30 October 2010

Writer Girl Goes For It.

Tomorrow at this time I will (should) be sitting in a hotel in St. George, Utah. Dave Farland's Writer's Death Camp starts Monday morning. I'm going. What was I thinking? I'm not ready for this kind of commitment! I'm not even sure I want to be a writer when I grow up. Of course growing up isn't exactly on my “to do” list.

Frankly I'm ready to start really freaking out. It probably won't happen until I get to Cedar City tomorrow afternoon, at which point I will consider turning around and coming home. Or staying in Cedar City. Or hiding in the Cheese Factory Outlet in Beaver.

I haven't even really packed. It is so unlike me to feel and be so unprepared. What will Mr. Farland think of me? Buxom blond (not my description) from Bountiful who is ill prepared and a little loopy? Yikes, I'm scared of myself.

P.S. We watched Men in Black tonight. It's on VHS. We had to rewind a tape. Ah the nostalgia . . .

27 October 2010

A Write on the Dark Side

The other day I finished a packet of material that I received from Dave Farland. I'm going to his Writer's Death Camp next week, and he suggested some reading before we got there. The information I was reading included his 10 steps to outlining a novel. I think it had a much better title than that, but that is the gist.

One of the steps is to take each character through their conflicts within the novel.

I'm still trying to get my head around my YA novel. Like I mentioned, I finished round one a few months ago, but the story was all action and no emotion. Well, the story is an emotional story (or should be) so I decided I needed to go back and revise it.

I realize that writing is all about revising. My brain understands, but my OCD wants to know why I have to do anything more than once. It's a bitter feud that will most likely only be solved after I'm dead. Or rich . . . no, dead.

Distracted again. Sorry about that. Anyway, this article mentioned that you should do the conflict exercise with your antagonist, not just your protagonist. I'd read the same thing before, but never thought to actually try it.

People who know what they're talking about are hard to come by—Mr. Farland must be one of those people, because this exercise, simple as it was, really helped. Not only with the villain and the plot, but with things that the protagonist has to do in order to combat what the villain is trying to accomplish.

The whole thing sounds very simplistic (and I'll be the first to admit that it's the simple things that get me every time) but it was very revealing. Hopefully that put me one step closer to being able to learn awesome things at Death Camp next week.

Oh, and my Star Wars--Visas Marr costume just got accepted to the 501st Legion Alpine Garrison. I guess I'm one of the bad guys. Who'd have thought it?

And my mummy pumpkin (K's idea) won 3rd place at my work Pumpkin Carving Contest. Yay! Go Immie.

24 October 2010

I Love Halloween



I am happy to report that the pumpkin made it up the stairs. Not only did he make it up the stairs, but he got gutted by Kathryn (who takes remarkable delight in scooping out the insides of innocent pumpkins) then first carved then wrapped by me.

I call him Immie—short for Imhotep

We have an open house at work on Tuesday and they want pumpkins there for d├ęcor. So now I did my part. The tricky bit might be getting the pumpkin back down the stairs tomorrow morning in the snow.

23 October 2010

There Goes the Good Knee

Ouch. That's really all I have to say. Well, that's not entirely true. I have a few other choice words to say, but I'll spare the blog readers. I don't usually indulge in “colorful metaphors” . . . at least not where anyone can hear me.

I wasn't planning to go to Kempo class today. I was supposed to go to Lagoon with some good friends. Well, the rain this morning squashed that idea like a bug on a windshield. The car has to be moving, of course, for the whole bug thing to work. Drat, distracted. Where was I? Oh yes, Kempo class.

Saturdays are usually sparring class. I don't love sparring, but sometimes it's way fun, and goodness knows I need the practice. So when the Lagoon plans fell through (drated weather) I decided I would go to class. Get some practice, maybe get a workout, maybe even have some fun.

Because I'm hurt, I will now whine. Starting out with serious lunges (with no warm up before that) was not nice. By the end of those my legs were burning (which is okay) and my knees were mad. Not furious, just mad.

