Saturday, December 31, 2011

Creative Nudge #4 and My Response to the Last One

Oops - I never got around to posting my response to the photo-nudge from two weeks ago! Sorry guys - I've been sick and it's been kicking my tail. Slowly getting back to normal though. Here's the picture as a refresher (don't forget you can buy a print here!)

"Don't touch the presents under the tree or the evil Christmas Tree Squid will come and clamp on your face while your asleep AND you won't get any presents this year!"

A mouthful, I know. That's my mom for you. Full of warnings and, um, an overactive imagination. The funny thing is we believed her when we were little. I never touched so much as a single present before Christmas morning. It was torture. So many tantalizing packages in red, green, gold, and silver, so many strange shapes, and I couldn't so much as poke them let alone shake them!

I was in middle school before I started realizing that my Mom's stories might be a bit strange. I clearly remember telling little Bobby Walker in our art class about the little children living on the other side of the moon who wouldn't have any teeth if we didn't stick the one's we lost under our pillow for the tooth astronaut to take, and his look of complete confusion. At first I thought his tale of a tooth fairy was really weird, but then we started talking, and I found out about all those little stories most children grow up with, and I had never heard.

Still, it wasn't until I was in highschool that I conquered my fear of the evil Christmas Tree Squid. I had my boy friend to thank for that. We were talking about my weird Mom and he asked me why I had never drawn any of the strange creatures she had told us about. Took me totally by surprise, but I guess he had a good point. I mean, at that point I was drawing everything I could, on everything I could, so why not that?

The first version of the Christmas Tree Squid was drawn on a paper napkin that had grease stains from what the cafeteria called pizza, but soon I had drawn him over and over again. Now I'm a world famous children's author, and most of my stories are based on the tales I heard as a child. My Mom is incredibly proud of me, and she has co-written a few of the stories with me, but I've also learned that I have her talent for the absurd, just look at my story about the Ninja Goldfish!

Thanks Mom. Merry Christmas.


Note: that story is a complete fabrication! While I DO have a very active imagination (obviously) I can't draw. Oh well. 

Creative Nudge #4: "Leather." That's right - one word. Simple and sweet. What are you going to do with that one word? 

Once you write a response don't forget to come back and leave a link in the linky tool below! I've included a link for the last Creative Nudge.

~ Ruthie ~ 

Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday Features - Author Interview with Jenni Merrit

I'm very excited! Today I get to feature my first author interview on this blog! I first met author Jenni Merrit through NaNoWriMo this year. We are both part of the PDX group of writers, and chatted through out the month. I started following her blog and was quite excited to hear about her first book that was published right as this years NaNoWriMo wrapped up. I snatched up a copy to read, and you can read my review of Prison Nation here - it's a great read. Now I present, without further ado, my interview of author Jenni Merrit.

LLLW: How long have you been writing? What got you started?

Jenni: I have literally been writing since I could hold a pencil in my hand. My mom has told me that when I was 3, I would sit at the dining room table and teach myself to write. I would ask her how to spell "cat" then proceed to ask what a "c" looks like... My parents, teachers, and friends encouraged me so much, by the time I was 6 I declared that someday I would be an author. Obviously, I stuck to that declaration. I don't think I ever had any other choice. *smiles*

LLLW: It sounds like you were destined to be an author! What happened between age 6 and now? Did you ever doubt?  

Jenni: Oh man, I think for some time I doubted more than I believed. I always stuck to it though. I would enter writing competitions, fill binders with short stories and poetry. I started more beginnings to books than I can even remember, then hid most of them away. I knew I loved writing, but I convinced myself that everyone out there was better than me. Once I graduated high school, I got married. I had thought about going off to college to pursue writing, but I knew marrying my honey was the right choice. Sadly, my writing got put on a way back burner. We had our first kiddo. I didn't fully feel like myself anymore, lost in mommy-land, so I started writing again. This time, just for myself.

LLLW: Sounds like quite the journey! When you started writing again what was the tipping point where you decided: "I can do this, I can publish this story"?

Jenni: I wish I could say there really was on actually tipping point. I guess first was becoming friends with Keary Taylor. She just wouldn't let me stop. Soon after that, I won my first year of NaNoWriMo. I think it was after that, as I sat and stared at my first ever finished manuscript, that I realized this dream wasn't as far fetched as I thought. I loved this story too much to let it hide, and right then I knew I had to publish it.

LLLW: Was Keary the one that got you involved with NaNoWriMo? Does she have a blog?

Jenni: No. Funny story about how I got involved with NaNoWriMo, but Keary wasn't it. Keary is a self-published author who, I must say, is doing quite well. We had mutual friends, and easily clicked once we found we shared the same world: Writing. Keary has a blog at:

LLW: How did you get involved with NaNoWriMo? 

Jenni: In 2008 an old friend told me about this crazy month long event called NaNoWriMo. I checked it out, and instantly shook my head at the very idea of trying to write that much in a month. There was no way I could do it. I quickly forgot about NaNoWriMo. Then in 2009, halfway through November, a different friend told me she was trying this event where you write 50k words in a month. She told me I needed to try.   It was one of those "Oh yeah, that crazy thing again..." moments, followed by a "What the heck" moment. I signed up. Wrote about 1500 words, and quit. The month was already close to ending, and besides, this was just too crazy of a goal.

A few months after though, I kept thinking about it. I heard all of these success stories, and wondered if I could maybe be one. Then I got an idea for a new story. And decided: I would do it. I didn't plot. I didn't plan. But when NaNoWriMo 2010 started, I started. By the 14th of that month, I "won." And by the 30th I had finished my first draft of Prison Nation.

LLLW: That must have been crazy exciting! What was the editing and publishing process like?

Jenni: The editing process was insane. I went through my book more times than I can count, focusing on a different thing each time. Read thrus, editing, consistency, editing, beta readers, editing. I honestly thought this process would never end! I worked pretty much on it daily for the last year, (I know, right?) by the end, I pretty much hated my book with a passion and never wanted to see it again. That was how I knew it was finally done.

Publishing was a whole new area for me.   I did query some agents, but not every book hooks as we all know. I got some great responses from some. Yet it just wasn't meant to be. I finally decided "Hey, I still want my book out there. Self-publishing, here I come!" Thank goodness for CreateSpace, I must say.

