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BY M

01/01 Direct Link
Another new year, another new start.

I pictured the old year crumbling away, as if it was some kind of fortress built in the shape of 2010.

I imagine some other builders arriving to erect another structure - this one built in the shape of 2011. They hammer at the old 2010 building, they crush it into a pile of dust and use some of the pieces to build 2011. That's the bits of the past that will effect us.

They use bricks of the present and the future, bricks of hardship and good times, bricks of health, hope and happiness.
01/02 Direct Link
Latin

At my church yesterday, one of the cantors sung "Panis Angelicus," which is probably one of the most beautiful songs ever composed. I think I might have mentioned this once before, but I'll mention it again.

Latin is awesome. Pretty much anything sounds better in Latin. I'm not sure why I think this way. I might be the only nerd who does.

The sound of Latin words calms me. Ancient religious songs like "Panis Angelicus" make me feel happy and peaceful.

Gregorian chant sounds so beautiful and otherworldly. It's the polar opposite of all the auto-tuned music heard today.
01/03 Direct Link
I find myself wishing for more snow. I love the way silence comes over everything. The sky turns pure white. The snow is so white that other white things look dirty against it. Snow hurts your eyes if you look at it - it's that white.

I imagine that's what God is like. So white, so pure, so heavenly, that your eyes hurt and you are forced to turn away.

So perfect that even the notion of imperfection is void and null next to him.

That's what God is like, or so I think. But maybe he looks different to everyone.
01/04 Direct Link
I had this strange idea when I was a kid (probably about 11 or 12). I turned 11 in 1999 and that was the worst year of my life. My cousin was murdered and my father became sick with depression and lost his job.

I personified the year 1999. I remember how when it was about to be 1999 near the end of 1998. Everyone was saying, "Just one more year to go until the new millennium!"

I felt bad for 1999. I felt that everyone was looking over it and ignoring it. 1999 didn't like my pity very much.
01/05 Direct Link
I feel like ranting, which is silly because I have nothing to rant about. I suppose if I actually were going to rant it would be about something trivial - a minor irritation.

Like relentless spammers. Or when you're outside and you're wearing gloves and the tips of your fingers still get cold. When you have long hair and you accidentally get it stuck in the window or the door of your car. People who talk on their cell phone when they're supposed to be talking to you face-to-face.

You know. Just the normal, everyday grievances of American life. 
01/06 Direct Link
I dreamed that it was hailing outside. They were pretty big hailstones, too - like about an inch or two across (nothing's very definite in dreams).

I was inside, in my bedroom, in the arms of the one I love. It was not cold. There was no hail to fall upon us. It was all outside.

I wonder what the symbolism in that dream was. Maybe "love protects us from the storm" or something ridiculous like that. Maybe there was no symbolism at all - it was probably just a collection of strange images from my subconscious mind, like all dreams are.
01/07 Direct Link
I dreamed about Lord Voldemort.

How random.

Out of all the villains I've ever read about, I have to dream about that slit-nosed, snakelike dude.

Ah, Friday. I don't care too much for it. I'm a Monday or a Sunday person. Friday used to be my favorite day of the week in elementary school. I don't think I cared much for school when I was a little girl.

It's just so much to grasp. All of a sudden you're not with your parents all day. You're thrust into a building with a bunch of teachers and other little kids.
01/08 Direct Link
Time to finally get rid of that old, squeaky mattress. I wake up with a headache and it might be that the mattress is to blame. Maybe it's the pillow. Maybe it's teeth grinding at night.

My body tries to self-destruct at night. I toss and turn, throw myself nearly out of the bed. I grind my teeth. I get worried in my dreams and my heart races.

And my mattress doesn't help. It just squeaks while I toss and turn, laughing at me. My pillow doesn't help either. It always escapes from under my head where it belongs.
01/09 Direct Link
I wonder how long it'll be before we have flying cars. I also wonder how long it'll be before we have cars that go on autopilot. I mean, I know they've already made those, but I'm waiting for the day when they become mainstream. You go into the car, tell it where you want to go, and the car takes you there. You can sit in the back and watch TV or play with your phone or read a book on the Kindle. There would never be any crashes ever again. No speeding tickets. But driving would be no fun.
01/10 Direct Link
"Tell me your greatest wish," he said to me.

I whispered it into his ear, but I don't think he heard. We had to leave. I got up and walked away without looking back at him, although that was hard to do.

I was wearing a black dress that went to my knees and all of a sudden I was running far away, around a chain link fence, through mud and brambles and strange gray dirt that clung to my feet and turned them into heavy boots.

Maybe the gray dirt was wet concrete. I didn't care. I kept running.
01/11 Direct Link
There is a layer of ice over the road. It's the kind of ice that doesn't look like it's even there, but when you casually step on it, your feet slide out from under you and you fall and bust your butt.

