Archive for March 11th, 2013

March 11, 2013

Thoughts on Diary of a Teenage Superhero, by Darrell Pitt

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I finally had a chance to read Diary of a Teenage Superhero by Darrell Pitt this weekend.

It was a fast read–which to me means it was a page-turner that I couldn’t put down. Pitt does an excellent job building tension and suspense through the story all the way to the end. This is a skill that I truly admire.

The story begins with an action scene–there’s almost no down time in this book at all, and as far as I can tell, all the down time here is used for character development. I especially appreciate how the teenage protagonist really doesn’t know how to handle girls. It made him realistic and very likable.

I also enjoyed the process as he slowly stepped into a leadership role. It’s not something he sought. It’s just something that happened, and that made it believable, too.

All in all, I think this was a well-developed story.

My first favorite passage:

There’s no time to think. There’s only time to act. I don’t run as much as fling, scramble and tumble down from one level to the next. I hear something thud on the escape above me. More footsteps. They’r giving chase.

Like Charles Yallowitz and other authors I’ve read lately, Pitt’s present-tense writing gives the story a feeling of immediacy. It was a great weekend escape. I’ll be reading more of his work in the future.

Darrell Pitt has agreed to an e-mail interview with me, which I’m hoping to post this coming Thursday. I learned when I posted about Secrets of Successful Writers (also by Pitt) that he now has a major publisher looking at his work. Exciting news! You can bet I’ll be asking him about that.

Also by Darrell Pitt:

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March 11, 2013

Why writers have to consider semantics

Rose colored glasses--sort of! :)

Rose colored glasses–sort of! 🙂

The more I write, the more I understand that semantics and definitions really do matter to readers.

In the oil industry, for instance, there’s a real difference between oil shale and shale oil. Getting the two mixed up can completely change the meaning of the article–it can even impact whether the article makes sense.

And, as I learned this past week, my definition of one word has a completely different meaning to the wider world. I’ve thought quite a bit about it, and I can’t help smiling over it. I always knew I was at least a little bit odd (we all have our eccentricities). It still amazes me how different frames of reference impact the way we define words in our world.

Just for the fun of it, I’ve listed a few words that, upon some reflection, I define a little differently than at least a few people I know. Like the word ‘simple,’ most of these words have become goals for me to shoot for. I’d love to be able to define my life these ways.

Meek–I think this word is thought of far too often as a synonym for ‘weak.’ I recently heard a new definition for it: meekness is absolute power, under absolute control. I haven’t been able to think of it the same way since.  How wonderful would it be to know you had the power to crush your enemies, but the self-discipline and compassion to help them, instead?

Feminine–To me, feminine doesn’t mean prissy, prudish, or frilly. It also doesn’t mean feminist, which I think demonstrates the other end of the spectrum.

In my mind, the word ‘feminine’ embodies strength–the quiet, uncomplaining kind. Patience, a willingness to sacrifice for others, a dedication to home, family and work (whatever that may be), cheerfulness and compassion are part of it, too. The most feminine women I know are also kind to themselves. That alone has to take an amazing amount of inner strength.

Kind of a tall order, don’t you think?

Courage–Growing up, I thought of courage as the lack of fear. I still sometimes think of it that way, but my personal definition has expanded to include this idea: real courage means having the integrity to live openly and authentically without worrying much about what other people in the world think.

So, maybe I just see the world through rose-colored glasses, but I’m really curious now. Does anyone else think of these particular words this way? Are the words that other writers define differently than other people?

If so, I’d love to hear about it. These are the kinds of things that writers have to take into account, if not in their writing, then at least in their re-writing and editing.

March 11, 2013

How the Flylady strategy keeps my life manageable and fun

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It’s time for another Flylady Reboot.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a Flybaby, that I write better when my home is at least somewhat clean and that I really love my timer.

I do tend to get sidetracked, though. There are days the dishes build up in the sink, days when my ‘hot spots’ get cluttered, days when the folded laundry doesn’t get put away and promptly gets unfolded and stepped on by a helpful toddler.

There are even weeks like that–and last week was one of them. When the house gets out of control, so does my writing life. I feel guilty closing myself off in my office when the rest of my family still has to work around messes. If I do make it to my office on messy weeks or days, I’m too keyed up to write well, and my writing time is interrupted by a bazillion little emergencies.

I’ve decided it’s actually a time saver, on weeks like that, to set aside at least part of the day to catch up on laundry, make easy dinners ahead of time, make sure my daughters have everything they need for school the next week, etc. Saturdays are usually my day to do this. I think my Saturdays are akin to what author and life coach Sheila Williams calls ‘claiming days.’ (See her book here.)

Thanks to some decently evolving routines, I don’t have to spend all day long every Saturday doing this, but a few hours of reclaiming my life makes a real difference in my attitude the following week. This past Saturday was one of those days. I’m not even sure how many loads of laundry I had to catch up on. I didn’t get it all done, but I got it back to the point where I can do a load of laundry a day and keep up with it.

It feels good.

As this new week begins, I’m working harder on developing my routines. I’ll be focusing on evening and morning routines first.  Changes in my family’s schedule means some items previously in my morning routine have to be moved later in the day, and some things that weren’t really part of a routine will have to be accommodated.

I have an image in my head of my life as a strategic game. I HAVE to be flexible, to be willing to try different angles and strategies to reach my objectives. It’s part of my ‘level up’ philosophy, and living this way is both entertaining and fulfilling.

I like the fact that my routines are flexible. Life would be boring if I thought of my routines as a set of rules and regulations rather than tools to help me become the best person I can be.

Once I’ve got the hang of my new evening and morning routines, I’ll begin revamping my work routine. One area I really want to improve is having a set time each day to write fiction–no matter where I am. I’m looking forward to watching my routines, watching how and where I spend my time and finding a time I can consistently set aside for this.

I know it will change again in a few months. As the weather gets warmer, I’ll want to spend more time outside, and that will mean a change in schedule, again. It keeps things fun!

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