Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!!!!

There has been talk of bests of the decade and worsts of the decade and no one is talking resolutions yet so lets have it. What are your goals and resolutions for 2010?

I will run a 1/2 marathon. And write another novel.

Share!! And have a safe and happy New Year's Eve.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Today Is My Anniversary

12 years ago today I was married.

As I write this my husband is making me laugh so hard it is difficult
to type. He is an original. I can't say what he was saying, but he
makes me laugh regularly.

We are having a quiet day (its snowing buckets out there) of seeing
two or three movies today at my favorite movie theatre, The District.
Per a fellow Inker's advice, we will see Avatar and then we will see
another movie, New Moon. I've already seen it with Deb and Donna on
Opening Day, but now its Dear Husband's turn. He read the books so he
could have something to talk to me about. (He's so funny).

Our children are at grandmother's house for 30 hours. :)

We were originally thinking of going to Moab to camp in our car, but
this snow storm helped us change our minds. I received a promise to
take the Moab trip in March. Just him and I and red rock. Aaaah.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I've spent the better part of my day yelling at my kids and transferring files from the old computer to the new one and I think I might have a coronary at any moment.

I sincerely hope your day is going better.

The Tart

Monday, December 28, 2009

BreakDOWN of 2009

On Saturday, fellow Inker Linda posted her "bests" of the decade. I feel no list is complete without a few "worsts" as well, so I am happy to write a few of my personal choices.

Worst TV Moment: The cancellation of Firefly. This western in space had great characters, awesome actors, originality, and brilliant writing. Fox cancelled the show without giving it a chance, leaving many wondering how crap like Jon & Kate Plus Eight can stay on.

Worst Celebrity Moment: It's a tie. First, the rise of Paris Hilton. Who is she? What can she do? Why do people care? If your parents having money and being a skank qualify for stardom, I might know a few upstart celebrities. Secondly, the fall of Tiger Woods. Here's a guy who seemingly had it all, a great career, a beautiful family, and enough money to hire the highest class of prostitute.

Worst Technology: Windows Vista. It didn't affect me personally, but I know many who had a problem.

Worst Change To A Successful TV Show: Adding Kara DioGuardi as a judge on American Idol. It's bad enough listening to two opinions that don't matter, but now a third? The show struggled with going overtime all season, and really, what does she add? No originality, no credentials that the other judges can't fill, and she wrote a song for the finale that sucked.

Worst Reality TV: Every stinkin' "I want to find my true love" show out there. You can't find true love on reality TV. There is lying, ulterior motives, and people who will do anything for their fifteen minutes. No room for love in that equation.

Worst Book: Breaking Dawn, Book four of the Twilight Saga. Millions of women curled their manicured toes in anticipation for the last installation of Edward. What a joke book four turned out to be! Ms. Meyer spent hundreds of pages leading the reader on a wild goose chase, feeding us red herrings, and building up to a war that never happened. Haven't read it yet? Let me spoil the ending for you. Edward and Bella live happily ever after in vampire bliss. Can I get collective, ahhhh.

Worst Movie: I know people will disagree with me on this. I might even get hate mail. Let me emphasize that my opinions in no way reflect the opinions of the other Inking Cap contributors.

My vote for worst movie goes to Napoleon Dynamite. Several people told me it was the funniest movie they had ever seen. Others told me they laughed so hard they almost peed their pants. My expectations were high. I nearly trembled with the need to laugh as I inserted the DVD into the player. I watched for the first hour, wondering when the wit would be introduced. I ached for brilliant writing or clever humor. Instead I watched an entire movie that relied on physical humor and quirky characters. Now, quirky characters can be good, but in moderation, my dear friends, moderation. Are there some funny moments? Sure. Some good lines? Of course. But watching a juvenile, dorky high school student with a dysfunctional family in a plot where nothing happens for an hour and a half...! I wanted to reclaim that 82 minutes of my life.

There are a few of my worsts. Agree? Disagree? What are your worsts?

Saturday, December 26, 2009


At year's end, many lists come out citing the "best" of the year -everything from books and movies to dry cleaners. The end of 2009 has brought alternate lists, detailing the best of the past decade.

I like these lists, especially how they bring about much debate and discussion. So, I'd like to present a very random list of some of my favorite writing of the past decade.

The Harry Potter Series Conclusion (a world I'd love to visit, with characters I care about - including that naughty Tom Riddle)

Juno (a unique voice, in a funny and touching tale)

Lost (great premise, interesting characters, and although they got off track here and there, I'm dying to know how it ends)

The Office/30 Rock (my favorite TV combo, many laughs, but even better are the cringe-worthy moments)

The Dark Knight (worthy for the Joker character alone)

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (great adaptation and epic filmmaking)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Dan Wells gave a great tribute on his blog. I totally agree, the writing is stellar.)

Boulevard of Broken Dreams (This Green Day song still pops into my head unexpectedly.)

The Princess Academy (I never thought I'd like a book with the word princess in the title, but I loved the strong female lead character as a model for young girls.)

Twilight (It should have ended with book one, or ended better. But, because of the Cullens, it belongs here.)

I know there are many more, but my brain is in a Christmas coma and these are the first that come to mind. Feel free to chime in with your own.

Friday, December 25, 2009


(This is a spoiler-free review)

So I went to see Avatar in 3D last night at the late showing. I went in with very low expectations, mostly because of the tall Smurfs from the trailer. Let's just say James Cameron does shock and awe as well as George W. did.

The story has been done before. My initial thoughts as the show began were Fern Gully meets Starship Troopers. (And I've seen it compared to Pocahontas and other similar films.) That didn't bother me so much, because really a film is all about doing it first or best, and Cameron certainly executed this story better than it's ever been done before. I was pleased that he took full use of his extensive budget to make it a three-hour movie. I doubt he could have told as compelling a story without a second less.

While the 3D aspect of the show (the entire show is 3D, even the preceding movie trailers!) was fantastic, the most impressive achievement of this film is how REAL the CGI characters feel. There wasn't a moment throughout the whole movie that the CGI characters came off as wooden or stodgy--their facial expressions, voice-lip syncing, motor skills, and skin/hair/eye tones all testified to bona-fide characters. The verisimilitude didn't stop with the physical aspects of the characters. Their personalities shone through despite the fact that they were CGI. This, for example, is one thing that Lucas missed with the new Star Wars shows, and why everyone wishes they could erase Jar Jar Bincks from our collective racial memory. Cameron's animators and team pulled the CGI off brilliantly.

I would have liked to see more of Sigourney Weaver; she took a limited minor role only. The other characters in the show, though, were interesting if archetypal. The archetypes worked well for this allegorical story, anyway, and strengthend its overall effect. For example, the head of security for the humans, while extremely archetypal zealous military, came across as an interesting character.

The romance in the story is good to a point--the endgame romance isn't so great, but the buildup is subtle and superb.

The colors and jungle wildlife are amazing! Creative CGI but also brilliant set and artistic design.

This movie appears to be Hollywood fluff at first glance, and many people have reviewed it as such already, but no matter what your interests or take on the film, it is a thinking movie. It takes a while to sort out thoughts about each aspect of it, and for that reason I enjoyed it.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Oh My 'Rein-Deer!'

It's Christmas Eve and tonight the reindeer will be flying around the world and all the little kiddies will hopefully be snug in their beds.
This blog is not about reindeer, really. It's about a cousin of the reindeer called the antelope. (We see alot more of them around here than we do those north fliers who live with Santa.)

