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My year hasn’t exactly gotten off to the best of starts, especially where my writing is concerned.  I just haven’t felt like writing much of anything lately and even though I open up at least one of my WIP files daily, I usually end up closing them again at the end of the day without having added more than a word or two–if that!  I guess you could say my New Year’s resolutions have already bitten the dust, but we’re less than a month into the year so there’s still hope.

And I’ve been thinking, maybe this year, I should celebrate Chinese New Year instead.  Back when I was teaching, I used to do a week long lesson on Chinese New Year every year and though I can’t remember all the traditions, it seems there were at least a few that might help me this year.  Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar and this year it falls on February 14th so there’s still time to do what I need to do.

For instance, tradition dictates that everyone should start the new year with a clean house and new clothes.  Adapting that to my writing would mean I need to start with a new computer and since Santa was kind enough to bring me a new laptop this year, I have that covered.  The hard part’s going to be cleaning out my cumbersome Word file and organizing the many documents into manageable folders and sub-folders.  A formidable job, yes, but it has to be done because that’s how you get rid of any bad luck from the previous year and make room for good luck in the coming year.  Thank goodness I have almost a month to complete this intimidating and onerous task.

Only problem is my new computer is black, a color which should be avoided on New Year’s Day because of the its association with death.  Red is the preferred color because it wards off bad spirits but I can’t paint my shiny new computer red–well, I guess I could but I have a feeling Santa might be more than a little upset with me if I did so…maybe a red scarf or some red yarn wrapped around it for the day or even a piece of red paper taped to the top.  Would that work?

Actually, the paper might be the way to go since another tradition is to decorate your clean house using signs and posters with the Chinese word fu, which means luck and happiness, written on them.  So, a small piece of paper with the word fu written on it in red and taped to my screen should work.  Also, I’ll need to go to the florist and buy some flowers for my office because flowers symbolize a new beginning and the coming of spring.

Okay, so now I have a plan and I need to get busy.  Those Word files aren’t going to organize themselves and I have to get them finished before February 14th because if I don’t, there’s always the chance I’ll accidentally throw out some of the good fortune of the new year.  Wouldn’t want to do that!

Now, if somebody would only lay a little hong bao or lai-see* on me, I’ll be all set!

*red envelopes traditionally filled with money to symbolize wealth and prosperity for the New Year.

My husband and I went to Knoxville yesterday for Thanksgiving at my sister’s house. Because of the rock slide on I-40, we went by way of highway 25 into Hot Springs and then over into Tennesse to Newport where we picked up I-40 into Knoxville. It’s a longer trip, but beautiful and really ineresting, at least to me. When I was a kid, back before I-40 opened, this was the way my family traveled to visit our grandmother and great aunt so it brought back a few memories. Also, when we crossed over the border into Tennessee, there’s an interesting little saloon there. Though most people wouldn’t pay much attention to this small building, the fact that it’s in the Paint Rock area and on the border of North Carolina and Tennesse thrilled me.

Why? Because my sister and I are writing a book about our great aunt’s life growing up in Hot Springs back in the late 19th century. Her father, or Papa as she called him, was the constable of Hot Springs and he also built houses and worked as a blacksmith on the side. One of the chapters in the book deals with a story we heard many times growing up, both from our own father and from our aunt about her going on a trip to the Paint Rock area with Papa who had some business with a saloon owner.

Christy and I have been up to the Hot Springs area several times. The last time we went, we knew we we going to include that story in the book so we looked for Paint Rock, hoping to find some information about the saloon or at least get an idea of the general layout of the town. What we found was that there isn’t actually a town called Paint Rock. There is a Paint Rock, or Painted Rock as some people call it, which is interesting in its own right but…no town.

Yesterday, when my husband pointed out the Rock House Saloon which sits right on the border, very close to the Paint Rock, I immediately began wondering if that was the saloon. It’s an old building made of river rock and it looks like it could’ve been built way back in the 1890’s when the story took place. So I’m going to put on my researcher’s hat and see what I can find out about the Rock House Saloon. Oh, and the next time we go home for the holidays, which should be in a couple of weeks, I’m going to stop there and if they’re open, talk to them about the building. Maybe someone can confirm my suspicions or at least give me more information about the place. And hopefully, I’ll remember to take my camera with me!

Hope everybody had a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving!

It’s raining here in the mountains of North Carolina and for the sake of all the pint-size Trick or Treaters out there, I’m hoping it clears up before tonight.  I can remember trick or or treating in the rain when I was a kid.  It wasn’t fun.  Still, free candy so I guess it’s worth it.  Me, my favorite house to visit when we were kids was the one at the end of our street.  The old couple who lived there worked at a printing press that printed comic books and they would give away three or four comic books with the covers torn off and rolled up into a neat cylinder.  You never knew what you would get but hey, free read + caramel apples from the people next door = heaven as far as I was concerned.

Tomorrow, after all the Trick or Treaters have eaten their way into a sugar coma, is the first of November and if you’re an author, you know what that means; National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is upon us.  I don’t particiapte in NaNo, there’s just something about committing myself to write a novel in a month that goes against my grain.  First, I’m no good with deadlines, especially the self-imposed ones, and second, well, I have way too many WIPs as it is.  I don’t need another one, I need to clean up and/or finish the ones I have and start submitting them.  So, no NaNo for me but I do want to wish all those participating good luck–you’re a stronger man woman author than I am!

And that brings me to my next subject, National Authors’ Day–or is it Author’s Day?  Authors Day?  I’ve seen it all three ways but I prefer the first one–is also tomorrow.  Hmm…I guess I really should celebrate this since I am an author, but I’ll probably let it go by without even thinking about it.  Or maybe I should eat all the leftover Halloween candy–Butterfingers, yum!–resulting in a sugar high and write a novel in one day.  Who needs a whole month?  Well, okay, that’s probably won’t work because whatever I turn out will most likely be garbage but who knows?

The day after that, November 2nd, is Plan Your Epitaph Day.  Okay, I admit, I probably won’t be participating in that one either.  Too depressing!

Next up on November 3rd is my favorite, Cliche Day!  Yay!  I love cliches–I know, I know, cliches are bad when you’re a writer, but I still love them.  I have a Friday Favorite post scheduled this week on the Dames of Dialogue blog so I guess I should save anything else I have to say about cliches for that post.

Then on November 4th, we have Mischief Night.  Huh?  Shouldn’t that one be celebrated on October 31st?  November 5th is National Men Make Dinner Day.  I can get behind that one…except whatever my husband cooked, I probably wouldn’t be able to eat.  I’d much prefer National Men Pay for Dinner Out Day.  After that comes, take a deep breath, this is a long one, UN International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict.  Seriously, shouldn’t someone come up withh a shorter name for that one?  I mean, I’m all for any day when people put the environment first but that name needs trimming.  I’d say go with an acronym, but that wouldn’t work either; UNIDPEEWAC.  Then again, maybe it would.

And that takes us through the week ahead.  Happy Halloween to all the Trick or Treaters out there, happy National Authors’ Day to all the authors and if you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, good luck!  And remember if you’re at a loss for words, using cliches is a no-no, you should avoid them like the plague!  To finish off the week, make some mischief on Wednesday, let a man cook you dinner on Thursday and plant a tree on Friday–hey, it may not meet the purpose of UNIDPEEWAC, but at least you’re trying.

**a special thanks Holidays on the Net for all the fun info on holidays!

Whistling Woman by CC Tillery

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