September 23, 2014

my antonio

It would seem my wide receivers read last week's post and decided to bring their A games to work. Well, at least the wide receivers on the Lady Chapmans.

Antonio Brown earned a cool 21 points (well above his 9.78 projection). Pierre Garcon finally stopped with the whole sucking business and scored 19.8 (9.98 projected) and my darling Kelvin Benjamin once again beat the odds and spread with 17.5 (8.24 projected).

Thanks to their efforts (and only thanks to them, because everyone except my defense basically phoned it in this week) we were able to win our first game.

It's more than a little empowering to win a first game. For the moment I feel unstoppable, like I can do anything.

And while I wish I could name all three men my Prince Charming of the Week, I'm still pissed off enough about my other Fantasy team losing (I'd dish more about this, but I can't. I just can't.) and everyone else on the team deciding I'm not worth fighting...err... winning for. So... there can be only one.

My Fantasy Football Prince Charming of the week is...

Antonio Brown.

This week, Antonio made 10 catches, racked up 90 yards and... wait for it... scored TWO touchdowns. I don't even care if his team won or lost the Sunday Night Football game (I didn't watch because I was still nursing my wounds after the Packers loss earlier in the day). I only care that he played his heart out, and I can only assume he did it just for me.

Antonio makes my heart soar. He maybe even makes me feel like I could fly as this week's long-distance dedication suggests.

And, according to Rotoworld, "Brown will remain a must-start WR1 against the Bucs in Week 4."

Which means he's definitely not someone I'm willing to trade. So would my fellow league members stop trying to get me to take your sucky players in exchange for him? Because it's not going to happen, boys. I'm not an idiot. I need him. He's my everything...

Both of my teams are now working with 1-2 records, and I can't say that pleases me. I mean, maybe they're trying to be cute with this playing hard to get nonsense. But it's not working. I hate games. Unless it's a game I'm winning and that winning ends with a championship ring.

Not on Twitter? Miss some of my totally amazing commentary of last week's football games? Check out the highlights:

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September 19, 2014

the bringer of jollity

Outside the Houston Symphony in 2009.

It's funny how how a song can speak even when there aren't any words. Or maybe it does have words, but it says so much more than the lyrics themselves.

One of the songs that tells me a whole story, without having a single audible word, is the movement "Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity" from Gustav Holst's "The Planets."

I get pretty dorky when I listen to this song. If you ever have the chance to hang with me after I've had a couple of glasses of wine before playing this song (which will inevitably happen if you share enough bottles of wine with me) I'm a lot like Antonio Salieri in Amadeus.

"And then suddenly... high above it, an oboe..."

When I was in high school, every time I heard the song--or any movement from "The Planets"--I thought about marching band. The year before I went to high school, the marching band won state with an arrangement of "The Planets." For the next four years, that success was a measure we all aspired for, even though we never again achieved it.

At the time, I'll admit my favorite movement was actually "Venus, the Bringer of Peace." It was beautiful, whimsical, and everything I wanted from a song at that overly emotional time of my life. (You've all been in high school, right? Yikes.)

Years later, while watching the third episode in series one of Sherlock when Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman get into a fight with a suspect in the middle of a planetarium I was able to smugly turn to the kittens and say, "That's "Mars." From 'The Planets.' By Holst."

The more you know, right?

The real reason this song strikes accord from me happened about five years ago. When I was 23, I moved to Houston. While I was there, my dad came to visit a couple of times. Each time, we'd go listen to the Houston Symphony.

I was pretty excited on that first trip. I'd never been to the symphony in Houston, it was downtown--a place I seldom ventured to--and I loved "The Planets." This particular performance was going to be extra exciting, because footage from NASA satellite images would play in the background.

The Houston Symphony warms up.

As we waited for the curtain to open, so to speak, Dad and I discussed what we were most looking forward to in the performance. He told me he was excited for "Jupiter," because it reminded him of my mom. When I prodded him a little more, he explained that in the early days of their relationship he made her a mix tape. It was 1985 and that was the epitome of how you told someone you loved them. He included "Jupiter" on the tape, because "it's how being with her made me feel."

I wasn't quite sure what that meant. Again, I knew the music, but I couldn't quite figure out how "Jupiter" could represent the feeling of falling in love.

So I listened extra carefully. For the first few minutes, I thought, "Okay, I guess it's pretty happy and light. That's sweet, I guess."

But then we hit 2:53.