This is a true story-
Recently on a sunny winter afternoon, I was driving with my two youngest children and at a stop sign my daughter looked out the side window and exclaimed, “Look! What are those things.”
She’s 6 so that’s not an unusual question from her. I glanced over and saw 40 antelope standing in a field just to the east of the four way stop.
I happened to be talking on my cell phone, also not unusual, and I explained to my friend and my children that we were seeing a huge group of antelope beside the road.
The graceful creatures then decided to cross the road en masse in a brilliant display of herd mentality. The humans yielded right of way and no antelope were injured.
“How fun! They look like reindeer,” I told my friend with Christmas in mind.
After the animals had all passed we drove on to our destination and I went on with my busy day.

That night at dinner, my daughter was complaining about not having any juice and I was answering another question from my oldest son when she waved her hand and said, “What are those things called, mom? You know is it cantaloupe?”
Thinking she was asking for fruit, I replied that yes indeed we could get some cantaloupe and she ran off.
A few seconds later I walked into my bedroom to find her explaining to my husband that we had seen a ‘flock of cantaloupe’ on the road.

“Were they rolling down the street,” he asked, adequately perplexed and turned to me for explanation. I was laughing too hard to answer right away.
“You mean a herd of antelope, dear,” I clarified.
After some persuasion and a little explaining of the difference between fruits and grazing animals and an interruption by my 4 year old claiming ‘no they’re reindeer, mommy said so’, we all had a little chuckle and went about our evening.

Then Grandma called.
The story was retold by my daughter over the phone and grandma responded appropriately with loads of giggles.
Grandma then pointed out that it was an easy mistake to make because cantaloupe and antelope rhyme.

To which my adorable little scholar said very seriously, “Yes, because they both end in antelope.”

Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Sleep . . . I just want sleep.
All I want for Christmas is a day of sleep,
A day of sleep
Yes, a day of sleep.
Gee if I Could only get a day of sleep,
Then I could wish you Merry Christmas!!

It seems so long since I could say
"I feel so awake and so well rested"

Gosh oh Gee, How Happy I'd be
If I could only sleep --snore

All I want for Christmas is a day of Sleep
Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Two Things

First, check out Bree Despain's blog here. Congrats to Bree on her book being on the shelves today!

Second, check out Dan Well's blog here. I've been trying to explain to people why I love The Dark Knight so much and he nails is perfectly.

That's all I've got. Have a good day, All. Good luck with the Christmas prep.

Monday, December 21, 2009


I hate watching the news. It makes me feel icky inside, like I've just kicked a puppy or something. There are two local happenings that I have caught on the news this month. One is a missing woman (with a very suspicious husband) and the other is a man who killed his wife, kids, and himself. Merry Christmas, huh?

It's hard, especially at this time of year, to hear these horrible stories. There's also the crowded stores, unrelenting people, and the ever popular road rage. With all the distraction, it can be difficult to remember there are great people in this world too.

I admire the people who stand in the cold, ringing a bell, asking for spare change. I love the Sub For Santa and Angel Tree programs. In our neighborhood, we have a program called Hearts For The Holidays, and the generosity of people never ceases to amaze me.

Many years ago, my husband and I were struggling financially. One day, right before Christmas, an envelope showed up with $100 in it. I still don't know who gave us that money, but I do know that I cried, overwhelmed by that kindness.

I'd like to say thank you, to all those out there who help, who have a desire to help, and who make this world a better place. To everyone who hears a horrible news story and feels sickened because they know humanity should be and IS better than that. And especially to those who provide a random act of kindness, because you make a difference. Thank you!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


I was out Christmas shopping (only six shopping days left!) at our local large, discount department store and decided to pick up a couple of books for some folks. As I perused the book aisle, I saw there were two entire sections of shelves devoted to vampire romances. I had noticed this before in passing, but this time it irritated me.

Although I have a good understanding of marketing, and realize this is a result of the phenomenal success of Twilight, from a creative standpoint, I wanted to smack each of those blatant knock-off authors in the mouth (not a very Christian attitude while Christmas shopping). It reminded me of when Harry Potter became so successful and one author had the nerve to publish a book featuring a character called Larry Potter, a dark haired boy with round glasses.

Granted, there are really no original stories. I believe it has been written there are only 36 basic plots. But, come on people, at least try a little harder if you're going to follow a trend. To me, Twilight was interesting because it put a different spin on the typical teen romance. Why would we want to read 20 other books with the same premise?

Am I being too harsh here? If you know of some books that have followed a trend, which you would highly recommend, please share. I'd like to feel only love in my heart at Christmas time.

Friday, December 18, 2009

I've Been Tuckerized!

So I came across I new, interesting term today. Thanks to Wikipedia, I found an immediate definition, and I wanted to share it with all of you who enjoy words (see Tuckerization Wikipedia article below). And now I have the right word to use with a friend who recently killed me off in one of her novels. It's good to know these things when you're in a pinch and your avatar character is getting killed off. (See, Jules, I've been tuckerized!)

Tuckerization is the act of using a person's name in an original story as an in-joke. The term is derived from Wilson Tucker, a pioneering American science fiction writer and fanzine editor, who made a practice of using his friends' names for minor characters in his stories. For example, Harry Harrison's To the Stars character: "Old Lundwall, who commands the Sverige, should have retired a decade ago, but he is still the best there is." Sam J Lundwall is a well-known Swedish science fiction publisher and writer, as well as the godfather of Harrison's daughter. A tuckerization can also be the use of a person's character or personal attributes with a new name as an in-joke, such as Ian Arnstein in S.M. Stirling's Island in the Sea of Time trilogy, clearly modeled on his good friend Harry Turtledove, albeit an alternate history Turtledove.

Many science fiction authors auction off tuckerizations at science fiction conventions with the proceeds going to charity.

In most cases, tuckerization is used for bit parts, an opportunity for the author to create an homage to a friend or respected colleague. But sometimes an author will attach a friend's name, description, or identifiable characteristics to a major character, and in some novels nearly all the characters represent friends, colleagues, or prominent persons the author knows. When this happens, tuckerization can rise to the level of a Roman à clef. Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle have done this at least twice:

  • Inferno, in which about half the people the main character meets are famous people.
  • Fallen Angels, nearly everybody who assists the effort to return the "angels" (astronauts) to orbit is either a well-known fan (Jenny Trout = filksinger, author, and political activist Leslie Fish), a friend of Niven & Pournelle (Dan Forrester = Dan Alderson), or somebody who paid (through donation to a fan charity) for the privilege of appearing in the book. In this case, it can be argued that the first and second categories are not true tuckerizations, since the individual's real names are not used (however recognizable many of them may be).

A similar effect is seen in Niven's collaboration with David Gerrold, The Flying Sorcerers; all the gods are well known science fiction or media personalities (Ouells = H. G. Wells, Rotn'bair = Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry), etc.

One of the earliest tuckerizations was between Robert Bloch and his mentor H. P. Lovecraft: Bloch's story "The Shambler From The Stars" (1935) featured a Lovecraft-inspired character, who was gruesomely killed off. Lovecraft replied in kind with "The Haunter of the Dark" (1936), whose characters included one Robert Harrison Blake (who had the same address as Bloch), whom Lovecraft killed off in an equally horrible fashion. After Lovecraft's death, Bloch wrote a third segment, "The Shadow From the Steeple" (1950), in which the events of the first two stories are further explored. In the early 1930s, before Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created the comic-book superhero Superman, they wrote and illustrated a fanzine story, "The Reign of the Superman," featuring a super-powered villain. This story includes one of the very first tuckerizations: a character named after Forrest J Ackerman. More recent examples include the many science fiction and military novelists whose names are borrowed in the Axis of Time by John Birmingham, and the Lachlan Fox thriller series by James Clancy Phelan (eg Birmingham gets it in FOX HUNT).

Related to it is redshirting, where the character named after the real person is killed in some way. Many authors consider tuckerization and redshirting interchangeable; 'redshirted' characters do not necessarily die.

