Thursday, March 28, 2013

Shift in the Winds

Greetings friends!

Just wanted to let you know about some changes coming up. I won't be here tomorrow and starting Monday, I am participating in the A to Z Blog Challenge. I will be blogging six days a week (no Sundays) for the month of April. The first post topic will start with the letter "A," the second "B," and unless you missed that day in Kindergarten you can probably figure out the rest of the pattern. If you were busy that day, here are the rules of the challenge. You can also find a list on that site of all the other super cool people who are participating.

Starting in May, my blogging is going to be a little less regular. I'm off on some adventures, you see. Australia, Ireland and a number of U.S. locales. Internet connection is going to be spotty in some of my destinations, so I won't be able to keep up my regular schedule. When I do get to post, though, there are likely going to be some pretty sweet pictures to share.

Things should be back to normal in the fall.

Have a great end of the week/weekend!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Always Pack Books First....Always

I am in the process of packing up my apartment.

Of course, books must be dealt with first. For the uninitiated, this does not mean that I load all my books into a couple giant boxes. Because that is a path of madness leading straight to split cardboard and broken backs. No, books need to be spread out among multiple carriers. And this needs to be a priority. Otherwise things can go to a very dark place.

You see, I go through five distinct stages when I prepare for a move.

Stage One:
I am meticulous. Everything is beautifully organized. The boxes make complete sense. Items separated by room in which they belong. A symphony of compartmentalized perfection. I am invincible. A packing god. You may take a moment to bow. I’ll wait.

Stage Two:
Not feeling quite so divine. But that’s okay. I’ve always been fond of the whole being human thing. And all my belongings are still pretty orderly. Sure, there might be some kitchen hand towels in the box with bathroom hand towels, but that’s not the end of the world. Probably.

Stage Three:
Man, packing takes a long time. When did I get so much stuff? This can’t all be mine. What should I label this stupid box? “Books/Linens/Snuggie/Mugs(2)/Light bulb/Avenger Chibis.” Yeah, that’s perfect. You know, labeling everything “Misc.” is just more efficient. Why was I wasting all that time before? Just get all of it in boxes. Then maybe a nap.

Stage Four:
You know what? If it doesn’t fit in a box, throw it out. I don’t need all this crap.

Stage Five:
Not already in a box? Fine. Setting you on fire. Done and done. Where the hell did I pack the damn matches?

There’s always a moment while I’m heating my hands by the pretty flames when I wonder if perhaps I’ve been a wee bit rash.

I feel a rush of panic, but then I remember all the books were packed by Stage Three. Relief warms my heart even as the bonfire formally known as my possessions warms the room.

Books are safe.

Everything else is expendable.

Reason number one to always pack books first.

And it’s totally not my fault if Roomie left some of her stuff in the blaze path.

That’s on her.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

If you'll excuse me, I'll be hiding under the bed...

I’ve seen a whole slew of previews for two new TV shows lately, Bates Motel and Hannibal. I really, really hate seeing these advertisements.


Because they make me want to watch the shows.

I have never been able to successfully sit through a full viewing of the movies these shows are prequeling. I was a freshman in high school when I saw the climactic scene of Psycho on one of those TMC top hundred lists. It was maybe a five minute clip. Just enough to scare me out of my mind. And result in a deep seated fear of men in shawls.

Hannibal the Cannibal? Hello nightmares. I know only the unfortunately bare bones of his story. Which is the way I like it.

When it comes to this stuff, I believe the clinical term used to describe a person such as myself is scaredy-cat. A title I’m very comfortable with.

So sweet baby monkeys WHY do I want to watch these TV shows??

I know how these two men turn out. Spoiler alert – no so great. You know, because of all the lack of social graces and killing and what not.

But then the previews come on. Hannibal has me ready to throw things at the TV in about half a second. And maybe shout, How do you not already see he’s a lunatic? Bates Motel is even more nefarious getting my brain to scream, How??? How did he get from point A to point B? Always crazy? Just a little off but pushed to the other side of the line? I must know!

Damn it.

I have, however, come up with a solution. I shall be running, whilst yelling at the top of my lungs, from the room whenever these come on the screen. I will not let them draw me in!

Otherwise, I’ll go broke from the purchase of additional blankets under which to burrow, the never-ending phone calls home to the parents, and the constant leaving on of all the lights (not to mention engendering the hatred of environmental groups). Just a little too expensive for my tastes.

And the paralyzing fear? That ain’t so hot neither.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Literary Celebrity Deathmatch

Do you remember this MTV show from the late ‘90s? Claymation celebrities would face off in the ring and quite literally rip each other apart.

Well, I’m going to be honest with you, sometimes I think about book characters this way. Complete with claymation features. And I wonder who would win in a fight.

Take for instance, two of the most classic female heroines, Jane Eyre and Elizabeth Bennet.

