Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It's That Time Again

Time to make the donuts?

No, time to make New Year's Resolutions.

Phhft.

What do you mean, "phhft?"

I mean, you've never kept a resolution in your life.

That's not true. For several years, I made only one resolution and that was to not make any resolutions for that year. Those were very successful years, by the way.

So now you've fallen off the "no-resolution" bandwagon and you expect me to be happy for you?

That would require more stretch to the imagination than the elastic in a fat man's pants.

Ha ha



Anyway, as I was saying, it's resolution time. I've been thinking about it, and I've decided that I will make a few resolutions this year. I'm not getting any younger and there are some definite areas of my life that need improvement. So here it is, in no particular order, my list of resolutions.

- Lose 75 pounds

I've heard that one before, folks
Hey! Shut it!

- Find a job

- Read more books

I read an interesting post on one of the blogs I read. (Oooh wait, another resolution, update favorite blog list on this blog...nah, that's a to-do list item...never mind.) This post at Romancing the Blog gave birth to this idea. The writer, Jana Hanson, mentions the number of books she read over the past year and that got me to thinking. I haven't done as much reading in the past few years as I've done in many years further past, but I do want to read more, so why not do the same? Keep a running count of how many books I've read. Okay, yeah, good idea. I can probably find some kind of widget that'll help me keep track of the number of books I've read this year.

Yeah, maybe you could find one on the same site you got that weight loss widget from last year? You know, the one you deactivated after two months?

Hush, you!

But then, I thought, why not take it a step further and post reviews of those books? I've done a couple ARC book reviews this past year for Leucrota Press and reviews on one or two books that I just liked, so why not put the two together and just do it? So that's what I'll do.

This was such a great idea, that in the middle of typing this post, I just went ahead and created the new blog! I called it, A Year In Reviews. Catchy, hunh? Come on, you know you like it!

So starting Jan 1, 2010, whenever I finish a book, I'll post a review, so go check it out, okay? I'll even transfer the reviews I did here to there so they're all in one place.

Okay, back to the list of resolutions. Let's see, we've got lose weight, find job and read more. What else...

- Finish 2009 NaNo Novel

That one is in progress and I hope to have it done by the end of January.

- Get back to writing "The Penn Chronicles"

The Penn Chronicles is what I'm calling the series of books I'm planning based around one central character named Penn. I have one story partly written and ideas for three more, so there's some work to be done there.


Okay, I'm dry. Can't think of anything else. I'm sure there's probably more, and I'm sure I'll not do as well as I'd like on some of these, but at least I'm making a list of goals, and I will work toward them and let you know how it's going.

I have some running around to do, so I have to go. And YOU have to stay here.

No, please, take me with you! I'm sorry I was so snarky. I wanna go out, too!

Okay, okay, just stop whining and get in the car.

Can I drive?

You're a figment of my imagination and you don't have a driver's license. Just be glad I don't make you ride in the trunk.

I'm an excellent driver.

No.

Man, I never get to have any fun.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Huff, Puff...



Whew, it's dusty around here!

Yeah, guess that's what happens when you ignore your blog and don't post for a couple days--ahem--weeks.

I do apologize for my absence, but I was kind of caught up in the whole NaNoWriMo stuff. In the 30 days of November, I produced 55,814 words. (That's according to NaNo's word count validator. Per my word counter, I clocked in at 56,018.). Unfortunately, I didn't achieve my true objective, which was to actually finish the novel. I figured my story would take about 60K words to complete but when I was about 20,000 words in, I decided to start over.

What? You started over? Are you crazy?

Yes.

Let me explain. From the very first paragraph, my point-of-view was all wrong. It was third person omniscient, and that's not where I wanted to be. I wanted to be in my character's heads, telling their story from their POVs, not as some standoffish entity, hovering over their heads, revealing what's going on around them with the bland narrative quality of a newspaper. But, hey, this is just the first draft. It's allowed to be crappy. So I kept writing and it kept getting crappier and crappier. There were a few glimmers of brilliance in there, but they were hard to see, being surrounded by all that crap.

So, after talking over the plot with a friend, I decided to start fresh. And boy, was it ever fresh! I was finally in my character's head and telling her story from her POV. So I guess I really only produced 35,000 words, but I did write those first 20,000 and they count, even though they're currently on the chopping block, ready to be sliced, diced and julienned into oblivion.

November 30 came and went, and I took a couple weeks off to let my brain regenerate. Now I'm back and ready to write. My plan is to finish the first draft and then let the story sit for a while before I begin editing. While my story, "Daughter of the King" sits and gels, I'll start working on one of my other manuscripts. What I'm tentatively calling "The Penn Chronicles" is one story, 1/3 complete, and ideas for 3 more stories, so I have some work to do.

So if you'll excuse me, I'll get back to work!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween? Bah, humbug!

Okay, okay, "humbug" is usually associated with Christmas, but you get the idea.

I don't like Halloween.

Oh, sure, I liked it as a kid, dressing up and getting lots of candy just because you were cute, but I fell out of it as a teen and I guess I just kept falling to the point that I actually kinda wish it didn't exist. I lived with someone for about 8-9 years and he felt the same about Halloween as I did, which was great. On Halloween night, we would go out to dinner, maybe do a little shopping, then usually ended the evening at Barnes and Noble or Borders, looking for and test-reading books that we would never buy. We'd stay out until 9:30-10:00 or so, then head home. All the little trick-or-treaters would be home, coming down off their sugar highs. And if someone did dare to ring the doorbell after 10:00, we didn't answer.

Now I live with my mother in a very kid-oriented neighborhood and I can't escape the madness! Mom doesn't like Halloween any more than I do, but rather than escape with me, she buys candy and gives it out because "it's the right thing to do."

Bah, humbug.

I'll suffer though it, I'll endure and then...and then...







That's right, NaNoWriMo kick off is at midnight tonight! My writing group managed to secure a meeting room at a local hotel for a couple hours (free of charge, thank you thank you thank you!) We're expecting about 20 writers to show up tonight. I missed last year's midnight write-in because...well, I fell asleep. That won't happen tonight, mostly because I know the core writers in our group (hmm...I guess I am one of those core writers now) and if I don't show up, they'll come to my house, drag my butt out of bed and make me go to the hotel and write. Probably still in my pajamas, too! I won't inflict the reality of that image on anyone, so I'll be there.

It's 9:00 am--15 hours and counting! I need to hit the shower and then go to the library for some last-minute research, then lunch, then to a friend's house to help her with a little computer work. After that, it's home to charge up my laptop battery in case I can't get an outlet at the write-in, do a little laundry, get some rest, and get ready to write!

Fabulous lettering from Daily Drop Cap

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pressing Onward

O-kay, so my call for some steampunker help went unanswered. Never mind, said I, for I shall press onward on my own and see what I can see. I picked up a copy of "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" from the library and I liked it so much, I bid and won a copy off eBay. I'm also bidding on "Wild Wild West"--the movie, not the TV show--and should have that won later tonight.

Now, I may be generalizing, but it seems like the people who didn't like "LXG" are those who loved the original graphic novel by Alan Moore. And to be fair, I also read that and can understand why those who loved the graphic novel didn't like the movie. Changes were made to the story to make it more appealing to a wider movie audience which the novel-lovers hated, but I liked the changes. It made "LXG" different...not better, not worse...just different.

Not to mention it gave me a rather interesting idea for my own steampunk novel...which will be shelved until after November. I have my NaNo novel already planned it out and it is most definitely not steampunk.

I recall seeing "Wild Wild West" when it came out and enjoying it, but I don't remember much, so I'll have to see it again before I tell you what I think of it.

And I have a small list of novels to look for next time I'm at the bookstore (courtesy of Tor.com). So I think I'm in pretty good shape to begin my slow, steady indoctrination into steampunk.

Until later, everyone. Goggles on!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Steampunkers, I need your help!




This month is Steampunk month on Tor.com and though I've never been much of a fan of historical novels, I'm finding myself drawn...hypnotically...almost magically, you might say, to the steampunk genre. So much so that I gave thought to abandoning my half-plotted NaNo novel in favor of a steampunk story that hatched in my mind.

I think I've successfully beaten that impulse down, but the interest remains. Can any steampunk afficionados recommend any good books or movies in this genre? I've never read anything steampunk nor seen any movies and I want to so I can see if this is something to pursue. Oh, I did see Wild Wild West with Will Smith and Kevin Kline. I think that qualifies as steampunk.

