Friday, September 28, 2012

Books: A Constant in All My Lives

Good morning, all!

It's Friday, the loveliest of all days, with all the possibilities of the weekend stretched out before us. Any plans?

I'm going to be doing quite a bit of singing and dancing. Which is pretty much my normal weekend plan, regardless of what else is going on in life. But this weekend it's going to be a little bit more formalized.

I'm currently in the ensemble of a production of All Shook Up. First musical I've done since 2006 and it's fantastic. (For all of you who don't know the show, it's based off of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and the score is made up entirely of Elvis songs.)

Well, our director very much believes that everyone on stage should have a backstory even if they are not main characters. To that end, he had each of us write one up and share them with the cast so that he would have a better jumping off point for how he wanted to block us and who should be spending the most stage time with who.

Here's mine:


Name: Margaret “Peggy” Lennox

Age: 26

Job:

Peggy has worked as a librarian in the town library for three years, since moving back to her hometown. Once a week, Mayor Hyde performs an inspection of the literary works available, never failing to add more to the town’s extensive banned books list. Once the Mayor has deemed a book to be inappropriate for public consumption, Peggy dutifully takes it off the shelf, promises to set it aflame, and then proceeds to hide it under her bead. She’s running out of room, but thinks there may be a way to reorganize her closet to fit next week’s haul.

Relationship Status:

Single. She was once engaged, but her fiancĂ© broke things off without any explanation. This was a contributing factor to Peggy’s decision to move back to her hometown after her grandmother’s death.

History:

Peggy was born and raised in this small town. However, when the U.S. joined the fight in World War II, both Peggy’s parents felt it their duty to offer their talents to the war efforts. Peggy and her older brother were sent to live their maternal grandmother in Checotah, Oklahoma. Neither parent survived the war. Serving as a WAC in North Africa, Katherine Lennox succumbed to an outbreak of malaria in 1943. Daniel Lennox, a medic in the 42nd Field Hospital, was killed during an air raid a few days before the Battle of the Bulge.

Peggy continued living with her grandmother, eventually becoming a librarian. When her grandmother passed away, rather than moving to Topeka, Kansa, where older her brother and his family live, Peggy opted to return to her hometown. Her happiest memories were here. Of course, the town has changed quite a bit over the years.

She rents a small attic space from an older couple, Bill and Susan Sanders, who remember her family. Due to this connection they asked only for $20 a month in rent and that she cook dinner on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Having now been there for three years, Peggy finds herself eating with them more nights than not and has taken to assisting in the upkeep of the house. They’ve become close over time, though Peggy doesn’t agree with Bill’s opinion that the town has improved under Mayor Hyde. As a result, she keeps her book rescue project a secret from them. She has, however, confided in two friends, Lily and Virginia. They were close as children, before her family moved away and reconnected as soon as she returned. Now they hold a scheduled Banned Bookclub Meeting once a month.
Overall, she’s content, but hasn’t quite succeeded in achieving the happiness she was looking for when she returned. Something’s still missing. She just can’t quite put her finger on what.

Likes:
-          Films (though she has to go a couple towns over to see any fun ones), particularly any with Marlon Brando or Gene Kelly.
-          Going to the high school football games. Doesn’t really care too much about the sport, but it’s one of the few places it’s okay to yell in public.
-          Silly putty. Finds it fun showing kids how to make the words from books appear on the putty when the mayor’s not around to see.
-          Hula hoops, but don’t tell anyone because they’re not allowed in town.

Dislikes:
-          Birdwatching. Susan loves it, so Peggy has spent many an afternoon looking at birds. It makes her want to scream.
-          Knitting. Doesn’t matter how many time’s she’s tried, she just can’t work the needles.
-          Horses. Peggy broke her leg once while riding with her brother. Now she won’t go near the animals.
-          Pickles.



Seems that even in my fictional lives, I just can't shake the book obsession.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Not-So-Guilty Pleasures: The Jodi Meadows Edition

And we're back!

During that last commercial break, we had the opportunity to ask the lovely Ms. Jodi Meadows - author of Incarnate and Asunder (to be released in January 2013) - what guilty pleasures float her boat.

Here's what she had to say:


I don’t actually feel guilty about any of the things that make me happy. But the truth is, some of the things that make me happy are kind of silly. Okay, here are a few things. Not counting books. I think, in this crowd, the book habit goes without saying.