In other words, try not to walk too fast onto surfaces that hold the gleam of unbroken ice.

Even my cat slipped and his feet are practically made of soft, sticky rubber. My dog laughed at him until she tried to run and slipped too. That nearly made me fall, but I managed to grab onto the post.
01/12 Direct Link
It was a typical humid summer day when I was reading an enormous, illustrated book of Lewis Carroll's tales. I was reading this paragraph from (I think it was) Sylvie and Bruno about how it was the type of day to find fairies - or the type of day on which fairies could be more easily found.

It was that type of day outside right then. Muggy, moist outside. The type of day when you feel like having ice cream or staying inside the comfort of an air-conditioned house.

No fairies come out during winter. Maybe just the evil ones.
01/13 Direct Link
I try to look "pretty" or "beautiful" but usually end up looking "cute." Now, there's nothing wrong with "cute." I can understand why people call me "cute" - I'm 5'3" and 90-odd pounds. My own brother could bench press me.

Every girl wants to hear that she's beautiful, no matter what size she is or what she looks like. She wants someone she loves to tell her she's beautiful. Don't call her "cute" or "pretty" or "gorgeous" or "sexy." Expend a few more syllables and call her "beautiful."

Do it. You'll make a girl's day. It's a few more syllables.
01/14 Direct Link
Ah, tax laws. I was confused and Googled it. Of course, Yahoo answers popped up. (I know, I could have just gone to the government website, but I didn't feel like wading through gobbledygook I couldn't understand.)

One question on Yahoo answers was: "Why does the government tax us?"

The answer: "Because they need money."

OK, I get that. But why does it have to be so complicated? Why can't they lay it out so the average layperson can understand it, file taxes properly and not get confused?

Maybe I will go to the government website and figure this out.
01/15 Direct Link
For some reason, I always look to my right - out the window - for inspiration whenever I start to write. I don't know what, if anything, I expect to see out that window. I never see anything fantastical or outrageous.

Maybe it's like how children always look to their parents no matter what. Maybe they do it to make sure their parents are still there. Maybe I'm looking out the window to see if my inspiration is still there.

That was an odd analogy and I'm not sure it was even accurate. I've been making up strange metaphors all week long.
01/16 Direct Link
I've noticed that many YA novels are plot-driven. Good characterization is very difficult to find in the genre. YA characters simply aren't very memorable. If I ever get my YA novels published, I plan to defy that stereotype - maybe I'll have a character-driven YA novel instead of one driven primarily by plot.

Don't get me wrong; it occurs to me why so many YA novels are plot-driven - because they sell. I don't know; when I read something, I'm more interested in characters than plot. Maybe I'm one of the strange ones - well, duh. I've always been strange.
01/17 Direct Link
They try to scare you when they tell you that employers can find you on Facebook. They will find you, your friends, your embarrassing moments, your rants and raves, your unflattering pictures. They'll find it all and will not hire you on the basis that you are a person with a life outside of work and job seeking.

OK, I know it is important to keep your online profiles clean, but I think a line should definitely be drawn between public and private lives, especially online. Be very discerning about what you post, but don't be a person you aren't.
01/18 Direct Link
I like it when the sky is pink in the morning. I always think of the day in terms of a life - for example, when the sky is pink in the morning, it's like a newborn baby's pink face as it takes its first breaths of air and wails. The coming of darkness in the sky is like the pall of death when one gets older and sicker. Whatever happens in the afternoon is the day's personality - sunshine, thunderstorms, dreary rain, snow, sleet, hail, tornadoes, anything.

Another instance of personification; it's one of my favorite literary devices of all time.
01/19 Direct Link
I've been thinking of today all week because today is the birthday of the main character of one of my stories. Rachel. I picked her birthday from one of those random date generators out there. January 19, 1989. She would be 22 today. She's a bit younger in the stories - she grows up from 16 to 20.

I must say that I don't like Rachel. She's not one of my favorite characters, but she's necessary for the plot, so I have to keep her, even though she sometimes drives me crazy and I want to push her off a cliff.
01/20 Direct Link
The cows stood out in the field, moving slowly. They reminded me of floating buoys out in the lake, black and sedate. They seemed almost to move with the wheat in the field as it swayed in the wind. They mooed every so often, a low, depressed sound. My dog thought the cows were bigger dogs. Her eyes widened until the whites were visible, and she lifted her lip in the beginning of a growl.

The cows did nothing. They stood, sedate, jaws moving in an almost circular motion as they chewed their cud. Nothing like the serenity of nature.
01/21 Direct Link
I've heard that there are certain things that are cliched beginnings of stories or novels. Things like:

1. Opening with the character waking up in the morning and hitting his alarm clock.
2. Opening with the character looking in the mirror and describing himself.
3. Opening with dialogue.