The story was okay, but it was all the gadgetry that captured my attention in that movie. And, see, that's what interests me the most. The gadgetry, the "inventions" are just outstanding...like these: (all images here snagged from this post on Tor.com)




LOVE the laptop! The fashions are pretty amazing, too, though the last one is a bit scary...just what is he hiding behind that mask?









This appeals to me, but I'm still not sure why...so help me out and point me toward some good books and movies so I can explore this genre some more and decide whether it's for me or not.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What if Beauty was the Beast?

Okay, I stole that title from one of the commenters, but it's sooo appropriate.

Jeffrey Thomas has created some wonderful drawings, based on the idea of "Twisted Princesses." He's taken the Disney princesses and, ahem, twisted them.

What if...

Alice drunk the wrong potion?

Mulan shed her disguise and her pet dragon really was a dragon?

Nala truly showed her claws?

Jane became a true jungle princess?

Pocahontas...warrior princess?

I think you get the picture. Or you will, if you go check out Jeffrey's site.

As a writer, I love images that spark my imagination. Jeffrey has started a bonfire in my head. Now I need to go see what I can do with it.

Argument for Global Warming

I'm the type of person who runs from trends. I've never read anything by Dan Brown, I have no desire to see Twilight or the movies that will come after, and have only seen one--yes, only one--episode of American Idol (I was out of town with friends, and in the hotel room that night they all wanted to watch, so I had no choice).

So when all the talking heads were running around headless saying the earth was going to heat up into a fireball due to global warming, I didn't immediately join them. Granted, I didn't immediately run in the other direction, I just didn't do anything. I wanted some time to gather facts and see the truth for myself before adding my voice.

Some evidence shows that the earth is warming at an alarming rate, others show it is cooling. Here in Winchester, VA, we've had one of the coolest, mildest summers I can recall in my 30 years living in the mid-Atlantic area. I read GOC's blog and he's a strong proponent for global cooling and when I read what he has to say (and do my own research!), I tend to agree with him. Here's a link to one of his most recent posts on the subject.

Where am I going with this? Let me shift gears for just a second.

One of my favorite web comics is Least I Could Do. This week, Ryan Somers and Lar DeSouza have their main character, Rayne Summers, giving an address at TED. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. It's an annual conference held in Long Beach, CA and Oxford, England where people are invited to talk about ideas. Go over to their web site and check it out.

Anyway, in yesterday's comment section, many readers have asked "What is TED?" So today, Somers has given loyal LICD readers a homework assignment. We are to go to TED's web site, watch a video, and give an oral presentation to the class about what we learned--what, no oral presentation? Oh, okay, just a post on what we learned.

So here's the lecture I watched. Click here for James Balog's lecture on Time-lapse Proof of Extreme Ice Loss.

Check it out.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Book Review #4: The Unseen

Wait. #4? What happened to #3?

If you read the post titled "Book Review #2", you'll see it was actually review Number 3, therefore this is Number 4. You are Number 6.

Don't go there.

Okay, okay.

And you said you weren't going to turn this into a book review blog.

Hey, four reviews out of over 135 posts does not make this a review blog.

Fine, then, get on with it.


Thank you, I shall.


The Unseen by T.L. Hines


It's pretty rare that I'll read a book that grabs my attention on the first page and won't let go until I've finished it, and this book joins those ranks. Have you ever read a book where you could predict the outcome after reading the first fifty pages? This book does not fall into that category.

The Unseen is about a young man named Lucas who makes his living washing dishes and spends his free time being an Infiltrator. He finds his way into buildings (office buildings, primarily), finds their hidden spots, and watches people. He's essentially homeless, living in the boiler room at Howard University, but very content with his life. He is Unseen by those around him, until the night another Infiltrator finds his home base. This chance encounter will lead Lucas into meeting other Infiltrators, or "Creepers" as they're better known, and as he learns about their activities, he can't help but get involved.

Unlike Lucas, the Creepers sneak into homes--something Lucas considers off limits to himself--and they record the activities going on in the homes. But they're not interested in the mundane, everyday activities of the homeowners (like blogging), they're interested in the violence that goes on behind closed doors. Spousal abuse, murder plots, they record it all and play it back for the others in the group. When Lucas discovers that the Creepers are only interested in recording and not preventing the violence they witness, he decides to do something about it.

The events that follow take Lucas on a journey that will make him question who he is, where he came from and will bring him face to face...with himself.


I started reading this yesterday around 8:00 p.m. and finished it around 11:40 p.m. I tried several times to stop, but within a minute or two, I was right back into it. I just could not stop reading it. I guess it's a good thing I'm not working right now and staying up that late didn't bother me.

I initially picked up this book at the Green Valley Book Fair because the plot, as described on the flyleaf, was different. A lot of the writing advice I read tells me that to become a better writer, you need to read, read, read, and not just within your preferred genre. I've heard of urban explorers, or Infiltrators, before but never really read anything about them, so that peaked my interest. Another bit of advice is to come up with your own unique twist on things to make the story stand out from all the others. The writer definitely did that with The Unseen. Plus, another bit of writing advice is that you should constantly ramp up the tension as the story progresses, putting your protagonist into more and more peril, so that the reader keeps turning those pages so they can find out how the hero triumphs in the end. Oh, my goodness does that ever happen here!

I will admit I found the character of "Swarm" to be a bit...um...unusual, and a little sci-fi'ish, which doesn't really fit the atmosphere of the story. As a plot device, it works, but it kinda threw the story a little off kilter to me. And a few times, Lucas looks back on his childhood, but it's always to one specific memory from when he was 10 years old, and nothing else which, in retrospect, is odd, but I didn't think so as I was reading. It's only until "Swarm" reveals all that I realized this.

Another odd thing is that this book was published by Thomas Nelson, a Christian publishing firm, but the story does not have an overall Christian theme. A salvation message? Eh, maybe. A moment of revelation? Yes, but Lucas did not turn his life over to Christ, as you might expect in a Christian story. So I find the choice in publisher odd, but that's really not something for me to judge.

I don't grade my reviews, but if I did, this one would get 7 stars out of 5. It truly is an awesome book, despite the one or two oddities. It's going on my Shelfari list (I read it so fast, I never had a chance to update it) with a great review and I hope to pick up some of T.L. Hines' other works very soon.

EDIT: In accordance with "new" FCC rules, I purchased this book.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Still here...I think

This post is going to ramble a bit, so in advance, please forgive me.

August was light on blogging because I lost my job on August 7 (four weeks ago today) and what energy I've been able to muster has been put toward finding a new job. I've been checking job boards almost daily and applying for positions that I think would be okay or that truly do interest me (there were two this week that I really liked the look of), so all I can do now is wait and see, and keep applying.

There's a part of me that would really like to tell off my old boss and give a loud, shrill voice to the feelings I have inside me, but I'm too aware of the inherent danger in that. Too many people are losing their jobs or their potential jobs because employers check their MySpace, FaceBook or Blog sites. Although this site should be anonymous, I'm well aware it can be traced back to me and so I will remain silent on the subject of my former employer.

You'd think with all this free time I'd get some great writing done, right? WRONG! Except for briefly laying out a new story idea and re-reading some of my old stuff, I haven't done anything. And that sucks big time, let me tell you. I should have gotten a lot done. For heaven's sake, I've successfully completed two NaNo's while working full time. I should have at least completed a first draft of something by now, you would think. But nope, nothing, nada.

I'm going to push myself to get more done this month, even if it is a crappy first draft of something I may never look at again. And I'm going to keep applying for jobs--won't stop that until I find one, of course.

However, there are always bright spots to be found, even amidst all the gloom. I've gotten a lot of work done in the back yard--I'm almost done with the clean-up phase and will be moving on to the landscaping/decorating phase soon. I've inventoried all my books--good grief, over 900 books in my personal library, and that doesn't count craft books and magazines. I'll be looking through the titles and selling as many as I can to Powell's and giving more to the library or to a local used book store. My goal in selling to Powell's is not to make money, but to clear out some clutter. I have plenty of it, and if I can pass some of my stuff on to others who can use it, I'll be happy. I'll inventory music next, though I won't be selling any of my CDs. I have some DVDs that I'll try to unload onto Second Spin and we'll see what else I can do in that arena.

Hmm...let's see...what else...Oh, I uploaded a few pictures onto my Deviant Art page and got some really nice comments on them. I'll have to add some more of my favorites. And I'll probably resume scrapbooking again. I have lots of pictures still to do, and I think once I'm done, if I have any Creative Memories albums left over, I'll get those sold on eBay and make a few dollars.