1. Yarn: Oh man, I love yarn. If you know me at all, you probably know about the yarn thing. I knit. I crochet. I spin. I desperately want to learn to weave, but the loom I want is several thousand dollars and would need its own bedroom. So I don’t weave. But yarn totally makes me happy. I love knitting so much that last year, I knit Ana and Sam from Incarnate.
           2. Ferrets: I’ve been a proud ferret-wrangler since 2003 and I just love those goofy little weasels. They’re ridiculous, but very sweet and surprisingly sensitive. I love watching them play with one another, and learning their habits never fails to make me laugh. Todd the ferret has this thing about trash. He loves it. He wants to put it in his special box. (Which I’d also like to throw away but he’d be soooo sad if I did.)
           3. Punctuation expletives: I’m not 100% sure how this started, but I know it has something to do with my aversion to using common swear words. So I decided to use punctuation instead. Which is why you’ll see me using OMC on Twitter. That’s “oh my commas!” I also find shouting “bullcommas!” to be very satisfying (thanks to Agent Lauren, who made up that one for me), and calling people “asterisk holes” makes me laugh.
           4. TANGLED, ENCHANTED, and HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE: I’m not ashamed to say that these are my comfort movies. If I have a bad day, if I just want to smile -- whatever. These movies never fail to make me happy. The other day, I watched TANGLED. Then watched it again. Right away. The lantern part. *swoons*
5. Chocolate: The only reason I’d even sort of feel guilty about this one is because I’m afraid one day it will make me have to buy new pants. Most of the time, I just wear pajama bottoms or yoga pants while I write, which keeps me feeling good about myself no matter what my chocolate intake looks like that day.

If you (naturally) want to spend some more time with Jodi, you can find her on her website or on Twitter.


(P.S. Jodi, I'm totally with you on number four, though I've never seen HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE. *makes notation on To-Do list right next to "learn how to knit awesome things...or, at all"*)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Most Horrifying of Horror Stories

You know that part in the story where the beleaguered, terrorized babysitter finally puts all the pieces together and realizes that the calls are indeed coming from inside the house? Well, we all might find ourselves in that position soon.

One dark, dreary evening, the phone will ring. You pick it up, assuming it’s a friend calling to schedule a long overdue Quantum Leap marathon, but instead you’re faced with the enemy.

You won’t realize it right away, of course.

At first, you’ll just take the silence to mean that the call was dropped, but then you’ll hear it. A light scratching. The slight hissing of breath. The munching of acorns.

Your stomach twists, because even though you’ll wish it wasn’t so, that maybe one of your friends is just playing a cruel trick, you’ll know.

And then the chattering will start. But you don’t just hear it through the phone now. It’s coming faintly from the other room.

It’s coming from inside the house.

Despite what your gut tells you – despite the number of times you’ve cursed at fictional characters for doing exactly what you’re about to – you’ll move slowly, carefully towards the sound.

The chattering gets louder, amplified even further by the call you’ve forgotten to end.

You push the door open and there it is. The visage of your nightmares. A monster disguised as furry cuteness.

And it’s presence isn’t even the worst part.

This beast has got skills. Death-defying skills.

Just ask these Germans:


You may find yourself in awe of the Superman-like talents of the beast. Fight that. This is what they want. For us to feel fragile simply because we can’t jump four stories and keep running.

We’re in the trenches of mental warfare now. So, don’t let them get in your head! As long as we continue to fight, there’s hope.

Stay strong, friends.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Theme Songs


I’ve always loved theme songs.

When I was a kid and I’d hear the theme to a favorite TV show come on, I’d be beside myself with excitement. The first few notes was all it took and I’d go running to wherever the tune was coming from.

Once, when I was probably about four, my sister and I were hanging out with my dad. Out in the living room, I heard the theme for Sesame Street. Thrilled, I ditched my dad and went running. The little sis was right by my side.

Which turned out to be mildly problematic. For her.

See, the hallway wasn’t quite wide enough for the two of us to barrel down it at the same time. And in my excitement to get to the television, I may or may not have ALLEGEDLY tripped my sister, causing her to fall, hit her face into the molding, and bite through the skin under her bottom lip. If I was responsible for this (I can neither confirm nor deny) it was a total accident. I certainly would never have done anything to jeopardize an interruption free viewing of Sesame Street….or have intentionally caused my sister any harm, of course. As it was, we ended up meeting my mother at the hospital where my sister got stitches. I didn’t get to watch any of the show. But I did get to color. So, win some, lose some.

