one is immediately followed by "been done."  I mean, I know there are supposedly only so many plots, and each one has been done a million times, but that doesn't keep me from wanting to come up with something completely original.  I know, I know.  If I keep thinking like that I'll never come up with an idea.  I just hate the idea of coming up with a brilliant plot, only to discover that it's so close to something already out there.

I think I might order No Plot?  No Problem!, written by Chris Baty, director of NaNo.  It is written specifically to help you write a book in a short period of time without the luxury of a preconceived plot, characters, etc.  I am also keeping a journal of plot and character ideas.  Other than that, I really have no idea how to come up with this plot.  It's always been a creative problem of mine.  Even with my drawing, it's hard for me to come up with something in my head.  It's much easier to do still-life.  But I guess I need to quit shying away from the challenge.  There is an awesome novel inside me, somewhere, just waiting to come out.  I know that much.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Harry Potter and Jesus Camp: Write Every Day Challenge Day #4

So I saw the new Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 trailer during the Vampire Diaries last night.  It was awesome!  I'm so excited!  Only 2 more months!  Head over to Mugglenet or YouTube to see the trailer.

Speaking of Harry Potter, I also saw something quite disturbing and annoying today:  the documentary Jesus Camp.  It focuses on an Evangelical Christian children's camp that believes that training children to be fighters in God's Army is the way to take back America for the Conservative agenda.  (I use that term, agenda, because I always hear conservatives use it in a derogatory way towards Democrats, Liberals, Homosexuals, etc., and because this documentary is the best example of an agenda that I've ever seen!)

The director of the camp warned them about Harry Potter, saying that Warlocks go against God, and that no matter how much of a hero he is, he is wrong because he is a warlock.  Well, first of all, I'd like to say that Harry is a wizard.  I don't recall him ever being called a warlock.  I know these are synonyms, but I just had to say that.  ;)  Second of all, Harry Potter is one of the most moral, kind, loving, and peaceful characters out there.  Third of all, he is a character in a book.  But then, I have to remember that these people take a certain book (the Bible) literally, so I guess it makes sense that they would take other books literally.

This group openly states that they need to "use" children to further their agenda.  And their agenda doesn't end at spreading God's word.  The kids might think it does, but it doesn't.  They infuse their own political beliefs into their sermons, teaching kids about abortion before they've even hit puberty, then use the kids in a political demonstration in Washington.  I feel sorry for these kids.  Not because they are being taught the Word of God, but how
they are being taught (or "trained" as the adults - and kids alike! - put it).

All I know is, like I've said in my previous post, that hate is not a part of what I teach to my children, and although it might not seem like these children are being taught to hate, that is surely the next step.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Singapore and Stuff: Write Every Day Challenge Day #3

Write Every Day Challenge - Day # 3 - Gotta start somewhere! (I started this earlier but missed a few days so I restarted Tuesday, 09/07/10. I wrote a blog that day and then yesterday I wrote a letter to my son. I think that counts!)

So I'm not really sure what to write about today. I'm sure there will be many days like this, since I've challenged myself to write every day. So I guess I'll just make some random comments.

I was watching Top Chef and saw a shot of this awesome building in Singapore! My husband and I got out our iPad and iPhones and looked it up. It's the Singapore Sky Park at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Here are some pictures that I found online: (these are not my photos. They are copyrighted, I'm sure, but I'm not sure who I should cite)

So awesome looking, right? I'd be so scared on top of there, though. I would try to be brave and enjoy it. But I definitely wouldn't go into the infinity pool they have a the top:

Forget that! I mean, I know it's supposed to be safe and all, but really? Really?!?

Apparently there's even a cathedral up there. Imagine getting married there! How crazy would that be?

So, Fall TV has started! So far, so good. I'm upset that a few of my favorite shows (Leverage, True Blood) are at the end of their seasons, but I'm looking forward to other shows returning! So far I've watched the premiers of America's Next Top Model and The Vampire Diaries. They're both off to a good start! I'm really excited about The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family, and The Office. There are several other shows that will be recorded by my DVR, too. So, who knows? Maybe I'll actually write some reviews soon!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Soapbox Rant

So my challenge kind of fell by the wayside this Labor Day weekend. Instead of giving up, I'm just going to pick back up where I left off. Write Every Day.

I think I may get up on my soapbox for a minute. I'm really tired of all the hatred in this country these days. I realize there were times in the history of the United States where there was more hatred floating around, but I feel like we have evolved, learned, and become a better country. So why all the hatred?