The rest of class went okay. We finally got to sparring and I was almost the last person to get to spar. We were doing point sparring, which means whoever gets their opponent first, within the point parameters, gets a point, the match stops and then starts again for the next point.

My opponent, who has a good foot on me, but I'm old enough to be his mother, and I exchanged a few kicks which were blocked. Then we got serious . . . at exactly the same time. He brought his knee up to kick and so did I. He was quicker and got his foot out before I did.

That's when I brilliantly blocked his kick with my patella.

Not one of my better moments. It wasn't a plan, it just happened.

I felt my kneecap get jammed into all of the tissue that sits behind it and grind in there. We both jumped back. Apparently my knee cap is pretty hard, which makes me feel a tiny bit better. I turned around, jumping up and down, saying “ouch” out loud. In my mind I was saying some much nastier things.

Sensei was laughing and going on about a shin-shot (those really suck), but I managed to stammer that it was my knee and that I was done.

I don't think I've ever not finished a sparring match before. I've had to take a minute to recover from a few kicks and my contacts getting stuck on a glove or two, but I've never stepped out. It sucked.

What's even more fun? A swollen knee that is not happy about anything and 15 steps going up to my apartment. There goes Ninja's week.

Anyone want to bring the pumpkin I have in my car up the stairs for me so I can carve it tomorrow?

Triumph and Drudgery

Mosquito. Need I say more? They're everywhere, along with those tiny, white, flying bugs that seem to have invaded the area. Anyway, bug are all over the place, and mosquitoes are the worst. Worse? Worst. Shinny.

I've tried to kill a few in the dojo over the past week or so, but I usually miss. Tonight, as I was closing the door to my room so I could curl up in bed and write random things to people, I saw it. A fuzzy, flying spot hovering next to my bathrobe.

My game hasn't been on all week. Heck, let's just go with all month. But tonight, out of the blue, I reach up and kill the mosquito with one hand . . . without even really trying.

Death of mosquito in my house—good. The fact that I had just washed my face, hands and brushed my teeth—bitter irony. Wait, is there any other kind of irony? Needless to say, I had to wash my hands again.

21 October 2010

Too Early

This morning I did a good deed. At least I think it was a good deed. I left my apartment about 6:20am and went out to my car. As I was walking towards my car I clicked the doors open with my keyless entry (one of the best inventions ever, by the way). The SUV parked next to me looked strange, but I thought it was just my lights blinking. Nope, it didn't go away. As I got closer I noticed that the back seat light in the SUV was on.

What to do? I knew who the SUV belonged to—the neighbors just across from us. A simple glance, to see if there was a light on, told me that someone in their apartment was probably awake. At first I got in my car. I turned it on, got situated and waited. All the time wondering if I should go tell them.

First off, it's early. Really early. I have no idea if they're awake, but a light in the front room tells me that someone is probably awake. Second I hardly know them. I wave hello and all that, and at one point I knew their names, but now I've got nothing.

I put the car in reverse, pulled out of my stall, put the car in drive, pulled back into the stall and turned my car off. Realizing that I would very much appreciate someone telling me that my light was on (thus avoiding a dead battery at most likely a very inconvenient time later) I went up the stairs to their apartment and knocked softly.

The husband was awake. I informed him that his light was on, smiled and basically bolted.

A good deed, no? Yes? If the day started out so nice, why was the rest of it so rotten?

19 October 2010

The Curse of a Mother's Kiss

I wrote this a few years ago. It's kinda cute.

Tonight was the last night of monster camp. Everyone, and everything, was assembled in the large, outside amphitheater. Benches sat along the grass terraces, and every seat was taken. The swamp and water monsters were down in the front, swimming lazily in the pond. A few of the giant ants were staging a mock battle with two of the evil robots, while the mummies were trying to wrap a blob up in their bandages.

Billy sat with the other crawling eyes. They were situated at the end of the handicapped ramp, next to the ghosts and under the vampires.

Creatures, monsters and ghouls were talking excitedly, passing around their addresses, global positioning coordinates or magical summoning chants.

