Dear Marathon Girl,
Thanks for making the last seven years the best of my life. I can’t imagine my life without you. Looking forward to another seventy years with you by my side.
2 comments February 28th, 2010
Dear Marathon Girl,
Thanks for making the last seven years the best of my life. I can’t imagine my life without you. Looking forward to another seventy years with you by my side.
2 comments February 28th, 2010
A coworker is heading to Hawaii next month for vacation. He’s going to unwind, relax, spend time with his family, and go see all the places on Oahu where they film LOST.
Yeah, I’m jealous.
Sure, swimming in the ocean and eating pineapple would be nice. But it would be really fun to take some pictures of some of the more famous places in LOST and send emails back to friends and family telling them how your plane had crashed and you found yourself stuck on an island with smoke monsters and the Dharma Initiative.
That would be fun.
Speaking of LOST, I’m impressed with the way the writers are driving the show home. We’re getting more answers then questions every week and I’m actually enjoying the “side” universe that the characters are experiencing. I just hope the “side” universe has a point to it. I’m nowhere close to figuring out what it is but so far the writers have been good so I’m going to trust them.
As for what’s going to happen on the island? I don’t know. I’m done trying to predict the show. I’m just kicking back and enjoying the ride.
1 comment February 26th, 2010
The best Christmas present I ever received was an Atari 2600. Unwrapping it on Christmas morning is probably my most vivid Christmas memory. Over its life it received thousands of hours of playtime. Even after it became outdated (Nintendo’s were all the rage in high school), friends and I would break it out on occasion and play our favorite games. It and the dozens of games we owned were finally thrown away as the family packed up to move to Wyoming.
By far the best Christmas present our kids received this year was a Wii. And while I’ve enjoyed playing it with them as well as watching them play, it’s been somewhat troubling how addictive they find it. The boys would spend all day doing nothing but playing it if we let them. (We don’t. Its use is highly regulated.)
I bring this up because it amazes me how much time kids and adults spend playing video games. Even a lot of adults I know can’t live without their weekly game nights or spend hours after their kids are in bed playing World of Warcraft. Granted today’s games are better, more complex, and take longer to play than the ones I grew up on, but it really concerns me when I see the boys begging to play the Wii while they’ve got plenty of other toys and friends to play with as well as countless activities they can do outside. And though I wasn’t a video game addict, I did spend lots of time during college and the year or two after I graduated playing video games. Looking back it was time that could have been better spent honing my writing skills or spending time with friends, family, and loved ones.
This month we gave our boys a choice: they could sign up for spring soccer or baseball. (They both chose baseball. And, no, I did nothing to influence their decision.) The issue wasn’t what sport they were going to play but, rather, how they’re spending their time. And even though there are hundreds of clichés on why sports are good for kids, the real reason I want them to play a sport is so they can learn the amount of hard work it takes develop real talents as opposed to virtual ones.
While I don’t expect my kids to become professional baseball or soccer players, I know they all have skills they can develop that will help them later in life. It takes hours of practice to become a good artist, plumber, or computer programmer. Having the self discipline to work hard at something will carry anyone long distances in the real world.
We all have a limited amount time in this life. One of the best things we can learn at any age is what our real talents are and the best way develop and use them. Yes, it takes skill to hit a baseball 450 feet on the Wii (I’m still working n that one), but it takes more talent to hit a home run with a real bat and ball.
I’ll take the real talents over virtual ones any day.
2 comments February 23rd, 2010
One of my regular readers, Vickie, wants to be named after one of the characters in my next book (which I’m busily writing after the kids are in bed). More specifically, she wants to be named after one of the bad guys.
And she’s not the first one to make such a request.
Being one of the bad guys I can understand. Generally, evil characters are more fascinating than the good ones. But does someone want their real name attached to an evil character in a book? What if the book became extremely popular and you name was associated with someone as infamous as Hannibal Lecter? Imagine trying to order a pizza or applying for a credit card. No one would take you seriously ever again.
However, Vickie’s request got me thinking. Sports teams sell the naming rights to stadiums and arenas all the time to make some extra cash. For example: the Denver Broncos lose regularly at Inevsco Field at Mile High, the Utah Jazz call Energy Solutions Arena home, and the Detroit Tigers play at Comerica Park. So why can’t authors sell the naming rights to their characters?
Just think of the possibilities this could open for authors, like me, who would like to write novels full time but financially can’t make that move. All I’d have to do is come up with a great plot (got it!), descriptions and attitudes of several complex but real characters (got ‘em!), and write a 5-10 page outline of the book (a draft is complete!). Those who want to be part of the novel could then read the outline and bid on the naming rights to characters. The money earned would make it feasible for me to complete the book and market it to a publisher.
