Friday, December 31, 2010

I Have Until Midnight

It's that time of year again to say goodbye to the old and bring in the new. That sounds like no big deal, right? We do it all the time. It's just another day.

NOT FOR ME.

I PANIC. I wonder: Did I do everything I set out to do last year and keep to the goals I set for myself year after year?

I'M TALKIN' RESOLUTIONS, PEOPLE!!! I make resolutions. I think I posted about this briefly when I first started blogging, but let's face it, I had no followers, so a bit of repeat here won't make a difference (It's HERE if you want to go back and read it).

Resolutions are meant to be life altering. You're supposed to pick these really far-fetched resolutions that will make you a better, smarter, more fit, generous, likely-to-do-it, kind of person. That's why it's so hard to make and stick to these resolutions.

When making resolutions, people don't think: I'm going to lose weight this year--and then put it all back on next year. Or, I'm going to be more generous and donate to my favorite charity--but this year and this year only, forget about those needy people next year.

SEE? Resolutions are meant to be made and kept FOREVER! F-O-R-E-V-E-R!!!

Breathe in breathe out. Everything will be okay. There are better ways to go about this.

Here's how I do it: I pick two resolutions per year. One is far-fetched, and the other is simple--designed to be a fail-safe.

For this year, I picked: Finally write my first book (lots of previously failed attempts). And my fail-safe was: Make one new meal per month that I've never made before to add variety to my family dinners. Guess which one I failed at? But I kept at least one and got halfway through the other. I have a completed book (actually 3 completed books) and made 6 new recipes this year.

Now I'm going through to check on old resolutions. Am I sticking to them? Let's see. One year I resolved to be more generous. Yep, I did the best I could with charity work this year. I focused on my kids' school, Haiti, NaNo, Miss Snark's and Locks for Love. My husband focused on the Challenged Athletes Foundation. At the end of this year, we feel like we've done the best we could to help others in need.

There was that year I planned to get in shape. I was iffy on this one at best. I did manage to participate in Camp Pendleton's Mud Run in June even though I was too busy writing my book to train. I vowed never to do it without any training again, even if that meant a little jog around the block every now and then. That one hurt but I made it back in 1 hour and 35 mins (you can read more about it HERE in an old post, there's even a video). I felt so bad about how hard it was to run this one that I started working out in the living room but then dropped that routine as soon as the kids started school. I'll have to work harder on it this year to stay healthy.

I was able to update a few pictures on my family tree wall, we did buy a new tree for the yard, kept up the vegetable garden, blogged at least once per week from the time I started, but I KNOW I've dropped the ball entirely somewhere. Last year we dropped the ball on making at least one improvement on the house, but we added bookshelves this year so I'm hopeful it hasn't been entirely dropped.

I think I know what I missed: I STILL HAVEN'T SETTLED ON A NEW SET OF RESOLUTIONS FOR 2011! That was a past resolution I made when I was in college. I promised myself I would make at least one new resolution each year for the rest of my life, no matter how big or small. Nothing like waiting until the last minute, huh? At least, I have until midnight.

It's almost easier to make the far-fetched one (even though I'm going to be stuck with it for more than one year) than to pick the fail-safe.

My far-fetched resolution is to query all year and land an agent. That's somewhat out of my control. I can't just say my resolution is to get an agent. I should actually modify that to say, in hopes of landing an agent. Otherwise, that would be like saying I have the power to choose an agent. I can't force an agent to like my work and want to work with me. But, I can say that I will continue to query throughout the year. I tend to query cautiously. I only sent 12 queries out this year. It wasn't terrible. I did get 2 partial requests. But I should have queried more. So, this year, I'm going for it. I'm querying like a querying fool, if you will.

Now, what the heck is my fail-safe resolution going to be? I HAVE NO IDEA. It almost seems easier to call my far-fetched query resolution the fail-safe. I have a lot to think about today.

I'll get back to everyone and let you all know what I picked for my final resolutions. I wish you all a Happy and Safe New Year! If I could make two wishes for each of you it's that I could read more about your journey or your life in querying and that you would all add an Email Subscription to your blog from FeedBurner since I tend to keep up more with those blogs and get behind on many of my other favorite blogs. But that's selfish, I shouldn't say all that. But I did, and now you know. I hope that you query and put up an Email Subscription box. If you can do either of those, please let me know so I can sign up or follow along on your journey.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Synthetic Ice Skating

Yep! I live in sunny Southern California where Christmas means mostly sunny days with a bit of rain from time to time.

Don't get me wrong, just because we live in a holiday hot spot doesn't mean we don't long for a white Christmas. We've got it covered though. No snow? No problem! We get in our truck and 4x4 it up to Big Bear where we play in the snow for a couple of hours and then shovel loads of it into the back of our truck and drive it all the way back down to our house and unload it on our front lawn.

Most people don't want to drive up the mountain to touch the snow. Probably because they don't have chains or a 4-wheel drive vehicle. That's okay. Plenty of trucked in snow for everyone. In several locations throughout Southern California, shopping centers and cities will pay to have snow unloaded in parking lots or grassy parks. It's free to stand in line to touch that snow. No sledding though, or snow ball fights. Just the wonder of touching the snow. This is almost as funny to think about as a decent fall in the snow.

What!? No black ice? No scraping windows? No shoveling? Easy peezy, right? Yep! More or less. There are always those rare occasions when it snows or gets icy out.

When I grew up in Utah, going to the grocery store meant risking slipping and sliding around with my grocery cart in the parking lot, frozen locks in my VW Bug, and falling at least a half a dozen times through the 6 MONTHS (give or take) of snow and ice. Good times had by all.

There is this one memory I have from a date I went on in high school while living in Utah: My date had just closed the door for me after I got in my side of the car, what a gentleman, I thought. After what felt like a minute or so of waiting for him to get into the driver's side, I looked back and didn't see him. I looked all around through the windows and still didn't see him. I wondered where he got off to just when he finally opened his door and said, "I slipped on the ice and fell behind the car." He was fine. It was pretty funny though. I still laugh when I think about all of the follies snow and ice brought into my life. My kids won't have those stories.

They will however, sit around and think about the times they went "ice skating" on faux ice. When it's too hot to keep outdoor ice rinks frozen, you wait for the shopping centers to call in the experts over at EZGlide Synthetic Ice, or if you live in a regular neighborhood you wait for them to call an equivalent.

