Saturday, April 30, 2011

Creativity Exercise #5

I have to say I'm sorta proud of this one. Hope you enjoy it. ;)

1. What are you doing at this exact moment?
I’m negotiating a peace treaty between unicorns and Clydesdales while baking a pizza and delivering some mighty fine kickboxing moves against some ninja assassins disguised as grad students.

2. Do you collect anything?

3. What is your worst nightmare?
Total global annihilation. Also cheesy teenage romance novels.

4. Are you crushing on someone?
Who are you calling 'fat?'

5. Who’s thinking about you right now?
Oh, I guess I didn’t tell you. My psychic powers only work from 7:00-7:02AM every third Tuesday, and only during leap years that end in odd numbers.

6. What do you honestly want right now?
Honestly? What do I honestly want, right now, in this honest moment? Honestly? I don’t honestly know…that’s a very honest question, and I can’t honestly say whether or not I can honestly give you an honest answer. Honestly.

7. What are you looking forward to?
There’s a column directly in front of my desk. I’m staring at it right now. I think it might be plotting against me.

8. Plans for tomorrow?
I’m not tomorrow’s %$#@ing secretary. Go ask it yourself.

9. Are you comfortable with your height?
No, it’s very itchy and starting to chafe around the ankles

10. Last text received?
I hope not. That’d be depressing.

11. Do you know any mechanical stuff about cars?
No, I only know psychological things about them.

12. Is someone on your mind right now?
My head is happily naked of all passersby, thank you. That would be uncomfortable.

13. Is there someone you know you should hate, but can’t?
Oh, sure. I think everyone has a special someone in their life. Maybe even two or three. You know, those abhorrent people who do terrible, unspeakable things to babies and puppies, but they’re just so charming and handsome. We just can’t stay mad at them, no matter how many atom bombs they steal or orphanages they burn down. Adorable.

14. Do you mind being cold?
Not at all. If I’m warm and friendly, people might want to talk to me and be friends and maybe even touch me. (shudders)

15. Do you drink coffee?
No, I shampoo with it.

16. If you could seek revenge on someone, would you?
I’d love to, but my ‘seek’ button seems to be malfunctioning. I’ll have to call tech support. Maybe they can install a ‘kill’ button instead.

17. Do you think you will be in a relationship three months from now?
No. In three months I plan to be hiding in a cave after the zombie apocalypse takes everyone else out.

18. Have you had your birthday?
No, I’m stuck in a perpetual loop of being 11 months old. It’s been going on for almost 30 years now. Crazy.

19. Have you ever given your all to someone who walked away?
Yeah, it was weird. I’ve never seen someone walk under the weight of 2 cars, a house, all my furniture, several appliances, a big screen TV, and two small dogs. Frankly, I was too impressed to call the police.

20. Do you have trust issues?
Why? Who wants to know? How did you get this blog?

Friday, April 29, 2011

At least April's almost over...

It's been a bad month.  I'm not going to go into all the details, because that would just be depressing.  But I've been greatly looking forward to May.

With only two days left in the month, I felt pretty good when I woke up today.  My first thought when I opened my eyes and found my two dogs snuggled close beside me was, “It’s gonna be a good day.”

Big mistake.  Everyone knows the best way to piss off the gods is with cheery optimism and happy thoughts.  So my second thought was the blinding white light of utter panic.  What was wrong with me?  I’d ruined my day before it had even begun. I could almost feel the angry brows of unimaginable forces furrowing at my blatant and arrogant assumption that I’d have a ‘good day’ without their express written consent, and with two full days left in April!  What had I done?

The unhappiness began almost immediately.  I put my contact lenses in, only to nearly bite my tongue off at the mortal agony that shredded my left eye.  I don’t know what was in there, but I’m fairly sure it was some sort of microscopic razor wire tipped with box jellyfish venom, because I couldn’t even pry my eyelid open enough to remove the offending plastic for what felt like an hour.

I managed to get the lens out—clean as a whistle to my untrained and savaged eyeball—and fix whatever problem it had with me.  Then I fed the dogs, who decided to have an all-out brawl over a stray piece of kibble I’d thoughtlessly let fall to the floor.  After they nipped the ends of my fingers off for daring to interfere in a battle that was clearly none of my business, they tore off into the yard and worked themselves into a frenzy over the roofers hammering away at a neighbor’s house.

I tried to calm them down because my husband works nights, but they would have none of it.  I gave up efore I lost a toe and set off for work, only to get stuck in an unnecessary traffic snarl because the city of Denton doesn’t know how to properly organize a traffic pattern.  There were only eight cars in front of me but it took 15 minutes to travel the three blocks between the mall and I-35.  I was then almost hit by three different cars, got stuck behind a teenager driving 5 MPH to check out the girls walking to class, and spent 45 minutes looking for a parking spot.

