Friday, July 31, 2009

An Award? For Me?

I am excited to announce that my wonderful friend Suzette Saxton has awarded me the Humane Award for my "downright sweetness"! ;) Thanks Suzette, I think you're pretty sweet too!
I have the privilege of passing this award on to five others! Now, if he had a blog, my son would for sure get one of these. He's the sweetest, kindest kid I know. Sorry, kiddo, maybe next time. I am, however, going to pass this award on to fellow bloggers who have been supportive of my endeavors and have spent countless hours listening to me ramble and complain, whine and cry, laugh and (occasionally) snort or just commiserate in the writer's experience.

So congrats to Extraordinary Ordinariness, MJ Caraway, Novelcrafter, Elana Johnson, Author, Mary Lindsey's Weblog and Gumbo Writer, the recipients of my "Humane Award". Keep up the Good work gang!
*Accept and post the award to your blog
*Link to the person from whom you received it
*Pass the award to 5 other blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgement
*Let them know they've been chosen for this award

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Soap Box

Blogger hates me lately, so if this post looks like a two-year-old formatted it, my apologies!!

I'm going to take a break from "The Keyboard" today to jump aboard my soap box. There's an issue brewing too close to home for me right now and it's sapping most of my creative energy.

Where to begin....

I live in a VERY rural area. In fact, the picture in this blog is the view from my front patio. I have great respect, reverence and love for the open fields and quiet setting that is being threatened by a developer who is proposing a PRIVATE AIRPORT and exclusive fly-in community ONE MILE from my home!

I've been to two Planning and Zoning meetings, with another coming up in a couple of weeks. I've heard the developer's attorney talk in so many circles that I'm dizzy. I've heard the property owner (a VERY old and VERY rich rancher) yell and scream at the top of his lungs that if we (his neighbors) stand in the way of this development that he'll sue us all, and I've heard the speeches of teary-eyed residents just like me, begging the Planning and Zoning Commission to re-think this project.

As I drive past the wet-lands that serve as a home to Sandhill Cranes, Blue Herons and Curlews, I wonder--will they come back once ground is broken? As I watch the herd of elk that have crossed this property for years meander through the grass, I wonder--where will they graze after the backhoes and dumptrucks come? As I sit outside and listen to the sounds of nature, I wonder--how much longer do I have before those sounds are drown out by the whoosing engines of a corporate jet? It makes me sick.

A noise expert spoke on behalf of the developer last night and assured the P&Z Commission that most of the noise from the airport would occur at 65 decibles near my home (which according to his chart is pretty damn loud). He told my daughter that the current decible rating for our area is at about 40. He also assured the commission that those occurences are classified by the FAA as "single occurences and not a continuous assualt" and then in the same breath proclaimed that these "single occurences" will OCCUR approximately 50 times during the 15 hours of daily operation. If I'm doing my math correctly, that figures out to about 3.5 OCCURENCES per hour. I don't know about you, but that sounds pretty constant to me.

I feel so helpless against the "Big Money" that I'm up against. The David and Goliath implications of this fight are exhausting and emotionally draining. My neighbors (some 300 rural community members will be directly affected) are all trying their hardest to fight the good fight. Lawyers have been commissioned, consultants have been hired, and bulk mailings are going out at personal expense. I'm proud to belong to a group of people that are so dedicated to coming together to fight against something so large and oppressive in comparison to our little group. I'm glad that people are still willing to stand up against greed and big money.

I'm going to have the opportunity to make a presentation at our next planning and zoning meeting. I'm speaking on behalf of my family's land trust and therefore I'm allowed more time to speak than a single home-owner. I've got A LOT of research to do and a killer speech to write. I want my five minutes to make a sixty minute impact. I'm so nervous--I hate speaking in public. But I've got to do what I can and not lay down and allow my way of life to be steam-rolled by an elitist development. I'm particularly interested in population numbers for Sandhill Cranes, Curlews (which I believe were on the threatened list a while back) and Herons for the Valley County, Idaho area. I'll be hitting the books hard, so to speak, and if anyone out there in the blogging community has any information that might help, I'd be eternally grateful.