I think because it's fake ice it should be cheaper to skate on. Sadly, because it's manufactured, it's expensive, at least to me, to skate on. I'm sure $13.00 per person regardless of age, isn't more than skating on regular ice, but it's fake, people!

Here's what happened when my kids skated on synthetic ice for the first time:



Do you have any good slip-sliding stories to share? Hopefully all of you are having a safe and fun holiday season! I won't be back until after Xmas.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

'Tis the Season to be Elfish

Click here for my Query Blogfest Entry.

Being Half-Elfish (no seriously, my ears are huge, my body is short, what else could I be?) I really do enjoy giving more than receiving.

It took me two weeks but I managed to bake:
18 mini loaves of Banana Bread
18 mini loaves o Zucchini Bread
139 pieces of Fudge
150 Lemon Cooler cookies
200 Fattigman's Bakels cookies (Norwegian)
124 Mint Chocolate cookies
200 pieces of Divinity

For a total of 849 pieces of baked goods divided up amongst 30 boxes of baked goods handed out to neighbors or mailed to family across the states.

Do you bake for the holidays? I learned this custom of passing out baked goods from my mom. I think it's nearly a lost art though. Mainly because baking is expensive.  I realize I do way more than most but still, a bag of walnuts is nearly $10. Nothing about holiday baking is cheap.

Let's face it, nothing about this holiday is cheap. Sure, I save a lot by doing Black Friday but I put all that savings and more into my baking, wrapping paper, tape, labels, postage for 150 xmas cards, postage for packages, and Christmas activities for my family.

So, for me, it's hard to dig that much deeper for donating to charitable causes. But I love to give. So, over the years I've found some charitable causes that don't cost me a dime, or hardly anything. Some years have been better than others so I've found ways to donate that don't cost a lot.

Locks of Love: I grow my hair out for two years and then hack it off and give it to Locks of Love, a non-profit organization that "provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis."
As a matter of fact, I just did it today.


 
 Can't donate your hair? Here's the rest of my list:

  • Lit World Book Drive I found this charity through Heather Kelly's blog Edited to Within an Inch of My Life. This charity takes new OR gently used books for their drive.
  • GoodSearch the search engine that donates. Just choose your charity (mine is NaNoWriMo) and search for anything on the Internet. Your chosen charity will earn money per click through.
  • Cell Phones For Soldiers I love this charity. It was started by kids. The goal is for you to send in your old cell phone which will be recycled and then soldiers will get prepaid phone cards to call home with. Are you getting a new cell phone for Xmas? Here's your opportunity to donate.
  • It's always a good idea to clear out some space for new toys. When we do that, our gently used toys go to Kids Rewind or Goodwill. Kids Rewind will give you cash "on the spot" for your gently used stuff. You can also purchase other gently used items while you're in there. Can't beat that.
  • It won't cost you a thing to cut your Box Tops for Education and take them into a public school of your choice. I've been on the PTA Board as the Auditor at my children's elementary and I can tell you for certain that collectively those Box Tops raise a decent amount of money that goes back into the school.
  • SunnyD, our most favorite orange beverage, has a Book Spree. Basically, schools that participate by turning over 20 labels/class will receive 20 books in return. The school that submits the most labels can earn $2,000 worth of books or $1,000 worth of books for their school. Get going. If you already drink SunnyD, then start saving up those labels for next year's Book Spree.
Charities Worth Your Hard Earned Money: (Something to think about in the New Year. Maybe add it to your Resolutions.)
  • Miss Snark's First Victim  Now, I didn't get a chance to participate this year, but I know many of you did. That hasn't stopped me from giving her a small sum to keep the event going. I hope to participate the next time. Any amount will do, really.
  • NaNoWriMo Your money doesn't just ensure all of us crazy writer's have an opportunity to participate again next year, it also provides for the youth writing program.
  • Any Soldier I love this program. There are a lot of soldiers out in the field that aren't receiving care packages, or letters. This cause collects donations and then puts care packages together and sends them to soldiers who don't usually get anything.
  • Adopt-A-Family for Christmas sponsored by the Salvation Army. My high school participated in this cause. It's epecially rewarding if you can get a group of families in on this. The year I did it, our donor family had lost their job, the mom was sick, and all they wanted was something for Christmas for their kids. My class got a tree and decorated it. We all bought gifts,wrapped them and then essenially brought Christmas to this family with a Ham for their dinner. We made sure the kids were at school so they didn't have to know their parent's couldn't afford Christmas that year. This was one of the greatest and most memorable charities I've ever participated in.
DO YOU HAVE ANY CHARITIES, NOT ON THIS LIST, THAT YOU PREFER TO DONATE TIME, MONEY, OR EFFORT TO?

DONATING BUILDS GOOD KARMA. AS A WRITER, I'M RELYING ON GOOD KARMA.

I HOPE EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU ARE HAVING A WONDERFUL HOLIDAY SEASON.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

My Query Blogfest Entry

“Taryn, who should I go to the dance with, Justin or Brady?” “Taryn, which car should I ask my mom for a Prius or a Jetta?” “Taryn. . .”

Ever since Taryn Powell turned sixteen he can’t seem to get away from these types of questions. Just how the dungeon master of the Dungeons & Dragons after school club became so popular is dumbfounding.

Taryn might be dumbfounded but he isn’t dumb. His popularity soared when he found out he was adopted after his real dad died and left him a book he doesn’t plan on reading, a trust fund with an undetermined amount of money in it, and a Mazerati.

He might understand his popularity but he hasn’t quite figured out that he’s only half-mortal and heir to the throne of destiny. Now, if he had opened up that book he set aside he would know a lot of things about himself and probably wouldn’t have offered random advice to the kids at his school. But he’s popular now and determined to finally get somewhere with a girl, and not just any girl--any big-boobed girl.

Before he can claim the title, God of Destiny, he must first get his mind out of the gutter and prove that he’s not the one ruining the lives of every kid in his high school.

My YA fantasy novel, THE GAME MAKER’S APPRENTICE, is complete at 54,000 words.

Sincerely,
Patricia A. Timms
patriciamcgehee@gmail.com
 
This concludes my entry into Jodi Henry's Query Blogfest. Please feel free to leave constructive feedback even if you're not participating in the blogfest.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Have You Heard?