I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced the joys of staff parking at a university, so let me break it down for you.  I get to work a half an hour early every day to search for a parking spot.  Every.  Day.  And every day, I still end up 10-15 minutes late.  Well, almost every day.  There are rare and precious occasions (usually Saturdays) when Jesus smiles down on me as though to say, “You’ve suffered enough for one week,” and I find a good spot within the first twenty minutes.  And by ‘a good spot,’ I mean it’s only two blocks from my building, rather than eight.  A spot you'd laugh at, call names, and then dismiss if it were at Wal-Mart.

Most days, however, I have to drive around and around the one-way streets at the breakneck speed of 15 MPH--slamming on the brakes whenever some idiot student leaps out from behind a tree to play chicken with my car--until I find the last spot in the darkest corner of the farthest lot on campus.  Especially for the last 3 weeks, when construction on a new parking garage (which will cost extra $$$ to use, of course) has blocked some 75% of the staff parking spaces.  “Green Campus” my @$$.  I spend a half a tank of gas a week simply searching for somewhere to safely leave my car, where it won’t get ticketed, booted, towed, crushed, and melted.

What could be more fun than that, you ask?  Why, paying for the experience, of course!  That’s right.  I get to pay $250 a year (or $500 a year for a “Premier” or “A-Class” parking spot) to idle around campus for an hour a day and walk eight blocks to my job in the rain, snow, blistering heat, or whatever else Texas decides to throw at me along with its sadistic laughter.

The university should really take me out to dinner before they take their parking fees from my paycheck.  It just seems polite to wine & dine someone before you #%$@ them.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Book Review: Meg: Hell's Aquarium by Steve Alten

I started to write this review yesterday, but it degenerated into a tirade about how cheap I am.

I realize that Meg: Hell’s Aquarium by Steve Alten is 2 years old, but I just got around to reading it.  That’s because I just got around to buying it.  Why?  Because…drumroll please…I’m cheap (also poor).  Few authors can escape the gravitational pull of my stinginess.  Unless you’re one of my very favorites, such as Anne McCaffrey, Naomi Novik, Robin Hobb, Elizabeth Kerner, etc., my literary hunger must wait until I can find a copy at Half Price Books or a discount pre-owned version on Amazon.  And I take online surveys for Amazon gift cards to offset the cost of those favorite authors’ new releases.  Even Stephen King doesn’t qualify as a full-price purchase anymore…not after Cell, Lisey’s Story, and The Dark Tower (and yes, I’m still upset about his temper tantrum at the end of the Dark Tower).

So it took me 2 years to get my hands on a copy of Hell's Aquarium, which is the 4th book in Steve Alten’s Meg series about a prehistoric monster shark invading the modern world.

Steve Alten himself called this "the best of the Meg series," and I think he's right.  I really enjoyed it.  I remember thinking the previous book in the series was slow and disappointing, but I devoured Hell’s Aquarium (no pun intended).  Angel, the captured Megaladon, is just as terrifying and bloodthirsty as ever…only now she has a litter of five pups to help her terrorize the aquarium’s visitors.  It was fast-paced and full of bloody scenes of carnage and prehistoric terror, and every time you think the scientists are safe…they’re not.  Awesome.  I couldn’t put it down.  I brought it to work and I confess I stretched out my lunch break a couple of times so I could keep reading it a little longer.

When I first read the description of the book, I thought, “Kronosaurs?  Liopleurodons?  Really?  Are they magical Liopleurodons that will show me the way to Candy Mountain and joy and joyness?”  I sighed, settled in, and braced my self for cringing disappointment.  After all, I’d read the first three books and I’m a completest so I had to read this one.  But it was done surprisingly well.  I think Alten did a great job with his research.  I actually believed there was another world below the ocean floor, teeming with antediluvian monsters.  I kept Google Images up the whole time so I could get an idea of what those neat prehistoric monsters looked like as I read.

My only complaint was the exclamation points. Heaven save me from the exclamation points.

Alten must have really pissed off his editor, because I felt like I was reliving that episode of Seinfeld where Elaine dates an author and puts exclamation points on everything.  I was so distracted that more than once I pulled out my trusty highlighter and catalogued them as I read, as though I planned to hold it up to anyone who would listen and cry out, “Do you see them?  Am I insane?  How can I read with all these yellow slashes on the page?”  I counted seven exclamation points on one-half of one page.  Seven.  Not even during dialogue, which would be forgivable, and this happened more than once.  It took me out of it every single time.  “The shark ate its dinner!  Then it swam around!  Then it surfaced!  Then it dove!  Shark!  There’s a shark!  There's another shark!  So many sharks!”  Not necessary to the scene.  Not even a little.  They clustered together like little schools of annoying, biting fish and at times I actually wanted to set the book on fire.

But I powered through, and aside from the %$*#ing exclamation points, I give this 4 out of 5 stars and I'm eagerly anticipating book 5 in the series.  Probably not quite enough to pay full price for it, though.