All these people speak of "family values." Here's the problem: not everyone has the same definition of family. I have this old, 1974 edition of The Merriam-Webster Dictionary that used to be my mom's, which I use often. Here's the definition of family found there:
fam•i•ly \'fam-(ə-)lē\ n, pl -lies 1: a group of persons of common ancestry: CLAN 2: a group of individuals living under one roof and under one head: HOUSEHOLD 3: a social group composed of parents and their children 4: a group of related persons, lower animals or plants; also : a group of things having common characteristics

So, yes, this is a major definition of family. But it seems like, these days, most people automatically think of a family unit comprised of a mother and a father and children. But the thing is, that is only one type of family unit. There are families comprised of divorced parents, families where one or both of the divorced parents have remarried, families where there is only one parent (whether by neglect on one parent's side or by death), and blended families with children from each previous marriage. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. There are families with adopted children and foster children. There are families of married couples with no children. There are extended families, grandparents who move in with their adult children, grandparents or aunts or uncles that take care of the children. Cousins living in the same house. Children who have had both parents die, who are living with people who are not blood relatives, but godparents or friends of their parents, whom they had maybe never met but are now family. And then there are the controversial ones: the unwed mothers and unmarried couples living together with or without children, couples of mixed races, and the homosexual couples with or without children. I'm sure I've forgotten someone.

Another way to look at it is to think of yourself. How did you define your family as you've grown? As a baby, most likely your only family was you, your parents and your siblings. Maybe a few close grandparents or other family. As you got older, your aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc. came into the mix. You may have lost a family member or two or more. Then as you become a young adult, you may view your family as separate from you as you venture out on your own. Your parents may become extended family, especially if you find a spouse or partner. If you have children, you now become the adult in the family unit, and your whole perspective of family may change. As your own children grow and find their own spouses and have their own children, your view of family may change even more. If you do not have any children, grandchildren, etc., your view of family may stay the same as it was when you were a child, might include a spouse or partner, or it might simply be just you.

Then there are the changing roles of everyone in the family. You start out being a child, a sister, a brother, a niece, a nephew, a cousin, a grandchild. You may grow to be an aunt, an uncle, a mother, a father, a grandparent, a great aunt, a great uncle. Within those roles, you are expected to act a different way. And these expectations change with the times. Mothers were, until quite recently (and in some places, still are), expected to do all of the housework, do the child rearing, and abstain from working outside the home. I am a stay-at-home mom, but I think that I am a minority in that respect.

Then you have different cultures that come into play.

My point is, when people realize that every family unit is different, and that everyone views family differently, and that the roles of family are always changing, you can't expect everyone's "family values" to be the same. Where I live, though, it seems like this term means putting family and Christian faith first. It means that if you have "family values," you are pro-life and conservative and a Christian. Now, I know this is a generalization and that not everyone may feel this way. But it seems to me that this is what politicians, at least in my state and a few nearby, mean when they say "family values." It's like saying that you don't value your family if you don't agree with these viewpoints. They speak of morality, and I think they also don't understand that everyone has different morals, along with different "family values." Yes, we all know that murder is bad. Yes, we all know that slavery is wrong. Yes, we've all been taught the golden rule. But I also thought that, at least in America, we've kind of come to the conclusion that hate is wrong. That prejudice is wrong. That all men (and women) are created equal.

I have a son, and I plan on raising him right. Or what I think is right, which, in my state, might be considered wrong. I will raise him to be kind to his fellow humans. I will teach him to respect his elders, to be polite, and to not hurt anyone. I will raise him to be kind to animals. I will raise him to try to put himself into the shoes of others, to try and understand why people do the things that they do, rather than condemning their actions. I will raise him to understand that men and women are equal. That no one is superior to anyone else, whether you are white, black, brown, American, Mexican, British, Iraqi, Chinese, Korean, Pakistani, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Agnostic, Atheist, tall, short, thin, fat, pretty, ugly, straight, gay, bisexual, transsexual, rich, poor, male, female, Republican, or Democrat. He will learn that we are all human. We are all equal, and, in America, we all have the same rights and should all have the same opportunities. I will teach him, that, above all else, kindness is the highest virtue. I will not teach him to be intolerant. I will not teach him to hate.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Writing Away

So yesterday I challenged myself: Write Every Day. This is me doing it. ;)

I came up with a plot for a new book a month or so ago. I was really inspired by the movie, Inception. It's really amazing. My plot really has nothing to do with the plot of Inception, but more to do with using the actress Ellen Page as a muse. My main character is based on her and some of the characters she has played. I actually can see this story in my head, which makes me think that, instead of using it as my NaNoWriMo plot in November, I may stick it on the shelf until Script Frenzy in April, and turn it into a screenplay.