“Hi Billy,” Sherie said slowly, she did everything slowly,“can I sit next to you?”

Billy waved his eyestalk in a yes pattern. He could have invaded Sherie's mind, but she didn't like that much.

“Are you excited to go home?” she asked.

Billy's eyestalk shrugged. His friends thought he was stupid to hang out with a golem, but to Billy, Sherie was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. A red fire smoldered behind her eye sockets and when she smiled, cracking her mud face, she looked like an erupting volcano. Her voice was like two stones scraping together and she smelled of rotting earth. Not to mention she could crush boulders with her clay hands. Billy liked that.

“Me neither,” she sighed. “You will write to me, won't you?”

Before he could sign yes the camp director, Mister Ducky, came out onto the stage. This evening he was a cute, fluffy kitten. All of the monsters hissed and booed until Mister Ducky shape shifted into a wolf man. Cheers broke out and he bowed.

“Well campers,” he said in a rough voice, “tonight is your last night here! We are about to send you back out into the world. Not as the little, sniveling children you were when you arrived.” He pointed at the Blob. “No, you go as Monsters!”

Everyone cheered. Billy rang a skull shaped bell with his eye stalk.

“But before you go, there is one last thing you should know.” The wolf man shifted into a giant brain. “One last story I must tell you.”

A nervous silence settled over the camp. A few creatures shifted in their seats and Billy felt Sherie scoot closer to him.

“For you must warned!” Mister Ducky shouted. “You must be told about...the curse of the were-baby!”

A handful of the evil robots screamed and the vampires hissed, showing their fangs.

“It is a true story,” Mister Ducky said. “And if you do not heed my warning then you too could end up with a fate worse than life.”

Reshaping into a Frankenstein, Mister Ducky went on, “Not too long ago there was a young shape shifter named Blech. Blech had a couple of friends, a vampire and a giant scorpion. They were always daring each other to do things and were constantly getting into trouble.

“One night the giant scorpion dared Blech to turn himself into a human baby and go into one of the human's houses.” A few monsters gasped. “Blech said he would, but only if the vampire went in and took the baby first...before sundown.”

A murmur of appreciation rippled through the campers. Everyone knew that vampires were not nearly as graceful before sundown. It was a worthy dare.

“All three monsters were proud, so neither of the dared would back down. The vampire,” Mister Ducky pointed to where the vampires were sitting, “did as he had been dared. Just before sunset he crept into the house, past the other humans, and snatched the baby from its bed.”

“Blech had no choice, he had to fulfill his part of the bargain. After one look at the captured baby he ran off towards the house.” Mister Ducky shifted into a kitten again. “Taking the form of a cat he crawled in through the pet door and up into the baby's room. Then he began his dare. To be a human baby for an hour.

“To Blech's horror, he found that the bed, the crib he was to stay in, was filled with toys!” Mister Ducky threw his paws wide. “Rattles, chew toys and stuffed animals surrounded him.” Then he was twice as tall as an evil robot, shaped as a cute, fluffy teddy bear. More monsters screamed and Billy felt Sherie right next to him, trembling.

“Now if that had been the worst thing Blech had encountered, he would have been a happy shape shifter,” Mister Ducky said in a whisper, morphing into a blob, “but it was not. No! It was not.

“Blech’s friends had dared him to stay in the house for just one hour! Who here is brave enough to stay in a human’s house for an hour?”

The question hung in the air, unanswered.

“I thought not,” Mister Ducky oozed from one edge of the stage to the other. “But it was a dare, and Blech couldn’t back down from a dare!”

The crowd nervously murmured agreement. Even Sherie nodded.

“The hour was quiet and time was almost up. Blech thought he was home free, but then he heard the sound of footsteps on the stairs.” One side of the blob turned into stairs. “Louder and louder came the foot falls as someone ascended to the bedroom. When to door opened Blech knew he was in trouble. The sister had come.

