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Music, Books, & Creativity

It’s Monday as I write this, and it’s been…oh goodness, has it been three weeks? Wow. Things have been a bit crazy/busy around here, and my mind has obviously been elsewhere. I think we’re finally due for a settling-down period though, which is nice. I’m on the last day of a five-day vacation (okay, two last week and one this week) that has helped a lot with the whole mental recovery/reset thing.

We just did two concerts in three days…I tell you what – I may be getting a bit old for that. Interestingly, even though all four bands were headliner status, the first bands on each night were just mediocre (Marilyn Manson & Pop Evil), while the second bands were incredible (Rob Zombie & Disturbed). Which is too bad, because I’ve seen Pop Evil before, and they were really, really good…but they fell flat last night. In their case, I think it was because they were trying to be creative with their arrangements, and changed up a lot of their old songs. It just didn’t work. Manson just phoned it in – it felt like he wasn’t even trying, honestly.

In any case, all that made me think about entertaining and creativity and performing and writing. And how readers are often disappointed when a writer decides to change direction when they’ve been doing one thing well. On the flip side of that coin, ongoing creativity requires change and growth and…something different. Doing what you’ve always done just because you do it well is…boring. But there are ways to use that to your advantage without losing your fan base, as evidenced by Zombie and Disturbed – both of whom have grown and changed over the years (musically and otherwise), but they’ve retained enough of what makes them who they are at the base layer that their fans are happy to come along for the ride.

If I ever get to the point of cultivating an actual “fan base”, I want to remember that. That, it would seem, is the secret to making success last. That, and not getting worse as you get older. Thank goodness writing doesn’t depend on the quality of my physical voice!

I have been thinking a lot about my writing lately, especially given that our local bookstore will be featuring my romance books sometime next month. I’m a little torn by that, honestly. I haven’t published a romance novel (okay, any novels, but let’s focus) in several years, and while I am working on one at the moment, it’s somewhat different than what I was writing earlier. Much like erotica, I’ve sort of lost a lot of my desire to write them. I feel more drawn to the thriller and “alternate reality” genres at this point in my life – that’s what I’m excited about and currently working on. I think my future probably lies more in those realms than in the romance arena, honestly. And that’s okay, I think…but it does make for an odd feeling when my romance books suddenly start getting a little attention.

As I said, I do have another romance in the works, and it’s holding my interest well enough so far. But one of my thriller ideas currently has me by the throat, so to speak, and I’m anxious to keep working on it while the desire is there.

We’ll see, but I suspect my “own name” novels will be taking a back-seat to Alex’s thriller novels for the foreseeable future.

Aside from that, I’ve cut down on games again – only playing Wizards Unite on rare occasions to help a friend with battles, and uninstalled Jurassic World Alive (I was enjoying it, but…just don’t need that many games going at once). So now just Pokemon Go, Pokemon Let’s Go, and Animal Crossing. Occasionally Batman: Arkham Asylum on the PlayStation. Much like…well, anything, games can take up too much head-space too. I need to remember to leave myself space to just think, dream, and ultimately, write.

Fifty words per day. That’s my new minimum for fiction.

Now if I could just remember to change my sheets. Think I’ll set myself a reminder before I go to bed. It’s the little things.


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People & Thought-Provoking Entertainment

Last Friday we went to a ZZ Top concert, and while the music was good, I really wanted to hurt some of the older concert-goers there. The younger people were easy to be around – even when they were dancing they were cognizant of the people around them and polite when they bumped into someone on accident.

We weren’t even at the front of the crowd, but rather in the middle (standing room only – a street concert/festival), and half-way through the set, a crowd of older (probably in their 50’s) people pushed their way up and through and not only blocked the view (stopped right in front of me instead of pushing forward even more), but took up all available space, leaving zero room between me and anyone else. Understand that I *need* at least a couple inches of personal space. At all times. I’ve been to a lot of concerts (less so with standing room only like this one, but still, quite a few, and never had a problem before. I don’t mind the occasional brush-by or whatever, but being in a constant crush of people is not something I can really mentally handle.

It’s odd to me that these people would have been so incredibly rude at that age. People far younger are far more polite at concerts – even drunk young’uns. It really kind of ruined the experience for me, which sucks since it’s the one older band I’ve seen lately who still sounded just as good as they always have (most have been very disappointing, unfortunately).

I was also disappointed they weren’t selling swag. Because I’ve always wanted one of those keychains, and it just isn’t the same just buying one off the rack, so to speak. *sigh*

We’re going to a Godsmack/Shinedown concert in October, and I am so glad that our seats for that are in the lower arena, but the very top row, so no one can be behind us, and we’re not in standing room only. Whew!

Saturday night we watched a movie called Gamer (free with Amazon Prime, if you have it). Totally intense, and had a pretty freaky premise, really. It’s hard to even imagine doing some of the things those people did, and even harder imagining agreeing to what they did (intentionally vague to avoid spoilers). It’s a very thought-provoking (and bloody, fair warning) movie, and a potential warning, really. Because as far-fetched as it may seem, the technology isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility (though admittedly, probably not as it appears in the film). Definitely an interesting watch, if you’ve got a couple hours.

