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Entries from blogs tagged with “Nanowrimo Novels”

Done.

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I’ve written 58,248 (official) words on OverTime, my second NaNoWriMo novel in as many years. It feels good to’ve won and to be done at the same time.

So now what?

This was the question that plagued me last year and I solved it by buying a domain with my name and committing myself to writing thirteen 6,000-word short stories, one a month, and publishing them on the web. This would force me to keep writing, to get better and at the end of it, I’d have another 78,000 words.

I have four more to go and I’m done with what I’ve been calling The Long Range, which amounts to essentially a novel in 13 seemingly disconnected parts. I’m learning my craft, trying to improve my storytelling skills and this year’s NaNo effort certainly helped with that.

Some quick things I’ve come to understand about my writing:

1 – I have rhythms to my sentences, and they tend to be the same from character to character to narrator. Note: change up the length and types of sentences.

2 – Despite having a reasonably large vocabulary, I found that I was repeating words often to describe actions that were themselves being repeated a lot. The speed of NaNo is the only excuse I have for that. Note: use wider variety of words without having to stop and consult the thesaurus.

3 – There was a throwaway bit that came to me and ended up really surprising me when it did. As I typed it, I didn’t realize it would come back to be an important part of the story, creating tension when I needed it. Note: Don’t discount what the characters will lead you to if you’re paying attention. Don’t force the narrative.

4 – I can write fairly quickly as long as I don’t get distracted. There were a couple of half-hours in the middle of the month when I was struggling with the story that I was able to get 700 – 800 words down quickly. Note: Keep the internet, especially Twitter, turned off when I’m writing.

5 – Finally, I was making a lot of space in my head for more ideas as this one was being explored. A lot of ideas. Some worked into the novel, others I wrote down because they didn’t fit. Note: Keep a spiral notebook and writing instrument handy when typing. Quick bits to remind you later on will inspire you as you learn more.

So I’m setting some goals for my writing for the coming year.

I should note as well that while I was churning out those 58,248 (official) words, I added roughly another 5,000 here blogging about the experience.

I am a successful NoWri, whether I’m published or not. Given all the work I have to do, I don’t see me being published in 2010 but that’s not going to deter me from trying.

Now that I’m done, it’s time for more.

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The Home Stretch

Today I passed the 50,000-word mark, which makes me a NaNoWriMo winner.

I’m excited about meeting the base goal, believe me, but since it’s the second time I’ve done it, it’s not as much a jump up and yell kind of thing as it was last year.

I’m still about 8200 words or so from the actual finish of the novel, and with five days left it’s a pretty sure thing I’ll get there. For those who are struggling to get there, it’s not impossible and you CAN still do it.

If there’s a secret to ‘winning’ NaNoWriMo, it’s that you have to write every day. In order to be a successful writer, one has to write every day no matter what. Practice makes perfect, after all.

So what happens now that I’ve won? What do I do AFTER NaNoWriMo?

That was the question I asked myself last year and it came back to me that I had to keep writing. Every day. In order to do that, I had to set myself goals. Modest goals, to be sure, but goals that were specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound. (If you noticed they were SMART goals, points for you.)

NaNoWriMo develops in a budding writer the habit of writing. I’ve had it for a year. If NaNo inspires participants to continue the work they’ve begun in November, then it’s a good thing. The world needs more writers of fiction and non-fiction, or writers who become journalists or screenwriters. The world needs stories that entertain and illuminate, that touch us for whatever reason.

A story that is written down important: even the least of them has some value and is a kind of art. Whether you understand or appreciate it is irrelevant. It exists as the fruit of someone’s exertion to bring it into the world, sometimes half-formed and half-mad and rambling, but it’s there for a reason. The easiest reason is that it had to get out from being trapped in the writer’s head.

NaNo encourages writers to get that big story out their heads in order to make space for the next thing and the thing after that. The best way to make room is to write every day. That’s why I set myself to writing short stories last year in order to explore the sheer number of ideas that came during last year’s run. Specific amounts of words on a monthly schedule that spanned any number of subjects I wanted to explore.

Some of my stories are okay, some need work, but I’m getting better. This year’s NaNo has allowed me to stretch out and really go through a subject in ways that I never considered before I started. The story has gone places I didn’t know it would and a seeming throwaway scene has become a central theme to the novel.

Writing every day has trained me to be able to do this. All I have to do now is keep practicing, keep writing, and I’ll get better.

