30 July 2009

Fiction Thursday: Inspiration

Kell over at The Fang Marked Writer has a post about music as inspiration up today. Music is a common source of writerly inspiration, but other things can be inspirational, too. Many writers like to be out in nature or to wander in art galleries and museums.

However, writers can be an odd bunch, and seek inspiration in "unusual" places sometimes. Dana of En Tequila Es Verdad has been known to go outside for a smoke, for example. Another writer friend of mine dusts her living room. Still another takes a long shower.

Sometimes when I need inspiration, I make myself a cup of hot tea. (Earl Grey is best for me!) The tea is relaxing and lets my mind wander a bit, and usually by the time I'm rinsing out my cup, I'm ready to get back to whatever I was working on (or trying to, at least).

So I'm curious as to what inspires you that others might find "odd." Is it a particular food or drink? Watching a television show? Doig a handstand? What is that gets your creative flow going?


27 July 2009

Update on a Prayer Request

Thank you, everyone who kept my mom in your thoughts and prayers today. I'm happy to say her surgery went well. She's feeling good (as good as she can, at least), and she should be at home in her own bed tomorrow.

Now, hopefully she'll actually let my sister take care of her as she recovers! (She's always been an independent person, so I can see her trying to do too much too soon.)

This Week's Task List

Ladies and gentlemen, I am officially and totally on maternity leave. I will still be blogging, of course, but CSW is closed until after Bean is born and we get settled into our routine. Fortunately for this post, I still have some things to do this week.

  • Update CSW's financial ledger for July.
  • Check in with a couple of clients to say hi and see if they have any last-minute projects for me to do this or next week.
  • Make sure the blog posts are set up for while I won't be blogging here.
  • Clean out my work files (so that when I get back to work everything will already be organized).

26 July 2009

Prayer Requests

This week please pray with me that:
  • my mom's surgery, which is tomorrow, will go well, and she is able to recover quickly.
  • CMerie's grandmother continues to heal, and that her upcoming mastectomy goes smoothly.
  • Angie's preparation for the new school year (including getting trained for the new aspects of her job) goes well.
  • my step-sister Amy finds peace in the midst of her emotionally difficult summer.
As always, if you have any prayer requests you'd like added, all you have to do is comment on this post or email me. Anonymous and unspoken prayer requests can also be emailed to me and will be added.

Storm the Beaches!

The crew of COTEB has been working hard since the first installment hosted by Dana way back in June 2008. They've traveled from port to port, island to island wielding intelligence, wit, and common sense everywhere they go. It's not easy--there is a lot of stupidity and closed-mindedness in this world that simply must be combated by someone!

After all the work they've put in over the past year or so, I think it's high time for a vacation! So our dear crew will be celebrating intelligence from their comfortable places on the beautiful sands of Florida, sun overhead, rum in hand (with little decorative umbrellas included, of course). [Photo source]

So rather than hopping from port to port, we'll be hopping from lounger to lounger, towel to towel, taking in the relaxed, rum-drunk rhetoric of our crew, giving them a bit of a break before they take back to the choppy waters that will be sure to meet them next month.

As hostess, I'll open the floor with a discussion about writing and publication. I'm sure you've all taken books to the beach that deserved to be chucked to Davey Jones's bookshelf. What makes something worthy of publication? And what is the ease of self-publication doing to the industry? [Photo source]

Relaxing on a lounger nearby, fellow scribbler Stephanie takes on the importance of factual accuracy. She says, "Every time we flub or cheat a detail, we're making our audience, at least part of which will catch any inaccuracy, do more work. In writerly terms, it's called throwing our audience out of the story. [...] In order to get back to the point where the story is a world that the audience is visiting, the process of suspending disbelief has to start all over again."

Of course, the same is true in Hollywood and science, as is pointed out by Peggy of Biology in Science Fiction, who tells us, "...[T]he way that Hollywood portrays science is often egregiously bad and the way it portrays scientists is almost always negative. Because most of the public has little exposure to either quality discussions of science or interaction with actual scientists, what people see on the big or little screen negatively influences their perception."

Our esteemed Admiral Dana, who has been discussing pirates, as usual, takes the conversation down a statistician's path, bringing up the correlation between pirate populations and global warming. She warns, "Statistics will bite your butt if you don't use 'em wisely."