In an all-out fight, who would walk away victorious?

Let’s first look at the contenders:

Ms. Eyre:
She had a very difficult upbringing and as a result is a little socially awkward, but very independent. This independence is not simply something she strived for, but a necessity for her survival. And looking at her life, Ms. Eyre is nothing if not a survivor. A trait that would serve her well in the ring. That being said, Ms. Eyre is also exceedingly moral. She is likely not to approve of physical altercations, which may lead to delay in her ring reactions that could result in defeat.

Ms. Bennet:
Though at times dissatisfied with her family, she has lived a fairly happy life, free of turmoil. Her lowest point is when her younger sister makes a dumb decision regarding a gentleman caller. Added to this, though Ms. Bennet is frequently frustrated by those around her, there is rarely a situation where she is left entirely on her own to deal with. When given the choice she is independent, but situations in her life frequently require interdependence. That she is used to such support could work against her in the ring. However, she is more open-minded than Ms. Eyre and while certainly not immoral, more flexible. For instance, she would probably be more willing to alter her skirts, giving her room to sweep the leg. Which always comes in handy in such fights as these. 

Honestly, I do think this would be a rather fair fight. Still, while I would probably rather be best friends for life with Elizabeth, I think I’d have to put my money on Jane for the fight. I think her morality would ensure that she wasn’t taking any cheap shots, but when the chips are down Ms. Eyre already knows how to survive. Ms. Bennet would probably learn more about that from this fight than she has from any other event in her life (that is, if she walked away from it intact).

Who would you bet on?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Comically Serious

My mom and I were talking yesterday about what makes certain television shows so funny. Why some shows have us laughing until it’s a little bit hard to breathe, while others don’t inspire so much as quirk of the lips.

There have been a lot of new sitcoms in the past few years. Some that I really enjoyed didn’t last past a handful of episodes (I’m looking at you, Bent). And there have been others that seem to have built up solid followings, which I just can’t get into.

What is funny is going to vary from person to person, I’m sure. But for me, the thing that makes me roll is when a character says something very funny, but does not say it as a joke. For the character, in that moment, this is a serious topic and it makes complete sense that this conversation is being had. Even if it’s completely and utterly ridiculous.

I can’t stop laughing when Troy says, “I wouldn’t even think about it.” Because he means it. And rather than laughing about the absurdity of such a notion, Abed responds with the same level of seriousness.

The fact that they do it all in Batman voices is just the icing on the cake.

I’ve seen this scene from New Girl a few times. It continues to kill me when Jess says she doesn’t use toilet paper. She’s stuck in moment of self awkwardness and she’s not trying to break the tension with a joke, that’s just the only thing she can think to say. Despite it being ridiculous and not at all true.

And there’s a reason I start laughing the moment Phil Dunphy comes on screen.

He’s just so damn sincere. He’s corny and does ridiculous things that will, of course, embarrass his family. But, he’s just So. Damn. Sincere. How do you not love him?

So, what really gets me a-gigglin’ are characters who take their lives and their thoughts seriously. A series of one-liners said with a smirk just isn’t as compelling to me as two people having a conversation that they are both totally invested in. Even if that conversation is just about clothes.

How about you? What makes comedy funny?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Not-So-Guilty Pleasures: The Heather Reid Edition

Welcome - boys, girls, children of all ages - to this week's Not-So-Guilty Pleasures!

Walking the tightrope today, we welcome Heather Reid. Heather's debut YA novel, Pretty Dark Nothing, is being released on April 23rd. Very exciting stuff. Plus the blurb for the book sounds awesome. Check it out here.

But before you all go and get lost in Heather's world, take some time to find out a little about the lady herself.

Guilty Pleasures

Want to know all my little secrets, what makes me strangely unique? It would take all day to list the weird and wonderful things that strike my fancy, believe me, my mind is a curious and sometimes scattered place to live. I’m easily distracted by the ‘Oh Shiny’ things in this world from watching documentaries on spontaneous human combustion to wondering how many tiles make up the roof on my neighbor’s house. I can stare out my window for hours daydreaming, and like my mind, a lot of my guilty pleasure change depending on my mood and the weather. With the exception of the five I’m going to share with you today.

     1)      Gamer Girl:
I’ve always been a gamer girl. From Atari to text based PC games like Zork, to traditional role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, and on to modern day console games like Halo, Fable, Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect, Skyrim, and Dragon Age. And let’s not forget the MMORPG’s. I LOVE my games. I even found love playing Star Wars Galaxies online. Yes, it’s true. My Scottish hubby and I met seven years ago on the planet of Naboo and fell in love while fighting the Imperials in the skies above Kashyyyk. “But you don’t LOOK like a gamer.” That’s what I get from friends and colleagues when they find out about my guilty pleasure. I just shrug. What does a gamer look like anyway?