Book details:

Meg: Hell’s Aquarium by Steve Alten
Hardcover: 342 pages
Language: English
Publisher: Variance Publishing LLC (May 19, 2009)
ISBN-13: 978-1935142041
ISBN-10: 9781935142041

Amazon page:   Meg: Hell's Aquarium

(I'm halfway through Dexter is Delicious and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After, both of which I am enjoying thoroughly, so look forward to those reviews soon...exclamation point!)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Not paying to A/C the Neighborhood

I’m cheap.  Uber cheap.  I’m not even going to sugar-coat it and call myself ‘frugal’ or 'thrifty,' because I crossed those lines years ago.  Example #1: I live in Texas but I purposely bought a car with no air conditioner.  Why?  Because it allowed me to buy a 2004 car with less than 50,000 miles on it for $2,300 cash, and I never use the car’s A/C anyway.  Why don’t I use it?  Because it lowers my car’s fuel efficiency. Gas is expensive, and I am cheap.

Example #2:  I live in a house, but if my electric bill goes over $200, I black out and wake up to find half the appliances’ power cords chewed off.  My husband is pretty much on the same page as I am, but I've had numerous 'discussions' with our friends over it every time the seasons change.  This is how my typical mid-spring air conditioning argument goes with various people (but mostly just Ashley):

“It’s sooo hot!”

“The fan’s on and the windows are open. I don’t know what else you want from me.”

“I may have a seizure.”

“Eat a popsicle.”

“It’s 85 degrees out! Why don’t you turn the air conditioning on??”

“Calm down, drama queen. It's 85 degrees out in Texas during the heat of the day.  That's practically snowing.  Talk to me in August, when its 110 degrees in the shade and the water in the swimming pool is the same temperature as you.”

“You’re crazy. I don’t know how you can stand living in this sauna. I’m gonna pass out.”

“You’ll acclimate.”


“You would if you weren’t so intent on defying God and destroying the planet.  I thought you were supposed to be a dirty hippie liberal.  For shaaaaaaame.”

"There is no environment.  We made it all up.  Now turn the air on.  No one could ever acclimate to these volcano-like temperatures.”

“So what did people do before the air conditioner was invented?  Did people just not live in Texas or Arizona or Africa until the 1960s?  Did the entire human race drop dead of heat exhaustion every time Jesus cranked the heat up?”

“I don’t care.  I will gladly pay $600 a month forever and ever, amen, to keep my house at 60 degrees year-round, because that’s the only temperature I’m ever comfortable at.”

(Laughter inserted here)  “No it’s not, you big fat liar.  You keep the heat at 80 degrees inside during the winter.  You just enjoy flipping Mother Nature the bird.  I, on the other hand, have innumerable things I’d rather spend $600 a month on.”

“It’s like the surface of the sun in here.”

“You were born and raised in a state where summer lasts 400 days a year and winter is defined by the weather dipping briefly into the upper 40s.  I was born in Wisconsin and I can tolerate these mild temperatures better than you can.  You ought to be ashamed of yourself.”

“%$#& you, you cheap %$#&@.  I hate you.”

“You’re grumpy.  Here; have a cookie and an ice cube.  You’ll feel better.”

“I’m going to eat all of your cookies.  Then you’ll have to pry open your wallet to buy more flour, and I think your head might actually explode if you spend an entire dollar on anything.  That'll teach you.”

“Go ahead.  Everything was on sale.  It cost me 13 cents to make 800 cookies.” (A cookie flies my head, which I deftly avoid.)

“%#!& your dirty cheap cookies.  Bring me something expensive.”

“You’re sitting in my house, resting your fat @$$ in my new leather recliners and watching blu-rays on my 65” television, all of which were quite expensive.  All of which I could afford because I didn’t spend $7,200 on electricity last year.  You’re welcome.”

“If I die of heatstroke, I’m coming back from the dead to haunt you.  No, to sue you.  Heck, I'll haunt you, then sue you, then haunt you some more.”


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

I hope everyone had a lovely visit from the Easter Bunny, and is now stuffing themselves with chocolate, jelly beans, and marshmallow peeps.  And ham. Mmmmm, ham...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Creativity Exercise #4

1. What is your blood type?
Red & hemoglobin-ey

2. Have you ever had phone sex?
I’m pretty sure that would void the warrantee on my phone, so…no.

3. Do you bite your nails?
Only when they deserve it.

4. Can you hula hoop?
A hula hoop is a noun. Can you apple? Can you diabetes?  Then yes, I can hula hoop.

5. Why do you write?
There are these little worms in my head that won’t shut up unless I write down what they say.  Annoying.

6. Have you ever been diagnosed with a mental illness?
Me?  No.  But personalities #2-#1,876…they’re another matter entirely.  (They're crazy)

7. Do you use chap stick?
Only in self-defense

8. What makes you laugh?
Neurons firing in my brain telling my diaphragm to jump …wait…maybe that’s the hiccoughs…

9. Can you use chop sticks?
I can use them to irritate people.

10. Do you use a shower cap?
Only as fake jellyfish in the swimming pool

11. Tell us what your greatest fear is.
Don’t tell me what to do. You’re not the boss of me.

12. Brown or white eggs?
Both make the paint peel nicely off my enemies’ cars

13. Are you good looking?
I’m good at looking.  I'm looking right now.

14. What states have you lived in?
Disrepair, confusion, chaos, peace, war…we can do this all day.

15. What is your average cell phone bill?
It’s a list of charges, fees, etc. demanded by my cell phone company under threat of disconnecting me from the rest of the universe forever.

