Friday, November 30, 2012

Bragging time

So, I've had writer's block all week. Today, I'm going to continue working on describing scenes.
But, since I don't have any other writing news to share with you today, I'm going to write about my Disney Cruise in detail, complete with pictures.
Here goes.

After driving from Salem to LA, we finally got to board the Disney Wonder, after weeks of anticipation. We arrived, and guess what? It turns out the one thing I forgot to legally change my name on was my passport. I was still Jillian Reid. But, after sweaty palms and a mild anxiety attack, we finally got it figured out. The lady at the counter told me not to worry: Micky would know we were married and not living in sin, even if my Key to the World card suggested that Josh and I weren't legally wed. True story.

Anyway, after being greeted regally by a cast of cheering crew members, we immediately headed to lunch...did you know that on average, an adult will gain 7-14 pounds on a cruise? The eating starts as soon as you get on, and doesn't stop until you're gone. It was bliss.

After that, we decided to explore. We went up to the spa, just for fun, and ended up taking a tour. After the tour, we got to enter our names into a drawing...and I won! $150 toward any spa treatment! I've never won a drawing before, and I booked a seaweed soak/massage thing for that night. Unfortunately, I was wearing a seasick patch, had taken some supplemental Dramamine, and some anxiety I woke up the next morning, thinking the entire thing was a dream. But it wasn't. I have pictorial proof!

The next day, the fun really started to kick off. We began the morning with a character breakfast, where Puto, our Indonesian waiter, made us all napkin hats. Then, we watched Aladdin by the pool on the 9th deck, and explored the ship. It was gigantic and amazing.

But the really fantastic part was the formal night. We got all dolled up, went to a beautiful dinner, and then saw a spectacular show: The Golden Mickeys. All of the entertainment on the ship was top notch that week, and the Golden Mickeys were certainly no exception. Then, we went to an after party, where we danced like idiots and Allison fell in love with a cutie crew member named Robin. After that, we saw Michael Harrison's adult only ventriloquist show and played 80's music trivia, where our team kicked butt, and there was a lot more dancing. Robin was dressed up as Elton John, and he danced with Allison. Just in case you were wondering.

Because Monday night was exhausting, we decided to sleep in Tuesday morning. We had a late breakfast buffet, and then tried to see Brave at the Buena Vista theater. But, it was in 3D, and the enclosed room + the 3D glasses + the seasickness made for a very bad combination. So, instead we hung out in our state room, where they played old Disney movies (as well as a few newer releases that weren't Disney) 24/7. We grabbed some lunch (free food and soda whenever you wanted it!) before heading to movie quote trivia, where Josh, Jordan, and I won a metal. No big deal (it totally was).

That night, we played Banana Grams, ate more, took pictures with Peter Pan and Ariel, and saw Lincoln. It was a very relaxing day.

 Wednesday, however, was less relaxing. Don't get me wrong, it was still a blast. But, that's the day the seasickness and heat exhaustion hit me the worst. I'm an Oregonian. I don't fair well in the heat. This was the day we went on a Pirate Adventure!

We took the ship to a private beach, where we played in the water and got huge, rocky grains of sand everywhere. The crew of the pirate ship was nice and funny, and everything was fine once I took a couple of Dramamine. I even got to drive the boat for a little while! This was our day in Puerto Vallarta, and I bought a couple of pairs of cute, hand-made earrings as well. Also, that night was Pirate themed, so we had a pirate dinner and there was a deck party. Josh and I didn't go though, because we went to bed super early, but we did get to see the fireworks out of our state room window.

For Thanksgiving, we spent the day in Cabo San Lucas. If I learned anything from my time in Mexico, it's that their economy is driven by pushy vendors trying to get you to take their water taxis. "No thank you," was an important part of my vocabulary there. It was really fun though, and I loved how bright and colorful everything was. It was awesome to see Josh haggle with the vendors: We got a hand-crafted plate and bowl, a hand-made doll, a finger painted tile with the Wonder on it, some salt and pepper shakers, and 2 pairs of "90% genuine" Raybans. We spent the day on the beach, and then watched Toy Story the Musical and a magic show back on the ship.