LLLW: Is there anything you'd like to say to the aspiring author's out there? Any advice?  

Jenni: DO IT. Honestly, if you love writing. If you know you want to do it... then do it. I know how easy it is to be a "someday" writer. But your novel will never be written unless you sit down and write it. Yes, rejection is waiting around the corner. Yes, it is a heck ton of hard work. But it is so worth it. If this is what you love doing, then figure out what is holding you back, get rid of it, and start writing!

LLLW: Where can we find your blog and your book? Anything else you'd like to say?

Jenni: You can follow my on my blog at   I also keep a Facebook page and Twitter (@JMWriting) Please, do keep in touch!   I love talking to people,  especially  about books and writing.

Prison Nation is available via Createspace and through Amazon and Kindle.   It is also on Nook.
And don't forget to add me on Goodreads!

Thanks to Jenni for allowing me to interview her! 

~ Ruthie ~

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

WIP Wednesday - Christmas Hangover

I’ve been a bad blogger. I haven’t blogged OR visited blogs since last week! I think I officially have a Christmas Hangover. Oh not from booze or anything like that, just from all the activity of the last two weeks! I’m going to try to start getting back to “normal” life tomorrow and, don’t worry, that includes visiting your blogs!

As for WIP’s - there’s not much to report. I did get a bunch done on Jemnath last Thursday (800 words added!), but I haven’t done anything since then. Still, I’m pretty happy to be writing on the story again, and I know that the holiday’s will derail many people, not just me, so I’m not beating myself up.

How was your Christmas? We had a lot of fun with my family, my in laws, and my best friend. It was a jam-packed two days (Christmas Eve with my family and my best friend, and Christmas day with his family and their extended family) but it was full of good things. Like family, and food, oh the food! There’s a reason I’m making a chicken caesar salad for dinner tonight!

My brother in law gave me a camera - and I’m really excited about it! I don’t know how to do very many things on it yet, but I am learning slowly, and it does a great job at compensating for my lack of technical knowledge. Between my husband and I we took over 200 photos on Christmas day alone!

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to use my new camera to take more of my own photos for this blog. I’m currently trying to figure out how I can create an “inventory” of “stock” photos that I’ve taken. Not sure how I’ll organize that yet, but I’m a happy girl! I’ll try not to let it distract me from my writing too much, I promise.

How are your writing endeavors going this week?

~ Ruthie ~ 

Ps. Top left is a photo I took of me and my hubby. Bottom right is a shot I got of my mother in law.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

WIP Wednesday - It's Almost Christmas!

Are you ready for Christmas? I have to admit I’m not. I have 2 1/2 presents to finish and it’s almost Christmas! Agh! And those are just the one’s I really want to have done by Christmas day… The picture to the left is a sneak peak of some of the projects I’ve been working on (Christmas and not lol). I’ve figured out what was slowing me down, so I should be finished by sometime tomorrow (with the most important), which I’d say is a good margin.

Despite craziness I’m still trying to write. Succeeding to too, even though it’s only a little bit, its the fact that I’m still moving forward that counts! I’ve finally added WORDS to Jemnath, my first attempt at a book that I’m now finishing. It feels fantastic to know that I’m working on it again, I can’t even begin to describe how good it feels.

Well I have presents to finish, and maybe a wee bit more writing, so I’ll keep this short, Merry Christmas! And for those of who don’t celebrate - have a good time whatever your up to. We will be spending Christmas Eve with my family and my best friend, and Christmas Day with my inlaws. What are your plans for Christmas?

~ Ruthie ~

Ps. I'm trying to visit blogs - but I apologize if I don't get to them in the craziness of this week!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Charlie Brown Understood

I was going to post this yesterday - but I got all caught up in spending time with my best friend who's in town for the holiday's and completely forgot! Oh well, since this is my response to last week's Creative Nudge it counts as posting a piece of my writing right? Plus, just look at this coffee mug she got me! It's perfect for today's post - and just ignore the coffee drips at the top that are evidence of how much I'm enjoying using it.

(In case you can't read it: "Every Time You Think Things
Can't Get WORSE They Get Worse!)

It is said that art and life often imitate each other, and while I have found that to be very true, rarely has it been more true than this week! I assigned the writing prompt, "have things go wrong!" and then quickly got busy so it didn't get tackled as quickly as I would have liked. I had a few vague ideas about how I was going to tackle it, but nothing super concrete beyond, "take the characters from my story, Jemnath, drop them in the woods, and have something go wrong! Probably have them attacked."

Yes, brilliant. I know. Well thought out to eh?

I never could seem to get to writing it though.

Why? Well it started the day I assigned the post. I had spent half of it taking care of car troubles. Our car's fuel pump was failing, and dealing with it took up my entire day on Saturday as I rode the bus down to Wilsonville with my hubby (he had left the car there the night before), got it towed to the mechanics, and then waited to find out what was going on and how much it would cost me.

Then I was ambushed by Christmas. I think that's something that all of us have been dealing with in one way or another, but it seems like everything I've tried to do for Christmas this year has gone wrong! My Christmas card idea failed, shopping took way longer than I had expected, and I literally went to 12 stores on Tuesday trying to track down a couple of simple items that I thought would be easy to find. Boy was I wrong...

That's not so bad however, the real kicker that day came when I tried to make dinner. I was exhausted from shopping so I planned on making some taco salads (or a burrito for my hubby if that's what he wanted. Now, to give you some background, burritos were a staple in my house growing up. Along with spaghetti, there's no meal I've made more frequently. So I shouldn't have been able to ruin it right? Wrong.

I was absent-mindedly throwing spices in (I don't have to measure for this dish) and kept thinking, "huh, why am I smelling cinnamon?" I was turning my lazy-susan spice rack trying to make sure I hadn't missed anything when I spotted the chili powder. "Wait, I thought I..." That's when it trickled into my exhausted brain that this was NOT the shape of the bottle that I dumped at least a tablespoon's worth of spice from (thinking it was chili powder of course). Right behind that thought came the realization that this could have something to do with why I was smelling cinnamon...

Now, I'm told that a hint of cinnamon in taco meat can be quite good. A tablespoon mixed with lots of garlic and cumin? Not so much! That got thrown in the trash, and when I picked my hubby up from the bus stop later I petulantly explained that we were having fresh pizza from Bellagio's because I was so tired I had managed to fail a can't-fail-meal. He was amazed that I could fail at burritos...until I explained to and he started laughing so hard his face turned red.

