27 April 2011

Choose Wisely

Kung Fu fighting class is all about partner work. Who cares if you can kick fifty thousand times in the air—if you can't hit a target (preferably the right target on a person) then you've got nothing. And if you can't manipulate your opponent properly then you're toast.

Well, butter me up and toss me on a plate.

Last night we worked some knife techniques during class. The first two were old news. Good practice, but nothing for me to get excited about. Well, I was a little excited to be slicing and dicing the biggest guy in class . . .

And when I say the biggest guy in class, I'm not talking just tall. No, no, he's wide as well as tall, as well as glowering. He glowers down at me from at least a foot over my head, and I can easily hide behind him. My butt's pretty big, as well as a few other parts of me, so there aren't that many guys that can conceal me.

This guy can.

It wasn't until we started on our last technique that I realized I'd made a tactical error. Kind of hard to get a guy's knife away from my throat by locking up his arm when his arm is like a tree trunk. And he's glowering. I can get away, but not without slicing my own throat open. Seriously! I could probably crawl up this guy and hang on his arm, gnawing at his wrist, and he'd just laugh and flick me off like you get rid of something nasty that you've touched.

Sensei came over and gave me some pointers, including going for his face. However, I've got like 3” less on my reach than Sensei does, so I couldn't reach this guy's face. Yes, picture the kid who is trying to charge their dad. Dad simply holds them away with his hand while the poor kid swipes and swipes, never getting close. That'd be me.

My new plan? Uh, not sure. Don't let big guys get close enough to grab me? Get adamantium shield around throat? Make a nation of fun sized people so no one that big can come and play?

I'll think of something.

23 April 2011

Boys and Their Toys

It's true . . . they never grow up.

The other night during the kid's Kung Fu class (twelve little boys) one of them raised his hand in that “pick me, pick me!” attitude. Sensei looked at him and said, “Oh, right, go grab that really quick.”

Confused? Yes, but I played along, never knowing just what might be going on. The kid ran over to the cubbies and snatched a Zip-Lock bag off a shelf. From the bag he extracted a pen.

But it was no ordinary pen, oh no! Get this. If you write with the ink in the pen you can't see it. If you flip the pen over and then turn on the light the ink magically appears. Ta-da!

Naturally they were thrilled. Two of them held out standing in front position for almost thirty seconds before they joined the pack of boys crowded around the owner of said pen. They all wanted him to draw on them and then see what he'd drawn. I turned to laugh with Sensei, but found him almost just as enthralled. Figures.

Then tonight, I was at a friend's house and he has the mega huge DVD set of the TV show LOST. It comes with a secret disc and a dark light to help find it (I believe it was hidden somewhere in the box). Sure enough, after dinner and Condorman (love the Condorman) the three boys were over at the box, looking for the secret disc with the cool light. Then one of them had to show us that shining the dark light on his glow in the dark watch made it glow in the dark. Twice.

These are grown men. Grown but never up. Gotta love 'em.
Anyone know where I can get one of those pens?

20 April 2011

Be Prepared

Last year I went to LDStorymakers writers conference for the first time. It was there that I decided I wanted to have a novel written and ready to pitch to an agent this year. There was a dinner one night, and everyone at the table was either signed or published. Then me . . .

“Oh, I love to write. I just finished editing this awesome novel that makes me laugh, but I can never publish it because I borrowed the characters from a friend who wrote the first book and never finished it.”

True story. Mine, not the fictional one—obviously.

So that's where my novel New Sight came from. It's a bit of a story, so I won't bore you with it. Suffice it to say that this is why I've been so determined to finish the darn thing and to make it good. It's still not great. I'm still not there, but considering the conference is in two weeks there isn't a whole lot I can do about it now. Anyone want to read the latest greatest version? It might be better than the last one, but I can't tell anymore.

Back to my original point. I have an appointment with an agent at the conference. Since I don't like going into things unprepared if I can at all help it, I figured that I ought to do some research.

Much to my chagrin, I've figured out that basically you're selling a product to this person.

I am not a salesman.

Now I'm in trouble. Sell myself and a novel? Yikes! Good thing I looked this stuff up at lunch today. It'll give me time to prepare. Maybe I should get some new shoes for the occasion. That always helps.

Anyone good at writing 3 line book blurbs?

18 April 2011

No Peeking

Last year I finally gave in and read The Hunger Games. Okay, I listened to it on CD, which is one reason I liked it, because the reader is fabulous.

About three months ago I put Catching Fire (Book 2) on hold at the library. This one also on CD. Last week I finally got the notice that it was my turn to listen to Catching Fire. Yay!

Well, first off I have to say that I'm a bit of a cheater. I usually read the first chapter of the book and then the last page. If that doesn't tell me about who is still alive and who isn't, I'll wander the back of the book until I find out.

Don't hate me. I don't mind spoilers. Really, it makes every moment the doomed character has in the book that much more emotional. Will the two friends come to terms with their differences before one of them croaks? Does the guy know that the girl who loves him will die for him? Is he stupid enough to say that to her right before she leaves? Dumb boy!!!

You see, it doesn't make me a bad person. Really. It makes me a more caring person.

Although I did get quite a start when I read the last page of Alchatraz Vs. the Evil Librarians. Trust me.

So I know that scores of people die at the end of this series. And I'm very concerned that Peta will end up miserable because Katnis (however you spell her name—remember, it's on CD) is retarded. I don't care who he ends up with, as long as he's happy and not pinning over stupid girl. All the better if she pulls her head out long before then. Oh, and I know he doesn't die. I think.

None of this information is available to me with my current set up. CD case is useless. I can't just toss the last CD in—it wouldn't be right. So I have to do it the old fashioned way. Wait.