The point is, theme songs have power. Okay, not really in the sense that they can make someone bodycheck her sister into a wall – that’s on me. But, it can set the tone for a show. And when done really well, can serve as a kind of musical embodiment of the main character/characters.

Here are five shows that sport some of my favorite theme songs:

The Brady Bunch

Maybe it’s just because of the countless episodes of this show I’ve watched with my mother, but how can you not sing along with this? Honestly, I’d like to see every show put out a song that so clearly defines its premise. I would pay good money to get one for Lost.  


The Big Bang Theory

Both nerdy and fun, just like the show. And who doesn’t like shouting out “We built the pyramids!”?


Daria

I’d be sarcastic and anti-social too if someone was standing on my neck. Just saying.


The X-Files 

The Roomie can’t even listen to this one. She starts yelling, covering her ears and running out of the room. It’s actually kind of fun. I love that it seems fitting for a horror movie, but also has an otherworldly quality.


Angel
This theme speaks a lot to the character of Angel. It’s got a heavy, sort of gothic feel to it, which clues the listener in to the rather maudlin aspects of the character’s life. But it’s the last couple of notes that really makes this one a favorite for me. After all that heaviness, there is a short hopeful trill. It works so perfectly for a character who’s tortured, but still hasn’t quite given up on the glimmer of hope that he can be redeemed.


How about everyone else? Do you have any favorite theme songs?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Point of Origin



Sometimes my mind is very similar to an elementary school class. All these different thoughts clamoring for attention. Each yelling, “Pick me! Pick me!”

And I’m standing up in front of the room, feeling slightly overwhelmed.

This is even more true when I start to work on new stories. When I was at Backspace in May, I heard a number of authors speak about what their starting point for a story is. Some said location, the setting dictating what comes next. Others conceive first of an inciting event and build their plot around it. And a third group starts with the main character or characters.

From what I heard, each one of these approaches to the creation of a story can yield fantastic results. Still, I’m pretty sure that I will always fall into that last group. For me, everything starts with the character.

This may be because I have so many running around in my head (cue the men with the butterfly nets). All of these different individuals with crazy back stories that will likely never be used in whatever tale I ultimately spin, but will greatly affect the way the characters behave in those stories.

One of the greatest challenges in the process is deciding which one to choose. Which one gets to come up to the front of the class first and have his or her say. Generally, I’ll let a few of them tell me a few fun facts about themselves before I decide who gets to make a full presentation.

Once the final choice is made, I spend some time really getting to know the character. Inevitably, I’ll find myself thinking, Man, I’d really like to see how she’d deal with this situation.

And the story begins.

How about the rest of your writers out there? Where do your stories start?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Lunacy, At Its Finest


As we creep up on the first day of fall and the temperatures start to take a turn for the chilly, don't Fridays just feel a little....you know....spookier? Like maybe you should be fortifying your stockpile for the inevitable zombie apocalypse? Or at least drinking cider and watching Hocus Pocus?

I know it's not just me, because Lauren Grimley has also been feeling it. Particularly after she found out that the her novel, Unforeseen, is going to be released in paperback the Friday before the full moon. That's why she decided to host the Freaky Friday Blog Tour and was nice enough to ask me to participate.

You probably all remember Lauren from when she last hung out here, confessing all her guiltiest of pleasures. Today she's going to dish on all the things that push her to the loonier side of life. So, check it out and then come visit with me over on her blog, On Writing, Life, and Other Misadventures! 


My Loony List 

When I found out my book’s paperback release fell on Friday September 28th, one day before a full moon, I couldn’t resist taking advantage of it. Full moons and fantasy writers just seem to go together like writers and lame similes. And as a teacher they hold a particularly special place in my heart. Think crazy X 22 (the average class size) + teenage hormones, and you have my classroom come next Friday. Don’t believe the scientific studies that set out to disprove it; full moons make kids, and most other living creatures, crazy. And sometimes those kids and other living creatures drive me crazy (crazier?).

So rather than confess all the strange habits that make me crazy, as Kelly so honestly did on my site, I’m here to warn the world about what drives me bonkers. After all, those of you who know me, already know what makes me nuts, and for those who don’t, maybe I can get away a little longer convincing you I’m sane. Or maybe not.

1. Loud chewing. Mouth open, mouth closed, it doesn’t matter; if I can hear someone chewing across the table, it drives me nuts. I know that most people can’t help the volume at which they chew, beyond closing their mouths while doing it. I know some foods are louder when consumed than others. I even know that my own chewing is often audible. Still, the soundtrack to digestion grates on my nerves.