Ok, so looking back on it, I can see why he laughed. At the time I was considering grabbing the frying pan when we got home and then eating all the pizza myself.

To top it all off, Wednesday morning I took the car back into the shop to have it fixed (our car guy had shown us how to keep it working for a short time, basically by beating the gas tank if the car wouldn't start) and discovered a curb on the way to the bus that I didn't know was there! I ended up on hands and knees with a fire starting in my ankle. Best part? There was a guy walking nearby who kept walking after I told him that no, I was most definitely not alright!

I may have to be nice to my characters for a few weeks, obviously my love of mischief in writing has decided to visit my personal life! And yes, Charlie Brown most definitely had it right.

BTW - my ankle is healing just fine :)

~ Ruthie ~

Love Creative Nudges? Check out the picture I used for this week's Nudge!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Creative Nudge #3 - Plus Excitement!

I'm so excited! Do you see that beautiful pile of paper to the left? That's Misfits - my NaNoWriMo Novel! My best friend printed it up at school (shhh...don't tell anyone!) and brought it to me when she came home for the holidays. When she gave it to me I just hugged it to myself for awhile.

Now I'm going a little bit crazy. I really, really, did I say really yet? want to start going through it! I have it right there after all. Still, I promised myself no editing until the 1st (partially so I can start working on Jemnath again, which I have) so it's just going to sit there for now. Still... I think I know what I'll be doing as soon as I have my coffee January 1st!


Creative Nudge #3

This week is our first photo prompt! 

Before I say anything else - let me tell you that I got this fun and zany Christmas Squid from my friend Carapace's Etsy Store. You can buy it here - it's only $5!

So what now?
1. Stare at the picture long and hard - then write! What will you write? I don't know! That's up to you :)
2. Post what you wrote on your blog! 
3. Come back here and leave a link in the Mr. Linky Tool below! Feel free to leave links there for previous Creative Nudges as well. I'll list the first two nudges in the link tools below in case you want to check them out. 

That's it! Have fun writing and with the madness of finishing getting ready for Christmas! 

~ Ruthie ~

Ps. I'll be putting up my post to last week's Creative Nudge tomorrow!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday's Feature - Prison Nation by Jenni Merrit

I decided quickly at the beginning of doing NaNoWriMo that I couldn't let myself pursue reading every book my fellow WriMo's had published. It's tempting, there's an intoxicating thrill in being able to say, "I've met the author!" but there are also dangers. What if I don't like it? That can be interesting. So I approached it with "If the description sounds like something I'd read anyway I'll look into it."

When author and fellow WriMo told me about her soon to be published (and now out!) book "Prison Nation," I immediately knew that it fell into both the categories of, "something I'd read anyway," and, "something I really want to read!" I bought a copy on Kindle as soon as it came out, and I'm really glad I did!

Here's a synopsis of the book from the author:
In the Nation, no one is innocent. Not even the children born behind bars. Millie 942B has spent her entire life inside the Prison, locked away with her criminal parents and the countless other inmates. She believes in the Nation. In its strict laws and harsh punishments.    

The Nation is good. The Nation is strong.     

Now eighteen, Millie is finally released. And the world is nothing like she ever dreamed it would be.     

Meeting Reed, the man born and raised outside the Prison, stirs feelings Millie never expected: Doubt in the Nation. The hunger for freedom. Everything she ever believed may be teetering on the edge, and only the truth can set her free.

Growing up in a Prison, locked in for your parents crimes, is a concept that is both extreme, and fascinating. It brings to mind the Old Testament concept of visiting the sins of the fathers onto the children. Viewing this world through the eyes of Millie 942B could have been boring, but author Jenni Merrit takes us into the prison and fills Millie’s world with rich detail. She manages to make even simple things, like a trip to the laundry room, fascinating.

I loved Millie 942B. The poor girl goes through a lot, from dealing with a Mom who’s crazy and a Dad who’s a shadow, to dealing with a horny prison guard who has complete power over her, but she gets through it. It was a lot of fun to see how she grew through it all. There were times my heart ached for her, and others where I silently cheered her along, and I think you will as well.

I give this book 5 out of 5 cups of coffee:

What more can I say than that? I loved the book and I look forward to reading more work in the future by this budding author! I hear rumors there may be a second book about Millie (she left Prison Nation wide open for a sequel) and I know she has lots of other ideas.

Want to buy Prison Nation? You can find it on Amazon, for your Kindle or Nook, and Createspace.

What to get to know the author better? Follow her at her blog! And then come back next week to read my interview with her!

~ Ruthie ~

Miss anything during this holiday season? Check out my WIP post from yesterday and what I learned during NaNoWriMo!

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Yes, I know, WIP Wednesday is, well, Wednesday! Today is not Wednesday obviously, but yesterday I had the great fun of spraining my ankle (don’t worry - that was sarcasm). I’ll tell you all about it later this week in my response to my writing prompt for the week, it turned out to fit my life this week in more ways than one!

This last week (when things weren’t going wrong) I’ve been reading through the first book I ever attempted to write (adjust for whether I completed that read-through or not). I did this read through it with the intent of picking it back up and finishing it. It’s been a strange experience.

I posted on Twitter the other day that, “Reading through an old piece of writing is like finding a $20 left in your pocket. ‘Why hello there! Where did you come from?’” It’s been about a year and a half since I last looked at this, and I hadn’t really touched it much in the half of year before that, which means it’s just long enough for some of it to have fuzzed in my brain. There are parts that I remember clearly, and other’s that I look at and go, “Wow! I wrote that? That’s good!” and then sit there and wonder if anyone else would agree with me.

Doing this read-through is an education in of itself. I’m realizing just how much I’ve learned since I started “Jemnath” (working title) four years ago. That’s encouraging as I contemplate finishing something I was completely stuck on for a long time. At the same time I’m realizing how good what I already have down is. I’m not trying to say it’s worthy of any prizes or anything, simply that I’m really enjoying reading it, and that’s comforting. If I am enjoying it there’s a much greater chance I’ll finish it, and that other people will enjoy reading it somewhere down the line!