Main and central characters would go for a premium, of course. Secondary and other miscellaneous characters would go for less. But wherever your name ended up, you could show the book to your friends and family and tell them that you were the inspiration behind that fictional character.
And why stop at character names? If one of your characters likes to shop, sell the naming rights to the stores he or she shops at. Sell the naming rights to the food they eat, the hotels they stay at, the cars they drive, and the guns they use! Hollywood is notorious for product placement. It’s about time authors cashed in!
Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?
As lucrative as it sounds, I can see potential downsides.
When writing, characters sometimes take on a life of their own. Someone may pay thinking that their character is going to turn out a certain way only to have him or her become someone else. Those who bought the naming rights wouldn’t like that. The lawsuits would fly.
And then there are creative issues. If authors sell the names of their characters, I doubt names great names like Holden Caulfield, Holly Golightly, or Atticus Finch would have a place in literary history. Names like John Smith, Rebecca Johnson, and Ethan Richards don’t have the same ring to them.
So, I’m not going to sell the naming rights to my characters—at least not right now. Besides, I like the idea of making money because people like my books and want to buy them, not because I had to sell naming rights. But in the next couple months I will be running a contest that will allow your name to appear as a minor character in my next book.
Vickie, I hope you enter.
Everyone else, stay tuned.
13 comments February 19th, 2010
Note: This post was written for and posted on the Open to Hope site. You can see the original post here.
It’s hard to find movies for adults that adequately deal with the death of a spouse and putting one’s life back together. Fortunately, one of the movies nominated for the Best Picture Oscar does a great job of dealing with the subjects of death, grief, and moving on better than any other film in recent memory—and it’s target audience is kids.
The movie? Up.
In the first 20 minutes of the film we see Carl Fredricksen as a boy meeting his future wife, Ellie. When they grow up, they both want to become explorers and journey to faraway lands. Ellie shows Carl her adventure book that contains a few notes and drawings of things she’s done. Most of the pages in the book are blank, and Ellie tells Carl that she’s going to fill the rest of book with photos and of all the exciting things she’s going to do.
Then the audience is taken on a short silent movie journey of their life. They get married and start careers. They decide to have a family only to find out she’s infertile. Though the news is tough to swallw, they both decide to keep working and save their pennies for a trip to Paradise Falls in South America. But as the years pass, they keep raiding their savings to pay for car repairs and other life emergencies. They grow old, and one day Carl realizes that they’ve never taken the trip they dreamed about. He throws caution to the wind and buys tickets to Paradise Falls. Only they never make the trip. As he’s about to surprise his wife with the plane tickets, she falls ill and dies.
The next time we see Carl he’s a grumpy widower. Fed up with life and facing a court-ordered placement in a retirement home, he decides he’s had enough. As a former balloon salesman, he rigs his Victorian house with thousands of balloons and launches it into the sky, determined to finally visit Paradise Falls. The only complication to his trip is that Russell, a neighborhood kid and wilderness explorer, has unwittingly come along for the ride too.
During the journey to the falls, the Victorian house becomes the symbol for Ellie. Not only does the house contain photographs and other reminders of Ellie and Carl’s life together but, at various points in the journey, Carl looks up at the house talks to it, wondering what Ellie would say if only she were there with him.
As he travels with Russell, the house becomes more of a hindrance than a help. Carl’s so determined to take the house to Paradise Falls that he’s unable to form a relationship with Russell or even think about getting them both home safely. At times Carl seems more concerned about damage the house receives than the danger Russell and himself find themselves in.
Carl doesn’t realize how much the house is holding him back until he finds himself browsing through Ellie’s adventure book. As he turns the pages, he’s surprised to discover that the blank pages she showed him years ago are filled with pictures of his and Ellie’s life together. Suddenly Carl realizes that even though he and Ellie were never able to visit the Paradise Falls together, they did have a wonderful, fulfilling life as husband and wife. It doesn’t matter that they never got to visit the falls together—the real adventure in life was the years spent with Ellie.
Armed with this new insight Carl is able to literally let go of the house in order to get he and Russell home safely. As a result, he’s able to move on with his life and start a new and fulfilling chapter as a father for Russell. It’s a message that anyone who’s struggling to move on after the death of a spouse could use.
Don’t let this beautifully animated film trick you into thinking it’s for kids only. There’s plenty in Up to keep kids entertained but with its unique plot and adept handling of more “grown up” issues, this life-affirming film deserves the Best Picture of the year award and is the new high water mark in movies that deal with grief and the loss of a spouse.
