Weekly Photo Challenge: Infinite

Eastern State Penitentiary; Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Eastern State Penitentiary; Photo Credit: Doree Weller

This photo is both timely and appropriate.  It’s a shot of a hallway in the now defunct Eastern State Penitentiary.  If you’re ever in PA, either during Halloween or not, this place is great.

Thanks to last week’s photo challenge.  (oops)

Character Development and Miley Cyrus

Judgmental cat is judging you.

Judgmental cat is judging you.

This week’s writing challenge at the Daily Post was to blog about a divisive issue, namely the whole Miley Cyrus thing at the VMAs.  Normally, I wouldn’t bother with this issue, because I didn’t watch it and don’t care enough about Miley Cyrus to give her space in my head.  That being said, when I went about with my day after I read the topic, things started popping into my head about character development for stories, and how that applies to people in the media.

First off, this isn’t a new issue.  Elvis shook it and scandalized a nation, and millions were shocked when Madonna did “Like a Virgin.”  Okay, pretty much all of Madonna’s early career was shocking.  I’m sure they were called all sorts of names and blamed for the moral downfall of youth.  I saw some of Miley’s performance, and I thought it was pretty disgusting, done for shock value and lacking in artistry.  But it’s not new.  It’s almost a rite of passage.  When I was in my late teens/ early 20s, I did some dumb things because I was trying to grow up too fast and find myself.  I was just lucky enough that none of it was caught on camera.  Hopefully, she’ll grow up, leave this phase behind her.  There are plenty of other young men and women waiting to be “scandalous.”

How does all this link to character development?  Well, I remember reading a bit of advice a long time ago.  It reminded authors that characters were not the people who wrote them, and to be dynamic, they should have their own thoughts, feelings, actions, that may be in direct opposition to the writer.  Books would be pretty boring if they always acted as their author did.  Hearing about Miley Cyrus got me to thinking about the complex motivations of other people, and reminded me that when I’m writing about young adults, they see the world much differently than people twice their age, and I’m sure differently than people twice that age!  If ten people see one event, they will have ten different viewpoints and memories about the event.

Thanks for the reminder, Miley.

Recipe for Me

“Snips and snails and puppy dog tails… that’s what little boys are made from. Sugar and spice and everything nice… that’s what little girls are made of.”

416623_3483606007567_112988162_oThe recipe has changed somewhat since Mother Goose came up with that recipe. I’ve got just a little bit of sugar in me, but everything nice? Not so much.

If there were a recipe for me, this is probably what would be in it.
2 cups helpfulness
2 cups introversion
Mix well with
Dean Koontz books
Beatles CDs

Blend with
Lots of obscure information
Nervous know-it-all chatter

A pinch of irritation
A heaping tablespoon of sarcasm

Mix well and let sit. If you poke at it, it will probably ignore you or sigh and slam the book shut.

This idea for this post came from the Weekly Writing Challenge at The Daily Post.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgic

5 015This one is coming at a perfect time for me.  My parents just moved from my childhood home in PA to near me in AZ.  I didn’t think too much about how I’d feel about them selling it, until they did.  Not only did they move, but it’s under contract and probably going to sell soon.  Yes, of course things have to change, and it’s a good thing that they’re here.  I love living in AZ, though I do miss a lot of things about home.  (Pennsylvania will always be home to me)

I love my new home… but it sure is a lot different!

Facebook and Me

IMG_1059Facebook recently had it’s 9th birthday.  Can you believe it’s been around 9 years already?   When I was in school, we were just starting to use search engines for schoolwork.  I remember people talking about MySpace, and I thought they were crazy.  I just didn’t get what all the fuss was about.  I started my first Facebook page in 2009, about a year and a half after I moved to Arizona.  My move was part of the reason I decided to do it.  I figured it was a no-hassle way to keep in touch with friends, and I was right.  I’ve been able to stay connected with people I otherwise may not have.  Facebook can be pretty polarizing, though.  I’m friends with my fair share of people who use it as a way to irritate others… or at least that’s how it seems to me.

I try to keep my settings as private as possible.  I don’t have any incriminating photos up on Facebook.  I do share pictures of myself, which I don’t see as a big deal.  I like seeing pictures of my friends, so I’m sure they like seeing pictures of me too.

My Doree Weller Facebook page doesn’t get a whole lot of action, but part of that is probably because I don’t post all that much to it.  I just can’t get the hang of posting something just to post.  I’m more of “don’t speak unless you have something to say” kinda person, like Mr. Ed.  (No, I’m not dating myself… I used to watch Nick at Night).

The dark side of Facebook is that there’s an immediacy to it, but a level of insulation, so that people feel safe getting into public arguments or calling people out without naming names.  I wouldn’t get into a shouting match with someone in a restaurant, so I’m certainly not going to do it on Facebook.  The positive side of it is that we can all share thoughts, ideas, photos, and life events.  I like to sometimes bounce ideas off my Facebook friends or ask for feedback on trying to title something I’m writing.  I’m so bad at titles!  Like anything else, it is what you make of it.