I watched another movie this weekend called Color Me You (also free with Prime), which was slow in spots, and some of the acting was decidedly mediocre (some was just plain bad, I’m afraid), but it was one of those “young artist at a crossroads deciding to follow her dream or a parent’s dream” type coming-of-age flicks. With romance, of course, because life is relationships (or lack thereof).

And I found myself wondering yet again what it would have been like to eschew my parent’s advice to pursue something other than writing as a profession. Honestly, if I’d studied writing (English) in college, my life could still have turned out exactly the same (not like I’m using my history degree for anything, and haven’t, ever). Or maybe I’d have learned the craft more quickly and taken a completely different path with writing at a more central place. I did take some English classes and worked toward a minor (later changed to philosophy), but I never really took it seriously, mostly because my parents insisted there was no money in writing, and I believed them (still do, honestly, but I wish I didn’t, and I do know professional writers, just not many).

Which probably would have meant a completely different life, and completely different people in it. A difficult thing to really conceptualize fully, honestly.

I caught up with one of my favorite TV shows – The 100 on Saturday as well, and man…the character development this season is just outstanding. I’ll be discussing that more on the writing blog later this week.

Since we’re talking entertainment today, I’m just about done reading Douglas Preston’s The Lost City of the Monkey God, and I can say with complete honesty that I don’t really ever want to actually visit the rainforest. National Geographic videos will be fine, thanks. It is quite fascinating, but I’ll take our rattlesnakes over a fer-de-lance any day, and no thank you to all the sand flies, rain and sleeping in the mud, too. *shudder*

And lastly, I’m starting to get caught up with my comic book “to be read” list by reading an issue every morning right when I get up (as opposed to scrolling FB/checking email, which is hard on the eyes and kind of ridiculous when I can’t even think yet). This week, it’s I Hate Fairyland, which is perfect, because it so matches my mood in the mornings…and murderous little Gertrude makes me smile. It’s good to start the morning with a smile (even if it’s a bloody, somewhat toothless one), right?

So…what all have you been watching/hearing/reading lately? Anything thought-provoking or shudder-worthy?

Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Missed it a couple days, but did okay the rest of the week. Progress!
1 push-up per day: Didn’t keep good enough track, but missed a few days. Really need to keep a daily tally.
Goals check-up: Completed Sunday night, adjusted for the week with a specific focus on financial and hobby-related goals.

Writer’s notes for this week


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On Newsletters, Concerts, & Rolling With It…

So…my newsletters are late this month (they’re supposed to be out today). All of them (four – me, my two alter-egos, and BSB). Because the serial story installments aren’t finished (one is, two are not). And the reason the one that is done hasn’t been sent out yet is because I have a mental quirk about doing things in groups, if they belong to a group. Like the newsletters. I do them all at the same time and then schedule them to send and that’s that for another month. Then again, I normally have the serial installments done close to the first part of each month, so I don’t have to worry about finishing them close to the newsletter deadline…

This month, we had some holidays, some family stuff, and a lot of unexpected dog health stuff to deal with all in the first two weeks of the month. Needless to say, when I had the time to write, I often didn’t feel like it, and when I finally forced myself, it was to get my weekly blog serials done.

Yes, I’m overbooked, and yes, I did it to myself. I do this *every single year* with the writing…and then I get behind, and I kick myself for doing it, and I swear I won’t do it again next year. And I begin the year with good intentions, and then I get an idea (or three), and it all just spirals downhill yet again.

Planning ahead would probably help this considerably, and I am a planner, which is what’s so weird about it. I am ultra-organized in pretty much every aspect of my life – except writing. I’m not really sure how to fix that, since I do *try* to organize that, and always end up just throwing my beautiful organization out the window…

The artsy side of me isn’t all that responsible, apparently. It really bugs the intellectual side of me, but reasoning with the artsy side is just…pointless, really. Which is also annoying.

Some of you may have noticed that this blog post is also late. The reason for that is far simpler – well, somewhat simpler, anyways. I could have written it Saturday, but I was having a bit of a “reflect and regroup” day. Sunday was crazy-busy, because hubby and I went to the Alice Cooper/Motley Crue concert here in town, so I had about four hours less than normal to get all of my normal Sunday housework done.

