Week in Review – 2013/10/07 – 2013/10/20, Pt. 1

THE FORTNIGHT EDITION, PART ONE

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Yes, you read that correctly.

My usual Week In Review is going to run a little differently this time around. To avoid any eye bleeds, I’ll split up what’s happened in the last two weeks over three instalments.

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Greetings, gentle readers. Long time, no blog post. When I went back east a couple weeks ago, I didn’t realize that the internet would be an issue. I was all set to continue writing and blogging. However, life–and a full-on vacation–happened.

Let me start with many a mea culpa for the unexpected absence. It was just as unexpected for me, too. But as soon as I missed the first blog post and realized that it was out of my control, I let the tension slip away and for the first time since I began blogging and doing all these writing challenges, I truly went off-grid.

You know what?

I liked it.

I’d almost forgotten what it was like to live away from a notebook or computer screen.

It all began with a Red Eye to Toronto on the 10th. More like Dry Eye. All the moisture sucked out of me in a most uncomfortable four hour plane ride. Still, the Sisterhood and I were chuffed to get on our way. We even had an unplanned twinsies moment with coordinated outfits. No probs. They went with our matching grins and giddiness at the prospect of travel.

We left Vancouver before 2300 PST, Thursday in order to maximize our Friday by arriving in Toronto around 0600 EST. I was excited, bordering antsy. I hadn’t been back to that side of our home and native land in eighteen years.

I decided to mull over what I’d write for my FRIDAY FORAGE post, as I’d been excited to use the trip as inspiration. I also realized that I’d want to experience the day before writing the post (to gain said inspiration) but that was not to be. Instead, I was greeted with a crisp autumnal morning befitting Ontario standards.

The day bloomed into a beautiful climate–as though mocking the dreariness I’d left behind in Vancouver–and I spent every waking moment squeeing at how much and how little things had changed in nearly two decades. We had two hours of non-waking moments for a much needed snooze at the Sisterhood’s Bestie’s house (who was also gracious enough to pick us up at the airport).

The graciousness continued with ahMAHzing food at Canoe Restaurant.

The view wasn’t bad either.

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As the sun sank below the horizon, we walked through downtown to get to our next major destination–on DAY ONE, mind you–and the much needed calorie burning trek did little to calm the nerves for what was next to come.

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The Sisterhood and I make it a point to see the play whenever it’s in town or whatever town we might find ourselves in. As a storyteller, I’m always keen to see how this masterpiece is interpreted by the various players. While the set has since changed because of the movie, I’m still in awe of live theatre.

I tread the boards, once upon a time, but not in anything so grandiose. I appreciate the hard work that goes into it. Also, I never leave this play without bawling at least three times. I could say it was the exhaustion of travel, but the performances were surreal and I believe I cried harder that night than at any of the previous performances I’ve seen, and I’ve seen it five times. Fortunately, there were new cast members each time so it’s been a real treat.

Was the Red Eye worth it? Yes. Was it a good idea to take the nap midday? Definitely. Was it super fun times jam packed into a single day? Positutely!

We even had a chance to mingle with the cast after the show. By mingle I mean gush at seeing them come out the stage doors behind the theatre and pose for pics and sign autographs.

To cap off the wonderful day, us siblings partook in late night munchies. Awesome nachos via room service.

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I would be remiss if I didn’t put some update into this post, even if I had to divvy up all the deets of my trip. If you’re still reading, big hugs.

WRITING:

Nothing major in the official new output capacity. But I did plenty of brainstorming and exploratory writing for the upcoming Entangled Smackdown over at SavvyAuthors. I also crafted a plethora of new ideas, character sketches, and interesting scenarios for possible use in upcoming stories, as well. It’s hard not to be inspired with such diverse culture all around. Thanks, Toronto.

Despite the delays in my prep work, I’m pleased to say the forums are working for me again and I can make ample use of the well-timed workshops in the two weeks we have left before the writing challenge begins. I’ll be scrambling to catch up due to my time away from technology, but at least this compressed preparation will get the creative juices flowing.