I finished the read through a little bit before writing this post - and I’m really excited about that! I still have some work before I get to start writing on it again. While I now have the main story in Scrivener (the program I’m now using), I don’t have any of my support files (with character profiles and such), and I’ll need those as I continue working. I also need to do some planning, pulling notes I made while reading together, and figure out what’s happening next.

Still, it’s really exciting! I really love this story, and working on it again, knowing I now have the tools I need to complete it, is a wonderful feeling. Do you have any stories like that? Things you hadn’t completed that you are now ready to finish?

~ Ruthie ~

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Random Facts and Lesson's Learned

This post will prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I can be a little obsessive compulsive! If you don't want to read all the way through, that's fine, but you'll miss some laughs!

Things I Learned During NaNoWriMo 2011:

1. I’m completely insane (I knew that already, but further proof is always fun).
2. I’m not as insane as I thought (There are 5,548 people who signed up of for the Portland area Region alone! Look! I’m not the only crazy person!)
3. Distractions are my friend! Can you say SIMS? Facebook? Books? (I managed to read 13 books during NaNoWriMo) Long conversations with friends? Even occasionally….cleaning?
4. Since I am very easily distracted, to-do lists, notes about where my story is going next, and giving myself motivating rewards are a must!
5. Writing really does beget more writing! I started this blog and made a number of notes about other things I’d like to work on, and I’m really excited about going back and finishing my original book!
6. When there’s a mystery in your story it helps if you know before your characters do what the answer is, but if that fails, walk around the house talking to yourself!
7. I start dialog sentences with “Oh!” too much. I talk like that too.
8. Coffee is my friend!

Beverages Consumed
- Coffee,
- Fancy coffee’s
- Water (Occasionally….ooops!)
- Diet Dr. Pepper
- Gatoraid
- Mint tea
- Hot chocolate
- English Breakfast tea
- Kahlua (not enough!)

Places Written:
-Most of the rooms in my apartment (not the bathroom, but I did figure several things out in the shower)
-(Big) Jam coffee
- Ava Roasteria
- Sweetness Bakery
- On the bus.
- On the side of the road in a bus stop.
- PDX airport
- On airplane.
- In hotel room.
- In a retirement center

Obstacles Overcome:
- Losing 6,000 words (that’s 2 1/2 chapters!)
- Sprained wrist
- Migraines
- Distractions (duh!)
- Writing while traveling (and the exhaustion I end up with on the road.)
- Handling car repairs.

- Lots of random stuff. I put my entire collection on random for about a week.
More specifically:
- P!nk - Greatest Hits So Far
- Matt Kearney - Young Love
- Sugarland - Incredible Machine
- P0TC Soundtracks 1-3
- Flogging Molly - All cd’s but newest

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Words Mondays - A Plot Ninja

Ninja Monkey! I love monkey's! I was excited when I found this picture to go with my weekly sharing of some of my writing :) This week I'm going to share a piece I wrote as a result of a Plot Ninja. What's that you ask? At the Kick Off party for Portland area WriMo's we passed around 3x5 cards and wrote Plot Ninja's for each other. They were ideas that we could throw at our story if we got stuck. Well, I never got stuck enough to use mine, so I opened it after it was all over, took one my main characters from Misfits, and used it as a writing prompt! My card said, "Your main character climbs a tree and breaks a leg."
This is the result... 


Alina had wandered off for some time to herself. Their pack of misfits was a lot of fun, and she loved being with the others, but sometimes a girl just needed some time to herself to think, or not think, and to have no external pressure to do either. The woods she was walking through were lovely, but she only half-noticed them. She was entranced by the fact that she was alone for more than five minutes for the first time in days, and everything else was just peripheries.

She had no idea how much time had passed. It was still afternoon, the light told her that, but nobody expected her back so the time was relatively irrelevant except for realization that she'd been walking for awhile, and she probably should start paying more attention to her surroundings if she was going to make her way back to the other's any time soon.

Looking around Alina realized that she was in a relatively sparse area of the forest. A fire had obviously passed through here some years before, and while there were a few of the big tree's that had survived, the majority of what was around her was new growth. Looking at the old tree's, the one's who had survived through wind, rain, and fire, she noticed that one of them had something purple up in it's branches.

"That's strange." She muttered to herself, and decided to get a closer look at it. She wound her way through the bushes to the base of the tree and started looking for hand holds. From the black marks along the trunk she suspected the old fire had made her job harder, but she'd climbed a few tree's in her day, and soon she was working her way up towards what appeared to be some fabric.

The tree was tall, from it's height and girth it was likely one of the oldest tree's in the surrounding area, and the purple fabric was high in it's branches. It looked like the wrong shape for a kite, but that was about all Alina could tell, even as she slowly drew closer.

Suddenly she heard some loud barking, and even though she should have been used to it by now, she started, losing her footing, and fell. As she bounced off of branches, trying desperately to grab hold (and nearly succeeding) she had just enough time to think, "We were tempting fate when we named that damn dog Trouble," before she hit the ground with a thud.

Alina blacked out for a few minutes, and when she came too Trouble was licking her face eagerly. She glared at him and pushed him away, taking stock of her injuries. Her body was covered in bruises and small cuts, but what consumed her attention was the pain in her leg. From the angle it was lying at the bone was obviously broken. She attempted to move it and blacked out again, but for only a few seconds this time as far as she could tell. Realizing that moving was futile she laid back and tried to figure out how she was going to get a message to the rest so they could come set her leg and help her back to camp.

How could an afternoon that had started out so right end up so wrong?


I hope you liked it! 

~ Ruthie ~ 

Ps. If you had a plot ninja last month (for my WriMo friends) what did you do with it?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Christmas Memory

(Picture is of my Grandma-Great, myself, my brother Gordon - Peter wasn't born yet, and my Mom. Christmas '87 I'm guessing.)

Grandma-Great was the center of our family, and never was this clearer than at Christmas. Every year the entire family, in-laws and out-laws alike, would gather in her home to eat good food, laugh, and exchange presents. It was my favorite part of Christmas!

There was always more food than we could eat, although I remember one of my Aunt's joking that the reason the girls went first was because the boy's wouldn't leave any for the rest. I had four older boy cousins, so you can imagine the dent they made! Despite the size of the house, the kitchen really wasn't that big, and looking back at it now I marvel that the adults always managed to keep everything warm using that tiny little oven.