2) Ghost Hunters:
I can’t get enough of Jason and Grant and the whole TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) team. For me, it’s not just about the search for evidence of the paranormal; it’s about the history and the story behind the haunting that fascinates me most. I actually love watching them disprove certain phenomenon as much as I like seeing some of the unexplainable evidence they capture in EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) and on film.

3) Pajamas:
If I see a cute pair I love, I must own them. Purple ones, striped ones, floral ones, shorts, pants, tanks, t-shirts, lacy, geeky, and rocker chick, I have a pair to suite my every mood. No onsies please! Adults wearing onsies creep me out! And my pajamas must match. I can’t put on a pair of non-matching pajamas. That includes the socks. Pajamas rock!

4) Swimming:
Water is like a siren song to me. I’ve been called a mermaid by friends and family all my life. I’ve been on the swim team and did a year of competitive synchronized swimming when I was younger as well as spending my summers kneeboarding and jet skiing on local Texas lakes. I even ventured into the frigid sea here on the west coast of Scotland where the temperature in the Firth of Clyde averages 58 degrees in the height of summer. No, I wasn’t wearing a wetsuit and yes, I know I’m a bit mad. Once you start swimming and your body goes a bit numb, you don’t feel the cold anymore. I wouldn’t dare go in the water in winter though. That’s WAY too cold, even for me.

5) Musicals:
Why does this list suddenly make me feel like I’m a character from Glee? A gamer girl who loves watching Ghost Hunters in her pajamas after a hard day of synchronized swimming, and is a Sondheim loving, former show-choir and musical theater ingĂ©nue to boot? Please don’t slushy me. I have an extensive, if not eclectic, collection of cast recordings from the obscure to the popular. I know every word and every note from Into The Woods, Les Miserables, and City of Angels-- three of my favourites—and just mentioning the name Stephen Sondheim will have me fangirling like crazy. I love him. 

Heather L. Reid has always had a sense of wanderlust and a belief in the paranormal. She eats mayonnaise on her fries, loves video games, and getting lost in a good story. This native Texan now lives with her Scottish hubby in South Ayrshire, Scotland, where she spends her weekends wandering the moors in search of the ghost of WilliamWallace and exploring haunted castles. 

Her debut young adult Paranormal, Pretty Dark Nothing, will be released on April 23, 2013 by Month 9 Books.

You're a curious bunch, so I'm guessing you still want to know more. 
Check out Heather at:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Waiting on Spring

Spring time is here and the living is easy!

Okay, yeah, I’m currently trying to climb into my office heater. And fine, there’s talk of more snow next Monday. Stop bothering me with trivial details!

How about it being lighter later, huh? That’s springy. It’s not called “springing” forward for nothing, am I right? Sure, the month after daylight savings is always a total mind twist where I think I have more hours in the day than I actually do and somehow it’s ten o’clock before I realize I need to stop frolicking in the frost laden fields and eat some mac and cheese or something. But that’s a price I’m willing to pay for warmer weather.

Or, more realistically, the growing hope that one day the weather will indeed be less frigid.

So, I’m going to celebrate spring. Not let all those naysayers who keep reminding me that it’s supposed to be in the 30s tomorrow. THE THIRTIES. JUST ABOVE FREEZING. WHAT?

No, no, I’m sorry. That’s not what this is about. This is about the celebration of spring. Ignore the cold. Ignore. The. Cold.

Okay, I’m having a little bit of a hard time with that. If you are too, here are my suggestions as to how to get your mind off the, I don’t even want to say it, wintry temperatures:

-          Watch a spring themed movie, such as classics From Justin to Kelly or Shag: The Movie. Seriously, turn away from you computer and go watch these movies. I give you my guarantee that afterward, you will not be thinking about how cold it is. In fact, you may be robbed of the ability to think entirely.

-          Belt out some tunes from The Secret Garden. It may be a bit to cold to start your gardening, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sing about it. Plus, if you like to dance whilst you sing, you’ll be feeling warmer in no time!

-          Do some spring cleaning. Or if you’re not feeling quite that ambitious yet, read The Berenstain Bears Clean House. Might give you some ideas for when you finally do feeling like organizing all your things.

-          Nothing chases away the cold like new love. For some seasonally appropriate tales of devotion, check out Come the Spring (Julie Garwood) or Scandal in Spring (Lisa Kleypas).

-          Solve a mystery! That’ll totally keep you from thinking about the fact that you’re wearing three sweaters. Maybe you have one in your own life that you want to look into, but if not, Rita Mae Brown’s got you covered with the spring time themed Catch as Cat Can.

-          Perhaps reading about warmer weather isn’t helping. In that case, I suggest Ice Hunt by James Rollins. It probably still won’t be springy out when you’ve finished, but at least you’re not in the Arctic. Or, you know, fighting prehistoric creatures. Unless you’re into that sort of thing. Who am I to judge?

