Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Collages: Adult-Style

(You can click on the photo thumbprints -- here and below -- to see larger versions.)

So this is the collage for BARELY THERE. I started collaging after hearing Jennifer Crusie and Lucy March aka Lani Diane Rich have such success with it. So I thought what the heck, I have nothing to lose.

And it really does work. I went to type something about the stapler and instead of just saying STAPLER, I said, "plain black office stapler" and everyone under the sun now knows exactly what I mean when I say "stapler". And I only have that description because I have the storyboard for this right there in my face the entire time I'm typing. In fact, yesterday I could only manage 300 miserable, horrible, where's-the-delete-key-words and I think it may have been because I didn't have my collage right in my face talking to me as I typed.

So this is the full thing: I bought a tri-fold presentation in black and cut it in half horizontally because I didn't think I needed that much space. So okay -- the black tri-fold board is then covered in sheer black meshing with glittery dots then topped with black satin tied with black and red plaid bows. I used a hole puncher to work those ribbons through. Then I started to abuse the printer...

Whenever we read a book, we create our own visuals of what characters and settings look like based on the information the writer has given us to work with. And of course, everyone mostly visualizes something different, and I think that's why a lot of times people think books are better than movies; the visuals in the movies don't match up to the visuals in the mind (although I think an excellent example against that are the first two Harry Potter movies -- everyone always said it was just as they imagined it. Then, of course, they had to go and get a new director and muck it all up, but I digress...)

So, on that idea, the "characters" on my board are more like the IDEA of the book character more than what they really look like. Delaney Dupree, heroine extraordinaire, is sassy and has crazy red hair -- so of course, Debra Messing came to mind instantly. If you notice there's the bigger photo of her -- I printed that off and used a mat around her and put the name above it. Her favorite drink is a mango margarita, so I glued one of those on as well. Then TIME and STAPLERS are important, so I found ones to be hers, and ones to be his. HIS, being Mitch Parker, womanizer to the extreme and sporting that "everyone loves me" flash of a grin. Who better than Michael Weatherly to give me that on both counts. So... he's framed with a mat as well, he gets his version of stapler and clock, and then I glued his scotch on his hand, and the small photo under him is a spreadout of women -- to represent his womanizing ways.

Okay, then. They both crave landing the VP seat of their advertising agency, so I printed off an executive looking office and put it between them. Right under that is some lingerie, since they kind of battle it out for this new client, so it's also "between" them.

Under Delaney, you'll see a photo of her best friend, Jodi Todd. I describe Jodi as cool and calm with a sleek blonde bob, so I printed out pics of that to represent her. Jack Kincaid, over there under Mitch, is known for his laid back style and basically a good guy.

On the left, most of that represents the dreams that seem to connect Mitch and Delaney. The bottom photo on the left is Delaney's apartment.

On the right side of the board, there's a photo overlooking a downtown office area and over it reads "Little Miss Double D" -- Mitch's nickname for Delaney. Next to that is a photo of Mitch that says "Mitch the Bitch", Delaney's nickname for Mitch. A lot of the book takes place in their offices, and between their offices is the Cubicle Arena, so I printed out a photo of that. On top of the "Instant Ad Exec Just Add Coffee" coffee mug is a small print of a standard office break room. And another red stapler, because staplers are big in this book.

Below that is a photo of Mitch's apartment. On the lower right are photos of the inside of clubs that represent Duke's Bar from the book.

Whew. I'm tired now!

At the top center of the board is a photo between the words BARELY and THERE (which have white and silver glitter on them for a magical visual appeal) and that photo is the core of it all -- a connection, the sensuality, the need, the trust.

The perfect embrace.

Hope you enjoy seeing the creative process and I hope it doesn't bore you to tears! As I stated, this is my first time with working a storyboard collage, and I really, really enjoyed it a lot.

There are a couple of close-up shots:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Happy Birthday, Lester Bobo!

Today is my dad's birthday -- and this song always reminds me of him.

Happy 72nd Birthday, Dad! I love you!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Making a Playlist and this Breaks My Heart

Working on my playlist for BARELY THERE, and while downloading one song, this one came up, and just watching the video breaks my heart. To know he's singing this live is amazing to me. The pain radiates.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday's Five ~ Springtime

Five things I love about Springtime in Texas:

1) Flowers -- especially the bluebonnets growing wild on the side of the road, or driving by a store and seeing the sparkling array of flowers in all colors for sale.