Jodi Henry Query Blogfest Dec. 12th
 Jodi Henry is hosting a query blogfest from December 12th thru the 18th. If you haven't signed up you should. And I'm not just saying that because I don't want to be alone in this, because I'm not, there are at least twenty others ahead of me on this venture. And I'm also not just telling you because I get extra points for doing so--I genuinely think everyone should finish up their edits, realize that perfection is subjective, and help me clog up the system with a bunch of queries this coming year.

I say, if you're thinking of querying in the new year, then you better be working on that query right now. And what better way to grow a thick skin (necessary for querying) then to put your query up in all of it's glory for everyone to comment on? Right? Right.

I'm not sure which query to put up though. I have a query I managed to get two partial requests on but I've since decided to change the whole book from 3rd person to 1st. And then I have my NaNo book which I finished on the 19th of November and have already done a once-through on the edits, but I would really like to beef it up to 65k from 54k. Do you think 54k is on the low side for YA? My first book was 74k. Hmmm. Time for twenty (really just five) questions:

WHAT SHOULD I DO? WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO? ARE YOU NEW TO QUERYING? HOW ARE YOUR NERVES? ARE YOU NERVOUS TO QUERY AND/OR PUT YOUR QUERY UP FOR THE GENERAL BLOGGING PUBLIC TO COMMENT ON?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

In One Store & Out the Other: My Black Friday

 
1932 Great Depression
It's 2010 and I'm about to compare the competitive shopping we all so lovingly refer to as Black Friday to the bread lines of the Great Depression. I feel I've earned the right, somewhat, because I've just been through Hell and back over the Thanksgiving weekend.

2010 Black Friday Lines

I was in line because of the economic fallout but not because I was starving to death. That's probably the only distinction between bread lines and Black Friday. However, I can imagine that the bread lines included much of the types of stampeding that my group encountered. We not only had a group behind us targeting us for some type of whack-o hatred because they weren't sure if they would get their reduced price TV, we were also offered $100 to allow someone to stand in line with us since we were the first 40 in Target's line. My sister was run over by a cart and called a bitch and I couldn't get past a crazy girl to get out of the store without the evil eye and having to suffer getting my face fake sneezed on. Next year I'm avoiding Target's bread line at all costs. One of my group was offered $100 for his TV because he got the last one. We were shewing people away like flies. Hell, I didn't even know what a Sing-a-ma-jig was until I got the "Golden Ticket" to buy one. Do I need an exclusive holiday Sing-a-ma-jig that costs $14.95? No. But I was one of 50 people who got a ticket so I of course I bought it, that's part of the excitement of Black Friday--I might get something someone else won't. I've decided Black Friday should just be called the Bread Line Experiment.

My Black Friday Group at Target

I still maintain that I would rather go stand in store lines for hours than query during the holidays but that's only because at the end of the day I have the opportunity to get one over on the stores. I get to beat them at their game. I stood in line for hours and finally paid what I consider reasonable prices for toys and whatnots for my three kids and extended family.

In some ways the experience is a lot like querying. I got all the same stomach churning excitement out of the final few minutes before the doors opened at ToysRUs as I do when I get ready to hit send on a query. In those moments before I get in the store I wonder if I'm actually going to get the hot toy before someone else, or if I'm just going to come out of the whole night feeling dejected and insecure based on the comments of some stupid asshole grouped up in the line behind me. I have to put those negative thoughts behind me and remember who I'm there for, my kids. Okay, my bank account. I can get the toys in advance at a premium (or regular price but I consider it a premium) and still make my kids happy, but I feel so much better when I know I can buy $1,149 worth of toys for $552 (I saved 50% at ToysRUs, sure my cart was filled with items for my whole group but still, I saved over $500 on toys).

Now I just have to figure out how to feel as upbeat when I query. I need a way to remind myself of how I can get rid of those insecure thoughts, that feeling of panic that I might have screwed up and put the wrong agent's name in the body of the letter, or that someone else could write my story better. I guess I'll just have to remember what I go through on Black Friday and think querying is a cake walk in comparison (even if the result feels more personal than professional).


Me in front of ToysRUs Black Friday
IF I CAN DO THIS, THEN YOU CAN SEND THAT QUERY. . .
  • Number of stores hit inside of 16 hours: 6
  • Michaels: Opened 4:30pm -
    • Wait time: Virtualy none.
  • ToysRUs:  Opened 10:00pm -
    • Wait time: Outside--5 hours (4th group in line or #13-17)
    • Inside checkout line--Approximately 30 minutes.
  • Target:  Opened 4:00am -
    • Wait time: 4 hours (had a place holder in line up to 2 hours earlier, #40-45).
    • Inside checkout time: 2 hours in line.
  • Best Buy: Opened at 4am -
    • No wait, in and out because we didn't get out of Target until after 6am.
  • GameStop: Opened at 5am -
    • No wait. In and out because of Target.
  • ToysRUs: Second round started at 5am. In and out.
  • ToysRUs: Third round. Went back at 9pm on Friday.
Woke up at 6am on Thursday, went to bed at 8:45am on Friday.

This post is a follow-up to Not Me, I Won't Query.

IT'S ALMOST THE NEW YEAR. ARE YOU READY TO START QUERYING AGAIN?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Are You "Well-Read?"( I'm not sure if I am). . .

The challenge is: Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.

This post stems from Rach Writes and many others but I came upon the challenge at Rach Writes.
Instructions:

• Copy this list.

• Bold those books you’ve read in their entirety.

• Italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish or read only an excerpt.

• Tag other book nerds.

If you dare like Rachael Harrie, then underline those books you plan to read in 2011.

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Harry Potter series – JK Rowling (Didn’t finish all 7 but finished up to book 4)
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
The King James Bible Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
Nineteen Eighty Four (1984) – George Orwell [I've been meaning to read this one for ages]
His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
Complete Works of Shakespeare [Was a theatre arts major]
Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
Middlemarch – George Eliot
Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
Emma - Jane Austen
Persuasion – Jane Austen
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne
Animal Farm – George Orwell
The DaVinci Code – Dan Brown
One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
Lord of the Flies – William Golding
Atonement – Ian McEwan
Life of Pi – Yann Martel
Dune – Frank Herbert
Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
On The Road – Jack Kerouac
Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
Moby Dick – Herman Melville
Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
Dracula – Bram Stoker
The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson [I did read his A Short History of Nearly Everything]
Ulysses – James Joyce
The Inferno – Dante
Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
Germinal – Emile Zola
Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
Possession – AS Byatt
Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
The Color Purple – Alice Walker
The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White
The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
Watership Down – Richard Adams
A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
Hamlet – William Shakespeare
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl [But I’ve read James and the Giant Peach]
Les Miserables – Victor Hugo [In this list, if it’s a classic play then I’ve likely read parts based on my theatre background]

Rachael Harrie at Rach Writes believes there to be one missing on the list and added The Iliad by Homer.