Friday was another relaxing day. We spent the morning in Cabo, but the ship left for LA at one in the afternoon, so we spent the rest of the day reading in the hot tub and hanging by the pool, as well as watching more movies in our state room. This was the night of the semi-formal dinner, and we saw Disney Dreams for the on-board entertainment, played a "newly weds" game, and saw Ed Alanzo's magic show. Also, I just have to say, Josh looked awesome that night.

We slept in our last day of the cruise. The morning was leisurely, and we ate lots, did more trivia, and played Banana Grams. The final show was called 'Til We Meet Again, and we saw the juggling, joking, and music act of Steve Carte. Then, our favorite crew members did a skit ("If I Were Not Upon the Sea"), and we went to bed, sad to be leaving in the morning. I will always miss Boniface, Puto, Robin, Simon, and all the other crew members who made out week so enjoyable.

Sunday, we drove straight home, and everyone had work early Monday morning.
But, it was the best vacation ever. The crew was amazing, friendly, and on top of things, we didn't have to clean or cook, the entertainment was awesome, we could relax when we wanted to and play when we didn't, the food was spectacular, the experience was unforgettable, and of course, the Disney magic was undeniable.

(P.S. 2012, not ZOIZ. In case you were wondering.)
It was a Reid Family Reunion to Remember!

Thursday, November 29, 2012


I've made a discovery:
One of the problems I've been having is that I don't clearly see WHERE my story is taking place. The setting has been of a secondary importance--up until I realized that it shouldn't be--which is making it hard to really get a sense of the world I'm creating.
How can I understand the relationships between my characters, the society they live in, or their reactions to things, if I don't even fully understand where they are living?

So, today, I am going to devote my time to writing out the setting for my novel. I'm going to write detailed descriptions of the town, the school, etc, and then I am going to draw out some maps. Maybe I'll even draw in a bit more detail the world I am creating.

My readers may never see this supplemental information, but it will help my story become a lot more full and realistic if I know what the heck I'm talking about.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I had none today. 
  • Making Christmas presents
  • Watching White Christmas
  • Baking chocolate peanut butter bars
  • Laundry
  • Facebooking
  • Writing letters
These were all things I did today instead of writing and grading. 
I tried my best, but I just can't do it. 
Do I have it in me to write an ENTIRE novel??

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Where to go next?

I'm currently working on a novel (working title: The Smarts) that I'm very excited about. However, I've reached the end of my detailed outline, and I need to figure out what happens next.

Initially, I went through chapter 7 and made specific bullet points of how I was going to get from one point to another throughout the chapters. I have a bunch of other bullet points that tell me generally where I want to go before the end of the novel, but it's time to think details again.

That will be my project for tomorrow: Make bullet points of how I can get from where I am now to where I want to go. Problem is, I don't know what I want to happen along the way. I guess I'll find out tomorrow.

In other news, my first novel is on the back burner until 2013. It's discouraging that the process of becoming an author is taking so long, but that's the nature of the job, I suppose. I need a break from it--it will be more beneficial for me in the long run when I try and submit it to publishers.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Real World

We arrived back in Salem from our wonderful Mexican Riviera Disney Cruise at 1:45 am last night.
This morning, I only had 4 essays waiting for me, which was not as many as I was expecting, as I was incommunicado for a week, but still 4 more than I wanted to grade.
I still feet like I'm on the ship...when will the dizzies go away??
My stomach has stretched and I've been craving juice like crazy.
I gave myself the day to readjust to reality...but tomorrow--

It's back to work! 


Friday, November 16, 2012

30 days has November...

