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Archive for November, 2014

I promised my mother I’d bake Christmas cookies for her, with her rather. In her heyday she was a Christmas cookie baking machine. One year she baked around fifty different kinds of cookies. That’s right, fifty. Not fifty total, but around fifty different kinds.  50. She’d make like three cookies a day. It takes me three days to make one cookie.

I’d make cookies for her before. One year I actually made three different kinds. Last year I didn’t make any due to time restraints. Driving 200 miles every weekend to visit her after a long week tuckered me out big time. Now that I live with her, baking cookies will be easier.

The first thing we did was make a list of cookies. I was thinking five. I can do five cookies and I write down the ones I like: rumballs (okay, so not technically a cookie, but it’s a Christmas edible), Spritzgebaeck, Uncle Willie’s butter cookies, Anise cookies, and black and white cookies. My mom liked those cookies and added a few more. I’m still feeling fine until she starts digging out her baking books and starts leafing through them. I got this sinking feeling it’s not just going to be five cookies anymore.

I implemented a system. I’d go cookie by cookie. First I’d write down the ingredients, then I’d look for the ingredients and buy any I need. That’s step 1. Step 2. Measure everything out the day before. Step 3. Make the dough if it can stay a day in the fridge, excellent. Step 4. is baking and the last step should it be necessary, is decorating said cookie. Five steps. Three, four days. I can do this.

Rumballs are easy, so I start with that. For being totally artificial, ‘Nilla Wafers are expensive. Over three dollars a box for a bunch of chemicals. In hindsight I should have gone with the store brand. After getting over that shock, the rest is easy and mom makes the individual balls while I dunk them in a bowl full of sprinkles. She can even sit in her own chair and do this.

One cookie out of the way.

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Dark vrs. Light

I’m not talking turkey today. I’m talking about books and the tone of the book. After just finishing a children’s book where everything came together and it was all nice and It’s a Wonderful Life-ish, I read a Stephen King novel with the gloom and doom running through out. Positive and negative.

It just got me to thinking. It got me to thinking if I was too Pollyanna-ish because I prefer more positive toned books. If I check out an animal story I have to check the last pages to see if the animal doesn’t die. If it does, guess who’s not reading it. Ol’ Yella traumatized me for life. For the life of me I can’t see how the adults thought it’d be a treat to see. I left the theater scarred.

I wrote a short story once and while writing it thought: you know, life doesn’t always end up nice. You need to write something bad. So I killed off a character. It’s been bothering me ever since. Maybe I am too Pollyanna-ish. I can’t help it and I don’t see why it’s such a bad thing as long as I don’t let it rule my real life, which I don’t. In fact I tend to think of worse case scenarios – i.e. if I have a weird ache on my foot I think right away – cancer. When I read of something new in the Popular Science, my mind starts might go, what’s the worst thing that can happen? Of course then it’s fun to write about what could happen. 3d printers – all the manufacturers will go out of business because people can print their own stuff. You get the picture.

Of course, if I were to write about it, I’ll be interlacing something positive, that something good will come out of it. And that’s how it should be.

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For those of you who resist outlining your story, it’s really not so bad. Take it from someone who said they’d never do it because it would stifle my creativity. I have found it hasn’t done that at all and I feel free to change this and that as new ideas hit me.

Take my latest story. I pretty much followed the outline and now I’m near the end and I have changed a major piece because of an idea I had. Well, that and the fact I didn’t read what I wrote for a particular chapter so I forgot to have the main characters stay out of the ancient city until the bad guys show up. But, no biggie. I added some booby traps and now the m.c. gets a heroine moment by locating the real entrance to the city and not the booby trapped one. For a moment I wondered if I should panic and rewrite. Nope. Afterall the outline isn’t etched in stone.

I created an outline for the next book in the series. It took a while and I’d be walking along thinking: what the heck is going to happen next? It got kind of frustrating, but then I’d sit down at the computer and something would pop up. The next day (or the next) I’d go back, do some rewriting maybe and add some more. Not sure if I like all of it right now, but that’s so great about editing. And it’s only an outline and I can always change it.

The one negative I have with the outline is, because I have it in chapters, I think I have to have a minimum of pages for each chapter and when it looks like it won’t be that long I start sticking in stuff sometimes makes me think  I’m fluffing up with bits I’ll take out later on. That’s pretty much just me though.

