Scribblings and Musings

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New Year’s Resolutions

Sorry I haven’t posted an update in a while, it seems the holidays — from Thanksgiving forward came up too fast for me. Add in school and being sick to the chaos … it was, well, a chaotic 6 weeks. I did have an 8 day break from school, however that was not nearly enough. I almost forgot how nice it was to have breaks in between classes.

Overall, I did enjoy the Christmas holiday.

Among some of the Christmas gifts I got were the Rory’s Story Cubes and Rory’s Story Cubes–Actions, and I can’t wait to try them out with a few new ideas I have swirling about. Ok, that is an understatement. I have no less than 40-50 active projects, which I need to sort out. Of course all that takes time, and sadly I don’t “have all the time in the world”. There are only 24 hours in the day and I need to work within those hours as much as possible.

As far as my novel, I haven’t written on “Finding Faith” since winning NaNoWriMo at the end of November, however that is another one of my New Year’s resolutions–to finish and publish it.  It’s hard to focus on one project at a time when the others want some attention too. So, I am trying to spend January reorganizing my hours and time to suit my writer’s mind and get some work in on ALL the projects I have open. I will also have to fit crocheting, reading and some “movie” watching into the schedule as well. Believe it or not, crocheting while watching a movie helps develop my mind and the creativity. Reading as a similar affect as well. By reading a book, I can see how other authors put their words and stories together and have a “frame” to outline my own stories by.

This is going to be a long, tedious and likely time-consuming process, but I am hoping it will be well worth it. I know there are some things I likely won’t have time for, and some I will have to give up entirely.  I might not be able to blog as much as I have been, and I might have to limit tweeting … but I have come to appreciate my “gift” and I am tired of making excuses as to why I can’t get something done. Also, after spending the New Year watching some movies I hadn’t taken time to appreciate when I was younger, and love them now as an adult, I have been “inspired” to write more.

And yes, my photography is still an essential part of my life, as well as my writing. There are stories everywhere, I just need to take the time to tell them 🙂

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NaNoWriMo 2011 Winner!!

Today has been the best day of my life. I didn’t think I would get here to be honest. There were times I was behind in writing this wonderful story, which needs some SERIOUS work, even at the half-way mark, lol. But, I met the goal of getting to 50,000 words in one month. I can now breathe a sigh of relief, and fully concentrate on my last week of Criminal Law as well as my writing, and be relaxed.

There was a lot of stuff I had to give up to make it happen. It wasn’t easy. I lost a lot of sleep, missed a few meals (quite literally), I gave up fun stuff (Pogo, I sometimes miss you, Farmville I hardly miss and Island Paradise is no Jamaica), and I hardly left my computer. Sometimes when I needed a break, I would crochet, then write, then crochet, then write some more. I also read at night before going to bed (well, the nights I could sleep).

In the end, to meet the goal and realize I have a legitimate shot of being a writer was all the encouragement I needed … well, it helped to have my mom cheering me on, as well as family and friends (yes, those of you on Twitter, Google + and Facebook are my friends). Reading all your tweets, messages, and comments was encouraging and inspiring.

To those people I am following: I follow you because you inspire me. You help me learn, grow and breach boundaries I wouldn’t have the courage to do.

To those people who follow me: I don’t know what I did to earn you as a follower. I hope you enjoy reading my tweets (good or bad). I thank you for being a part of my life, and allowing me to be a part of yours if even in a small way.

I’m sure everyone though I was nuts for doing this. To tell you all the truth, I thought I was nuts for doing it 😛 but I have to say it was worth it.

The next step is finishing the story, editing, revising and editing … then …. publishing. I might be a few months away from that. Does that mean I can resume those endless nights of playing games? Not at all! 😛 I’d rather be writing 🙂 (or crocheting or reading).

So, now a new goal in me life — finish the story.

‎”Count it all joy when you fall into trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” James 1:2

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Almost a Week …

It’s been about a week since I started this project. I got ahead, then way behind, then I got ahead. Thankfully as of this post, I am ahead. It’s taken some time and I’ve had to neglect a few things. But what I have neglected doesn’t really matter.

