31 December 2011

Signing Out From 2011

by Diane Carlisle

Closing out the year with these few thoughts that make me thankful I have another year coming.

My son came home after three and a half years in the Army, having endured a year in Iraq. He served in the Infantry of all fields! He is now enrolled in college, studying Information Technology and working full time. I'm so very proud and thankful of his service, but am truly happy that he is home safe.

My daughter and I have become closer than we'd ever been. Her broken heart gave me an opportunity to step up to the plate and show what I really had in me as a mother. We experienced some major bonding this year and I even heard her tell another person that I was her best friend. I'm not one of those moms who try to be the daughter's best friend either. See...I wasn't even trying at something and it just happened. :)

My husband of 25 years had all his CT scans come back clean this entire year! That's cancer free 1/5th of the way! Four more years and it'll be like he never had cancer. How awesome is that?

I've even made major accomplishments for myself that needed to be made. I've given up on striving in my field of study and leaned more toward nurturing my desire to write and opening the pathways to discover what is the right path for me. Sure, my job pays my bills, but it doesn't keep me healthy and lively, not like what I produce when I am writing.

I've joined the Tallahassee Writer's Association, the Florida Writer's Association and I've been accepted into a local writing group comprised of editors, published writers and fellow professionals in the Tallahassee community. My next pursuit is to join the Toast Masters Club here in Tallahassee so that I can brush up on my speaking skills.

Life is good, people! All you have to do is figure out what you like to do and do away with the people in your life who are keeping you down. Follow your dreams. It's not about getting a bigger paycheck, it's about making progress. Sometimes you have to take a step back to make that happen.

Bring on the New Year!

28 December 2011

Why Guys Really Are From Mars

by Diane Carlisle

Going on 25 years of marriage, I was thinking back to the times before we were married and it made me wonder why I considered marriage at such a young age. Not only was my husband the same handsome man he is today, but he was a miracle after having endured a few years dealing with men who really were from Mars. How did he approach me and ask me out?

"What time do you get off work?"

"Two o'clock."

"Can I buy you breakfast?"

"I'd like that."

I found out later that he needed to be up at 6:00 in the morning to make it into work on time. I didn’t learn about that during the date; it was much later into our relationship, when he was comfortable enough that I would realize it didn’t matter.

See how simple that was? There's nothing fake, no non-sense, and none of this hidden agenda and side stepping. There were just a few simple questions and a little bit of confidence and genuine feeling. That's all it took.

However, before my lovely husband came along and swept me up with his no non-sense swag, there were 5 truly remarkable approaches made toward me that deserved a rejection. I wasn't really equipped at the time to respond to these really bizarre approaches, but I can respond to them today. Here they are. Each approach now has a title and my official answer!

The Jail Bait

"My ex-girlfriend works at the Foxy Lady. Will you go there with me tonight so I can make her jealous?"

Um, sure. I always wanted to go to a strip club and get beat up by an angry, naked girl and end up in jail for sexual assault because I accidentally touched her boob while defending myself.

The Little Black Book

"Can I get your phone number in case I want to ask you out sometime?"

The priorities are all wrong here. Ask me out on a date first, then get the phone number. Okay?

The Fan Club

Rolling a joint, "Some friends and I are hanging out at the Mullet Festival this weekend. Want to tag along?"

The Mullet Festival is not a stage, you are not a rock star and I am not your groupie.

The Look At Me Now

He gloriously fans out 10 twenty dollar bills and says, "Would you sleep with me now?"

You had a better chance before.

The Self Fullfilling Prophecy

"I was going to ask you out, but you're not really my type."

I was going to say no, but you never really asked me out.

There was a Dilbert cartoon that came out this week featuring “The Topper”. In the name of my favorite cartoon, can any of you top these? Please tell me your story and give me your answers you weren’t able to provide in the heat of the moment!

23 December 2011

All About My 5th Grade Bully

by Diane Carlisle

I commented about school lunches on April Plummer's blog this past week and it got me thinking about childhood traumas, or what I call childhood dramas today. This led me to thinking about an issue which has become a huge problem today, and not only amongst children either. Bullying is becoming so widespread, or is it just getting more visibility because of social media and technological advances?