2. Odd! punctuation…in, emails; and other notices? I’d like to blame the English teacher in me for this one, but I think no matter what my college major was that weirdly punctuated correspondence would irk me. I’ve worked for two great bosses since leaving college. I admire and respect them both, but each has had a punctuation habit that I couldn’t quite fathom. The first was an obsessive exclamator!!!! (Yes, I just invented that term, but it gets the point across!!!) I think passion is wonderful, but one exclamation point normally does the trick…Then there’s the ellipsorator…Who uses ellipses like they’re going out of style…I can’t quite figure this one out…But I do know it’s a bit annoying!!!

3. Untied shoelaces. When I see an untied lace, I can’t help but foresee imminent disaster. Perhaps this is because I am klutz who couldn’t walk more than five steps before tripping over my own untied lace, or perhaps it goes back to my days working in a daycare when my six-hour shift was consumed with potty trips and shoelace tying. Either way I have one word for all you untied lace wearers of the world: Velcro.

4. Mysterious Facebook updates. Social media is the place you go to share your mundane life with your ‘friends.’ It is not meant to be the internet’s version of mystery theater. If you want to share, share. If you want to keep to yourself, keep to yourself. If you want to post something vague and mysterious so that everyone will beg you for details, you need to get a therapist to help you deal attention-seeking issues. Or maybe you need to write a mystery novel.

5. People with more pet peeves than patience. Okay, so I’ve just rambled on with an entire list of what makes me loony, but overall, I’m a pretty easy-going person. Everyone’s allowed his or her own loony list, so long as we understand that our pet peeves are our problem. Though I do occasionally point out untied laces to my students and gripe to friends about other’s odd FB updates, I don’t expect the world to change so I can be less crazy. If the world can handle my quirks, I can find a little patience for other people’s.

Hopefully this first Freaky Friday post was more entertaining than nerve-grating! Thanks, Kelly for having me.



Bio:
When Lauren Grimley isn’t chasing people around offering to tie their shoes, she’s writing or teaching in central Massachusetts. If she finds free time beyond these activities, she’s likely to spend it on a beach with a book and bottle of wine close by. Her first novel, an urban fantasy entitled Unforeseen, was e-published this spring and is being released as a paperback September 28th. The second book in the series, Unveiled, is off to the publisher, while the third is being dragged, kicking and screaming, from Lauren’s imagination.

Links to learn more about Lauren and her projects:

Personal website: http://www.laurengrimley.com


Twitter @legrimley:  http://twitter.com/ - !/legrimley


Links to Unforeseen and “Unknown” (a short from later in the series)

Amazon:
Unforeseen  http://amzn.to/Iyas63

 
Smashwords:
Unforeseen   http://bit.ly/KESWTO

Barnes & Noble
Unforeseen   http://bit.ly/M7v5MK

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Much More Telling Than My Being a Leo....



Who hasn’t watched a scene in a movie or TV show where some character unknowingly sports a “Kick Me” sign on his back? I’m pretty sure my first exposure to it was Eugene in Grease.

Well, Jennifer Colgan over at Killer Chicks posits that we’re all wearing signs we can’t see. Now, the signs she’s talking about aren’t hung by the T-birds, but are instead messages that we unconsciously put forward into the world. And they garner just as many reactions from those around us. 

I’ve known for years what my invisible sign is:

I WORK IN THIS BOOKSTORE.

Now, I have never worked in a bookstore. I did spend one summer working at a library, but that’s the closest I’ve ever gotten. Still, I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve been stopped while perusing the shelves to be asked where another patron can find the book they’re looking for.

It started in eighth grade. My mother and I went to the mall after school. A mall that I loved because it had two bookstores, one on each end. I, naturally, paid a visit to both that day. And in both, I was stopped by people who thought I was an employee.

At that point, I just assumed it was because of my outfit. We’d had a Christmas show in school and I was wearing a white button down shirt tucked into black pants. It could have been a uniform. So that must have been it.

Except it wasn’t.

Since that day, over and over again, I’ve been asked “Do you work here?” more times than I can count. Once I was stopped as I was exiting the store, coat on. The patron had just barely crossed the threshold, made eye contact and asked if I was employed by the establishment.

With the exception of that day when I was thirteen, my bookstore attire generally consists of jeans and a sweater – nothing particularly uniform-y there. I’m not one to sport a name tag for the sheer fun of it, so that can’t be it. Never once have I asked anyone if they need assistance in locating a desired tome. If people inquired about my employment in other types of stores, I might just assume that I have a shop-clerky look about me.