Tuckerization should not be confused with the inclusion of living or deceased real persons in fiction, either as major or minor characters (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro in Warday, Forrest J Ackerman in various novels, etc.).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

To Tinsel or Not To Tinsel

Every year around this time, I begin digging trenches to prepare for the battle of the Christmas Tree Tinsel. My dear hubby sports a distinct likeness to Ebeneezer Scrooge, which unfortunately I did not discover until after our wedding on December 26th because our first Christmas we spent in 2 countries and 3 different states and all that travel left little time for discussion of whether or not to put tinsel on the Christmas tree. So for the last 11 years the battle has raged and so far my trench warfare has prevailed. There has been tinsel and a live Christmas tree every year, except when we went to Mom's house, where she had a live tree and tinsel, and I had no need of trenching or guerrilla tactics.

This year the shots over the bow have already begun.
Hubby says, "Okay, we'll spend our last dime on a dumb tree, if you insist, but no tinsel."
My response, "Hmm...well...I guess I could try ribbon this year instead of tinsel, BUT if it doesn't FEEL like Christmas, then I'll have to put some tinsel on the tree."
There. I have clearly drawn my battle line, including a compromise. Enough said right? NO.

Day 2
Dear Hubby says, "I just hate picking the tinsel out of the grass all summer. (Note: we drag the tree to the street for pick up after christmas and the tinsel has been known to fall off in the transport, BUT he's exaggerating, obviously.)
It clogs the mower."
My response, "No it doesn't."
DH: "Yes, it does and the vacuum cleaner too. I hate that."
Me: "But there has always been tinsel on the tree, every Christmas forever."
DH: "It's still Christmas without the messy tinsel."
Me: ...
DH: "Right?"
Me (to myself in my head): "Bring it on, Scrooge."

Could I live without the tinsel? Probably, if forced to by flood, fire, or allergy. BUT I don't have to and I don't want to. Did I mention that I still sleep beside the glittery Christmas tree on Christmas eve, like I did when I was 6, because I love looking at it that much?

What do you love about Christmas?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Your Senses

Last week we had an amazing Writers' Group. (This is a week late
because I was caught up in theatre production overload.) We met and
learned some good things about our senses.

Donna led the discussion on noticing what's around you and using at
least three of your five senses.

So, right now I want to hear/read what you are sensing right now. Here's mine:

Smelling the sweetness of a little one's breath as she asks to be
tucked in and feeling the silky-smoothness of her blonde hair as I
kiss her goodnight. After I kiss her I get a razzberry on my arm and
the vibrations linger long after her zurburt.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Off track

After a couple of weeks of doing well on my current work in progress, I have been derailed. Not all together, but enough to make me feel frustrated. I'm not without excuses. I could probably pull fresh excuses out from underneath my children's pile of laundry, but that doesn't make it less frustrating.

So, for fun, (and to get me out of my funk) I want to hear the wacky, silly or lame ideas you guys might have. Come on! Give me your worst!

Here's mine to get you guys started:

Space pirates! Space pirates who come to our planet and turn it into an intergalactic Tortuga! Yes! I would read that.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Nervous Nellie

What is this feeling? The fluttery stomach, the headache pushing at the back of my eyes, the need to pace??

Oh, nerves. Right.

I don't feel this way very often. Mostly because I don't like it. But today my daughter is getting surgery so the nerves are coming whether I want them to or not. I'm sure everything will go well, there really is no reason to worry. And hopefully as I keep telling myself that, my nerves will get the boot.


A couple of other things that get the ol' palms sweaty are the idea of failure and spiders. What makes you nervous?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Page to Screen

I saw an announcement yesterday that Natalie Portman has been cast as Elizabeth Bennet in the film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a book I haven't read yet, but was recommended by Inker Kirk.

Thinking about film adaptations of novels or other literary works, it seems to me a rarity to find one that can be enjoyed on equal par with the original, so I've started a short list, if you'd like to contribute. I'm only including examples where I read the book and saw the movie. For example, the Lord of the Rings films should probably be here, but I never read the books (I know, a sacrilege).

Good adpatations: BBC's version of Pride & Prejudice; Gone with the Wind; Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone; To Kill a Mockingbird; Bridget Jones' Diary; Romeo & Juliet (both the Zeffirelli and Baz Luhrmann versions); About a Boy; Howard's End; Sense and Sensibility

Bad adaptations: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Jim Carrey version); Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince (I was disappointed they left out the backstories of Tom Riddle and Snape); Twilight; Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason; Da Vinci Code

Friday, December 11, 2009


Just saw a great idea for a twist on the post-apocalyptic subgenre. Check out Robert Thompson's review of Sleepless here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bah and Humbug!!!

Bah and Humbug to rewrites, frozen fingers, chocolate cookies, free lunches, and good advice.
Yeah, its been one of those days.

On a completely different topic...DJ's work with Mr. Scrooge in the play she is directing this week paid off, and he did a great job. Congratulations and 'break a leg' tomorrow. Don't know why they think its a jinx to say good luck in the theater.

I love Christmas!!

(The raving ramblings of a overtaxed mind. Welcome to my world.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Let it Snow...

Holy Moly! It has snowed buckets here in Reno since yesterday afternoon. My kids had a snow day on Monday PLUS a two hour delay today. And, while I love the snow and the hot chocolate and the awesome winter food (chicken fricassee, chili and cornbread, roast and mashed potatoes), I don't know how much more I can take of kids stuck inside all day. My son was literally swinging off the kitchen cabinets last night. ahem! Adam. All I'm saying is, can the kids please go back to school so I can resume writing?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pickiness Never Was Happiness

I am a picky person. Is it inherited? Honed after years of viewing an imperfect world? I don't know, but the truth is that I rarely read a book or watch a movie without having some sort of criticism.


Hubby: That was an awesome movie.
Me: Yep (trying hard to repress any complaints).
Hubby: (clearly seeing through my struggle to keep quiet) Why didn't you like it?
Me: I did like it. I just thought the ending would have been better if...

See what I mean? I am a picky person.

As I think back on movies, books or shows that I LOVED, loved enough to overlook any weaknesses, I wonder what made them special. Great character development? Awesome plot? New and exciting ideas? A combination of the three? I don't have the answer, but I do know when I walk away amazed, someone else's creation has changed me.

The pickiness is, in part, what can hold me back as a writer. I am not perfect. I know many of my weaknesses. But how can I overcome the weakness enough to finish my book?

I want to know how you can overcome and go forward. I want to know what element you think makes a book or movie special. I want to know if someone else's creation has ever changed you.

So, come on. Spill it!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bring on the Banter

One skill that I would love to hone as a writer is the ability to write witty banter. I am a big fan of classic movies from the 1930s and 40s. One of my favorite movies of all time does this to perfection - Bringing Up Baby, a Howard Hawks film from 1938 starring Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant. The story is about a wacky heiress who takes a liking to a mild mannered scientist and gets him involved when she is entrusted with the care of a leopard. Much madness ensues.

For those who haven't seen it, reading random quotes from the film doesn't do it justice, but here are a few of my favorite lines:

David Huxley - Now it isn't that I don't like you Susan, because, after all, in moments of quiet, I'm strangely drawn toward you, but - well, there haven't been any quiet moments.

David Huxley - (David tripped and sat on his hat): I might have known it was you. I had a feeling just as I hit the floor.
Susan Vance - That was your hat.

David Huxley - But Susan, you can't climb in a man's bedroom window!
Susan Vance - I know, it's on the second floor!

I highly recommend this movie as a case study for dialogue and pacing. And, I guarantee you'll laugh out loud at least a few times.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Devil's Eye, by Jack McDevitt

Jack McDevitt delivers again.