I remember the girl who bullied me when we were in 5th grade. I can envision her face as I'm writing this. When I see her, this child who must have been lashing out, but at what I couldn't begin to tell you, she is just that, a small child.

Her name was Ellen Mathews (name changed to protect her in case she’s a changed person today). She always wore a dress. She didn't wear new dresses. They were old and two sizes too big. Her hair wasn't glistening and shiny like the other black girls whose moms had obviously taken care to comb, braid and polish their hair before sending them off to school.

Ellen's hair was scary. I can only imagine that she had to do her own hair. Her braids were loosely twisted together like the hairy legs of a tarantula spider and they looked like they had a fine layer of volcanic ash dusted over them. Her skin wasn't golden, chocolaty or brown, it was an ashy black and her eyes the same. She knew I was afraid of her and I think that made things worse.

Why do I remember her so vividly? Because up until that point, I'd never been bullied in my life. Sure I'd been in arguments and fights with other kids, but being bullied is a whole different issue. I'd never felt so alone as I did when I was bullied, and that face and her demeanor, mannerisms and all, will never go away.

Such little things a person can do to terrify another person and she probably didn't realize it. Maybe someone was doing it to her, I don't know. But, how else does a child learn that kind of behavior? I mean to ball up your fist, bug out your eyes with an angry grimace and silently mouth to someone you barely know, “I’m a get you.” That doesn’t just come from a 5th grade little girl.

I remember once we were on our way to the library and she walked up next to me and started teasing me and so I sped up. Then she sped up so that we were neck and neck again. I slowed down and so did she. I was afraid and she knew it. Then she said, "I'm a beat you up when we get out the library."

I didn't say anything back, I just kept walking. My entire session at the library was spent worrying about being beat up. Ten minutes before the bell rang, she looked over and stared at me. I glanced away, but each time I looked up again, she was still staring at me and her face looked angrier and angrier. It was like the first time I'd watched The Wizard of Oz and Miss Gulch rode by on her bike during the tornado and then turned into the wicked witch of the west. I remember all I wanted to do was go home.

I felt claustrophobic. All the other children at my table seemed to be caught up in their own groups, laughing and whispering with each other, and the librarian was busy cataloguing books. It was the loneliest feeling I'd ever experienced. I should have told a teacher, but I didn't want to bother anyone with my little issue. I didn't want anyone to know I was afraid, that this little girl who was smaller than me was making me afraid.

Anyway, she beat me up like she said she would. I was shoved and pushed against another child, who got mad at me for stumbling into them and thus pushed me back into the bully. Of course, they couldn't get mad at the person responsible for pushing me into them, right? The whole time I wanted to apologize to each person I stumbled into in hopes that they'd forgive me and not join the harassment.

Of course, I didn't tell my parents because I didn't get punched in the eye or mouth, no black eye or fat lip. She didn't hit me, just lots of shoving and pushing which sort of injured my pride a bit. Then a teacher got word that there was a "fight" and Ellen and I both had to write "I will not fight in school" five hundred times each. Sad, isn't it?

The next morning I remember going into my parent's bedroom and whispering to my mother, "I don't feel good. Can I stay home from school?" The dreaded hand to my forehead to check my temperature was an indication that I'd be going to school to face my bully yet again.

This sort of thing didn't happen every day. But you just never knew when it was going to happen. How do you prepare yourself to face such a person? There was always that day when I'd show up at school and Ellen didn't. CHA-CHING!! Free at last, free at last! Thank God Almighty, free at last! Well, at least for that one day.

21 December 2011

Celebrate This Giveaway - Win Writer's Software

by Diane Carlisle

Come celebrate with me! You have an opportunity to win a license for one copy of Contour, a software package that will help generate your plot for that novel you've been mulling over. It's a $50.00 value!

