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

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

Writing Update

IMG_20160428_203226Things have been a little hectic lately. I started a new job with a weird schedule, so I haven’t kept up with things the way I should. I have been writing some, though, both stories in Grevared and some horror stuff.

I have two short stories completed and am doing revisions. One is the Muhulda Urswyk story that posts here every Wednesday, and the other is a horror tale.

I’ve been making progress on both the YA WIP and on ‘the story that never ends’. I finally like where the trilogy is going. I just hope I can keep it going in this direction. I’ll tell you, these guys LOVE to take off on their own.

I have a children’s story that’s in its editing phase. I’m almost through with what I hope will be the last of the edits. Now, I just have to decide on a cover for it. This story takes place in the Kingdom of Emerell, just to the west of Moirena. The village of Everstone is attacked by the Kwaad, and Jerrung’s sister is taken. Not willing to wait for the adults to go after them, Jerrung and his friends set off under the mountain. Finally, he gets to have a real adventure.

I’m hoping that I’ll settle into my new schedule and get back to being productive.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

Research Willies

library-419254_1920I have a fascination with Victorian England, I’ll admit. I suppose it comes from Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol being one of my favorite books and movies, and I use some of that ambiance in my writing; it’s an essential part of the world, though it isn’t true to history. Since the world itself is a hodge-podge that exists after the rest of creation is destroyed, I take a good bit of liberty with my clothing, setting, magic, and technology. That being said, I still research to get ideas.

My most recent research acquisition is The Invention of Murder by Judith Flanders. I have to say that it’s a fascinating read. It examines the Victorian and pre-Victorian attitude toward murder and the value of these crimes as entertainment. Even among the wealthy, taking a tour of murder scenes was an acceptable pastime. She talks about the penny bloods/penny dreadfuls and the creation of the broadsides as well as giving information on the murders themselves. I’ve gotten a lot of good information from this work, and I’m only about halfway through it. In fact, I’m actually writing fewer hours a day to allow more time to read it.

I know in some of the online writers’ groups we often comment on what would happen if our browser history was targeted by the government. I’ve often wondered the same thing when it comes to my bookshelf. Reading and researching murder doesn’t bother me, but there are some of my characters with attributes and interests that require delving into subjects I have no interest in and that make me want to take a shower once I have the information. If only brain bleach was something you could buy at the store…

Anyone else ever have that issue? Are there things you have to research that make you wonder about yourself and your characters?

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com