2) Sunshine -- although I really dislike daylight savings time, I do like that the kids get longer periods of outside play on school days.

3) Rebirth -- nothing beats seeing the grass start to turn green again, and watching the trees bloom after months of emptiness on the branches.

4) Frolicking -- the dogs seem to come to life with everything else, finding sticks to play with, hopping through the grass, rolling around thinking, "I'm a happy dog! I'm a happy dog!" I loooove it.

5) Flipflops!!! Although occasionally, I'm still a child of the 80s and call them thongs, much to the snickering of my children.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Oh So Ordinary

Today we watched American Beauty, which I'd never seen before. Very interesting film and it's obvious why it won so many awards. And the theme of ORDINARY resonated: Lester Burman's "I'm just an ordinary guy who has nothing to lose" but especially this one line by Angela Hayes:

"I don't think that there's anything worse than being ordinary."

I think this is a universal truth in us all, even though very few of us would admit it. We may say we want "the American dream" or "just an ordinary life" but that's not only lying to the world, it's lying to ourselves. Is it the need to feel humble? Who said we had to be humble when it comes to our lives? I don't get this mentality at all and I definitely believe that it is a great unspoken fear, this fear of being ordinary, but we just don't have the guts to state it for whatever personal reasons we may think we have. And, in craving it, I have no doubt that people turn to the darker side of it, the entire "negative attention is better than no attention at all" or those people who kick others on the ladder in an attempt to make themselves appear higher, even if just to themselves. But aside from the obvious negatives, I don't think there's a single thing wrong with loudly exclaiming we want more.

We all want to stand out, to get acclamations, to rise above. No one would want a review stating it was "an ordinary performance" or "an ordinary book". So why would any one state that they want the ordinary? I don't want an ordinary love -- I want a spectacular love, defying odds, a love that others re-tell, the one books are written about and for which movies are made. And our lives, from memories to the future of our personal bucket lists -- does any one have "pay the mortgage" or "take out the trash" on their lists? Of course not. They have swimming with dolphins and climbing mountains and other SO out of the ordinary goals listed and for a reason -- we don't want to die having been ordinary.

I crave the extraordinary, and I'm pretty sure I'm not alone. We shouldn't settle for less, and we shouldn't think we deserve less than extraordinary. The ordinary becomes acceptable when we all lower our expectations and settle.

The only settling I want to do is to settle into my extraordinary bed with my extraordinary Rick with my amazingly extraordinary kids dreaming their personal dreams down the hall and keep living our extraordinary life and making extraordinary memories.

Also -- don't say ordinary a lot. It starts to sound really weird. Don't believe me? Try it. Say it aloud like 20 times. Just don't accept it.

Same for extraordinary. That one, well, you're allowed to accept that. Aren't you glad I gave you permission for something you didn't even know you needed?

You're welcome.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday's Five

Today's FRIDAY FIVE is for my five favorite books that never let me down.

1) Bet Me, by Jennifer Crusie
2) Kill & Tell, by Linda Howard
3) Time Off for Good Behavior, by Lani Diane Rich
4) Ain't She Sweet, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
5) Envy, by Sandra Brown

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Tulip and the Black Thumb -- A Love Story

I can grow kids -- lots and lots of kids -- but give me something in plant form, and watch it shivel and die a horrific, tragic death. Well, I'm pretty good at cactus. Too bad I don't like them. And there's an aloe that Carly gave me a few years back at Christmas that I've kept BARELY alive -- it's not really green right now, more of a pale poopy greenish color, but it's mostly alive. And the worst part of it all is that my dad can grow ANYTHING -- gorgeous flowers, hugely over-abundant vegetable gardens. Then I look at the flowers in his backyard and you can HEAR the leaves quivering in fear because I'm near.
And looking their direction.

Then this last Christmas, as I was making my dad a wishing well for his present, I found some bulbs on sale. I picked up some beautiful blood-red tulips and we put them in the ground and guess what?? Apparently if you ignore that patch of ground for a few months, MAGIC happens.

My tulip first presented signs of red two days ago. Today, though, it stood proudly in full glory, so I thought I'd share it with you. Ya know, so you can see it before I somehow destroy it with my mere presence. Maybe I'll keep ignoring it, now that I have a photo as proof.

Stay tuned for our next part of this love story and we'll see if it has a Happily Ever After or ya know, more of a Romeo & Juliet kind of ending.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Don't Go Changin' ~ To Try To Please Me

That entire song is just one honkin' huge lie.