I am so grateful to have this opportunity. I feel truly blessed. Seeing my progress and what I am accomplishing is worth every emotion I have been feeling. The best feeling is “pride”. How could I not have a little pride in myself? I am doing something I have ALWAYS wanted to do. Seeing these stats makes me want to keep going, keep pushing and reach the goal:

Your Average Per Day: 1,946

Words Written Today: 1,403

Target Word Count: 50,000

Target Average Words Per Day: 1,667

Total Words Written: 11,678

Words Remaining: 38,322

Current Day:  6

Days Remaining: 25

At This Rate You Will Finish On: November 25, 2011

Words Per Day To Finish On Time: 1,533

While it might not seem that much to someone else, it means the world to me. If I can make this goal, my next step will be editing…then publishing…then?? Who knows? 🙂

Right now, I am over 1/5th of the way to the goal.

Another part of keeping that said goal is sleeping, and being on a sleep schedule. So far, it’s working. Not to mention, I have been reading one of the “Prey” novels which helps relax my mind and get my own creativity going.

Week 1 has had ups, downs and ups. Am hoping week 2 will be a little bit better 🙂

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It Begins….

It has begun!

Yes, today is the first day of my “Introduction to Criminal Law” class as well as National Novel Writing Month.

That means for the next 29 days, I will be like a ghost, lol. So far, as of this blog, I have my first assignment done, as well as the story outline completely done. I’ve also written the first 454 words of my story. I am hoping to get as much done as I can.

Trying to put it together is a little difficult at this point. I am treading somewhere I haven’t been.

I also have a paper (11/3) and PowerPoint presentation (11/7) due as well.

I know I signed on for this, so I have no one to blame but myself. However, if I am not as social as I usually am, you’ll all know why.

I can tell you that my novel “Finding Faith“,  is based LOOSELY on a journey I went through in August after the death of my aunt. Though I only wish the events that happen in the story would have happened in real life (well, a few of them anyway), that incredible  journey led me to where I am, and I hope I can eventually share it with all of you. In the few short days I spent in 29 Palms, California, I  found an inner peace I needed, and the courage to take this remarkable step.

A step that I hope will lead me to write more, and perhaps make a career out of it.

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Completed Outline

I never thought this day would get here.  There were times I didn’t think I would have gotten as far as I have in my attempt to write a novel, especially “on-the-spot”. For me, the hardest part isn’t wanting to tell a story, or even telling the story…it is outlining and beginning the story

Today I completed the outline. Of course that means I will have to edit, revise, edit revisions…but the main thing is, it is done. I can take satisfaction in knowing I completed my first “non-TV” story outline. And, that is quite a challenge in itself.

I don’t really outline, so much as “free” write when I get an idea. I take my “excerpts”, piece them together and go from there. But I was excited to take this new turn and try something “out of the box”.

Now, to edit and revise….but first….some sleep 🙂

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A Little Absent

My weekend got off to a bad start on Wednesday (personal stuff), and by Sunday, the whole “weekend” sucked–emotionally and physically.

I don’t want to go into details here, as this is my writing blog, but I will post a link for those who are interested:

http://www.indycar.com/

Naturally, the one day I had set aside to work on my outline, turned into “yarn therapy”, minor story outlining and chatting with friends. My heart was not where it needed to be, but that is to be expected. While I did not follow Indy Car or Wheldon’s career, as a NASCAR fan, his loss impacted the racing world. In short, the weekend, like the race, was canceled. It was the only respectful thing to do.

I have personally driven on that track and those turns; I’ve seen NASCAR races there;  the hospital where Wheldon was taken, is the same one my mother works at….this story is very close to home. That is one story, I will never write. But, it is another chapter of my life.

So, if I am a little absent, you know why. I will be ok, I have faith in that. I will write, I will continue on. The only thing I ask? Hold your family a little longer and tighter. Say “I love you” a little more often.

