Stress-Free Holiday (and We Got Snow!)

IMG_20171208_162057I’ve was always one of those people who loved the hustle and bustle from Thanksgiving to Christmas. I didn’t even think about getting gifts before the turkey had been carved, eaten, and put away. I loved diving into the day after Thanksgiving, not so much for the deals but for the experience of it all.

I got over it.

Several years ago, I figured out that getting everything done in advance made the season much more enjoyable. I started getting the gifts early and had them ready to wrap as soon as the tree went up. I discovered, too, that this eased some of the financial burden, the one thing I really hated about the holidays.

This year is no different. Everything’s decorated and wrapped, and now I just have to bake the goodies as we want them and watch cartoons. I love it! I’ve also found that I have more time to write doing things this way. Being a winter junkie, I’m far more productive when the weather gets cold.

IMG_20171208_173610And to make things even better, we got snow. Now, I know some folks are from the northern climates that see lots of the white stuff, but where I live snow before January, and even then, is rare. Loving it! It’s a nice change of pace, and I was able to focus on writing and just watch the snow fall. It was awesome!

How do you prepare for the holidays? What are your secrets to getting things done without stress?

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

 

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Getting Ready for the Holidays

IMG_20171201_230859The holiday season is in full swing, and I think we’ve gotten everything ready at the homeplace. The tree’s up, the gifts are wrapped, and the stockings are hung. I think we’ve watched all the classic Christmas cartoons at least once and are starting on the second round.

There have been times in the past when the holiday season seemed to be far more work than it was worth, but this year feels a bit different. There isn’t as much running to do anymore, and my work schedule allows us to go out and participate in some of the community activities. For the first time in years, we were able to see the parade. It wasn’t a fancy thing like the Thanksgiving Day Parade, but it was nice to finally get to see a hometown parade again. Hopefully, there will be other activities to do over the next few weeks.

In the meantime, we’ll continue our tradition of watching movies and cartoons and picking from our advent box. This is something we started several years ago. We wrap a large box and cut a hole in the top. It’s filled with small gifts of nothing much–candy bars and gum, silly toys, stocking stuffers–and we reach in and take something each night from December 1 thru December 24. When the box is empty, it’s Christmas. Granted, my children are mostly grown now, but it’s still a fun thing to do together in the evenings. W

IMG_20171202_101256I hope everyone has a joyous season, regardless of which holiday you celebrate, and remember to do what you can for those less fortunate. Even the smallest gesture performed with pure intention can mean the world to someone else.

Have a wonderful season with family and friends, and feel free to share the traditions you value most.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

Getting Back on the Horse

I’ve always loved making things, whimsical bits of nothing much just to brighten the day a bit. But for the past few years, I haven’t done much crafting. I used to make dollhouse miniatures and intricate crochet pieces like the ones below. 

In more recent years, I haven’t had a lot of time or energy, but I’ve never lost my love of making things. 

I finally decided that enough was enough and pulled out a few small things to play with. I haven’t gone full-tilt back into it yet, but I’m making small things and contemplating what I want to do next. There’s a part of me that likes the simplicity of the pioneer rag dolls, and a part of me that wants to go out and clear the clay aisle at the craft store and get back to tiny donuts. 

We’ll see where it goes. 😊

As always, best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

New Stuff Coming Soon!

Sir Klaus CoverHowdy, All!

I’ve been playing around with book trailers and have redone the ones for Aradia’s Secret and The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley III: A Walker is Born. Check them out and tell me what you think. I’d like to hope my skills are improving somewhat.

In other news, I have a new book releasing November 21, 2017. It’s a children’s story, A Gift from Sir Klaus, but I’ve done it as a Draw Your Own Illustrations book. I was thinking about reading comprehension and ways I used to have my students practice. One thing we did was to draw scenes from the story. It’s the same principle. The text is at the top of the page, so budding artists have plenty of room to draw. Look for it on Amazon on Tuesday.

As always,

Best Wishes!

Update: A Gift from Sir Klaus was ready sooner than I thought it would be. It’s available on Amazon.