READING:

Due to the off-grid situation, I had to drop the Coursera class Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World. I didn’t want to leave my classmates hanging while I submitted assignments a week after the deadline. Not cool, even if it is for a non-credit class. I’ve added the class to my watchlist and will take it when it becomes available again.

In the meantime, I have plenty of reading material on my endless TBR list to tide me over.

NETWORKING:

I didn’t get a chance to network much while in Toronto, but I’ve recently discovered just how much the Sisterhood posted me or tagged me in various realms of social media to document our travels. So, I suppose we can say I networked by proxy.

LEARNING:

Would you believe I kept up with Duolingo? In those moments before I drifted off to a deep sleep after a long day out, I became a polyglot. My dreams–if I remembered any of them during the vacay–probably took place at the United Nations.

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So, that’s a glimpse of what’s been up in my world, as of late.

Tune in tomorrow, as I recap more highlights of my romp back east.

 

A to Z Challenge 2013 – T is for…

~ TED Talks ~

I’m a huge fan of TED Talks. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. Guest speakers tackle an array of subjects and present it in a highly informative and entertaining way. I like to call it INFOTAINMENT. I featured one for the Letter O. The only way to truly understand the magnitude of these awesome talks is to take the time and watch them. On average they’re about fifteen to twenty minutes in length and they’re a real eye opener. I have just a sampling of the greatness out there and I hope you enjoy them. I could easily post a commentary for each but there’s just so much brain candy in these vids that I believe they speak for themselves.

Ze Frank’s Web Playroom

Elaine Lui: The Sociology of Gossip

Adora Svitak: What Adults Can Learn From Kids

Amanda Palmer: The Art of Asking

JJ Abrams: The Mystery Box

These conferences are amazing and thanks to the wonderful and mystifying interweb, we have a huge library to watch at a moment’s notice. Just another reason why I love our global community.

Have you watched TED Talks? Do you have any favorites? Some people have posted in the past that if TED was a school, they’d go to it. I know I certainly would. We definitely need more outlets of information such as TED Talks.

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TED’s slogan is ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’, and I couldn’t agree more.

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Today’s theme is brought to you by the letter

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A to Z Challenge 2013 – P is for…

~ POETRY ~

As promised, I must share with you two of my favorite poems to honor National Poetry Month. How about a little Frost and Thomas? And unlike our beloved Kid President, I happen to think that Robert Frost is cool. And it’s thematic, as well. Have a read:

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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

By Robert Frost 

Whose woods these are I think I know.   

His house is in the village though;   

He will not see me stopping here   

To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

 

My little horse must think it queer   

To stop without a farmhouse near   

Between the woods and frozen lake   

The darkest evening of the year.   

 

He gives his harness bells a shake   

To ask if there is some mistake.   

The only other sound’s the sweep   

Of easy wind and downy flake.   

 

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

But I have promises to keep, 

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

I’ve accomplished a lot more than I had anticipated I would at this point of the month. I’d like to think that I have taken the road less traveled. Well, maybe it’s well traveled, but I overpacked. Two novels, a blogging challenge, and a Round of Words in 80 Days? I am as much tortured as I am an artist. Masochism aside, I feel accomplished. To quote another great from a previous post: My head is bloody, but unbowed.”  In this case, my fingers are numb, but still attached. It just doesn’t have that same ring to it, methinks.

Whether it’s this writing challenge or my entire writing career, I know I’ve barely scratched the surface of my full potential as a writer and storyteller in this global community. It’s so easy to get sidetracked on the path to publication. Distractions can keep you from your plans. While I don’t want to have blinders on so I can indeed stop and enjoy everything around me from time to time, I need to keep in mind my long-term goals and the importance of achieving them. Many adventures, challenges, and opportunities await before I take my final breath. With that in mind, I write on and move forward.