If I were to add the 100th I think I might add Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling

I’m afraid in this list of 100, I am not as well read as I should be: 20 Read Entirely and 10 partial reads.

Then again, this is a subjective list. There are great books not on the list like, For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemmingway or Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe. There are books like Bridget Jones which pales in comparison to The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde on a list suggesting whether or not we’re well read. I like it though. It’s great to see what kinds of classics aspiring writers have read. I think I just might make another posting about what exactly is on my bookshelf after Thanksgiving. By the way, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

WHAT ABOUT YOU? HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THESE ON THIS LIST? COPY, PASTE, BOLD, ITALICIZE, FILL IN THE BLANK, AND MAKE SOME OF YOUR OWN SUGGESTIONS.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Not Me, I Won't Query

Made you look--*smiling, winking*

I query, I just don't query in November and December.

Personally, my November is stacked with NaNo, Thanksgiving, & Black Friday.

We all know, or understand, how draining NaNo can be especially when kids and holidays are involved. That should be reason alone not to query in November. Luckily, Thanksgiving isn't too bad beause the only family that lives close enough to visit during this time is my sister and her three kids. They live across the street, so this dinner might be bigger in food quantity but it is usually like any other day we hang out.  The only difference is that after we've eaten dinner and dessert has been served, my sister and I jump ship, leaving our husbands to clean up. You might be thinking we head off to another room for girl chat or to knit a scarf, no, no, no. We head out with several other bargain-hunting-moms for the start of Black Friday.

If you don't have kids, or your kids are grown, then you either don't know about Black Friday or you avoid it at all costs. That also means your probably wondering why we start on Thursday for sales that are supposed to start on Friday. The sales actually start on Thursday night. If you don't have a good system, or a team, you might be better off avoiding the rush.  Here's my system:
  • KNOW YOUR ADS IN ADVANCE
    • That way you know exactly what you'll be getting and where it's located in the store. Go one or two days before to check the layout. Some items are moved around in the days preceding.
    • These links have the ads in advance:
  • BE ONE OF THE TOP 5 GROUPS IN LINE
    • There are a lot of stores but none as important as Toys'R'Us for my group. We can be further back in other store lines like Target, Old Navy,GameStop, Best Buy, etc. (We avoid WalMart)
    • We're talking groups here and not the 5th person in line. You might miss out on a popular item if you aren't one of the first in line.
  • DIVIDE AND CONQUER
    • You can't be everywhere, that's why you need a team. Also, you can only really push one cart around the store and it gets stacked up fast.
    • Each member of your team will be responsible for an area of the store. For example, let's use Toys'R'Us where you have electronics, boys toys, girls toys, toddler, bikes, and baby stuff. You need at least 4-5 people in your team to properly conquer this store.
    • Figure out who is going where and then piece out your list to the appropriate team member. You might be able to meet up at the check out to hand off, except for electronics. Send the most funded team member into electronics. If you don't get to meet up then plan on getting your stuff at the end of it all and paying back immediately with a check. Don't forget, you have their items on your list too, so you will only be paying back what isn't covered in what you bought for them.
    • Don't forget your cell phones for communication but don't rely on them either because cell coverage in stores is sometimes poor.
  • BREAK UP AFTER THE FIRST ROUND
    • For us Toys'R'Us has two rounds of sales, each with different items. Last year, the second round was 4 hours later. (Be aware of which items on your list are for the second round and don't try to buy them during the first round. The cashier won't remind you and you'll end up paying full price for it.)
    • The team member with the most items to purchase in the second round will stay. You can put all the second round items in a cart and wait in the store. That's what I did. I missed the second rush this way. While I was twiddling my thumbs inside Toys'R'Us for 4 hours my team members were conquering Target which opened later. When I was done checking out I headed over to GameStop for all Nintendo DS stuff because they had better sales.
    • Note: Place holders in other store lines is acceptable in my area but might not be in your area. You may want to check and see how that works.
All-in-all Thanksgiving is a 24 hour day thanks to Black Thursday/Friday. My team and I won't return home until about 7am on Friday after starting at 7pm on Thursday.

Once home, the women sleep (or should) while the men and kids hang Xmas lights and put up outdoor decorations.

From there December is already booked. The baking I do alone is enough to do me in. I bake 7-10 items every year and hand out or mail over 20 tins of baked goods.

Can you imagine if I was querying during these two months? Holidays are busy and sometimes depressing (lots of money being spent, for one). Querying yields far more rejections than requests. Why on Earth would I want to get a rejection during these months? I might be crazy enough to do Black Friday but query during the holidays, no way.

The good news though, is that I'm one less writer bogging down the query system. Yay for you!!!

DO YOU QUERY DURING THE HOLIDAYS?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Would I Do it Again? Absolutely!

Regina, Jen, Darci, Me
Thank you to everyone who stopped by and viewed me and my writing group's NaNo lunacy on Saturday. I hope you got to see some of the good stuff while you were here.

For those of you who couldn't stop by or found us only during concentrated writing times here's what you missed:

The Zucchini Genie and Jen were definitely the stars of the show. The Zucchini Genie was the name given by Darci to one of the giant zucchini my husband and I accidentally let grow to a massive size in our backyard garden. See, my husband and I just switched out our summer garden for a winter garden but left one healthy giant zucchini plant. But because the winter veggies are still young and not producing, we sometimes forget to go outside to check on the zucchinis. Thus, we have been growing prize winning zucchini. What better way to enjoy a giant zucchini than to incorporate in into a 16-hour NaNo writing day? Zucchinis are extremely versitile veggies, not to be underestimated in any way. It came in handy for exercising with, passing it around for a game of hot potato, stroking it for inspiration, dancing with it, singing into it, trying to fit it into the Writer's Block Box (a box with prompts to get the thoughts flowing again), and for doing other kinds of R-rated things with.  Ha! Shhhh!  In the end, Jen got to take the Zucchini Genie home as a prize for writing the most words throughout the day although I would have just given it to her for her excellent impersonation of the Risky Business slide across the floor, that was hilarious!

