Monthly Archives: June 2014

Soccer (Futbol) Fever

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Has the U.S. caught futbol fever?

Low-grade perhaps, on the verge of erupting into something bigger. That would be nice, but the severity of such malady depends on the team’s performance. 

I grew up in E. Europe where futbol is a big. No, it’s huge. And during the European Cup or the World Cup, futbol is everything and everywhere. But not so in the U.S, or at least not in the previous World Cups.

The main complaint I hear goes something like this: it takes forever to score, and some games (the entire 90+ minutes) end without a goal. Booooring!

I guess that’s not the only complaint. You can’t blame the fans of a team that keeps getting eliminated in the first round. Sure we made it to Elite 8 once, but that’s because many European countries didn’t show up given the Bosnian war at the time.

But this year, the U.S. team advances, even with a loss against Germany (the technicalities of points put the U.S. team ahead of Ghana and Portugal, both eliminated).

The best thing coming out of this? The fans are going crazy. And I’m shaking my head, still unable to believe futbol fever (however low-grade-ish) has finally reached America!

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Say what? Folks eschewing work in favor of the game?

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Image courtesy: Tall Wanderer; fifa.com

What Do You Read, and Why?

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“I read because … one of these days I’m going to go everywhere and meet everybody, and I want to be ready.” ~ Richard Peck.

It would be easy saying reading is important, and not give any reason as to why. Or even easier to say we read a particular writing style because we like it. But why do we like it?

I really enjoy reading mysteries and thrillers. Is it the pace? The adrenaline rush? The writing? The gut-twisting danger? Yes, all those things and more.

Sure, I enjoy reading anything well-written, but again, that’s too general. While I read a wide variety of books, mysteries/thrillers always rank among my favorites. It’s hard to beat sitting down with a book that has a great plot, terrific characters on both sides of the aisle, good writing, and great forward momentum/pace. That world fascinates me, and I’m not easily fascinated.

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed a great many literary novels: “The Great Gatsby,” “1984,” Leo Tolstoy’s books, but lately I haven’t been lucky in the literary-novel department.

The Goldfinch (recent Pulitzer Prize winner) grabbed me by the neck, and after a fantastic beginning, I absolutely had to read it. Halfway through the book, and I’m seriously slowing down.

The never-ending rants and ramblings have overstayed their welcome to such a point, I’m not sure I care what happens to the character anymore. I will finish the book, but that’s not because I absolutely have to, but more because hey, I’ve gotten this far.

The second such literary novel, Infinite Jest, forget it. I don’t think I could finish that one. Hundred pages in, and there is no sign of where we’re going. I really enjoy a wonderful, creative, deep, heart-wrenching, all-around gorgeous piece of writing when in combination with some sort of momentum.

And so many pages in, forward momentum is key, isn’t it? For this reason I prefer literary works as short fiction (the author is forced to get somewhere a bit faster).

So here I am, perhaps easily bored, returning to my thriller/mystery reading. 

What do you read? And why?

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Image courtesy: oxbridgeinterviews.co.uk

 

“Life’s a Dance You Learn As You Go”

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A lot has happened lately — some things expected, some falling out of a universe out of control.

A co-worker’s nephew (six-year-old) was rushed to brain surgery last week. Doctors thought he was sick with the flu, when he had a brain tumor. He’s going to be okay, but brain surgery leaves one in need of therapy. His vision has been affected, walking doesn’t come as easily, and he is now left-handed.

Interesting how the human brain works, or how sometimes it doesn’t.

Another co-worker fell off a stool and shuttered her knee. She’s on narcotics to deal with the pain. I feel I should be in a padded room, so work continues to be done around here.

The good news: everyone is going to be okay.

At home, the good news is that school’s out, and the myriad of projects my son had to do and I had to supervise (because my husband’s been working non-stop and I’m pretty much it) are over. And that’s why …

Life is a dance you learn as you go / Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow / Don’t worry about what you don’t know / Life’s a dance you learn as you go.  ~ John Michael Montgomery

This year, I felt the school was testing my commitment as a parent. The projects they sent home (miner’s museums, book reports with extra projects, California Gold Rush and character study and costume) didn’t seem designed solely for the student but also for the parents.

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My son, Keith, as a Gold Rush era character.

On the bright side, I learned or re-learned a lot about our state, and will be taking a trip to Yosemite Valley and Sequoia National Forest to see some of the places in the projects. On the even brighter side, this inspired several stories.

But enough about me (and thank you for listening). How are things were you are?  

 

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Image courtesy: John Singer Sargent/Venetian Rel Art Blog, venetianred.net

IWSG and Writing Process Blog Hop

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“Writing fiction … is like crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a bathtub. There’s plenty of opportunity for self-doubt.”~ Stephen King

Today is IWSG day, but since I’ve been doing more editing than writing, and seeing that the wonderful Noelle Granger tapped me to participate in the Writing Process Blog Hop, I am combining the two into a Support-Writing-Process Extravaganza.

After all, insecurities are often expressed through actions rather than stated. And sure, I did the blog hop in April (then proceeded to forget), so here is an update on that ever-changing act we call our writing process:

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What am I working on?

I’m editing the first chapters of my mystery titled Wounds. There is a balance to be struck between internal monologue and forward momentum. Having both in equal amounts… well, that’s where editing and lying awake at night come in.

I’m also finishing a short story titled Play Music. This one keeps demanding attention, like some jealous lover.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Others suggests something similar, and works are different within any genre. A writer friend concluded my novel is not your regular mystery or suspense, but more on the women/literary/mystery side.

Why? Must be the internal monologue, the characters’ emotions on display. And emotion (done well, not the sappy kind) lies at the heart of a good story now, doesn’t it?

Why do I write what I do?

Why, oh, why? Mystery is what I find engaging on story and character level — presenting the reader with a series of problems and questions, which arouse feelings that are often beyond imagination, yet seem real.

Short fiction is, in some ways, like a captured moment of time, sometimes mysterious, though perhaps delicate. It encapsulates the sense of wonder in our hearts, our fears and secrets.

How does my writing process work?  

I write beautiful characters and fall desperately in love. 

I sit down and write, write, write. Usually when the house is quiet, so I can focus. I stare out the window for long durations, see my characters in action, envision the setting.

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I put together a few general ideas, imagine the ending, but I don’t fully outline. Sure, I have a sense of direction in mind, the details. And the lack of an elaborate outline has nothing to do with killing creativity. It’s been my modus operandi for so long, switching gears now would drive the whole thing into a tree.

Here is the beauty of the process: there isn’t — nor should there ever be — a one-fits-all formula. This is writing, not math.

Many thanks to Noelle for inviting me to play. Since I’ve done this blog hop previously, I’m leaving it open to all writers: please come share your writing process/stories with us.  

If you’d like to visit other IWSG members, they can be found here. Come one, come all. No writer can do it alone.