Okay, those are my tips. If you have any of your own, please share below. In the mean time, I think I need a forth sweater. And maybe some hot cocoa.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I Feel Like I've Read This Somewhere Before....

I’ve gotten the chance to do a lot of reading lately (a big YAY to that). While most of the stories have been wonderful, a couple have fallen into one of my biggest literary pet peeves.

Too much repetition.

Conflict is the heart and soul of any story. There’s something that must be dealt with for the protagonist to make it to that possibly happily ever after. And whatever that something is? The protagonist wants nothing to do with it.

And that’s great. Particularly when there’s a compelling reason for the protagonist to want to maintain distance – something more interesting that “Cause I don’t wanna!” But no matter how fantastic and understandable a reason the protagonist is given, I still don’t want to read it two hundred times in two hundred and fifty pages.

Say, for instance, there’s a girl whose hardworking father is employed by county’s Public Works Sewer Utility Division. Well, come “Take Your Daughter” to work day, she dons her goulashes and descends into the caverns below. And who does she meet, but a wounded ammit, begging for help to get back home. Despite being a peaceable sort, the girl’s first instinct is to chop the ammit’s head right off. After all, her mother’s heart had been consumed by an ammit, damning her spirit to an eternity of restlessness. Now, she haunts her daughter while increasingly going more insane.

Awesome. I’m totally on board with the reason this girl wants nothing to kill this creature. However, a good story is going to have a reason why she ends up helping the ammit. Such as saving her mother’s soul. And so the story continues.

Now, I’d want to see that the girl was conflicted. That she didn’t trust the damn ammit. That she has to hide her journey from her father who will, without hesitation, chop the thing in two. And all of this will stem from what happened to her mother.

But what happened to her mother is not the story.

This is about what’s happening to this girl.

So, the mother’s plight can color things, but sweet heavens, I do not want to see restated in every chapter. Mom’s had a rough time. Daughter’s a little touchy because of it.

I get it.

When I see back story like this showing up with an absurd frequency it makes me wonder if the person telling the story doesn’t seriously underestimate the intelligence of the person reading. Don’t get me wrong, I like these windows into the character’s motivations, but at least spread it out a little. My memory can take it.

First tell us that the mom had her heart eaten.

Later, maybe a bit on her going insane.

Down the line, the reason that the ammit judged her heart to be impure in the first place.

If it’s going to be a constant throughout the story, tell me a little bit at a time. Don’t tell me all at once in the first chapter and then rehash it again and again and again.

So, that’s one of my pet peeves when it comes to stories. Let’s hear one of yours.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Book Review: The Wanderer

Nestled on the Oregon Coast is a small town of rocky beaches and rugged charm. Locals love the land’s unspoiled beauty. Developers see it as a potential gold mine. When newcomer Hank Cooper learns he’s been left an old friend’s entire beachfront property, he finds himself with a community’s destiny in his hands.

Cooper has never been a man to settle in one place, and Thunder Point was supposed to be just another quick stop. But Cooper finds himself getting involved with the town. And with Sarah Dupre, a woman as complicated as she is beautiful.

With the whole town watching for his next move, Cooper has to choose between his old life and a place full of new possibilities. A place that just might be home.

Release Date: March 26, 2013

I’ve lived almost my entire life in suburbs or cities, with the exception of the year after college when I decide to give a rural setting a shot. Turns out it wasn’t the right fit for me, but every now and then I read books that make me wonder if I should give small town life another go.

I recently had the opportunity to read Robyn Carr’s newest novel, The Wanderer. This story is the first in Carr’s new “Thunder Point” series and had me considering checking out the real estate situation in Oregon.

Carr has created a community here in which readers will easily become entrenched. The people aren’t perfect and each of them brings a complicated past, coloring the way they interact with each other. They are real and relatable. Even when groaning over poor choices they would make, I could always see why the decision made sense to them in the moment.

While Cooper and Sarah’s romance is named as the focus, there are a number of couples trying to find their ways in this story. Many of their stories are actually set up before that of Cooper and Sarah, who don’t meet until 170 pages in. These couples span age ranges – from the teenagers in high school dazzled by their first loves to the middle-aged couple looking to embark on the next stage of their lives – and they each bring their own baggage to the story. Their issues are addressed with a mix of humor and sincerity that enriches the overall picture of life in Thunder Point.

Cooper’s feelings for Sarah certainly play a large role in the way he reacts to various events, but this story is actually less about Cooper falling in love with Sarah than it is about him falling in love with the whole town. As readers get to discover it with him, they are likely to feel the same pull to put down roots.

