Monday, December 31, 2012

Monday Confessions (that surprisingly have nothing to do with it being the end of the year)


I confess...that I'm a miserable person to be around when I'm sick. Perhaps the problem is that I rarely actually *get* sick. Even worse is the fact that usually I'm not sick for more than a day or two, yet at the moment I've been severely ill since Thursday. Sigh.

I confess...that I'm pretty darn disappointed that I'll likely be staying home tonight and doing nothing for New Year's Eve *because* I'm still sick :-/

I confess...that I *finally* saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey yesterday. I definitely noticed a lot of differences between this movie and the parts of the book that it was supposed to cover, but honestly I think they were changes that had to be made in order to make the movie watchable.

Also, now I'm jonesing to cook a Hobbit feast like what the dwarves ate at Bilbo's house. And to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy again. And to make a Galadriel costume.

Yup. Pin It

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday: One last NaNo excerpt!


Well here we are...the last bit I'm going to post from The Way of Reckoning (working title, mind you). At the moment I'm trying to figure out whether I'm going to continue Six Sentence Sundays, or whether I'll find another way - possibly a better way - to share excerpts of my work(s) in progress. It is about to be a new year, after all...so we'll see :)

The only good thing about Mac and John’s conditions was that neither of them insisted on constant conversation that day. It was sometime in the early evening before John said anything at all, and even then it was just a polite insistence that they stop for the night.

“My old bones can’t take this much ridin’ anymore,” he sighed.

“I think your ‘old bones’ woulda done just fine if you’d gotten some sleep last night,” William growled – but he needed John Green’s help, and so he agreed to stop.

Once they’d taken care of the horses and built a small fire, John leaned forward, his elbows on his knees and his chin resting on one closed fist as he stared into the flames. “I think it’s about time that I tell you boys somethin’.”
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Friday, December 28, 2012

Series Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Susanne Collins

I swore that I would never read these books. Why? Well, the Twilight series, which I hate (with an undying, unbridled passion), is apparently "young adult literature". And knowing that the Hunger Games trilogy was also "young adult literature"...well, that didn't exactly make me think, "I have to read this." And to be honest, the first thing I knew about Hunger Games was the whole Katniss & Peeta vs. Katniss & Gale argument. Which also left a bad taste in my mouth, because it sounded waaaaay too similar to that infamous (and in my mind, despised) argument of Bella & Edward vs. Bella & Jacob.

Aaand then my husband kind of insisted on watching the Hunger Games movie. I refused for a while, but eventually, between him and my many friends who are Hunger Games fans, I gave in. Yet while I was watching it, I couldn't figure out if I hated it, or if I thought it was okay. And I felt as if there was a lot of information/story missing.

Which meant, of course, that I needed to read the books.

(From here on, please assume that this series review contains at LEAST minor spoilers for all three books)

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My first thought upon reading the first book in the series - that being, of course, The Hunger Games - was that book!Katniss is definitely far superior to, and more realistic than, movie!Katniss. Part of this is certainly thanks to being able to see into Katniss's head in the novel...because it shows that she isn't such a ridiculous goody-two-shoes as the movie makes her out to be. (Side note: I did like how The Hunger Games *movie* gave us insight into people like Seneca Crane and Caesar Flickerman, something that the books couldn't give us because they were written in first person, from Katniss's point of view. Unfortunately, as I've already said, this meant that a lot of Katniss's nuances, who she was and what she struggled with, was lost in the movie adaptation, turning her into a character who appears far too good for her own, well, good.)

Of course, at the same time I find book!Katniss a bit hard to belive when it comes to her feelings (or lack of them) for Gale and her feelings (or lack of them) for Peeta. I suppose we readers are supposed to put this down to the whole dystopian society/basically going through life simply trying not to starve thing, but there's still a small part of me that can't wrap my head around the fact that a 16-year-old girl who has two supposedly kind, smart, and attractive boys throwing themselves at her would really not know *at all* (in any way, shape, or form) how she feels about either of them, whether she has more-than-friendship feelings for either of them, etc.

Which brings me to Peeta, because Peeta...well, he's just too good to be true. The only way his character ever could have worked for me in The Hunger Games is if both he and Katniss were both faking - or at least sort of faking - their "romance". The entire time.

