Thursday, September 19, 2013

It Be Upon Us Yet Again...

Talk Like A Pirate Day

Ahoy, me hearties!

It be that great, grand day once again, wherein we be encouraged to talk like pirates. Unlike all the rest of the long, dreary year where we be damned to the fate of land lubbers.

And on such a day I know what question be lurking in the damp recesses of ye hearts. What do buccaneers be readin', pray?

- How I Became A Pirate (Melinda Long/David Shannon)
  It be important that we each recall how we came to the sweet trade.

- The Gold Bug (Edgar Allan Poe)
   This be a cautionary tale if ever there was one. None but a scurvy dog would leave treasure marked so clearly by dead man's bones.

- Granuaile (Anne Chambers)
  Any who seek port on the Emerald Isle would do well to know of the Pirate Queen, Grace O'Malley. Unless, of course, ye be wanting to walk the plank.

- Pirate Haiku (Michael P. Spradlin)
  Don't be lettin' our fearsome demeanor fool ye. Pirates be lovin' poetry, or you can call me the son of a biscuit eater.

- The Book of Pirates (Jamaica Rose/Captain Michael MacLeod)
  For days that find ye loaded to the Gunwales. It always be helpful to have ye a grasp of the guidelines.

Of course, this be only a small samplin' of the mental grog to be had. And there be more ships on the horizon. In but a year, I, for one, will be readin' Hook's Revenge. I be hopin' that his daughter goes after that crocodile wi' a wannion. And any who say the beast deserves different is a squiffy, scurvy dog!

Now it be time for me to go on the account. See ye on the seas!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

On a Serious Note

Hello, friends. Today I'd like to share a personal story and unfortunately one which is much more serious than those I've talked about in the past. 

There's no easy transition into a topic like this, so I'm not going to try to create one. 

Three and a half years ago I was raped by a stranger who forced his way into my apartment when I was leaving for work. 

If someone had previously asked me if fourteen minutes was a long or short period of time, I would have said short. No question. And I would have been wrong. Fourteen minutes is an eternity. 

But I count myself lucky because in the fifteenth minute, light overcame darkness. 

Thanks to the extremely quick thinking of my roommate and best friend, the police arrived at my apartment before my rapist left. Her actions saved my life and ensured he was never again out of custody. I was saved the torment of knowing he was out in the world or having to identify him in a lineup. The tireless efforts of the detectives and prosecutor assigned to the case saved my sanity. And the unswerving support of my friends and family saved my soul. 

At his sentencing I was given the opportunity to give a statement. I did so with my roommate standing at my side and my loved ones seated behind me. And together we received the news that he would serve twenty-four years. 

I wish I could say that after that moment my life returned to what it had been before March 25, 2010. It didn't, of course, but I am more than proud to say that while it may not be the same, my life is awesome. Because I refuse to settle for anything less. 

Every day brings more healing and more proof that, despite how it sometimes seems, good does outweigh bad in this world. By a lot. 

This past summer was particularly monumental for me. Three and a half years ago, I would have said that I would never again live alone and that was fine. The idea of traveling solo overseas would have been more than laughable. Now, not only was I able to do it, but I loved every minute of it. 

Not surprisingly, I'm kind of in a celebrating mood. 

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of the holidays. Those of you reading last year were subjected to my daily Christmas movie calendar. And to the newcomers.... it's coming. Get pumped. 

But this year I've decided to do more. I'm combining all the things that make me happy right now and planning a holiday dinner auction in early December to benefit the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. It's a phenomenal organization and one that has helped me at various points over the last few years. 

It should be a wonderful night and I'm really excited about it. Right now I'm at the harassing-local-businesses-for-auctionable-donations stage. It's quite enjoyable. 

So, if any of you know of anyone who would be interested in donating anything for auction - like maybe (hint, hint) a signed book, fellow writers - please shoot me an email. 

And if you're interested in more information on the fundraiser, please check out

I know this post has been a bit long. Thank you so much for reading. 

I truly appreciate it. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Thirteen Books of Awesome

A lot of things freaked me out as a kid. The thought that the Wicked Witch's guards were going to come for me in the night. That my sister was going to be eaten by monsters because she didn't sleep with blankets on. My inability to eat anything without burning my mouth. Law & Order's transitional "bump bum." Bugs of any kind. 

But never the number thirteen. 

You know why? Books. 

So many awesome series had a thirteenth book. More than enough proof that it was a worthwhile number. At least in my mind. 

In the hopes that it will be enough for you all as well, I offer the following list of favorites in order of my level of deep and abiding love:

13. The Mark on the Door (Hardy Boys)

12. Kidnapped! (Sweet Valley High)

11. The Case of the Soccer Camp Mystery (Clue Jr.)

10. The Bobbsey Twins in the Great West (Bobbsey Twins)

9. The Mystery of the Ivory Charm (Nancy Drew)

8. Snowbound Mystery (Boxcar Children)

7. The Case of the Midnight Visitor (Encyclopedia Brown)

6. Amelia Bedelia Under Construction

5. Piano Lessons Can Be Murder (Goosebumps)

4. The Abominibal Snowman (Choose Your Own Adventure)

3. The Computer Teacher From the Black Lagoon

2. Goodbye Stacey, Goodbye (Babysitters Club)

1. The Change (Animorphs)

I still remember exactly where I was sitting when I got to K.A. Applegate's thirteenth ending. Man, I love Tobias' story. 

In conclusion, thirteen is an awesome number. But if today hasn't been going your way, may I suggest one of the above titles? Crack open a book and have yourself a little kid night.* 

It'll turn your day around and start the weekend off right. 