16. Spell your name without vowels
R NM.  Wait…or did you mean Y-O-U-R-N-A-M-E-W-I-T-H-O-U-T-V-O-W-E-L-S?

17. Do you have any hidden talents?
How would I know?

18. Are you an only child or do you have siblings?

19. Dream job?
Not a.  Complete sentence.  Won’t.  Give you the satisfaction.  Of a response.

20. Do you e-mail yourself?
I am not actually a computer file, program, virus, or any other form of virtual or analog data.  So, try as I might, I can’t seem to cram myself into a USB input and email myself.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Deep Into the Troughs of Despair I Sink

I've been riding the crest of triumph from my full MS request from the Angry Robots for...going on two months now.  Then today, the 'high' wore off.  Just like that.  I didn't get a rejection from the Angry Robots (yet), but I did get 4 query rejections this week.  I get on the Writers of the Future page and see they've posted the 1st quarter finalists/semi-finalists.  Of course, I'm not one of them, and I didn't even get a rejection letter (later I realized I'd entered for the 2nd quarter, but the emotional damage had been done).  Then I was talking to the assistant dean today and she told me that one of the student employees (who also writes fantasy) just signed a 3-book deal with a major publishing house, and her only pearls of wisdom on how to get published consisted of, "It's got nothing to do with talent.  It's all about who you know." 
Great.  I know no one.

All the air went right out of me .  Back into the dark and slimy pit of self-loathing I go, chanting endless mantras of "I'll never get this piece of $%#! published, I'm a talentless hack," blah, blah blah.  You know what I'm talking about.

I know I shouldn't let it get to me.  I know plenty of people get published regardless of who they know.  But I also know that I've read awful, awful books with writing so abyssmal and plots so hacky and cliche that I suspect the people who wrote them don't even know how to read.  Which makes me think, is that why these hideous literary abortions make it into the bookstores?  Because the 'authors' know the right people? 

Even if I knew these unearthly beings with the power to make my book spew forth from a printing press like flyers dropped from an airplane, I'm no schmoozer.  I'm a socially awkward and sarcastic troglodyte.  I like my cozy little virtual world of emails and texting, where I don't have to touch anyone or think of anything clever to say on the spur of the moment. 

My book is good.  I know it's good.  Except, you know, I think it sucks.  Today, I hate it and the space it's taking up on my hard drive.  Maybe I'll get a partial request tomorrow and I'll love it again, but right now depression has me by the throat and I lack the gumption to pry its cold, pointy fingers from my windpipe.

Le sigh...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Book Review: Spin the Plate

My first book review on my blog!  Huzzah!  I hope I don't screw it up too badly. :)

I just finished reading Spin the Plate by Donna Anastasi, published by Black Rose Writing.

First off, I have to say that this book smelled wonderful.  I know that’s an odd thing to come out of the gates with.  However, of the last two books I received, one smelled so strongly of cigarettes that I probably need a lung cancer screening, and the other reeked of cats to the point that I’ve developed an allergy.  I almost threw them both away.  So, to receive a fresh new bookie that didn’t give me a new or exciting disease made my day.
Anyway.  Spin the Plate is the tale of Jo, a talented tattoo artist with a dark and terrible childhood who has given up on men until Francis, a secret billionaire philanthropist, comes along and teaches her how to love & trust again.

This book is a Christian romance—not exactly my genre—so it wasn’t the bestest thing I’ve ever read.  Even so, I found parts of this book, especially near the end, both heartwarming and moving.  In particular, I loved the insight into salvation and forgiveness.  So many people have trouble dealing with their pasts, and this book has some keen insight into how letting go and forgiving those who have wronged us can lead to a freer and more fulfilling life.  There were several portions where I couldn't put it down, because the dialogue drew me in and didn't want to let go.  Bravo for that; it's hard to make me forget what time it is while I'm reading.

That being said, I think the book needed to be longer.  The whole thing felt very...abrupt.  Jo's sexual abuse instilled in her a deep-seated distrust and rage toward men, and she pushes herself to extreme physical exhaustion every night to avoid thinking or dreaming about the memories of her abuse.  Yet she accepts a date from Francis—a total stranger—without any convincing/worry/trepidation that I saw, and almost immediately blurts out every detail of her terrible past.  I just didn’t buy it.  Perhaps if the book had been longer, those details could have been spread out more and developed naturally, like the flavors in a gourmet dish, rather than dumped out all at once.

I think character development suffered in the name of expediency, as well.  I kept thinking, why is this billionaire Francis so fascinated with Jo, who goes to such lengths to appear menacing and violent to keep people at arm's length?  I didn't find out until the end of the book, and I really didn’t learn much about who Francis was until then.  I couldn’t connect with him.  The other characters seemed hurried as well, with their personas described in a quick paragraph with as many details crammed into it as possible, and that was it. 