There are times when the world-building overtakes the action of this story, but on the whole Carr does a very nice job of setting up the location of her new series and the many people inhabiting it. As there are already at least two more books planned, readers can rest assured that they will have the chance to spend more time getting to know the folks of Thunder Point and see if the characters can manage to stay on the paths they’ve set for themselves by the end of The Wanderer

Friday, March 15, 2013

Flash Fiction Friday

Hello all!

Today's post is in response to Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge. We had to use a random sentence generator and then build a story around the sentence we received.

I got: "The flaw requests a forum."

Here's my story:

Flawed Plan

            Their plan had been fool proof, but unfortunately did not hold up as well against ignorance.
            But if Deena hadn’t known she was being hunted by an angry specter, how would I? It’s not like that’s a normal assumption to make about someone.
            Why, hello. Has anyone ever told you that you look like someone whose whole blood line was wiped out by a pissed off ghost with a penchant for possessing folks?
            Don’t think so.
            I will cop to the whole “blood sisters” thing being my idea. Deena wasn’t on board. So, I chanted “Deenie is a weenie” until she had to say yes to save face. And with a small Swiss Army knife, I ruined my life.
            But, I was thirteen. No one should be held responsible for what they did when they were thirteen. In fact, I’d love it if that entire year disappeared from my life. Then no one would remember those highlights. Or my mild A-Teens obsession.
            Okay, looking at the situation objectively, I can see how I might have been the flaw in the grand plan of keeping Deena safe. Not that I really appreciated her guardian declaring that my new nickname.
            But at least it makes for easy code: The Flaw requests a forum.
            The Flaw better have a good reason. His response to my text is almost immediate. Poor guy needs a life.
I make my way to the third floor of the abandoned MacArthur building, our designated meeting spot. It takes him about twenty minutes to show up, plenty of time to set up the equipment.
            He looks a lot more worn out that he used to. “What do you want?”
            “And hello to you, Carl.”
            “Libby.” Sounds worn out too.
            “How’s Deena?”
            “She’s fine. Why am I here?”
            “I’m working as an EMT.”
            “Ned mentioned that in his report.”
            I roll my eyes. “Of course. Thanks for him, by the way. Charmer.”
            “This is why you called me? To discuss your new job.”
            “And to see your sparkling smile.” Ass. He’s gonna wish that’s why we’re here. “The specter will not be torn from this reality until every heart containing even a drop of Wickham blood ceases to pump. That’s it, right?”
            I, of course, already know the answer to this. Not really something I could forget.
The ghost has done a hell of a job so far. He’s gotten to all the Wickham’s but Deena. But then, none of the others had Carl and Ned. A couple of Iron Souls, – the small minority of humans who were impervious to possession – they might not be able to exterminate the ghost, but they could sure as hell hold back whatever body the spook decided to try on.
They’d been watching over her since the murder of her mother. And me for almost as long. Because of the whole blood sharing fiasco. Still pleading thirteen year old idiot on that.
            Of course, considering my current plan, probably shouldn’t act like I’ve grown out of that state. “I want to stop my heart.”
            “You want to die?”
            “Not if it can be helped. But what if stopping my heart is enough to get me off his radar? If it works for me, then it might work for Deena. Which means he goes away forever, right? Make the blood stop pumping, he goes poof.”
            Not so stoic now. “Absolutely not. What is wrong with you?”
            My laughter sounds wrong, but I can’t fix it. “It’s been nine years since I’ve actually seen my best friend. Can’t be in the same place because the concentration of our blood together sends a cosmic evite to a homicidal ghost. My mother tried to slit my throat once and couldn’t remember it after. Didn’t know why I jumped every time she went to cut a bagel. And now she and my dad both wonder when exactly I stopped loving them because I can’t tell them that the reason I won’t be anywhere near them is because I don’t want them to kill me while possessed.
            Exorcisms haven’t worked. My attempts at making a proton pack? Also failures, or believe me, I’d be crossing the shit out of those streams right now. So, unless you’ve got a better idea, I’m going with this one.”
            “And if in the middle he possesses the doctor? You’re not waking up again.”
            “That’s why I’m not going to a doctor.”
            I can almost hear it click in his head. “I’m not going to kill you.”
            “I’m not asking you to kill me. I’m asking you to save me. Or let Ned. He won’t do it without your say so. Hell, I’ll stop it myself. All you have to do is try and start it again. Within five minutes would be best. I’d like to avoid brain damage if possible.”
            “It appears to be too late on that front.”
            “Fair enough. But if you were in my position, or Deena’s, wouldn’t you do just about anything to get your life back?”
            He stares at me for a moment. “You have the equipment here already, don’t you?”
            “No time like the present.”
            He shakes his head when I show him the set up in the back room. “I’m assuming the hospital didn’t authorize your borrowing of the crash cart.”
            “Yeah, I probably should start polishing off the old resume. Now, I’ve left instructions next to everything, so hopefully it should all go fine. There’s a letter on the windowsill for Deena if it doesn’t.”
            Carl nods shortly. “I’ll make sure she gets it.”
            “Thank you.” I take his hand. We’re not usually those kinds of people, but the occasion demands. “Very seriously, thank you.” I hop up on the table and lay back, opening my shirt, as it would be awesome if my clothes didn’t catch fire. Heart stopping, fine. Burning to death, no thanks.
            I can’t help smiling as Carl lowers the paddles.
            Live or die, at least I’m not just waiting around anymore.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Time for Some Pi(e)

Happy Pi Day, my friends!