Like I said, if I don't at least try to do something, that lovely picture at the top left corner will have a sleek corporate jet in it next year.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Huckleberry Fever

(First of all, I'd like to pat myself on the back for FINALLY putting a picture up with a blog post! It wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be.)
Once ever few years where I live, if the weather conditions are PERFECT, we have a banner huckleberry year. For those of you who think this is a made up fruit--it isn't. The huckleberry is smaller than a blueberry and has a sweet-tart flavor. It is also worth its weight in gold.

If you're lucky enough to live in an area where huckleberries grow wild, you'll know what I mean. Locals covet their secret picking spots and wouldn't dare reveal their locations come threat of torture or death! Pickers go out in a frenzy, picking their little hearts out until their knees creak, backs ache, and fingers are dyed purple. Then comes the mad dash to clean and freeze said berries because.... well, because you never know when they're going to come back.

I am very, very fortunate in that I don't have to travel far to find a good picking spot. Huckleberry bushes (or brush) grows wild on my family's property and a quick jaunt on the four-wheeler delivers us to opitmum picking locations. I know, I should hike it all, but it's a twelve minute ride, so if I dragged my 35-year-old butt along those trails, I might not ever get there.

The ride is nice and as I look around I am so thankful for the beautiful land that is my legacy. The scenery is idylic and as close to perfect as you can get. Aspens and all variety of pines grow in thick clusters and ring meadows. Tall grass sits alongside pink, purple and red wildflowers. Birds sing, squirells chatter and the wind rushes through the branches that toss shadows on the grass below where the sunlight filters through. I can't tell you how standing out in that forest makes me feel.

When I was a kid, my Aunt Nancy used to take me, my sister and my cousins out on forest excursions. We would pack a lunch and set out, plowing through the tall grass, building forts alongside enormous boulders with fallen trees and branches. We played so many fantastic games. We were fairies, forest animals, orphans on the run. We ran, walked, skipped and sat. We breathed in the clean air and played in the streams. It is the foundation for all of my writing.

My husband can pick twice as many berries as I can. But the number of berries in my bucket is pale in comparison to the beauty all around me. I haven't written, edited, cleaned my house or done a stitch of laundry in three days. But I have been inspired by the scent of water, pine sap, wilting clover and--oh yeah, huckleberries.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ten Honest Things....

Suzanne posted ten honest things about herself this morning, which honestly only made me love her more! She's a great friend, an awesome crit partner and a flat out rock-star in my book. So--I thought I'd keep this going and list ten honest things about me. Do with it what you will!

One: I HATE confrontation. In fact, I hate it so much that to avoid it I will sometimes agree to do something I shouldn't or agree with someone I would rather disagree with.

Two: I was a teen mom! I know, it's scandalous. My daughter was born when I was sixteen. But, I finished high school and I honestly feel that I am one of the few success stories. I do not bow to teen-pregnancy statistics.

Three: I am deathy afraid of spiders. Any shape, size, color. When I was two, I had night terrors and my mom says that they were ALL about spiders. *shiver*

Four: I love musicals. Old, black and white, newer color, I love them all! My all time fav is My Fair Lady. I have a crush on Audrey Hepburn. I wish I could've been her. She was fabulous.

Five: I've only been drunk a handful of times my entire life (all of them over the age of 21) and I've never used drugs. I attribute that to the fact that I used up all of my wild-child opportunities with the teen pregnancy thing. That, and I'm a control freak and have to be in control of my faculties at all times!

Six: I drive like a fiend. I've got a pretty illustrious history of speeding tickets and the one luxury item I would buy myself is a fast car like a Porsche or a Lamborghini so I could really tear up the highway!

Seven: I am extremely shy. Sometimes it comes off as unfriendly or when I was younger "stuck up". I'm not a joiner and I never attend any function without a wing-man. But once you get to know me, you'll have a hard time shutting me up. :)

Eight: I love animals. I own a LOT of pets. And all of my pets have a "buddy" because I believe that EVERYTHING needs a companion. I own two dogs, two cats, two bunnies, two geese, two ducks and a few chickens. (organic eggs!) I despise people who mistreat or are cruel to animals and I make sure that our outside birds have heat during the winter!