As for SPaG-related issues…I'm going to wag my finger at the editor for this one.  In addition to the multiple misused commas that made me have to re-read sentences 3 or 4 times to understand what the author meant, my biggest problem with this book was the head-hopping.  Like the Easter bunny on a pogo stick. 

Now, I want to say that I personally enjoy third-person-omniscient.  I really do.  I wish it wasn’t frowned upon so much because I’d love to use it more often myself.  However, in this book the POV frequently changes in mid-paragraph—sometimes 2-3 times per paragraph—and it jolted me right out of the story every time.  At one point, the POV even jumps to a character on a television show in the middle of Jo & Francis’s conversation.  Again, I had to re-read passages multiple times because I couldn’t keep track of who was talking/thinking/walking across the room, etc.  Some judicious editing would have greatly improved the flow of this book.  Like hitting the 'enter' key right before we jump back to Jo's inner monologue.

Overall, on a scale of 1-5 stars, I give this about a 3.  Maybe 2 & 3/4.   Not bad, considering I don’t read this genre and the grammar police in me was loudly demanding I bust out with the highlighters and editing symbols.  But the redemption & salvation stuff truly did move me, and Ms. Anastasi gets points for that.

Spin the Plate by Donna Anastasi
Black Rose Writing
ISBN 978-1-935605-39-3
196 pages

Amazon page for Spin the Plate

Friday, April 15, 2011

Worldbuilding #1

I thought I'd start posting some of my worldbuilding scribblings.  Fun facts and trivia about the world in my book(s), mostly pertaining to gargoyles for now, but with more about the Guardians at some point in the future.  Some of it is scientific-sounding jargon; I've been writing it as though I were a researcher of some kind, studying the gargoyles. 

·         Adolescent gargoyles are sent on mail runs and other small errands to strengthen their wings and help them learn their way around the country.

·         Gargoyles marry after two-year courtships, minimum. They may share living quarters and even produce young before this, but they take oaths extremely seriously.  To them, marriage is considered more binding than having children. The tribe will care for neglected fledglings but there is no divorce among gargoyles. (Rillsof is the only known exception to this rule.)

·         Gargoyles produce live young, unlike dragons who lay eggs, and are actually mammals despite their sometimes reptilian appearance.

o   Human/gargoyle matings are rare, and discouraged due to the complications that so often arise.  The resulting hybrid offspring may possess any combination of human or gargoyle characteristics/abilities, weaknesses, etc.  They all suffer from an acute sensitivity to sunlight and crave red meat more often than full-blooded humans.  They are all taller and stronger than the average human, but shorter and weaker than the average gargoyle.  Occasionally they are born with vestigial wings or tails.  Human mothers often perish during childbirth in such cases, much to the consternation and distress of the fathers; gargoyle females do not suffer from the same complications as human women during childbirth.   

o   The hybrid offspring are rarely able to fly, even when born with wings, and do not (usually) suffer from the gargoyles’ daylight affliction.  The most unfortunate of the offspring appear fully human, but still are frozen in place during the day.  Some speculate that this phenomenon, combined with their sensitivity to sunlight and abnormal craving for red meat, have contributed to ‘vampire’ legends.

o   If one/both parent possesses any relation to the other race (i.e., if the human parent has any gargoyle ancestor up to and including the 7th generation), the odds are astronomically increased that the offspring will appear as a full-blooded (albeit smaller) gargoyle, or a full-blooded (albeit larger) human, whichever race provides the majority of the offspring's ancestry, with all the powers/weaknesses (or lack thereof) of that race.  This is exceedingly rare.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Nobody Gonna Slow Me Down

I seem to have hit my stride in writing book 2.  I tossed and turned in my bed until 6:30 AM yesterday, staring at the dark void behind my eyelids, as I watched Anaiiya argue with Motavi until they wrote the first chapter of book 2.  The day that followed was a glorious one, despite the palpitations-inducing doses of caffeine I required and the 8-block walk to work from the parking space I eventually found at the far reaches of campus after a 45-minute hunt (Not even kidding.  I pay $250 a year to circle campus like a buzzard for 30-45 minutes every day ('green' campus my @$$), and I still have to walk 8 blocks to get to work.)

But that's not the point!  The point is that I have 12 glorious pages of book 2 mostly completed (mostly), and they don't make me want to kill myself or eat my feelings or anything.  Only a few hundred more to go, and then I begin the editing process anew!  Followed by book 3!  Followed by more editing...and I just made myself sad. 

I know!  Puppies!  I think it's time for puppies.  This is my chiweenie puppy (half chihuahua, half weenie dog), whose name is Turtles, and my rat terrier Punkin, who mostly hates his chiweenie guts.  Enjoy!

She says, "Keep.  Him.  Away.  From.  Me."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Creativity Exercise #3

1. What is your orientation?

2. Do you play anything?
I play a mean radio.

3. What is your birthday?
The day I was birthed. Duh.

4. What stereotype are you?
Centenarian Latina prostitute (with a heart of gold) who solves mysteries & kills vampires. Also there’s werewolves.