See? I'm still keeping busy, still keeping active, and I've found that I don't miss my job one little bit. I do miss not working and not getting a regular paycheck, and my mortgage and credit report may take some heavyweight blows (can you say "potential foreclosure"?) not to mention my psyche, but I know that I will be the better for it in the long run. One day I'll look back and...no, I don't think I'll laugh, but I think I'll be able to pick out those bright spots and I'll see the things that got me through the hard time and brought me back into the good times.

TIA for your prayers and good thoughts.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go to the post office and get a box out to Powell's.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Interesting Article

Got this via one of my RSS feeds:

What Went Wrong
Piling up debt, gaffes, and hypocrisy, Obama & Co. are sinking.

By Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online Contributor

We are witnessing one of the more rapid turnabouts in recent American political history. President Obama’s popularity has plummeted to 50 percent and lower in some polls, while the public expresses even less confidence in the Democratic-led Congress and the direction of the country at large. Yet, just eight months ago, liberals were talking in Rovian style about a new generation to come of progressive politics -- and the end of both the Republican party and the legacy of Reaganism itself. Barack Obama was to be the new FDR and his radical agenda an even better New Deal.

What happened, other than the usual hubris of the party in power?

First, voters had legitimate worries about health care, global warming, immigration, energy, and inefficient government. But it turns out that they are more anxious about the new radical remedies than the old nagging problems. They wanted federal support for wind and solar, but not at the expense of neglecting new sources of gas, oil, coal, and nuclear power. They were worried about high-cost health care, the uninsured, redundant procedures, and tort reform, but not ready for socialized medicine. They wanted better government, not bigger, DMV-style government. There is a growing realization that Obama enticed voters last summer with the flashy lure of discontent. But now that they are hooked, he is reeling them in to an entirely different -- and, for many a frightening -- agenda. Nothing is worse for a president than a growing belief among the public that it has been had.

Second, Americans were at first merely scared about the growing collective debt. But by June they became outraged that Obama has quadrupled the annual deficit in proposing all sorts of new federal programs at a time when most finally had acknowledged that the U.S. has lived beyond its means for years. They elected Obama, in part, out of anger at George W. Bush for multi-billion dollar shortfalls -- and yet as a remedy for that red ink got Obama’s novel multi-trillion-dollar deficits.

Third, many voters really believed in the “no more red/blue state America” healing rhetoric. Instead, polls show they got the most polarizing president in recent history -- both in his radical programs and in the manner in which he has demonized the opposition to ram them through without bipartisan support. “Punch back harder” has replaced “Yes, we can.”

Fourth, Americans wanted a new brand -- youthful, postracial, mesmerizing abroad. At first they got that, too. But after eight months, their president has proven not so postracial, but instead hyper-racially conscious. Compare the Holder “cowards” outburst, the Sotomayor riff on innate racial and gender judicial superiority, and the president’s Cambridge police comments. All that sounds more like Jesse Jackson than Martin Luther King Jr. Demagogues, not healers, trash their predecessors at the beginning of every speech. When a once-eloquent president now goes off teleprompter, the question is not whether he will say something that is either untruthful or silly, but simply how many times he might do so at one outing. Some once worried that George W. Bush could not articulate our goals in Iraq; far more now sense that Obama is even less able to outline his own health-care reform.

Fifth, even skeptics are surprised at the partisan cynicism. A year ago, Democratic leaders such as Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama praised organizing, dissidents, and protest. Today they have become near-Nixonian in demonizing popular resistance to their collectivized health-care plans as mob-like, inauthentic, scripted, Nazi-like, and un-American. There are still ex-lobbyists in the government. High officials still cheat on their taxes. Hacks in the Congress still profit from their office. The public is sensing not only that Obama has failed to run the most ethically clean government, as promised, but indeed that he is not running as ethically clean a government as the predecessor who he so assiduously ridiculed.

Sixth, there is a growing fear that Obamism is becoming cult-like and Orwellian. Almost on script, Hollywood ceased all its Rendition/Redacted-style films. Iraq -- once the new Vietnam -- is out of the news. Afghanistan is “problematic,” not a “blunder.” Tribunals, renditions, the Patriot Act, and Predators are no longer proof of a Seven Days in May coup, but legitimate tools to keep us safe. Words change meanings as acts of terror become “man-caused disasters.” Hunting down jihadists is really an “overseas contingency operation.” Media sycophants do not merely parrot Obama, but now proclaim him a “god.” New York Times columnists who once assured us that Bush’s dastardly behavior was proof of American pathology now sound like Pravda apologists in explaining the “real” Obama is not what he is beginning to seem like.




Seventh, the Obama cabinet is sounding downright uncouth and boorish. The tax-challenged Treasury secretary, Tim Geithner, unleashed a profanity-laced diatribe against bank regulators. Hillary Clinton’s recent outburst in the Congo, captured on YouTube, was something out of Days of Our Lives. Joe Biden cannot speak extemporaneously without causing an incident with the Russians or misleading the public about swine flu. Attorney General Holder sounds like a tired scold, only to be overshadowed by the president’s off-the-cuff cuts about the Special Olympics, Las Vegas, and the Cambridge police. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs makes Scott McClellan sound like a Cicero by comparison.

Eighth, we were all appalled by Wall Street greed and the notion that an individual could take $100 million rather than one or two million as a bonus. But the Obama remedy for that obscenity was to conflate Goldman Sachs or AIG with the family orthodontist or local asphalt contractor whose 80-hour weeks might result in an annual $250,000 income. Worse still, the public impression is that while small entrepreneurs may pay up to 65 percent of their income in new state and federal income taxes, payroll taxes, and surcharges, those on Wall Street have been bailed out and have cut various deals with upscale liberals in government.

Ninth, Democratic populism turned out to be largely aristocratic elitism. Obama spends more money on himself than did Bush. The liberal Congress has a strange fondness for pricy private jets. Those environmentalists and racialists who lecture us about our ecological and ethical shortcomings prefer Martha’s Vineyard and country estates to Dayton and Bakersfield. Offering left-wing populist sermonizing for others while enjoying the high life oneself is never a winning combination.

Tenth, Americans no longer believe this is our moment when the seas stop rising and the planet ceases warming. Instead, there is a growing hopelessness that despite all the new proposed income taxes, payroll taxes, and surtaxes, the deficit will skyrocket, not shrink. There is foreboding that while apologies abroad are nice in the short term, they will soon earn a reckoning. And while the productive classes pay more of their income, and while government grows and entitlement expands, there is a sense that what follows will not be thanks for either taxes paid or benefits received, but even more anger that neither is enough and that much more is owed.

Obama’s popularity might rebound with a natural upturn in the economy, continued low energy prices, and good will for our first multiracial president. But then again, it could get even worse if the recovery turns into stagflation, gas prices soar, and the identity-politics lectures amplify. The next six months should be interesting.


My pro-Obama sister might not like this, but as far as I know, she doesn't read my blog.

Victor Davis nails exactly what I'm seeing. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Stop Playing With Your Food!

Did your mother ever tell you that? Obviously, these guys weren't paying attention.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Craft Time!

Believe it or not, I do like crafts, even though I haven't had time to really do anything for the past, oh, year or so. Through Google Reader, I read several craft sites each day and try to remember to mark the good ones so that one day I'll try them out.

I saw this one today and said "Yes, that's my next project!...when I have time, that is." I'm blogging it for two reasons: 1) to share with you, and 2) so I have a convenient place to go to for the link.

Here it is.

One of my writing buddies is as nuts about colored pens as I am, and this has given me an idea to cover a pencil box with paper and fill it with colored pens for her. For my other writing buddy, perhaps a similar box filled with these paper-covered pencils. Yes, I know it's the end of July, but for crafters, it's never too soon to be thinking about Christmas presents.

If I get a chance to try the pencil thing in the next month or so, I'll post pictures, okay?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Update - Kendra

So, I stopped in yesterday afternoon to see Kendra and the burns weren't as bad as I had feared. She has about 10-12 spots on her face that are burned. The doctor in the emergency room said they were second-degree burns, but they looked to me to be first-degree burns, with two spots possibly second-degree. There are two spots on her left thumb that are at least second-degree and while those two spots didn't look so bad, she says those are the ones that hurt the most. At least she's enjoying the pain medications.

She's going to the UVA Medical Center Burn Clinic tomorrow for treatment. They'll also be able to give the "official" burn depth diagnosis and let her know what her prognosis is as far as healing time and scarring. Based on what I could see, it shouldn't be bad, but we'll see.

