30 November 2011

Creating Character Emotions - Apathy

by Diane Carlisle

From Dictionary.com - apathy   [ap-uh-thee] noun, plural -thies.

1. Absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement.
2. Lack of interest in or concern for things that others find moving or exciting.


The floating scaffold moved side to side, sloshing about the soapy water in his bucket. He whipped the squeegee downward in a quick motion, the excess fluid sprayed off into the wind like a mist. The muffled voices inside just another part of the scenery, a hundred feet in the air in front of his 15th window of the day.

The screaming on the other side seemed like a movie playing in the background. He pressed the spongy strip to the glass and made square patterns on the surface, the liquid dripping toward the bottom pane and carrying a summer’s worth of dust and pigeon shit in its stream. A green and white speck hitched a ride inside a soapy bubble the size of a nickel.

The woman threw a vase across the room, "I hate you!"

The man ducked and the fixture shattered against a closed door.

He'd witnessed this scene before in his own living room, back when Margie used to watch the Soap Operas. He would leave her alone, engrossed in her favorite episodes. Something else could occupy his time. Make a sandwich. Swat at flies. Anything.

He flipped the squeegee over to its rubber side and pulled downward, pressing hard against the glass. The water flowed quickly, gravity forcing the drips to race each other to the bottom.

In two large strides, the man closed the gap between himself and the woman, placing his hands around her neck. He looked angry.

The wind shifted the scaffold back and forth and the clean surface he just uncovered gleamed in contrast to the rest of the window. He again placed the squeegee back to the top and pulled down. A pigeon stopped in for a visit and perched itself on a side panel.

“Hello there little fellow.”

The pigeon cooed back at him.

The woman tried kicking and punching, but she looked as if she was losing in her struggle for air. Her punches and kicks slowed down and then she was still.

"People will be people, eh?" he said to the pigeon and then raised the squeegee to remove the rest of the soapy liquid before moving on to his next window.

22 November 2011

I Turned 45 Today!

by Diane Carlisle

I didn't think I'd ever have the opportunity to speak those words. Or, in this case, should I say write them? It's one of those things you never think about when you're 18 or so. You don't just wake up on a given morning and go, "Wow, one day I'm going to be old." It just sort of happens to you. But funny thing is, when you turn 45, you actually do look ahead 10 and 20 years, because now you're looking at retirement, and a few more of those pesky wrinkles.

Did you know God created us in a way such that our eyes go bad right around the same time we start noticing the fine lines? Yes, you actually look a lot worse than what you're seeing in the mirror. God has compassion. My eye doctor called the other day to remind me that it's time for my annual eye exam. I said, "No it's not, I'm fine!"

But I'm not going to think about that today. Today is my birthday and so I'm going to celebrate by listing a few things in my life for which I've been truly grateful.

1. My husband. Because no matter how old I get, he'll always be 8 years older. I just need to keep him young and healthy so that I die before he does.

2. My children. Thank goodness I endured having them AND raising them. When you get to be my age, you appreciate that you have adult children around who can take care of you when you can't take care of yourself anymore.

3. My college degree. I was going to save the world from that Y2K bug. Remember that? I graduated with my Computer Science degree in 1998. I was ready for them to unleash the beast unto the world so that I may slay it and be truly worthy. Nothing glorious there, just a lot of painfully monotonous coding and testing.

4. My sister. Because she is 11 months older than I am so we're always the same age on my birthday and remain so for about three weeks. I won't ask her what it feels like turning 46. I'll just wait it out until next year. It just makes me feel better when I can see that she isn't totally freaking out over it.

5. My adversities in life. I wouldn't have made it this far if I didn't have challenges pushing me forward and people getting in the way of my success. I've had to change and adapt to all sorts of life's nuances and having done so, I realize that my ideals of yesterday were never meant to be because they would not have served me well today. My success is what I have now. Everything else positive that comes my way is just icing on the cake.

Have a great day!

19 November 2011

Flash Back 1984 - What Happened?

by Diane Carlisle

In the summer of 1984 I worked in an ice cream parlor. Times were as bad, if not a little worse than today, but as teenagers back then, we didn't worry about our futures. It wasn't beneath us to work in fast food or customer service. I served chili dogs and soft serve ice cream. I even made milkshakes in those mixers that always spun the glob of ice cream to the top, splattering milk all over the place. But I was happy to collect my $52.00 paycheck at the end of the week.

I applied for student loans and attended Coastal Carolina Community College to try and better myself so I wouldn’t have to work in the fast food business for the rest of my life. I worked late at night at my mother’s restaurant and lounge. After “last call” I had one hour of cleanup and two hours all to myself to get my homework done.

The closest thing we had to console games was a downhill skiing game produced by Activision. A stick figure would move down a snow capped mountain in a pair of skis that resembled a perpendicular equal sign which, when manipulated by the controller, would turn slightly to the left and then the right in order to simulate the side to side motion you might imagine happening when someone is actually skiing down the side of a hill.