It was a two story house plus basement, and the kids would always gather downstairs to play pool and whatever else we could find to do. I remember one of the cousin's sticking the pool queue in the ceiling when his turn was done. It stuck. I thought it was hilarious (and later had to try it).

I was young enough that I really only have what I'd call "snap-shot" memories of those parties. I remember particular instances, little pictures, but no big stories. The big things I do remember is the warmth, both of the room, and of the company, and Grandma-Great.

Grandma-Great was the Queen Bee of the party (and the family). She made everyone feel loved, and my favorite parts of the Christmas gathering usually involved her. I remember showing off to get her attention, and she must have known that's what I was doing, but she always handled it with grace. Other's might yell at me to stop goofing around, but never Grandma-great! 

I remember noticing after we lost Grandma-Great that it seemed like the heart had gone out of the family. She hadn't been well in several years, so the big gathering's were already a thing of the past, but I don't think I really felt the difference as strongly until after she was actually gone. It was several years before I saw many of the extended relatives, and I've never spent much time around them since. Oh sure, we have a family party again now, but it will never be the same. 

I miss her.

~ Ruthie ~

Ps. This is my response to my first Creative Nudge (although I hadn't come up with that name yet!). If you have a response post to the first or second week please go to the post for week two and leave a link!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Creative Nudge Week 2 - Things Happen

Time for a new writing prompt! No, it's not about cars. Car issues are simply my inspiration. You see, apparently my car has developed an issue that means every once in awhile, if the stars align just wrong, the car won't start. It's rather annoying and figuring out what was wrong with the car has taken up my entire day, left me with sore legs from walking too much with the bus, and in general driven me nuts. The end result? Other than an extra layer of insanity in my life? I'm scrambling to get a blog post up!

So.... Instead of posting up my response to last week's prompt, I'm simply going to give you this weeks. I'm tired, I haven't edited my response to last week's yet (I was going to do that this morning before... ya), and I'll post up my Christmas memory on tomorrow's blog post.

Also, instead of calling this a writing prompt I have decided it's a Creative Nudge. Same thing - one just sounds boring and like something a teacher would assign - and the other sounds fun and inspiring!

Creative Nudge - Week 2:
Have something go wrong! There are many different approaches to this, and you don't have to involve a car, so feel free to have fun wrecking havoc! If your in the middle of a longer project (like a novel), I dare you to have something go wrong in your story. Or to take one of your main characters and write a short piece where something goes wrong in their life (you might be surprised what you'll learn about them!). If your not in the middle of a novel, then congrats, you have the entire world as your play ground.

How this works:
1. Go write your response to my creative nudge - do so in the next day or two or life will get in the way!
2. Post it on your blog.
3. Come back and leave your link in the Mr. Linky tool below! If you responded to last week's prompt feel free to leave that link there as well.

Have fun!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday's Feature -

“They” say that the best way to become a successful writer is to write as much as you can, because it’s in that volume that you will hone your craft by making mistakes and learning from them. Well I have always hated that mysterious “they,” but in this case I can actually think of several successful writers who’ve said this, so I’ll let that one be. Writing every day isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s all well and good to say you are going to write every day, but how do you maintain that discipline? How do you find the inspiration day after day?

I’ve spent the last few years struggling with that. Time and time again I’ve set the goal to write every day, or write a certain number of words a week, and fallen flat on my face. I’ve had some excellent reasons (migraines, injuries, and other things like that), but the core of the problem has truly been motivation and inspiration. It’s the real reason I failed my first attempt at NaNoWriMo, and the reason my first book has sat at 38,000 words for three years.

This year I was determined to break that routine, to complete NaNoWriMo, and to use that momentum to launch myself into finishing my original book. I still had that nagging fear that I’d fail yet again, but I was trying to ignore it.

Then I went to a kick-off party the weekend before NaNoWriMo started, and Kim (check out her blog!), one of our Regional Liason’s, mentioned a web-site called 750words. I went to check it out and this is what I found:

I've long been inspired by an idea I first learned about in  The Artist's Way  called morning pages. Morning pages are three pages of writing done every day, typically encouraged to be in "long hand", typically done in the morning, that can be about anything and everything that comes into your head. 
It's about getting it all out of your head, and is not supposed to be edited or censored in any way. The idea is that if you can get in the habit of writing three pages a day, that it will help clear your mind and get the ideas flowing for the rest of the day. Unlike many of the other exercises in that book, I found that this one actually worked and was really really useful.
I've used the exercise as a great way to think out loud without having to worry about half-formed ideas, random tangents, private stuff, and all the other things in our heads that we often filter out before ever voicing them or writing about them. It's a daily brain dump. Over time, I've found that it's also very helpful as a tool to get thoughts going that have become stuck, or to help get to the bottom of a rotten mood.
750 Words is the online, future-ified, fun-ified translation of this exercise.

 It goes on to explain that provides you with a simple, private, place to record your thoughts. I decided to give the site a try, and I quickly fell in love. It can be a bit intimidating at first (a blank screen? Yikes!) but once I got used to it I found that it has helped provide the motivation that I need to sit down and write every day.

The layout of the site is simple. When you log in you’ll see a mostly blank page that has a few links at the top in case your not really ready to write yet, the number of days in row that you’ve written,  a simply row of boxes that will contain x’s for every day you write, and the date. At the very, very bottom is a running tally that refreshes (and saves!) frequently so you can know just how close you are to those 750 words.

Once you hit your magical 750 you see a little green box show up in the upper right hand corner congratulating you at achieving your goal! I love it because it allows me to write and not worry about looking at the total number of words obsessively (although I do that too some days). Once you’ve hit your 750 you can keep writing (there’s not limit) or you can click on your word count on the bottom to be taking to an awesome page that gives you some fun stats like how long it took you to get to your 750, how many words you wrote total, and how many WPM you wrote. There are some other stats but these are the one’s I pay attention to.

Now here’s the best part - they give you badges! (I've included a few in this post.) I know it sounds silly, but I can’t tell you how exciting it is to earn your first few badges. These little prizes, and the information on your streak of days written are really helpful, for me at least. You can also choose to receive a daily email (sent at whatever time you pick) to help remind you. I leave it in my inbox, unopened, until I write. Unopened emails drive me nuts, so that’s a really good incentive for me. They also do monthly challenges, where you pledge to write every day for a month, and give you a little “pledge box” where you get to chose your self-given reward for winning, or punishment (if you so desire) for losing.