I got the rest of the story of what happened from my sister. The kids weren't spraying mosquitoes or themselves with the OFF. They were spraying it into the candle flame on purpose, so they could "ooh" and "aah" over the flame it produced. The last time they did it (obviously the last time), the flame shot back up the stream and into the can, blowing the canister up. Kendra was standing next to the guy doing it and she's just the unfortunate one who wound up injured. Needless to say, I don't think any of those kids will ever be playing with fire and flammable liquids again.

Kids, this is why those boring grown-ups that live with you in your house tell you not to do these things! THEY KNOW WHAT CAN HAPPEN! Now, unfortunately, so do Kendra and all her friends. They learned the hard way.

When I arrived at church yesterday morning, my only thought was to find my pastor. I was going to walk in the door, grab the first person I saw and ask them if they knew where Pastor was. If that person didn't know, I'd grab the next person, and the next, until I found him. I usually enter the church through a side door, and when I opened that door, Pastor was standing right there, like he was just waiting for me to arrive. God knew I needed him, and He placed Pastor in just the right spot at just the right time. I'm taking that as a good sign.

Please keep her in your prayers, that she will heal without any permanent damage to her face or hand, and that she won't be too psychologically damaged from this incident.

Thank you, and God bless you everyone.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Asking For Prayer

I'm asking for prayer for my niece, Kendra. Last night, she was at a party with some friends, there were candles lit, and because the bugs were bothering them, someone brought out a can of OFF.

Kendra and her parents were at the hospital until 3:30 this morning. She has 2nd degree burns on her face, some of her hair was singed, and she has 2nd & 3rd degree burns on one hand. They'll be taking her to the University of Virginia Medical Center today for evaluation and treatment.

She's asleep right now and my sister is setting up appointments for her, so I haven't been over to see her to see just how bad it is. Please pray for Kendra, that she won't be in pain, that the burns will heal quickly and that the scarring will be minimal, if at all. She's so young (only 16) and has a full and beautiful life ahead of her, I don't want this to hold her back.

Thank you everyone.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Another Reason Not To Buy Kindle UPDATE

Before you go looking, no, I haven't published any of my reasons for not buying a Kindle yet, so this isn't a subsequent posting. But, since you're probably curious...

1. Price: It's still a bit cost-prohibitive for me at this point, both for the reader and for the books/subscriptions I'd download.

2. No Backup: As far as I know, there's no way to back up the books you've purchased. Yes, I know Amazon saves your purchases so you can re-download if necessary, but I'd rather have a copy stored on my PC or on a CD. Because what if, heaven forbid, Amazon should go under? What happens to your purchase?

3. No Sharing: It's impossible to share a downloaded Kindle book. If I read a great book and wanted to share it with my friends, there'd be no way to just hand them a copy. We do it all the time with real books, but can't with Kindle (another reason to have my own copy on PC or CD). I suspect this is an issue that may eventually work itself out, in twenty years or so.

4. No Importing: I know I can e-mail pdf files to the Kindle, but I don't know if I can e-mail an e-book that already exists on my PC to the Kindle. I read the on-line guide and I can't see where this functionality exists...if it does. I have a small library of books on my PC and I'd love to be able to send them to an e-reader, but if I can't send them to a Kindle and read them just like I'd read something I downloaded from Amazon, then what's the point?

5. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU!

Amazon remotely deletes Orwell e-books from Kindles, unpersons reportedly unhappy (update)



If you're into keeping tabs on irony, check this out. Amazon apparently sent out its robotic droogs last night, deleting copies of the George Orwell novels Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four from Kindles without explanation, then refunding the purchase price. As you can imagine, a lot of people caught in the thick of Winston and Julia's love story aren't very happy -- and rightfully so -- the idea that we "own" the things we buy is pretty fundamental to... ownership. We're not sure exactly what happened, but it seems that the publisher of said novels, MobileReference, has changed its mind about selling content on the Kindle, and poof! Amazon remotely deleted all previously purchased copies. It's all a bit Orwellian, is it not? Good thing we "permanently borrowed" hard copies of both from our middle school library, huh? Let Hate Week commence.

Update: According to commenters on Amazon, this message was sent out from the company's customer service department:

The Kindle edition books Animal Farm by George Orwell. Published by MobileReference (mobi) & Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) by George Orwell. Published by MobileReference (mobi) were removed from the Kindle store and are no longer available for purchase. When this occurred, your purchases were automatically refunded. You can still locate the books in the Kindle store, but each has a status of not yet available. Although a rarity, publishers can decide to pull their content from the Kindle store.

While that publisher's version of the book may have been removed, it appears other versions of the novels are still available.

Update 2: Drew Herdener, Amazon.com's Director of Communications, pinged us directly with the following comment, and now things are starting to make a lot more sense. Seems as if the books were added initially by an outfit that didn't have the rights to the material.

These books were added to our catalog using our self-service platform by a third-party who did not have the rights to the books. When we were notified of this by the rights holder, we removed the illegal copies from our systems and from customers' devices, and refunded customers. We are changing our systems so that in the future we will not remove books from customers' devices in these circumstances.

Still, what's upsetting is the idea that something you've purchased can be quietly taken back by Amazon with no explanation and no advance notice. It's a rotten policy, regardless of the motivations behind this particular move.


I can understand Amazon's reasons for doing this but the last paragraph sums up my feelings. How can they take back a purchase without notice and without giving a clear reason at the time of "takeback"? If I had purchased a novel at a bookstore and they were recalled for some reason, it would be up to me to return my copy. Big Brother wouldn't come banging on my door and demand I turn over my copy.

If a book was ordered recalled from the stores, they would be removed from the shelves and be no longer available for sale and those that purchased the book could keep theirs--oops, you bought yours on Kindle, we're just going to take that back now, okay, there's a good little customer, oh don't cry, see, we're giving you your money back so everything's even now, okay?

Amazon says they're going to change their systems so that in the future they will not remove books from customers' devices. Do we really believe that? I mean, sure, we WANT to believe that, but who's to say they'll actually do it? And what does this say for the future of e-books and e-readers and all sorts of other e-transactions?

If Amazon wants to GIVE me a Kindle, thus saving myself the cost of one, I'd take it in a heartbeat because I'd love to explore its functionality and it would make taking books on vacation so much easier. But I'd be careful about what I'd put on it, knowing that they're out there, watching me.

UPDATE:
Here's more on the topic from Slate magazine.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Book Review #2

Or is this #3? It's #2 from Leucrota, so I'll call it #2. So without further ado, here's my review of ONE IF BY HEAVEN, TWO IF BY HELL by Rick Maydak.


I had high expectations for this novel and I was not disappointed.

Ethan Reyes hears voices and he can’t stop them, no matter what he tries. The only peace he finds is when he drinks himself into unconsciousness. When the people around him are attacked and start dying grisly deaths, Ethan must pull himself out of the bottle and confront the real-life demon that is haunting him.

Rick Maydack has crafted a great story. I will admit I guessed Ethan’s “secret” early on (and I don’t mean the mind-reading), however, I could not have predicted the twists and turns this story takes and how this story would turn out. Imaginative and well paced, the action kept moving and growing more and more intense right to the very end.

If you’re looking for a great middle-of-the-night-scare-me-read, I highly recommend this book.

The reviewer received an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) from the publisher.


I was hoping the book would arrive before I left on my vacation, but of course it didn't. So I made sure I finished whatever book I was reading so I could start on this one once I got home. It had to wait a day or two for me to finish recovering from my trip, but I dove right in once I was ready. This story wasn't anything like what I was expecting, which I suppose is both good and bad. Good, because it was new and different, and bad because I had different expectations. But it was a good story and I did enjoy it so yes, I would recommend it.

Happy Reading!

Godblog

Relax, everyone. I’m not turning this into a religious blog. It’s another book review! I know, I know, you’re waiting for my review of the second book I got from Leucrota Press. That’ll come tomorrow. This is a different book entirely.



Tall, non-fat, blond, extra-conflicted, to go...

Circumstances force Dag, a young snowboarder based in Whistler, to give up his sport and to find another way to live. He embarks on two paths, the first, a subsistence job as a barista in a coffee mega-chain where he works hard to be a worker extraordinaire to boost his tips. He also invents an online alter ego who pronounces his own brand of wisdom and rant, an outlet to express what Dag can't in his day-to-day role of coffee slave. His dark side blogs provocation in every post and gains a following.

Women figure prominently in his life, including his friend Heathen, whose competitive skiing successes are a painful counterpoint to his own loss; his new roommate Grace, whose expectations are impossible for him to live up to; and the flirtatious customers and the casual flings he suddenly finds himself drawn to and capable of. Dag's personality suffers in the struggle between his real and cyber lives as the blog veers wildly between bluster and baiting, as people begin to do what it says.