Just a couple of months after Rick and I started dating, I realized I'd started to change a little and said so to Rick and he said, "Well, that's no good." (Direct quote.) But it was good: I was smoking less -- a LOT less -- and making better dinners and keeping house better, but I was definitely changing. And he totally lied with the "That's no good" because over a year later and knowing him so much better, he really does have issues with housework and smoking, so I'm pretty sure "changing Brenda's certain behaviors" was actually pretty high on his Brenda List of Necessary Requirements.

Just sayin'.

But like I said, they were POSITIVE changes, so I can't really complain about them. Well, I can, and sometimes DO, but I digress...

And then there are those who really, really hate it when you change. They can't comprehend who are you now verses who you were then. They refuse to accept it, and in denying it, they cut all ties. I would understand if I'd become addicted to heroin or dating abusive men: yeah -- cut those ties if she won't help herself because then you're just enabling. But that's the far end spectrum, and it's also on the far negative side as well. When the changes are overall a positive thing, I can't comprehend what is so absolutely horrible that they'd just. . . POOF.

Well, I do know why, if I really, really think about it. I'm a needy person in general, but having Rick who defines FIXER, well, we balance, and in that balancing, I don't "need" certain aspects that were originally part of certain relationships. And I guess in some people's viewpoints, that's a huge negative. I get it, I just refuse to accept it because I find it selfish and foot-stomping-taking-my-ball-and-leaving childish behavior.

So if you have a friend (and I'll let you define "friend" in your own way) and you see him or her changing their life in a positive way -- she's happier, her kids are happier, she's almost found SOLICE -- celebrate with her and still love her. You may have to change your roles in the relationship a little, maybe a lot, but if that relationship meant anything at all to you, if you truly had a selfless love and concern, you don't just up and walk away. You reshape, you redefine, but you still care, you still suppport.

You still love.

But in the end, the change is for yourself and not to try to please another person out there. Swear.

Friday, March 05, 2010

See that adorable West Highland Terrier? His name is Scooter. On Rick's birthday, September 15th of 2009, Scooter died.

Scooter was a force of All Things Doggy, including the need to be the biggest and baddest there is (he got that from Rick). Unfortunately for Scooter, our other dog, Ambush (note the name?!) is bigger and badder, a mixed breed of what looks like German Shepard and Big Goofy Dog -- 99% of the time, Ambush is simply a big goofy dog who really reminds you of Scooby Do. Most of the time, due to Scooter's need to prove himself, they were kept in separate yards, with the occasional inter-mixing. Then one day, on a rush out of the house to take the heathens somewhere, I saw that Scooter wasn't moving. He was on the ground with the other dogs simply looking down at him.

I yelled for Rick, and after shoo'ing the kids back inside, we took Scooter to the garage to assess his condition. It wasn't good. Mud caked his tongue from when he'd laid on the ground, his breathing was simply gasps, and I suspected a punctured lung. We wrapped him around with plastic wrap and his breathing eased. A sucking lung wound at the age of 12 for a dog? Not good. And when Rick had lifted him up, he said he could FEEL the broken parts of his ribs and back.

Then Scooter tried to stand up.

Have I mentioned the tenacity of this dog yet?

Now, Scooter picked a fight with Ambush two years or so ago, and lost then too, and after four days in the hospital and endless drain tubes, he healed. Amazingly. But now he's 12 years old, so old for a dog, and his body has endured so much. And in the midst of our anguish, decisions must be made.

Rick decided to take him to a local vet, and as of right now, the only vet in our country area. We take him in, and I try to speak for Rick, I try to be the Devil's Stupid Advocate. If the machine needs to be turned off, I have to step up with my emotions off and say this is what's best. He hasn't been MY personal dog for 12 years. I don't have the memories of him as a puppy. It was 5:30pm and the vet is closing for the day, but they all go into Critical Mode as we rush in.

And as this lady is looking him over, I say those words: Is it in this dog's best interest with these wounds and his age to simply relieve him of the pain and put him down?

The vet cleans him up, starts an IV, starts antibiotics, and the worst of it, she gave Rick hope. I had to leave to pick up the kids and while I'm gone, they've shaved his fur and even the vet said you could see the broken, damaged bones of Scooter even more so. Scooter fought every inch of the way, so they sedated him to SHAVE HIM.

So now he's on the ventilator, he's on pain meds, he's on antibiotics. They tell us he'll either pull through over night or not, but there's no way to really determine. We take turns petting him and ruffling his ears and telling him he's the bravest, dumbest, cutest thing ever and kiss him g'night with promises to see him in the morning.