The most entertaining part of the game was when the skier would crash into a tree or a flagpole and the equal sign turned into what looked like a 'V', made to resemble a mangled set of skis. Game developers had to be creative with what they had back then.

Still, we'd get bored and head out to the local gaming arcade. Tempest, Asteroids and Galaga were much more entertaining, had better graphics and they only cost one token. By the way, a token back then wasn't $.25. You could stay in the arcade all night if you had a couple bucks. That was our entertainment and social outlet.

So what's the difference today? The unemployment numbers come out and we gasp. Our children are coming home from college with no jobs. Yet, in America, the obesity rate is skyrocketing and our economy is crashing to an all-time low.

Credit and technology is what happened.

Want that new console game that's coming out next month? It only costs $59.95 and you'll probably beat it in less time than I spent on a Friday night with friends at the arcade. I know arcades sound lame to kids today and who needs to be part of a social group when we have Facebook and Twitter? Work at Burger King? Fuck that. Our kids eat fast food, they don’t serve it. They'll just wait around until someone offers them a desk job where they can sit around all day and surf the internet.

Reflect a little. So tell me, what were you doing in 1984?

12 November 2011

Classroom Introductions Are Stupid

by Diane Carlisle

I've always heard that fear of public speaking is the number one fear for 90% of people, a higher percentage than that of those who fear death. Wow, that's something. But that in itself makes me the more curious about this phenomenon. Let's dissect the very simplest form of public speaking, the classroom introduction.

I hate it when the instructor tells the class about himself, or herself, and then asks each student, when it's their turn, to stand up and tell a little about themselves, starting with their name. UGH!! Again? I just did that in the last class! Why do professors require this sort of thing? Is this a teaching tool that they learn at University to get the classroom under control by elevating themselves and blathering on about their own background and why it is they came to be here before us today?

I'm thinking, "Good, I'm not in the front row this time, so I won't be going first. I'll get to hear what everyone else has to say and then I won't feel so bad after they all reveal how absolutely boring they are in their everyday lives." Of course, it never turns out that way. There's always the Director over some huge operation in the Gulf or a Naval Officer working on his Master's degree while taking a break from his annual hiking expedition.

So what can I say now? My nerves are in a bunch already, but now I have to reveal that I'm a software developer who loves to play online, roleplaying games as well as 1st person shooters, and I like to write about fictional characters who commit heinous crimes, including the dismemberment of a college professor who asked his students to introduce themselves.

I stand, take a deep breath, and clear my throat, "My name is Diane Carlisle and I'm a software developer." I sit down.

< crickets chirping >

You would think I just blurted out that I was an alcoholic. I take out my iPhone and make like I'm busy.

"That's interesting, Ms. Carlisle. Do you have any hobbies?" Ah, the ole you won't get away with that in my classroom tactic.

I look up. "No, I don't." Back to my iPhone.

"So, what do you expect to gain from this class?"

I want to say an "A" but decide that would be rude. See what public speaking does to people? That's not me at all. Why does this happen? Normally, I'm fine with talking in front of a group of people and being the center of attention when I have something which I care to share, like a software product I created. So why is an introduction of myself so off putting? Why do I feel so at odds when asked to tell a little about myself?

I don't like to blather on about who I am (at least not in a public forum such as a classroom) because I'm a rather humble person. Once I'm done with the class, it's time to move on. Nobody is going to care about what I do or who I am 8 weeks from now when this class is over, so why are we wasting time and energy going through it? I hate being redundant. Can't we just exchange business cards? Here, take one...my blog address is printed on there and I wrote a "little" about myself on a page labeled "About Me". Stop by and comment sometime.

So, are you ever anxious about public speaking? If so, why?

09 November 2011

NaBloPoMo - National Blog Posting Month

by Diane Carlisle

NaBloPoMo - National Blog Posting Month (not affiliated with the real NaBloPoMo).

Write up a back cover blurb for a book you have written or would like to write. It should be short, sweet, yet give a sense of people and events without totally spoiling the ending. NaNoWriMo participation is not required, and the blurb may be for fiction or nonfiction as you see fit.

My Blurb Cover

After two disciplinary actions against her, Sergeant Kelly Cooper is transferred to Precinct 9, where her new boss, Captain Grant Elliot, assigns her three cases that will either make her career or send her packing. A chain of murders with no leads or suspects has spanned two years, leaving investigators frustrated and without answers for the growing menace of angry protesters who are demanding answers.

All three cases have one thing in common. The victims were case workers for the Department of Children and Families. Sergeant Cooper must piece together a gruesome puzzle and find answers that will lead to the killer. No other investigator will assist her and though he set her up for failure from the start, Captain Elliot finds himself secretly attracted to this rigidly stubborn detective.