The Devil's Eye starts off with Alex Benedict and Chase Kolpath receiving an enigmatic message from an interplanetary bestselling horror novelist. Author Vicki Greene tells them that she's gotten in too deep, talking about all the people who were dead. By the time Alex and Chase get back to their home planet, Rimway, Vicki has already had a memory wipe performed on her: an invasive procedure that completely wipes a person's personality and memories away, leaving them free to start a new life without hinderment from the past (usually only performed on repeat-offender criminals).

But before Vicki deep-sixes herself, she deposits two million dollars into Alex and Chase's account (which thousands of years in the future is still about what it's worth now; apparently in the future they find a way to stabilize inflation for good). Vicki wants them to discover what she did--what was so disturbing that she decided she couldn't live with the memory.

The last place Vicki had visited before sending Alex and Chase the message was Salud Afar, a borderland planet known for horrific legends and home to a recently overthrown dynasty of dictatorship and ruthless cruelty--the perfect place to research her next novel.

And off Alex and Chase go to unravel a deeply disturbing mystery on the edge of the Milky Way.

I thoroughly enjoyed Seeker, McDevitt's Nebula Award-winning novel preceding The Devil's Eye, so this novel had a tall order to fill. The mystery element was as strong as in Seeker, with the mystery almost as heavy as the sci-fi elements. As with Seeker, McDevitt uses the tools of science--astronomy and astrophysics especially--to unravel and solve the mystery.

Chase and Alex's characters developed more of an spark in this novel than in Seeker, giving the reader a sense of possibility while they still explore other options. McDevitt tries to make in Chase a female cavalier; she's her own woman and is tied down to no man. This role fits her as the pilot of the archaeology operation, but sometimes you just want to see her find love--the stuff which you're not sure will ever grow between her and Alex. Alex tends to come across as a rich collector who doesn't truly have an interest in people as he does in relics from a long-dead age. This hampers their three-dimensionality as characters, but ultimately they are enjoyable characters--Chase more so than Alex.

The Devil's Eye throws some twists into the story that I didn't see coming and that at first I was disappointed about because I was expecting something else. The twists were well-executed, though, and finally created a better ending that I predicted would happen. He did this with Seeker in a much better way, but it still works for TDE.

The Alex Benedict series is very standalone in the truest sense. I started on book three in the series, Seeker, and missed nothing. He's good at bringing you up to speed and only makes a handful of minor allusions to the previous books. For anyone who hasn't tried the sci-fi mystery genre yet, I'd strongly recommend McDevitt as a starting point.

The Devil's Eye, by Jack McDevitt. Ace Books. 2008. 368 pp. $7.99 (PB).

P.S. DJ, it's not too scary for you. :)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Writing Conferences in 2010

It's been an exciting week. Most of the Inkers have signed up for or committed to attending the LDS Storymakers conference in April in Provo. The line up of presenters is amazing and the classes are always so informative and organized. It is always a great conference. I first attended Storymakers in 2008. It was my first writing conference since attending college and I loved it. Candace Salima, Tristi Pinkston, and Julie Wright were just a few of the fantastic authors who took the time to befriend me and make me feel comfortable.

Lately, we have been planning the conferences we all plan to attend next year. We are looking forward to getting together with friends and other people who understand the rollercoaster ride of being a writer.
We have discussed "Life, the Universe, & Everything' at BYU in February. That is coming sooo soon! YAY. Writing for Young Readers is on the agenda this year as well.

What conferences are on your agenda and what are you most looking forward too? Spill it we're making travel plans right now!!!

Bah Humbug!

After all those mushy Holiday Greetings, I say BAH!

By next week I may be saying, "God Bless Us, Everyone." But today was
the first dress rehearsal for A Christmas Carol and it was a disaster!
There are still costumes to be made (by me), set pieces to be
acquired (by me), photography items to be arranged (by me), you get
the picture.

So, right now, I am feeling rather Scrooge-ish. This is the third
year of production and I should know by now that it always comes off
great . . . but I still lose sleep.

For any who are local and interested, Charles Dickens' A Christmas
Carol will be performed at Eagle Valley Elementary School on Dec 9th &
10th at 7pm. Tickets are on sale in the office.

Mr. Chops, you should come so Debbie can introduce you to that
teacher. It is all Bah and Humbug!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Spirit of Christmas

This is my favorite time of year, the space between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I listen to Christmas music almost daily. I indulge in hot chocolate and toast for breakfast. I bask in the glow of Christmas lights and the scent of pine tree in my house. There's really nothing like it no matter how hard I try. Sure, I might do those things at other times in the year (aside from the lights and the pine tree in the house thing), but there's something special about the actual months of November and December. The year rolls around to these last two months and I think that nothing was planned so perfectly as having a holiday all about gratitude kicking off the weeks preceding Christmas. For me, it all comes down to that; these two holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, working in tandem.

Now, I realize it's not this way for everyone and I'm sure some you may think I'm one of those crazies who buy all things Christmas right down to the cheesy Santa Claus sweater. I assure you, that's not the case. (Although, I have received one of those as gifts from time to time). Here is my reason for this love. I hope its not too personal for you.

When I was a senior in high school, just barely eighteen, things were not so good. My parents were struggling with a heavy load of debt and on the verge of divorce that would take place less than two years later. That particular Christmas is memorable to me because I remember my mom taking me aside that year to let me know there wouldn't be any presents. I'm the youngest in my family and I think it was hard for her and my dad to feel like they failed me during my last real Christmas at home, but I remember it differently. I remember feeling like they must've done their job as parents. Because it wasn't about the presents for me. It hadn't been for a long time. I remember the standard they set for me in spite of their personal struggles. I remember feeling gratitude. It's been years now and the lesson comes back in varying degrees, but it's this experience, this lesson that makes me love this time of year so much.

It reminds me of what's most important.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Merry Christmas, You Communist Nazis!

A few years ago I was shopping for generic Christmas cards at my local generic LargeMart. Out of several boxes and varieties, I was stunned that I couldn't find any cards bearing the words, "Merry Christmas." I found "Happy Holidays", "Season's Greetings", and even a "Wonderful Winter". But no Christmas tidings.

Has political correctness gone too far when the term "Merry Christmas" can be found offensive? Are people going to start having to ask for their coffee without sugar and cream instead of black? Instead of a "live" TV broadcast will we have to call it a temporarily metabolically abled transmission? We certainly couldn't use the word 'broad'cast because that would be offensive to women.

Heaven forbid... Oh, pardon me. I mean, expanse of sky surrounding the earth forbid we offend.

So, to all of you out there, may I bestow the fondest wishes for an environmentally friendly, economically sound, gender unspecific, sexual orientation free, secular or religious persuasion winter celebration of your choice.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Blech Friday

As is our tradition, my husband and I ventured out for Black Friday shopping yesterday. This year however, we did not rise early enough to be there when the stores opened at 5 AM because we did not want to tote baby around at that hour and, frankly there wasn't anything advertised that we felt was worthy of that effort.

So, we made it to Walmart around 9:30 AM and found most things very picked over (surprise, surprise). We bought a couple things there and headed to Target, where they were doing a 2-day sale instead of a limited Friday morning period.

It wasn't very crowded at either store, no elbowing, running and diving, or sliding necessary, which was nice and disappointing at the same time. Somehow the purchase is more thrilling when you know you beat someone else to it. Is that wrong?

I did have one moment of thrill when, after being disappointed to find The Office, season 4 no longer on the shelves, my husband found it in a discard basket.

The funny thing is, even though we're being quite frugal this year, we ended up with several things not on our list because they were so cheap. Now we have to try to match these things up to someone on our list. I'm not sure my Mom really wants to own a DVD of The Dark Knight.