5. Are you a morning person or a night person?
Ask what you mean. Am I a vampire or a fairy? Well, the answer is both. That’s right. I’m a fairy vampire. (see #4 for more detailed answer)

6. Do you drink?
Water is for chumps. I get my liquids from eucalyptus leaves and used snow cone wrappers.

7. What car were you in last?
A Delorean Monster Truck. Right. No, it way my tricked out ‘04 Aveo. And by tricked out, I mean it’s got dents in it.

8. Are you spoiled?
Nah, I got a good 3 days left. Maybe 4, if I stay in the refrigerator.

9. Where does most of your family live?
In houses

10. Where were you born?
In a hospital

11. Do you wish you could move?
Sure, but that went out the window when I had my arms and legs removed. But they had it coming.

12. What is your dream vehicle?

13. Do you like glitter?
If it isn’t solving your problems, you’re not using enough.

14. Do you make your own clothes?
I have to. No one makes anything for the style-conscious, elderly-limbless-fairy-vampire-werewolf-killing-prostitute-on-the-go anymore.

15. When you were a little girl, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An adult

16. Would you ever call Mike Tyson a girl?
Sure, he looks like a man who enjoys his prostitutes

17. Do you brush your teeth in the shower?
That’s disgusting. I’d never brush my teeth.

18. What are you afraid of?
Zombie Pedobears

19. Have you ever bitten someone?
What part of ‘elderly-limbless-fairy-vampire-werewolf-killing-prostitute’ didn’t you understand?

20. What would you do if a random stranger offered you ice cream?
Use my sphere of annihilation on it and him. You will not outcrazy me.

Got a question of a list of questions that you'd like to see me take wildly out of context?  Send'em to beckahrah @ and it might get used in next week's 'Creativity Exercise!'

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I told myself I wouldn't cry...

The majority of you lovely folk who frequent this blog don't actually know me, so you have no idea that my lack of emotion borders on the robotic.  My best friend Ashley thinks I'm secretly either a man or a serial killer because my emotional range seems limited to 'amused' or 'not amused.'  Although I have been known to squeeze out a 'mildly concerned' if there's some real risk of a tragic event or major financial catastrophe, etc.  I think she sometimes purposely picks sad movies in the hopes that I'll break down and blubber because Bambi's mother died (again) or that old man from 'Up' (still) misses his wife.  Doesn't work.  I don't know them.

But it's not that I don't have emotions; it's that I save them all up for my characters.  I find crying silly unless I need to flush something from my eyes.  Puffy eyes and damp sleeves,, thank you.

Being an emotionally-devoid monster of sorts (haha), I'm also very practical.  I never allow myself to get too hopeful about...well, anything.   Disappointment makes me unhappy, and I find that if I expect a 'no,' the rejection and the frustration goes down easier.  Well, you all know how that feels; you're writers.  You know the sting of the 'this was interesting but not for me please take your scribblings elsewhere' form rejection letter.

The other day, however, as I drove home from work, I allowed myself a brief 'what if' moment.  What if I got my book published?  What if I get home to find a letter in my mailbox from a publisher that says "We love 'Eyes of Stone' and we'd like to offer you a three-book contract"?  What if the masses grab ahold of it with both hands and love it, and I get to stay home and write for a living? 

Well, I tell you, I actually teared up.  I had a real-life Seinfeld moment:  "What is this salty discharge?  This is horrible!"  I had to put on "Furry Walls" and "Lonely Island" before my wildly out of control emotions caused me to secrete enough saline to actually drip down my cheek.  What if someone had seen me?  All my street cred gone in an instant because I briefly entertained the idea of all my dreams coming true.  Horrifying.

But now I know that I have to read all my mail in a closet so that when I someday do get that letter, I won't appear as a blubbering fool in front of the dogs or my husband or (heaven forbid) Ashley.  She'd pee her pants in delight and whip out a camera phone so fast...and then I'd have to kill her.

Monday, April 11, 2011


I'm generally trying to keep this blog devoted exclusively to writing, but last night we had the craziest wind/hailstorm that I had to share.  My mother-in-law's living room windows got busted out, and we were afraid ours would, too.  Went on for almost an hour.

We had a contractor come out, and our roof is officially totaled.  So, new roof!  And new fencing and gutters and trim around the windows, and the contractors are covering our deductible, so we won't pay anything.  Almost makes it worth it.

Our front yard was covered in hailstones like this, most of them about quarter-sized.  It looked like a snowstorm had hit.

The wind & hail snapped the beam off and now our dogs and out neighbor's dogs are gonna be friends until we get it put back up
The hail fell so hard, it actually damaged the wood of the rest of the fence.

All the windows on this side of the house have damaged trim.  I think there are like7 in all like this, some worse.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Writer's Block, How Do I Hate Thee?

Today we’re going to talk about writer’s block, the bane of a writer’s existence (outside of form rejection letters, ha-ha).  Sometimes it’s not that you can’t think of anything to say, but that you can’t think of anything good to say, or just that you can’t figure out an interesting enough way to say it.