This, unfortunately, means that I need to come up with a new plot for NaNo. This is the hardest part of writing for me. I remember, back in high school and in my early college years, I would just write. I would sit down and put a pen to paper and write and write. I hardly ever crossed anything out, I was quite against revision for a while, and I never worried about coming up with a plot or metaphor or form for my poetry or stories. Even before then, I wrote tons of stories as a child, and I never seemed to have a problem coming up with a plot line, or characters, or anything. Then I took all these Creative Writing classes in college where you actually have to write in certain forms and read your work to the class and give and receive constructive criticism. My writing got better, but it slowed down. I no longer wrote several poems a day. I was lucky if I even wrote at all on any given day. I would want to write, but I'd sit down with paper and a pen or at my computer and look at a blank page. I felt the need to come up with some type of form, plot, metaphor, whatever before I could even begin to write the thing. I could no longer simply write.

It's still this way to this day. This is why this challenge will be so great for me. I've always considered myself a writer but when I have nothing to show for it, when I do no work for such a long time, I feel like I'm lying to myself and to the world. Now that I'm challenging myself to write every day, hopefully I will be able to return to that sense of freedom in writing. I need to realize that, as long as I'm writing every day, doing what I love to do, it doesn't matter if it's perfect. In fact, it's not going to be perfect. It's going to be horrible, lovely, confusing, amateurish, witty, repugnant, awesome and crazy. But it won't be perfect. But it will be me, and I'll feel more like me than I've felt in years.

Oh, and I started Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood. So far, so good!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mockingjay and More

First of all, Hello Laptop. I've missed you. I don't know why I neglected you for so long. Oh, yeah, I remember now. Jeremy got that iPad and I've had my nose in a book (make that several books) and we still use our other computer. I promise, I'll never make you sit in your case for that long again.

Now, down to business...

Wow. I finished Mockingjay this morning (I would have finished it sooner, since I bought it the day it came out, but I was re-reading The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, along with taking care of my now one-year-old son) and that's about all I could say at first. Wow. My Book End Babes book club, Chapter 17, will be discussing Mockingjay at our meeting on the 18th, so I don't want to go into too much detail until then. But let me just say that I never cry at movies or while reading. Well, I take that back. I've cried at a few films, but I don't think I've ever cried while reading a book. I didn't even cry when Sirius died, and I have a cat named after him! But I cried at the end of Mockingjay. I don't think any one thing brought on the tears: I just felt a rush of emotions after reading the final sentence. And now I have this incredible empty feeling in my stomach. No, I'm not hungry. Well, maybe hungry for more of Katniss and Peeta. I will miss them. But I'll always be able to read the trilogy, which I'm sure I will do, over and over again.

For now, what the heck am I going to read? My Visual Bookshelf on facebook is full of hundreds of books that I "Want to Read." And I can go ahead and start Chapter 17's October pick, since Ame told us what it was ahead of time. But that's way too long to have to wait to talk about a book. It's bad enough that I have to wait another two weeks before we talk about Mockingjay. To the library, I will go. I think I might pick up Oryx and Crake, a book my library recommends for those of us who like The Hunger Games. But will this, another SF novel, be too close to what I've just read? Should I go in a completely different direction, and try to read one of the classics that have been on my shelves for years that I have continually put off for another day? Maybe. We'll see.

But Suzanne Collins definitely did one thing for me. She reminded me (as did Christopher Nolan and his latest dabble in awesomeness, Inception) that I am a writer. I didn't just randomly pick from a hat and come up with a slip of paper telling me that I should get a degree in English, with that emphasis on Creative Writing. No, I chose that major and got that degree because I'm a writer. And good writing makes me want to write and write and write. It makes me want to think up a spectacular idea like the plots of The Hunger Games and Inception. It makes me remember that New Year's resolution I made and posted on 43 Things: Write Every Day. So here I go, 8 months too late. I will write every day. I already read every day. I already drink waaaay too much Dr. Pepper each day. I think I can sacrifice one Dr. Pepper and replace it with a good old dose of writing, whether it be this blog, or finishing that novel I started for NaNoWriMo last year, or finishing the script that I started for Script Frenzy last April. NaNo is coming up soon, and the sooner I get to writing each day, the more likely I'll be to actually accomplish 50,000 words this year.

Let's see if I can do this. (I think I can, I think I can!)