Elton John
I went into that day hoping to come out of it with an extra 10,000 words of which I only completed 5,990. Boo! That's okay. I have a list of excuses for that: My husband got free tickets from an old work partner to see Elton John the day before my 16-hour day.  Let me tell you something, if you haven't ever seen Elton in concert, run out and get some tickets in a hurry.  The show was amazing. My only advice is to see him alone or with an equally popular singer, like Billy Joel. We saw him with Leon Russell who wasn't that great of a live performer. But when Leon wasn't on stage Elton was incredible. He was standing on speaker at the front of the stage, he did a hand stand on the keyboard before plopping onto his bench. Awesome!  However, we didn't get home until after midnight and I had to wake up early since my girls were expected to arrive at 6:30am for breakfast so I started my day tired.

That's not my only excuse. My writing group girls and the two regional NaNo girls were so much fun to hang around that I lost my focus just on the dancing, ass-smacking, pillow fights, back rubs, laughing, story telling, LiveStream chatting, etc.

I have a special thanks to Quinn of seeing, dreaming. . .writing, Michael (my drill sergeant) over at In Time. . ., Christy of erica and christy, my long distance writing group member, Nicole, and Katie my new writing group friend, for chatting with us on LiveStream. To Quinn especially for being there when we woke up and came back at the end to see us through to the finish. Also, to Michael for getting my butt in gear from before the camera turned on to the end. This part of the event was so much fun. Without all of you on chat, we would have been falling asleep or taking naps on the couch in the living room. You kept us pumped up and excited to be writing (goofing off) for 16-hours.

Another special thanks goes out to everyone who came by and left a comment on my blog in show of support. All the comments went to my inbox and immediately inspired us to keep on writing.

Most importantly, thanks to my husband, James, for feeding us and taking care of us all day long and to my Write-A-Tat-Tat girls for agreeing to such lunacy: Regina (my sister and blogger at Middle Distance Runners), Jen, Darci, Nicole and our two new NaNo friends, Katie and Susan.

I was tired all of Sunday, and I have a feeling I will be a little tired for the rest of the week but the writing continues. As a matter of fact, I'm on my way back to writing my NaNo story just as soon as I publish this post.  Write on Writers!!!

How is NaNo going for you? Are you asleep at the wheel or cruising at altitude?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

16-Hour NaNo Write-In


Watch live streaming video from simplicityinvolumes at livestream.com

Saturday, November 6th 7am - 11pm PST

If you've come along to view us (and can actually see us) please leave a quick comment to brighten our day and waken our minds. 

If you cannot see us right now (says Offline) then leave us a quick note in the comments so we can remedy the problem.

The day is supposed to start with 4 of us and then grow to 6 or 7 of us and then finish with 2 or 3 of us.  

We appreciate all love and support!!!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Not Commercial Free but We're Up!

Check it out, I've got a potentially very cool tool that will help you view us while we write for 16-hours starting tomorrow, Saturday, November 6th, Pacific Standard Time.  Our hours are 7am - 11pm.


Watch live streaming video from simplicityinvolumes at livestream.com

I've done a test run on this bad boy and have learned a couple of things: First, it occassionally times out and will show us offline. If that happens, just check back later and I'm sure we'll be back up and running.  We cannot let technology impede us!  We must work together if we want to conquer technological snafoos. Secondly, there are commercials. How annoying right? Right. The thing with that is simply we would prefer to use LiveStream for free with commercials than pay $350 for one month's use of it commercial free.So, be aware that every now and then a commercial will appear out of nowhere.

Lastly, and most important, we're writing. If you check in on us and think, man this is boring to watch, then you know, we're writing.  However, we are a bunch of giggly girls so expect us to laugh and carry on about absolutely nothing also.

Before the start of NaNo I figured I could probably write 20,000 words in a 16-hour day based on what I know I can average per hour minus the breaks for food and whatnot.  Now that I've started NaNo, I will be lucky to get 10,000 out by the end of the day tomorrow.  Why? Just in the first 4 days I felt like I was crashing. I was exhausted. My brain knew what it needed to write but I couldn't picture the scenes in my head to write from. And I was only producing 4,000 words per day.  However, I do have fragmented days with kids so my outside influences were definitely increasing my exhaustion.  Tomorrow there will be no kids to distract me so my goal is to write 10,000 words in 16-hours, if not more.  Every couple of hours I will post my word count with NaNo and you will be able to see on my sidebar what I've been able to accomplish.

If you could write for 16-hours, how many words do you truly believe you could pound out? Would you be able to write as many if you were in a group or would that number go down?

Monday, November 1, 2010

And We're Off. . .

I have officially begun my NaNo story.  I waited patiently for midnight to arrive last night and was able to get 232 words done before my eyes started drooping and my hands stopped typing.  I was tired.  Perhaps this was because of our fun filled Halloween with the kids and trick-or-treating, or, because I was so excited the whole weekend and finally just crashed.  I thought the late night Coca-Cola would help, or the five pieces of candy that my kids agreed to trade with me before finally saying, "Mom, I don't want to trade with you anymore because you don't have any good candy in your bucket."  It was true.  I only had hard candies left and no chocolate.  But still, no amount of caffeine or sugar was going to keep my eyes open.

At least I started though.  I've got all day to fit my writing in and then all night before I submit my first word count which I'm hoping will be around 3,000 words (Michael is holding me to it over at In Time. . .). 

Are you doing NaNo?  How's it going so far?  Is the start up hard or easy for you?

Well, I've mentioned over the last few weeks that I will be having a 16-hour writing event for NaNo.  You're probably thinking 16-hours?  Why?  Well, some of you might remember back in July that my husband, James, participated in his first Ironman Triathlon and me and my sister supported him through that.  When I say support I mean we followed him around far longer than the 13 hours and 19 minutes it took him to complete the race.  He was so thankful that he said he would host a 16-hour writing event for me and my writing group, Write-A-Tat-Tat. 

So, be prepared!  My 16-hours begins at 7am this Saturday, November 6th and we will be using LiveStream to let the blogging world in on what we're doing.  You will be able to (assuming we have limited technical difficulty) come here and watch us sitting around typing our hearts our, or pounding our heads on the table, whichever happens first. 

Consider yourselves invited to write along with us for 16-hours, or just to leave a comment to help keep our minds working and our eyes open!

Also, with NaNo in the air, please forgive me for falling behind on my comments, or postings as I will only be able to make my rounds and put up new postings one time per week.  Please understand and know that I will be back at it and in full swing around December (after a long winter's NaNo nap?).  If you're a Crusader, or a new Crusader, please don't think I'm ignoring you.  There are so many of you now that I really need to update my side bar to include your links.  I will do that!  Soon!  I promise!!!!