This is why every year after Black Friday I always feel a little dirty, like the stores know my weaknesses and take advantage of me, luring me in with their promises of great deals on things I don't really need.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Old Lady Peabody's Soup: A Publishing Analogy

So many of you may have heard about how Harlequin Publishing has opened up a self-publishing imprint (italic used here to convey the sense of "what in the name of all that is holy and good in this world were they thinking!?"). A lot of ideas have been thrown around about it on the blogosphere, and I'm not going to repeat them here.

But I am going to add an analogy to the mix. (I like analogies; they're fun to create, and they make my wife laugh a lot, even if she's just humoring me 30% of the time.)

Harlequin's creation of a self-publishing imprint is like if Campbell's Soup decided they would let the old lady down the street from their factory, who is half-blind and who owns bottled and canned food that predates the Cold War, bring a big pot of soup that she had fixed up that afternoon with who-knows-what cooked into it down to their factory to start putting in Campbell's Soup brand cans. She would then pay Campbell's a few thousand dollars to thank them for the privilege of having her soup canned in their cans and put on the shelf with their label. The FDA wouldn't know the diff. The customer wouldn't know the diff. And. AND. Old Lady Peabody could go around town saying that her recipe of soup is used by Campbell's, so everyone should buy some of her soup. Weeks later, when a number of househoulds are hospitalized for food poisoning, having ended up with what they thought was the Campbell's Soup brand, they're not going to sue Old Lady Peabody. They're going to sue Harleq . . . er . . . Campbell's.

So, is it ever, ever worth coming out with a self-publishing imprint if you are a well-respected publisher? No. Never, ever, in a million years, quadruple infinity, no reversals. The end.

DISCLAIMER: Campbell's Soup is the best soup in the whole wide world and would never, ever let Old Lady Peabody and her cat-hair-riddled soup into their factories. This was merely a satirical analogy meant to show that a soup company with as highly respected a reputation as Campbell's would be a good analogical focus in comparison to Harlequin. (although they don't put naughty ladies on their soup cans as does Harlequin . . . so it's not the perfect analogy, right? But you do what you can.)


(I wrote this just before we hit the road so here is to being optimistic.)

If all goes well, I'm in Reno with Arlene and she is cooking up a storm. This new tradition, started last year, is one of my favorites of the holidays. I mean really, who do you know that would take into their home you, your spouse, three rambunctious kids, and a 75 pound dog for nearly a week, and not only be happy that you are all there, including the dog, but then cook for three days straight the most amazing food ever? I know right? She is amazing. I miss my family every holiday because they live 3000 miles away, but Thanksgiving in Reno makes for a wonderful holiday and then some. Happy happy, girl here.

Hope you are all having a fantastic Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kids Can Be Amazing

I volunteer with kids a lot. During the week I'm at the school 3 out
of 5 days. Then comes the weekend and I am at church serving with the

I do the singing time at church. Every Sunday we sing Happy Birthday
to the kids with birthdays in the upcoming week. There was this one
kid who every Sunday said "Today is my Birthday!". The first time, I
felt bad that we had forgotten his birthday and then I felt foolish
for falling for his prank.

Every week after that he would shout out that it was again his
birthday. The other kids starting following suit and Birthday time
became annoying. I decided to ignore it and just move along. As time
passed his joke, that never became old to him, made me smile. For a
year and a half we had this joke told every Sunday.

A few weeks ago, it was my birthday. I was in the chapel at church
and here comes the little trouble maker with a dozen pink roses and
says, "Today is your birthday". I was blown away. I embarrassed him
by hugging him tight!!

So, in our handling with kids, we can get angry or we can smile with
them and move on. I am not very good at smiling and moving on, but I
have been impressed by others' abilities to happily deal with wise
cracks. It is my goal to smile and move on . . . and remember the
wisecracks for my writing :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I know I am not usually one to wax poetic, but with Thanksgiving practically upon us, my mind has pondered the many things I am thankful for. Please endure with me as I take a moment to be serious...but not too serious.

Above all else, I am thankful for my family. My awesome husband and children are the best, don't try to convince me that you have the best husband, or wife, and kids, because it isn't possible. I already know I do. My husband is, quite simply, the greatest man I know, my best friend, and the love of my life.

I am thankful for great friends. Friends that "get" me. That understand I don't like to cry, that know sarcasm is just a way of life, and that are willing to laugh at my bad jokes. I couldn't pay for better friends. I know, I've looked.

My writers group is fabulous. I can't believe how I lucked out with such a fantastic group of people. Everyone has something to contribute, everyone is serious about writing, and everyone understands that there is a place called "imagination land" that you can get caught in while reality fades away. You all ROCK!

I am also thankful for indoor plumbing, air conditioning in the summer, heat in the winter, chocolate chip cookies, and fabric softener.

That's my definitely not complete list, but it's a start. What are you thankful for?

Monday, November 23, 2009


No really, I'm writing...and baking pies.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Stephenie & Oprah

A post on Facebook informed me that Stephenie Meyer would be on Oprah this week in her "only interview about the New Moon movie". Although not a regular Oprah watcher, I have tuned in when enticed by one of her big, super-exclusive, extra-special episodes, so I set the DVR.

Here are some things I found interesting from the interview, which some of you more rabid Twilight fans probably already know:
  • Ms. Meyer did not plan to write a book, but the concept for Twilight came to her in a dream, and she started writing in notebooks any spare moment she had to continue the story. The dream was the basis for chapter 13 of Twilight and she wrote to the end of the story before going back to do the beginning.
  • At the time of said dream she had three kids under the age of five.
  • After finishing the story, she still did not consider trying to get published, but was encouraged by her sister to do so.
  • She received eight rejections from agents before getting an agent. It took her two years and a few months from the time she started writing it to having it on bookshelves.
  • For New Moon, she didn't originally include the section at the end with the Volturi. She had planned to introduce them later in the series, but her Mom said she needed more action at the end.

I will leave it to individual judgement as to how you will interpret these tidbits, but it has proven to me again that there is no formula for becoming a phenomenon or making a gazillion dollars as an author.

Also, since I hadn't seen Oprah in a long time, it reminded me that the sketch about her "favorite things" shows on Saturday Night Live is really not much of an exaggeration (women's heads exploding, peeing their pants, etc. with excitement over Oprah's revelations). You should have seen the audience when she told them they were all getting the Twilight box set.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games is one of those books that I was very reluctant to read because it seemed so trendy. Everyone I knew, practically, was reading it, which left me feeling resistant to go with the flow. I felt the same way about the Harry Potter novels, the Percy Jackson books, and the Terry Brooks Shannara series (about a decade after they first started coming out). Also, I'd heard it ended on a cliffhanger, which made me hesitate to read it until I could see a sequel in print. Well, the sequel, Catching Fire, is out. And more good reviews from friends and acquaintances pour in.

Hunger Games is a straight dystopia with a very slight hint of post-apocalyptia (the dystopia is a result of the catastrophic civil war). Katniss Everdeen is sixteen years old and yet is the breadwinner for her struggling family: her widowed mother and younger sister, Prim. They live in the poorest district (twelve) in an empire ruled by the Capitol. In their district, people struggle to have enough food and shelter to live to see another day. Their main industry is mining, and so the coal miners and their families have very low quality of life. The Capitol government, after a rebellion from the districts more than seventy years ago, started an annual event to remind the districts of their subjugation: the Hunger Games. A boy and girl "tribute" are chosen by lottery from each district to represent their district in an arena fight to the death. The tribute drawing in District Twelve will change Katniss's life forever.

This novel is thoroughly enjoyable and is accessible to a wide audience, from middle-grade readers to adults. There are some darker themes and imagery that merit parent-children discussion for any youth reading it, but overall it crosses many audience borders.