I hope all of you mathematically inclined folks are doing something suitably math-tastic today. Seeing as that area of study has never been my strong point, I’ll be celebrating with the other kind of pie. You know, the kind that’s delicious.

And because it’s what we do here, I’d like to present you with my favorite pie related works in a variety of mediums.

Book: The Sweetest Thing. Pie is not the only thing baking in this Jill Shalvis work, but with names like Kick-Ass Strawberry Pie and Not Your Momma’s Apple Pie, they are hard to forget.

Movie: Waitress. I honestly can’t think of a another movie that leaves me wanting pie more than this one. My reaction is Pavlovian at this point. Someone mentions this movie, I start thinking about where the nearest place is to buy pie.

Television show: Pushing Daisies time a billion. I mean, there’s not even a close runner up when it comes to TV shows featuring pie. Ned was a pie-maker who owned a pie shop shaped like a giant pie.

Play: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. If Pi Day has you overindulging, this might be what you need to rob you of your appetite. This is one pie shop that I would certainly not want to visit and probably the reason that I stay away from meat pies in general. Of course, it is quite a bit of fun seeing how long you can wait between “Fleet” and “Street” when singing along with “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd.”

Song: “American Pie.” I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just need to take an eight and a half minute dance break. Just long enough to burn off some of the calories of pie number one before I start eating pie number two.

So, how are you going to be celebrating this auspicious day?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Giving Up What's Good For You....Apparently a No-No

When I was in fifth grade, I decided that for Lent I wanted to really make a sacrifice. I thought about it and thought about it, wracking my brain for what would be the hardest to give up.

Soda? Definitely liked that, but we didn’t normally have a ton of it in the house. It was more of a going out to dinner thing, so it wouldn’t be that hard to avoid.

Candy? Delicious, but similar to the soda situation.

TV? That was getting closer. Definitely liked TV, particularly if I could put a movie on. Then it was great.

But it still didn’t seem quite right. And then it hit me. The thing that I loved doing more than anything else in the world.


That would be hard. Really, really hard. Maybe even impossible, but I was going to try. I wasn’t looking forward to it, but I was proud I had found something that would be truly difficult.

My parents, however, were not too keen on the choice.

I promised them that I was only giving up my for-fun reading, not any of my school stuff. But that didn’t seem to be enough to get them any more into the decision.

I was a stubborn kid, though. And I was standing firm. Eventually, the convinced me to talk about it with my teacher. So, the next day, I walked into St. Patrick’s School, ready for my teacher to agree with me completely.

And be a little relieved, as well.

After all, she was the second teacher to tell my parents that I really shouldn't be trying to sneakily read during math and science. Wedging the book between my lap and the desk and “discreetly” looking down at it while pretending to take notes? Apparently not fooling anyone.

So, yes, I was expecting relief.

As soon as I told her, I could tell I wasn’t going to get the agreement I was looking for. She sat me down and told me that she thought it was very nice that I wanted to make such a big sacrifice, but that no one, especially God, wanted me to give up anything that was good for me. And reading, she was very insistent, was good for me. She told me that just like we shouldn’t give up food that makes our body stronger, we shouldn’t be giving up anything that makes out minds stronger.

In the face of all this unexpected exaltation of reading, how could I cast it aside, even temporarily? So, I chose a different sacrifice to make and kept on “hiding” my books under the desk (in retrospect, my teacher probably would have supported me giving up that one particular activity, but I was an all or nothing sort of kid).

And I learned that no matter how noble your intentions, reading is just too important to give up.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

All these years later...Sesame Street's still keeping me on my toes

I’ve mentioned before that a lot of the agents who I follow say that you have to be able to hook your reader from the first sentence.

This is something I’ve struggled with sometimes because I’m always so concerned about giving something away. I want to keep the mystery alive and all that. No spoilers! Nothing to ruin the twists and turns!

Blah blah blah.

Recently I was going back through some of my old children’s books and I came across one that was always a favorite, The Monster at the End of This Book, by Jon Stone and Mike Smollin.

Before even opening the book, I knew the ending. There was a monster there waiting for me. Still, I went and picked it up. The entire story is a reminder of this initial warning. There is a monster at the end of the book. They told me in the clearest way possible what to expect and they delivered.

