31 January 2012

A Hero Because

by Diane Carlisle

My daughter wrote this poem about her dad. I see all the truth in it and I'm so touched by it that I wanted to share it with you. This is my family, and I know I'm blessed.

A hero because...

He has everything he could ever want,
Though growing up with absolutely nothing.
He tried his best to reach success,
In return is looked up to by many.
He is twice the father as most,
Because he knows the feeling of losing one.
He is there for me,
When no one else is.
He is the man who has my heart,
In doing so he has my love.
He tries his hardest to stay healthy,
In hopes of walking me down the aisle.
He is my Daddy,
The only man I can depend on.

I picked this photo out for a representation of the poem.

29 January 2012

The Social Media Scrutiny

by Diane Carlisle

My husband and I had a discussion tonight about how social media has affected so many people, not just as a positive collaboration tool for the professional, but as a negative conduit into our personal lives. I thought this might be a perfect opportunity to reflect on how social media “should” be used and how you might want to consider your “brand” or self-product when presenting yourself to the world.

I’m not sure if you’ve had an opportunity to read about the police officer who posted a photograph of himself, posing with gun-toting, teenagers and an anti-Obama T-shirt. At first, I thought it ridiculous the scrutiny given by the Secret Service. But after further reflection, I realized that the police officer brought the scrutiny upon himself, didn’t he? I wanted to say to the police officer, “Where’s your judgment?” His lack of judgment is on display here, not any threat to the life of our President.

Another thing I’ve witnessed lately is the number of disgruntled workers who post about their “shitty” days at work. Um, do you know how many people are out of work who would love to have your job right now? Think about that for a moment.

Commenting about your dissatisfaction at work isn’t very appropriate, and Facebook and other social media are not the places to voice your dissatisfaction. Is it your right to speak your mind? Don’t you have the freedom to express yourself? Sure you do, but those whom you express your feelings toward have that same right, and their freedom of expression, accomplished through professional means, might not be helpful to you or your future.

If you have a problem with your employer, or even some personal issues that are making your life miserable, there’s nothing that screams you are a hazard to your work environment than a posted rant on Facebook.

If you’re feeling slighted at work for any reason, talk it over with a trusted co-worker or go home and sit down to a nice dinner and discuss these issues with someone who has your best interest at heart.

The fact that you have 500 friends on Facebook doesn’t mean that you have an Army ready to support your cause, whatever that might be. They won’t be standing by, ready to offer you a job when you are fired for calling your boss an asshole in your status. Do you remember that friend you added three years ago? She’s a friend of a friend’s mother whose daughter hangs out with your boss’s daughter.

I’m not saying to hide your true self. I encourage people to put their best selves in the public eye. If you feel that you have a great sense of humor and want to post pictures of yourself displaying your funniest faces, go for it! Just remember that your future, potential employers may be looking to hire someone a bit more serious.

Yes, you do have certain privacy rights. Social media is as private as you want it to be, such that the ultimate privacy is to not have an account at all.

Mine is just one, but I'd like to hear your opinions on social media's impact over what we believe to be our Constitutional Rights to freedom of speech.

25 January 2012

10 Lousy Story Starts

by Diane Carlisle

When I’m browsing a book shelf for something to read, I typically just reach for anything and read the first page and if it doesn’t hook me right away, I might go to the second page or even to the third page. However, there are a few things that if encountered on the first page, I’m most likely going to close the book with a sideways glance and my nose up in the air. Bad, huh? I know. Here are those things that make me drop a book faster than Obama spending our tax dollars.