A few notes from the concert, including about a hour in line (it was sold out):

– “Oh my God – we forgot glitter!” (overheard in line…amusing, since I spent most of the day just waffling on whether or not to shower and put makeup on for the concert…I did, but it was a close call)

– “I was smart – brought my own beer.” (from a man in line a couple feet ahead of us, who promptly dropped his plastic cup and spilled all but the couple of sips he’d taken off the top before the line even started to move)
Our main entertainment venue has about the worst sound ever on a good day, but it was actually worse than usual last night, which sucks. The last time Alice was here, he played the Alberta Bair, a smaller local theater where our symphony performs, and it was spectacular. This time…the stage show was awesome, as always, but the sound wasn’t even close to what it should have been. I should note that I’ve heard it sound just fine on very rare occasions under the hands of master mixers – the Volbeat/Five Finger Death Punch concert was absolutely awesome, and the only different was the sound techs (and maybe their equipment?).
Alice Cooper’s stage show is never disappointing. I just wanted more (and better sound). And I wanted the girls in front of us to stop blocking my view, dammit.
Motley Crue’s sound was even worse – the mic (or the lead singer’s voice, not sure which) kept cutting out every third or forth word), for very muddled lyrics. Not that it mattered much – the music was mixed poorly and there really was no balance between the lyrics and music, so if you didn’t know the songs, it’s not like you were going to really “hear” them.
The drum-kit roller coaster was incredibly cool. So was the light show.
The pyrotechnics were…really loud, really bright, and made me feel old for wishing they would just stop already. My ears have since recovered (more or less), my eyes, not so much. Extra eye drops today, thankyouverymuch.
Skunky weed is so…not cool. Whoever was toking up near us last night had some of the nastiest smelling weed ever. Seriously, dude…if you’re gonna bring it out in public, splurge for something more mellow to share with the group. No one wants to smell that cheap (I assume/hope) crap at a concert.

On a possibly related last note: The Taco Bell nearest the concert venue was hoppin’ afterwards…

So…that was…well, it was fun, but not as much fun as I’d have liked it to be. And we had to adjust Lucy’s dinner/insulin schedule just a bit, which seems to have screwed with her blood sugar a little. Just gotta wait and see if it was actually the schedule change, or just her body still adjusting to the insulin. Either way, the hubby’s off work this week, so that will make a difference too. It’s pretty amazing how even the slightest thing can make a huge difference in blood sugar (rarely thought about unless diabetes is in the picture).

As for rollin’ with it…that’s exactly what I’m trying to do at the moment. There are a lot of changes that come with having a diabetic dog, and a lot of routines that have to be added and adjusted for. Hubby and I are also making changes in our workout/evening habits, which are good, but still create stress during the initial break-in period. There are changes afoot in my professional sphere (good changes, just…changes) as well, so among all of those, life has been pretty topsy-turvy lately, and I’m really not fond of topsy-turvy, overall. This past Saturday I was attempting to make some sense out of things, but didn’t get much farther than realizing it was going to be awhile before that could logically happen. And reminding myself that it hasn’t been topsy-turvy for all that long, and I can roll with the changing tides a while longer.

It seems so simple in theory, doesn’t it?


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On Personalities, Postcards & Kongos…

A few weeks back, some Facebook friends were discussing…well, something to do with personalities, and one of them posted a link that describes the INTJ Meyers-Briggs personality type (which is my personality) rather perfectly. It’s rather long and runs several pages (menu on the right side), which I expect exactly no one to read all of (heck, I was getting bored going through them myself toward the end), but even if you only read the first overview page, you’ll have a pretty good understanding of how I think and see the world.

If you do dig a bit further into the profile, you’ll also see why I sometimes seem very cold, insensitive, and/or brutally direct, especially to those gentler, more feeling souls out there. I tend to drive those with more “feeling” personality types nutty in short order. I do try to soften that side of myself when I can, but…I can’t always. I’m really not the person people want to come to for sympathy most days – I’m that really annoying person who will tell you to buck up and deal with whatever it is you’re dealing with. I’m also the person who will find you a million solutions to your problem rather than just listening patiently while you spill your heart out. I try to moderate that too…but it’s much harder, as I just naturally have a very low tolerance for wallowing in any sort of sub-par situation without at least trying to figure out how to fix it (preferably with backup plans for when Plan A doesn’t work). I just…can’t, really.

But, if you need a problem solved, or a process analyzed and streamlined, I’m totally your girl. My mind *loves* that sort of thing with a passion (I might grumble a bit, but it’s for show most of the time – I love problem-solving).

We all have our strengths & weaknesses, of course. And true to my curious and analytical nature, I’m always interested to know what other people’s personality types are, because unlike a lot of INTJ’s, I’ve always been interested in other people and what makes them tick – just like another “problem” or puzzle to be solved, really. This is also why, if you have an interesting enough story to tell, I might just shut up about those million ways to fix your problems and just listen. Sort of like a sociology project.

So if you’re so inclined, feel free to leave your personality type in the comments, and link to the profile (you can take the test on that site if you don’t know what yours is). I really am interested to know what makes you tick…

France1a

On a completely different subject, you may or may not remember that I’ve started a postcard swap. The first one arrived late last week from France, sporting a lovely turtle stamp, and beautiful images from where the sender lives. I’m sending out the return card this week! Fun stuff…and plenty of time to participate in the next one, if you want (hint, hint).

France1b

Finally, an earworm for your Monday morning. I’ve recently “discovered” The Kongos (well, actually, I’ve been enjoying their music for awhile now, I just finally looked up their name and bought an album). My late night listening for your enjoyment:

Have a great day!


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