But it is only bookstores.

It’s possible my reading obsession shines a little brighter in a bookstore, drawing people to me. Or maybe, folks just assume that anyone carrying that many books around must be restocking the shelves.

I’m not sure. But I do know that it’s my invisible sign. 

What’s yours?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ahoy, mateys!



For the whole of the year, you may be a land lubber, but today be the day of talkin’ like a buccaneer. All those found not takin’ part will be labeled a lily-livered scallywag if e’er there was one. And any scurvy dog who dare insult us gentlemen and ladies o’ fortune, will soon find themselves countin’ doubloons in Davy Jones’ Locker.

Now, to further the celebratin’ of this great, grand day, I present to you some of the fiercest swashbucklers to e’er hoist the Jolly Roger.

-          Dread Pirate Roberts
o       He be most likely killin’ ye in the mornin’, but he serves a fine grog in the evenin’. I hear it be laced with iocane powder.
-          Morgan Adams
o       A lady o’ fortune willin’ to scalp her dear departed father for a treasure map and kill her uncle in pursuit of the booty? Not a lass to be trifled with.
-          Black Stache
o       Now, here be a man of sweet trade who be most impressive. At least when speakin’ of his mustache. When it comes to fightin’ children? That thar be a different topic.
-          Jean LaFoote
o       Any buccaneer who attempt to bring such sweet treasure, be good enough for me.
-          Captain Brickbeard
o       He be sportin’ a peg leg, hook hand, and but one eye. I pity the wretch who tries crossin’ ‘im.

Who be your favorite buccaneers? Leave their names below, so we may all lift a flask in their honor.

Now, be on your way. It be time for each of us to go on the account. But, avast! If you be looking for more information, or perhaps just needing a bit of advice, cast your attention in this direction or, perhaps, here.

Fare thee well, me hearties! I’ll be seein’ ye on the Fiddler’s Green.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Trust Issues



Recently, I’ve been watching a lot of BBC’s Sherlock, an absolutely excellent show.

In the first episode Watson asks DI Lestrade why he’s put up with Sherlock for five years. Lestrade responds, “Because Sherlock Holmes is a great man, and I think one day – if we’re very, very lucky – he might even be a good one.”

That one sentence summed up what I love about this character.

I’ve already mentioned that I have a fondness for characters who behave badly, but beyond that I really love characters that I can’t trust. The characters who are just as likely to make the wrong choice, as the right, and will probably enjoy it more. I’m talking about heroes here, not villains (though a villain who occasionally makes the right choice is much more interesting than one who is just pure evil).

So, I like the heroes who flirt with callousness on a good day, and villainy on the bad ones. I like feeling uncertain over whether or not they’ll choose the high road. I even enjoy how disappointed I am when they don’t. Now, I doubt this level of distrust in my real life relationships would be in anyway enjoyable. But in a story? Nothing keeps me more invested.

To really keep me hooked, though, there has to be that potential for “good.” If I don’t believe that the character could really, under it all, be a good person, I may enjoy their antics for awhile, but I’m probably not going to root for them in the long run. If a story can, however, convince me of this potential, I’ll cheer whenever those characters meet it and I’ll hurt for them whenever they fall short, even if in that moment of the story, they don’t care. Regardless of whether those characters make me angry, I’ll still be pulling for them to redeem themselves.

This is why no matter how entertaining the mysteries might be, the reason I keep watching Sherlock is for the internal struggle. That’s the outcome I’m really interested in.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Genre Faves Blogfest

Hey everyone!



This morning (thanks to Liz Fichera), I'm participating in the "Genre Faves Blogfest." Interested in joining in? Go visit Ninja Captain Alex!

The challenge is to list your favorite genre of movies, musics and books, PLUS a guilty pleasure from any one of those categories. This is certainly a difficult one for me. As you know, I tend to be mildly obsessed with all three of these areas (except, you know, minus the "mildly"). So, here are today's Kelly's answers. Who knows what tommorow's Kelly would say about this.


Movies: Screwball comedies from the mid '30s to mid '40s. (Starting with the famous Walls of Jericho all the way through to the Brewster aunts' elderberry wine.)