Don of Done and Progress tells us, "I've been trying to write about a complex topic from philosophy of science, drawing on the work of multiple authors and expanding the subject to interdisciplinary heights." [Quote taken from email] He then heads a discussion on functional explanation.

Under the umbrella of a Holocene Hominoid, anyone who passes will hear a discussion about the arguments used in justification of Faith, using a discussion between a Christian student and Atheistic philosophy professor as a foundation.

A few beach towels down, Last Hussar continues the religious-based discussion, using Ireland's new blasphemy law to address religion/spirituality in public. As is so aptly stated, "It is wrong to hate someone because of a belief in something that isn't your belief."

Thony C. truly earns the title of Elitist Bastard in response to a comment by Mr. Mann which says, "Please note, science arose within a Christian context." Thony says, "If you are going to pontificate on the origins and historical development of science then do yourself and us a favour and learn something about the subject before making ridiculous statements."

John Pieret brought his Thoughts in a Haystack to the beach with him, bringing up the ever-popular debate between creationism and evolution, bringing up the question about what is considered "good," according to creationists. He says, "But what is the Bible but just stories -- often silly ones at that -- that only the naive could take, given the genocide, casual cruelty, hateful bigotry, murder, et al., it details, as representing 'very good'?"

When faced with the enormity of the beach and ocean, even on vacation, many elitist bastards can't help but think about the beauty of science. Our Admiral Dana, now quite drunk on sun and rum, brings up the geology of Sunset Crater. Ian chimes in with his take on Pluto's "demotion" from the status of planet, and the surrounding uproar of people against it. At this mention of idiocy in the general public, Last Hussar brings brings up an incident during which someone who believes the moon landing was a conspiracy met Buzz Aldrin. [Photo source]

Picking up the thread of the cosmos, Cujo is reminded of the phrase "If we can put men on the moon..." and applies it to universal health care. He says, "...[W]e know that it's possible for an advanced country to provide medical care to all its citizens. Canada and most of the countries of western Europe have managed this feat for at least a generation. [...] Yet to hear members of Congress and the President tell you, it's a feat comparable to turning lead into gold."

Efrique responds continues the dicussion on health care by responding to a recent discussion on health care (by our own Admiral, no less!) by saying, quite plainly, "The one constant then, is that under any form of health care, under any form of public and private expenditure, people die. It is a nonsense to pretend otherwise."

At the tiki bar (which is really just an elitist way of saying "tub of rum"), Webster69 explains the difference between misinformation and disinformation, and the dangers of the latter, specifically through the lens of Fox News. [Photo source]

Where would elitism be without some politics, as well? Woozle responds to a piece about what makes people vote Republican, with proper snark and rationality included, of course. Even the introduction sets the stage: "From a rational perspective, this is a truly awful piece of writing. I count at least eight straw men, two appeals to guilt, three counts of demonizing (albeit subtle), four usupported claims, and five counts of what I can only think of as 'shell gaming'."

Shaking his head and reminding us all that our beach vacation must, eventually come to an end, the Decrepit Old Fool explains that there will always be "fail." We are told, "I really believe, on a deep, intuitive level, that as humans we are capable of screwing things up on a gigantic scale. But I also believe the situation isn't hopeless. We can learn strategies for avoiding Fail." (I decided not to point out that by using a beach towel as blanket rather than to keep sand from getting in his decrepit shorts is a bit of an "un-mindfulness driven Fail.") [Photo source]

The discussions on this private beach show that elitist bastards of this world can't stop thinking about the stupidity, closed-mindedness, and general irrationality they encounter every day of their lives.

Enjoy this time off, mateys. Clearly stupidity does not take vacations, so I fear yours will be short-lived.

24 July 2009

Social Media and Self-Promotion

Between MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the many blog sites available, it can be a bit overwhelming to know what's good for you to use as methods of self-promotion and networking. Not only that, but keeping up with everything can be a full time job in itself!

Before you jump into everything, though, make sure you understand what each social media outlet is, and what it can do for you.

MySpace is probably one of the best known social networking sites. It began as strictly a social networking site, and became popular for musical artists to promote their bands, gigs, and albums. The film industry jumped on board next, and soon MySpace became the social networking site for cool, hip companies to connect with clients. MySpace now seems to be "out," however, in favor of newer social networking sites such as Facebook.

