Jill Weatherholt

Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey


No Sale!

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Happy Buy Nothing Day! Yes people, today is the day to put away your credit cards, debit cards and cash. This day is celebrated in over 60 countries. In North America, it coincides with the madness, known as Black Friday, which has taken over our Thanksgiving holiday. Internationally, the day is marked on Saturday, November 29th.

The first Buy Nothing Day was organized in September 1992 in Vancouver, Canada. The purpose is to draw attention to the harmful effects of over-consumption. People go into debt buying things they don’t need. In order to finance their spending, they must work long hours which leaves little time for what’s important, time spent with family and friends.

So on this day after Thanksgiving, this blogger won’t risk her safety with all of the crazy people at Walmart or Best Buy. I choose to avoid the pushing, shoving and rudeness that has overshadowed our day of thanks. The retailers seem to think they’re giving the people what they want, but I’m not buying it.


Truth and Lies

polygraph_test“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” ~ Mark Twain

While going through the hiring process for my current job, I was required to take a lie detector test. I consider myself to be an honest person, but to tell you the truth, I was nervous. I felt like I was strapped into an electric chair. I was schvitzin.

I’ve read studies that say the average person lies several times a day. Experts believe that children learn to lie by observing their parents. For example, the phone rings and the mother has the child tell the caller she’s not home. The child is taught the art of deception by imitating their parents.

If someone chooses to lie, there is a wide variety of lies from which to choose. The half-truth is a deceptive statement that might contain some elements of the truth. A lie told with no malicious intent and little if any consequences, is a fib.

The white lie is probably a lie human beings are most guilty of telling: “No, you don’t look fat in those jeans.” These lies often considered harmless and told to protect feelings. Typically, the white lie is told to make the recipient feel good. On the other hand, if someone is smiling as they tell you a lie, they’re lying through their teeth.

Of course, I don’t want people to lie to me, but in fiction writing, lies can be an important storytelling tool. A character that lies will often catch my interest. A bland character becomes intriguing when he tells a lie or two. The reader will start to wonder, what does she have to hide?

When I decide to have my character tell a lie, I need to make sure the reader knows that this is in fact, a lie. If I fail to do so, he or she won’t anticipate when the truth will be discovered. The possible consequences of a lie can keep the reader turning the page.

I did pass my polygraph test. It’s not something I’d like to experience again. As I was unhooked from the machine, all I was told was that my heart was pulsating during the entire test. When I was offered the position several weeks later, I figured my rapid heartbeat meant I was truthful.


The “Write” Place

IMG_0557 (2)“The best place to write is in your head.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

I love coffee and I love to write, so why can’t I write in a coffee house? I’m envious of those writers who can hunker down in Starbucks for hours and write as they guzzle their piping hot coffee. These writers aren’t fazed by the conversations going on around them or people coming through the door.

I read somewhere that it’s hard to be creative in a quiet space. Apparently the mix of calm and commotion in an environment, like a coffee house, is just what our mind craves to get the creative juices flowing. The simple background noise creates enough distraction to heighten the imagination. If this is true, why am I driven to distraction by trying to listen to conversations or watching the door?

When I start a new story, I usually have a certain artist whose music I’ll listen to softly, as I write and it’s never a distraction. However, put me into a public setting with my laptop or a notebook and my head is on swivel. I can’t stay focused.

courseIn the spring and summer, I love to write on our back patio. The view of the lake makes for a relaxed atmosphere despite the occasional cuss word from a passing group of golfers. As the temperature begins to drop, I migrate to my designated writing nook. It’s a guestroom on the front of the house. On a sunny day, the room becomes toasty from the winter sun. It’s one of my favorite places.

I once read that Agatha Christie liked to write while soaking in her large Victorian tub. Benjamin Franklin would work for an hour or so without his clothes on. I suppose everyone has their special space or perhaps an unusual ritual which makes them more creative.

Where are you most creative?


Rushing the Season

Last Thursday during my commute to work, I changed radio stations and was shocked by what I heard. It was Halloween and this particular radio station was playing Christmas music. Instead of “The Monster Mash,” I heard “Silent Night.” That evening I stopped into the Dollar Tree and the store was full of Christmas decorations, there was no evidence of Halloween or Thanksgiving.

I’ve always loved the holidays. As a kid, the day after Thanksgiving marked the official countdown to Christmas for me and my sister. We marked each day off the calendar that hung on the refrigerator. I remember begging my mom to play her Perry Como, “Home for the Holidays” album, over and over.

Retailers have always jumped the gun when it comes to the seasons. I’ve gotten used to seeing swimsuits in the stores in February and winter coats in August. But, I draw the line at shopping on Thanksgiving Day for that $200.00 52’’ flat screen television. Yes, here in the U.S., the traditional day after Thanksgiving shopping day, known as “Black Friday,” now starts on Thanksgiving Day.

To me, the holidays are about family and friends. It’s about being generous with our time, not our wallets. It’s a time to remember that while the world around us is constantly changing, the one constant in our lives is our family and friends. It’s about doing what you enjoy. So, what did I do last weekend…I put up our Christmas decorations. Yep, I sure did.

What happened? Did I crack under the pressure of the retail industry? No, it wasn’t that. I love when the house is decorated for the holiday season and I want it to last as long as possible. Of course, the outside decorations won’t go up until after Thanksgiving. I wouldn’t want my neighbors to think I’m crazy.


Stay Calm

Image courtesy of wikipedia.com

Image courtesy of wikipedia.com

Last Saturday morning we woke to the sound of Niagara Falls coming from one of our guest bathrooms. A pipe under the sink had burst. Having never experienced something like this, we did the first thing that came to mind, we panicked.

Being a creature of habit and routine, I’m not big on surprises. I’ve never enjoyed surprise parties for myself because I don’t like to be the center of attention. And I certainly don’t like surprises that result in destruction to our property. However, when it comes to reading, I love to be surprised. It doesn’t have to be as dramatic as a plot twist. It can be as subtle as a character showing an unusual facet of her personality that evokes an emotional reaction.

The ruptured pipe got me to think about ways I can use the element of surprise in order to enhance my own stories and make them less predictable. Of course I can’t throw my reader a curve ball in every scene, but predictability is boring and it will create frustration for the reader.

Usually two or three game changing surprises are believable, but any more and the reader will become exhausted. Too many surprises will render the others less shocking and the emotional reaction will be much less. When the surprise starts to feel unrealistic that’s when I’ll lose the reader.

Peppering my novel with little surprise actions, not necessarily game changers, can keep the reader wondering. Instead of my character always raising his eyebrow when in doubt, I can have him fiddle with his wedding ring when his wife tells him she was out for friends. Sometimes it’s fun not only to surprise the reader or characters, but it’s fun to surprise myself because in the fictional world, I do like surprises.

As our house continues to dry with the help of ubiquitous industrial sized fans, heaters and dehumidifiers, the repair work will soon begin. Life is full of surprises that can catch us off guard and our initial human reaction is fear or helplessness. When I remember there is always someone worse off than me or the circumstances could have been much worse, it helps to keep things in perspective. We could have been out of town the night the pipe burst resulting in a more destructive situation. We’re safe and thankfully, my laptop is dry, so all is good.

Are you a fan of surprise?