Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I Love...Solitude

Image by Michal Marcol via
 When I was a freshman in High School, I had exactly one hour of time alone per day. The middle school ended an hour later than the high school, so while my parents were at work and my younger siblings still in class, I had one fabulous hour to read and have a snack and daydream in an otherwise vacant house.

[Insert large number here] years later, I still look back and remember how precious that time was to me.

Don't get me wrong. I like being with people. I have good friends, great colleagues, and I love my family. But when you have children, even going to the bathroom is a group activity. So I also cherish the time I have all by myself.

This past weekend made it clear to me once again, when we celebrated my son's birthday and had a total of thirteen people in the house.


In Germany, "inviting someone over" often means lunch, afternoon cake/coffee and finally dinner, so that meant the house was full from 11:00 am until 7:00 pm.

So while it was great seeing everyone, I couldn't help but have moments where I wished for silence.

In preparation for this blog, I did a Google search for images with the topic "Solitude".  I was looking for a wonderful picture that would illustrate how peaceful being alone can be.

The Google result shocked me. Almost every image I found looked lonely. In the pictures, most people were photographed from the back - anonymous. Every person had their head bowed as if emotionally crushed or ashamed. One picture even showed a naked man curled in the fetal position in the corner of a cardboard box.  Ouch!

That wasn't the solitude I was thinking of!

When I say "I love solitude", I mean the quiet calm of being alone with your thoughts. No tasks to be received any minute. No expectations from others on how you should act.

What do you think when you hear the word "solitude"? Is the connotation good or bad for you? Are you the type to love being surrounded by others or do you need your down time too?

Monday, April 15, 2013

I Love...Star Wars

I know a lot of you out there are fans too, and you probably think I'm just one of the millions. Surely there are people more into Star Wars than I am. It's not like I own a Princess Leia costume or anything. 

But when I geeked out over how cool my new bag is, I realized I am pretty far gone.

It all started with the original trilogy. 
Note the R2D2 special DVD.
I don't think I have to tell anyone why I loved it. There are a million quotes that make it obvious. Some of my favorites:

  "Aren't you a little short for a Stormtrooper?"
  "Let the Wookie win."

  "I'm a nice man." – "No, you're not."
  "I love you." "I know."

  "You will find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view."
  "Do or not do, there is no try."

Here are collections of great quotes if you're interested: link and link and link.

Following the original movies, I started reading the books.

A selection of my Star Wars books.
I own somewhere around 36 Star Wars novels. I know there are even more. So many stories and so little time….

Then came Episodes 1-3.
Why do I own two copies of some DVDs?
Okay, I'll concede they weren't as good as the original trilogy, but you have to admit when the Jedi spring through the arena on Geonosis, their lightsabers slicing through the air, it kind of takes your breath away. (Not? Really?)

And there are some good quotes in these movies too.
  "There's always a bigger fish."
  "You don't want to sell me death sticks. You want to go home and rethink your life."
Gotta love Qui-Gonn.

But my fandom doesn't stop with the stories. I've outfitted my husband.
PJs and underwear hidden to protect the innocent.

And my kids.

I'm using toys to convert my children without them realizing it.

So with all the movies, books and other merchandise, what could be missing? I'll tell you. A nickname for the fans. 

It's true! None exists. I researched it (yes, that's how I spend my time).

Firefly has their Browncoats. Star Trek their Trekkies. Star Wars has…fans.

I think Star Wars fans deserve a nickname. Or do you think the fans are above that kind of thing?

Anyone got an idea? I'd love to hear one. Here are my suggestions: 
Jedi Junkies?
Sith Servants?
Falcon Freaks?

What do you think?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Random Thoughts As I Was Leaving Paris

I departed from Paris after the SCBWI European conference on Easter Sunday. My taxi driver was Chinese-French, and since I can't speak either of those languages, it was a long, quiet ride to the airport.

So I had time to think.

And I even wrote those thoughts down....

We're driving parallel to the Seine River. The lyrics to On My Own haunt me. I want to cry about the lights that are misty on the river.

We're driving through a lot of tunnels. I wonder if one of these is the one where Princess Diana was killed. Chills.

Ooh, no! The taxi driver is going to cut off a guy on a moped. I hope we don't hit him! Whew, we didn't.

When I arrived three days ago, the taxi driver took a different, more scenic route (Champs Elysees, Eiffel Tower). I wonder if I paid more for that ride than I will for this one.

It's Easter Sunday and THE STORES ARE OPEN! OMG! Can you tell I live in Germany, where stores closed for the least important holidays?

There are more flowers blooming in Paris than in Germany.

I can't believe 1400 people were evacuated from the Eiffel Tower thirty minutes after I left it due to a bomb threat yesterday.

A cemetary - is that the one where Jim Morrison and Edith Piaf are buried?

Parisians litter more than Nurembergers. Or at least they clean it up less.

Just passed a one-story tall statue of a man with a motorcycle helmet and no arms. Huh.

Taxi driver is ignoring the speed limit. Big Time.

Just passed the exit for Le Bourget airport, where Charles Lindbergh landed in 1927 after the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris. (My dad's a Lindbergh fan so I know this stuff).

Not all of Paris is pretty.

Just passed a statue – two humungous sumo wrestlers in bright-colored undies holding up a pink storage container. Would have liked a picture of that one but we were going too fast. Here's a link (it's no longer at the same location as in the picture).

A slum on the side of the highway. People appear to live there in ancient camper trailers among piles of garbage.

Arrival at Charles de Gaulle airport! Interesting, the first taxi three days ago, with the scenic route, was actually cheaper. But this one was faster.

Can't wait to get home to the family. Guys, I'm on my way.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Not Your Average Trip to Paris

I like how it says "Writer."
I attended the SCBWI Europolitan writer-illustrator conference in Paris at the end of March. It was amazing. If you write kidlit, I strongly recommend going to an SCBWI conference someday.

Some highlights for me? 

Author Sara Grant gave a two-hour knowledge-packed class on revising. 

Author Amy Plum taught world-building, gave tips on self-marketing and critiqued my manuscript (yay!). 

Writer/Actress Sandra Nickel held a workshop on showing character's feelings. 

Agent Jennifer Laughran gave feedback on pitching (including praising my pitch!) and proved you can be on a panel and participate in social media at the same time. 

Author Anne Nesbet not only gave great tips, but an inspirational speech at the end of the conference.

There was so much information and emotion, so many nice people from all over the world as in love with reading and writing as I am. At the conference, I was a sponge, soaking everything up. Now that I'm home, I'm finally processing it all.

Since I was in the conference from morning until evening and there wasn't much time for sightseeing, my impressions of Paris are different from a normal vacation trip. Oh, and sorry for the poor picture quality. I really need a new cell phone with a better camera.

My hotel was right next door to the Jaguar dealership. So, not a bad part of town, huh?

 The metro (subway) is above ground where I stayed.

The FFF (French soccer federation) is just down the street, and I munched croissants with an employee one morning in the hotel's breakfast room. I probably only noticed the building because I work for a sporting goods company and the soccer World Cup is the biggest deal in Germany.

View from my hotel room. The Eiffel Tower must be just behind those buildings. Really.

 I liked the paintings on this former dairy shop near the conference.

Okay, so there isn't much touristy in this blog, but I did manage to get to the Eiffel Tower after the final conference session ended. 

Interestingly enough, there was a bomb threat about 30 minutes after I left the Eiffel Tower and 1400 people had to be evacuated. Glad I got to see the Eiffel Tower. And glad I missed the evacuation.

And so, so glad I went to the conference.

Did anyone else attend? What did you think?