Okay, so I'm waiting; being patient. I go to put CD 3 in this morning and it FREAKS OUT!!! Skipping, jumping, chattering and in general not playing.

What the . . .

Sad to say that I messed with it every time I was in the car today. I missed a few things, but got the gist. Only a few more tracks on the CD and then on to the next one. If it doesn't work I swear I'm going to go borrow the book from one of the ten thousand people I know who own it.

Okay, fine, ten people.

16 April 2011

In Two Months I'll Hate It

Today, on the way to Kung-Fu fighting class, I got into my car . . . and it was warm.

Warm? What is this phenomenon? Thursday morning snow pelted me as I drove to work. Now this great ball of light resides in a practically blue sky—causing the inside of my car to heat up and become (dum, dum, dum) warm.

In two months I will whine like a little girl that it's too hot outside. Unless of course this year goes as the past two years have gone and we don't actually get a spring here in Utah. Miserable rain and downright cold weather most of the way through June and them BAM! It's 90 degrees outside. I think spring might have stretched out for almost two weeks last year.

So, I've decided I should enjoy it while it lasts, and before opening my car door is akin to sticking your head down one of the outlet vents of Hell.

But it's a dry heat.

12 April 2011

The Scorch Trials

This is the second book to that The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

I wanted to love The Maze Runner when I read it last year, but didn't really. I felt like it lacked something—something that I couldn't quite put my finger on. Perhaps it's because I'm not a young man ages 13-16 (or whatever YA is targeted at).

This second book was better. Of course by the end of it I was sick and tired of these kids pretty much being tortured. Maybe it's the ninja girl in me, but I was ready for them to fight back. The end hints that this will happen in book three.

The basic plot is the world is in chaos, sun flares have fried the equatorial regions, killing a lot of people. A disease called the Flare turns people into decaying corpses that are still alive (not really zombies, but close). These kids have been put through the Maze and now the Scorch Trials so that the experimenters can get patterns from their behavior that will supposedly save the human race.

Yes, it sounds strange. Hello, dystopia Sci-fi. Love it. My next project is the same genre, totally different story, obviously.

Anyway, I enjoyed this second novel more than the first. The characters weren't so stereotypical and it seemed like the author was more at ease writing them, which was cool. Everyone got into their groove, which made the book really easy to read and hard to put down. Good setting, always varied and loads of action.

If you don't like unhappy stories, don't read this book. I've vowed to read something happy before I go on to the second book of the Hunger Games. Two in a row might make me pretty grouchy.

08 April 2011

See Picture

I'm almost finished with the latest and greatest revision of my novel.
The last one weighed in at just under 91,000 words. A little long, but within the suggested guidelines for YA fantasy.
This one is going to end up at 105,000 words.
Too long.
Way too long.
I've never had to cut 15,000 words out of a novel before. Can't wait to see how that goes.

04 April 2011

Bad Dream

The last real nightmare I remember having was when I was about three years old. My grandfather had a huge old car that to me seemed like it was as big as our house. Well, I used to have this dream that his car would eat me. Swallow me down into the hood and then, well, I woke up. Since then I've never had a wake-up-in-terror nightmare.

This morning, between the time my roommate got up to get ready and the time my alarm went off, I had a dream. It wasn't a nightmare, but it was pretty horrible.

I found myself in the hall of a High School. Yes, terrifying in and of itself. I had an armful of books and I think I was on my way to class. Some friend of mine materialized out of thin air and introduced me to another woman, who also randomly appeared. My friend said that this was the agent I was supposed to pitch my book to.

First off, I was unprepared. I don't have an “elevator pitch” yet, and my query still needs work. So I humed and hawed for a second before starting to tell this agent about my story. If I remember right, I got less than a sentence out before she interrupted me. And the sentence went something like this: “A girl, Lysandra Blake, finds herself addicted to a need for . . .”

The woman cut me off! She said, “Lysandra Blake? No one cares about Lysandra Blake! Who is she?” Pause. “She's boring! She's you and me! You need a character, not some pansy . . .”

I woke up.

It was horrible. I almost thought about putting my novel away for a year and forgetting about writing. Lucky for me I'm at an easy to write spot in my story, so the work goes on . . .

Mean lady, if I meet her in real life we're going to have to have a nice chat. Perhaps an aggressive “chat”. Ninja girl can come along!

03 April 2011

Bi-Polar Weather, Slow but Finally Got There and Holy Cow My Arm Hurts

I've always heard that if you don't like the weather in Utah, just wait five minutes. Well, I heard a better one today. If you don't like the weather in Utah (especially in the Spring) either wait ten minutes or drive five miles. Friday was beautiful. Saturday wasn't quite as beautiful, but it was pretty warm. This morning we woke up to 3” of snow. My friend 50 miles south got 6” or more. Snow. Someone didn't get Mother Nature her ration of chocolate, apparently.

Back in January I posted that I got a new digital camera. Uh, yeah, well, the poor thing has been sitting in the box since then. Still wrapped and still in the bag I bought it in. Today I finally freed it from it's package prison, charged it and took a couple of pictures. Now that I think about it I should have taken it on our walk and used it. Hindsight. Always. Anyway, I thought I should get it out before the cruise to Alaska in June. Which is closer than you might think. Not Alaska, June.

And yes, my arm hurts. Along with every muscle in my butt and thighs. Sensei learned some new Jui Jitsu warm up moves, and guess who got to try them out for the fist time? Yup, sparring class yesterday. Don't get me wrong, they're awesome moves, but a little different than we usually do. That accounts for my butt and thighs. My bicep hurts because we did like a million jabs with lefty. I actually came home and did about 100 with righty just so I wouldn't be so imbalanced today. Not sure that was bright.

Novel Update: Still writing. On the downhill slope now! I'll post when I get to the end . . . again.