The writing is very minimalist, clipping along at a good pace without overkill on character, scenery, or other narrative description. This is part of Suzanne Collins's talent: pacing her story to keep the reader constantly engaged and interested. She knows when to throw the next foil or twist in the plot, keeping the characters continually engaged in struggles that define them (thus describing them by their actions more than their words, thoughts, or narrator thoughts). Collins writes in first-person present, which is a risky POV. She pulls it off splendidly, and only occasionally is it a little jarring.

Thematically, Collins portrays the despotic government as a Roman Empire castoff, using such names as Cinna, Portia, and other imperial-themed monikers. This, I expect, she does to further immerse in the sense of a Roman arena fight and all the decadence and fall of morality associated with the corruption of the Roman Empire and its leaders. She marries these motifs very successfully (and believably) with the traces of the former U.S. government (as we know it). Just walking through Washington DC can quickly convey how much we are a New World Rome, and Collins gets that across--very subtly, to be sure.

The Hunger Games is an exceptional story, and I'd recommend it to just about everyone. It's a fast read, and, as mentioned earlier, has impeccable pacing that dismisses any pause or boredom.

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. 2008. Scholastic. 374 pp. $11.69 (HC).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Good Cookie. Bad Cookie.

I love fortune cookies, especially the ones that say things like, "Your dreams will come true within the year" and "Your natural talent will shine forth."

Then there are also the bad cookies. "Don't go on a trip next week." "An unexpected surprise in on its way to you." What are you a stalker? Depending on the day that last one can be good or bad in my mind, but most often an unexpected surprise comes in the form of flat tires and overdue bills.

Sometimes fortune smiles on us and sometimes it is someone else's turn.
Here's how I see it: Life isn't fair because if we all got what we deserved all the time the fabric of the universe would crumble under the pressure to stay perfectly even. AND we would never learn from our mistakes or triumph unexpectedly while others struggle on. Just imagine what would happen in the love department if life were fair. Sheesh, don't get me started on that menacing spiral.
For one thing, there would be no fairy tales at all because Beauty would have turned the Beast over to the police and Cinderella would still be sleeping by the fire.

I'm glad that life isn't fair. I'm just wishing it was a good cookie day more often.
Anyone else have a good cookie story?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Wheels On the Bus

A few days ago I boarded a bus with about 56 fifth grade girls, 8 other moms, loads of gear, and one cool bus driver. We were headed to an overnight field trip near the little mountain town of Scofield.

The girls, as soon as we were moving, shouted (that is the primary way of communication for 10-year-old girls) to the bus driver to play the Mile Cyrus song, Party In The USA. The super-cool bus driver obliged them and cranked up the song. Here is the surprising part: I was sitting next to my daughter (that part is NOT surprising, she still likes me--I know, my days are numbered). When the chorus came on, ALL the girls on the bus sang and danced along. By the time we returned to school the next day we had heard the song a total of 7 times. I had never heard this song before, I didn't know my daughter knew it either. I looked at her dancing and singing along and smiled.

My daughter, who is in a special advanced class, knew the songs, knew the bands, and knew what all the fifth grade girls knew--even though she is surrounded by braniacs. It was a great moment!

Part of the fun was that all the girls had fun. There weren't many pouters. There weren't many mean girls. These girls still had self-confidence--they hadn't been shot down by the trauma of middle school. It was just pure fun. And I got to be there and have fun with my daughter. It was a once-in-a-lifetime shot to be with her.

Sadly, the wheels of time will roll for these girls. They will grow up, they will suffer through adolescence, they will make decisions that will make us cry. I wish I could instill in every girl a knowledge that they are amazing, that they will survive if they will just persevere. I wish someone could tell my girls that they are special (they won't believe me, they know I am too biased).

Maybe we should take some time to tell these girls that they are special. Each one of them is amazing and bursting with potential. Maybe we can be the difference in a girls life because we took the time . . .

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Holiday Season is Almost Upon Us! Hooray!

With Thanksgiving around the corner, I find my thoughts wandering more to the arena of food rather than the arena of writing...slightly. My husband helped me make out the holiday menu yesterday by being my scribe while I made dinner. He's very helpful that way. :) Anyway, back to the point which is: We have a tradition in my house that everyone gets to pick their favorite pie for Thanksgiving and I make it. I don't care if only one slice gets eaten, as long as everyone gets the kind that they want. It might seem wasteful except that the other half of that tradition is that the next morning everyone gets to have pie for breakfast. It's quite possibly one of my favorite traditions of all time. So I ask you: What's your favorite holiday tradition and why?

Did I mention my 'why'? I thought it was obvious, but just in case...because I get to eat pie for breakfast. Duh! :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Divine Bree Despain

Last Wednesday our writers group had dinner with the ultra fabulous Bree Despain. She told us about her journey into authorship (which really could be a book in itself), and gave us some fabulous advice. I like Bree. A lot. She is down to earth, easy to talk to, and cute as a button. Because of this, I will admit, I was a little nervous to read an ARC of her book, The Dark Divine (available December 22). What if I didn't like it? What if it was poorly written? Could I still respect her in the morning?

Well, I had NOTHING to worry about. Her book is amazing.

The story revolves around Grace Divine, a girl torn between loyalty to her brother Jude, and love for Daniel, the guy he hates. There is a dark history and secrets aplenty, plus an interesting mythology that keeps the reader engaged.

But aside from a great story, Bree is a great writer. Her descriptions are fresh, and far from the cliche crutch some authors depend on. Her characters are well developed and individual. Her voice is unique, giving us unexpected moments of humor and emotion so real I got goosebumps.

On December 22, go buy this book. Pre-order it on Amazon. Walk seven miles in the snow, uphill both ways, to find it at your local bookstore. But whatever you do, read it, love it, spread the word.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


At my house everyone is in various stages of sickness, again. This does not bode well for winter. I may take up wearing a mask everywhere I go, and masking the children a la the late Michael Jackson.

So, I'd like to dedicate this post to flu season and propose an exercise to work our writing muscles. In three sentences or less, describe the sickest you have ever been. It doesn't have to be a masterpiece, and please don't spend more than a few minutes thinking about it. Just off the top of your head - Go!

Here's mine:

Pain attacks every inch of my body with merciless force. I lie, helpless, alternately burning and freezing, my throat raw and thick. I dream of sleep, of a moment of relief, and to dwell with society again.

Friday, November 13, 2009

After Apple-picking

It's that time of autumn that's just perfect for one of my favorite Robert Frost poems. Enjoy!

After Apple-picking, by Robert Frost

My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Am I Not a Man? The Dred Scott Story

What a privilege it is to share with you my thoughts about Mark Shurtleff's book, "Am I Not A Man? The Dred Scott Story." I expected this book to be an important story and it did not disappoint.

It holds a magnifying glass to a pivotal moment in the history of our nation. Not the gun fired by an advancing army or the election of a president, but the moment that turned the tide of public opinion and apathy into an inferno of action and decision that led ultimately to the Civil War. It is a story of determination, faith in God and Justice, hope, friendship, loyalty and freedom.

Shurtleff weaves moving passages of narrative with historical accounts and events in a rich tapestry of story. There is a range of perspectives in the story from the main character, Dred Scott, to historical figures through generations. The enormity of Dred Scott's case is described through an array of times and places and people. At times the different characters and histories slow down the story and take it from a 'quick-read' to a more thoughtful inspiring novel. If you are looking for something to get your heart pumping and the adrenaline flowing with fast paced action then this is not what you're looking for. It will appeal to history buffs and to students of the Constitution. Anyone who wants to know, feel, and ponder the injustices of man will find all of it in this story.
Overall I feel like this story is something I can recommend to all of my friends as one of those stories that it is important to remember. Read it, love it, and live more like Dred Scott the 'little giant."


