July 30, 2010

Got a Minute? Write a Short Story

Now for something a little different. I'll share an item I wrote based on a posting on the One Minute Writer site for Friday Fiction.

The challenge?  Write a short, short story in just one minute.  Yes, they actually have a timer. The topic for today?  Robots.  I accepted, and below is what I came up with in a minute. Think you can do it?  Give it a try and see how you do.  If you like to write, it's actually a lot of fun.  Remember, this was written in a minute, so I'm not claiming this as a good representation of my work.  It's just something fun to do if you have a spare minute in your day.

"Reset.  Yeah, well pushing reset doesn't work.  What else?"  Sarah tossed the instructions across the desk.  "What am I going to do with you?"  

The rusting robot simply sat in a heap on the bed.  Sarah pulled it onto the cart and rolled it outside to the alley.  At this time of night, no one should notice.  She propped the robot against a neighbor's fence and wiped her fingerprints, inside and out.  Once back inside she hesitated for a moment. 

"Nothing else to do I guess."  Sarah dialed the number then reached for a tissue.  "Hi, I'm calling to report a dumped A6G49.  Yes, I know it's illegal to own a model that old. Would I call and report it if it belonged to me?  Could you just come pick it up?" 

She hung up and stared out the window at the metallic figure in the shadows.  "Forgive me my friend."

July 18, 2010

So Many Books, So Little Time

I was recently browsing through one of my favorite websites, http://www.goodreads.com/, and was struck by how many wonderful and not so wonderful books I’ve yet to read.  Although I’ve already made my way through an impressive number of tomes in my lifetime, there are still so many stories I haven’t had time to explore, so many worlds still undiscovered.  How will I get to them all?

If I have one lifelong love in my life, one true thing I could never imagine giving up, it’s books.  Just the sight of them in my home evokes a sense of comfort and calm.  And when I say they have been a lifelong love, that is no exaggeration.  I’ve been reading voraciously since I was a child, and before I knew how to read, my mom read to me.  They’ve always been there like an old friend, waiting to teach me, show me new lands, comfort me when I was down, and take my mind off the real world when I needed an escape, even if only for a short while.  Long before I learned to “Google it,” I learned that I could find the answer to almost anything in a book in the library.  And the smell.  Ah, there is nothing so soothing to me as the smell of a used bookstore.  My stress level immediately plummets as I walk through the doors.  

Technology is wonderful and everyone knows that if I had money to burn I’d be a top notch techno geek with the latest gadgets, but Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc. simply can’t replace my beloved books.  Don’t get me wrong, I truly do think e-readers are great.  It’s just that I like the feel of a book in my hand.  I enjoy the texture of the paper when I turn a page, the weight in my arms when I carry it, the art on the cover (even when it’s bad).  

And although I own at least twenty real bookmarks, I grab whatever slip of paper is near when I finish my first reading session, and use it to mark the beginning of my journey.  Normally, I don’t give it a second glance until I finished the book.  You see, at the end, part of my experience is looking to see what it was that was handy when I started reading so many chapters ago.  Marking my progress through books have been photos, notes from friends, ideas for stories of my own, shopping lists, birthday cards, envelopes, expired coupons, the list goes on.  

Some people choose to plow their way through book after book, reading as quickly as possible so they can move on to the next.  I've never been one of those.  I take my time, choosing to savor the moments the author presents to me.  I don't like to rush my way through.  This isn't a sprint to the finish line, it's a voyage across the ocean.  If a friend and I start a book at the same time, I will always reach the end of the tale well behind her.  It's not that I can't read quickly, it's that I choose not to when it comes to novels.  And if I’m truly enjoying a book, I will slow down even more as I near the end, postponing the inevitable day when I read the last word and have to say goodbye to the characters and world that have entertained me for so many hours.  

As I browsed through Goodreads today, marking books I’ve read and rating them, I found it interesting how many genres I’ve enjoyed over the years and how many have been made into movies that I’ve never seen.  My taste in books has always been very eclectic, which makes it difficult when someone asks me what I like to read.  I can’t pin it down for them because it depends on my mood.  I can tell you that once I’ve read a book, it’s very hard for me to bring myself to watch the celluloid version of it.  I’ve done it a few times, and have almost always been disappointed.  Inevitably characters are left out, scenes are changed, themes have morphed, or entirely new storylines have been added.  Nothing ever compares to the world or the characters as I imagined them in my mind.  

So why this long blog about my love of books?  I don’t know.  Perhaps it’s just that Goodreads has me longing for the days of my youth when I could spend an entire summer reading my way through every type of book.  Now it seems that life gets in the way.  Back then, nothing kept me from my love.  I spent my summers living a very active life, but I also spent them falling in love with heroes, being frightened out of my wits by ghosts, living on the prairie and battling the wilds, being abducted by pirates, and more.  Could it be that there are simply too many distractions today?  Maybe one day I’ll experiment by going off the grid to see if doing without television, internet, texting, etc. frees up time for unlimited reading.  I wonder if I can do it?  Hmmm... now there is something to think about.  

In the meantime, with the help of Goodreads, I’m making a long list of books I hope to someday experience.  If you have any suggestions for recent must reads, send them my way and I'll add it to my list, try to read it this summer and let you know what I thought.

July 5, 2010

A Lovely July 4

I’ve always wanted to live someplace where I could sit on my porch or in my yard and watch a huge fireworks display on Independence Day.  So it isn’t a big dream, but it’s been one of my small, wish list kind of things that has now come true.  Last night the town I live in put on a wonderful fireworks display over the lake near my condo, and surprise, it was visible from my balcony.  Hooray!  We watched all evening as a steady stream of cars and pedestrians made their way up the road toward the park where live music was playing (yes, we could hear it while sitting outside).  At one point we thought about walking to the park and sitting with everyone, but the homemade Swiss, bacon burgers and caramel apple pie we ate earlier made us a little lazy and the chairs on my balcony were oh so comfortable.

The show started right on time as I was chatting with a neighbor who was wandering the grounds below us.  She raced to a nearby knoll to see the amazing view, while we “oohed” and “aahed” from above her.  It was spectacular.  Can fireworks be anything else?  And next to the lovely display and spending time with my family, the best part for me was knowing that I wouldn’t have to fight traffic or drive for hours to get home.  Once the awesomeness was over, I stepped inside and poured myself another limeade.  This is how life should be all the time.

I tried to get photos, but this was my first time taking fireworks pics and I chose the wrong setting in all the excitement.  Since I was holding the camera off to one side and randomly clicking off shots so I could enjoy watching the display, this is the best I got.  I eventually realized most of my shots were of the dark sky because my hand had wandered upward, and so I gave up completely.  Why try to capture it in a photo when I could just sit back and enjoy the moment?

So that’s how I spent my July 4 evening.  I hope yours was just as wonderful.