All you have to do is sign up for my free newsletter which will ensure that you receive an electronic version of my future blog entries. When you do this, you will receive an email asking to verify your listed email address. If you're not sure how to sign up, just post a comment with your email address. Be sure to use "at" in place of "@" in your address to ensure spammers cannot extract it. I will personally sign you up to receive your subscription without the additional hassle.

On the day of my 10,000th hit (next couple weeks), I will randomly draw an email address and the winner of that drawing will receive an email from me with a link and license code for access to the site and download of the software.

If you have any questions, please contact me via the contact form at the bottom of this page.

I can't wait to see who wins! I want to exchange our first plot creations with Contour (I bought a copy for myself as well. You didn't think you'd get something I didn't already have...did you?).


Merry Christmas everyone!!

***UPDATE: 10,000 hits exceeded on 12/29/2011 and winner has been granted one license of this software!

16 December 2011

My Top 10 Pet Peeves of the Romance Novel

I am not picking on romance writers. I’m picking out some elements of romance novels that bother me, especially when they are over done or poorly written. So, here are my top 10 pet peeves on the romance novels that I’ve read throughout the years. Don’t worry, mystery/suspense novels, you’re next!

1. His eyes danced across her bosom

Really? Aside from the fact that eyeballs do not have arms and legs and therefore cannot possibly dance anywhere, let alone atop her voluminous breasts, this just grates on my nerves. I want to pluck those pesky eyeballs from her chest and hoist them back into their sockets.

2. Kissing and flirting for increased sexual tension

When a story is already classified as a romance, there’s no question that there will exist a sexual tension of sorts between the hero and heroine. But don’t ruin it with the occasional stolen kiss or less than climactic romp in the hay throughout the storyline. It’s not necessary and it makes the consummation less meaningful and intense. When he finally “takes her” it should be all the way or nothing. Wait, that’s too much like real life chemistry.

3. The sardonic smile

Seriously, what does this look like? Does one side of his lip go up in a quirk and the other in a half-ass smile? Awkward, isn't it? Why doesn't he just smile after making a satirical remark? Is that too difficult to put down on paper?

4. His smile reached his eyes.

Don't you picture a set of stretched lips popping out from behind the eyes, gasping for breath after having climbed some mysterious set of stairs in order to get there?

5. The seduction by the virginal heroine, while the hero watches with obvious amusement

This is painful to read. This doesn't happen in reality. No matter how clumsy a beautiful, young woman's attempt at seduction, no male object of her affection is going to be watching with amusement. He will be involved from the beginning when she asks, "Would you like to come in for a drink?" This is not amusing to any man; this is serious business. Anything a woman does from this point on deserves his full attention, seriously.

6. Aftermath of the lust-filled evening

Why does the guy always get up first, leaving the woman to awaken, alone, cheeks burning as she reflects upon her behavior from the previous evening? Instead, I want to see her walk in when he wakes up. I want her to be fully clothed and in control. She drops a few photos on the bed and says, "My real name is Isabelle Gonzales and I'm a spy. I've been following your involvement with Cicero, Inc. We'll need to clear a few things up before breakfast." Exit heroine, wearing 4 inch stilettos and an Armani suit. But hey, that's just me.

7. Enter femme fatale

Why are they always a mirror image of the bitchiest girl in high school? A woman doesn't have to be a complete bitch to make another woman feel insecure. I'd like to read some fresh material on this element of romance. The femme fatale is over played and certainly under appreciated by me.

8. Good looking millionaires thinking that a woman is after his money

Right, because he certainly doesn’t have anything else going for him. Perfect teeth, brilliant smile, confidence, strength and a great command over the people around him -- no, that's not attractive at all. It's definitely his money she's after. Nothing like ruining a perfectly wonderful hero by making him a dumbass on top of all his greatness.

9. The big misunderstanding

Every romance has one. The perceived socialite is discovered to be a virgin. The hermit lumber jack turns out to be the CEO of a multi-million dollar company. Ta da! Surprise! Really?

10. Wrapping it all up

The ending of a romance is always the boring part to me. All the mysterious things going on have to be wrapped up by the author in such a way that you will understand why something happened that probably shouldn't have happened without explanation. This is also the part where the man gets mushy and drops the facade of being the strong, wealthy, confident man with whom she fell in love. He's become a wallowing wimp and she cries tears of joy over his professed love for her.