The call came in just after midnight: Scooter died.

I had a flannel blanket with dogs all over it and we took it up there, and the vet gave us Scooter all wrapped up so we couldn't really see him. We went to the receptionist and she chirped up with, "Your total is $400."

Well now I'm just angry. Rick is standing there, prepared for around $100 or so, holding his dead dog on this birthday, and these people who I attempted to talk to the night before on what was best for Scooter are now asking for more money than it took to save Scooter before (at a different hospital -- and with a four day stay!) Rick pays the $100 he'd brought with him, and they happily -- yes, I said HAPPILY -- agree to let him pay out the rest.

So now we see a reminder every month in the mail when a statement comes reminding us how much we owe because the vet did not make the best decision for our dog. Granted, I'm not a vet, but I've been around animals my entire life, and the odds for a 12 year old dog with such huge, huge injuries to make it all, to go through the pain meds and the antibiotics and oxygen cage and blah blah blah -- did you really do what you thought was best for Scooter, or what you thought was best for YOU, Dear Vet, in a tanking economy? In all honesty, my anger knows no bounds and we will never, ever use that business again, and even suggest to others not to as well. Again, not knowing a lot about vets but I have to wonder: Do they not have an oath as well? Is it not their MORAL POSITION to do what's best for the pet, not what's best for the people, the owners or the vet, but to be an ADVOCATE for our creatures who can't speak for themselves?

One of the saddest -- sad to the bone, heart-breaking-standing-there kind of sad -- things I have ever, ever witnessed is a grown man crying as he digs the grave for his dog, on his own birthday, no less.

Less than three months later, Elly, Scooter's "wife", died at the age of 13, under our coffee table surrounded by us all. She's buried next to Scooter, where I'm sure he's taking turns frolicking with her while growling at other dogs to know their place on the totem pole - because even in Dog Heaven, he's still Top Dog.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

A Polygon in a Round Hole

A few disclaimers:
1) My R key keeps sticking. That's just irritating, and so is the word IRRITATING because it has 2 Rs. So if you see mistakes due to an R missing, it's 100% the keyboard's fault. Forget the fact that I originally typed "keyword", k? Thanks.

2) Cooper and Sydney got in an argument on the way home after school yesterday over polygons. Not even kidding. Cooper, the 3rd grader, got it in his head that the sides had to be equal (don't even ask what that shape would be -- I am not smarter than a 3rd grader, especially not THAT 3rd grader) whereas Sydney (the 4th grader) said it's a closed shape, regardless of equal sides. I piped up with: Look it up but I'm pretty sure in the grand scheme of things, a POLYGON isn't going to make or break your day, and they must have agreed because I don't think either looked it up because I didn't hear a word about it once we got home.

3) I looked it up. Not only images, but the "real" definition as well. According to dictionary.com:

pol·y·gon   /ˈpɒliˌgɒn/ Show Spelled[pol-ee-gon]
a figure, esp. a closed plane figure, having three or more, usually straight, sides.

How's THAT for vague?

Where ya goin' with this, Bren? Well, I'll tell you: Having a lot of writers on Facebook as friends shows you the speed (and sometimes not such speed) in which they're working and cranking out books. Granted, I just started back up and to see my own silver lining, I'm just under 13K on this novel, but still...

I think back when I first found this world of writers and how some had started around the same time I had back then and holy smokes -- look where they are now. Nine books later, twelve books later. It can be so intimidating. And I'm plunging back into the writing world I used to be so familiar with and there are loops and forums and blogs out the wah-zoo and you try to be out there, amongst them, trying to wriggle into the different "communities" set up and then I stop and think:

I'm a square peg trying to fit a round hole.

Then that didn't feel right and suddenly I'm reminded of Syd and Cooper's polygon discussion yesterday and I'm like great -- I'm a polygon in a round world. Now isn't that just a bright, sunshiny feeling or what? Ugh.

And I try not to make comparisons with others, truly. I'm here to do what I can, and they're there doing what they do, and we don't even write the same sub-genres so why am I comparing anyway? At least, after a horrific five year struggle, at least I'm back, right? Right.

So WHAT if I haven't sold yet -- I'm just now really trying. So WHAT if I can't seem to flitter into well-established online communities, at least I'm THERE.

I really hate being my own cheeleader but hey -- you take what you can get and work with it.

Now I have the visual of polygons with pompoms. It's gonna be a long day.