Sunday, I leave for a Disney cruise with my Dad’s side of the family, and consequently, I will by MIA until Monday, November 26th. Because of this, I thought I’d leave you with a list of things I’m grateful for, since it’s the month of Gratitude.
30 things (for the 30 days in November) that I’m thankful for:
  1. My writing talent
  2. My savior
  3. Cell phones, computers, and Skype
  4. I am married to my best friend, and we are sealed for eternity. 
  5. The scriptures--The New and Old Testament, the Book of Mormon, the D&C...they're all so wonderful in their own ways. 
  6. Books and pictures
  7. Laughter
  8. My family and friends
  9. Running/hot water
  10. The opportunities I have had to travel
  11. The Holy Spirit
  12. The fact that my husband is so supportive of my dreams and will never let me give up on them. 
  13. Epiphanies
  14. The Temple
  15. Second chances (and third, and forth...)
  16. Modern medicine
  17. My education
  18. My healthy body
  19. The restored gospel
  20. The fact that my husband found a job, and I get to work doing what I love
  21. Despite temporary unemployment, we have wanted for nothing, thanks to loving and caring family members
  22. I live in the most beautiful place on Earth
  23. Electricity
  24. We have a reliable car 
  25. Netflix
  26. Washing machines and dishwashers
  27. Air conditioning/heating
  28. Pizza and ice cream
  29. Fire places
  30. We're going on a Disney Cruise!!!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Have a great week. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

8 hours and counting...

I'm going to put in 8 hours of writing today. Just writing.
I don't care how far I get. All that matters is that I work until my husband gets home.
Then, I'm off for ten days!
I'm so grateful I have all this time to write before my life starts to get super busy. I know it's coming...but as of today, I have 8 hours free in which I can dive into the lives of my characters, and create a world that isn't my own.

How exciting is that?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


One of the things I am really good at is writing dialogue. I don't often get to toot my own horn, so I'm going to go ahead and do it today. 

Many people have told me that I write really realistic and funny conversations between my characters. Now, I'm not so good at other things, such as describing the scene, filling characters' thoughts with emotional responses, or describing action, so I've been thinking that maybe I should divert my efforts to writing screenplays instead of novels. 

But, while I'm contemplating a major shift in my career aspirations, I'm going to make a pathetic confession: My favorite night of the week is Thursday night. Want to know why? It's because Thursdays are when new episodes of The Big Bang Theory, The Office, Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, and hopefully soon, Community come out. And, I can watch Modern Family on hulu before the fun starts at 8 pm. 

Isn't it sad that my life seems to revolve around these TV shows?

Well, first of all, it doesn't. I don't actually watch much TV besides this, so I think it's okay to indulge myself once a week. And secondly, these shows are so well-written and funny that I really look to them as inspiration in my own writing. I write good dialogue because I've grown up watching smart TV. 

Every author has a list of his or her influences, and mine just happens to include funny TV shows. Obviously, not exclusively, but still. Arrested Development, The Simpsons, and Gilmore Girls are also brilliant contributors to my genius. 

I feel like my life is just a little sad by admitting this. But let me give you an example: 
"Stale pastry is hallow succor to a man who is bereft of ostrich."
--The Big Bang Theory

Hilarious, right? 

Anyway, that's my thought for the day. 

And to my mom, and all other like-minded English teachers who bemoan the loss of culture in the younger generations: Cheer up. Culture is just shifting. I agree it's sad that people don't read the classics (or any books, for that matter) as much as they used to, but the human spirit will always need a creative outlet, an escape from everyday life. Culture isn't disappearing: it's just shifting. For better or worse, I guess that remains to be seen. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Four more days...

I just need to put in four more days of hard work until I can start my Disney cruise vacation!

Getting back from Veteran's Day weekend, I'm not quite ready to jump back into work. But I only need to focus for four more days...that's all that's keeping me going.

In the next four days (did I mention it's only FOUR more days?), I need to grade papers, reach 100 pages in my current novel, attend an ANWA meeting, pack, tie up odds and ends for the week I'm going to be gone, make a doctor's appointment, write a short story, and...I feel like there's something else. Uh oh. I hope I can remember everything I need to do IN THE NEXT FOUR DAYS, before leaving for California/Mexico on a DISNEY CRUISE!

I need to make a To Do list. I'll put that on my list of things to do before my Disney Cruise. Which I'm leaving for in four more days...

Friday, November 9, 2012

Everyone's gotta start somewhere...

When you start working in business, you can't just jump in and become the CEO. When you start acting, you can't just expect that you'll get a call asking you to be in the next big Blockbuster hit of the summer. When you run for public office for the first time, you can't assume that you'll be able to get elected as president of the United States right off the bat. When you start working at any company or in any profession, you can't just walk in and conclude that they want you to run the place.

It's a simple concept, but one I've been struggling with a lot lately.