It starts out smooth and slow and beautifully. It's hardly noticeable. Then more instruments join in. It grows louder and bolder and stronger. And pretty soon it fills every bit of you.

Just like falling in love.

That's when I "got it." That's when I understood why my dad put Gustav Holst's "Jupiter" on a mix tape for my mom. It's because it described falling in love without a single word.

Nerd that I am, I thought of "Jupiter" when I heard "Fire" by Augustana while binge-watching Friday Night Lights this past summer.
No it don't come easy.
No it don't come fast.
Lock me up inside your garden.
Take me to the riverside.
Fire, burning me up,
Desire, taking me so much
Higher, and leaving me whole.
Because that's what falling in love is like, right?

As a writer, so often I get caught up with adjectives and descriptors to explain the feelings of love. But sometimes you can say so much more with so little. Sometimes the connotation itself, the story behind it, is just as important.

I try to keep that in mind now when I write about love.

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September 16, 2014

if the shoe fits...

I'm a day late with this recap on account of the aches and pains I'm experiencing to accompany my first cold of the season. Come to think of it, maybe it was sympathy symptoms for the aches and pains my Fantasy teams are feeling...

I mean, I can't completely complain. The Cinderella's Fellas did in fact win their first game of the season, becoming 1-1. I had good showings from Peyton Manning (27.58) and LeSean McCoy (18.2), but several of my team members--I'm looking at you wide receivers--left something to be desired.

Yeah... So I may have sang the praises of my wide receiver core a little too loudly last week. None of them did well on either of my teams. I'm still a little weepy after their performances across the board.

And with Jamaal Charles's high-ankle sprain sustained in the first quarter of the Chiefs-Broncos game, I'm feeling like my first-round pick for the Lady Chapmans was a bad call on my end. It's no wonder we're 0-2, now.

That said, I had a few shining pockets of excellence. The probably love of my life Aaron Rodgers scored an impressive 28.64 points. This after nearly giving me a heart attack by fumbling the ball on his first possession of the game. But no, like a true prince among men, he moved past that faux pas and right into my waiting heart.

Still... much as I'd like to award this week's glass slipper to my loves Aaron or Peyton, there are two other men who really stepped up and went above and beyond to prove how much they care about my quest for the throne.

That's right, I said two other men. My Fantasy Football Prince Charmings of the week are...

Mason Crosby and Dan Bailey.

In the Packers' comeback win over, Mason made three filed goals to keep my boys on the clock, including one from more than 50 yards away. Throw in his point after attempts, and Mason scored 13 points for the Lady Chapmans. If that isn't charming, I don't know the true meaning.

My kicker on Cinderellas Fellas was almost as impressive. Despite playing for the butthole Cowboys (I would say I'm sorry for my Cowboys hating, but... sorry, not sorry) Dan made three field goals, plus his point afters and gave me 19 points, which helped me win.

I don't know if that's the slight fever accompanying this cold or his outstanding slaying of dragons this week, but I'm all kinds of hot. And maybe even bothered. (Again, it could be that I'm bothered he plays for the Cowboys, a team I was taught to dislike from an early age. I'm so confused)

People who say kickers don't count for much in Fantasy Football obviously haven't experienced what I did this week. They can be real buddies when they put their minds to it.

Now... if you'll excuse me, Miss Laura needs to go get some rest, hydrate and dream about what potential victories may come ahead for her band of merry men in week three...

Not on Twitter? Miss some of my totally amazing commentary from NFL Week Two? Check out the highlights:

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September 15, 2014

the joy of leaving room for spontaneity

We've covered this before, but in the world of writing I'm a plotter. Every time I try my hand at pantsing, I end up stopping a few thousand words into the project and either quitting for good or outlining the rest of the story.

I don't necessarily follow the same approach each time. And I'm not super detailed about it either. I write one or two sentences for a scene or chapter (i.e. Lexi watches a movie at Jason's and... chicka chicka bow wow.)

This isn't the right approach for everyone, but it's what works for me. My mind has to have an idea of where we're going with this story, because I have to make everything build toward that ending.

I'm a planner in life, too. Or I can be. Most Fridays, I create a list titled "Goals for the Weekend." (I try calling them goals rather than things to do, because it's a mental game of sorts. If I don't do everything, I didn't fail to accomplish a list of tasks, but fell short of my goal. Does that sound crazy? It probably is nuts, but look who's talking.)