“She had come to see if the baby was awake!” Mister Ducky said over the cries of horror. “Blech had made too much noise moving the stuffed animals away from himself, and now he would pay the price for his cowardice.

“Blech tried to get away, tried to climb out of the prison bed, but in the tiny, human body he could not. Shape shifting in front of humans was forbidden. Not to mention,” Mister Ducky’s wolf man face came out of the blob and sneered, “he was too afraid to try.”

“The sister peered at him from over the bars and smiled a wicked smile. She said something, but Blech could not understand her. He tried to dodge her poking fingers and ignored her taunts with the stuffed animals. Blech was backed in to the corner, he had nowhere to run to, when the sister finally reached her long, pale arms into the bed and picked him up.”

Nearly everyone gasped in terror. Sherie put an arm around Billy, who wound his eye stalk around her hand. Both of them were shaking so hard Billy wondered how they were still on the bench.

“And not only did she pick him up, but she hugged him.”

A few sobs sounded and one of the swamp things dove under the water.

“She sang to him, she danced with him and she put different clothes on him! Blech was so terrified that he couldn’t even remember how to shift. He could hardly remember his name.” Different scenes played out of the blob. First a baby, then singing, then a baby in a bonnet.

“And then,” Mister Ducky morphed into an evil robot, “then the most horrifying thing of all happened. Without warning, as if she had simply appeared from thin air, the mother came in!” Mister Ducky’s voice boomed and his robot arms flew wide.

“Blech started to cry. He could not stop himself, it was the human body’s reaction to fear. Loud wails echoed through the house, and Blech was sure his friends would hear and come for him.

“However, Blech never found out if his friends were coming. Before he could get out of the sister’s arms, before he could fight or bite or kick, the mother scooped him up in her arms, and began bouncing him up and down.

“Blech cried harder. He tried to remember how to change, but he was too terrified.” Mister Ducky’s robot head looked around at the campers. “He was helpless, and he knew his fate was sealed when the mother hugged him and then, without hesitation, kissed him on the cheek.”

“No!” half of the monster campers cried, while the others whimpered.

“Yes!” Mister Ducky changed into a human female, “Blech was kissed by a mother!”

The camp director waited for the tumult to die down. Monster campers were cowering, crying, fighting, biting and clawing, but each one of them heard Mister Ducky’s next words.

“Now, every time there is a half moon, Blech is turned into a human baby and placed into a human home for the night. Nothing can stop it, Blech is cursed forever, and he wants company.

“So beware!” Mister Ducky pointed his mother finger at the campers, “beware the dares you take, and beware the friends you make.

“It is said that Blech still wanders, choosing a different form each day, looking for those who will join him in his curse. Some say if he curses enough monsters for the human mothers that his own curse will be lifted.

“Now you have been warned!” Mister Ducky boomed from the human woman’s body, “Beware the curse of a mother’s kiss.” Mister Ducky changed one last time into an androgynous body of light, the shape shifter’s natural state. On its head, where its cheek would be there was a black spot, a black spot in the shape of human lips.

“And beware the shaper with the mark!”

17 October 2010

RED


Someone asked me how the movie was . . . this was my response.

It was pretty much awesome. By far my favorite movie of the summer. It was funny, there was plenty of gun play, that hot guy from New Zealand (the one who plays Bones in Star Trek) is in it, the plot was practically believable, we got into a spirited discussion about whether or not a certain stunt is even possible (I still say it might work), Bruce Willis made fun of hot guy's "Cute" hair, there were a couple of brutal fight scenes, people practically healed over night (it's a miracle!), someone heated up bullets on a gas stove, Richard Dryefuss got smacked, the girl wasn't nearly as stupid as first suspected, they went to a library, the vice president (in the film of course) cried like a little girl, I laughed about a hundred times and I will definitely buy it when it comes out.

16 October 2010

Boneshaker

By: CheriePriest

In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born.
But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead.
Now it is sixteen years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenage boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history.
His quest will take him under the wall and into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive.


