Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Making Your Corner of the World a Little Brighter: Volunteer Opportunities for Busy People

Sometimes I think I spend
my entire life
on the road!
How many times have you said, "I'd love to volunteer, but I just do not have the time!"  I know I have. It's occurred to me that I may have overstated the situation a bit.  I've been brainstorming some community-service ideas for busy folks and here's what I have come up with:

Double Cooking

Make a double batch and freeze one to share!
When you're preparing a dinner, why not cook double the amount and freeze it to share with someone. Our church organizes meals for shut-ins, those who are ill, and bereaved families and, invariably, the call for a contribution comes at a time when I truly do not even have time to make a piece of dry toast. If you keep one or two casseroles or entrees in the freezer, you are prepared!

Bleacher Crafting

Both of my children played sports or cheered so I racked up a tremendous amount of bleacher time, much of which was simply waiting for the next game/match.  I often threatened to start a quilt, but never did.  Why don't you outdo me and keep your knitting/crocheting/handwork in your bleacher bag. You could craft prayer shawls and baby blankets and preemie hats and chemo caps as you rack up the bleacher hours.  Now that's something worth cheering about!


How many people in your community
could use a warm scarf?
The Resident Dragon coached for years and, in the interest of seeing him more than 20 minutes a week, I learned to keep score for every sport he coached or my children played.  It made sense to make good use of the time I was racking up in the bleachers.  Turns out, I was actually good at it, and there was always a shortage of good scorekeepers.  

Social Media/Web Maven

Most organizations I know could really use a decent social media/web maven.  If you enjoy fiddling around on Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest or Twitter or Google+ or blogs or the web, you could volunteer those skills to your church or a ball team or a local charity.  It's work that can be done from home, and, often, does not take more than a few hours per week.

How do you volunteer in your community?

These are just a few ideas for making time to help others.  What do you do?  Post your ideas in the comments!


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Up the Creek without a Conflict

Beautiful, but ill-behaved

It was raining the day he came to Laurel Glen–a warm, early summer rain that you only felt when it dripped from your sodden hair into your eyes and when your clothes made soppy swishes as you walked. He levered his gaunt frame out of a vintage Mustang, and gimped into the ancient store, lamp wicks racked alongside memory sticks, cautious of the rain-slicked stone steps that jeopardized his stability. He stood out among the locals of the mountain hamlet–but not for the cane and limp, not for the scarred face and arms, but for the stark emptiness of his gaze. Even when he met the unabashed stare of a native, the human connection never warmed his steely blue eyes. He remained, in this crowd full of easy familiarity, abjectly alone.

So, there it is, the opening paragraph of my novel.  You know, the novel that's been haunting me for a over a year, stuck in the middle with nowhere to go.

Until this week.

Until one tweet.

Yes, I am on Twitter (@LiveaSavoryLife) and I'm just as surprised as you are.  I'm following about 40 feeds, mostly about organic gardening and writing.  I've been surprised how helpful both have been--especially the writing.

Through twitter feeds, I'm finally plugging into the writer's community in a way I have not before.  I know there are discussion boards, and listservs, and all sorts of other communication conduits, but, so far, the tweets have been more useful.  I think it's because they seem more efficient.  Let's face it:  writers write and its usually wordy.  Tweets are not.  They are succinct, so I can quickly pass by what does not interest me.

One author whose tweets are really helpful is Vicki M. Taylor (@vmtwriter).  Vicki does tweet about her own writing, but she also shares great links about the craft of writing and promotion techniques for independent authors.

One tweet shared this week was by a writer who discovered, far later than he'd hoped, that conflict is the element that transforms an essay into a story.

The inside of my head lit up like a fourth of July fireworks display.  Conflict?????  (Or lack thereof.)  That's the reason I'm adrift.

I remember reading somewhere that an author cannot fall in love with her characters.  An author must be willing to do anything to a character to move the story along.  If it sounds a little bit creepy, it probably is.  But, it's probably true.

And my problem is, I love my characters.  Too much.  They're beautiful, and noble, and honorable, and always make the right choices.  They're boring.  What happens to these people?  What could happen?

So, you see my problem.

Chaos is more interesting than order . . .
<CUE sinister music>

I must let them make the mistakes real people would make, and reap the whirlwind.

I must send misfortune their way.

I must become ruthless.

<CUE evil laugh>

It sounds like fun.

I'm off to give it a try, at least until the temperature creeps above 40.  In the meantime, check out Vicki's blog, and Andy Rane's; they're both worth a look.

How are you living your Savory life?