I am non-confrontational.

I hate conflict. I shy away from it. Even in books, if there is a particularly nasty, devious character, I hate them and struggle reading the book.

However, a book without conflict is very boring. And a writer cannot write a book that is all roses. (There is a reason why my nickname is rose.)

Last night at writers' Group I shared my story idea with the group and Sir Kirk-A-Lot kept wondering where the conflict was. I need more conflict and struggle. I need to let my characters fail (even though I never fail). Ha!

So now I have the daunting task of finding conflict, even though I want to stay away.

What I really need though is a great antagonist. My personal antagonist is time. Maybe that is young Mr. Jones' antagonist too.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I'm on a Sugar Bender

I need an intervention. Some candy is great to have around when you're up till midnight writing, but somebody please come and rid my house of the Halloween candy! I've been binging since Oct. 31st and, at this point, I don't see an end until the last piece is eaten. But on this subject, I'm very sad when I go through the bags of candy and realize the variety has completely changed since I was a kid. I'm almost strictly a chocolate girl, so I almost haven't noticed the disappearance of some candies until recently. For instance, does anyone else remember those sort of peanut butter nougats? They were almost like taffy, but they melted faster in your mouth and they had actual pieces of peanut in them. And they were always wrapped in black or orange wrappers like pieces of taffy. They were strictly Halloween fair and I don't think I saw one this year. And the Bit O' Honeys! I could eat those till I was sick. Again, not one in the kids' pillow cases. (yes, my kids took pillow cases. They trick-or-treated till they couldn't hold them anymore). Also, there was a shocking lack of jaw breakers and lemon heads. The travesty! I should weep for my childhood days.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Only Me

I often speak that phrase. Or am told, "Only you." Why is this? Perhaps the Karma Gods take vengeance on me in a series of small moments that add up to one big cosmic come-uppance. I'm not sure but here is one example. Those with a weak constitution may want to look away.

I'm in a restaurant. My kids have been sick, but in a shining afternoon we're all doing well and decide to go out. We have just started to enjoy the soup portion of our meal when I notice something. My baby, who is in his carseat, has had a diaper explosion, up his back, down the sides...parents of children know what I'm talking about. Non-parents, well, diaper explosion pretty much sums it up. I reach for my diaper bag only to find *gasp* I have no diaper wipes. No problem. In MacGyver-esque fashion I'm planning to clean him in the bathroom and fashion a new set of clothes out of paper towels and used cardboard dispensers.

But then I find out the really good news.

The water has been shut off in the restaurant. They are closed (but are allowing us to finish eating) because a water main broke. NO WATER, FOLKS!

I told this to fellow Inker Donna, and her response? "You are the only friend I have who would call with a story like that. Really, only you."

Thanks, Donna :)

Of course the diaper experience is added to my incredibly "only me" week with my uncelebrated birthday because of sick kids, being sick myself, having a crown put on my tooth (that had cracked for no apparent reason), and another experience where I went to the gas station, forgot my wallet, and had another child throw up in the car.

And while writing this, my two year old just spilled Root Beer all over the counter.

Only me.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

When Words Hurt

I have been trying to hang in there with the new television series "Flashforward". The premise was intriguing to me and I like several of the actors in the cast. However, there have now been five or six episodes and the dialogue is so bad it sometimes causes me physical pain. I literally get a stomach ache, it is so disappointing.

It has made me realize how key dialogue is to keeping the viewer/reader interested. Man, nothing pulls you out of the story faster than lame dialogue. I feel sorry for the actors for having to say some of this stuff, and frankly, they look pretty uncomfortable too.

I am not good at pulling up dialogue from memory, so I borrowed this example from a reviewer at who has the same complaint. This is from a scene where the lead character, FBI agent Mark Bedford and his co-worker, Janis have traveled to Germany to try to get information on the blackout from an imprisoned Nazi (the premise of the show being, everyone on earth blacked out at the same time, for two minutes and 17 seconds and saw a glipse of the future six months later):

Janis: Isn't this where Sophie Scholl and the rest of the White Rose Nazi resistance group were executed?

German Prison Guard: If I'm not mistaken, your country eradicated its idigenous Indian population and practiced institutionalized slavery for 250 years.

Mark: We also gave the world Brittany Spears.


The acting is also painful, which I'm blaming mostly on the writing and partly on the direction. You can only do so much with this kind of dialogue and I have seen most of these actors do much better work. I also wonder if the acting is suffering because several of the leads are foreigners trying to pull off an American accent (see Joseph Fiennes, Bryan O'Byrne, Sonya Walger). Joseph Fiennes has a perpetual look of angst on his face, so he's either concentrating too hard on the accent or he is constipated.

So, I'm wondering if I have a right to complain when I am still watching it. I'm intrigued enough by where they are going with the story to hang in there, but I beg the producers to call in a script doctor, stat. Or even better, a whole new team of writers.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ambiguous Social Networking Posts!

Don't you hate it when people leave ambiguous posts on their googlechat/facebook/twitter?

I have one friend on googlechat who always, always has something like "hmmm..." or "Jill is anxious" or "Jill is worried" or "Jill is waiting" and you're just about going nuts thinking, What the heck is going on? Inquiring minds must know the details!

I think I've come up with a way to cope with these tediously ambiguous posts. I make up little vignettes about what's happening. For example, when "Jill" has something like "Jill is dreading tomorrow..." I fill in the blank with "because she's going to find out that her husband is really a stinky werewolf" or "because she knows that the sky is falling." Or when "Jim" says he's worried, I figure he's probably worried that he has to pay protection money to the mob before they send Bruno over to break his legs or possibly worried that he's started to grow a third eyeball in the back of his head.

If you're going to tell the world what you're doing or feeling, let's be more specific, people!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Rejection Therapy Session

I am seeking some therapy. I just received the official news that I didn't make it into the final round of a contest to which I submitted the first 25 pages of my current project. Here's the low down.

Judge One (let's call her Snarkaviscious) is a published romance author. She gave me 116,000 'you rock' points out of a possible 150,000 (point values have been exaggerated slightly) mostly taking points off for the formality of my voice. Her feedback went like this: "Although I was FORCED to judge you on mechanics such as mechanics/grammar etc., I do not think this is publishable as it is because your voice is so formal and stilted. My 13 year old daughter (let's call her Louis Denominator) wouldn't want to read this."

Judge 2 (let's call her Intelligencia the Editor) is a professional trained in writing. She gave me 142,000 YOU ROCK points out of 150,000. She made the following remarks. "You have a nice writing style and a great voice. Be careful of your pacing and comma splices (Yes, I missed some in the new material like 10. Shhh, Kirk.) You have an interesting plot and conflict"...yadda yadda

So here is my question: WHY is it that no matter who looks at this story I can't get a consensus of opinion? It seems that people either love it or hate it and for the exact same reasons. It's not like Snarkaviscious hated Kaya or thought she was uninteresting. She said my voice wasn't clever or edgy enough to be published. While Intelligencia touted the very things that the Snark hated saying that my voice was clear and readable.

Can I please get a great big GRRRRRRR! and maybe a hug? Cause I think I'm about to cry big ol' baby tears of frustration.

I am not new to rejection this is the umpteenth time this year I've dealt with it. Somebody please tell me why we as writer's keep subjecting our creative genius to this type of scrutiny and subjectivity. Is it insanity? Is there a pill to cure it?

The Body

This week I've been thinking about the body--more specifically, my body.

When there is a minor ache somewhere, it is usually ignored. If I have some strange shooting pain in my toe, I'll ignore it until I can't walk anymore. If my eye feels weird, I'll ignore that till I need glasses.