When his blog butts heads with the corporate paranoia of his coffee overlords, Dag has trouble keeping his real and cyber selves integrated. His percolating identity crisis boils over into real-life jeopardy, scalding himself and those around him.

Godblog raises fundamental questions about the risks and rewards of reinventing ourselves in the twenty-first century. The story is told through a combination of regular narrative, blog entries, and corporate memos from the coffee-industrial complex, which also becomes a catalyst in the drama.


My review:

Dag Olsson “crash and burns” his opening day of snowboarding on the Whistler slopes, limps into the nearest BlackArts coffee shop and applies for a job. Within a week, he’s the star barista (or as he calls himself, javaslinger), providing coffee and entertainment (coffetainment) to the customers and his fellow coffee-slaves.
But who is Dag? No longer a snowboarder, he struggles to make a living while figuring out who he should be. He vents his frustrations on an anonymous blog, calling himself the Hero of the teeming masses, not realizing the impact his words will have on his readers.

His looks are drawing attention, too, and for the first time in his life, Dag finds easy relationships, well, easy, to the annoyance of his female co-barista Heathen and roommate Grace. Heathen’s attracted to him, even if she won’t admit it to herself, and Grace slowly finds herself falling in love with him, in spite of the fact that he’s so not her type.

When the Hero posts an off-handed rant against BlackArts, it catches the attention of the corporate office, whose attempts to simultaneously capitalize on the publicity and uncover his identity only irritate the Hero into calling his masses to act.

As things heat up between his work, home and on-line lives, Dag struggles to keep up with everything going on around him. In the end, when lives are literally on the line, what can he do to stop the madness his life has become?



I found this book on Wowio back in March, read a couple chapters, thought it had potential, added it to my library and forgot about it. I started thinking about it again recently and decided I wanted to know what happened. I started reading it this past Monday at work and just finished it yesterday afternoon.

Because I’m a writer myself (or working on it, at least), I tend to read with a critical eye. I’m studying characters, motivation, plot construct and keeping an eye on sentence structure, punctuation, and whether or not the author breaks any established writing rules. And if they do break any rules, are they breaking good or breaking bad?

Laurie breaks some of the rules—breaking bad—but I’m not so sure the average reader would notice them—a few places where she gives background information on some of the characters felt a little forced to me. And she broke what I always thought of as a major rule but did it in a way that worked out, so that broke good. I can’t tell you what that rule is because (1) I’m not so sure it really is a rule and (2) it’s a major plot spoiler and I won’t do that.

There are a number of intertwining subplots throughout this story, but Laurie blends them smoothly like a rich cup of (I don’t drink coffee, so insert your favorite specialty coffee drink here), sure to satisfy.

Books are free to read on Wowio, but since some books in my Wowio library have disappeared, I decided not to take a chance on losing this great story and purchased an e-book copy. I encourage you to give it a look.

Click here for a direct link to Laurie's book--you may need to register first!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I'm Baaaack!

I made it home yesterday and I don't know how I made it. Honestly, I don't understand it.

I left Winchester--which is in the northwest corner of Virginia--around 7:30 in the morning and I arrived in Myrtle Beach just before 4:00. I stopped twice, one for lunch and once for gas for a total of maybe 40 minutes. That means it took me just shy of 8 hours to make the drive.

On the way home, I left Myrtle Beach at 7:00 and didn't get home until almost 6:00 with three breaks--lunch, gas and drink, taking about an hour of time. Someone please explain to me how an 8 hour trip south becomes a 10 hour trip north. Someone, anyone please explain that to me.

Also, while you're at it, explain how I could drive south for 6 1/2 hours before my right shoulder starts aching, but it takes only 2 hours on a north-bound trip for the same shoulder to start aching? And even with Aleve, I was in pain the entire rest of my drive. I got home and I was absolutely miserable...and yes, relieved to be home.

And I get to do it again in four months!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Un-be-FREAKING-lievable

Have any of you seen this?

Click here

I...I have no words for this.

Except this...each one of these people deserve to win the Darwin Award.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hello from Myrtle Beach

Yep, I'm back in Myrtle Beach. I've actually been here since Saturday evening and while I've had several chances to blog, I just haven't had much to blog about. You can only describe the weather (hot) just so many times before you my readers and I your writer get bored with the subject.

I went out yesterday and scoped out a couple sites where I have scenes planned for my current WIP. I walked by the house that I've decided belongs to my protagonist and took several photos of the street plus of Ocean Boulevard and of the public beach access point just one street over. And man, I have to tell you, it was hot. And humid. I went swimming and didn't go near the water, the air was so thick. I wasn't walking more than fifteen or twenty minutes and when I got back to my car I was all flushed and sweaty. I drank some water (thank goodness I had some in the car) and headed straight home to cool off and relax.

Okay, well, thinking back, walking through the high school field and then climbing to the top of the Doug Shaw Stadium bleachers to take pictures in the blistering sunshine/humidity and then taking the aforementioned pictures was a bit much. Yeah, yeah, I brought it on myself. But I'm doing much better now.

Today I chilled at home, watched TV, played some games on the 'puter, met a friend for shopping after lunch then came back home. A nice relaxing day. Hey, it's my vacation...I'm allowed to relax!

Anyway, I just got done watching a movie and I've come to realize something about myself. The movie was "August Rush" starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Keri Russell and Robin Williams...and the-cute-kid-who-plays-the-lead-don't-remember-his-name. As I watched it, I realized part of me was disecting it as a writer might. Here are the main characters, here's the backstory, here's where they are today, present subplots one, two and three, introduce sidekick & bad guy/antagonist, great music, conflict, resolution, conflict, resolution, more great music, conflict, wrong choice, ramp up tension, conflict, resolution, tension, even more great music, resolution, happy ending. I could see it, I tell you.

I wonder if this means I'm starting to evolve as a writer. I do the same things when I read books. Maybe not all the time---oh, heck yeah, all the time. I just realized I finished reading a Cait London book today and I was irritated with her because it seemed like she kept going over the same points over and over again, and some of the conversations jumped from subject to subject with no logical transition (that I could see) and it just seemed to take forever to resolve the conflict. And, in my opinion, it didn't live up to the hype. It was the first book in a three-parter and frankly, I don't think I'll bother with the other two. Which is a bit of a pity because I do like her writing, but perhaps not this story. I'll put it on my Shelfari below (scroll to the bottom of the page, okay? thanks) and add the book I'm about to start.

Oh, and the part of August Rush was played by Freddie Highmore. Don't be too impressed...I checked IMDB.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Want a free book? Part 2

Leucrota Press is giving away another ARC!

Click here for more information.

I'm going to take a pass on this one. Partly because of my history but mostly because this is Fantasy and I've always had a hard time reading fantasy. So I probably wouldn't enjoy it, even if it turns out to be a great read.

If you're interested, head on over to their blog and enter. Read the rules and post a reply (don't forget your e-mail address).

Good luck and happy reading!

Wow...

Just...wow.

Who could imagine losing two icons in one day?

We all knew about Farrah (or at least, I'm sure most of us did...those of us with televisions and internet access, that is) and her death did not really come as a surprise. I saw her documentary "Farrah's Story" last month and was really touched by the story it told. You see, I lost my sister to breast cancer almost nine years ago and while I wasn't there with her every minute of her battle, Farrah's story brought home to me some of the struggles I know my sister went through.

Probably the one thing that touched me the most was what Farrah did when she started losing her hair. She had her friend Jose Eber shave off all that signature blonde hair (leaving a bit in the front) and she seemed perfectly content to be bald. My sister was the same way. When she started to lose her hair, she had our mother (I guess Jose wasn't available) cut off all her auburn hair. Mom cried buckets, but Linda said she felt liberated, because it was her choice to lose the hair, rather than the cancer taking it. And I really understood that when Farrah did it to her own hair.

So when I read about Farrah's passing yesterday, I was sad for her and her family, but having watched my sister's struggle, I knew that Farrah and her family were finally at peace.

But the shock was when I heard about Michael Jackson. That was a "wait...what?" moment. I was at my computer, loading up my iPod for my trip when I heard my mother yelling in the other room. I had the ear-buds in so I couldn't hear her, so when I went to see what she was yelling about, she told me. I couldn't believe it. While he wasn't exactly the picture of health, I certainly didn't know about any problems he was having. He was preparing to do 50 shows in London, for goodness sake. But there it was, on the television, "King of Pop, Dead at 50."