I’ve been fruitlessly trying to get a good foothold into book 2 with little success for weeks now.  So far, my writing attempts go as follows:  I write a few pages, hate them, delete-delete-delete, rewrite, still hate ‘em, delete-delete-delete, rewrite, weep uncontrollably at how amazing and beautiful these pages are, turn away for a half a second, turn back to find it’s turned into complete and utter SLOP!!  SLOP!!  How could I have ever thought this was good?  Restrain myself from chucking a battery through the computer screen, stare stupidly at that infuriating white space for the better part of an hour, throw my hands up in despair, and go watch Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Squidbillies until I can’t feel feelings anymore.

I have several ‘remedies’ for writer’s block.  I go for a walk, put the whole thing out of my head and work on something else for a while, go off and daydream for a bit, read a book, and (my personal favorite) put on some music that would serve as an excellent ‘soundtrack’ for the scene I’m trying to write.  My personal favorites are Muse, Rob Zombie, Enya, Air Supply…anything nice and emotionally stimulating, depending on the needs of the scene.

Sadly, all these things have forsaken me lately.  I have perhaps 7 pages written that don’t make me want to kill myself, but that’s only an estimate because I haven’t been able to bring myself to look at it for days.  I hate this book.  Eventually I hope I’ll learn to love it, perhaps the way a pretty mother learns to love an ugly baby.


Anyone else have any good tips or tricks for getting past writer’s block?  Or just similar stories of woe and despair that you’d like to share with the rest of the class?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Dream Log #1

I often have unusual, creative (sometimes even short-story inspiring), or otherwise bat-s%*t crazy dreams.  With that in mind, I thought I might start sharing some of them with you and the rest of the internet.  I've been wanting to start a dream log for years now anyway, but lacked the gumption.

I only have one recurring dream, and it's never really the same.  It's a stress dream that involves velociraptors.  Lots of them.  There's always  T-rex in there, too, but he usually has bigger fish to fry and if I don't bother him, he don't bother me.  And when I'm surrounded by thousands of sneaky, hyper-intelligent velociraptors with a craving for Becky-flesh, he's simply too big and too far away for me to worry about.  But he's always there.

Anyway, I had another raptor dream the other night.  This time, I was in a monstrously large building (think six flags only totally enclosed) filled with trees, shrubs, grasses, and assorted other flora, all perfect for hiding the raptors from me but in no way hiding me from them.  This building had dozens of automatic sliding doors that led outside, because, you know, that's just how you'd want to keep velociraptors from escaping.  My mission during this dream was to lock all the sliding doors and keep the dinos from escaping, and I had this tiny, tiny, highly ineffective key with which to do it.  I could only lock them from the inside, or at least that's what I was afraid of, and I'd largely consigned myself to die, and was ok with it.  As long as I could keep the raptors from escaping. 

Strangely, this one wasn't quite as terrifying as the raptor dreams usually are.  Although the next night, I was certain that in that fraction of a second between when I hit the light switch and when it actually went dark, I'd see a raptor snout poke through the open bathroom door...a door I know I shut five minutes ago.

My husband (who ought to wear a technicolor dream coat, he's so brilliant at interpreting dreams) says it means that I'm close to achieving a goal, but I am afraid that if I relax my vigilance even for a moment, all is lost.  He thinks it's about getting my book published.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Creativity Exercise #2

1. What’s the first thing you wash in the shower?

2. What color is your favorite hoodie?
That’s racist, yo.

3. Do you plan outfits?
I don’t. It’s just so confusing. I go into the closet, throw on the first shirt I find, yell ‘Democracy!’ and run for my car.

4. How do you feel?
With my hands, mostly. I used to mostly use my telekinetic abilities to feel things, but the last time I tried that, I burned my brain on the stove. Ouchy!

5. What’s the closest thing to you that’s red?
Blood. Mine, theirs, it’s literally everywhere. In my veins, on the walls, ground in to the carpet fibers…it just never ends.

6. What’s the last dream you remember?
Something to do with making vegetarian stew from those fake fuzzy Easter chicks and boiled hamster meat. Oh, wait; you meant while I was asleep?

7. Did you meet anybody new today?
The others living in my head have taken in several new roommates. I don’t know their names yet, but I guess the economy’s hitting everyone pretty hard.

8. What do you crave?
Foam rubber hats and pencil shavings

9. Do you floss?
Only with guest towels

10. What comes to mind at the word ‘cabbage?’
Scrumtrillescent. See? I can make up words, too.

11. Are you emotional?
Why would you say that to me? Do you WANT me to set your car on fire! Haha, it’s ok. I’m over it! :)  I love you so much! I’m just so sad sometimes, and then so angry, and then so happy! Why are you looking at me like that? I’ll cut you, you fat, beautiful, ignorant, scrawny, mean, adorable, stupid genius! Now I'm crying again. See what you've done???

12. Can you count backward from 74?
I can only count backward from odd numbers, and only when it’s raining men, say Hallelujah.

13. Do you bite or lick your ice cream?

14. Do you like cottage cheese?
Only as a friend. Why? Did it ask about me?

15. Ever walked into a wall?
Sadly, my superpower of being unsubstantial only works when I’m not trying to move through walls. I think it’s achieved sentience and it gets a kick out of making me look like a fool.