I also updated another trailer. This one is for Wolf in the Shadow.

Book vs. Movie – Inferno

Book vs MovieI’ll be the first to admit that I’m a fan of Dan Brown’s novels, not so much the thriller aspect but the symbolism and art. That’s what draws me in and keeps me reading. The movies, while not bad, are not as good as the books in my opinion.

Today’s Book vs. Movie is about Inferno.

SPOILERS!!!!!!!!

The gist of the story is that billionaire bioengineer Bertrand Zobrist has created a plague and hidden it somewhere in the world. His motive? To decrease the earth’s population so that mankind can begin again. In Zobrist’s view, mankind is like a plague itself, and if population isn’t controlled, there will not be enough resources to sustain the species. The next extinction event will be our own. Robert Langdon is recruited to help solve the clues Zobrist left behind and to help find the plague and prevent its release.

The book and the movie begin in a similar fashion, and the beginning of the movie is fairly faithful to the book. However, once the two diverge, they are almost two different stories.

At first, the differences are minor things.

In the movie, the provost asks to see Zobrist’s video instead of one of his workers insisting that he look at it. In the book, Langdon and Brooks have art students show them a way into Boboli Gardens instead of climbing the wall, and there’s a guard at the little gray door that leads to the Vasari Corridor who is absent in the movie. In the book, the Baptistry of San Giovanni is simply not open for the day yet, while, in the movie, it’s closed for repairs. In the movie, Langdon introduces Sienna to Marta as his niece. In the book, he claims she’s his sister.

However, the divergences get more pronounced the closer the two come to determining the location of the plague virus.

In the book, they are joined by a man named Ferris who works for the provost. He has a bad rash and a large bruise on his chest that makes the two suspect he has been in contact with the virus. In the movie, a WHO agent named Bouchard is the one who joins him. His interest in the plague is to sell it to the highest bidder. He kidnaps Langdon and tries to get him to reveal the location.

Another difference is in character relationships. In the book, Elizabeth Sinskey is head of the WHO and only meets Robert Langdon because she needs his skills to decode the message Bertrand Zobrist left. In the movie, she’s a former lover, the ‘one who got away.’ This, however, is a minor detail compared to the ending.

In the book, Sienna tries to escape, but she has a change of heart and comes back to tell Langdon that she received a letter from Zobrist after his death. She was so horrified by the virus he had created that she could not allow it to be released into the world. She followed Langdon in hopes of locating and containing it, just like the WHO.

However, the group is too late, and the plague has already been released and has reached world penetration. This plague isn’t designed to kill people; it’s designed to sterilize a third of the human population so that the number of people decreases over time. Sienna then joins Sinskey at the WHO to help figure out what to do next. Langdon goes home.

The movie takes a completely different track. The WHO gets to the plague virus and contains it. This virus is designed to kill and will create a pandemic at least as detrimental as the Black Death. Sienna is determined to release the plague and commits suicide detonating explosives designed to rupture the bag containing the plague. Langdon and Sinskey say their good-byes again, and Sinskey takes the virus for study.

When it comes to the ending, I think I prefer Dan Brown’s original one to the movie ending. What are your thoughts?

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

Random Thought – Smurfs

img_20170211_153925.jpgI’ve been a Smurf fan my entire life. When I was a kid, the highlight of my week was getting up early on Saturday morning and watching an hour and a half of the cartoon. I loved their peaceful village out in the middle of the woods and the way they worked as a community, something that was already fading away in the 1980s. Granted, Gargamel was a bit of a problem, and Peewit and Johan were somewhat annoying, but, for the most part, the Smurfs’ lives were peaceful and joyous.

When the first movie came out, I was a bit skeptical about it. The Smurfs in the modern world? Nope. I like them in their village. I’ve seen the movie a couple of times, but it isn’t one I’ll likely re-watch without someone twisting my arm.