I was raised with a nervous mother. She took my sister in so often for x-rays, the Dr. finally said that my sister couldn't have anymore--she was getting too much radiation. Since I have grown, I've become hesitant to rush to the Dr. Office. I hate hearing, "It's just viral, there is nothing we can do." Which translates to me, "You are a fool for coming here. You've wasted $30."

Then, this week, I got another minor ache, it is more uncomfortable than painful. It is just a little weird. I ignored it for a week and then decided I needed to see someone about it. You see, the reason why I'm rushing for medical help is that the little weirdness is happening in my heart.

The heart is kinda important. People have lived with amputated toes--some have even cut them off themselves. Very few people live with amputated hearts. So I rushed to the Dr. and today I get to have a little monitor attached to me to see what the heck is going on.

So, wish that little monitor luck--its got quite a day of running to do with me!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dress It Down

Halloween left me a little shocked. And appalled. That's right, shocked and appalled. I could not believe the array of, dare I say, skanky costumes walking the streets (pun intended) this year. Here are a few examples of what I saw.

A young, teenage girl in a batgirl costume. Super short, super tight and sleeveless. I figured if I, a married woman with kids, noticed her boobs, then certainly the boys she was with noticed them as well.

A sixth grader in slashed tights and shorts so short you could see her butt when she bent over. And the tights were slashed. Trust me, they didn't really cover anything.

A girl in a devil costume, red fishnet stockings, red spaghetti strap dress, low cut in front and slit to her unmentionable area. Very slinky and sexy. And, oh yeah, the girl was in SECOND GRADE!

I live in Utah. Although seasonably warm this Halloween, it's still too cold to wear things I'm used to seeing on the beach.

I know it's fun. I know for the most part, it's just kids being kids, an innocent break from the drag of normal clothes. But consider this. July is one of the highest birth months of the year, a mere nine months after October. Perhaps the dressing up, or lack thereof, isn't so innocent.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


It being Halloween and all, my mind wandered to contemplate things that are scary, which led me to ponder irrational things that scare people, a.k.a. phobias. I began to wonder how many phobias there are, and with help of a handy little tool called Google (perhaps some of you have heard of it) I quickly learned that there are over 120 named and clinically accepted phobias. So, apparently FDR was right when he said "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," because there are a LOT of things that scare folks.

Here are some of my favorites:

spectrophobia - fear of mirrors or of one's own reflection

chorophobia - fear of dancing

nomophobia - fear of being out of mobile phone contact

somniphobia - fear of sleep

tetraphobia - fear of the number 4

workplace phobia - fear of the work place (likely story)

One of my fears was not on the list, so I'm taking it upon myself to name it.

tootallmanophobia - fear of men on stilts

Friday, October 30, 2009

To the Women

So I had a rather poignant conversation with a colleague today, and by the end of it we both arrived at the sad conclusion that women, in certain war-torn areas of the world especially but not exclusively, have been trodden down and subjugated to such violence and misogynistic terror over the centuries, but certainly no less today.

I'm dedicating today's post to those women out there in this twisted, violent world who are suffering because of the ignorance and brutality of mankind, whether it be in the Taliban-benighted towns of Pakistan and Afghanistan or in a suburb of Cleveland. God loves you.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Plot Adhesive

My son can make just about anything with a piece of plain white paper and some tape. Airplanes, shields, swords complete will all of the accoutrements, water towers, and movable construction cranes are a few of the engineering marvels that I've seen come to life with a little paper and tape. Give him Lego's and the list becomes awe- inspiring. I haven't introduced my 8 year old to Duct Tape yet. (Have mercy my entire house would be covered in the stuff.)

What does this have to do with anything?

It's about creative adhesive. I have found that a little thematic duct tape can go a long way in my writing. I don't make walking robots out of paper and tape, instead I use blank paper to cough out my stories and sometimes I need a little plot adhesive.

I find myself saying, "What does this part/scene/twist mean?" And then finally an idea or theme emerges (my duct tape) that makes sense in every aspect of the plot and for all my characters. The truth of my hero is the lie of my villain. The saving grace for all the supportive characters either strengthen the truth or feed into the lie. One nice little bundle of story tied up with thematic duct tape.

What sticks your stories together?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Snow and A Hectic Life

The first flakes of snow fell today.

They were delicate at first and falling from a blue sky. My children and I wondered at where they were coming from.

As night crept in the flakes became fiercer, as though now under the mask of darkness they could show their true power.

The night turned black with flashes of blizzard flying snow.

The grass fell victim to some of the crystals, but the warm earth quickly dispatched the weak flakes when they touched down.

The sadness of the first snow is this: I was too busy rushing from here to there to anywhere and nowhere, that I missed savoring the first snow of winter.

What has become of me that I missed the first snow?

Hopefully when the first "real" snow comes, I will be able to stop whatever I am doing and relish in the new snow: Walk through it in warm snow boots; look into the sky and watch the falling flakes like falling stars; shovel the walk and hear the crunch of ice; then curl up in a window with a good book and a warm blanket and watch the snow from the warmth of home.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I'm Rolling With It

It's cold. (I'm writing this on Oct. 21st in Reno, NV). The sky is gray and I really want some hot chocolate. On the good side--I painted my house last winter so even though outside looks dismal, inside is like being inside a buttercup. Also, I'm in a really good mood for writing. So I'm rolling with it. Wish me luck!

Post Script:

It's Oct. 26th, still cold but not cloudy, I'm home from Girls' Weekend and I Can't. Wait. To. Write!!!!! I also can't wait for Thanksgiving, but since writing is something I can do right now, I think I'll start with that. :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Commercial Hour

I have kids. Consequently, at this time of year, I can't turn on the TV without being bombarded by the phrase, "I want that!" Toy manufacturers, knowing that Christmas is on the way, flood the airwaves with the latest and greatest in the world of play time.

Let the commercialization begin!

My two year old has caught on to the "I want that" spirit, now noticing and watching commercials when previously he could have cared less.

Even Halloween has become commercial with costumes, corn mazes, haunted houses, decorations, and the glorious candy. It's all so expensive! Have you seen how much it costs to go to a haunted house these days?

WARNING: Old geezer talk ahead.

What happened to the good ol' days when you'd throw together a costume from stuff you found around the house and make your own spook alley, complete with "spaghetti" brains and "grape" eyeballs? Those days, I'm afraid, might be gone.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Doing Lunch with Jessica Day George

Some of the Inkers (actually, all with the exception of Kirk, who was headed out of town) got together yesterday for lunch with the always delightful, witty, and clever Jessica Day George, authoress of the wonderful Dragon Slippers trilogy, Princess of the Midnight Ball, and Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow.

Joining us for the fun were FOD's (Friends of Donna's) Lizz and Tawyna and honorary Inker Graham Chops.

JDG very generously answered all of our questions about what it is like to be a successful author and the whole writing and editing process, whilst we enjoyed BBQ.

She said the best advice she could give is to attend writing conferences, good conferences where you can get some face time with editors and pitch your project to them. She tried for nine years to get published by mailing things out and endured over 180 rejections (which she used to keep in a nice scrapbook, until it fell apart). Then, within about three months of pitching to editors at BYU's Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Workshop, she had signed a deal.

We also talked about balancing writing time and family time and came to the conclusion there is no magic formula for this, you just have to write when you can. Another subject was the value of being part of a critique group that is supportive, but also able to give constructive feedback.

We'd like to thank Jessica for spending time with us. It is always inspiring to get advice from known authors.

Jessica is currently editing the sequel to Princess of the Midnight Ball, titled Princess of Glass, due out in May of 2010. She also enjoys knitting, a skill passed down from her grandfather.

For more information on Jessica Day George, you may visit