Music: Jazz (particularly anything by Ella Fitzgerald)

Books: Contemporary fantasy (give me a modern setting populated by myth and magic, I'm there)

Guilty Pleasure: Oh goodness, I have so many. I've already mentioned one of my movie ones (and I share Roomie's. Yes, that does mean that I spent $15 to see Step Up 3D in the theater. Stop judging.), so here's one for the books. Ghost stories. My family and I went to a lot of historical (particularly Civil War) sites when I was a kid. Could never resist picking up a book of local ghost stories. The habit still stands.


There are mine. Now, let's hear yours!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Time Traveling Tunes

I'm here to tell you, time travel is not only possible, but I take part in it fairly regularly.

My time machine of choice - music.

I know, I know. It seems mundane, but do you have any idea how much a DeLorean costs? Plus, with everyone having cellphones, there are fewer and fewer phone booths for me to utilize during my excellent adventures. And I'm on the wrong side of the pond to access the Tardis. All in all, given financial and geographic limitations, music is currently my best option.

The songs that really move me quickly through time are the one that are also attached to favorite movies of my childhood. They bring up all sorts of memories of who I watched them with, where I was at the time, what was going on in my life outside the viewing. It can be a fun side trip to make during the day and when I return, it's generally only about three to four minutes from when I left.

Here are a couple of my favored vehicles for time jumps:

 Side note on this one, I've heard rumors that Roomie likes to belt
this one out whenever she goes to her parents' and sees that 
they've changed anything. 


Much to my sister's chagrin, I used to pretend she was Averman 
when we sang along to this scene, just so I could give her 
noogies. Pay attention around 1:28 to see what I mean. 


 My friends and I haven't had too many "Which of the Sex in the 
City quartet are you?" conversations. But we've had plenty of
such talks involving these girls. I'm totally Samantha, by
the way. Who doesn't want to write a book called
The Aliens Next Door

Each one of these songs is so indelibly tied to my memories of childhood that all I need to hear are the first few notes and nostalgia rises up in the ol' chest cavity.

What tunes get your wistful reminiscences going?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My introduction to magic...



The books I read when I was a kid have had the most lasting impact on my life. I think this can be said for many people. I know that it can be said for Roald Dahl’s Matilda. After all, he wrote:


So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.


This is probably why Matilda was my favorite Dahl book growing up. Matilda and I shared similar views on reading. Well, that, plus she could move things with her mind. A power that I intensely wanted as a child (and, to be honest, continue to as an adult).

I enjoyed all of Dahl’s books. I never looked at peach pits the same way again, always interested to find out if there was a party going on inside. I often sent thoughts of thanks to the BFG after a particularly good dream. I checked all my chocolate bars for golden tickets, just in case there was a contest going on that hadn’t been publicized. And looking back on it, though I held no love for Veruca, her experience in the Nut Room may have been what first got me looking at squirrels a little bit more carefully.

Still, it was bookish Matilda who won my heart. I didn’t even mind that at the end she was no longer telekinetic, as she was using more of her brain for school related activities. Because I knew, deep in my heart, that if she ever really needed it again, her power would return. In the mean time, being smart and happy was more than enough.

I think it was in The Minpins that Dahl wrote:


And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.


Well thanks to Dahl and other authors of his ilk, I’ve always believed.

What about you?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sick Day

Most days my body and I are great friends. We go on walking trips around the city together. We share ice cream. We run in slow motion through fields of poppies.

But then sometimes I do things to make it angry. Things like paintballing when I’m really not good at paintballing and bruising the poor thing all up. As of result of these moments of inconsideration, my body gets angry. Now, sometimes the ol’ gal can rise above the pettiness and just let things relax back to normal, but other times I just irk her so much that she must have her revenge.

Thus, I am with fever and writing this from bed.

Now, some may not see the causality between my paintballing over two weeks ago and my illness today, but I know what’s up. My body’s a wily one and is known for playing the long game.

Lest you be put off by my feverish ramblings, let me assure you that I am doing my utmost to return myself to the state of health of which I am accustomed. I have everything necessary to mend the fissure between myself and my body:



-          Copious amounts of tea and chicken noodle soup. (I’m a traditionalist.)

-          Pile of books I’ve been looking forward to reading, including:
o       A Sliver of Shadow, Allison Pang
o       Blackbirds, Chuck Wendig
o       The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern
o       A Charmed Death, Madelyn Alt
o       Ever, Gail Carson Levine

-          The Unusuals on DVD. (If the folks from the 2nd can’t make me feel better, I’m pretty sure my body has officially sided with the squirrels.)



All right, now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go back to moaning.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

In Remembrance

I'm feeling reflective today. Thinking about where we've been, where we're headed, and the people who help us through the hard times. So, I'm not going to bog today's post down with too many words.