I want to be an author. That's my dream, and I don't want to give up on it. But it's so hard to devote my time to writing when I have nothing to show for it yet, especially when I feel like I should be contributing to my family's finances.

"What do you do?"
"I'm an author."
"Really? Would I have read anything of yours."
"Well, no. I'm not exactly published yet."

How can you be an author if you aren't published? I want to be able to point to a physical object and say, "Look. See that? I wrote that." I want to be able to look at my bank account and say, "Yes. I do get a check from my work. Everything I do does pays off."

I know I have to start at the bottom, and I have to develop my talents and get discovered, but it can just be so discouraging sometimes.

I'm so grateful for my husband, who will never let me abandon my dreams. He encourages me when I start to doubt myself, and he is willing to do whatever it takes to support me.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Is it Friday yet?

I've been editing like mad all day today.
Both History of Science midterms and a novel for a fellow ANWA writer.
I'm exhausted, and I don't know if I have any juice left in me to work on my own stories.
I can't wait for the weekend.
Only one more day.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hatred and Fear

You can't fight hatred with hatred.
Focus on leaving the world a better place than you found it,
and love people with all your heart.
All people.
Understanding, empathy, charity, and love are the only ways the world has a prayer of getting better.
Care a little more about humanity, and don't focus on the prideful tendency to be "right."
Only when you purge yourself of hate will Darkness be defeated.
Giving into that hate will only make it stronger, no matter how pure your intentions.
And don't be afraid. Just have faith. In yourself, in humanity, in whatever Greater Power you choose to look to.

Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.

May the Dark Side never win.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Kayaking: An Object Lesson

When my husband and I were in Hawaii, we stayed with his sister and her family. Josh had two things he wanted to do: Snorkeling and kayaking. Stephanie and Harold said they would take us to do both. Everything else, Josh could take or leave, he just wanted to do those two things. That's why I felt so bad when I got sea sick snorkeling, and I almost died kayaking.

Don't let the "thumbs up" full you. It was scary.
Here's why I almost died:

Kayaking takes a lot of core work. I've never had very strong abs, therefore I used mostly my arms. Here's a technical tip: That's wrong. I was not expecting to tire out so quickly, but it didn't take long at all before my arms were aching and I started to loose control.

Then, we ended up in a some pretty rough waves. After my arms were already aching, mind you. The waves kind of came out of nowhere: One minute, we were dinking around in the kiddy section of the ocean, the next, we were way out in the bay, being attacked by the vindictive Poseidon  Neither of us stayed in our kayaks very well, and I got tired even faster trying to keep from drowning.

Once I finally got out of the waves, I had to paddle back to shore. It felt miles away, and every part of my upper body ached. I didn't think I could make it. I really wanted to hop into someone else's boat, and have them tug my kayak to shore, but I didn't think that was possible. All of our kayaks were made for one person, and one person only. I wanted to give up and just let the waves have their way with me.

BUT, and here's the object lesson of today's story, Harold, my brother-in-law, ended up coming to my rescue. He took my kayak, attached it to the back of his, and tugged it back to shore. He couldn't take me back on his kayak though, so I got to walk. The water was about mid-thigh high, so it wasn't exactly easy to walk, not to mention the uneven bottom, sharp coral, small and tugging waves, salt water, and sinking sand, but it gave my arms a break. I wasn't close to collapsing from exhaustion anymore, and I made it safely back to shore.

 I learned a lesson about Christ that day: He lets you go, until you are seriously considering giving up and just letting the waves of life pull you back from your destination, but then, He helps you. Right at the last moment, He lightens your load so you can do it. You can keep pushing toward the shore, toward the end. You still have to do some work, and it's still going to be hard, but you can do it. He wants to help you, as much as He can.

It's an experience that I've thought a lot about since our trip, and I'm glad I finally got around to writing it down.

And at least we got to see this guy when we went snorkeling!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Zombie Apocalypse 2012

I had  this really great idea to write a novel or short story called Zombie Apocalypse 2012.