* Best when paired with macaroni & cheese and dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Yesterdays of Tomorrows.....or something like that

I spent yesterday touring a historic house and last night watching a movie about a dystopian future. 

The tour was of the Bayard-Cutting Arboretum on Long Island. It is a "cottage" built in the late 1800s. You know, just one of those little summer getaways with a measly sixty-three rooms. 

It wasn't a planned outing. Just ended up there on a whim, paid eight dollars and took an hour long tour of the home. I listened to stories of the family shopping for entire rooms over in Europe and installing hoses around the inside of the house as an early fire safety system. Walking through the servants quarters and seeing the men's hall and the women's hall, both with locks on the doors at the end of them, I felt a bit like I was on the Downton Abbey set. 

As someone who writes, even though my stories don't tend to be focused on that time period, walking around the house was inspiring. It's more than just seeing original furniture or the old photographs that, from the lack of smiles, folks took slightly more seriously than our recent selfies.

Places of history have power. 

It's hard to feel alone when you're standing in one. I'm not talking about being surrounded by the ghosts of those who died there, though I'd be lying if I said I didn't wish a little that I was talking about exactly that. More, it's hard to feel alone when you're surrounded by proof that we last. 

As individuals we all have expiration dates, but together, we last. 

That house wasn't even old in the grand scheme of human existence. We have so many examples of our staying power all over the world. And I have no doubt that in each of these dwellings, people lived their lives with some worry as to the changes happening in the world around them. 

So, despite the popularity of movies with dystopian futures where it rains all the time and people have done away with dressing in anything but neutrals (watched Total Recall last night) or the fact that the 24 hour news cycle sometimes makes me feel like we're approaching the end times, historic sites give me hope. 

It's hard not to marvel at all the ways the world has changed when listening to stories of the past, but the more important thing may be what hasn't. We're still around and we're still interested in where we've been and where we're going. 

I'm sure a hundred years from now some kid will be saying, "They seriously drove on the ground?" - that's right, flying cars, haven't given up on you yet - but I'm not ready to assume he'll be saying that from Drab City, built in the rain clouds because the Earth is now just a mass of craters. 

We can't change that the past happened or that the future's coming, but perhaps the reminder that our only real legacy will be left by the whole rather than the individual will make present interactions with the world more important. 

After all, hundreds of years from now, Federation students may be learning about the peculiarities do twenty-first century life (you know, twerking and what not), but it's not like they'll know my name. Whatever I leave the world will be a group effort. 

Unless maybe I write a real universe changing tome. 

You know, I should really get back to work. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

On In the Line Mix Path Not Chosen Double Feature (Bad Movies/GoodParty Themes)

Hello all! It's been far too long since we've had a good party theme here. In the spirit of apologizing, I'm making this a double feature event.

What better way, I ask you, to spend an evening of bad movies and good parties that with two gems from the early 2000s. It was a wonderful time. If you were anything like me, you were rocking a boxy school uniform and hair that was far too long, while obsessively taping old episodes of Early Edition on VHS for after you finished your report on Lynne Reid Banks. Or, you know, you were doing other things. Regardless, it was a glorious period of cultural history.

How do I know that for a fact? Because the first five years gave us not only On the Line, starring Lance Bass and Emmanuelle Chriqui, but also In the Mix, starring Usher Raymond and...Emmanuelle Chriqui.

In addition to sharing punchy titles and a leading lady, these movies also have two main characters who both have shades of the actors who play them. Lance Bass' Kevin used to be part of a band, but now works in advertising. Usher's Darrell went from being a success in the music business to a job as a bodyguard.

This is what you'll be asking of your guests. Have everyone show up dressed as themselves had they chosen a different life path, zigged instead of zagged.

Rather than explaining to people who they are now, every attendee should write down on a piece of paper what their new profession is and throw it in a bowl. For the rest of the night, ask each other any question - with the exception of all derivations of "what's your job?" - and see how many can be guessed before the night is over!

In terms of prizes for anyone who manages to figure it all out, may I suggest used copies of the movies' soundtracks? Anyone who's ever felt nostalgia for the early twenty-first century will thank you. Anyone who hasn't....probably won't appreciate being on the invite list for this party. Leave those nice people alone.

Tagline (On the Line): She's one in a million. His chances of finding her again are a million to one.

Tagline (In the Mix): Everyone wants a piece of his action.

Crackerjack dialogue to look forward to:
      - "I just want to be able to walk down the street without a ten woman pileup."
      - "Love may not make the world go round, but it makes the ride worthwhile."
      - "Italian people put red sauce on their macaroni."
      - "You're like the poster boy for the romantically challenged!"

Can you guess which are from which?

For an On In the Line Mix Path Not Chosen Double Feature of your very own, here's what you need:
      - On the Line (2001)
      - In the Mix (2005)
      - Container for guests' career confessions. This is where you get to scoff at everyone who laughed at you for holding on to the tins from your Altoids Tangerine Sours (or whatever early 2000s candy you favored). And they told you that was a waste of space...
      - Prizes for winners. Like I said before, soundtracks work well. Or you could just give them a piece of paper with pictures of Lance Bass, Usher and Emmanuelle Chriqui taped on, for them to doodle hearts around. Your call. (I know I'd appreciate either.)
      - In terms of food, I think pizza is the way to go seeing as the movies take place in Chicago and New York respectively. Plus, this opens up the conversation to which style of pizza is better, and there is really no truer way to know a person than answering that question.
      - A contingent of Emmanuelle Chirqui groupies and/or folks who love to wonder about what could have been and/or anyone who's ever hummed along to N*SYNC or Usher - which means you pretty much have to invite everyone you know. Hope your place is roomy!