Monday, February 25, 2008

Saving The Planet-One Page At A Time

I've always tried to live responsibly, and 'green', although I would have to admit I'm not as good as I could be at times, I do try to by eco products that are environmentally friendly. Living on a farm makes it easier. I'm not sure I agree with PETA's stand on consumer raised meats, but I do know that on our small homestead those ideas don't stand up. We do things much different than a 'commercial' farm does, more in keeping with the old farm 'homestead' type of natural living. One thing that really makes a difference in a large way with everyone is the way computers have made their impact felt. Much less paper is used than in the era before emails, and online file transfers. I remember prior to getting 'online' as a writer I would go through three to five reams of paper a month. Now I have had a ream of paper sitting in my drawer for almost two years and it's barely half used. For a long time even after most of my work was done online, I still would print out copies to proof for myself but began to think of the sheer amounts of paper used to do that. It was crazy. Doing it on screen is a little more of a hassle because I'm tied to the computer (and I don't care for laptops so it's my stationary desktop computer) and there is a little more eyestrain involved, but it saves a heck of a lot of trees. Sometimes when I start to doubt the usefulness of my stubborn streak in that matter I look under my desk at the bin that holds the old copies of proof pages. I used to put them in a bin when I was finished reading them to use the blank backs as scratch paper. Even if I never ever print out another page to proof, and I don't plan on it, I will have scratch paper for YEARS thanks to the old method.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Fancy Feet

Did you ever have one of those days where you thought your keyboard was posessed? I just had one. I almost had to dig out my religious jewelry for protection. All of a sudden thing were happening that shouldn't, it was making error sounds. I couldn't figure it out. I couldn't get the cursor to work, if I pressed a button it made horrible noises. Just as I was about to give up, get on my knees and pray, or dump the hard drive figuring it was either possessed, or bugged I realized one of my cats who was laying on my desk had a foot hanging over the edge onto the keyboard. It wasn't even 'on' it hard. Just lightly resting on the 'pause/break' key at the top. Just looking at her you wouldn't even give it a second thought, but it was obviously on there just hard enough to cause all kinds of havoc. Now my kitties know better than to touch the keyboard. It's almost comical how they will tip-toe around my desk in an effort to not step on the keyboard as they move. They've learned that golden rule as little kittens. I guess a sleeping cat has a lot less control over where their feet will go. I know that I'm breathing a sigh of relief that it was just a bit of 'cat and mouse' and not a virus, or demon in my hard drive.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Getting Covered

Being self-employeed means a lot of things. Some of them good, such as, making my own hours, being able to work in my pajamas if I chose, being able to walk from my office to my livingroom without ever leaving the house, lots of little goodies like that. Some of the off-shoots of being self-employeed aren't as good though, such as, no health insurance. For the most part we're okay since my husband is still employeed outside the home and has company offered health benefits. In the last year or so we've been getting closer and closer to the final goal/dream of him being able to quit and work here full-time as well. The benefits to that are obvious enough, but the biggest drawback is no longer being shielded by the company group health plan. So we've been investigating individual health insurance costs and pros and cons of each company that offers such plans. Surprisingly they don't all offer coverage for individuals. Some that do are so expensive that it's prohibitive. There's a lot to consider, both price and quality and a lot more homework than I ever thought it would be. Making the preparations for this transition has kind of scary and exciting all at the same time. I'm looking forward to it, but I'll be really happy when we've got it all covered.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Make it Fun

If you're supposed to write what you know, most of us would not have really interesting locations for our stories, at least after one or two. Then again, Stephen King did place almost all of his stories in a little town in Maine. For most of us though it's not really reasonable to place stories in the same locale everytime. Besides, researching different places is more fun. Now lots of people pick the bigger cities. Maybe they feel it lends a more easily identifiable air to their surroundings. I like country places. Little Branson lots located in huge mountain ranges. After all, country is what I know best. Luckily I did grow up around Chicago so I also know big cities and can incorporate them, but I like writing about rural people. I did locate two of my works in my 'adopted' home town here in the country, but for others it's much more fun to do the research, even so far as having to take road trips to get the feel for the areas. Now that's what makes writing REALLY fun.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Make Stagnant Live and Real

The rules state... okay, we know they're not written down, but somehow these rules have been passed on from writer to writer like commandments, not to put your characters in stagnant places like dinner tables, or automobiles. Sometimes they have to eat, and sometimes they have to go places though, so what else can you do? What you need to remember most in places that have little actual action is to keep the scenes alive. Don't make your characters simply talking heads in a still situtation. Make sure that even in an automobile you give your 'place' character too. Atmosphere even in a car. Give your playboy class that also shows he's handy with having him own a car that he used wood dash kits to spiffy it up with. Have your harried single woman hurrying from place to place with food wrappers on the floorboards. They're real people, make them REAL.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Gift That Makes You Feel Great-More Than Once

Are you thinking taxes right now? Most people in the U.S. are anyway. I have a little while to wait before I can file since I'm still waiting on w-9's from the companies I do work for, but my kids have both filed theirs, and spent their money already. For those of us with taxable income, especially that isn't withheld through the year having donations is a way to give, while also getting needed deductions on your bottom line of your tax return.

Car Angel is a fantastic non-profit organization that uses the car donation you offer to offset the costs of creating wonderful videos for kids and teens. They have given away 2.4 million videos like the one I've posted here to young people.

Make your donations count in a very worthwhile way with a donation of your used car instead of trading it in for a few dollars. See what a great feeling it is to give, and next year, smile all the way to the tax preparers too.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Researching Life

I don't know what it is about me in my writing but I'm beginning to think all my characters are going to have to be vested in a good term life plan from now on. I have a habit of killing them off. Considering most of my writing is romance that's kind of an unusual habit. I'm not talking secondary characters either. Kind of hard to have a happy ever after ending when one of the two isn't there anymore. Usually it ends up that the original two aren't the 'real' two after all though, and either a completely different couple were the subject all along, you just didn't know it until you got there. I've been told that there is a definate 'ah ha' feeling at those times though. Other times the remaining one finds out that a different other is the right one, and that works too. Seriously though, I have to research life insurance.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Thinking About Knowing

I've been thinking a lot on the old advice of 'write what you know'. I used to be a real estate agent, so if that advice were taken to heart, all my writing would pertain to housing and buying houses. Then again, I live on a farm, maybe all my writing should be about farm animals. The thing is the real estate license was over 12 years ago. Yeah I knew a lot about it, but if I tried to write it now, I'd be completely lost. I'd have to do a lot of research. I think THAT'S where writer's really have to get their 'knowledge'. You can write about anything if you study it well enough.