I sat and watched the news with her, which, of course, didn't have much to say at that point and the first thought that came to my mind was "heart attack." The second thought, "aneurysm." Those were the only two things I could think of that can kill you suddenly without any indication that there was a problem. Now it looks like my first assumption might be the correct one...but we'll see.

Say what you will about the craziness of the last 10 years or so, the man made an impact on the music business the likes of which are rarely seen. I remember singing along with the Jackson 5 hits, watching the Jackson 5 Saturday morning cartoons (remember?), dancing to songs from "Off the Wall", watching the fluid way he moved and danced and the amazement I felt the first time I saw "Thriller". That's the Michael Jackson I choose to remember.

And I loaded his songs onto my iPod because I'm sure I'll be thinking about his music as I drive to South Carolina.

Rest in Peace, Farrah and Michael.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

In the Interest of Full Disclosure...

Ran across an interesting post on Brian Clark's blog, Copyblogger.

Click here for more info.

So, just to cover myself...

1) In return for my reading and reviewing The Kult by Shaun Jeffrey, I received no compensation. My payment was the book itself.

2) In return for my reading and reviewing One if by Heaven, Two if by Hell by Rick Maydak (which I haven't received yet but hopefully will by Friday before I leave town on vacation!), I will receive no compensation. As above, my payment is the book itself.

3) My bookshelf below is linked to my Amazon Associates account, which, theoretically, could bring me some income, but to date, has not. I believe this is due to one of two factors: a) no one has bought anything based on my recommendation or b) I messed up in setting it up. Given my history, probably "b".

That should keep the FTC off my tail for a while...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Awesome rant from Tammi's World. Got it from Grouchy Old Cripple, but go ahead and check out Tammi's blog.

The Sacrifice of the Job

I've got all these thoughts in my head. Politics, world issues, responsibilites, the government medling in business. I've got to try and get them out. So excuse the rample. This is my version of a free flow thought post......

I think it's time someone explains something to Obama.

You, Sir, are an executive. The highest in this land, as fate would have it. And as such, in a position with the responsibilities you hold, you gotta step up.

Let me explain.

Say you have a job....it's a good job. And it allows you to earn a decent wage, work 8-10 hours a day and then go home and forget it. No evening calls, no big meetings. Just go in, do what you gotta do and leave.

Sweet. But I'll be honest, it's not for me....

Next let's look at managers. They tend to be salary. They work a few more hours and have to attend more meetings, do a bit of traveling, give up a bit more of their personal life to do the job right.

It's not for everyone. But it's a choice. No surprises. Not if you're honest. If you accept a job like that, and you care enough to do it correctly then you know you're gonna miss some soccer games, family dinners, even a birthday here and there.

But you CHOOSE it. The money and responsibilities are greater, but if that's what you're looking for you do it.

Now.....let's talk about the next step in the corporate ladder, shall we. That's where you have real responsibility. To the company, to the employees that you lead. That's a commitment. You WILL have to sacrifice family and friends. It's just the way it is, I don't care what anyone says. And anyone that TAKES a job like that knows it. Period. Claims to be "surprised" by the amount of time away from "real life" is either a sign of naitivity or flat out denial. You have extensive travel, meetings, dinners, late nights, early mornings. You take on a responsibility for peoples livelihoods. You HAVE to make that sacrifice.

For example, I'm only responsible for about 25 people. But...it's up to me to keep things going, keep people on track, put policies and proceedures into place that will help us grow and develop. If I screw up or don't do my job, people could lose their livelyhoods.

The President is responsible for a hell of a lot more than I am. A HELL of a lot more.

Yet, when I have a crisis going on, I'm there. I'm in the office, keeping track of things, planning next steps, making adjustments on the fly. I'm there. I'm THERE.

But not so the President. No......he's going out for ice cream, keeping a low profile (officially) spending time with the family.

Kinda pisses me off. It actually feels like I work more hours at my job than the President does. It seems like I care more about the company I work for than the President does about the COUNTRY he works for.

And let's look at that for just a moment. He wanted the job, so the majority of American's voted him in. He Works For Us. Our priorities should be his priorities. And he get's paid very well for that. Not only that but he's set for life.

Talk about a golden parachute. He feels that executives who work at companies that have taken money from the American Taxpayer should not receive any type of compensation if they leave a company, especially no bonus'. Yet...when he leaves office, he's taken care of. And it doesn't matter if he is voted out in 4 years or rides the ride for 8 years. No matter HOW much he screws this country up - he's still taken care of.

Damn.....I'm in the wrong business.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't begrudge him the money or the time with his family. But.....if you want time with your family then Do NOT persue a job that is so demanding. And if you want the money and benefits do NOT "steal" from your employer by taking time away from doing what you're supposed to do.

But what can we really expect when we hire someone for a position that has never been responsible for ANYTHING, never balanced a budget or a P & L, never BEEN an executive of ANYTHING real before.

On second thought, it's not Obama who was naive. It was the folks that voted him in.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Absolutely Stunning

Found this through one of my RSS feeds:

What's wrong with this picture:


The answer is that it’s in colour. Why? I hear you ask. Because it’s 100 years old and it’s Russian. In 1909 a remarkable project was initiated by Russian photographer Sergey Mikhaylovich Prokudin-Gorsky. His mission was to record - in full and vibrant color - the vast and diverse Russian Empire. Here, with his story, is a selection of his amazing century old full color pictures. Many of the pictures look as if they could have been taken yesterday, with only the costumes worn by the people captured in their moment of time betraying the age of the work.


See the full set and story here.

Courtesy Derren Brown's Blog


The photos and the story are absolutely amazing. Click on the link and check it out.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I'll Have The Crow, Medium Well...

...with a side of Humble Pie, thanks.




Word of warning--do not send e-mails at 5:30 in the morning after a bad half-night's sleep.

I received a very nicely worded e-mail from the Editor-in-Chief at Leucrota Press, explaining that my previous e-mails must have been lost amongst the large volume of e-mails they receive. I can believe that for one e-mail, but for two...well, let's be fair here. I do know from their web site that they are no longer accepting paper submissions from writers. New submissions must be sent electronically, so I suppose it's very possible my messages were lost in the shuffle. Let's face it--what I know about the inner workings of a publishing company, large or small, could be written on the back of a postage stamp with enough room left over to write the Gettysburg Address. It would probably also help if I sent the message to the correct address (seconds on the crow, please, thanks).

Also, she said the ARCs of One if by Heaven were sent out three weeks ago, but I never received mine. See, I figured that since the book was now available for purchase, they no longer needed ARC reviews (see above, inner workings of a publishing company). Ms. Editor was nice enough to offer to send me another ARC and I'm taking her up on her offer. When it arrives, I will drop whatever else I'm reading so I can start One if by Heaven and send in my review right away. I really, really want to read this book!

In case anyone is wondering if I would send any of my writing to Leucrota for possible publication, the answer is a 99% "no", and that's not because of my little kerfuffle here. They publish mainly horror and science fiction/fantasy and my writing is more mystery/romance, with a little kick of paranormal (which is where that tiny 1% comes in). Hopefully I haven't killed that 1%. It's never a good idea to piss off a publisher.

Oh, and the crow and pie? Tastes like chicken and cinnamon apple...throw in a side of red beans and rice and I got me a Popeye's meal!

man i need some sleep...

Review of THE KULT

As promised, here's my review of The Kult. I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher, Leucrota Press, with the proviso that I post reviews on my blog and on sites like Amazon.com, Borders.com, etc.


A gory, terrifying thriller, The Kult will keep you hooked until the very last page.

Detective Chief Inspector Prosper Snow thought paperwork was the worse part of his job, until his partner dropped the photograph on his desk. The mutilated body of a young woman surrounded by photographs of famous serial killers signaled the beginning of a hunt for a killer calling himself the Oracle, and might end with Prosper serving time for murder.

In the midst of searching for a sadistic killer, Prosper receives a plea from an old school friend. Jerel wants to revive their blood oath and get revenge on the man who raped his wife, and he wants The Kult to help him.

Caught between loyalty to his old friends and his duty as a police officer, Prosper makes a difficult decision. And when more photographs start to appear in his office, Prosper comes to a terrible conclusion. Could one of his old friends be the Oracle? And what motive did the Oracle have for framing Prosper?

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started my journey through The Kult. What I got was a roller coaster ride that plunged me straight down that first terrifying hill into a house of horrors, festooned with bloody, mutilated corpses. The Kult will draw you in with a pace that grows more intense as the story continues. Shaun Jeffrey has created a well-crafted horror that will keep the reader guessing and will keep the pages turning until the ride finally comes to an end.