10 comments February 16th, 2010
A discussion over on the Dating a Widower Facebook group got me thinking about the time people spend between dating and marrying. The conventional wisdom seems to be to date as long as possible to make sure you really know the person.
Having gone through a long courtship (the late wife) and a fast one (Marathon Girl) I’ve learned that the amount of time you date isn’t as important as knowing what you want in a future spouse and not wasting time with someone who isn’t compatible and doesn’t meet your standards.
Though the late wife and I knew each other for years, we didn’t start dating until we were both in college. (I was a junior; she a freshman.) After a year of steady dating, I decided to serve an LDS mission to Bulgaria. Had I not done that, we probably would have spent another year dating before we got married. When I returned home, our relationship picked up where it left off. I could have asked her to marry be a few months after returning home.
But I didn’t.
It took over a year before we finally tied the knot because I was worried about being able to finish school, pay the bills and still find time to get to know each other better. Even though we were both crazy about each other, I thought it would be easier if we could save more money and get as much schooling out of the way first.
Looking back, the only regret I have about the marriage to my late wife is that we didn’t get married six months sooner. All my fears were unfounded. After we married, we both worked two jobs and attended school full time—albeit only for a semester. Somehow, despite our busy lives, we still managed to find time for each other and build on our relationship. If anything, going through the pressure that came with our hectic lives actually brought us closer together in ways that waiting another six month or a year never could have done.
After the late wife died, I stumbled back in to the dating waters. I met Marathon Girl. Our courtship lasted a total of nine months. If it wasn’t for a handful of widower-related issues, the total time from dating to marriage might have been two or three months sooner.
After the second time around I learned that the amount of time we were going to date wasn’t nearly as important as making sure we were compatible in ways that were important to each other. After a month of serious dating, I realized she was perfect for me.
• I was physically attracted to her
• We enjoyed a lot of the same activities
• We shared similar views about money and finances
• We had the same religious, moral, and philosophical values
• We shared similar views about family and parenthood
• She had the emotional qualities that were a good compliment to my own
Once I realized Marathon Girl matched up in all the important ways, I knew I could spend this life and the next with her. Dating was fun but having been married before, I realized we could build up our relationship more as husband and wife. I asked her to marry me six months after we started dating. She accepted and we set a date 11 weeks down the road. (Yes, friends and family on both sides of our family worried we were taking things too fast or that I wasn’t ready to move on but the mostly bit their tongues, respected our decision, and wished us luck.)
February 28th will mark seven wonderful years together. Waiting a few more months or even another year to tie the knot wouldn’t have strengthened our relationship or made ourselves any surer that we were meant for each other. All it would have done is dragged out the inevitable.
Once you meet that special person that meets your criteria for a future spouse, it’s not going to matter if you date them for 2-3 years or 2-3 months before getting married. If the person is right for you, you’ll find a way to work together and enjoy the good times and the bad. We all have one life to live. The question, then, is how we choose to live it.
As to my whirlwind courtship with Marathon Girl, I have no regrets.
61 comments February 14th, 2010
I rarely endorse writing conferences because most of them tend to be (bad) clones of each other. They usually offer the same kind of writing classes and bring in an author or two who give the same general pep talk followed by the standard Q&A sessions. Rarely have I found them to be that helpful in my own writing efforts.
One of rare exceptions is the annual Storymakers Conference. I attended last year and was blown away by the entire conference. The classes were fantastic and taught by published authors who really knew their stuff. A lot of what I learned helped me develop and polish The Third manuscript so that it was worthy of publication.
This year’s conference looks to be even better that last years. Just a few of the events include:
* A hands-on workshop with bestselling author and writing instructor Dave Wolverton. (Word on the street is that he’s taught such authors as Stephanie Meyer, Brandon Mull, and Brandon Asnderson.) I’m going to this. You won’t want to miss it.
* Over 50 classes on writing and the industry from authors who really know their stuff. (Side note: I’ll be doing a presentation on creative copywriting. If you’re going to attend, come to my class!)
* A chance to network with literary agents, publishers, editors, and authors. Trust me. Getting to know the right people can go a long way towards getting published.
* An awesome first chapter contest with great prizes. Past winners have been asked by publishers in attendance to submit their manuscripts for consideration.
This year’s conference is April 23-24 at the Provo Marriot. You can get more details about the conference here.
Hope to see you all there!
3 comments February 11th, 2010
I’m starting to wonder if the Island needs some kind of crazy woman who lost her baby running around to make it feel complete.
