Date Ideas: Lazy Dates

Most lazy activities don’t need much explanation—just an initial idea. So if you’re not feeling like being fancy, or even very active at all, but still want to spend time together, try some of these lazy date ideas.

Sit On the Front Porch

There’s just something about porch sitting that’s relaxing and conversational.

Read a Book Together

Get out a book and take turns reading. It’s funner than it may sound.

Go Fish (The Card Game)

The nice thing about Go Fish, is you can do it with any kind of cards, and it takes little if any mental power. “Do you have any yellow Skips?”

Whatever Task You’d Be Otherwise Doing… Together

Sometimes laziness comes out of a desire to not be doing something different than what you’re already doing. So, just do it together!

Popcorn and Talking

You can’t lose with this one. What girl can refuse a guy who says, “Let’s just sit and talk,” and what guy can refuse a girl who says, “Let’s make popcorn!”? Do both, and everyone’s happy.

Ride a Light-Rail Train Its Entire Route

Or a bus works, too. Light-rail might have more comfortable seats, though, depending on what city you’re in.

Surf the Internet (carefully)

Don’t wander aimlessly over the web, but get on Facebook or Twitter, and read each other’s walls. Find cool stuff to pin on Pinterest. Don’t do this every date, but it’s a date most people will enjoy on a lazy day.

Listen to Music Together

Admit it, you used to hang out with friends and just listen to music. Why not do it with a date? Plus you’ll find out their music preferences and values.

Sit in the Grass and Talk

Grass is great for that. Plus if there’s ever a lull in the conversation, you can always start a grass fight.

Date Ideas: Educational Dates

Stargazing

Get a star map (they have an app for that) and a telescope or pair of binoculars, and go to a location at least a few miles out of town after dark and look at the stars. Try to identify constellations, galaxies, and any nebulae you can find.

Audobon Nut

Get a field guide to… anything! Then go to an appropriate location and look up everything you can. They have field guides for all kinds of things: birds, trees, bugs, flowers, animals, edible plants, rocks and minerals—whatever you both might find interesting, go out searching for them, identifying as many as possible. You may want to bring a camera or two to catch your own photos of your findings.

Planetarium

Planetariums can be so much fun when you go with an attitude of curiosity. If they have a lazer/star show, go to it. If they have experiments and gravity suits to try, do it. And don’t forget to check out the gift shop. There’s usually a lot of cool stuff in there, too.

Plant a Garden Together

Plant a garden with both of your favorite items. This is not only fun and educational, but it’s especially good if you’re really hoping for a follow-up date. “Hey, want to go check on our garden?”

Go to an Art Gallery

Sometimes art galleries can seem either boring or overwhelming to most people. Take your date to one, but instead of just passively admiring all the works, go with the idea of finding one piece that especially stands out to each of you. Get a good look around to make sure it’s the one that most catches your interest, and tell each other why that piece is your favorite.

Another fun thing to do at an art gallery is to come up with stories about the paintings. Make up scenarios that “explain” what’s going on. Be as detailed as possible. You may learn a lot about your date from their stories.

Visit the Zoo

Yes, it’s cliché, and yes, it’s still way fun. And believe it or not, most Zoos are open year round.

Go to a Museum

There are dozens of kinds of museums. There are history museums, church museums, science museums, art museums, children’s museums, animal museums (think giant aquarium), and even human museums (I’ve never been to a body museum, and don’t think I’d like to, but just saying). Go to the museum you think your date would most enjoy.

Learn a New Skill Together

You can learn a lot about a person by observing how they learn. Decide on a new skill to learn and use whatever resources you can to learn how to do it. The Internet is the obvious one, but there are also libraries, classes, and experts around that might help you learn a skill. Ask your date if there’s something he/she’s always wanted to learn to do, and learn it together. It could be dancing, karate, origami, microscope study, cooking, auto-mechanics, basketball, graphic design, plumbing, weaving, rock-tumbling, or any number of things. Learn it together. Then follow up with each other on later dates, or practice together.

