Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Little Mo[u]rning Humor

For whatever reason, I have been feeling OLD lately. Definitely an all-caps kind of feeling. Rather than whine about it, I present my method of coping for your viewing pleasure. Yup, it's a list:

Top 10 Hints You Might be Getting Old
  1. You can't ride a roller coaster without taking drammamine first.
  2. You know whether or not it's going to rain by listening to your knee. 
  3. When channel surfing, you pause on the Face Cream info-mercial promising to erase those wrinkles; then have to force yourself not to pick up the phone when they say you only have 15 minutes left to get the deal.
  4. 30 doesn't seem old anymore.
  5. 40 doesn't seem old anymore.
  6. [For women] Going anywhere without make-up is not an option.
  7. [For men] Rogaine doesn't seem so implausible anymore.
  8. The parents of the cute little family next door were born the year you graduated from High School.
  9. Your child asks you how old you were when the dinosaurs went extinct.
  10. The kid working at the local 7-11 calls you ma'am/sir.
Do you have any to add?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mary Pickford: The Justin Bieber of Her Day?

After quoting Mary Pickford last week, I had a couple of people ask about her. Of course I didn't know anything, but that is easily rectified in the computer age. So today I present Mary Pickford, a.k.a. Gladys Smith (1892-1979):

Mary Pickford, ca. 1916
This media file is in the public domain in the United States. This applies to U.S. works where the copyright has expired, often because its first publication occurred prior to January 1, 1923. See this page for further explanation.

It turns out that Mary Pickford was a giant in the film industry. Not only was her fame as a silent actress akin to that of Charlie Chaplin (i.e. THE biggest starlet of her day, and considered at the time to be the most famous woman to have ever lived), but she also helped reshape Hollywood. She is the reason that movies are not simply reproductions of plays on film.

On a funny note, one might also call her the Justin Bieber of her day because she was originally identified by her hair. When she first gained popularity, they didn't put actors' names in the credits, so she was simply known as "The Girl with the Golden Curls" or "Blondilocks." And when she finally did cut it in 1928, it was front page news. Sound familiar?

Anyway, I don't want to bore you with too many details, but I will mention two facts that make me like her (and make me think of writing):
  1. First, she attributes her popularity to the fact that in the beginning she took as many roles as she could, no matter how small. She understood that if she became known, there would be a demand for her work.
  2. Second, once she had made it, she used her fame to benefit many charitable causes and she convinced others to do the same.
Unfortunately, the advent of "talkies" became her undoing. Though a pioneer of the film industry, she, ironically, underestimated the power that sound combined with film would have (that, and she cut her hair). In the end, she retired as an actress in 1933.

So I ask you . . . what would you do if your chosen career suddenly ended for whatever reason? And are e-books today the equivalent of "talkies" back then?

Pitch Contest!

Chanelle at Beyond Words is having a pitch contest with her agent, Victori Marini. It ends today though, so quick go check it out here.

Best of luck!

UPDATE: The contest has been extended through July 29th. Go hither and enter!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Short and Sweet

I found this quote and wanted to share:

"What we call failure is not the falling down, but the staying down."

-Mary Pickford

Monday, July 18, 2011

Potty Talk

Though we generally discourage potty talk at our house, today I'm making an exception. On my latest trip to France and Switzerland, my sister and I had endless laugh sessions from the potties that be.

Sure, you can find gross public restrooms in the U.S., and let's not forget the long-drop outhouses at camp sites or the infamous port-a-potties at big events. Still, we just can't compare to Europe.

First, we have the squatters.

From the outside, it looks like a typical roadside rest stop potty,

but open those doors and you're in for a fun surprise.

Oh yes. Not only is this a place to unload your cares, it's an exercise facility as well. Talk about time management.

And don't even think about cheating on those squats by putting a hand on the back wall. The thing automatically flushes down the entire wall to clear your waste. Not a pleasant surprise (fortunately, that was my sister who found out the hard way).

Next we have the pay potties

Slip your euro in the slot, and you're ensured a cool 20 minutes of private reading time. Just don't get caught up in your book, because those doors pop right open when your time's up.

But on the plus side, they come with the guarantee of an automatic washdown between each use. A word of caution: be sure to dry off the seat before getting comfortable.

And finally, my personal favorite: the metal-seated variety in the high Alps.

So, I used this thing in July, and I nearly froze my little tushy off. I can only imagine the fun experience you might have in January. Drying off your seat before using it is more than just good hygiene if you know what I mean (think A Christmas Story and the flag pole incident).

Now what does all this have to do with writing? Well, I'm sure I could say something about style and making it your own. Or perhaps it's about the improvement process over time. Or maybe something about being aware of the pitfalls of writing . . . but really, I just thought it was funny.

What do you take from this?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hardness is Good

Sorry I missed Monday, but I underestimated the fatigue factor of jet lag. Definitely still recovering here.

So with a promise for something exciting come Monday, here's a quote from A League of Their Own:

"If it weren't hard, everyone would do it. It's the hard that makes baseball great." - Jimmy Dougan (Tom Hanks)

Of course, you can swap out baseball for whatever hard thing you're working at and the idea still holds true. If you can't guess, I replace it with "writing." If it all came too easily, I don't think I'd appreciate the craft of writing as much as I do. And I certainly wouldn't appreciate any success I may have.

So I'm glad that writing is hard! (Though I can't believe I just put that in writing.)

How about you? What would you swap in for "baseball"?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Your Audience Reluctantly Speaks

Today, my self-proclaimed 26-year-old nephew (read that as 14-year-old) will share his views on what makes a good book.

It may have been more or less like pulling teeth to get him to write this. But since I said pretty please with sugar on top, he caved. What can I say? I'm the cool aunt. Okay, okay. The almost-as-cool-as-their-other-aunt aunt. Aunt. And one more for good measure, aunt. Sounds totally weird now, doesn't it?

Okay, enough fun. On to the wise words of my nephew, a.k.a. Zeke:

The kind of books I enjoy to read are the kind that have lots of fantasy and action. They need to have some realistic characteristics. One of my favorites is “FABLEHAVEN” by Brandon Mull.  His series is very good and enjoyable, they are easy to get into and to continue reading them. Sometimes it is hard to stop reading, and you end up reading two or three more chapters than you wanted to.