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Excerpt

Here’s an excerpt from near the beginning of my novel:

Penny came into the living room dressed in a red t-shirt and sweats, wearing moccasins that clicked on the hardwood of the hall. “Munin?” The amnesiac was looking out the huge bay window. He seemed to be looking not at the waist high green tallgrass, but beyond that at a horizon only he could see. He didn’t acknowledge her presence.

“Munin? You okay? Remembering something?”

He disengaged whatever thought he was in the middle of and looked at his knees. He said something.

“What?”

“No,” Munin said. “Nothing.”

“Ah.” She walked past him back into the kitchen. “I’m gonna have a drink. You want one?” She opened the cabinet and pulled out a bottle of gin, a bottle of tonic and then grabbed a lemon off the counter. “I make a pretty good gin and tonic.” She grabbed the smallest serrated knife out of the block and twirled it, waiting for him to respond.

Munin stood then and looked back at her from the living room. The way the light came in from the bay window, he was silhouetted against the glow. “I’m sure that you should probably heed your friend’s advice and put me out.”

“What?”

“I heard you arguing with someone,” Munin said. “A man in your bedroom.” He was so still, it was almost as though he weren’t really there at all. “He’s right: I should go.”

“No,” Penny said and dropped the knife on the counter. The kitchen table was really a bar extending from the sink’s counter out ninety degrees. She came around the bar, and stood next to the recliner Munin had vacated.
He still didn’t move. “You don’t understand. You really heard him?”

“Of course.”

She could see his features now, and Penny was stunned by how beautiful he was, especially framed as he was by the day’s late light. “You have no idea how strange that is,” she said. “He’s a ghost.”

Munin’s brow furrowed but he didn’t speak.

“That’s the ghost of my dead mentor,” Penny said. “I’ve been --- I don’t know, I suppose ‘haunted is the word --- by him since just after his death. I can’t believe you heard him!”

Munin stepped back then, a frown now complete on his face with his mouth downturned. “That’s odd,” he said.

“Yeah!” Penny was coming closer to him. “Yeah!”

“No. That’s ---“ Munin said. “That’s insane. There are no such things as ghosts.”

Penny stopped. “I know it’s a lot to take in, but maybe you’re a medium of some kind and you can help me get rid of him.”

Munin whipped away from her and walked down the hallway toward Penny’s bedroom. “Wait!” She ran to catch up to him.

When Penny got to the bedroom, Munin was there standing exactly where Chuck had been. He looked at the floor, around his bare feet, then up at the ceiling, squinting and then putting a hand up to shade his eyes against something that Penny couldn’t see.

She watched him stare upward and tried to see what he was seeing. “What is it?”

“A disturbance,” Munin said absent of any inflection. “A great disturbance.” He turned his attention back to the floor. He crouched down and ran a hand over the carpet. “Yes.”

“You can see something?”

Munin looked up at her and nodded. “I don’t know what it is,” he said. “Patterns. Noise. Snow. Ripples. I can’t tell you for sure. It’s something.”

“Any memories to go with it?”

Munin stood again, looking at the floor then slowly upward to the point on the ceiling directly above him. He shivered, frowned again, shook his head and looked very tired. “May I,” he said then stopped. He turned to look behind him. “Did you see something just then?”

“No,” Penny said.

“I am very tired suddenly. May I shower and then sleep in the back room?” Munin turned in a small circle, coming back to a point where he could look straight at Penny. “I won’t be any difficulty. I won’t ask any more of you,” he said though she could barely hear him. “I won’t.”

Copyright 2009 By Jason Arnett.

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Pep

The comic book writer/novelist/internet curmudgeon Warren Ellis says that half of all writing is staring off into the distance and thinking what comes next. When I’ve been staring off into the distance lately I get the ideas for more stories that are better than the one I’m writing. I’ve learned from past experience that when I stop one thing in favor of starting something else, I will never go back to the first thing. There are dozens of half-finished stories, hundreds of pages with six or seven scribbled lines on them.

I’ve made little progress since last I posted on my NaNoWriMo book. I’m only at 35,000 words or so and I had hopes of being a lot farther ahead than I am. I’m frustrated with where the story is going because it’s not working out the way I wanted it to. I need to stir the old brain juices a little and get to writing, so this is just to jostle my thoughts a bit.

I got distracted by watching AMC’s The Prisoner remake the last three nights and didn’t get a lot of evening writing done. Too bad because the nicest thing I can say about the series was that it had so much potential that went unrealized. I guess I could have spent the time better, but I’m in the middle section lull of the NaNo process that kills a lot of novels: my story is crap and I’m not a good enough writer to make it better.