Go to a Local “Gardens”

Go to a local professional garden park such as the Botanical Gardens, Red Butte Gardens, the Gardens at Thanksgiving point, and many of these gardens have annual events. Visit a local professional garden. You might want to bring a field guide along.

Geek Date

Find out what your date is geek about (maybe they LOVE examining the back of Afghans, or are a rifle nut), and go to a store, show, or festival surrounding that thing. People always love talking about about their own interests, and regardless of what you think of it all, your date will have a great time talking to you about it. Allow them to show you all the cool stuff that you may not yet know.

Balloon Marketing

I found a fun strategy to use at book signings, especially stores that sell helium balloons. Here’s what you do:

1. Purchase 2-3 helium balloons (enough to get the word around, but not too many to keep track of)

2. Request that they use “hi-float.” It’s a goop they put in the balloon just before pumping it up that keeps the helium from leaking out slowly–yes this step is necessary. If you use a mylar balloon, it’s not necessary.

3. Write on the balloon with a sharpie, something like, “Book Signing, taking place right now near the candy section,” with your name and the name of your book.

4. Cut the ribbon off so that you only have about six inches left hanging from the balloon.

5. Tie your business card or bookmark (relating to the book you’re signing, of course) to the 6 inches of string.

6. Find something to add additional weight to the string, such as paperclips or aluminum foil. I used half of a chocolate kiss, still in the wrapper. The idea here is to add just enough weight to keep your balloon in stasis, so it doesn’t float up or fall down. Obviously it won’t stay put, and will drift up and down some, but you want to get it as close as possible to balanced.

7. Walk your blimp balloon to a decent traffic area of the store and let it go.

8. Go back to your table, and enjoy the signing! You can now ignore your balloon.

What will happen is the balloon will slowly drift toward any moving air. If someone walks by, it will follow them. If there’s a fan, it will do laps around the store.

If you have a quiet moment with no one around, you can check on your traveling marketers. If they’ve fallen asleep in an obscure corner of the store somewhere, bump them back out. But for the most part, you can totally forget about them and they’ll wander and advertise for you.

Don’t try to adjust the balance to make them higher flyers, unless the ceiling is within reach. Don’t weigh them down enough to get stuck on the floor. You want them to wander within an adult’s line of vision. If kids get them, let them play with them. Most parents will eventually tell them to let it go, and may even come by to see you and your book.

I had a signing for my book, Marriage is Ordained of God, but WhoCame Up with Dating? at the Stokes Market in Salem, Utah, on Saturday, and was glad to see they sold helium balloons. I’d had the idea of trying helium balloons, because we’d had “pet” balloons at home many times, and I was excited to try it.

It was a flying success (pun intended).

I sent my balloons off at the very beginning of my signing, and it worked great. I was a little worried they might annoy people, but what happened was quite the opposite. They delighted everyone who saw them, and anyone who stopped to read it looked over to see me smiling next to my table.

They did get grabbed by kids a couple times, but only one was taken home.

With my first balloon I left the full ribbon on, but it just kept snagging stuff, so I shortened it to the six inches length, and it made all the difference. Balloons are a very personable species, and will try to make friends wherever they go. As long as the weights were put on right, and don’t fall off, they stay low enough to reach.

I also brought my laptop and had my book trailer looping. I put out a couple bowls of Hershey’s Hugs and Kisses (it is a dating book, after all), which brought a lot of “free-samplers” to the table.

The signing went great! I sold some books and lined up a potential fireside and radio interview. I don’t know for sure if the balloons had anything to do with it, but they certainly had something to do with my jolly-good mood.

Launch Party Recap

Randy Lindsay asked me recently about my launch party last month for Marriage is Ordained of God, but Who Came Up with Dating?, and I realized I hadn’t blogged about it. I make the excuse that it was in the middle of one of my nonblogging months, but that doesn’t really hold water, so I’ll just say I’m a little slow and mention it now.