1. Please don’t start your novel with a weather report. You know what I mean. “It was a cold, dark night and the rain blasted the windshield like a windstorm in a desert.” This is the modern day version of “Once upon a time…”

2. I don’t like to read a first paragraph that starts with a character driving in a car, traveling somewhere. Why? Because it’s boring. You’re just writing what ten thousand people before you wrote only trying it with an arrangement of different words. It’s painful to read. Readers skip this stuff anyway, so why waste your time writing it? Instead of reading the words, your reader hears a song playing in their head, “I’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places…”

3. How many books must I read which start off with a character waking to an alarm clock or coming home to listen to an answering machine? And that phone call in the middle of the night? That’s not what Christopher Vogler refers to as the “Call to Adventure”. This is just another way for a writer to “start” putting words onto the page. When you get into the groove of writing your novel, please go back and delete this first scene. It’s been done. Over. And over. And over, again.

4. If you’re writing a mystery novel, please don’t introduce a nanny or butler. I will automatically assume they did it and not read the rest of the book. As a matter of fact, if I read the back cover of a mystery novel and it mentions castle, mansion or lost key, I won’t read it.

5. If you’re writing a romance novel, please don’t mention children unless they were killed off along with the ex-wife in a horrible accident years ago, leaving this gorgeous, wealthy, pain-stricken man, with a void in which only the virginal heroine can fill. Is that mean? Probably, but in reality, children and exs are huge in the baggage department.

6. If I read one more horror novel depicting a painting on the wall in which the eyes in the painting follow you and suddenly look away when you peer back, I will scream. And not from the horror of it either. Even the phone call which quietly yet urgently reveals the killer is in the house hasn’t been played out this much.

7. Breakfast in the morning with kids getting ready for school and a husband stuffing toast in his mouth while attempting to dress himself… is not a good story beginning. Why? Who am I to say it’s not a good story beginning? I’m a reader. Trust me, it sucks.

8. If I read more than one ‘ ly ’ adverb in the first paragraph of a novel, it gets put down automatically. This is a no-no. “The Baroness slipped gingerly from the satin covers and stretched effortlessly before promptly placing her feet into her slippers and daintily waltzing out onto the veranda.” Okay, that sucks, even without the adverbs. But, I think the point is made.

9. Don’t start your story with your main character taking a stroll through their house and garden. This is where the writer describes everything down to the detail, from the embroidered tapestry and cherry wood stained crown molding, to the French doors leading toward the rock garden and a ten by ten gazebo framed by white azalea bushes. Not necessary! This is where your character lives, day in and day out, right? Trust me, they’ve seen it before. Writers who do this are doing it for the pleasure of the reader. I get that. But it doesn’t add to the plot and it’s not really character development. Okay, so maybe the writer wants to show the character’s background, maybe give hints to the character’s class? She drives a Lexus; let’s move on. See what I mean?

10. If you’re writing in first person point of view, please don’t start with a physical description while your character is gazing at her reflection in the mirror. This is so jarring. In reality, do you think I’d actually walk up to someone and introduce myself like so, “Hi, my name is Diane Carlisle. I have brown hair, brown eyes and a slim figure. My hair is straight and I have a great smile.” I’d get some strange looks, wouldn’t I? Maybe after a short pause, “Why…of course you are! And, of course you do!” They’d walk away knowing I’m just a special person who rode the short bus.

So, your turn! What makes you put down a book before you even finish the first page?

18 January 2012

Modern Day Truism - Hare vs. Tortoise

by Diane Carlisle

My first homework assignment for Reading Fiction was to pick a truism and write a scene. This was harder than I expected, but what I came up with was something I'd never consider writing. Weird, but I wanted to share it because I never considered touching upon techno holistic or semi mythological ideas. If this scene reflects that, it wasn't meant to. This is out of left field with some of my geekiness to go along with it.

Truth Behind The Dinosaur

"Father assigned me control of the Southern District of Baahl."

"Congratulations." Sabran eyed his brother and gave a slight smile. "What miracle did you perform for that honor?"

Grish placed a finger on the global grid of the universe and enlarged the holistic map. "I closed the black hole on G6." He crossed his arms about his chest and studied the map with pride.

Sabran shook his head in disgust, "You risked the lives of 2 million mortals and the destruction of several eco-systems in the western hemisphere of Cantura."