Then I realize something. That’s the point! If I can power through as I detailed in another post, then I’m going to be a better writer. If I give up, I’ve got another half-done story and I’m like millions of others. Sometimes separating myself from the work I’m doing allows me to reset the thoughts I need in order to go back to work. So this is the pep talk I’m giving myself here in public view.

It doesn’t matter that I’d rather be writing any of the dozen or so other stories that I have in mind, I need to finish this one. I obligated yourself to complete it and that’s all I have to do, finish. Don’t worry about the quality; that comes with editing. Right now it’s just about getting to the end, putting events one after the other in a line of some kind and making it to the last page.

I wish I had worked out more of what happens in the middle of my story, but I didn’t. I have some notes that I don’t think are good, but if I just follow them, I’ll get to the end. There’s nothing that says I can’t change it later.

Right. That’s what I needed. Now I get it. Now I know what I need to do to get going again.

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Mark.

Halfway there.

I hit the 25,000-word mark sometime last Tuesday, and yesterday I made it over 31,000. In case you’re just joining us, the idea of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000-word novel in thirty days, which I did last year in about 25 days. My goal this year was to write about 2000 words a day and get a 60,000-word novel written in 30 days. I’m a little ahead, which is a good thing.

I wrote like crazy on Thursday morning last week in order to go out with some friends who had stopped through town and who I don’t see enough of. I made my daily goal and a little more so I was feeling pretty good when I went out. Friday I didn’t write quite half my daily goal, and Saturday morning wasn’t much more productive, so I lost a full day’s lead my daily writing. Sunday, Halfway Day to WriMos, I made up a little ground and I’m only about a half a day behind my daily goal.

This is important because I want to make sure that I’m building on the habits I’ve been nurturing since completing NaNo last year. I try very hard to write every day but I have been lousy about meeting daily goals. It’s okay at this point because I’m not dependent on my writing to pay the bills, it’s still a hobby. Rather, this NaNo was meant to get me in the habit of meeting my goals every day or as often as possible so that when I set a goal of writing a 6,000-word short story I can finish in two weeks or less if I just say I’m going to write 500 words a day.

It sounds easier than it really is. I allow myself to become distracted (like I’m not going to watch The Prisoner tonight on AMC even though I REALLY want to) and then I just don’t write. When a couple of days go by and all I’ve done is Twitter and Facebook some things, I feel awful and then I open the neglected file and try to figure out where I left off and how to get back in the groove.

The answer, I always tell myself, is to write every damn day, even if only for ten or fifteen minutes. It’s important, it’s like exercise.

Ugh.

If I want to get better, and if I believe Malcolm Gladwell’s theories, then I have to do this every day. If I don’t then I’m not really a writer and I want to be a writer. I will be a writer. Maybe not a big, household name like John Grisham, but I’d be okay with being Michael Moorcock or Neil Gaiman famous.

So this year I haven’t neglected my life as much as I did last year. The writing is better and more consistent and I’m making room in my head for more ideas that keep coming unbidden to mind as I clear the space by writing this novel. I’ve made it halfway so far, and I’ve got another 40 or 50,000 words already vying for attention in the coming year. I have to stay focused on the immediate goal: 60,000 words by midnight November 30th. It’s only another fifteen days at 2,000 words a day. I can do it.

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Guts

There’s a quote attributed to Leonard Bernstein cited on promotional materials for NaNoWriMo:

“To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time.”

That really sums up what NaNoWriMo is all about. We come in and we think we know what we want to write. When we hit a snag and our plot fails us, we have several options:

  1. Give up.
  2. Write through it.
  3. Get together with other WriMos and bounce some ideas around.

Option 1 isn’t really an option for anyone who’s decided they’re participating in National Novel Writing Month. If one has determined that those 50,000 words will be written, well, then get writing. Sometimes option 2 is the best. Remember we’re not overly concerned with quality; rather, WriMos are trying to only get the story out of their heads and onto the page.

(Well, that’s not strictly true. We DO worry about quality here in Lawrence. I can’t speak for everyone because I’m only in one group and I know what we talk about the rest of the year. That’s why we say that December is for editing. But I digress.)

Option 3 has a couple of sub-options to it. There are the NaNo message boards, of which there’s one for our hometown. There are the write-ins where our Municipal Liaisons support, cajoling and sometimes teasing to get us back on track. It’s all about the writing. All of us from last year who are participating this year have benefited from one of the MLs telling us to just keep swimming. Whether it’s just an ‘attaboy’ or seeing where we fall in the Top Ten list for daily word counts, there’s a tremendous amount of support.