Fill me in on what's going on for you with NaNo!  Or, in your world of writing and querying! 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Am I Awake or Am I Dreaming?


“Am I awake or am I dreaming?” The first time I had to ask myself this question was in 1983. I was almost six years old. There was nothing out of the ordinary except that I was awakened from my sleep to the sound of someone yelling for help. I laid there in my bed wondering, am I awake or am I dreaming? The call for help didn’t go away, it got closer. I got out of bed and pulled the curtains to the side and that’s when I saw her; a girl in a long white dress with long black hair running down the sidewalk while looking behind her calling for help. She was being chased, but by what, I’ll never know. Before she faded away, she looked up at my window, into what felt like my eyes, and asked me for help. I’ve never seen her again. Later research led me to believe I saw a White Lady ghost which has been known to be a Harbinger, bearer of an omen.

Six months later I had to ask myself, “Am I alive or am I dead?” We rented an old house when my family moved to Ely, Nevada, an old mining town, for a short time for my dad’s job. One morning, not long after we arrived, my dad woke up for work to the furnace blowing black soot through every vent in the house. Since we moved there in the dead of winter, the furnace had been going on and off all night. Panicked, my dad ran around the house waking all of us up to get us out of there. We were all covered in black soot. We weren’t sure how long we had been lying there breathing it in but the curtains and walls were blackened when we woke up. We spent a week throwing up after that, lucky to be alive.

It didn’t take long for me to ask myself if I was awake or if I was dreaming again. This time I wasn’t the only one seeing ghosts, both my sister and I constantly heard, felt, or saw something unexplainable going on there in that rental in Nevada. One night I woke up and thought I heard my sister playing music on her clock radio. I didn’t want my parents to get up and yell at us so I went next door to her room and said, “Turn it off! You’re going to wake mom and dad up!” She wasn’t awake though and never heard me. I stood there listening to the radio changing stations by its self. I ran back to my room and hid, asking myself, “I am awake or am I dreaming,” over and over.


We moved back to our home in Utah after only six months in Nevada. Whatever was going on didn’t stay there, but then, it didn’t start there either. It was 1987 and I was ten when I found myself asking, “Am I alive or am I dead,” once again. We lived in a split entry level home where the front door opened to a set of stairs that went both upstairs and downstairs. Upstairs from the front door was the doorway leading to the kitchen where the kitchen sink was located. That’s where I was standing doing the dishes with my Walkman turned up practically all the way to Motley Crue. On this particular day I was annoyed that my mom kept bothering me while she was going around the house cleaning, forcing me to turn my music down, and ask, “What?” repeatedly. I decided to just crank the volume and ignore her the next time she said anything since I only had a few pieces of silverware left to wash. Just like I thought, my mom started calling my name, “Patty. . .Patty. . .PATTY!!!!” I dropped the silverware, left the water running, turned around, and yelled, “WHAT!?” at the top of my lungs at the same exact moment lightning struck our front door. I went blind momentarily and our television was blown out. The damage to our house wasn’t nearly as bad as the house behind us whose carpet caught fire when that bolt of lightning went through the swamp cooler onto their roof. Little did I know, my mom had been on her way upstairs with a basket of laundry when she heard me yell, “WHAT!?” She asked me why I did that and I said, “Because you were yelling at me.” She said, “No I wasn’t.” I’m lucky to be alive. If I had spent another second washing that silverware under the running water, I would’ve been electrocuted. My mom and sister both talk about that moment to this day, wondering who alerted me.


My ghost stories continue throughout my life but I didn’t start seeing full bodied apparitions until 2001. In 2002, my daughter was born with kidney problems that required two surgeries. It was 2004 and my daughter was scheduled for her second surgery, a stressful time in our house. I dreamt one night that my neighbor from across the street came over and said, “Someone died in the bedroom upstairs.” It woke me from my sleep. When my eyes opened there was a little girl standing at the foot of my bed. She seemed real. She had short brown hair and brown eyes, wearing a dress that might have been a school uniform but not from this era. When she didn’t go away I shut my eyes and rolled over seeking comfort from my sleeping husband. One week later, my neighbor came over to check on my daughter’s health and while she was there she said, “Did you know someone died in the room upstairs?” I tried not to panic. I asked for the details. She said the previous owner’s mother died up there. I ran into the previous owner at the store one day and asked her about it. She became defensive, saying her mom died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital and not in the house.

So, I ask you, have I been awake or have I been dreaming? Am I alive or am I dead?

Have a ghost story of your own?  Join our Boo-Fest using our linky tool below this post above our comments:


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Haunted House 2010

Continued from First You Need a Plan.

I'm happy to say that the haunted house was a giant success this year and not because of the turnout, although 150 people isn't a bad turnout, but because of how many families contributed in one way or another.


We started construction at 10am and didn't stop working until after 8pm on Friday.  Then we got up and started working at 9am on Saturday and didn't stop until shortly after 3pm, which was just long enough for me to get all dressed up and put my makeup on.  We came out at 6pm and already had families outside wanting to get in. 

The doors officially opened to families of the construction crew at 6:30pm and then to the public at 7pm.  We shut it down after 9:30pm. 


On the inside we had 9 people scaring, two of which were rotating and two teenagers running the entrance and the exit. 

I would have to say of all the 4 years we've been putting this event on in our cul-de-sac, this year had the least amount of drama and/or conflict. 

Actually the only real issue I had was getting the video embeded at the bottom of this post. 

I tried to upload through YouTube but they stripped the music so I've since gone through Facebook (otherwise this post would've been up on Monday.  All well, minor issue).  I'll let the slideshow speak for itself. 







P.S. Speaking of haunted things:  IT'S ALMOST TIME FOR THE BOO-FEST ON OCTOBER 28TH.  SIGN UP IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY. We want to know your real life ghost story, or a ghost story of someone you know.  Click HERE and use our linky tool at the bottom of the post before the comments.

Okay, so I got rid of the Facebook one and added the YouTube one, but there is no sound as of yet. *Darn YouTube, shaking head*

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I Didn't Win...But I Brought Home the Silver!!!

