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!



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!