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A Little Behind, but Catching Up

I apologize for the lack of postings here lately 😦

I’ve been winding down the last few weeks of Introduction to Criminal Justice and Composition I. As of Tuesday I will be in week 7, which I am thankful for, and there are only 2 days in “week 8” (October 25th & 26th). I will get a break from October 27th to November 1st, so I can likely catch up and breathe.

I will admit, the most recent assignments required more research than I first thought…HOWEVER…I have been working on my story outline too 🙂

Even if it is a little memo here, little note here … it is something. I have learned that a little writing is better than nothing. As long as I make a little progress everyday, it adds up.

On November 1st, I will start Criminal Law and #NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) 2011 begins; so November is going to be a busy month for me.  Thankfully, I only have 1 course at a time. No more double courses for me (and yes, I am still considered a full-time student).

What is the reason for going to to 1 course? This is to accelerate my degree. I take 1 course every 5 weeks, as opposed to 2 courses every 8 weeks (Over 50 weeks = 10 classes per year, as opposed to an 8 class academic year).

Perhaps it will also give me more time for writing, which I will be quite thankful for.

I can stay connected to my characters, my story and perhaps my life. And, I might even have time for something new 🙂

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Outlining

Occasionally what “sounds” or “looks” good in our head, doesn’t always come out through the pen or computer strokes. I don’t care what it is, I have ALWAYS hated outlining. CORRECTION, I am just not that great at it. I have always stunk at outlining, be it for a school project or writing. I just couldn’t get the “hang of it”. Sometimes I add too much, other times not enough to the mix.

Finding the right balance is my main problem. Also, how much conflict to add, do I want romance, how many characters do I add? Where does the line get drawn? How much is too much? Other times I can’t even follow my own outline as my thoughts are constantly changing. That should be a good thing, but sometimes it isn’t.

Most of the times when I’ve created a story, used a technique called “free-writing”. I write what comes to me–beginning, middle, end. There is no particular order. I write until I stop, or the thoughts stop. Once I have enough “material, I start piecing it together like a jigsaw puzzle, I go back and fill in what is missing based on what I have. Even in doing that, I have ended up with more material than I needed, which is good, at least for me it is. I have completed a few stories like that, and it has done pretty good … so far.

To start from the beginning and then continue to the end is a challenge. I don’t want to “rush the story” or “drag it out”. I want to give my characters a decent background, but I don’t want to overload the readers either. I don’t want to be the only one satisfied with my work, and have the readers hate it. Then again, I don’t want the readers to love it and I don’t even want to be associated with it either … big dilemma there.

Although I have quite a bit of work done, I am now in the “over-editing” phase, in addition to getting the rest of the outline done.  So I have to put the “editor” muse on hold, in order to get through the entire outlining process, which I am sure the “creative” muse will prevail 🙂

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9/11 and Me …. 10 years later …

“A man walks into a bar and asks the bartender for a glass of water. The bartender pulls out a shot gun ad shoots at the man, missing him. The man tips the bartender and thanks him, then leaves …”

On 2/8/2011, as always, I watched NCIS. The episode “A Man Walks Into a Bar” more or less dealt with Kate Todd’s older sister trying to get to know the team and people who were closest to her when she was killed; trying to find closure.

And, what does that have to do with me and 9/11? A lot.

The episode also dealt with how we react in certain situations. Some of us defy others expectations of us, and others rise to meet them.

It took me a long time to do both, but I did. Sometimes we just act, there is no time to think. That isn’t always a good thing, it isn’t always a bad thing …

That day, I was unable to act or re-act. I was in stunned silence. I couldn’t believe what I had seen or what I was seeing …

I watched the second plane hit the towers that morning. I was just getting to bed here in Nevada. I was up all night playing a video game with my mom, who had worked 12 hours on Monday. Usually she didn’t stay up for 24 straight hours, but we were playing the game and having fun. It was a perfect night–great dinner, wine, video game marathon. I will never forget the game we were playing that night. It was Super Mario Bros 3 on the Super Nintendo. We didn’t skip levels, we played right through.