And somehow they managed to surprise me anyway.

So, I guess spoilers aren’t necessarily all bad. I think the trick is to write like I’m performing a magic trick. First, you tell the audience what you’re going to do (“I shall now make this marmoset disappear!”) and then you do it (*marmoset goes poof*). It’s that simple. You just have to make sure that the manner in which you make that marmoset vanish is unexpected.

Epiphany reached.

Thanks Grover!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Perusing the Wanteds

This weekend I watched Safety Not Guaranteed (definitely worth a watch, by the way). The story is kicked off when a journalist and a couple of interns go to investigate a man who placed an unusual ad in the paper.

WANTED: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. Safety not guaranteed.

I thought a lot about whether or not I’d answer this ad. I mean, I’d certainly want to. A chance at time travel is pretty hard to pass up. I’m totally fine with not getting my money up front, but I would need a little more information about the target date and the purpose of the travel. If we’re going back for research purposes or to fix something, awesome. But if the placer of this ad is interested in screwing things up….well, then it’s even more important for me to go so that there’s someone there to try and stop him.

The ad that was displayed on Emma Trevayne's tumblr the other day, I would answer with less reservation. I don’t really have to many questions for the person who placed it. It’s fairly straightforward, provides good instruction, is clear that this is not an attack on all dragons, just the one. So, I wouldn’t have any problem following those bullets, but I would add another in between two and three. Prior to the discussed slaying, I would try to have a conversation with the dragon, see if I can get a better idea regarding what she’s looking for in OKC. I’m not sure I’m ready to take out such a creature if her only crime is that she caught the episode of Man V. Food where Adam Richman ends up in Oklahoma City, and subsequently had a yen for catfish.

After giving it the necessary thought, here are the other ads that I would be willing to answer:

  • Gremlin wrangler. I have experience with mischief makers. Also, this job would probably help me in my efforts to avoid late night snacking.
  • One-Eyed Willie’s treasure hunter. We all know that the bulk of Willie’s treasure was cast out to sea on an unmanned ship. I love being out on the water and I also believe myself to be fairly intuitive when it comes to spotting booby traps. I may not be able to get you to the ship, but once we’re there, I will ensure your safety. Money back guarantee. Provided we’re all still alive.
  • Haunted house flipper. I know how to swing a hammer, have a decent eye for interior design, and don’t mind a few specters lurking whilst I work. The house may still be laden with spirits of the past, but when I’m done with it, it’s gonna look brand new. It should also be noted that I am the target demographic for buying such a property, as well.

Do not however, forward me anything for the following:

  • Gorgon slayer. These ladies have gotten a bad rap. If my name meant “terrible” or “dreadful,” I’d probably be a little ticked off too. Despite their sometimes abrasive personalities, they can protect against evil and also do a bit of healing. So, just leave them alone.
  • Unicorn hunter. You should just be ashamed of yourself.
  • Mascot picking focus group member. Mascots are possibly the most terrifying things in the world and every time I see one coming toward me, I just want to punch it in its, generally comically oversized, head.

All right, folks, let me know which ads you’d be interested in seeing.

Until next time, see you in the classifieds!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Bad Movies/Good Party Themes: Teenage Mutant Ninja Vs. Pirate Turtles (III) Battle of the Wits

Leonardo, Michelangelo and Donatello make up the team with one more fellow, Raphael. He’s the leader of the group, transformed from the norm by the nuclear goop.

I am an unabashed fan of all heroes on a halfshell and subsequently sang the above song fairly regularly throughout my childhood. Though, I’ll admit to being a bigger fan of Leonardo than Raphael.

And time travel? Who doesn’t love time travel??

So, naturally, when you mix the two together, you get something….interesting. Sadly, no Vanilla Ice this time, but Corey Feldman does return as the voice of Donatello. Win some, lose some, I guess. Plus, this one does have a magic scepter! Because, why not?

You know what it doesn’t have, though? Pirates.

Is it just me, or could they have used this time traveling storyline to finally put an end to the timeless Ninja vs. Pirate debate? Just have them transported to the high seas, am I right? Well, apparently they weren’t interested in a seven-year-old’s ideas and went in a different direction.

Together, however, we have the power to rectify this horrible wrong. So, grab a group of friends and divvy them up into two groups: The Ninja Turtles and The Pirate Turtles. Each group then chooses from their ranks, their Splinter or Speck (the young rat raised by a noble pirate who was killed by the evil Captain Shearer. Speck escaped, though had part of his nose cut off by Shearer’s cutlass, and later found a group of young turtles in the belly of a ship transporting nuclear waste).

Xander went pirate and bought herself a cannon. Meaning Willow, of course, went ninja and is no longer visible in any pictures.