Facebook began as a social networking site exclusively for high school students. Some time after it's creation, Facebook opened to college students, as well, and several years ago, also became available to anyone with an email address. There are many who say Facebook is more "professional" than MySpace because its appearance is more streamlined (not nearly as customizable as MySpace), which makes it look "cleaner."

LinkedIn is marketed for professionals. It is meant to be a tool for people who want to promote themselves and their businesses to further their careers. LinkedIn allows you to network with others in your industry, reach out to other professionals who can help you move up and forward.

Twitter is one of the newest social media sites, and is considered a "micro-blogging site." For those familiar with MySpace, Facebook, and LinkedIn, you can better understand Twitter as just your "status" on the other sites. Each post is limited to 140 characters, and usually answers the question "What are you doing?" Lots of people use Twitter to let clients know what they're working on, where they are (particularly if they're at conferences or in workshops), or to promote sales, giveaways, etc.

Using social media sites is a great way to promote yourself and get yourself "seen." However, be sure you know the purpose of using each of the sites you use, and use them to their fullest advantage. If you use Facebook to promote your freelancing, for example, you may not want to put up pictures from your 21st birthday party. Keep in mind also that if friends post on your Facebook page, anyone else who can see your page can see those comments.

Also, don't let social media serve as an excuse to keep from working. Yes, it can be a valuable tool, but updating your Twitter status every fifteen minutes instead of researching for an article or checking in with clients is counter-productive.

Do you use social networking sites to promote yourself? If so, which one(s) and why?

21 July 2009

Prayer Request Update

Yesterday, I asked you to keep CMerie's grandmother in your prayers.

Today, there's an update! CMerie's grandmother's surgery went well, and will hopefully be able to fly home on Friday.

Please continue to pray that she recovers quickly.

COTEB Be Docking Here

(NOTE: This post has been post-dated. New content can be found below.)

There are wonderful bloggers in this world who use the Internet to share their values and question others. I think it's awesome that we have so many different viewpoints at our fingertips!

A very dear friend of mine, Dana of En Tequila Es Verdad, works every month to bring some of those viewpoints together for the Carnival of the Elitist Bastards. In this carnival, bloggers contribute (or are asked to contribute) posts that challenge stupidity, closed-mindedness, and anything else worth challenging. Then, the captain of the month's carnival puts the posts together in a creative way to share all these posts with readers.

I'm happy to say that July is my month. So, on Saturday, July 25th, the shipmates of the COTEB will be taking to the beach for some much-needed shore leave.


Good. Then be sure to stop by and read it on Saturday.

Have something to say?

Even better! All you have to do is pick a post (or write one) that, as Admiral Dana says, "hits the stupid where it hurts" and email the link to elitistbastardscarnival@gmail.com no later than Friday, July 24th.
There will be rum.

20 July 2009

Prayer Request

Please pray for CMerie's grandmother, who had surgery on her heart this morning. She'll have a few days to heal before flying home to Wyoming, and once she's healed from this surgery, she'll have a mastectomy to face, as well.

The post on CMerie's blog, Catholic Wife and Mother, is here if you'd like to pass along your thoughts and prayers.

This Week's Task List

As I get closer to my due date, I find that more and more of my task list is taken up with baby preparations. Though I do have a few work-/writing-related tasks this week.

  • Contact clients about open projects
  • Update CSW financial ledger for July
  • Finish organizing and setting up blog posts for August and September (There will be great guest posts every Wednesday during that time, so tune in!)

19 July 2009

Frank McCourt dies at 78

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Frank McCourt, whose memoir Angela's Ashes (1998) chronicled his miserable Irish Catholic childhood in Limerick, Ireland, succumbed to meningitis (a complication from a recent bout with melanoma) this afternoon in New York. He is survived by his third wife, Ellen, his daughter Maggie, his three brothers: Malachy, Alphie, and Michael, and a world of readers, former students, and great admirers.

His family will be in our thoughts and prayers.

Prayer Requests

This week, please pray with me that:
  • my mother's surgery goes well on July 27th, and that she has a quick, uneventful recovery
  • Hubby's friend's husband (did you get that?) continues to have a quick, uneventful recovery from his gall bladder surgery
  • Lisa finds peace in the midst of her depression
  • Lisa's husband can be supportive, and that he can find support of his own as he helps his wife

18 July 2009

Technology Continues to Bring Debates

With the increasing popularity of e-books, publishing houses are being forced to adapt to keep up, and discuss issues in the publishing world that have not been debated until now.