"You would have me consider the alternative of spending several years analyzing the risks before making a decision." Grish scoffed at his brother.

Sabran shrugged, "In University, we were taught to think before we act. In that way, we make worlds that are sustainable."

Grish laughed and put an arm around his younger brother. "I didn't have the luxury of an education at the notorious Demigod University. But here's a lesson from me to you. If you mess up, just start over and make a new world, a better one."

"I don't make worlds. I make systems."

"Grish, Sabran! In my chambers, now."

The brothers knelt in unison before their father.

"The earth has gone off course and has become unbalanced. I want you both to work together to resolve this. Sabran, I understand earth is within your domain, but I want Grish to take the lead on this project as we must move swiftly."

Standing before the holistic map, Grish enlarged the earth and displayed it's resources. "What do you think about the bodies of water encroaching on the eastern banks of Asia?"

"I would create a fault on the ocean bed of the Caribbean Seas. Over time, the land masses will shift and the waters will level out."

"That will take 3.5 million years. In those years, how many earthquakes and tsunamis do you think will effect change?"

"It is the most practical way. Natural disasters bring mankind together. That is what keeps earth from total destruction."

"No. I say we extract five million tons of water from the Pacific shores off the coast of Bangkok. That will place the sea level in the right place."

Sabran sighed, "We can agree to disagree, but you will be affecting a major source of food for the Asians. King mackerel is in season at the moment."

Grish nodded, "Mankind is resilient. They will overcome."

"That's what you said of the dinosaurs when father put you in charge of that project."

Does the title of this post reflect what's in my story? Leave me a comment! :)

11 January 2012

5 Stupid New Year Resolutions

by Diane Carlisle

Winter Nightmare

Another broad blog chain at Absolute Write: go wherever the prompt takes you. It can be fiction or non-fiction, the nightmare can be Cthulhu or just a struggle with a troublesome New Year's resolution (or anything in between).

I’m going with something in between, like telling you about some really stupid ideas for New Year’s resolutions. Here they are and the reasons I think they are stupid.

1. I’m going to quit smoking – Really? You can imagine this going down like so. You’re partying all night. It chimes midnight. The ball drops in Times Square. Everyone sings Auld Lang Sine as you down what’s left in your plastic champagne glass. You stumble out onto the balcony to light up a cigarette in the cold, night air. You’ve just broken your New Year resolution. Congratulations.

2. I’m going to start a new diet – This one is really stupid. I don’t know about you, but every New Year’s Day my family traditionally cooks an amazing spread with glazed ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, mac and cheese (with extra cheese), corn bread, black eyed peas and green beans, cooked slow with bacon or a smoked ham hock. If you start your diet on this day, you’ll only resent your New Year’s resolution. Defeated and miserable, you’ll shovel your face with food and instantly wish you hadn’t. Ashamedly, you will discover that you gained another 3 pounds before you even started that diet.

3. I’m going to quit drinking – Right, because when you wake up with your hangover in the morning, you’ll wish you had a bite of the dog that bit you the previous evening. You pour a shot the next morning to take the edge off. We’ve all done it. Oh well, maybe next year, because your buddy has a party tonight and the hot twins from Waverly are invited. Seriously, there’s no need to quit drinking unless you have a drinking problem, in which case, the resolution should be “Start AA”.

4. I’m going to join the gym – First of all, if you weren’t already exercising before, joining a gym isn’t going to motivate you to do so in the New Year. You’ll just commit yourself to a yearlong hassle of trying to get your money back and threatening law suits because the gym won’t stop charging your credit card for monthly fees or they refuse to refund your prepaid membership.

5. I’m going to quit swearing like a sailor – This is moronic. As soon as you wake up in the morning from a night of ringing in the New Year, your head is pounding, your heart is racing and you can’t find the bottle of aspirin. With one eye closed, shutting out the light, and the other half-open to find your way, you stub your pinky toe on the corner of the dresser, “Fuck!” Oops, you just broke your New Year resolution, “Damnit!”