During one of the harder times in my life, my aunt sent me a CD of songs to lift my spirits. On days like today, one of her selections always pops into my head:



My thoughts and prayers go out to all who lost loved ones eleven years ago and all my admiration to those who risked their lives to save others.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Autumn Approaches...

The first day of fall is still a couple weeks off, but I’m already in a fall-y mood, it being my preferred season and all. Pretty much as soon as Labor Day passes, I make the transition. I think it’s my years of schooling. I’m just programmed to see yellow buses and think “Fall, thou have arrived.” It’s around this time of year that I am beset by the sudden desire to buy notebooks and pencil cases and maybe one or two Trapper Keepers.

Then there are the food options. Who doesn’t want everything to be pumpkin spiced, or, at the very least, sporting a heavy current of cinnamon? People who I don’t want to hang out with, that’s who.

And I don’t know about you, but I am the type of person who mentally equates certain genres of books with certain seasons. Not that I wouldn’t read the specified genres at other times of the year, but when the seasons change, I find myself leaning toward particular book choices. And the fall means it’s time for some mysteries. My classic “comfort food” author of the fall is always Agatha Christie. There’s something about reading one of her stories as the hot and cold weather battle for supremacy that just enhances the experience for me. And if the day is just a touch dreary, all the better.

There are some downsides to the seasonal change, of course. Football will now be on in the apartment every Sunday night. It’s the one aspect of fall that Roomie actually likes. She’s a summer person (yes, given this information, how the two of us have remained friends for so many years is a mystery to me too). But even football has a silver lining. I get to watch that silly robot dance. And any day that involves dancing robots just really can’t be all that bad.  

How about you? Any fall-type changes you’re looking forward to? Any authors who you particularly enjoy as the weather turns chilly?

Whilst I await your answers, I’m going to go grab my copy of Cat Among the Pigeons and watch the leaves change.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Bad Movies, Good Party Themes: Two of a Kind '80s Celebration

Hey Party People!

So, I totally know what you've been thinking lately.


Man, John Travolta and Olivia Newton John are fresh! But there are only so many times I can watch Grease. It would be wicked if they'd done something else together.


It's like I read your minds, right? No, I'm not psychic, this is just what everyone thinks. Trust me.

So, first things first, there is no such thing as watching Grease too many times. No. Such. Thing.

But, I can still help you out.

Join me in the viewing of the 1983 cinematic classic Two of a Kind*, starring none other than Mr. Travolta and Ms. Newton John. And, of course, Gene Hackman as the voice of God. Complete with edible sunglasses, bank robberies, a pair of the goofiest gangsters I've ever seen, and enough time freezes to make Zack Morris jealous, this is a film that is sure to make you sit up, take notice, and think, Well....that was certainly a movie.

No, this sadly isn't a musical. But, with the soundtrack being made up almost entirely of Olivia Newton John songs, sometimes you'll think maybe it is.

In keeping with the righteous time frame of the movie, the theme of the night will be the '80s. Appropriate threads are highly encouraged. If you choose not to partake, you will totally be labeled grody to the max. Just fair warning.  

*Not to be confused with the Olsen twins' late '90s TV show of the same name. The one thing this movie is sadly missing is the hijinks of Mary-Kate and Ashley swapping identities.  


Crackerjack dialogue to look forward to: 

-          "Two days!?! It took you six days to create the world!"
-          "Both of us will be out of business if those two don't fall hopelessly in love!"
-          "All I know is that the place was flooded and then everyone started throwing food. That's all I know."


For a Two of a Kind '80s Celebration of your very own, here's what you'll need:

-          Two of A Kind (1983) 
-          Spectacularly ‘80s outfit - think neon, acid-washed, cropped sweatshirts, parachute pants. Thankfully, all of the preceding suggestions work for men and women. Thank you ‘80s for the gender neutrality of your bizarre stylings! 
-          Snacks - You can go the candy route with some Razzles and Pop Rocks. Or maybe you just want to make something that looks ‘80s-tastic. I favor the neon cake.


  

-          Decorations – Throw a Slinky on the end table, one of the Cabbage Patch Kids and a Glow Worm on the couch. Put a couple of photos of your favorite stars up on the wall. Or more than a couple….I certainly won’t judge. 