And, of course, the question is not simply whether to make digital copies of books available, but how to handle their releases in relation to paper and ink copies (particularly hardcover).

In this recent article by The New York Times, Mikoto Rich and Brad Stone say:

No topic is more hotly debated in book circles at the moment than the timing, pricing and ultimate impact of e-books on the financial health of publishers and retailers. Publishers are grappling with e-book release dates partly because they are trying to understand how digital editions affect demand for hardcover books. A hardcover typically sells for anywhere from $25 to $35, while the most common price for an e-book has quickly become $9.99.

Of course, price isn't the only factor in the apprehension of publishers to set release dates for their digital publications. "Leaks" are an issue, as well. The article goes on to say:

Ms. [Susanne] Herz said that Doubleday was primarily worried about the security of Mr. [Dan] Brown’s book, [The Lost Symbol,] which is being kept under a strict embargo until the Sept. 15 publication date. But she acknowledged that the e-book’s possible effect on hardcover sales was also an issue, among others.

This is a key transitional time for the publishing industry, and the decisions that publishers make now will have lasting effects.

So what do you think? How should publishing houses handle the release of digital books in relation to their paper and ink cousins?

17 July 2009

Frank McCourt near death

According to his brother, author/actor Malachy McCourt, the award-winning author Francis "Frank" McCourt is gravely ill, and not expected to live very long. McCourt is in a New York hospice with meningitis and, according to Malachy, "his faculties are shutting down." The meningitis is likely a complication from the melanoma for which he was treated earlier this year.

The author is best known for his novel Angela's Ashes (1996), a memoir of his impoverished Irish Catholic childhood, and won the Pulitzer Prize. The book was followed by 'Tis (1999), which picks up where Angela's Ashes left off, and follows McCourt's young adulthood upon his return to New York. The chronicle of McCourt's life was finished in his final memoir, Teacher Man (2005), describing his career in New York high schools and colleges.

Frank McCourt was born on August 19, 1930 in Brooklyn, New York.

Photo source

Today is Fiction Day!

I adore writing fiction.

Don't misunderstand: I do enjoy the freelance work I do. But nothing will compare to writing fiction for me. It's where my heart is in the writing world. So each Thursday, I've been setting aside the day to write fiction. Of course, I keep up with my freelancing deadlines, but Thursday is Fiction Day.

Unfortunately, yesterday I was in bed most of the day (thanks, Bean), so I didn't get anything done. So I've moved Fiction Day to today this week.

I'm using my fiction-writing time to work on my coffee house book, which has been neglected but still niggling at me for quite some time. I want to finish it and (hopefully) find a home for it, and right now the best way for me to do that is to write at least one full day a week.

Today I'm going to write the lunch rush scene.

What are you writing today?

13 July 2009

This Week's Task List

This week, fortunately, is going to be a quiet one for me. I'm helping out in my Mom-in-law's office this week while she's out of town, but that's never too complex. Here's what's going on in my coffee-stained world:

  • Answer the phones for Mom-in-law during the day
  • Prenatal appointment on Tuesday evening
  • Organize guest bloggers posts for August/September (Email me if you're interested in contributing a post!)
  • Address envelopes for Dad-in-law's retirement ceremony/celebration
  • Work on Bean's scrapbook
  • Finish getting the nursery ready

12 July 2009

Prayer Requests

This week, please pray with me that:

  • my Mom- and Dad-in-law have a safe and relaxing week out of town this week.
  • my mother gets good news about her upcoming surgery.
  • my friend, Lisa, finds comfort.
  • Lisa's husband finds comfort.
  • Hubby's appointment on Wednesday goes well.
  • my prenatal appointment on Tuesday goes well.

09 July 2009

Thursday is Fiction Day!

I'm trying to spend more time working on my poor, neglected coffee house book, so each Thursday is being set aside as Fiction Day in my office.

Last night I looked at what needs to be done so I could try and set a goal for myself today, and found myself wanting to organize before I could actually write. I have a bad habit of using my fiction-writing time as organizational time. I tweak my outline, develop my character bios, etc., etc., and don't get any actual writing done.