I was going to collect clippings, quotes, and pictures from 2012 newspapers to create a zombie story linking reality with imagination as I created a new, crazy, apocalyptic, sad, gruesome, romantic, touching, etc story that had to do with the end of the world and the 2012 presidential election. Unfortunately, I didn't think of this idea until much too late in the year. I wasn't able to collect clippings from all of 2012, and I wouldn't have had time to finish it before election day anyway. It just wouldn't be topical any more if I pursued it at this point. 

But, I thought I'd share the synopsis: 

A brother and sister (Catsup and Mustard) are home alone when an army of zombies burst into their house. They are children of a washed-up movie star (Tootsie Collins) and a camera man she picked up from her last film (Javier Chavez, who is an immigrant). They are a middle class family, but they are bent on living above their station (because of Tootsie’s history of would-be-glitz). They are an average American family, and yet a picture of how the American Dream doesn’t quite get you anywhere special. News snipits caught from TV’s, radios, etc alert the small town that they will receive no help from anyone…the government is too busy fighting itself. The children die because political “monsters” in Washington become more important than the actual problems of the every-day American. 

I didn't really know how to fill in the holes though, so the project has just been sitting in my computer, a concept without a body. 

I did get this far thought: 

        “I am never living in New York,” Mustard announced as they marched out of the dark theater into the bright sunshine.  
        Tootsie and Javier laughed.
        “Oh, my darling. That wasn’t real,” Tootsie said in her Hollywood Voice with a sweep of her thin, white hand and a chortle that surely would impress the Queen of England herself. She always used her Hollywood Voice after they left the movies.
        "Yeah, dummy. Don't you know that movies are fake?" said Catsup, Mustard's horrible older sister. 
        Mustard just stared at his feet as he walked across the hot asphalt. It was true though. Bad things always seemed to happen in New York. Today, as the family sought to escape the July heat in the pleasantly cool town movie theater, there had been an alien attack led by a Norse demi-god. The city had been destroyed. 

Then I didn't have anything else to say, except for this little paragraph, which would obviously be much later in the story: 

Mustard hauled the old and heavy boxes over the attic door. They weren’t getting in here. He would be safe up in the attic. Wood and cardboard scraped over the dusty floor boards as the sound of undead feet dragging across the carpet below drifted up into his ear canals. They could search the house high and low. They would never find him. And then they would move on.       

That's all I have, and tomorrow, it won't matter anymore (thank goodness it's election day). Should I write it anyway? Maybe I'll save it for the next election. Who knows. But it would have been perfect to add clippings from the news on Hurricane Sandy (Everything bad always seem to happen in New York!), at the risk of sounding unfeeling or unsympathetic. 

What do you think? Should I give up on it, or does it have potential to be awesome?  

Saturday, November 3, 2012


It wasn't quite the shot I wanted, because I had to drive a little too far down the hill to park safely, but I did it!

That's all I have to say for the day. Go enjoy your weekend!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Smell the Roses

There is a beautiful spot in Keizer, just as you start down the Wheatland hill, that is so gorgeous during the fall, that I can barely stand it. It's a small thing, but it's something in my life that makes my heart feel light, no matter what.

Today, as I drove down the hill, I thought, I should just pull over and take a picture of this beautiful scene, so I can look at it always, not just during the fall. I had an appointment to get to, so I didn't stop.


But I am going to drive back over there, pull over, and take a picture. Just as soon as I finish writing for the day.  It won't be as wonderful as the real thing, but I need to stop and smell the metaphorical roses.

Do what makes you Happy every day!

Thursday, November 1, 2012


I know it isn't Halloween anymore, but I'm still allowed to be a little spooked by the wind outside: Branches scraping at the window, the howling of the air current (which I know is really a call from the dead), and the creaking of the house make me want to curl up on my bed with fuzzy socks and watch something ridiculously happy and nowhere near creepy, sad, or abysmal.

Unfortunately, I am only spooked because I have an over-active imagination, which is why I have decided to become on author, which means I can't watch happy movies all day, but rather, I have to write and write and write until my fingers fall off, and then I can join the group of zombies waiting for me outside the door, because they too do not have any fingers, seeing as they are rotting messes of stinking flesh. Maybe I'll write something happy, if I can't watch something happy...but who has time for happiness anymore? Besides, I don't know long I'll have my brain for...

At least my imagination is revving enough to have a very productive day.