We finished a little after 6am. While I was in my bedroom getting ready to lay down, I turned on the TV. My mother was doing something, then she was going to come in and say good night to me, or rather “sleep well”. It is a routine we had up to that point, and after it’s been part of the healing process.

I watched in horror as the buildings collapsed. First one, then the others. I was in a daze and couldn’t believe what was happening. I thought that maybe part of the towers were gone and could be repaired. But, they were gone. My heart fell and for the first time, I felt powerless. There was nothing I could do to help, and no way to help

Before she could do that, I had seen the fire at the World Trade Center. With all the businesses there I thought perhaps it was a bad office fire. Not a few minutes after turning the TV on I was screaming … NO!!! repeatedly.

My mom asked what was wrong, and I was in shock I couldn’t tell her what I had seen. How could I tell her? What could I tell her?

The second plane hit the other building. I couldn’t believe what was happening and refused to. That couldn’t have been intentional, it had to be some kind of a bad aviation accident. I lived in the United States of America, not a country that sees terrorist attacks such as this.

Later in the day I learned that there were a total of 4 hijacked planes. Two hit the World Trade Center buildings, 1 struck the Pentagon and the fourth went down in a field in Pennsylvania when a group of brave men stormed the cockpit after learning about the other planes

Within the first 48 hours I was in shock and heard something I would never forget.One of the passengers on the plane (American Airlines Flight 77) that hit the Pentagon on 9/11 was Barbara Edwards of Las Vegas, NV.

I held my mother’s American Airlines miles card in my hand and cried. Of all the people, why?

There had to be some kind of mistake. But it wasn’t. It was real. These devastating, senseless attacks were personal for me. It was as if that 4th plane had struck my heart

Then, I looked over at my mom who was silent and stunned. She didn’t know how to react, I didn’t know what she was feeling. Despite her own feelings, she put her arm around me and held me close to her as I cried. Even at age 25, I loved my mom and didn’t want to lose her. At that point in my life, she was the only family I had. She was my only true friend, the person who was always there for me.

For a moment I had hoped the media was wrong about the name, but they weren’t.

http://www.legacy.com/Sept11/Story.aspx?PersonID=91751

For the next few days following the attacks, my patriotism came out. I loved my country more than I thought possible, I wanted to help. I called to donate blood and because of the response I had to wait almost a month. I chose 10/11/2001 as the date. Sadly, though it wasn’t enough to help save any more lives.

In the months that followed, I became withdrawn and didn’t want my mom to work. There were days I would ask her to stay home. I didn’t know if there would be any more attacks. If the World Trade Center and Pentagon were attacked, what about a hospital? Suicide bombers? After all, in countries that have terrorist attacks, aren’t suicide bombers a part of that life?

Because we didn’t have a car, I’d get up every morning she worked, at 4am to ride the two-buses with her to her work, then ride home. It didn’t cost us any additional money as I had my own monthly bus pass. I would then ride to her work place, so I could ride home with her from work. I lived in fear for a while, I spent a lot of days hiding under a blanket, not wanting to come out. I didn’t want to leave my home, even if I did need groceries. I lost interest in my writing for a while; I was just lost.

Eventually, the feelings passed, but never my devout patriotism or my love for my family.

One year later, in hopes of putting the past behind us, my mom and I moved into a new apartment. on 9/11/2002 I donated blood in honor of the victims, and in honor of the one.  I still doubted if my life would ever get back to normal. But I kept going. Somehow I felt that if I didn’t, the terrorists would win.

I was volunteering at the hospital where my mom worked. It wasn’t what I wanted to do.

April 2003 would be the turning point in my life. I got my first computer, I connected to the internet and NCIS would begin as the result of a 2-part JAG story line–Ice Queen (4/22) and Meltdown (4/29–my birthday).