I’m about 4000 words ahead of my pace last year, and I’m pretty happy with how my little novel is turning out. It’s not great literature, mind you, but it’s pretty okay. With a little work (and a hammer and shovel and a whole lot of cement) it’s probably something I could release on my website next year. That’s due to the generous nature of everyone in the Lawrence group. I’m not afraid to write what I want to, knowing that I can share it with others in the group who would read it and offer a real critique when I’m ready.

Knowing that the support is there, that I can get some genuine feedback that will make the work better is what’s helping me meet my daily goal of at least 2000 words. I knew that increasing my overall goal from 50,000 to 60,000 was ambitious for me and that at times it would be a struggle, but I have faith that my group will help me through if I just ask them. It takes guts to write the book, to be sure. It takes a lot more guts to share it and make it better.

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2009 is the time

I've wanted to write a novel for years, but have never actually sat down and done so. I heard about NaNoWriMo for the first time in 2007, but it was already mid November. I marked it on my calendar for 2008, but we moved to Lawrence and into our new house that month, and about two weeks into nanowrimo'08 I realized I could move or write, but not both. This year is THE YEAR. Wish me luck!

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Day 11

A friend of mine asked me if I had entered an essay and I was proud enough to say no, that I had joined the other NaNoWriMo writers this year.

Sure, I've joined in previous years, but I never got further than 5,000 words. So far, this year, I have a grand total of 31,000 words and the month isn't quite halfway over yet. I feel as thought I have already achieved something just by coming as far as I have.

It hasn't been always easy, though. I continually find myself in a dead end that I have to dig myself out of. Once I dig myself out, I'm alright for a while. What helps is that I challenge myself to beating the person in the rank above me during a days time. Next, I'll shoot for the one above that. So on and so forth.

I do have myself on a schedule, but I have found that it really hasn't been necessary. I tend to write more than needed during a given time.

Of course, I've been able to devote all of my time to this since I'm not in school nor have a job at the moment.

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Writing: Not Just a Bunch of Words

I signed up for NaNoWriMo at the tail end of October after barely remembering it's existence. I had attempted to participate in previous years, but never got beyond 10,000. Why is this year so different from the others? A book idea stuck in my head for months and I knew just how it would begin. I never outlined my entire book, but once I finish a particular section, I do make a rough outline of the next part I wish to write. I'm beginning to see how planning out your writing sessions doesn't always pan out. The novel seems to take on a mind of it's own and leads you where it wants to take you rather than the other way around. It's almost as though the writer is simply a tool.

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December is for editing

Seven days of writing have produced 15,000+ words for this year’s NaNoWriMo story. Some of the words are good, fewer very good, and the vast majority are just okay. It’s easy to string letters together to form words, then sentences and finally paragraphs that express an idea. What’s difficult is meeting one’s high personal standards for good writing.

Despite the very subjective nature of the word ‘good’, a writer’s standards are different than those of the average reader (if such a person really exists any more). The writers whose words I think of as good may not be the same as yours, and even if we agree that a writer is good we are likely to differ on our reasons for thinking a work is ‘good’.

I am not a published writer. I haven’t submitted any of my stories to any house or magazine, online or brick & mortar, for consideration. For all intents and purposes, I’m writing into the void. I have a friend who criticizes me for participating in NaNo. He says quality is more important that quantity. I smile and nod and wish I could tell him that he’s missing the point of the exercise.

For me, NaNoWriMo is about getting the idea that’s been scratching the inside of my skull for some time out onto the page. There are others in the local group that meets once a month the rest of the year that had no clue what they were going to write as little as three days before we started. It’s not about quality at all, though we strive for that as personal goals. Good is about coherence and quantity in November for us WriMos. It’s not about the quality of the words.

Or is it? This year, I’ve been backtracking and ‘editing’ a little as I go along. I didn’t do that last year. One passage I wrote around Tuesday evening was so challenging to me that I gave up on the quality of the words and just started typing in order to get the idea out. The idea was seeing sound as color against a black and white wire frame background. I don’t know where that idea came from, but it was essential that I get it typed up and fixed in the narrative so I could go back and revisit after the novel was done. I couldn’t leave the words alone like that, I had to make sure they were ‘good’ enough to tell me what they really wanted to say later.