I picked this book up at the library after doing a web search for popular Steampunk books. I've got a collaborative Steampunk project brewing, and I hadn't read much from the genre. I have to say I liked it. Briar is a tough woman who has been hiding from her past for 16 years, but when the time comes to act she doesn't hesitate. She gathers her gear and follows her son into a dead city.

Both her and her son meet the kinds of people you'd imagine hiding out in a dead city in the old, wild west. There are tavern brawls . . .with zombies, air ships, a bunch of Chinese guys, cool “technology”, a mad scientist, sky pirates, and even a few funny lines. The pace was good and the book was fun to read!

14 October 2010

The Organ Protection Program

I believe I mentioned the two new black belts we have in my Kempo class. They're not new black belts, just new to our dojo. They're both big guys, so it's a little hard to throw them around. Heck, it's near impossible unless you do the technique just right. However, when you do it just right, and they land with a resounding thud, shaking the whole dojo and causing everyone else to stop what they're doing to turn and look, a feeling of deep satisfaction follows.

Me? Mean? I have no idea what you're talking about.

Hey, I got tossed on the ground a fair number of times myself. Once I landed on my right cheek (yes, that cheek) and I'm sure that there is going to be a bruise tomorrow. Not just a bruise, but one of those ugly, black and purple things. I'll spare you the descriptive details.

It's these days in the dojo, that I'm a little bit grateful for the extra junk in my trunk. Well, not just in the trunk—why keep it all in one place? I've got “extra” just about everywhere, but when I land on the ground and don't grind bones into the carpet (which is so packed down that it is little better than concrete with spray paint on it) I thank the Twix bar I had last week for the pleasure of it's continued company.

I've decided to call this my Organ Protection Program. This could be a million dollar idea!

12 October 2010

Finally

I've finally begun the revisions on my novel. Well, I started a couple of weeks ago, and got about 15 pages into it, but then I stopped. Came to a screeching halt. Life sOooo gets in the way sometimes . . . and I don't even really have a life. Maybe I need to get one so I can really complain! Joking, I'm joking people, sheesh, relax.

Anyway, the novel goes on. It won't be finished with round 2 before I go to the writing conference in a few weeks. Wow, I hate saying it like that. Halloween is at the end of the month. Writing conference is the week after that, Thanksgiving is just down the road from that, and before you know it Christmas is here—and who can ever figure out where all that time goes? Tell me that! Actually, if you could tell me that you should probably write a book, do a You Tube video and get rich. Please cite me in your credits.

To be quite honest, which is what I seem to be best at, I'm having a hard time focusing again. Still. Is someone putting shinny things all over my house? What about my office? In my car (that could be dangerous, by the way)? On my computer? They're all very pretty, really, but I'd like to go back to my OCD ways now, if you don't mind, so please take all the shinny things back. Okay, all but one . . . or two. -)

See, no focus. Terrible. I'm going to go not focus on something else now.

10 October 2010

Little 1's and Zero's

Today is 10-10-10.
This is blog post 100.
If I was really cool, I would wait until 10:10 to post this (not feeling that cool tonight).

So I thought a few words on Binary would be appropriate.
These have all been stolen . . .

counting in binary is as easy as "1, 10, 11"

There are only 10 types of people in this world:
Those who understand binary, and those who don't.

This is from Wikipedia:
A mathematical joke is a form of humor which relies on aspects of mathematics or a stereotype of mathematicians to derive humor. The humor may come from a pun, or from a double meaning of a mathematical term. It may also come from a lay person's misunderstanding of a mathematical concept (which is not wholly unexpected). These jokes are frequently inaccessible to those without a mathematical bent.

Uh, yeah, that would be me.

Enjoy 10-10-10 everyone!

07 October 2010

Four, no Six-Large Lads

There has been some drama at the dojo over the past month and a half. I think the drama is over (I hope it's over, I'm so helpless when it comes to drama . . . I get so dramatic) and now we've got random black belts from “Back in the Day” coming to class.