Between April and September 2003, I immersed myself back into my writing and was finding the peace and solace I was lacking.  On 9/11/2003 I again donated blood. Later in September I met a friend, who herself had been through a very rough life. We connected and talked. I would stay up for hours on end, night after night…night into morning talking to her.  I still didn’t go out much, I did reduce the amount of days I went with my mom to work and met her after work. But, we were still close, closer even as a result.

In 2004, I met one of my favorite NASCAR drivers.

In 2005, I went to not only 1 NASCAR race, but returned to my home state of Texas for the first time in 25 years to attend a race.

Throughout 2006-2008 I had my share of drama and personal lows. But, it was in June 2008 that things looked up for us. Mom and I were able to get a 2nd car, paid off the one we bought in 2005 and I was back to giving blood on 9/11.

In 2009 I was also beginning to watch an interesting series most of my family and friends liked–NCIS. I got another job, but by the end of 2009 I no longer had that job. I know all things happen for a reason.

In 2010 I was now a full-fledged NCIS fan, I had no direction in my life though. I already knew how blessed I was. I had come to learn with God all things are possible and he has a purpose for us.

In January 2011 I got to do one of the things I had been wanting to do my entire life–I got to drive my own car on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway track for charity. While it was only 3 laps, it was the greatest feeling in the world. This was one of those cases where we defy others expectations of us and rise to meet them. While others never thought I would ever complete that challenge, there were those who did.

On 2/9/2011 (the morning after NCIS–“A Man Walks Into A Bar” ) I got a call that changed my life–I got a call from an admissions representative at an online college. Was this another example of that expectations thing that psychologist mentioned in that NCIS episode?

As it turned out, it was.

On March 3, 2011; nearly 9 1/2 years after the attacks on our country; I was getting the chance to do what I wanted. I was beginning college and studying Criminal Justice concentrating in Forensic Psychology and Homeland Security.

Now, 10 years to the date of the terrorist attacks that changed my life…

I am 2 classes away from completing my first year of college. Those classes are Composition I and Introduction to Criminal Justice; since college takes up my time, I currently don’t have  job, but we make ends meet. My mother and I still live together, but I do want to have my own family pretty soon. We’ve gone from no car to having two cars (though one isn’t running right now, we’re in the process of fixing that).  I’ve gone from not having a computer or internet, to interacting with people on Twitter and Facebook. I also have a tumblr, Flickr, Word Press, and Blogger (BlogSpot) account. I go to the NASCAR event every year. I blog about my experiences, my opinions and I write more now than I ever used to. Currently I have close to 50 ideas. That is quite a bit to keep me busy.

And, I still donate blood.

My life has never returned to the pre-9/11 life it was. In some ways, my life to that point ended. I started a new life on 9/12, and from a bad situation, I have taken an effort to make this life, a better life. Aspects from my pre-9/11 personality are back, but I am different. I wasn’t that connected to my family before 9/11 … now I have reconnected with my uncle and cousins, and a lot of great friends as well … nationwide. I am still committed to leaving Las Vegas, and heading back to California.

Prior to 9/11 it had been 4 years since I went back to one of my hometowns. On 8/27/2011, I returned home from a 4-day visit. Though my aunt had died, it was as if it was a sign that I needed to go back to California.

I have grown closer to God and found strength.

At the time of the attacks I couldn’t image watching any NY-based shows after 9/11, now I don’t watch anything filmed in New York prior to 9/11.

These past 10 years I have cried, mourned, grown, adapted and moved on. Just because I have doesn’t mean I have left all those people behind…or her. Or the Barbara Edwards we lost. I have continued on, so they can. As long as we keep their memory alive, they are in some small way still with us.

I am looking forward to the next 10 years–where we will go, what we will do, what will we see…who will be in our lives.

“It’s clear to me that we all react to life’s challenges in different ways. Some fight death. And some embrace its solace. Some recognize their fate, and others do whatever is necessary to alter it. Sometimes we defy other’s expectations and occasionally we rise to meet them. But the constant is being true to ourselves. We do what we have to when we have to. We react for better or worse.” – Dr. Rachel Cranston, NCIS—“A Man Walks Into A Bar”

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