Bottom line? I’d give 5 out of 5 coffee cups (because I love coffee, and stars are boring). It’s simple, but provides everything I need for that motivation to write every day. My longest streak so far is 37 days, and I only broke it when I got really sick this last week. I don’t always write something that’s “any good,” but I always write something, even if it’s just a mental/emotional dump, and a lot of days I’ve used it to write a portion of my novel or do a writing exercise. I love this site!

~ Ruthie ~

Ps. Do you have a favorite writing web-site?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

WIP Wednesday - Achoo!

A sneeze and a box of tissues. That about wraps up my writing report for the week! Ok, so maybe there’s a little bit more too it, but not much. This week saw the end of my writing streak. I had written every day since the end of October, 38 days in a row, and it hurt to break that streak! Still, when your out with the flu, or a cold, or whatever this is, sometimes you just have to be nice to yourself.

It was a strange feeling, not writing yesterday, after so many days with out a break, even on vacation and during my sprained wrist! I was frustrated with myself, that I couldn’t get past the lethargy and write, but in the end I started to look at it from a different angle. I’m not sure, but I seriously don’t think I’ve ever written that many days without a break. Granted, some of that writing was total garbage, but I still did it, I wrote something.

Looking at it that way, I decided I had more than earned my sick day off!

Now for the big WIP’s:

“Misfits” is on the metaphorical shelf until January first, and it feels strange not to be working on it on a daily basis. On the flip side, I haven’t exactly forgotten about it. I read a short piece at the TGIO party last week, and I wrote a short story involving one of my main characters in a writing exercise last Thursday. So it’s never too far from my mind.

“Jemnath” is the working title of the book I started four years ago. It’s the name of the fantasy world the book is set in, and this week was supposed to involve me sending the book to my kindle and reading it over so I can sit down and work on completing the first draft (I’m 38k into the story). Hasn’t happened yet, but I’m still sick, and this week isn’t over yet!

Project with Meri - this story has no name yet, but we have resumed planning! We have a very basic out line and are discussing story mechanics right now. This will be a slow project because it involves coordinating thoughts and schedules, and we both get busy!

Wow - that was a longer report than I expected! I’m going to go curl up with a cup of tea now…

~ Ruthie ~

Ps. I am not affiliated with Kleenex in anyway - I just use their product a LOT.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Poem - The Distracted Writer's Mantra

It's Monday again - so it's time for me to share another piece of my writing! I wrote this piece last week. NaNoWriMo was over, and I wanted to keep up my pattern of writing every day, but I didn't want to work on any big projects for a few day, to let me brain unwind a little. I hadn't written a poem in awhile, and I decided that would be perfect! That's about as far from writing a novel as you can get right? 

Well, maybe. As you will see this poem is all about the writing process, and all the things that writers do to avoid sitting down and writing. I've done each and every one of these in this last month.

The Distracted Writer’s Mantra
By Ruthie Stickney
Copy-write 2011

Must Write! Should update Facebook first.
Must Write! Can’t forget about Twitter!
Must Write! There’s an email from Mom.
Must Write! Haven’t written Nana in awhile…
Must Write! Should respond to that comment.

Must Write! Forgot to check my phone!
Must Write! Should respond to that text.
Must Write! Call from my best friend.
Must Write! Need to text my cousin.
Must Write! Oh look, another email!

Must Write! Forgot to shower today.
Must Write! Should start the laundry.
Must Write! Did I water the plants?
Must Write! There are dishes in the sink.
Must Write! Did I eat breakfast?

Must Write! Need more coffee first.
Must Write! The coffee pot is empty.
Must Write! I’ll make some more.
Must Write! The coffee’s done!
Must Write! I’m out of creamer.

Must Write! I should run to the store.
Must Write! I need to return that book.
Must Write! The car needs more gas.
Must Write! Think I’ll stop at McDonald’s.
Must Write! A quick trip to the Goodwill.

Must Write! I deserve a break now.
Must Write! They updated my game!
Must Write! Earn more coins for items.
Must Write! So close to the next level…
Must Write! Change my characters outfit.

Must Write! Never folded the laundry.
Must Write! What should I make for dinner?
Must Write! I’ll thaw some chicken.
Must Write! Should clean the bathroom.
Must Write! Is the mail here yet?

Must Write! Don’t have a playlist for it.
Must Write! Should download that song.
Must Write! This isn’t enough songs.
Must Write! Look on Youtube for more.
Must Write! Should synch this to my phone.

Must Write! Time to make dinner!
Must Write! I’ll eat and answer emails.
Must Write! Ice-cream for desert.
Must Write! I haven’t written anything.
Must Write! Oh well, maybe tomorrow.

It's a wonder I made it both through my 50k and to the end of the book huh?

~ Ruthie ~

Ps. What do you do when you should be writing instead?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Introducing Writing Prompts

Before I launch into the real purpose of this post, let me just saw I’m sorry I missed posting my review yesterday. I have a million excuses (some are even semi-valid!), but those aren’t really important. I plan on continuing the regularly scheduled reviews next week with a review of a writing web-site I absolutely love.

Onto today!

I have recently come to the realization that I absolutely love writing prompts and challenges. I haven’t had very many writing classes, but I always enjoyed the creative writing exercises both because I enjoyed the challenge, and because I often ended up writing about something that never would have occurred to me otherwise. 

Since this blog is all about writing - I decided to include all of you in the fun! Each Saturday I’ll put up a different writing prompt. I’ll try to keep these general enough that anyone can participate, and I’ll come up with some of them on my own, and for others I’ll draw on outside inspiration. If I take it from something else I’ll always let you know and provide a link.

Eventually I’ll have a cool name for these prompts, and a graphic to go with it that you can use on your own blogs, but why wait for that? 

Today's prompt (12/3):
We're headed into the holiday season! Write a story that is based in memory. It can either be a real memory, or something that you've made up, but write it as if the central person is remembering. If you don't celebrate Christmas, feel free to use Hannukah, Kwanza, or simply a December/winter memory. 