What I took away from NaNo last year was the habit of writing every day. I had so many ideas from writing a bunch of comic book scripts that I could explore, but somehow I’d tapped an undercurrent of new ideas that then rose to the surface. I began writing short stories, and in June of 2009 I put them on a website with my name on them. Some of those stories have garnered me a couple of casual fans who have told me they enjoy the work.

This year, NaNoWriMo is about creating a work that I can go back and make better with some editing. It’s about writing well enough the first time that when I go back I can get over the initial cringe and make the words ‘good’.

At least good enough to put on my website and see what others think of them.

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November Is For Writing

Hi, I'm Jason.

I'm working on writing a 50,000+ word novel completely in 30 days as part of NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. November is what everyone who's not playing along calls the month. Those in the know call it 'NaNo' and those who participate are 'WriMos'. (I think of myself as a NoWri {pronounced nah-wry}, but that's just me. I'm a little different.)

I've always had some artistic intent in my life. I've been an artist (I can sketch passably well, even won a half-tuition scholarship to KU), a musician (the best band I ever played in opened for STICK one very icy New Year's Night at the Bottleneck) and even tried my hand at making comic books (one of which garnered me a couple of nice reviews).

I never really understood color and my sense of design was too personal, so my art was pretty half-hearted most of the time. I really wanted to be a rockstar, but the kind of music I wanted to play wasn't popular during the grunge/alt movement of the early to mid-90s and then there were the disparate personalities.

I learned it was impossible to break into comics as a writer, so I went back to a real drawing board and worked hard on trying to tell stories I wanted to tell. A respected professional in comics who had become a friend told me matter-of-factly that I had great ideas but that I was hurting my stories by drawing them. He told me to find a collaborator. There was a lot of mistrust at the time about writers seeking artists who wanted to share in revenues after publication. Artists genuinely believe they must be paid up front for work, and they should. I couldn't do that, though.

Frustrated, I looked for other ways to get the ideas in my head OUT.

I'd tried writing fiction any number of times before, but had always stumbled and never completed anything. I couldn't make the words do what I wanted them to, which was to emulate Robert Heinlein. I despaired.

Then I heard about NaNoWriMo in mid-November 2007, too late to play along. I liked the idea of a challenge, of seeing if I could do the work and write a novel of only 50,000 words. It sounds like a lot (looks like a lot, too, written out like that), and it is. However, it's not an amount that one can't reach. I'd have to try, really TRY, to make it.

So I planned. I remembered some sage advice that "a writer must be a reader" and I read about NaNo, about the rules, about the participants. I read books I had been meaning to read and started reading fewer comics. I began to pay attention to how words were used, the construction of sentences and then how all those lines of letters were placed into paragraphs to tell a story. I knew I could not only participate in NaNoWriMo, I knew I could win. I knew I could write 50,000+ words. I even had a plot that I had meant to turn into a comic book and had never scripted. I kneaded it into a story.

Last year was the first year I tried. I won. Then I wondered what to do next.

I had the bug, I had to write MORE.

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The weaver

Lies. The lies that ripple and swell - they are all around us. They encompass me. Naked. I feel naked. I am clothed yet exposed.

I whisper and a lie squeaks out. I yell and a lie burst thru the silence around me. I do not trust my truths, my thoughts, my visions. They are all parts of the whole. The lie that has grown so large that it no longer is a part of the whole but it is the whole. It defines the mind, body and now the soul. Who am I? Who am I to you? You cannot say for you do not really know me. I am hidden, as planned in the dire of the lies that have unfolded for the past several years. It is a beautiful weave depending on who you are. For me it is sustenance. It is a way to cope with the mundane, the dreams yet unfulfilled, the desires unmet. Naked I unfold and weep. I weep for you and me and the truths that do not deliver peace.

Peace is a metaphor for my torment. Will you find out? Will you forgive? Must I run away, again to create a life anew and start all over? The itch must be scratched. It yells and hollers and beats upon the unopened door. I try to shield it from the tongue but when I am not looking, not chained to the truth it escapes, unbinds itself only to unfurl its petals to reveal the most beautiful woven tale of love, beauty, passion and then the center is revealed. Water has crept in and rotted the center, the purity of the core. Naked it has shed its petals and stands unabashed only to belashed by the escaping truths.

I am the weaver. The one you do not know.

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Third Rock Labor Day Stockholm Experience

Boise, Idaho - City of Trees. I had no idea how beautiful Boise would be this time of year never having visited there before. I'm told it's even prettier in the Fall when the extensive varieties of trees put on their spectacular showing of Autumn colors. Small town atmosphere with big city amenities. The beauty of Boise and a chance to visit with relatives I've always wanted to get to know better made for an excellent Labor Day getaway. Well, there was that Stockholm airport experience.