A word of caution, though…don’t be turning those pages late at night in a creaky house!



Reading over it again, it seems maybe a little stiff and business-like, compared to the other review posted on Amazon.com, but then, that reviewer could read mine and think "gee, maybe I could have tightened mine up a bit." He could also think "this person has no idea how to write a review." Whatever...this is the first review I've ever written, so you get what you get!

Anyway, I'm a little disappointed with the folks over at Leucrota Press. Admittedly, I made the first, and probably biggest, mistake. When I finished the book, I wrote my review and sent them an e-mail, asking if I needed to send them a copy of my review. See, I remembered that they wanted me to post my review on several sites, but I couldn't remember if they wanted me to send them a copy as well. And the e-mail...well, I sent it to what was probably the wrong e-mail address. Three weeks later (yes, three weeks...I got busy!), I realized I had never heard back from them, so I dug out the information card they sent me and lo and behold, there's the address I should have sent the review to. I immediately sent them a note, apologizing for taking so long and explaining why, and pasted a copy of my review.

Keep in mind, I've been checking Amazon to see when the book was going to be listed. Finally, I found it last night, but I still hadn't heard back from Leucrota.
So I sent another e-mail this morning, telling them that I had posted my review, which I have. However (you knew there had to be a "however," didn't you?) I was supposed to receive TWO books, The Kult and One if by Heaven, Two if by Hell. I never received the second book and guess what? It's available on Amazon.com. So in my note to Leucrota, I speculated that I didn't receive the second book because I didn't follow orders on the first. I know, I could be wrong. The book could easily have been lost in the mail or some other convenient excuse. I also said that since no one responded to my previous e-mails, I likely wouldn't receive a response from this third one.

I went ahead and ordered a copy of One if by Heaven, Two if by Hell because of the two books, this was the one I was more interested in reading. It'll be interested to see what response I get from Leucrota, if any.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

30 Rock

Okay, I admit, I can sometimes be very, very slow when it comes to jumping on the bandwagon of the latest trend. I don't Twitter (here's why), I rarely text, and my MySpace page is nothing but cobwebs. This very blog came into existence a little more than a year and a half ago and how long have people been blogging?

I recently started signing up for RSS feeds. I know, I know, RSS has been around for more than 10 years, and has been "the thing to do" for the last 5 or so (I'm guessing at that number, but you get my point). Anyway, I've been finding some really interesting things via my RSS feeds, like Design Milk and others that I would mention here, but I'm still trying to decide if I like them or not.

Anyway, the item that kicked off this post is here: Click Here

I've never watched 30 Rock, but reading this post makes me think I should go over to Hulu and catch up on what I've been missing.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Carrie Prejean has been fired

And somehow, after reading the article, I can't seem to work up any anger. Probably because this time, it legitimately appears to be her fault.

Exclusive: Miss California Carrie Prejean to Lose Her Crown
Less than a month after being told by Donald Trump that she can keep her Miss California crown, Carrie Prejean is being fired, Foxnews.com has learned exclusively.

K2 Productions, the independent producers of the Miss California USA pageant, under license from Miss Universe, cites continued breach of contract issues as the reason for Prejean's firing. The decision is revealed in documents obtained by FOXNews.com.

"This was a business decision, based solely on contract violations," Keith Lewis, executive director of K2 Productions, said in the documents. "After our press conference in New York we had hoped we would be able to forge a better working relationship. However, since that time it has become abundantly clear that Carrie has no desire to fulfill her obligations under our contract and work together.


At this time, I don't know Carrie's side of the story, but from the Fox News article, she is not fulfilling her obligations, which is a fire-able offense and I don't blame Trump et. al. for making it.

Although, the cynic in me does wonder...will Shana Molaker be asking for her old job back?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Gallup Has A Scoop!




And the sun is most likely to come out during the day, and dogs are most likely to eat dog food, maybe. [Gallup]


Got it here. Thanks, Wonkette!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Stay on Subject!

This article from Fox News breaks one of the most fundamental rules I learned as a writer...STAY ON SUBJECT!

Obama 'Distracted' by Biden's 'Indiscipline,' Book Asserts
The president is so "distracted by his vice president's indiscipline" that he has been forced to rebuke privately Vice President Biden, according to a new book by Richard Wolffe.

President Obama is so "distracted by his vice president's indiscipline" that he has been forced to rebuke privately Vice President Joe Biden, according to a new book by Newsweek journalist Richard Wolffe, who interviewed Obama a dozen times.

"He can't keep his mouth shut," Wolffe quotes a "senior Obama aide" as saying of the gaffe-prone Biden in "Renegade: The Making of a President," set for release June 2.


The article goes on to site one--ONE--example involving Valerie Jarrett. The article then mentions Obama's praise for former President Reagan, then Wolfe is quoted describing Obama's youth as a party animal, and then Obama's trip next month to Egypt where he wants to convene a "Muslim Summit." The article ends with a quote from Obama about racial relations.

Someone please tell me what Reagan/Obama's youth/Egypt "Muslim Summit"/racial relations have to do with Biden's ineptitude??? The headline is about Obama being "distracted" every time Biden opens his mouth...what does that have to do with Reagan? Or this "Muslim Summit?"

Don't get me wrong. I like Fox News. I also like CNN. I like getting more than one side of an issue (I'm a little bit of a radical that way). That way I can make up my own mind. The conclusion I've drawn from this article is that Bill Sammon (byline) either ran out of story and had to fill in the rest of the space, or he forgot how to STAY ON SUBJECT!

UPDATE

Okay, maybe this doesn't perfectly go with the above post, but this is what the article SHOULD be talking about.



Got it here!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

First Book Received

Received my first Leucrota Press book, The Kult, the other day. I'm about 1/4 of the way through and I hope to be able to finish it over the weekend. Mom's going out of town again, just for the weekend, so I should have plenty of uninterrupted time to read. I'll post a review here, as well as Amazon, B&N, Borders, & BAM. Anyone know of any other bookseller sites where I could post a review to?

So far, I must say, it's an interesting read. It takes place in England--I'm not sure if the author mentioned a city...I'll check later--involving a police officer named Prosper Snow (I'll say this much for the author, he does know how to pick unusual names!). When he and his friends were in school, they formed a mutual protection pact called The Kult...if one was being bullied, the others would ensure the bullying stopped...whatever the costs. Stopping short of murder, of course. Now, years later, one of The Kult needs help, and he doesn't want them to stop short of murder. There's also a serial murder case going on which Prosper is investigating. The scenes involving the serial killer, "the Oracle," are quite gory and I'm finding it a little difficult to read the murder scenes because the gore factor is so high. This is due to my own personal squeamishness and not the skill of the writer. The conflict arises from the fact that Prosper feels a loyalty toward his old friends, but at the same time, he's a cop and a cop shouldn't be getting involved in a murder conspiracy.

How will Prosper, um, prosper? I hope to know by the end of the weekend.

Shanna Moakler Resigns From Post as Miss California Pageant Director

Hmmm...how do I feel about this?

Well, if I had any real interest in the Pageant business, I'd feel...pretty damned good!

We live in a country where we are allowed to think as we choose. If two people's opinions don't match, that's okay. We don't need to drag each other through the mud and call each other names...is that supposed to change the other person's mind?

So now Shanna Moakler is so upset with Trump deciding Carrie Prejean can keep her crown that she's resigning from Miss California organization. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Carrie Prejean is due to give up her position in a few months. Couldn't Shanna swallow her bile long enough for Carrie to leave her post and then ensure all remaining Miss California's march to her party line? And, oh, I don't know, maybe grow a little as a person? Nope, guess not. She'd rather sulk and stamp her feet like a child...and she wants to be a role model for her children.

Another brava for Carrie.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Viva Las Vegas!

Tomorrow, my mother leaves for Las Vegas and I get the house to myself for the whole week! Wo-hoo! The only not-nice part is I have to get up at 5:30 tomorrow to drive her to the airport. I may wind up skipping church and coming home to catch up on sleep...that or I'll be there reeeeaaaallly early. We'll see.

The nice thing about having the house to myself is being able to focus on my writing. I know it's all in my head, but I have a hard time focusing on my writing at home when she's around. It's not like she's hovering over my shoulder, reading what I write. She actually leaves me alone and doesn't bug me or anything. It's just the fact that she's THERE that distracts me. I can usually shut it out for a while and get some things done, but it's not the same as when I'm totally alone.