16. Would you throw potatoes at George W. Bush?
I think my head has enough holes in it without the Secret Service creating new and exciting ones, thank you.

17. Do you hate more than 3 people?
Not all at the same time. I find that rationing out my hatred leads to shorter prison terms.

18. Is your hair straight?
The last time I asked, my hair snapped at me, called me a ‘breeder,’ and said it was none of my business. Then it put on a plaid shirt & army boots and went to a monster truck rally. I’m so confused.

19. Boys or girls?
Both tasty, especially with a little oregano and parmesan, slow roasted in a brown butter sauce.

20. How do you turn on the TV?
I dip the remote in peanut butter and do a sexy little dance.

Got an idea for a question?  A whole whoppin' list of questions? Email them to me; they just might get used during my next 'Creativity Exercise!'   Beckahrah @

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Eyes of Stone - Page 2

Continued from the first page...

Did [Anaiiya] truly think anything could threaten such creatures?


She’d seen the bodies paraded through the streets by those fanatics. Seen the ornaments carved from gargoyle horns and bolts of leather made from their wings. After weeks of watching anti-gargoyle sentiment spread through the city unchecked, Anaiiya knew if she didn’t warn the gargoyles, no one would.

She didn’t understand why other humans disdained the creatures so. The gargoyles looked monstrous, but they rarely stirred from their Tower unless something threatened them or the city of Amarantia. Perhaps it was the way the gargoyles threw themselves into battle, tearing bandits into pieces or cutting down horses with their razor-sharp wingtips. Or the way they seemed to rejoice in spilling blood, even if it was just from the cattle or wild game they hunted outside the city walls.

Anaiiya swallowed the sudden lump of dread in her throat and stepped back from the door. These idiotic do-gooder compulsions would get her killed someday. Her hands shook, blood pounding in her ears as she fiddled with the sacks of food. She glanced up at the door every few seconds and grunted in frustration as time ticked by with no sign that the gargoyles had noticed her.

This was taking far too long. Were the gargoyles so secure in their hallowed Tower that they didn’t bother to post a guard anymore? Would she have to bang on the door like some lunatic? That hadn’t worked the first time she’d done it, but she wasn’t above trying it again.

A tiny thump, like the sound of a wooden bar carefully lifted, was her only warning. She threw herself back a bare instant before the door screamed open and crashed into the wall, sending chips of stone flying in all directions and making the door wobble in its frame. Anaiiya sucked in a breath as a powerful foot armed with six gleaming talons crunched down into the gravel courtyard.

The gargoyle stepped into the moonlight. It was so…big. The monster stood almost seven feet tall, not counting the leathery wings that towered another two feet above its head. Each of its twelve wingfingers ended in a wicked-looking talon, the lowest dangling less than a handspan from the ground. Her eyes widened. The gargoyles didn’t look nearly so large when they flew overhead.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Tidbits, etc.

I've found--annoyingly--that I get many of my best ideas immediately after I turn out the light and curl up to go to sleep.  I start to drift off, and BAM!  Best idea for an opening sentence I've had in months.  Then I have to turn the light back on, kick the dogs off the bed, and write it down...because I know I won't remember it in the morning.  I've taken to texting these little gems to myself before I go back to sleep, but I think if I could somehow bottle that state of mind between asleep and awake, I could crank out a novel a week.  Ha! 

For example, I've been flirting with the idea of a short story about frost wraiths for months but haven't been able to get started.  Then the other night, as I'm trying to fall asleep at 3 AM, it hits me:  "Pearlescent moonlight bathed the snowy grounds.  The wind whistled through the pine boughs and their ice-sheathed needles clinked softly in answer.  The only other sound was of my boots crunching through the crust of ice before I sank knee-deep into the snow once more."  A little rough, but it's the best opener I've come up with in weeks.

I'm happy to report that I've completed a blistering 7 pages of the sequel to Eyes of Stone, and I no longer hate them.  Not yet, anyway.  And I wrote two of them last night at about 4AM. :P

I got a lot of positive feedback to my random questions, which makes me all warm & fuzzy inside, so I'm going to call them "Creative Exercises" and make it a weekly thing.  What I need from you good people, then, is lists of normal questions that I can take completely out of context and ruin beyond all hope of redemption for our mutual amusement.  So if you feel moved to create a list, or should you stumble upon one out there in the internet universe (they used to frequent Myspace all the time back when it was still a relevant social media), email them to be at beckahrah @ and I'll start compiling a list of lists. :D

Lastly, everyone go see "Drive Angry" because my childhood best friend Arianne Martin is in it!  She mostly does indie movies like "The Other Side of Paradise" and "Wanda the Wonderful," but shes also done commercials (She's in that Taco Bueno commercial about the couple celebrating their anniversary) and tv shows like "Prison Break," "Crash," and "Inspector Mom."  Her chasing her dreams is part of what inspired me to chase mine, so visit her site!  Arianne's Home Page

I hope everyone has a great weekend!