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John Lithgow as he boards a plane out of Salt Lake City. John, if you need a new manager, please give me a call. Did I tell you I have a great idea for a movie that would give you a starring role?

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Traveling standby via buddy pass from Kansas City to Salt Lake City to Boise was a breeze. My cousin Janelle and I were put in first class and served a delightful breakfast of muffins, cereal, fruit cups, scrambled egg patty and choice of beverages - yeah, even the hard stuff. Our flights were on time and we scarcely needed to freshen up once we arrived at our hotel room in Boise. But the trip back became a twilight zone experience of one missed flight after another.

Airport personnel decided to kidnap us (I know better than to use the word hijack) before we left the Boise airport. Our plane was delayed by several hours which caused us to miss any and all connecting flights leaving Salt Lake City. I was headed back to KC and Janelle home to Tampa, Florida.

STOCKHOLM technique: First sleep deprive your victims, next offer a variety of high caloric foods to make them feel as though they are well cared for. Give them the false hope that they can get a seat on an outgoing flight. Then strip all hope. Their mouths drop open in disbelief as their names, once high on the list of standby hopefuls, drop and dive into the pits of hell. We, the victims, move like zombies attempting to find any seats in the freezing terminal that don't have an arm rest so we can lie down and sleep for even a short period of time. Enter the spies who begin to descend upon us - they vacuum around our legs, lifting my belongings to get a clear shot at some perceived crumb beneath me. I fear they are trying to steal my computer and iPhone - my only means of communication with the outside world. Then loud voices in speakers tell all 'other' people to begin boarding their flights.

Now food again - Krispie Kreams are buy one get one free and a fresh batch of Cinnabons has just come out of the oven. We are being treated so well. More spies to test and torture us. George from New York is actually leaving on a flight out of the airport even though he was on the same flight to Salt Lake City we were on. He wants to hug us goodbye as though we were his long lost mother. At this point he looks familiar enough that he very well could be. Then Zakhttp://www2.ljworld.com/news/2009/sep... - who tells us he is the 7th child out of nine - from Alaska tracks us down and begins talking about how much he hates President Obama and that he has just bought a three million dollar home on the hillside of Los Vegas for a half million dollars. We are wondering why he doesn't own his own plane.

Janelle and I are desperate now and discuss how we should fly from Salt Lake City to San Diego, California so we have a lengthy flight and a place of comfort to sleep. We come to our senses after we buy a buddy pass to do just that. Janelle spots a flight to Atlanta that looks like a winner for me to get an open seat to KC around eight the next morning and one for her to Tampa. We decide to do that instead.

Sitting in the terminal, our last chance out of Salt Lake City and watching for our names on the standby list to clear. Some fast talking businessman decides we are trapped clientele and he begins a lengthy hyper speech about a new, healthy form of coffee that he is selling. He pulls sixty dollars out of his pocket and continues to scream into Janelle's face.

" What does J. O. B. stand for? What does J. O. B stand for. You can have this money if you can tell me what J. O. B. stands for!"

Janelle is obviously in better form than I and replies, " job, job!" Then he turns to me (did I mention I have been laughing hysterically for the past fifteen minutes - sleep deprivation and sugar do that to me) and I say, "Jovial Opportunity for Business, " or some such nonsense. The answer btw in case you're ever cornered by this psycho and need some fast cash is 'just over broke'.

His name is called and he is forced to board the airplane. Janelle's name is called and she declines because she won't leave me behind (I can't say I would do the same for her). With seconds remaining the attendants tell us both to get on board and we run to the back of the loaded plane and take seats - very close to Mr. Coffee.

KCI is a small, beautiful airport. I know my way around there so well. I take a shuttle to my car and begin driving freely down the open highway, long hair blowing in the wind, and an apple turnover tucked beside me. I begin to wonder where Janelle and I'll go on our next trip. The airlines really treated us nicely!

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Community Response Requested - Which Forcade Photograph Should Be Donated?

Tim Forcade has enjoyed bringing beauty, serenity, and joy into the hearts of individuals and business owners for several decades. Now he is allowing the community to have an opportunity to decide which of his photographs should be donated at the yearly Dinner and Dancing at Dusk event benefiting the local Lawrence Community Shelter.

This year's event, which will be hosted by Bill and Cindy Self and has a Middle Eastern theme complete with belly dancers, will be held at Alvamar on April 24th from six to ten p.m.