All the way to the finish line, I thought for sure I had this in the bag. When Michael crossed the finish line at 6:43pm with 21,068 words after only 8 days, I was shocked and not because it had only been 8 days but because I was certain I was going to cross first. After all, I got up before 6am this morning and pounded out 400 words before I got the kids up for school. After I tested out all the haunted house equipment, installed batteries and made dummies, I jumped right back on and pounded out more than 1,000 words. Then after Karate for the boys, I was at it again until my husband finally tore me away for dinner at 6pm. He can take me away from my laptop but he can't force me to leave my notepad and pencil behind. I shoveled down food at my sister's house and then grabbed my notepad and started writing feverishly. I left my sister's house and got back home right in time to see Michael cross the finish line. At 6:43pm I was only 1,507 words away from the finish. I finally crossed the finish line with 21,283 words at 9:46pm.

What a fun event. I'm so thankful to erica and christy for hosting such a fun event and for Michael for being such a fierce competitor. He made it all that more fun.

The last 8 days of pounding out words have not been easy mentally nor physically. Aside from the fact that my candy bucket is nearly empty now (aside from the lollipops) I also have a cramp in my right hand, and a twitch in my left bicep. The cramping and twitching really set in yesterday after breakfast. I'm suffering from so much fatigue in the arms that I've got a mark from where my arms have been resting on the edge of my keyboard instead of in the proper position. Other things I noticed included getting overly anxious to the point of frustration because I didn't want to drop any of the story forming in my head. James would try to talk to me and I would snap because I was mid-thought. By last night, I was so sure I had this thing beat and could finish today that my heart was racing and I started to feel like I was on a 5-hour energy drink like the ones you get at the gas station. At one point, last night, I couldn't stop rubbing my hands over my face and hair. James literally stopped me and asked me if I thought I was going to be all right.

I'm looking forward to a 10-day break from writing before NaNo begins.

In the end, I won a fancy silver medal for my blog and a T-shirt.

This just went to show me that there are people out there much faster at creating story than me and I'm about to encounter some of them during NaNo.

Stay tuned for my next post about my upcoming 16-hour NaNo writing event on November 6th, hosted by my husband for me and my NaNo writing group. 
Until then, I will be trying to go to sleep so I can get up bright and early tomorrow to start building the haunted house for Saturday night's event.  Pictures and posting to follow.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hell Week and A Thank You or Two

I don't have just one Hell Week in my life I have a few.  They come around the kids' birthdays (planning parties for the masses can be Hell), Holidays (The big Easter Egg Hunt in the cul-de-sac, Haunted House, Santa in the cul-de-sac for Christmas Eve...that reminds me I have to go order him.  I'll be right back.  Okay, I'm back.  Santa is in the process of being ordered.  Check out Santaforhire.com if you want to order one for your Xmas party) and triathlons. 

However, just because it is my Hell week, not everything about these types of weeks are hellish.  For instance, I received my 2nd and 3rd blog awards from three really great bloggers:  Quinn at Seeing. . .dreaming. . .writing  was the first to send me such a sweet award and then today I was surprised to find myself award by the leaders of the Writing Half Marathon I have been participating in; erica and christy.

Look at it!  Just look at it!  It looks good enough to eat! 


Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!

I am supposed to send this sweet award onto a few other sweet blogging friends and I promise I will as soon as Hell Week is over.  I want to avoid giving awards on this sweet and sour posting. 

I spent Sunday night sending out updated emails to remind my 11 families of donators what they offered to donate and gave them the days of the week to bring their items.  Last night, I spent some time going over the plans with my husband so we could map out where animated decor and dummies are going to be located and then we tried to pin point exactly where all the scarers are going to be arranged.  Friday we handed out 100 invitations at the school and it didn't seem hardly enough now that the word has spread about our annual event.  Unfortunately, not everyone gets an invitation every year because we couldn't possibly accomodate the whole school of 750 kids.  However, some won't show and others will bring their friends along.  It will be interesting to see the turnout this year.

Still lots to do before construction begins on Friday.  My mom is flying out from Utah tomorrow to help with the kids during this event, and we need to start stuffing dummies, putting batteries in animated decor, and wait until Thursday night to figure out what loose ends need to be picked up that might have been overlooked on the donation list.  Once this ball is in motion there is no stopping it.

To top it off, I've been participating in erica and christy's Writing Half Marathon and I had no idea how fierce the competition was going to be.  It's an excellent indication of what NaNoWriMo is going to be like for me.  I started out thinking 1,200 to 1,500 words per day was going to be enough to keep me near the top in points but I was wrong.  Sunday night I turned in nearly 5,000 words for all of the weekend and it still wasn't enough to make me the points leader.  I turned in over 1,700 words around 7pm last night and thought I should get some sleep early but I couldn't get my rapidly forming story out of my head so I got up and pounded out another 2,285 words which I submitted this morning.  I think I might be the points leader for the moment, but it's day to day in these types of competitions.  I am driven now, thanks to the competition, but also because I started worrying that I wasn't averaging NaNo's speed which is 1,666 words per day.

All in all, if you don't hear from me in comments or new posts for the remainder of this week then just know that I'm either under a pile of haunted house decorations or tucked away pounding out as many words as I can for this competition. 

Tell me, do you have a Hell Week or two in your life and when do they appear?  Any advice on getting through these types of weeks with less stress?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What to Do With the Conflict I Planned On, Part 4

Continued from How to Plan for Conflict, Part 3

Hypothetical reflection:

I planned on more things going wrong, but I never expected this.  I stood there at the entrance of the haunted house in my demonic roller derby biotch outfit complete with bleeding wounds to the arms, face, and neck, looking out at a what was far more than two hundred people waiting to get into our 400-square foot house.  When we were building the house, 400-square feet seemed pretty big for a little cul-de-sac event, now I wasn't so sure. 

"How many people would you say that is?" I asked my husband, James. 

"Well, considering the line goes to the end of the road, around the corner, and halfway down the other street, I'm going to guess upwards around five hundred people.  Could be more by now," he said adjusting his DJ Lance wig and glasses. 

"James!  We're going to be in there all night!" I said, slipping in my Sketcher roller skates and eating shit on the pavement. 

"Christ!  Are you okay?"  I wasn't mortally wounded but now I couldn't tell the difference between the real blood and the fake blood.  I thought back to the previous year with only maybe one hundred and fifty guests.  Me, James, my sister and her husband were inside the hot little house for two hours without a break.  Although we had people bringing lemonade in for us as they went through, we were desperate for some fresh air.  Five hundred or more?  I wasn't sure it could be done before midnight.  That meant five hours in there. 