A good writer can pull these things off and make them seem less cliche. Orson Scott Card begins Ender's Game with dialogue, but the dialogue immediately sucks you in, even though there's no background information before it.

The mirror opening bothers me because I see it all the time. It should end.
01/22 Direct Link
I hate those websites that have one really long page of information about how you can make money from home. The little scroll bar on the right hand side is tiny - that's how much gobbledygook they crammed on one page. It's just a bunch of falsity. Sometimes they even have a pop-up person who comes on the screen and talks in an extremely chipper voice about how much money you can earn in a day. I think someone should find all these websites, shut them down, and not allow any more of them to be put up. It's annoying.
01/23 Direct Link
I know that today has some kind of significance, but for the life of me, I cannot remember what it is. Is it someone's birthday that I've forgotten? I don't think so.

Never mind. I remembered what today is and it's so silly that I don't even want to bother putting it up here. I'll omit it and not mention it and forget it existed. Just a dumb dream.

How much do you let your nightly dreams influence your life? Do you search for meaning in those dreams or just let them float away into the recesses of your mind?
01/24 Direct Link
The beginning of another week! I can't believe I've actually stuck to my revision schedule for nearly an entire month. By the end of this week, I'll be wrapping up revision on one story and moving on to revision on the next one. I'm so excited to finally get them closer to final drafts (although that will be a while; writing is definitely not a hobby for the impatient).

And I have coffee! Nothing can go wrong - I mean, one of the turkey vultures flying outside could come crashing through my window... but I don't care - I HAVE COFFEE!
01/25 Direct Link
I hate when I have a dream, think in the dream, "Oh, this reminds me of that other dream I had. But this one's actually real!"

Then you wake up.

It's a never-ending cycle of dreams and events you believe are real (you may even want them to be real). But in the end, I'm glad that none of the dreams are real, even though they may seem to answer some questions I have.

Ignorance is bliss. Dreaming is bliss, and dreaming is ignorance because nothing in dreams is ever real. It's all just products of the subconscious mind.
01/26 Direct Link
I can't believe January is almost over already. I've gotten so much accomplished this month; I'm really proud of myself. I hope this will be a good omen for the rest of the year.

I don't have much to say today. I did dream about the apocalypse, but when the world ended, everyone was transported ten years back in time.

It was 2001 again. Maybe we were supposed to prevent the 9/11 attacks or something. I don't know. That would have been epic.

(I'm beginning to hate that word. Epic. It's so overused. We should find a new word.)
01/27 Direct Link
I'm reading a YA vampire novel now. I don't really know why I picked it up at the library. Probably because the cover looked cool. Yes, I judge books by their covers. I don't read the jacket or the back blurbs either. I just flip through the book and hunt down key words.

Anyway, this book I'm reading is part of a four-book series. I happen to be writing a four-book YA paranormal romance series. Coincidence? No. Maybe I should study this book (even though I'm not writing about vampires) and figure out what this author does well.
01/28 Direct Link
I need to start reading William Faulkner again so I can start absorbing his writing style and using really long sentences.

Right now, I've been trying to write in first person POV and it's hard. I'm so used to writing in third person that first person takes a lot more work for me to do right.

Ah, well. That's what practice is for, right? Faulkner did use first person and third, on occasion. I am still addicted to his writing and I need my Faulkner fix. Time to re-read The Sound and the Fury for, like, the eighth time.
01/29 Direct Link
I totally get the featured post for today, about the song lyrics sites. They've got tons of grammatical errors in the songs, too. That really bugs me. Songmeanings is a pretty good website; there have been some intelligent discussions on the meanings behind some particular songs, although as with all sites, it has its trolls, too. I believe songmeanings allows you to copy and paste the lyrics and it has a fairly good variety of songs on there. They're always adding features and it doesn't have any of those annoying banner ads.

That's the subject of another post: banner ads.
01/30 Direct Link
Yesterday, I learned that the word "patience" comes from a root word meaning "to suffer." I found that really interesting because it sometimes is very difficult to be patient and wait for the things that we want. It can feel a lot like suffering. It's hard to just suck in a deep breath and wait. That's usually when I remember that I have plenty of time, that there's no need to be in a rush. Rushing makes us all unhappy, so in a very strange way, patience can be the key to happiness. Sit back, relax, and just be patient.
01/31 Direct Link
I just found a really cool productivity tool you can download to block Internet for up to 8 hours so you can write or just have some peace! I'm excited because I've been looking for something like that for quite some time.

Now I have something to promote on my blog. There's also a tool that just turns off social networking sites, but it's for Mac only, so that's of no use to me. I'm still a PC and plan on staying that way.

Every time I use a Mac, I get really confused and frustrated. Mac's not for me.