This weekend, my list looked something like this:

  • donate clothes
  • get grocieries
  • clean out car
  • do freelance writing?
  • write
  • do laundry 
  • watch football game

  • set Fantasy line-up
  • dust
  • vacuum
  • freelance?
  • prep lunches for week
  • make and portion dinners for week
  • write

I'm pleased to report that I accomplished everything in my list, though not necessarily in the order specified or even as I'd planned it in my head.

I got a jump start on the weekend Friday night by working on my current project. (I'm practicing a "don't kiss a tell" strategy at the moment with this book, so no hints on the story or how much writing I did. I hope you'll forgive me, but the mystery seems to work for me.) I took a dinner break and decided to tackle the freelance pieces I was commissioned to do. The force was apparently strong with me on Friday, because I wrapped those up by nine. I tinkered with my story a while longer and reached a point when I needed a break.

Okay. What next? It was too late to clean (I live in an apartment) and too early to work on my meals. So I strayed from the schedule. I went to visit my sister at work at the bar and had a couple of drinks. During the first drink, I updated my WIP's outline. For the second drink, I talked Fantasy Football and NFL drama with one of the regulars.

When my sister finished work around one, instead of driving home we decided to try our luck out seeing the aurora borealis that was supposed to be visible over Nebraska that night. It took longer to get away from the city lights than we spent out in the country. We didn't say much, and we didn't see the light spectacle (neither did anyone according to my Facebook News Feed), but it was still a lot more fun than I'd anticipated having.

Maybe it was the memory of so many nights in our childhood when our parents would wake us up in the middle of the night to go see a lunar eclipse or meteor shower. Maybe it was the sense of adventure and not knowing exactly how we were going to get where we were going or what we'd find. I'm guessing it was a combination of both.

I won't bore you with the play by play of the rest of the weekend, but while I accomplished everything I wanted to do, I still veered off the path a few more times. I went to breakfast and did some light shopping with one of my good friends. I went over to my brother's house to watch the late night Nebraska at Fresno State game and my other brother's house on Sunday to watch some NFL football. I took a nap. On impulse I picked up a six-pack of Oktoberfest beer (which wasn't on my list) at the grocery store. I had fun.

I arrived at my planned destination at the end of the weekend. I basically stuck to my plan. But I still left room for surprises. I had expected and unexpected moments, and both were great. Sure I had to tweak my plan a little, but the outcome was even better than how I'd started.

I do the same thing with my stories. While I basically stick to my outline, I leave room for surprises. I give myself permission to change the plan. I allow for spontaneity, because it always makes my story better while taking me where I wanted to go.

In case you missed it... be sure to enter to win a free copy of Brea Brown's The Secret Keeper or the chance to give a couple of romantic reads a new loving home.

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September 12, 2014

recycled reads: lots of love

I've gone and acquired too many books again. I know what you're thinking: "Is that a real problem?" Well, when you live in a small one-bedroom apartment and are terrified of becoming a hoarder, the answer is "yes."

In an attempt to avoid my greatest fear of ending up buried under a pile of old newspapers and books, I'll be giving away "Recycled Reads" every other week through the end of the year.

Entering to win is easy. Just use the Rafflecopter below. I'll randomly select one recipient, and you'll get the books. No purchase necessary to win. Must live in U.S. or Canada. For the biggest amount of entries, share the name and title of your favorite romance novel of all time. And that's it. See? Super easy!

Now to discuss the books up for grabs this week, which I'm calling the "Lots of Love" package, because they feature stories with... lots of love. And chickens, now that I think of it. Hmm. Now I'm disappointing. I should've called this the "Cluckin' Love" package. Sigh.

Anyway, the books...

Oklahoma Sweetheart
By Carolyn Davidson
The fact that Loris Peterson was carrying another man's child should have been enough to make Connor Webster despise her. But instead, he'd made her his wife!
Some said that she had betrayed him. But Connor's fierce passion for Loris moved him to rescue her from an uncaring family — and protect her from a mysterious enemy!

Foul Play
By Janet Evanovich
When Amy Klasse loses her TV job to a dancing chicken, handsome veterinarian Jake Elliott rescues her with an offer to be his receptionist. Jake just can't resist a damsel in distress, and Amy certainly doesn't mind Jake's charming sincerity. 
Then suddenly the job-stealing chicken disappears and Amy is suspected of foul play. Amy and Jake search for clues to prove her innocence. But will Jake be able to prove to Amy that love, too, is a mystery worth solving?

Good luck! And thank you for helping me do a little house cleaning to make room for some new books.

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