It was a blast! We didn’t have enough people to unbalance the earth’s magnetic pole, but I was so glad people came, and some even bought books.

We had it at the Fairview museum and had balloons (in the color theme of the book), cake (see above), cookies (also color themed like the book), games, tables, chairs, books, pens, giveaways, music download cards, a woolly mammoth, and tons of Doritos,

I wish I’d gotten more pictures, because it really was a cool setup, and I think those who came had a great time. Thanks to all of you who made it, and especially all you who bought books! You keep me writing!

You can’t tell from the photo, but the cake was a half-sheet, which means it was massive. Kudos especially to my mom for decorating it. Didn’t she do awesome?

Just a couple weeks later I attended Michael Young’s launch party for his book, The Last Archangel, and had a great time! He had all kinds of angel themed games and activities. Even my kids had fun coloring, though I couldn’t get them to wear my crafty multicolor pipe-cleaner halos I made them for more than a few seconds. Plus my son loved going home with a glow-in-the dark pitchfork prize.

So how do you all do launch parties? How have they gone for you? Have you seen cool things (or not-so-cool things) at other’s parties that you would recommend?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Game: Three Part Story

Here we go. I’m going to give you a random story beginning, and a random story end. Your job is to fill in the middle to make it into one story.

Gordy Hartfoot sat in the rickety old bench, overlooking the grain fields across his 14 acres of golden farmlands, wondering where the years had gone, when he saw a movement in a bush just a few feet from the porch.

“What in tarnation?” he said, standing up with shaky hands against his chair.

He rubbed his eyes as something large burst from the bush. He rubbed at his cataract-filled eyes and looked again.

There, standing at the foot of his porch, was the largest rodent Gordy had ever seen…

 

YOUR MIDDLE HERE

 

…Deedra opened the satchel and pulled out the glowing blue vial, holding it out for the monster to see.

“It’s too late, Corandar!” she shouted, “The Guild Wars are OVER!”

Then the cast the vial at the feet of the massive beast. With an explosion of blue smoke billowing from the broken vial, a gust of wind began swirling around the beast.

With a cry of agony and desperation, the monster screeched a horrific roar that echoed into the night, drowned out only by the roaring of the whirling typhoon, as it lifted Corandar out of the water, tearing him to shreds and casting the particles for miles over the surface of the sea.

“Come on, Borameer,” Deedra said as the winds calmed. “Let’s go home.”


Okay, now see if you can make these into one story. Write a middle in the comments. Have fun!

Sure beats P90X

Every time my extended family starts getting into something, I start taking interest in it, too. For example, a couple years ago my brother started a blog, and before long, we all jumped on the bandwagon. Singing was the same way. My dad started taking singing lessons years ago, and we all started singing around the house. Soon we were all singing in talent shows and anywhere we could.

Now it’s exercise. Everyone’s got a different kind, but we’re all exercising.

But I’m not sure most people understand mine.

Of course, if I wasn’t doing it, I’m sure I wouldn’t take it seriously either. Come to think of it, I don’t take it very serious now – one things for sure, it’s a good work out.

So what’s my exercise?

Line dancing! That’s right – the Boot Scootin’ Boogie, Electric Slide, Macarena – you name it! Remember the good old days when it was actually kind of cool, say in jr. high, for example, to know all the moves when Cotton-Eyed Joe comes on? And remember how there were always those dorky kids that could never seem to get the moves down before the song was over? Yeah, see that was me.

No longer.