Here’s how works: 
1. Take the prompt and write about it. Try to do it within in two days of reading about it or you’ll forget, trust me. 
2. Once you’ve written about the prompt, post about it on your own blog! Please include a link back to this post so people will know where you got it.
3. Come back and leave me a comment so I can read it! 

I’ll be writing right along with you, and each week I’ll both post the next week’s prompt and my own response to the previous week.

Have fun! 


Ps. Do you have a writing prompt you’d love to see me use? Or an idea for a name for this weekly fun? Tell me about it in the comments!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wednesday's WIP's - The Book Job

Last night my husband and I relaxed in our computer chairs, and started catching up on all the shows on Hulu that we usually watch together but have fallen behind on because of our trip to Phoenix and my obsession with finishing my book. Amusingly, one of the shows in our queue was the Simpsons episode, "The Book Job." The episode is a double parody of the book writing world itself, and the Ocean's Trilogy.

Now, considering I've spent all month desperately writing a book, and I'm a fan of the Ocean's Trilogy, I was dying laughing watching this episode. There are all sorts of references that only make sense to a true bibliophile, and Neil Gaiman even had a considerable role in the episode! 

The best part, however, was watching Lisa sit down and try to write a book and then go off and organize her music collection, play games, attend conferences about writing books, and generally do everything BUT write a book. I kept laughing and saying, "I've done that!" and my husband would shake his head and give me a long suffering, "I know."

The important part, however, is that despite all my distractions, I came to a different ending then Lisa did. She ended up taking the credit for a book that was written by a desperate team in it for the money, having never written anything beyond "Chapter 1" herself. I, on the other hand, have put the first draft of my book to bed!

It was an odd feeling staring at that last page. At the top it says, "Epilogue," and concludes with the incredible words, "The End." I've never actually typed that on a story before. Partially because it always seemed silly on my short stories, but also because this is the first book I've ever completed!

Oh yes, I know I have lots and lots of work ahead of me if I want to publish this thing, but that's not what is important. All that's important today is that I DID IT! I wrote an entire first draft, from page 1 to the Epilogue, of a novel. It's a mess, characters say things that make no sense coming out of their mouths, there are filler bits that are absolute rubbish because I didn't know what else to write, and the grammar and spelling are atrocious. I don't care! I can take care of all of that in January and the months to come.

For today, I'm just excited that this first important step in this journey is over. I am excited to be able to proudly say, "I've written a book." And most of all? I'm ready to sleep. A lot.


Ps. Did you participate in NaNoWriMo? How did your book turn out? 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Not About Sunshine and Flowers - A Poem

How was everyone’s Thanksgivings? My hubby, his family, and I, traveled to Phoenix this year to celebrate the holiday with his mother’s family. We had a great time, just like we always do, and even spent a morning at the zoo. I got to feed a giraffe!

It’s Monday, and therefore the first week that I share a piece of my writing with the rest of you! Each Monday I’ll feature a poem, short story, a glimpse into one of my novels (so much fun to say that!), or something else equally exciting. Since I am in the middle of the crazy last minute fits of finishing up my NaNoNovel, I am going to share a poem with you that I wrote earlier this year after my husband was picking on me about my poetry. I hope you enjoy it.

Not About Sunshine and Flowers
By Ruthie Stickney
Copy-write 2011

“Write a poem” my hubby said,
“Why are all your poem’s sad?”
He asked, and then said,
“Write a poem that’s happy.”

“I’ll write a poem that’s happy,
A poem about sunshine and flowers,”
I told him, thinking that those,
Those are happy images.

“Don’t write about those,”
He told me, “Not about sunshine,
Not about flowers, not these,
That is not happiness.”

So I’ll write a poem that is happy,
But not about sunshine,
And not about flowers,
Definitely not these.

Sunshine makes me think,
Think of good times,
And warm feelings, but…
This is not about sunshine.

Flowers are symbols,
Symbols of love and joy,
And close relationships,
But this is not about flowers.

Happiness, this is about that,
Not about sunshine and flowers.

Happiness is about much more,
Happiness is waking up,
Curled up in warm blankets,
And knowing that the sun has risen.

Happiness is about many things,
The birds of the air and the bees,
The bees that buzz and fly,
And where they find their nectar.

Happiness is about the simple things,
So yes, happiness is about sunshine,
And happiness is about flowers too,
But this is not a poem about those.

Friday, November 25, 2011

No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty - a Book Review

Excerpt from the back of the book “No Plot? No Problem!” by Chris Baty:
NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty’s mercilessly pants-kicking guide walks novelists through the process of finding workable story ideas and tweaking busy schedules for maximum noveling bliss before sailing off into a month of literary abandon. The high-velocity handbook also includes week-by-week overviews, exercises, and pep talks, and also features heaps of tips from NaNoWriMo veterans. Great for November, or any month you find yourself needing a creative boost.

Granted, it might have been smarter to at least start reading this book before NaNoWriMo, but that would have been too easy! I do things the hard way. Which is probably why I’m writing a novel in a month. Anyway, I picked this book towards the latter half of the second week, and found it a great reason to avoid writing (yes, I’m good at finding those, aren’t most writers?).

The good thing is that it quickly pushed me back towards writing. I couldn’t help wanting to dive back into my own work as I read through Chris Baty’s adventure in starting NaNoWriMo. The rest of the book was like that as well, I always put it down wanting to write more, and I think that’s the best review I could give for a book like this.

Other than how much it helped me want to write, the two other things that jumped out at me from this book are it’s great suggestions and writing exercises, and that it’s just plain funny! I kept laughing while I read this book, as Baty talked with a straight face about ways to manipulate others into letting you have your writing time, and beating people who talked at Write-Ins instead of WRITING.

If you’ve never done NaNoWriMo before, then next year I both encourage you to join in the fun, and have this handy while you do so. I’d recommend picking it up and reading Chris Baty’s story about how it all started the week before, then reading each week’s chapter full of encouragement as you are actually in that week, and wrapping up the book in December. Mind you, I didn’t follow my own advice, so you don’t have to either.
Overall I give this 5 out of 5 stars. 

Now excuse me while I go back to writing. It is still NaNoWriMo you know!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wednesday's WIP's - In the Home Stretch of NaNoWriMo 2011

It's the last week or so of NaNoWriMo 2011 and I am definitely feeling it! I hit 50k Sunday night, so by the basic standards of NaNoWriMo I'm already considered a winner! That is an incredible feeling! I was walking on sunshine for about 24 hours, and I'm still glowing just a little bit.