When the show first started we had Rousseau who had been running around for several years after Ben took her baby. She set traps, shot people who got in her way, and went nuts. Now that Claire’s back, it appears she’s shooting people and setting traps. It remains to be seen if she’s crazy too.
Of course the entire show is a bit crazy and I hope the writers have a good explanation as to what Claire’s been doing for the last three years. So far they haven’t disappointed me in their explanations of what’s going on with the Island but there’s a first time for everything.
And wasn’t it a bit creepy to see Ethan as the doctor? I had to laugh when he told Claire that he didn’t want to stick any needles in her since in the alternate reality, that’s exactly what he does.
I’m still not sure how they’re going to tie in the “flash sideways” scenes where the plane doesn’t crash into the 2007 storyline. It’s fun to watch the alternate realities but I’m scratching my head as to where they’re going. Most of the characters seem to have some recollection of each other or a different life (Jack talking to Locke, Claire knowing the name of her baby is Aaron) but it seems hazy.
I just hope the characters from the flash sideways 2004 storyline don’t end up on the island in 2007. Not only would that be confusing, it would be really lame.
3 comments February 10th, 2010
The most disturbing of all the Super Bowl ads that aired yesterday was The Audi “Green Police” ad. (If you haven’t seen it, you can watch it below.)
It shows people being arrested for environmental crimes like asking for plastic bags at the grocery store or using incandescent light bulbs. “Green” police are shown going through trash and testing the temperatures of a hot tub all because what they’re doing is “bad for the environment.”
Audi claims its fictional green police are “caricatures of today’s ‘green movement.’” But even they admit their Green Police idea isn’t too far fetched.
Coincidentally, there are numerous real Green Police units globally that are furthering green practices and environmental issues. For example, Israel’s main arm of the Ministry of Environmental in the area of enforcement and deterrence is called; you guessed it, the Green Police.
New York has officers within the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation that are fondly called the “Green Police.” The Green Police is also the popular name for Vietnam’s Environmental Police Department and the UK (United Kingdom) has a group who dresses in green as part of the Environment Agency’s squad to monitor excessive CO2 emissions.
I’m telling you now, my forthcoming novel The Third (Valor Publishing Group, May 2010) isn’t too far fetched.
Audi Green Police ad below.
3 comments February 8th, 2010
Tonight was one of the most fun Super Bowl parties I’ve ever had, and it had nothing to do with the Saints 31-17 victory over the hapless Colts. What made it so special was, for the first time, my two oldest boys took an active interest in goings on before and during the game.
My 5 year old helped me make and decorate a cake (pictured above) along with making some sauce for my hot wings. My 4 year old watched the first and fourth quarters with me while updating me on scoring changes along with making comments after every play. (Why did he drop the ball, Dad? Hey, he just scored a touchdown!) And they both ate more food than was good for them.
The result after all was said and done was two happy boys and a happy dad who are looking forward to more moments like this in the days and years to come.
Add comment February 7th, 2010
I’m really looking forward to this year’s Super Bowl party because of my oldest boys increasing interest in football. Ever since I took them to their first college football game last fall, they’ve become much more interested in watching it on TV. And though I think they’ll probably make it through the first quarter before going off to play with their cousins, I’m looking forward to watching at least part of it with them.
Yes, on paper the Saints/Colts matchup looks to be wildly entertaining, and I hope the game lives up to the hype. I’d love to watch a game with a dozen lead changes and last second touchdown to win the game.
But I don’t see it.
If anything I see a blowing coming—something we haven’t seen in the big game for many years.
I’m rooting for the Saints to win because I have a soft place in my heart for the underdogs. Plus it’s nice to see them finally playing in the big game. But I think Peyton Manning and the gang have been here before. I think he’ll shred the Saints defense and have things nicely wrapped up by the third quarter.
My pick: Colts 44-17 but I’d rather watch a nail bitter—no matter who wins.
2 comments February 5th, 2010
Due to time constraints, I won’t go into a lot of detail about the season premier of LOST other than to say IT ROCKS.
The best part?
Finding out who (or what) the smoke monster really is and the explanation for the ash that was always around Jacob’s cabin.
The biggest challenge the show will have this season is the end game. If they can leave viewers satisfied after they close the show, then this would have been a six year journey worth taking.
3 comments February 4th, 2010
As much as it’s going to kill me, I won’t be watching the season premier of LOST tonight.
Prior obligations means I’ll have to wait until Wednesday night to see it.
All I ask is that no one spoils it for me. If anyone does, they’ll end up as one of the bad guys in my next novel.
At least I got to watch the first four minutes. It looks like they hit the reset button.
4 comments February 2nd, 2010
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