Now, I’m like king of the… well… living room floor. I can flawlessly bust out the Tush Push, Macarena (we found a Spanish only version of the song), Achy-Breaky Heart, Celtic Slide, Electric Slide, Boot Scoot, Charleston, Cotton-Eyed Joe, Slappin’ Leather, and the newest addition, the Heian Shodan – which, I should add, is not actually a line dance, but a martial art exercise that works great with “Everybody was Kung-Fu Fighting.” (I saw a random video of some guys doing it at a wedding dance, and knew I had to learn it for that very purpose) And those don’t include our original choreographed line dance for Foot Loose, and the improvised dances we do with The River Sings (Enya) and Fireflies. Actually, Jenni and I have been doing it together, and learning and coming up with dances together. With Fireflies, we tear up grocery bags into big long streamers and dance around swinging them everywhere trying to keep them from touching the ground. With the Enya one, we do a simple running around dance that’s simple enough for the kids to do with us.

My favorite, and the one that’s a horribly painful workout is the Charleston – though I’m not sure our Charleston is the real Charleston, since it doesn’t look like the one in the Youtube videos. Someone suggested it might be the Lindy Hop, but those videos looked as different as the Charleston, so I don’t know what our dance really is.

Anyway, I never realized how incredibly FUN line dances are! I always enjoyed them as a teenager, but I didn’t know how to do them. Of course, they didn’t have Youtube to teach you back then. Now you can learn aaaaannnnyyything on Youtube. Plus you can find all the tunes on Playlist.com.

So if you ever drive by our place on a random evening, and the lights are on, listen carefully, you might hear, “Heeeey, Macarena!”

Nano Absence Heads Up

Just a heads up. If I don’t respond to email, Facebook, etc. it’s because I’m writing my head off. November is National Novel Writing Month, so I’ll be typing nonstop for a month. 50,000 words in 4 weeks. Actually, I’m kind of cheating. I have a story that I’m about 10,000 words into that’s been sitting on the shelf for a couple years, and I’m going to finish it. But I’m going to re-write what I have so far to put it in first person. Plus I’ve made myself a deal that those first 10,000 words don’t count for Nanowrimo, and I’ll only track the rest, so that by the end of November, the novel has to be at least 65,000. The extra 5,000 is “interest” for having something of a head-start. Fair enough? I hope so, because that’s what I’m doing.

I’ve been wracking my brain to decide which story to write. I have two that have been calling me for years, and all that time, the plots of both stories have been coming together. Actually, there have been three, but two of them I joined into one. It’s only been in the past few days that I’ve decided for sure which to write. It’s a Young Adult Fantasy book, and since it’s been grinding around in my mind for so long, it’s now the first in a series of at least four books, but probably more.

The one I decided against is an LDS fiction, and the reason I decided against it is because it involves a plane crash, wilderness survival, and a lost ancient culture, all of which will take a great deal of research – which is not ideal for Nanowrimo.

But I am really excited to finally write this one. It’s still intimidating approaching this one, because if it works right, It should have religious symbolic value similar to the Chronicles of Narnia. I’ve been carrying this story in me for awhile, forming characters, places, culture, and plot for a long time, and that’s why I feel ready to write it now.

Actually, another reason I’m excited to write it is that the places, species, and culture are based on stories, tales, and “mythology” that my family has been inventing for over twenty years. To my family who read this, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I mention that one of the pivotal lands in the book will be Yonder. Maybe if the story works, I can get Ria to illustrate it. 😀

Anyway, just wanted to give a heads up that if I seem to disappear for awhile, that’s why. I don’t want family time to suffer, so everything else (except work, of course), might.

See you December 1st!

Nano: Writing a Full-size Novel in a Month

Nanowinningcertificate

On November 1, Jenni I were about to get ready for bed when she mentioned to me that she had a friend who was going to write a novel in a month. When I asked why he was doing it, she told me about National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, and how it was a group that challenged people to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. I laughed, wondering what kind of goof would make such a ridiculous commitment. I love writing, but that would be way too much.

Still…

Then gears started turning in my head. “No,” I told myself, “I’m a nonfiction writer.”

Of course, I knew that wasn’t completely true. Anyone who’s been following the Synergetic Novel knows I’ve at least dabbled in the juvenile fiction genre.