Will I write outlines for all my stories. No. In fact I got an idea and I think I’ll wing it for that story when I get to it.

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Have Internet! Yippee!

Finally, yes, finally, I have joined the ranks of millions of people who have Internet access at home. For many this is probably a ho-hum moment, but it’s pretty exciting to me. Of course now all I need is the time, but I’ll find it. Right now I’m squeezing in my Internet time between getting dinner and the news. After I’ve finished my latest Christmas blurb book, I’ll have more time. I think.

For those wondering what took so long, it’s because where I live now the price is affordable. Out in the country it cost a heap more. Wireless capability would be about eighty bucks a month. Here I’m paying about fifteen. It’d be more if I hadn’t bought my own modem/router.  It’d be more if I’d gone with at&t (which I found out recently stood for American telegraph and telephone. Never knew that.)

At the beginning of my Internet provider research, at&t looked quite promising. We have the phone line in. My dad had put in a dsl line. Didn’t look like a problem. Having some questions and wanting to make sure the price they advertised was the price I’d be getting, I gave them a call. Turns out they won’t do dsl in my area because they are upgrading. The 14.99 now went up to 29.99 a month. And they’d have to come in and put in a special line. Add $99.00 to that.

Okay, I said, pretty much fuming by now because I cannot understand why I can’t get the dsl line, are there any extra fees?

There are taxes. And there’s this. And that.

I could see the $29.99 becoming $31.00, $32.00, $33.00. Forget it, I said. I’ll work something else out. Maybe I’ll just continue driving to the library every few days. I like libraries so it’s no hardship except for the time it takes by having to drive there and back.

So, then I went to Time Warner cable. We have cable so no one has to come in and install anything and goodness knows I have cables and adapters, and splitters and what all. The lady was very nice. Told me the price I saw advertised was the price I’d have to pay. I told I’d be back when I get my modem. That took all of five days later. I had a bit of trouble with that, but it worked all out and now… Internet. Cool.

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Blogging Workshop

This is a test. I’m at a blogging workshop and I just learned something new – how to write a post, but not publish until later. How cool is that? I can certainly use this for later, like when I have several ideas in my head and don’t want to write it twice. Let’s see if it works.

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It was off to my favorite conference last week, EdTech, and a peek at all this technology and educational. One difference though, this year I presented my own workshop. Animation Palooza. I’d been hoping to do this, but my hopes got dashed when my presentation didn’t get picked. Then a friend of mine told me she had two presentations. Two! And my little one didn’t get picked. She submitted a proposal to do one on games and one on animation. Animation! Okay, so for a few minutes mean thoughts ran through my head, but I got over. As it turned out she hadn’t known I wanted to do a presentation on animation plus she felt overwhelmed what with having to do presentations and she didn’t feel that confident with the animation one. I was back on track.

The fun part of my presentation was creating the videos. I did a claymation, two stop-motion, onePowerPoint, and one like the old pencil/ink drawings using a free software program named Pencil. Pretty much all my animations were done with free software except for the PowerPoint one, but I could have used Open Office for that. The other programs are Monkey Jam (love it, love it) and Stykz. I think I wrote about them in another blog.

While I didn’t get to go to all the sessions I really wanted to attend, I did get to go to some and I learned plenty. Being low on funds at the moment I’m thinking of repacking one presentation, the one on presentations, and giving the website links to my nephew for Christmas. Since he’s in college now maybe he can use them to make his reports zippy and outstanding. It’s a lame gift I know, but, hey. He’s really hard to buy presents for and we usually give him money or gift cards and that’s kinda out for me right now. I’d give him some of the candy I scored at the conference, but he’s not that into candy. So that went to my Mom who is very much into candy.

This year’s theme was Superheroes (more DC than Marvel) so some of the goodies were superhero themed. I got a nice red t-shirt for volunteering. It also gave me an idea for my annual Pawnee Kitty and Angus went to _______ and got you this _______ for your birthday letter. I always try to find something unusual (and cheap) to send my nephew. This year it’s plastic rubber superhero duckies, Batman and the Flash. They had Superman too, but he had a pony tail and I’m still trying to figure that one out. The title of this letter will be How Pawnee Kitty and Angus went to Greenville, became superheroes and got you two ducks.

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