Participants and posts:

orion_mk3 (link to this month's post)
Ralph Pines (link to this month's post)
MysteryRiter (link to this month's post)
AuburnAssassin (link to this month's post)
Jarrah Dale (link to this month's post)
SinisterCola (link to this month's post)
dolores haze (link to this month's post)
pyrosama (YOU ARE HERE)
Alynza (link to this month's post)
writingismypassion (link to this month's post)
Cath (link to this month's post)
Inkstrokes (link to this month's post)
egoodlett (link to this month's post)
LadyDae (link to this month's post)
SuzanneSeese (link to this month's post)
anarchicq (link to this month's post)
Stu Ayris (link to this month's post)

Cleanup On Aisle Four!

by Diane Carlisle

Why do grocery stores display feminine hygiene products in the same aisle as medications, healing aids and incontinence products? This leaves a really unfair connotation of dysfunction, don't you think? I mean, why not pair off the incontinence products with toilet paper? Don't they both absorb urine to some extent?

Better yet, place both feminine hygiene and incontinence products with ALL paper products used for the absorption of any liquids. I think that would be fair. Hell, why not welcome Pampers and Huggies into the same aisle! Get them away from the baby food. Would you want to buy your food in the same aisle as toilet paper? When things make sense in general, no one appears to be the lesser human being based on age or gender.

I’d like to see the grocery stores embrace my God given cycle and place my respectable sister products where they belong. There’s no reason for them to remain on the same shelves as Band-Aids and Neosporin, all at the disposal to those in need of products which assist in the healing of wounds. Please, my period is not a wound!

That would leave medications all to themselves though, wouldn't it? Why not pair these medications with wine and beer? That way, when we're out buying cases of Miller Lite or bottles of Merlot, the packets of Alka Seltzer and BC Powders will greet us and remind us to prepare for the screaming hangover from which we'll suffer in the morning.

One more thing. Why keep the flowers so close to the selection of fine wines? They don't go together anymore. The days of magnanimity are over. Alcohol is a daily consumption; flowers are purchased on special occasions. Put them near the bakery where people order cakes inscribed with "Happy Birthday!" and "We'll Miss You!"

Who's with me? We'll straighten this out eventually. We'll just have to take a back seat to the Occupy Wall Street folks who seem to have the spotlight right now.

02 November 2011

Author Interview - Conflict of Interest

I recently had the honor of interviewing published author, Terry Lewis, on his debut novel Conflict of Interest. I read this book two months ago, but just now had the courage to ask for an interview. I'm not sure why I was hesitant to ask; he was happy to answer my questions!

Have a peak and then go buy his book. It's one that will have you talking to the book like you do a movie where you want to yell at the protagonist because he's getting himself in a pickle!

Q: Your protagonist has obvious flaws. Why did you choose the ones you did?

Lewis: What do you mean obvious flaws? I thought he was just about perfect. Okay, seriously, I knew I wanted a narrator who might be the murderer. I wanted the reader to wonder about him, yet hope he or she was wrong. So, he needed to be likeable at the core, but prone to bad decisions so that you want to slap him. Alcohol abuse is both a symptom and a contributing factor for such people. Mix in a willingness to push the envelope a little, a tendency to engage in risky behavior yet avoid its consequences, and voila!

Q: How did your being a judge influence Conflict of Interest and how you wrote it?

Lewis: I don't know that being a judge necessarily influenced it but certainly my legal experience as a lawyer and judge was the key factor in what I chose to write and the sorts of scenes, language, etc in the novel. The law is what I know and I have always liked this genre, so it was a natural route for me.

Q: What was your journey to publication like? Were there any obstacles with your debut novel Conflict of Interest?

Lewis: I was very lucky. When I started thinking seriously about trying to get it published, I read books and articles about it. I sent out query letters to about twenty agents, and to one small publisher in Florida. I ended up getting interest from an agent at the same time the publisher expressed interest. I put the two together and ended up with a contract.

Q: What advice would you give someone who is just starting out, what pitfalls to avoid?

Lewis: The best advice I ever received was, write what you like to read -- a variation on write what you know. The point is if you are writing a novel, it is going to take you a long time. Best to spend that time with something that is interesting to you. Otherwise, you will lack the passion, the discipline, to see it through.

Q: I realize research is essential when writing fiction. If the police checked your browsing history would you be in trouble?

Lewis: I sure hope not, but if so, it probably wouldn't be because of research for my novels. One of the reasons I chose to write legal thrillers/mysteries was because the legal world was one I already knew pretty well. I do some research on things, and the Internet has proved useful in this respect. I also have inquired of medical examiners or other experts about some of the forensics.

Q: What other novels of yours would you recommend to fans of Conflict of Interest?

Lewis: That's easy. I only have one other published novel -- Privileged Information.

Q: Are you currently working on another novel and if so, can you tell a little about it?

Lewis: Yes, I have a third novel that has been finished for some time and in search of a home. It is about a paranoid schizophrenic patient in Florida State Hospital who is accused of killing his psychologist. The story is told primarily by the lawyer, but also by the patient. I am also working on a 4th, in which a lawyer who represents a judge accused of murder learns that her father may in fact be guilty of the crime.


And that concludes my first ever author interview. Thanks, Terry! We will be looking forward to the publication of your third and fourth novels.

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