Once the mentors have been chosen, the two teams will meet on the battlefield, AKA in front of the TV. This will not be a physical altercation, of course. Mom always said not to have turtle fight clubs in the house. No, this will be a battle of one-liners. Throughout the night either side will have to come up with the cheesiest, pun-iest comebacks against the other team. This excludes Splinter and Speck, who can only speak in deep, mentoring tones.

Every original comeback gets a tally (this means that repeating exactly what the person before you said, but in a more sarcastic tone, while hilarious, does not earn you any points. Still worth doing for the sake of being annoying though). At the end of the night, more tallies win and finally put to rest the who-would-beat-who in a fight argument.

My contribution to this great earth.

Crackerjack dialogue to look forward to:
-          “Help! I’m a turtle and I can’t get up!”
-          “It just your, uh, ordinary time travel equal-mass-displacement kind of thing.”
-           “You’re turtles?” “Yeah, of the Teenage Mutant Ninja variety.”

Tagline: Ancient Japan, 1593. Without a map. Without a clue. Without a pizza.

For a Teenage Mutant Ninja Vs. Pirate Turtles (III) Battle of the Wits of your very own, here’s what you need:
-          Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993)
-          Teams dressed in appropriate attire to reflect both their professions and their turtle-ness.
-          Pizza. Of course, pizza. Regardless of whether they fight with in a mask or a ruffled shirt, turtles, particularly teens, love pizza. It’s just a scientific fact.
-          Poster board/square of clean wall to keep tally of the zingers.
-          A group of early 1990s nostaligaists and/or folks looking to get all their sarcasm out in a safe space and/or people who are determined to put the pirate/ninja question to bed, once and for all.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Not-So-Guilty Pleasures: The Kristan Higgins Edition

And we now return to our regularly scheduled programming...

Well, I have almost completely thawed out from the snow. Hope you're all doing the same or, if it's still snowing where you are, that you're at least building some kick-ass igloos. Perhaps it didn't snow where you are at all and your basking in sweet sweet sunlight.

Whether you're celebrating sun or snow, some more Not-So-Guilty Pleasures should get you in the right head space. Today's guest? Romance author extraordinaire Kristan Higgins. Her newest book, The Best Man, came out just last week.

So, if you'll all excuse me, while you're reading this, I'm just going to run out and pick up my copy.

Kristan Higgns & Her Five Guilty Pleasures

  1. America's Next Top Model.
Is there a more ridiculous reality TV show? I think not! And I love ANTM, as we fans call it. Preferably with a big bag of Wheat Thins and a jar of Nutella.

  1. Bugles.
So bad for you, you can practically taste the lard. The crunch, the texture, the knowledge that these calories will be with you forever…I don't know. They're worth it, somehow.

  1. Love scenes from actors' early movies.
Google "Monkey Love" on Youtube, and add the words "Jeremy Renner." You can thank me later.

  1. Ben & Jerry's ice cream after 10 p.m.
It just tastes better late at night. B&J's should name a flavor after me, I swear. I've put them in ever book I've written.

  1. Pretending other people's babies are mine.
I've been doing this since age 15 or so. I swipe a cousin's kid or neighbor's tot and then pretend that tragically, the parents have died and I'm the guardian. It's sick, I know.

Want to know more?
Check out Kristan at her website or on Twitter!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Snow Day!

Sorry no post today, friends! Was without internet for the majority of the day due to weather.

I made good use of the time though, electronically cataloging all my books so that when I move I know exactly how to arrange them on the shelves.

Roomie called it nerdy.

I call it good, clean, snowed-in fun.

Hope you all had an equally awesome day!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

It's Always Summer Here

So, apparently it’s going to snow. Or so I keep hearing. It’s like a production of Chicken Little around here.

I’ll reserve my thoughts on snow until it actually appears, but I can say for a fact that it’s pretty frick-fracking cold out there. And in my office. So, despite my love of the wintery times, I’m looking forward to a seasonal shift.

Unfortunately, speeding such things up is outside my skill set (yet. I’m not giving up on late onset magical powers), so I’m going with the next best thing – summer movies.

Here are my top five I-Wish-It-Was-Summer Comfort Movies (not surprisingly, most come from my childhood. Ah, nostalgia):

  • Now and Then

Spending a summer with your best friends, researching murder mysteries and trying to earn money for a bitchin’ tree house? Sign me up.

  • The Babysitter’s Club

Lost count of the number of times I played Babysitter’s Club with my sister and our friends. I do know that when this movie came out I was the happiest nine year old on the planet.

  • The Sandlot

I’d like to see some of these clowns play ball against Roberta. But Benny the Jet is totally still a legend.

  • Heavyweights

My sister and I still regularly cancel the other one's lunch due to lack of hustle.

  • Dirty Dancing

I mean….come on.

Now, go, spend tonight watching some fun tales of the warmer season. Turn the heat up high enough, you’ll almost feel like you’re there.