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

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Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

  By Dylan Thomas

 

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

You could go throughout your entire life without doing anything significant. Sure, you have a plan and you can see it there in the final hours. That is not to say that you need to make yourself known to the world, famous or infamous. But this is in line with yesterday’s post. How do you want to live your life? Each moment should be savored. Each opportunity taken else it is a waste. But I dare you not to conform. Do not settle. Before the end of it all, make a difference, even if it is just to one other person in the world. Remember the journey as well as the destination.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

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Let me end this poetic post with a bonus that many of you will appreciate. A lyrical genius by the name of Ferris Bueller had this to say:

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Today’s theme is brought to you by the letter

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A to Z Challenge 2013 – O is for…

~ OBITUARY ~

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. Tonette, we’ve gone past the halfway point of the write-a-palooza. Why this theme? I promise, this is not a morbid post of me contemplating my own mortality. I want to share with you a talk Brad Meltzer gave on the subject, but it’s not what you think. Heck, even if it were, I’m such a huge fan of all that he does in spoken, written, and visual form, I’d listen to that, too. He is a wonderful storyteller and a writing role model that I look up to. The video is about sixteen minutes long but worth every second.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Your words to a family member, to a friend, to a complete stranger, those words are your power. ‘Good job! I like what you did here. You have a real talent for that.’ Those words are power and they’re your power and if you don’t use them, time fades and your power fades with them… Ordinary people change the world.

When thinking about what your obituary might contain, you shouldn’t mope about death, but rather, take the opportunity to really think about how you live your life. How do you want to proceed each day? What motivates you in your chosen profession? What are your passions? What are your goals? If you’re able to accomplish some of these, how do you show your gratitude to those who helped you get there?

Despite the negative vibes associated with the word itself, Brad Meltzer has transformed the idea to help us reevaluate our priorities. We need to stop traveling through life like automatons. This life is fleeting and it’s up to us to live each day with gusto. And it’s important that we do not live each day merely for ourselves, but for those around us, whether we know them or not. Simple acts of kindness such a holding the door for someone who has too many grocery bags, saying thank you to the person who reopened that elevator door as you ran into the building, appreciating the patient bus driver who waited for you to board despite the fact that he’s been driving all day and dealing with people far less pleasant than himself. Imagine how better life would be for everyone if we all just smiled and were kind to one another.

I hope that the theme title alone does not offend people, especially those in Boston. My heart aches for them and for anyone who goes through such tragedy. Comedian Patton Oswalt said it plainly and said it well: “So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.””

We all have it in us to spread goodness around. As a writer in the global community, I take that opportunity each day. I am thankful for what I have, hopeful for what I have yet to gain, and humbled that so many others struggle when there must be a better way. I don’t want to think about what my life was like in retrospect. I want to live my life right now in the best possible way, one thank you at a time. One smile, one good deed. We all have it in us.

If there is anything that I want to be remembered for it is not the millions and millions of books I sold throughout my career 😉 or perhaps the awards won for my writing contributions to film and television. I hope that people remember Tonette dela Luna as a kind, humble, and grateful person who was willing to help people every chance she got. I’ve been blessed to have family and friends around me that share the same ideals. On a global scale, I’ve only mentioned two people out of billions that had something poignant to share about the power of humanity. If I may be so bold as to count myself in their esteemed company, that makes three. Three down, the world to go.

What is your legacy?

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Today’s theme is brought to you by the letter

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A to Z Challenge 2013 – I is for…

~ INVICTUS ~

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

I first read William Ernest Henley’s poem Freshman year in high school. It is my favorite poem of all time. I’m so glad to share this poem with you, excited to post this since ~ CARPE DIEM ~ last week. In honor of National Poetry month, I will also share a couple other of my favorites next week. Invictus may as well be my Writer’s Manifesto. I’m reminded that regardless of where my writing career takes me, it’s up to me to get there. There may be hardships, there may be pain, but I’ll forge ahead as any and every writer should.

I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

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Today’s theme is brought to you by the letter

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