What are your thoughts on Facebook?


Weekly Photo Challenge: Forward

100_0326I have this weird little quirk… I love taking pictures of paths.  I can only imagine that it comes from the part of me that likes to wonder what’s going to be revealed… in stories, movies, and in life.  Paths are the ultimate symbolism of that.  You can choose to go back and see what you’ve already seen, stand still and the scenery doesn’t change, or you can go forward, and maybe see more of the same, but maybe new stuff will be revealed… it’s all part of the journey.

I took this photo recently in Puerto Rico while walking in the rainforest.  I loved the cracked path in the middle of all the lush green.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Unoccupied

The anniversary of the beginning of Occupy Wall Street came and went.  The occupy movement went on for several months in several cities before it quietly went away.  Hopefully it highlighted some of the inequalities in our society, though there are many more.

My post yesterday was about how I don’t believe that things should always be equal, and that’s true.  I don’t believe that things are fair, and that’s true too.  I don’t want to be rich, and I don’t think I have the right to take money from the rich.  I didn’t earn it.  I’m a middle classer, and I’m happy there.  I do think that the rich should have to pay the same percentage of taxes that I do.  That’s just common sense.  If we want things to run smoothly, they should have to pay too.  Not more, but at least the same percentage of taxes without all these nonsense tax breaks.

As to the Welfare issue, that’s a stickier issue.  I’m on the ground with this.  I’ve seen people who abuse the Welfare system and think the world owes them something, and I’ve also seen people genuinely in need who would go to work if they were able to.  I’ve worked with the sickest of the sick, and I’ll never forget the look of pride on one of their faces as they told me they were able to work two days a week cleaning toilets for the elderly.  Yes, there are Welfare queens who sit around eating and watching Jersey Shore.  But there are also sick people who really want to work and know that cleaning toilets is an honorable job, and fills a need.

Did you know that about 50% of the homeless work?  Isn’t that scary? If 50% of the homeless have jobs (and this doesn’t count panhandling), why don’t they have homes?

So what’s the solution the the Welfare system?  Well, it’s not “giving” them money indefinitely; that hasn’t worked.  We have a system that’s broken, and there are all sorts of things that sound good, but each of us is responsible for change, if we really want change.

I believe that as a society, we’ve gotten lazier and more apathetic when it comes to helping our fellow man.  Even churches don’t give out food anymore (most of them); that’s a job for food banks and soup kitchens.  If you complain about the poor, the undereducated and the sick, I challenge you… instead of protesting, volunteer, even for one day.  Volunteer in a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter so that you can get to know the people who get hurt when programs and public assistance lose funding.  Maybe someone else can help find solutions.  As I said, I don’t know what the solution is; I just know that what we’re doing isn’t working.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Stylish Imitation

I don’t remember ever thinking that I wanted to be a writer, when I was growing up.  I just wrote stories and poetry.  A lot of them.  I showed them to friends and family, but no one seemed all that interested.  It didn’t matter if they were or not.  I wasn’t writing for others, just like I didn’t read for others.  I just wrote because I had to.  I wrote because I had words and voices in my head, and if I didn’t put them on paper… well, I don’t know what would have happened.  Luckily, I never had to find out.

As a little girl, I remember my parents read stories to me, over and over and over, probably until their eyes bled.  I could never get enough stories.  My grandmother told me fairy tales, but not the ones that most people know.  She told me about Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast, but also about Snow White and Rose Red.  I remember my grandmother wanting me to tell her stories back, and even then, I was no verbal storyteller.  Even now, I can’t talk about my day without boring others inside of 30 seconds.  Write about it?  Sure, of course.  Tell about it?  Um, well, uh, sure.  I mean, I guess I can tell you about it.  Let’s see, uh… I got up this morning and had coffee.  No, I didn’t have coffee this morning, just orange juice.  Or was it this morning?…  You get the picture.

The first author I ever fell in love with was Dean Koontz.  At the library or at the bookstore, I could browse shelves for hours, reading back of books and finding interesting titles.  All that changed after I read Watchers when I was 12.  Suddenly, I had a favorite author, and a focus for my obsession.  I’ve never lost that first love, though there have been others since then.  There’s been Stephen King, John Saul, Nora Roberts, Phyllis A. Whitney, Mary Higgins Clark, Patricia Cornwall, Kay Hooper, and Louisa May Alcott.

I would never attempt to imitate anyone’s style.  Not that I think there’s anything wrong with it, but my voice is influenced by all these writers and many more.  I’ve taken mental notes of the best (and the worst), and try to incorporate it into my writing.

It’s fortuitous that this week’s writing challenge is about this, and that there was an interesting interview with Dean Koontz published on Beliefnet.  Koontz gives good advice, but what I think it boils down to is: Assimilate everything, but be yourself.  Check it out.