Not just any black belts, no. These guys (and gals) are ex-instructors. That means they played with the big boys and lived to tell the tale. I don't play with the big boys. I smile and wave and slowly inch away, not breaking eye contact and heading for the door, hoping a random white belt will come and distract them.

So now I feel like the baby black belt, because all of the other black belts in class (there were 5 of us tonight) have been instructors at one point or another. Being the baby black belt is okay until I have to perform techniques on these guys who are not only way better than me, but they're way bigger than me. The other ladies are little, I weigh the most by far, but the guys are all at least a foot taller than me and two of them are like walls with appendages. Big walls.

How do you toss a guy on the ground who is bigger, stronger and faster than you? I dunno, but I'm hoping the answer involves a sling shot and a moving vehicle.

This doesn't bode well for Ninja Wannabe.

05 October 2010

Kids

This evening, I got to hang out with my niece and nephew for an hour or so. Once I got the niece off to her volleyball game, the nephew and I got to have some fun.

Frankly, he's always been pretty funny. He's a social creature who loves to chatter. He's been dressing himself since he was about 2 years old, and sometimes you can totally tell. But he does it “by myself!” so what can you say?

Tonight I asked him if he had had dinner yet. He said yes (little did I know that dinner consisted of fruit snacks, mind you). I said, “Good thing, I'm really not much of a cook.”

Okay, so I can cook, but I have to follow a recipe. I'm not much of a creative cook. Creativity and the kitchen equal disaster in my world. Disaster and a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Well, my nephew, who is 6 years old, looks at me very seriously and says, “Would you like me to whip something up for you?”

Really? It was all I could do not to laugh out loud at the kid. He's so funny. All kids are like that. You get them talking and they'll tell you how they see the world, and sometimes it's so honest it's painful. But who am I to talk? Most people have kids, and they know this all to well.

03 October 2010

Sometimes I get Crafty


Once every 6 months or a year or so I have the overwhelming need to make something. Usually a craft, or a crochet project. This time I decided to redo a project I did about 2 years ago, just to see how it would go.

The skull and the pirate were easy, I'd made them before. The roundish, green guy was supposed to be a zombie, but turned out looking more like the creature from the black lagoon, or some strange sea monster. Yoda, I hope, is pretty obvious. Although I'm to understand that he's actually a zombie pirate in a Yoda costume. Who knew that the zombie pirates were geeks?

02 October 2010

Letters to Juliet


I've seen a lot of movies this year, and most of them have been disappointing. How to Train Your Dragon and (strangely) The A-Team being the exceptions. Of course when I saw The A-Team I was coming down off of a Geek Fest high and working on much less sleep than usual. That always helps any good action movie right along.

This movie was exactly what I expected it to be. Cute, romantic, funny and a bit dramatic, all located in the breathtaking scenery of Italy. The main character, Sophie, and her fiance are on an early honeymoon in Italy. He is about to open his own restaurant in New York and gets completely distracted with all of the food, cooking and wine “opportunities” in and near Verona. Sophie ends up sight seeing by herself and goes to Juliet's Balcony.

I've been to Juliet's Balcony. Granted, it was something like 20 years ago, and at the time I was painfully unaware of anything resembling romance. (I'm still painfully unaware of anything resembling romance, come to think of it.) Anyway, I was there, we took some pictures and left. That was it. If anyone left letters to Juliet (like in the movie) I missed it completely. I believe we were more worried about not getting stuck in the downpour that was starting. Bah, distracted again.

Sophie discovers a small group of women who take the letters from the wall and answer them. She finds a letter to Juliet that is 50 years old and feels drawn to answer it herself. The woman from the letter turns up (along with his handsome, jerk of a grandson) to find the man of her youthful dreams.

Everything that happens after that is by the book, but it was really cute and I was very satisfied with the show. I also had a pumpkin milkshake, so that could have been a factor in my satisfaction too.

I used to roll my eyes at all the women who wanted to visit Italy, but after this movie, I have to say that I'd go there. I wonder if I could find a handsome, wealthy man to take me . . . not likely!