The End

13 December 2011

From My Digital Studio

by Diane Carlisle

Many of my blog entries are geared more toward writing, blog chains and tips. Sometimes I've gone off in the weeds and wrote a piece or two about technology or maybe I've ranted about something that annoyed me.

Well, here's another digression for you. I want to share some of my other artistic endeavors. Surprise! Aside from dabbling in writing, I enjoy photography. Actually, I was asked to photograph a friend's wedding in April and I'm a bit nervous about doing it, so I was hoping for some feedback.

If you enjoy the slides, please let me know by commenting. It would give me that extra confidence I'm going to need in order to pull off a wedding!

08 December 2011

A Picture's Worth 50 Words

by Diane Carlisle

I came across this photo because I was looking for some inspiration to write a steamy, romantic scene for my suspense/mystery project. After I stumbled upon this, I got to thinking. What's going on here? And who the hell is that dude in the background?

So now, of course, my OCD is kind of looping along here. I can't get anything done because I can't think of anything other than the purpose of the guy in the background. If you look closely, he isn't even looking at the couple in the hay. He's looking over to the right. If I were him, I'd at least have a seat on one of those bales of hay and enjoy the entertainment.

Seriously, could anyone possibly come up with any sort of fictional situation that could explain this photo? Can you write your version of what's going on here?

I started thinking along the lines:

While waiting for his turn with the lady Jessica, Patrick noticed a movement at the side entrance to the barn and decided to have a look. He wasn't about to let anyone get in the way of his chances to score, even though he was getting Mack's sloppy seconds.

In 50 words or less, please share your story in the comments.

03 December 2011

T'was The Night Before Upgrades

by Diane Carlisle

This month's prompt:
Home for the Holidays (not associated with the real Holiday).

This one is broad: write about a holiday memory. It can be fiction or non-fiction, and the choice of holiday is yours (fictional holidays are okay too). Perhaps you can invent an annoying relative.


I'm going with a poem this time. Before I became a Developer, I was a Systems Administrator to the home of several AS400 systems. An upgrade can make you feel so alone in the world because they had to be performed when nobody was using the systems, mainly at the early hours after midnight. Since it's supposed to be a holiday blog, I'll try and keep it to the beat of Twas the Night Before Christmas.

T'was the night before upgrades
No developer in sight
The server backed up
Tapes locked away tight

With the coffee pot on
And I fraught with jitters
Had stayed for the evening
Left behind by the quitters

At the strike of midnight
I looked at my plan
To remind myself
How important I am

The lights were all dim
The cubicles bare
My own sense of doom
Cried out in despair

Let one thing go wrong
Just one little glitch
Your career will be over
Before the first pitch

I took a deep breath
And opened the door
The room lit up
No motion ignored

I loaded the drive
And it whirred with a noise
I stood back and waited
Patience and poise

When it was over
And my pride was restored
I knew right then
Why I never get bored

Life is not easy
While at the helm of the ship
It's better than jumping
At the crack of a whip

A holiday message
From me to you
Always have pride
In the things that you do

Happy Holidays all! Please add a four line verse from your own life and share it in the comments! I would love to hear about a slice of your life. Have fun with it!

Other Holiday Participants and Posts:

orion_mk3 (link to this month's post)
Ralph Pines (link to this month's post)
pyrosama YOU ARE HERE
AbielleRose (link to this month's post)
writingismypassion (link to this month's post)
Domoviye (link to this month's post)
Areteus (link to this month's post)
Alynza (link to this month's post)
SuzanneSeese (link to this month's post)
robeiae (link to this month's post)
MamaStrong (link to this month's post)
kimberlycreates (link to this month's post)
darnzen (link to this month's post)
LilGreenBookworm (link to this month's post)
Cath (link to this month's post)
AuburnAssassin (link to this month's post)
Diana Rajchel (link to this month's post)
SinisterCola (link to this month's post)

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