I have to admit, though, that Smurfs: The Lost Village took me by surprise. There were some of the action scenes that were drawn out a bit much, but the Forbidden Forest was beautiful. The houses of the Lost Village reminded me a bit of the fairy homes in the Tinkerbell movies, and I loved the fireflies.

The biggest thing that put me off on the movie was Garagmel. I guess I’ve always viewed him as a bit bumbling but always evil. In this movie, he was far more of a comic character up until the very end. He’s never been the sharpest pencil in the box, but there’s a difference between being a bit dense and being downright ridiculous. Here, they took the ridiculous a bit too far. Still, I liked the movie enough to watch it again occasionally, though it will probably never be one of my favorites.

What did you think of this movie? What memories do you have of the Smurfs?

http://www.lissadobbs.com

Random Ramble-What To Add

IMG_20160428_203226I’ve been in a bit of a writing slump lately. I’m guessing the new place and new job have me feeling a bit displaced and drifting. However, I have been able to accomplish some sorting and arranging. My bookshelves are now organized by subject, and, after four years of being in boxes, I’ve pulled out my mythology research and placed it in binders. Well, I’ve gotten it ready to place in binders. I still have to get them.

My intention at this point is to add articles about mythology and folklore to my website. The question becomes ‘what should go on there?’ Do I stick with straight facts as found in history, or do I let my brain run wild and include some of the wacked-out theories I’ve considered over the years. (Trust me, my brain can go to all kinds of odd places.)

For example, like many of the conspiracy theorists, I find it odd that so many of the world’s cultures speak of more advanced beings–gods, angels, humans–teaching mankind how to farm, work magic, heal, wear cosmetics, etc. Now, I’ll admit to not being a big one on researching aliens. (Do I think we’re a bit arrogant to assume we’re the only intelligent creatures in the universe? Yep. Do I think others came in spaceships to teach us how to do things? Ehhh. Not so sure.) But that’s beside the point. My point is this: We have a world’s worth of mythology stating we were taught to do things by others. Here’s the kicker: The archaeological record shows an evolutionary progression from one point to another–simple tools evolve into more complex tools, etc. There’s no sign, not that I’ve been able to find, of jumps in technology on the level of the myths. Of course, I haven’t kept up with things as much for the last few years, so I’d need to do some serious research before making any conclusions, even to myself, but it’s something I like to think about.

Random ramble aside, I’d like to know what you think about adding articles to my website. What types of folklore and mythology most interest you? Are you interested in theories and wild imaginings, or would you prefer a ‘stick to the facts as we know them’ approach? What I would like to create is a starting point database of sorts for all kinds of mythology and folklore. This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart, and I think we’ve forgotten the lessons found in these timeless tales. Feel free to leave a comment with your suggestions.

Best wishes!

http://www.lissadobbs.com

 

Note to Self…Get a Bigger Pot

and-thu-2789325_1920Howdy and hello! I took a break for a couple of weeks to get adjusted to a new day job. It’s not my dream job, but at least I have a somewhat ‘normal’ schedule now. Woohoo!

With fall finally here (Someone please tell Mother Nature. It’s still really hot!), it’s the time of year I usually do a LOT of cooking. First and foremost is the yearly batch of chili. My son loves the stuff and can go through it in a matter of days. Last year I made three batches, which I think came to about thirty pounds, so this year I thought I’d just get ahead of the game and make thirty pounds from the get go. It was a good idea in theory, at least until I realized that I no longer had the giant stock pot I’d always made large batches in. (It had an accident a few years ago, and I replaced it with a smaller one. Not sure why I can’t remember that from year to year.)

So, here I am cooking meat like a madwoman and scooping it into the pot. I’d done about half of it when I realized the pot I had was nearly full. I still had to add the tomatoes, peppers, and other ingredients, so I needed a little room for those. Not to mention stirring. Oops. Fortunately, I had another pot that was almost the same size. Eleven hours and thirty pounds of meat later, the freezer is full of chili, and my son should be set through the winter months. But I think a giant stock pot is going on my Christmas list for this year, just to make things easier next fall.

Best wishes!

http://www.lissadobbs.com