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.