Forcade is allowing members of the community to place a vote to decide the final choice of which photograph of five he will donate. And it isn't going to be an easy choice.

Framed size of the print will be about 45" x 60" with a normal cost of $900. That's a local Lawrence price since the same picture would sell for twice that amount at Forcade's Seattle gallery. Throw in framing at a cost of another $350-$400, depending on which print and frame Forcade chooses to go with the photograph, and all of a sudden you're looking at a work of art worth at least twelve to thirteen hundred dollars.

As Forcade states it, "This will be a limited edition archival pigment print (edition of 21) which will be framed using acid free archival materials and conservation UV glass."

Forcade's prints are available in sizes ranging from 8" x 10" to 40" x 56" and up as limited edition prints on paper - larger prints are available using a variety of materials, framing and presentation methods.

You can visit Forcade's website at: www.forcadeimages.com

Because of the time constraint involved in framing the community's selection, the deadline for voting will be April 5th at midnight. One vote per person, please. Here is a look at the five photographs.

Weeds http://worldonline.media.clients.elli...

Attraction http://worldonline.media.clients.elli...

Portal http://worldonline.media.clients.elli...

Sand & Water http://worldonline.media.clients.elli...

About 36000 Feet http://worldonline.media.clients.elli...

Now pick the photograph you like best and vote for it. Free free to leave a comment on why you chose the photograph you did.

Now if we could only decide who's house it should hang in!

For additional information, or to buy tickets ($75.00 per person), contact Dianne Huggins at: 785-766-3357

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What’s Your Style: Conventional or Confrontational?

I was recently giving thought to my communication, conversational style. I have known for a long time that people consider me somewhat confrontational...okay, take that somewhat out. I use the excuse that after years of working with young children, I have adopted a short, direct method of communication - and that it works well in respect to clarity and their (the child's) ability to understand exactly what it is I expect or want of them. In reality though, as my brother, sister, and closest friends will tell you; I just plain love to argue.

Sometimes I will take an opposing view from what others in my company hold just as an excuse to debate. And sometimes that debate becomes an argument. And sometimes I even resort to name calling, because sometimes, I am not the person I would like to be

.There are people who cringe when someone disagrees with them; there are those who never voice their opinion strongly enough to be heard because they are quiet, intellectual, conversationally conservative. And there are those of us who love the heat of a good debate, chuckle inwardly when we see someone else defend their beliefs, or bristle, even ever so slightly, at something we say

.Call it the Irish in me, say it is because I am a red head..

.whatever you call me, I will most surely confront it...

.What's your style: conventional or confrontational?

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Chili: How Do You Like It?

Some people like it with beef, pork or a combination. Others want it as I do with an even mix of meat and beans.

I have to have a lot of saltines crumbled in it to eat it, but I also like a mound of cottage cheese, sprinkles of sharp cheddar cheese and lots of hot sauce on top.

How do you like your chili? Hot, medium, mild?

Do you want it with sour cream, grated cheese, cottage cheese, or something else?

What do you eat with it? For me it is cornbread.....never big_prunes......

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Assassination of JFK: Where Were You?

It is hard to believe that it has been 45 years since the Barrack Obama of my generation lost his life to an assassination. It is even harder to believe that the date slipped right by me yesterday.

Anniversaries are important to me... as they are to most people. I was a preteen attending East Gurney country school house in Cheyenne County, a mile from the Colorado line, that day in November.

We had about fifteen students in our one room school house from a variety of classes and we were just beginning to take turns walking onto the stage at the front of the room to present a class paper. I don't remember the topic I was nervously waiting to talk about. I do know that my knees were shaking and I would have asked for just about anything to transpire to keep me from having to give that report.

What did happen is something that never would have crossed my mind. A parent's call jingled the one phone we had at the school and our teacher's face looked anxious and tense as she took the call. She began crying as she relayed the message about our President that day and soon parents began to arrive to take us to the safety of our homes

But we didn't feel safe at home anymore... at least I didn't. After all, if the President could be killed, and he was the most loved man in the United States, and had secret service men guarding him around the clock, how could I possibly be safe?

That day was the beginning of the end of an era for a lot of young and older people alike. A fear gripped our hearts of what lay ahead - and it proved to be true. Some say there is no going back once you have crossed that line of awareness of what can be, and more importantly, what can't be.

How did the assassination of JFK affect your life? Where were you? Do you remember?

One memory I hold dear is that of seeing people of all ethnic and religious backgrounds crying over his loss.

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The Moment of Truth - Fox’s new show

The Fox channel had its debut showing of "The Moment of Truth" Weds. evening following American Idol.