Once we got going, I calmed down and the bleeding in my knee stopped, for sure, I think.  The first one hundred people came and went quickly.  The food table items went fast but we still had a lot of candy that we were handing out inside and that seemed to keep everyone at bay. 

It was the sudden scream echoing through the haunted house that nearly took me to the ground again.  Sure there were screams in the haunted house, but this one was different.  I rolled through the darkness into the strobe light room to see what was going on.  I felt like screaming for a minute when a figure seemed to be walking straight through the wall.  "What the hell?" I thought.  The strobe was screwing up my sight and making me feel unsteady but I managed to make it over there around the same time James did.  James' familiar bellowing laugh led me to believe whatever was going on at the end of the room was something ridiculous in nature.  Sure enough, one of the many kids running arond the outside managed to run straight through the wall. 

At first, I thought this was going to be a catastrophe of monumental porportions, but one of my neighbor's who dressed up as Carrie (blood and all) came to the rescue.  She covered the opening and actually turned it into another scare spot.  Believe me, it was scary seeing bloody Carrie coming through the exterior wall under the strobe light. 

And if I had more time to chat, I would tell you all about what happened when the cops showed up and asked for a permit. 

In real life we do whatever we can to avoid conflict.  We don't want to wake up late, have a kid miss the school bus, get in a car accident on the way to work, or forget to pick up one or more of the kids on a minimum day at school.  We try to plan for that kind of conflict and then avoid it.

In book writing, we have to plan for conflict and make it happen.  Some of us writers (I read a lot of blogs so I know it's not just me) tend to make notes (mental/paper, what's the difference?) of character traits and characteristics.  But have you thought about making notes of potential conflict so you can add it into your story later at some point.  Some of us have enough conflict going on around us that it's easy to write up a notepad full of ideas, others of us need to go out and find it.  Here are a few good places to get real life conflict:
  • Listen better to what your friends, family, neighbors are telling you about the drama in their lives.
  • Public places like the park, coffee shop, anywhere people congregate and can't help but be overheard.
  • Reality television.
  • Jerry Springer or any of the like.
  • Read the news more.
  • Pick up a couple of tabloids every now and then (watch for copyright infringement, just get an idea of types of conflict, don't rip any off.  Same goes for all of these).
  • If you are planning anything think of all the things you hope WON'T happen and then make that a point of conflict in your notepad.

How do you come up with conflict?  What kinds of things inspire your conflict?  If you could add to my list, what would it be?  (Here's hoping that I don't run into any of the types of conflict I mentioned above during the actual haunted house.)

Thank you for following this series of posts.  This year's haunted house is October 23rd.  I will follow-up with pics and story for all.

Framing it up 2009.


The black light room is always a hit.



Construction crew 2009.

Tear down 2009.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How to Plan for Conflict, Part 3

Continued from Now That You've Got a Plan, Part 2

Let’s just say, it’s the morning of and I can’t wait to start building the haunted house. The invitations went out the week before and even if no one comes outside of our cul-de-sac and the “straight street”, we’ll still have a turnout of more than thirty kids and over twenty adults. Basing it on last year’s turnout of more than 100 people with more than 50 of those being children, we have planned for approximately 200 guests.


Luckily, the skies are blue and the wind is calm with minimal heat. The frame is up, the butcher paper walls stapled & secured, the roof tarp in place, the painting was fun and the decorations all placed and in working order.

The next day, the final touches are placed and I was even able to feed my family a stress-free dinner before we put the kids’ costumes on. I had no problem with the elaborate makeup my costume required and when we turned on all the electronics, they all worked. The food and drink were set up and everyone waited for the first guest to arrive.

Just like imagined, all guests arrived and waited their turn in line to enter the haunted house, no questions asked. It’s worth the wait though, because we take pictures of each family at the scariest spot and then give them a card on the way out telling them where at Snapfish they can view or purchase their pics. Everyone is happy.

The next day, the haunted house comes down quickly and the frame gets stored for next year.

It’s just that easy. . .or, is it?

I don't know about you but when I first come up with an idea it always plays out like this in my mind.  But then reality sets in and when it does, it brings conflict with it.

So, with your NaNo story, you have kind of an idea of where you are starting and where you are finishing, but have you planned on any conflict?

Sure, you can’t possibly plan on all the conflict. With the haunted house I feel prepared for whatever may occur based on previous year’s experiences but there is no possible way I will be able to plan for everything. That’s okay, that’s precisely what makes the process of putting on an event of this magnitude interesting. It will also be precisely what makes the process of writing your NaNo book that much more fun to do.

What can I plan on then?

Day Before:
  • Potentially having to start putting up the frame without any one but my husband, my sister, and my mom (this will become frustrating to my husband who will wish for some strong arms).
  • Broken electronic decorations, (I can fill in with homemade dummies with masks).
  • Having to decorate rooms previously dibbed by volunteers (I’ve got plenty of d├ęcor and can make it work).
  • The flu. (I could get sick right before, or the kids could, and there are enough volunteers to make it work anyway).
  • The weather. (It could rain, and then we would find ourselves running out to buy more tarps to cover the paper exterior. The wind could blow too hard and start tearing the paper walls. But we could create a wind block of sorts and have extra tape and staples handy.)
  • Power Struggles. (We can’t always get along. We’re neighbors and just like family, we can’t pick’em. Must deal and forge ahead.)
Day of:
  • Electronics not working (make do)
  • Running late to get ready in full costume (it will be dark, it’s okay)
  • Injuries (We keep first aid handy and pray to god no one really gets terribly hurt running around.)
  • Fire (we don’t use open flames and keep a fire extinguisher at the entry and exit)
  • Camera doesn’t work (then no one gets their pics this year, that’s okay)
  • Scared kids: (That’s what we’re here for but for some reason some of the parents don’t get that. We just laugh it off and ignore it at best.)
  • Weather, weather, weather.
Day after:
  • Broken items that were donated (that’s why we specify donate at your own risk)
  • Hard feelings (Maybe someone said or did something to tick someone off over the last two days. We eventually get over it. We’re neighbors and have to grin and bear it for the kids.)
  • Damage the trailer with the wood (we use our toy hauler to transport the frames to and from storage. We could damage a cupboard or tear a curtain in the process but we will eventually get over it. Planning on this makes us more cautious.)

Stay tuned tomorrow for how a conflict filled haunted house turns out, (What To Do With The Conflict I Planned On, Part 4)