Anyway, while she's hitting the casinos and the shows, I'll be getting some serious writing done. Registration for SCWW starts in a month and I need to register early to get a good editor to critique my work. I so badly need to outline so I have some idea of where my story is going. Part of the critique submission is a synopsis and if I have no idea where my story is going, how can I write one?

My writing group is totally awesome! I just came back from a meeting with them and they gave me a great new idea for a scene that'll work perfectly in my story. So if you'll excuse me, I have work to do while Mom packs.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Woo-hoo! I Won...TWICE !!

Just got two fantastic e-mails from Leucrota Press. I won both ARC drawings! I'm so excited! I can't wait for these books to come in so I can start reading them.

As a winner, once I've read the books, I have to post a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders and any other book review sites I know of. Which I will do, of course. Oh, and I'll post here as well.

I hope to finish my current novel, The Third Secret by Steve Berry by this Wednesday evening (since I'm going to the library Wed eve, that'll be the perfect time to return it), and I won't check out the next book until I've received these two from Leucrota. I want to be able to jump right in and start reading.

Thank you, Lecrota!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Brava, Carrie Prejean

I may be a couple days late in posting this, but it's taken me this long to write something that wasn't full of anger...although I am still angry.

Everyone knows by now (or probably knows) about what happened at the Miss USA pageant and the insanity that has followed it. I just want to grab Perez Hilton and Shanna Moakler by the scruffs of their necks (with gloves on because I don't want to touch something that scuzzy with my bare hand) and try to shake some sense into them. What ever happened to freedom of expression? Yo, Hilton, if you're not prepared to hear the answer, DON'T ASK THE QUESTION! Not everyone in the world thinks as these two do (thank goodness) and rather than furthering their cause, I think they're showing the world what truly bigoted idiots they are.

I've never read his column before, but I think this man says it best: CNN Commentary by Roland Martin

I've read several articles and I'm glad to see how many people are on Carrie Prejean's side, even if they don't agree with her. I'm sure it was a very difficult decision for her. On one hand, if she gave the answer they wanted to hear, she likely would have been awarded the crown...but then she would have to live the rest of her life with the knowledge that she won because of a lie. On the other hand, she could tell the truth, lose the crown, and live with the knowledge that she was true to her faith and answered honestly. I believe she made the right choice.

Now some are saying she has the possible basis of a lawsuit based on religious discrimination. Yes, I think she could sue, but I hope she doesn't. Success is the best revenge and I think if she says true to herself and to her faith, she will be a grand success, long after the world has (hopefully soon) forgotten the name "Perez Hilton."

Brava, Carrie Prejean.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Want a free book?

Leucrota Press is giving away free an Advance Reader Copy of their upcoming books, The Kult, by Shaun Jeffrey and One if by Heaven, Two if by Hell by Rick Maydak. All you have to do is post a comment and ten lucky winners will be chosen. You get an extra entry if you mention their site on your blog (I'm shameless, I know). The deadline for entries is Apr 24 for The Kult and Apr 25 for One if by Heaven, Two if by Hell.

I've entered both drawings and really hope I win One if by Heaven. If I don't, I'll be buying it when it comes out.

Check them out! Click

Monday, April 20, 2009

It's Turn Off TV Week!

Did you know it was Turn Off TV Week? I didn't until I saw this on my Google page.


How to Quit Watching TV


from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

The average American watches over 35 hours of TV a week[1] and the average Brit over 25.[2] If you find yourself addicted to the "boob tube" and want to break the habit, or if you're just celebrating TV Turnoff Week[3] the key is to wean yourself off using the steps below, watching TV less and less until you stop watching it altogether.

Steps


  1. Start small. Try not watching TV for just one day a week. Make sure to replace that time with another activity that's equally or more satisfying. In other words, don't replace TV time with a task you dread. The task might be noble (such as cleaning the fireplace, or raking leaves, or giving the cat a bath) but such endeavors are best left to when you've already phased TV out of your life. Right now, the best way to wean yourself off of TV is to replace it with another enjoyable activity, but one that's more constructive or engaging, like reading a book, practicing to be a guitar god, or playing drown the penny with your kids. Eventually, increase the number of days per week when you don't watch TV, until there are none (if you wish to go that far).
  2. Don't replace old shows with new ones. When one of your favorite shows goes off the air or you stop enjoying it, don't replace it with another show. Instead, use that new free time to do something else, like calling on friends, doing a hobby, reading, or exercise. Eventually, you will whittle down the shows you watch to a manageable few.
  3. Use the TV timer. Many TVs come with a timer feature. When you start watching TV, decide how much time you want to spend there, and set the timer so that the TV turns off when that time is up. This prevents you from "lingering" on the TV, or at least it's a reminder, forcing you to turn the TV back on if you want to keep watching.
  4. Keep a TV diary. Bringing attention to your habit, without pressuring yourself to get rid of it, can help you realize how much time you actually waste on TV. In fact, the very act of recording how much time you spend watching TV (and what you watch) is likely to reduce your habit. As you write down "12:30am - Watching rerun of Friends that I've seen twice already" you might realize how much of a waste of time it is, and shut off the television, whereas normally you would just keep watching because you lose track of time.
  5. Compare your TV time to your unachieved goals. This is a good motivation exercise. Once you've kept a TV diary for at least a week, you'll know how much time television really takes up in your life. Now it's time to ask yourself how you can use that time more productively. If you're spending 20 hours a week glued to the tube, think about how much you could accomplish if you redirected that time towards something else! Make a list of goals, or things you always complain about but never have time to do. Things like:

  6. Get rid of and hide TVs. The rise in television is linked to the increase in TVs per household.[1] Cut down on the number of TVs, and you'll cut down on TV time. You might be met with a good deal of resistance if you live with other people who are addicted to TV, especially kids--see How to Get Your Children Away from TV--but do you really need more than one TV? Do you really need one at all? If you do leave a TV in the house, at least put it in an uncomfortable place, like the garage, with no comfy couch to lounge in.
  7. Cut down on channels. Another reason people are watching more TV is because there are more channels.[1] Look into downgrading your cable or satellite package (and you'll save some money, too!). Another option, if your provider offers it, is to program your TV so it only shows channels that don't suck you in--or if they do suck you in, they at least feed your brain. Stick to news, science, and history channels. Steer clear of entertainment, comedy, and sports channels. Make it so that you can't access the "bad" channels unless you have a password, and have someone you trust be the only person who knows the password. Having to ask for permission is a good way to filter your TV watching.
  8. Use recording devices to your advantage. Even though recording devices like DVR and TiVo are associated with an increase in TV watching[1] you can also use them for the opposite effect. Make a rule that you will only watch recorded shows. Then place a limit on how much TV you can record. This will force you to be more selective about what you watch.


Alternate Activity Method
  1. Decide what you would like to do for a period of time other than watch TV. This is a critical step because if you do not find some thing that will keep your interest, you will fall back on your ol' faithful crutch, the TV. Look up a volunteer program, 'check out' that book, books of CD or magazine out of the library, find a new hobby, pick a craft, introduce your self to your family or even your neighbors, or any thing else that you want to do that you are currently not doing.
  2. Pick a time span that you plan to do what you picked for step #1. Start with a small amount of time, (30 minutes, 1 hour) and then expand each day or week.
  3. Turn off and unplug the television for the specified in step 2.
  4. Keep doing this until you no longer miss the time away from the television. Then increase the time. Soon enough your TV time will be replaced with something productive. You may even get to the point where watching TV is a waste of your time and your money. Also, you can cut you expenses down by down grading your cable or satellite package.


Cold Turkey Method
  1. Call you cable or satellite provider and investigate about discontinuing or suspending your service for a period of time, (weeks or months). Make sure there are no penalties for doing this.
  2. Follow steps #1 - #3 in the alternate activity method.


Tips




Warnings


  • Don't replace TV time with other notorious time wasters like MySpace or Facebook.


Related wikiHows




Sources and Citations


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 http://www.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/TV/02/24/us.video.nielsen/

  2. http://www.nowpublic.com/culture/addicted-tv-brits-watch-more-telly-ever

  3. http://www.tvturnoff.org/



Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Quit Watching TV. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.



Me? Well, I have to admit that I will fail at this. There are certain shows that I love to watch each week. Funny thing is, most of what I watch is on TLC, Discovery or History channels, which they recommend. I also like the BritComs on PBS Saturday night (though I've seen them all at least a dozen times, can identify most episodes within the first 15 seconds and can quote paragraphs of dialogue with very little prompting). I will follow some of the article's recommendations and cut back, though. There's usually nothing I like on Wednesday or Thursday, so I'll not watch anything those two nights and work on my writing.

How about you?