Then my fingers started to itch.

“Argh…” I told myself, “but I’ve got a Christmas CD to be working on. I’ve got two other books in the works right now. Taking on another project would just back up their publication.”

But they wouldn’t be ready for publishing until next year anyway.

Then the laptop started calling my name. It was kind of creepy, actually.

So then I took a deep breath and realized that I would just have to look at the logistics of it all to convince myself that a commitment like that was impractical for my situation. First off, to get 50,000 words in a month, I’d have to write about 1,500 words a day – your average high-school essay. That’s not a big deal for a couple days, and every day for a whole month? But I knew I’d need weekends off. So at five days a week, I’d have to do 2000 words a day. Then I figured I’d need Thanksgiving weekend off. Let’s just round it up to 2,500 words a day.

No way. That’s like a five page essay a DAY! Six, if it includes a bit of dialogue! On a good writing day, I could get about 1,000 words an hour – if there was no research necessary.

Then I did a Google search to see what size novel 50,000 words was. According to my research,
The Giver is about 43,000 words, Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone is about 77,000, and Holes is about 47,000 or so. Even Charlottes Web is only about 32,000.

It was almost time for bed – and it was a weekend. If I were to do it, I’d have to start the next day anyway. I’d sleep on it. It’s always a bad idea to make a decision after 10pm.

As I showered and got ready for bed, a plot started floating around in my head. It was one I came up with years ago, but had finally rejected because it had too little message to it – a plot with no other purpose than entertainment. I’ve always had a hard time justifying working on a major project that didn’t have some kind of benefit to mankind. Maybe it’s the idealist in me, I don’t know.

But if I only had a month to write a book, it would be hard to write it with a grand moral message anyway. To do so would be to risk bombing the novel and the message. So if I was going to bomb a story by taking only a month to write the first draft, it may as well be on a meaningless story.

I didn’t dare decide that night whether or not to participate, but if I did decide to do it, I’d use that story.

With that thought on my mind, I went to bed.

Then the tossing, turning, sleepless night started. All I could think about was the stupid challenge. It was a horrid night, but for some reason, when I woke in the morning, I felt strangely fabulous. I suppose it was because I decided to do it. I determined that after the kids went to bed that night, I would get started.

What on earth was I thinking?!

But I was going to do it.

So how was it?

Photo 54

It was A BLAST!!!

I truly loved it. I had no idea that writing a novel could be so fun. I’ve decided that with fiction, marathoning is the way to go. My first night I got 3,000 words just to give myself a jump-start. Every night after that I did 3,000 words again. I took weekends and Thanksgiving weekend off, and by the end of November, I had 64,000 words. Three days later (Dec 3), I had my last chapter finished, a bunch of plot-holes filled up, and 70,000 words written. So now I have the roughdraft for The Santa Code, and in a couple weeks (it’s always good to put it down and give it some time before redrafting) I’ll begin the second draft. If I do decide to publish it, I’ll let you all know when it’s ready. I hope to have it ready and published by October, since it’s sort of about a Christmas conspiracy, so the holidays would be a good release time.

Hard work? You better believe it. The biggest challenge for me was staying awake. I usually go to bed around 10:30pm, but now I was getting ready for bed at midnight, and still having to get up at 6:30am for work. While writing, I made sure to keep snacks and a couple arcade games on hand for five-minute wake-up breaks. Remarkably, I never got bored of the work, and though I did occasionally find myself getting distracted with research for the novel, it turned out to be very helpful.

If you love writing, you’d love doing a challenge like this. If you are thinking about it, just do it. You don’t even have to wait till next November when they run the challenge again. Just start writing. If writing isn’t an interest of yours, you probably wouldn’t like it, since it requires a few hours a day writing. But if you enjoy writing, do it! You’ll love it!

NaNoWriMo is an annual thing, so you can bet I’ll be at it again in a year. Yay Nano!

nanowinner2009