I have another goal though. I want to actually finish my book. That's part of the spirit of what's intended with NaNoWriMo after all. You are considered a winner at 50k, but the ultimate goal is to write an entire novel in one month. Sitting down to write Monday morning, after hitting 50k the night before, was both an exhilarating and terrifying moment.

I've had days this month where I doubted even hitting the golden mark, let alone finishing the book, so just thinking of 50k still fills me with endorphins! On the other hand, I sat and looked at where I was at, and realized that I have a lot of work ahead of me if I am I going to finish the book by 11/30 at midnight. I'm guessing that I need a total of 80k to wrap it up, which breaks down to 3k a day, with a holiday trip to Pheonix in the mix, and I had no idea on Monday how to get my characters to the end of the book!

My main problem this week (other than the holiday trip) is that I created a mystery in my fantasy novel, and I've given it all sorts of juicy details, but I myself don't know the answer to the mystery! Yes, that's probably a backwards way to write. Those of you who know me well will not be surprised. So Tuesday morning found me wandering around the house, talking out loud to myself, and then nearly killing myself in the shower when I figured out a piece of the puzzle and got over exuberant.

In exactly one week this entire roller coaster ride will be over. For better or for worse, I will type the words “The End,” even if I have to first write, “then this happens, and that happens, then this happens.” I’m hoping to be able to actually complete the story and not leave it at some short summary of what I want to happen, but I know that no matter where I’m at when I cross that finish line I am a winner! I have worked my hardest. I am sitting at 56K this morning, and that is 18,000 words longer than I’ve ever written before!

To each of my friends, to the other WriMo’s in this wonderfully crazy ride, don’t give up! We can do this, and no matter where you are when we cross that finish line, you are a winner! You’ve written thousands of words, you’ve learned more about yourself, and you’ve participated in something most people never have the guts to try.

So let’s run this home stretch with confidence! I’ll probably drink more coffee this week than is strictly necessary, but I’m in good company, and I know most of you are doing the same thing. May the Force be with you.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Gateway to Dreams - The Worlds of Anne McCaffrey

Great writers are the one’s who write characters that you feel that you know as well as your best friend, create worlds that you can close your eyes and imagine, and put problems in their books that will keep you up until three in the morning because you can’t go to bed until know how everything turns out.

I have always been a dreamer, it’s a large part of why I write, and I am also an insomniac. Consequently, I started telling myself stories to go to sleep at night at a very young age. Sometimes this is counter productive, but more often I would dream of riding the Black Stallion, traveling to Narnia hand in hand with Lucy, or marrying Wesley Crusher (Yes, I am a geek), and slowly but surely my day dreams would lead to real dreams.

One of the my favorite authors of all time is Anna McCaffrey. I spent many hours dreaming that I was Menolly (from the Harper Hall Trilogy), running away after being permanently injured by my family, raising a nest full of fire-lizards, and eventually finding out that I’d still be able to make music. If I wasn’t dreaming I was Menolly, I was dreaming I was with her at Harper Hall, or some other Pern-based series. I devoured her books, both the Dragonriders of Pern, and her many other works that are just as fantastic.

Which is why, when I heard this afternoon that Anne McCaffrey passed away yesterday from a stroke while at home in Ireland, I literally sat at my computer and cried.

Anne McCaffrey was a pioneer among writers. It is because of her ground breaking work that there are so many women writing fantasy and science fiction today. According to she “was the first woman to win a Hugo Award for fiction, the first woman to win a Nebula Award, and the first author to hit the New York Times bestseller list with a SF title (The White Dragon).

Over the course of her career, Anne McCaffrey wrote literally dozens of books, and from all accounts, has done a lot to encourage the writers of today. She stayed active in the field, even though at 84 she was slowing down. You can read her biography at The Worlds of Anne McCaffrey, and if you want to catch up on the books you missed check Fantastic Fiction. If you’ve never read her work I’d recommend starting with Dragon Song, but I have to admit I’m a little biased since that’s the first one I read.

To Anne McCaffrey, queen among the dragonriders, beloved author to many, you will be missed.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Welcome to Live, Love, Laugh, Write!

Welcome to Live, Love, Laugh, Write! My name is Ruthie. I’m a writer, wife, sister, daughter, friend, jewelry artist, and avid reader, who suffers from a variety of long term health problems and gets distracted very easily….is dinner burning? Oh good, it’s not. Where was I now? Ah yes; I am hoping to bring each and everyone of you along with me on my writing journey, sharing the laughter, frustration, chaos, and thrill of writing!

I've been writing off and on for most of my adult life, but my passion for writing started much younger than that. I have been obsessed with books since I was a little girl, and my poor Mom could barely take me to the library frequently enough! I always wanted to write. I wanted to create my own masterpiece that other kids (and later on I changed that to adults) would read, re-read, dog-ear, drop in the bath, and other wise cherish. For years I thought that wasn't possible. I was too impatient with myself, both as a child and a teenager, and I was convinced that I couldn't write anything worth reading because I couldn't figure out how to get the pictures in my head to sound right when put to paper.

Fortunately I got over that - which is a story for another day - and now I can't stop writing!

I've decided to pursue the dream of being published that I've had since I was a small girl curled up with "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe." I don't know yet if that's going to mean self-publishing, or pursuing a contract with one of the major publishing houses, but I'll get there step by step. Along the way I’ll share what I learn, keep you updated on where I’m at in the process, and share some of my short stories as well as pieces of my longer ones.

The first thing I need, obviously, is a book to sell! I am getting closer day by day to having that. I'm in the midst of the insanity known as NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I'm having a ton of fun! That book will need a lot of work when this month is over, and I'm not sure if it'll be publishable, but I'll keep you updated as I find out! I also have a half-finished book that's currently titled, "Jemnath." I plan on picking that back up when NaNoWriMo is over. Hopefully by January or February I'll have two books in the editing and revision stage and be that much closer to my dream.

You are invited to join me on my journey! I am still in the planning stages for this blog, and I may not get everything exactly the way I want it until I'm done with NaNoWriMo, but I am bursting with ideas! So subscribe, bookmark, do whatever you need to - but come back frequently to join me on this wild magic carpet ride!