Nine: I am a highschool volleyball coach. It's something that I really love doing and if you were to ask me to name one thing that I do very well, I would say "I was a great volleyball player". I'm usually too shy to toot my own horn, but on that subject I will.

Ten: Like Suzanne, I have a potty mouth. I can't help it. I flavor my speech with profantity but thankfully I've learned how to curb it around certain people and certain situations. But, it's part of who I am and if I didn't throw in a @#$%^&*( now and then, I wouldn't be me!

So there it is, ten things about Amanda (Mandy) Bonilla that you didn't know. Or maybe you did. Let me know more about you! Send me a comment stating one thing about yourself that I might not know. :)

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Fun Twist on The Short

The other day my friend Michael sent me an email with some rather strange instuctions, "Send me a beginning sentence and an ending sentence".

Alright.... I was a little off my game, but I played along. He crafted a short story from my two sentences providing the middle to my beginning and ending. It's a great exercise to boost your creativity not to mention improving your short game. His story was so far from what I was thinking when I plucked those sentences down. But that's the fun part. Here's his story based on my two sentences.

She finally felt it, a reason, a good excuse to finally quit being such a doormat and do something about it.

Anna Lucia returned to her boss's office. She had only a minute or two before he would return from the parking garage. The package looked perfect, the cream-colored paper crisp, the silver bow fluffy. But this was the last anniversary present she would wrap for him. She wondered if his wife would notice someone else's handiwork next year.

Probably not, that cold bitch. He deserved so much better. Or maybe not.

Anna Lucia peeked down the long hallway but didn't see him. If he stepped into view she would have at most twenty seconds. She looked at the pretty package. Oh, what the hell. Why not?

She peeled the tape with her fingernail and unfolded the paper. Five years of marriage. Four years of sleeping with his admin behind his wife's back. And for Anna Lucia, no sign of commitment.

She peeked into the hallway again, and he rounded the corner. She drew back into the room, knowing the race was on. Nineteen seconds at most. She hiked her skirt and slipped off her panties. After stuffing them into the box, she refolded the paper, re-affixed the tape, and fluffed the bow.

He entered the office. "Wow, it's beautiful," He clutched the box and patted her ass before heading out the door. "See you on Monday."

"I hope you and your wife have a wonderful anniversary," she said, intending never to return.

Walking from the room, she smiled.

Give this fun exercise a try with your own friends or crit partners. Keep it going! Shoot me a comment and I'll link your partner short story from the blog!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

In The Interim

Well, I finsihed my WIP by my July 13th deadline. I also hit my 85k word count almost exactly. All in all I'm extemely happy with the finsihed product which I've put through the first round of revisions. But I've been wondering what I should do now that I'm done.

I still have a previous novel out on submission so this book will have to sit and stew until I've heard back from a couple of people. Then there's further revisions and critiques. No matter how anxious I am, I have to face the fact that I can't send this book out for a long time. I've tried twice to work on my query, but that's a slow and tedious process because I absolutely hate writing queries. And to those of you who love to write them (Elana), WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU? ;)

So what to do? Well, the answer came to me (again) by way of my friend Suzanne who I've asked to write a poem for the intro. She agreed on the condition that I write a history of the creatures that I've made up for my novel. What a great idea!

Making up the many fantasy species for this book was harder than I'd thought it would be. I did a lot of research, looked up some old folk legends, and used some old stories to lay down my ground work. I knew what my characters strengths and weakness would be, assigned characteristics and so on, but beyond that, the many players had no history to back up their existence.

Laying down a difinitive history is giving a true identity to my characters. Their lineage isn't important to the book, but it is important to me. Plus, its a great exercise in character development, to know who begat whom and how he or she came about, etc, etc. I get to really flex my creative mucscles by constructing family trees, feuds and marriages. Plus, in the long run the history that I'm writing could lead to future projects and a reference companion to those projects.

I have to admit that when I don't have something to write I kind of feel lost. I wander around my house like there's something I've forgotten to do and I plunk down in front of my computer, staring at the blank screen with my fingers poised and ready for no reason.

I hate the interim. Thanks Suzanne for giving my fingers something to do!

Let me know what you do in your "in between time". Do you immediately start a new project, work on revisions, write your query or synopsis? Or do you simply wander aimlessly in circles around your laptop?