The show works something like this: pick a contestant and ask them fifty personal questions behind the scenes to get to know them and their vices and flaws.

Next, hook them up to a lie detector test in front of an audience, their spouse, their friends, and even their employer. Then comes the fun part as the contestant is asked the first six questions, which answered truthfully puts 10,000 dollars in their pocket.

It isn't as easy as it sounds, however, because some of the questions are down right demented! Some random questions from last night's show were

:"Are you addicted to gambling?"

"Are you currently a member of the hair club for men?"

"As a personal trainer, have you touched a female client more than was required of you?"

"Have you used the internet to flirt with other women?"

"Have you stolen a peek at another man's privates during a shower?"

"Have you had a sexual fantasy during mass?"

"Have you gone through a co-workers belongings without their knowledge?"

"Have you delayed having children because you don't think your spouse is your lifelong partner?"

The friends/spouse/employers have one out - they can push a large button that is centered between them (one time only) if they do not want to hear the person answer the question that was asked. The problem with that is it will be replaced with another question and the other question just might be worse then the first.

After the initial six questions, that can earn the contestant 10,000 if answered correctly, the next five questions, if answered truthfully, can get the contestant up to the 25,000 dollar mark. The higher you go, the harder and more revealing the question. Answer all 21 questions truthfully and you have $500,000 in your pocket. You may not have a job to go back to, your wife, husband, and friends have probably abandoned you, but you decide how important money really is in your life.

This show is destined to be a hit - audiences love to see people squirm in the hot seat, see their lives (and their friends and families lives) destroyed right in front of them - and the contestant most probably will end up leaving with nothing.

This reminded me of the games we played as teenagers: truth or dare and twenty questions.

Would you risk it all and tell the truth for $500,000?

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Why Obama Will Never Win

Obama may look like the winning horse leading the pack at the beginning of this year's Presidential race, but he won't be able to keep up the pace all the way to the finish line. He isn't seasoned. He isn't experienced.

Neither he or Edwards have the lineage behind them that would be required to go the distance.

Still, Obama is working the track and has picked his way from the back of the pack and moved into a key position to make a run for the final stretch. It hasn't been an easy task. He has been hit by dirt and mud as much as any of his opponents. He seems to be gaining speed. He is a full length ahead of Edwards and Edwards is a nose in front of Clinton.

I am glad I have my bet on Clinton though. She is saving herself for the finish line. She has great stamina, loves to be pushed for a grand finish and is well seasoned and confident. She stands head and shoulders above the competition because of her previous experiences in other races such as these - some of which she watched from the sidelines.

Obama has blinders on; he won't be able to see the filly passing him on the inside track until he begins to taste the dust that is stirred up as she leaves him far behind.

And she hasn't even begun to work up a lather.

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The Milky Way Woman

I heard about the Milky Way Woman while attending Douglas County's first healing retreat for those people who had lost someone due to suicide.

I have been trying to put a spiritual perspective on my mother's suicide, when I was three, for most of my life. See my article: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/20/nov/loved_ones_gather_healing_retreat_wake_suicide

While at the retreat, I met a native American Indian woman who had recently lost her sister to suicide. She told me about the belief that the Lakota Indians have. They believe that the Milky Way is the crossroads between heaven and earth and that an old woman, the Milky Way Woman, stands guard at this crossroads. The Milky Way Woman decides when someone dies whether they go to heaven or are sent back to earth depending on how well they lived their life.

After some research, I discovered that several other Indian tribes have a similar belief, and some tribes believe that the light coming from the Milky Way is the campfires of souls as they make their journey to heaven.

The Lakota Indians have an extremely high rate of suicide among their young people.

I dedicate the following poem to the Lakota people, all of those who have lost someone to suicide, and to my mother, Peggy Miller Wiggins.

The Milky Way Woman 11-14-07

When I was three

And you sent me

Out to play in the

Snow while you

Put a bullet through

Your heart

I did not cry

I curled into a ball

And sucked my thumb

When Daddy came

That night and said

Look up into the

Sky and see your

Mommy's face In the stars

I did not look

I did not want

To see your face

So far away

And so small

But now I'm

Grown and have

Children of my own

I want to stand

On the edge

Of the Milky Way

With you, hand in hand

And when the

Milky Way Woman

Gives the command

You and I

Will take that

Leap together

Wait for me

Where do you believe souls go after they leave the physical body?

How is the soul separate from the spirit?

How is the mind separate from the soul?

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