Today is going to be different. Instead of opening my outline to see what needs to be done, I'm going to open my manuscript and start writing, then see what happens.

If NaNoWriMo taught me anything, it's that I can get things down on paper and go back to fix them later. It certainly doesn't have to be perfect the first time.

So my goal today is simply to write. I'm not going to impose any word count goals or time goals on myself. I think the best thing for me will be simply to get back into the habit of writing fiction, and we'll see where it goes from there.

Wish me luck!

08 July 2009

Evaluating my Schedule for July/August

Each day that passes is bringing me a stronger realization that Bean will be here before I know it! So I've been forced to take a serious look at my schedule for July and the beginning of August to determine what needs to be done, what should be done, and what can wait. (Getting the nursery organized, for example, can't wait. But I don't have to finish the pregnancy part of Bean's scrapbook before he arrives.)

It's making me realize that I have a lot more going on than I thought I did, and there are tasks I've been moving around and not completing for quite some time. And some of those tasks must be done before Bean gets here.

I guess I'm a bigger procrastinator than I liked to believe.

07 July 2009

A Peek at My New Office Space

So it's a bit of a mess right now since I'm still working on getting the nursery organized, but I'm officially working out of my new office space in the nursery now. My laptop, printer, and file box are all there, and I'm slowly getting it organized the way I want.

I do have to say that I like having my office space in a separate room from the bedroom. I liked being in with the fur babies during the day, of course, but they were also a distraction to me, and I'm finding it easier to be in "work mode" when I'm in my new space. I don't know how Bean will play into the equation next month, but for now, my set up is working quite nicely. Now if I can just get the rest of my life to fall into place in the next few weeks, I'll be good!

06 July 2009

This Week's Task List

It seems that my task list is growing a little each week, but I feel like it should be shrinking! Of course, right now this week's task list doesn't look very daunting, but lately I've been needing to add tasks every day, so by the end of the week, the list I have on my desk is quite a mess! Hopefully, this week's list will stay relatively short.

  • Apply for local online writing opportunity
  • Work on CSW financial files for June/July
  • Finish the client flier for PWT
  • Scan pictures for Dad-in-law's retirement scrapbook
  • Continue/finish organizing Bean's nursery

The Coffee-Stained Writer Seeks Guest Bloggers for August/September

I don't know if you know this or not, but...I'm pregnant.

Yes, that's right, your beloved NP has been abstaining from caffeine, getting a rather large belly bump, and decorating a nursery.

For the most part, my pregnancy has been quite easy (enjoyable, even!), but now that I'm getting to the end, I'm realizing that pretty soon I'll things on my mind outside of the blogosphere. When Bean arrives, I don't know how often I'll even be in my office, let alone blogging!

That said, I'd like to appeal to you, my dear coffee-stained readers, and ask if any of you would like to step in and post a few guest posts for while I'm preoccupied cuddling my precious little Bean. Dana of En Tequila Es Verdad already has access as a co-blogger, so I'm sure you'll be able to enjoy at least one tequila-stained post from her over the course of my absence, but surely there are others of you who have contemplated writing about writing? Or about your faith? Or coffee, for that matter?

Well, this is your opportunity to chime in!

Not only will you get the chance to share your thoughts here, but you'll get great linkage to your own blog/site, which is always good. Cross-promotion is fun, isn't it?

If you're interested, please let me know. Even if you're not sure exactly what you'd write, but you know you'd like to participate, let me know. Over the next few weeks I'll be collecting posts from readers and will schedule them to go up on my blog.


05 July 2009

Prayer Requests

This week please be in prayer with me for:

  • my mother, who may have to have surgery at the end of July
  • my sister-in-law, who is having a difficult time with her hectic schedule (which has caused her to become ill)
  • my husband's parents, who will be traveling from July 10th until July 18th
  • Frazzoo, who will be spending time getting her feet wet in her new position at work, and is nervous about what the added responsibility will bring
  • my friend Lisa, who is currently going through a very severe depression
  • Lisa's husband, who is doing all he can to be there for his wife
  • my friend Pam, who starts a new job in August, but won't get a paycheck until October

04 July 2009

Happy Independence Day!

And my deepest gratitude to all those, both at home and abroad, who risk their lives every day to keep others safe.