Add a few glow sticks and some gold lamĂ© folderol? You’re good to go.  
-     A bitchin' sign of slang phrases from the chose decade. Just in case, for some bizarre reason, your guests can't remember. (Gag me with a spoon, right?) 
-    A group of retro enthusiasts and/or Rubik's cube champions and/or individuals who can do the dance from Saturday Night Fever whilst singing "Let's Get Physical" and not miss a beat.


Now, I've gotta book, but I hope you have a totally awesome weekend! 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Not-So-Guilty Pleasures: The Liz Fichera Edition



Welcome to this week's installment of Not-So-Guilty Pleasures! (cue flashing lights and theme song you're guaranteed to both hate and be humming for the rest of eternity)

Liz Fichera, come on down!

Some of you may remember Ms. Fichera from the post she inspired here about a month ago. Well, today she's here to spill her guts. So, without further ado, I'm getting out of the way.


Guilty Pleasures: Only 5?!

For me, choosing only five guilty pleasures was as difficult as choosing between milk chocolate and dark chocolate.  So rather than list pages and pleasures of the little darlings, I decided to categorize them. 

Without further ado, here are mine:

1. Food.  When I’m in the middle of a writing deadline, I have first-hand experience that a girl can exist on cheese pizza and dark chocolate with sea salt, although your hips probably wouldn’t appreciate it longer than a few days.  When I want to indulge in a food guilty pleasure, I reach for these comfort foods, with macaroni and cheese coming in as a close second. 

2. Television. This is embarrassing.  But I am addicted to the Housewives of the OC, NJ, and NYC shows.  I know.  These shows are train wrecks of epic proportions and I blame my sister for this error in my television judgment.  But I can’t believe these women walk the earth.  Seriously. 

3. Movies.  I adore watching old westerns and campy black and white horror flicks on rainy Saturday afternoons.  Since I live in the desert, this does not happen very often. 

4. Books. I read across genres and usually read at least two books a week.  I can’t get enough of realistic contemporary YA at the moment.  More, please!

5. Spa Treatments. If I could afford it, I would hire a full-time masseuse.  There is nothing better than an hour-long neck and back massage, maybe except for that dark chocolate with sea salt that I mentioned above…


Bio: 

Liz Fichera is an author living in the American Southwest.  She likes to write stories about ordinary teens that do extraordinary things.  Her debut young adult novel Hooked releases from HarlequinTEEN in January of 2013.  You can connect with her at www.LizFichera.com.



*Hey Liz! Just wanted to butt in for a minute to say that I'm completely with you regarding number five. If it wasn't for our lack of geographical proximity, I'd totally be willing to go half-sies.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Show or Tell?



There was a whole mess of time spent in the car this past weekend. So, naturally, conversation eventually focused in on the only question it could: Who is the scariest cartoon Disney villain?

There was a lot of thought given to this, but the general consensus in the vehicle was that The Lion King’s Scar held the title. The reason for this was ultimately very simple – we watched Scar do his evil.

A lot of the other villains were known to be evil. We knew that Cruella de Vil liked to skin puppies, but we never actually saw her skin any puppies. Maleficent called herself the “Mistress of All Evil,” but I’m going to have to take her word on it because the worst we ever saw her do was turn into a big dragon and leave out a spindle that makes one particular girl super sleepy.

Jafar’s fairly sleazy and has the whole mind control thing going. Plus we know he has the authority to put people to death. So, there’s some power there. But all that really plays out on screen is that he likes to manipulate people and really wants the lamp. Gaston’s an entitled goofball who never once indicates that he has the brains to beat Belle or sufficient brawn to take on the Beast.

All of these villains have grandiose evil plans that, if successful, could have made them contenders for being truly scary. But therein lays the rub. They’re not successful. They’re thwarted time and again.

Then there’s Scar. We don’t just hear rumors that he’s not really a nice guy. No, we watch him kill his own brother – a character who we first spend time with and grow to love (because seriously, who doesn’t love Mufasa?). But even that’s not enough. Scar then convinces a little boy that he is responsible for the death, runs the kingdom straight into the ground with his hyena stormtroopers, hits on his dead brother’s wife, and then tries to fight the adult Simba to the death. Sure, he loses in the end, but we get to see him have a bunch of victories first. Each evil moment was played out on our television screens.




The only other Disney contender who really comes close to Scar in my mind, in terms of evil playing out on screen, is The Hunchback of Notre Dame’s Judge Claude Frollo. If you haven’t already, check him out. Dude’s terrifying.




Why are these characters so much scarier than the Maleficents and Jafars? Because we’re not told they’re the villains, we’re shown. And those are the scenes that stick with us after the credits roll.