Anyway, that’s my January blog chain entry. Please visit these other participating blogs:

orion_mk3 (link to this month's post)
MamaStrong (link to this month's post)
pyrosama YOU ARE HERE
Turndog-Millionaire (link to this month's post)
Alpha Echo (link to this month's post)
LilGreenBookworm (link to this month's post)
Domoviye (link to this month's post)
writingismypassion (link to this month's post)
kimberlycreates (link to this month's post)
Suzanne Seese (link to this month's post)
Diana Rajchel (link to this month's post)
Ralph Pines (link to this month's post)
Alynza (link to this month's post)
Literateparakeet (link to this month's post)
in_one (link to this month's post)
Tomspy77 (link to this month's post)
Inkstrokes (link to this month's post)
kiwiviktor81 (link to this month's post)
These Mean Streets (link to this month's post)
areteus (link to this month's post)
AbielleRose (link to this month's post)

09 January 2012

Found My Plotting Tool

by Diane Carlisle

Last month I purchased Contour, a software tool to help me with plotting. I've been struggling with plot for the past year or two. Now that I have this tool, I'm using it to sort of structure a lot of the content I've been developing in my head for so long. Forget the scenes I've created, I can copy and paste them in later!

After combing through the manual, I discovered very quickly that my character will go through 4 phases of the hero’s journey, a character arc, and here are those phases. I will share more of my learning experiences as I grow in knowledge with this particular software package.

The Orphan

Basically, my character has to have flaws if my audience is going to root for them, so this has to be identified in the very beginning. I must use my protagonist to hook the reader.

Maybe she is fighting alcoholism, a broken heart, or a social stigma on top of discrimination. Are there deep rooted issues that will make my character struggle more in their upcoming journey? If there isn't, I must create some! Sounds good to me.

The Wanderer

This is the period of time where my character is discovering within themselves their purpose and objectives. The meat of my story is within this stage and the following stage. My character must be setup to discover things that are important to them and their mission. Within this stage I can also have sub plots.

Who's to say I can't go off in the weeds and sneak in some romance in my suspense/thriller? Okay! Exciting stuff for me.

The Warrior

My character will realize they must do things for themselves. Nobody can do what needs to be done except for my protagonist. This is where my audience will begin to root for her even more because they are now emotionally connected to her.

She displays courage in following through her objective and her climb is steep toward her arc. Soon, she will cycle over. At the end of this stage, she will struggle and her greatest stakes will present themselves and she may be doomed to failure.

The Martyr

My protagonist will come to a complete arc. She must perform a selfless act that will endanger her life in some way. This is usually an act that exposes her flaws and when she follows through with it she will be fully changed from within.


This is the character arc that I've needed to understand a bit more in my stories. I hope it will prove to be the answer to all my problems with finishing a novel.

I will definitely be posting more about the things I learn in this quest to understand plot. Stay tuned, and wish me luck!! :D

Do you have any advice on plot? What are your favorite elements of plot?

04 January 2012

5 Developmental Stages of Sagehood

by Diane Carlisle

If you are over the age of forty, you have more than likely experienced most of these stages in different aspects of your life, whether at work, in your social groups or even in your political circles. So where is the wisdom we lost in knowledge? Here is another post about making progress in life and technology. I hope you get more out of it than the humor with which I intended to serve it.

Stage One - Communication: that thing that happens when everyone realizes they are expendable and someone's looking for a scapegoat.

Stage Two - Teamwork: that thing that happens when you join forces with others to ensure you do not become said scapegoat.

Stage Three - Competence: that thing that happens when you realize you don't know how to do something and so you hire someone who does.

Stage Four - Backbone: that thing that grows along your spine when you realize that you are the only one who has progressed beyond stage three.

Stage Five - Transparency: that thing that happens when you finally cleanup all the stuff created due to improper execution during stages one and two.

So, are you a Sage? What stages do you recognize and which stages have you mastered?

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