Though maybe that's just because I'm jaded. Who knows.

And then...the grammar/style in THG. Ugh, ugh, UGH. Misplaced modifiers and comma splices (and I think even a few Oxford comma errors) all. over. the darn. place. Not as bad as the Twilight series (and thank God for that, because I wouldn't have been able to stand it at all if it had been)...but still simply. not. good. End of story.

Moving on to Catching Fire...while The Hunger Games would have been pretty predictable even if I hadn't been hearing about it from friends left and right before ever seeing the movie/reading it...Catching Fire took predictable to a whole new level. I mean, if the Hunger Games happened again in one of these books, I think it's pretty obvious that Katniss and Peeta would have to be involved as more than just mentors. Thankfully, the grammar/style of writing in Catching Fire seemed a bit better than it was in The Hunger Games, EXCUSE ME BUT *NO ONE* CAN USE THE "I LOVE YOU"/"I KNOW" THING BUT STAR WARS/HAN & LEIA. ::end mini rant::


So, last but not least I picked up Mockingjay (I'd say "finally", but to be completely honest I read all three of these books in about five days). This was the installment that I'd heard the most complaints about; it seemed as if most people favored THG or Catching Fire and thought that Mockingjay was either the weakest of the bunch - or outright *bad*. Maybe it's because of this that I went into it not expecting all that much...and was therefore pretty surprised when it turned out to be my favorite book in the series.

Yes, I just said that Mockingjay was, in my opinion, the best book in the Hunger Games trilogy. Yes, it did have its slow moments, but let's be honest - so did THG and Catching Fire. I also felt as if it was far less predictable than either of those books. In fact, as predictability and poor story telling goes, I feel that Catching Fire was in fact the weakest link in the trilogy. And I have to give Suzanne Collins credit - she did what even J.K. Rowling didn't do in the Harry Potter series.

Collins killed off *enough* important characters.

Now, I still believe that Katniss should have ended up alone, but at this point in time I'm beginning to resign myself to the fact that all YA novels apparently need to have a love story...and not just any love story, but one that ends happily. ::this is me, rolling my eyes::


In the end, my verdict? The Hunger Games trilogy is definitely not of the best quality, writing-wise.

I still find it difficult nearly impossible to believe that Suzanne Collins knew nothing about Battle Royale before writing the Hunger Games trilogy, and I therefore wish she'd just admitted, from the very beginning, to having used that as the basis for the Hunger Games.

But...I generally enjoyed it. It was a quick, interesting read, and to be completely honest I'll probably eventually read the trilogy again. Due to the generally if-fy writing and the similarities to Battle Royale, though, I can only give the series as a whole 3.5/5 stars.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Writer's Block Wednesday: A Christmas Recap

Let's get one thing straight - I hate traveling for the holidays.

Unfortunately...it is, in a way, the easiest time to travel back to Connecticut. Because honestly, much as I love my friends and family up there, I don't much love the idea of using vacation days to return to the place where I grew up. It may sound bad, but I'd rather use my vacation days to visit new places. (And, let's face it, more interesting ones.)

Hanging out in Broad Brook, CT, with my BFF. Just saw her last week in Vegas, so again...very few reasons to make trips back to CT outside of our once-a-year major holiday trip.

We actually needed this little vacation. Of course we got to see Steve's parents (my in-laws), both sets of my grandparents, and a few of our friends...but we also got to laze around and do NOTHING. No dogs to walk. No kitty litter boxes to clean. No floors to vacuum, no dinners to cook, nothing nothing nothing. And thank God for that. All of it. We slept an average of 9.5-10 hours a night (which we pretty much never do)...and I even took a NAP on Monday! I can't remember the last time I took a nap, but chances are it was the last time I was sick, and I don't even remember when THAT would have been.

Too bad Christmas day actually did a bit of damage to all that rest we got ;) You see, first we went to the 11 PM Christmas Eve candlelight service at Ellington Congregational Church. Steve grew up in that church, and his dad is still...err...a deacon, there? Maybe? Something like that. Honestly I can't recall the last time I went to church, and it really was a nice service. It lasted until a little after midnight, and when we walked outside...it was SNOWING!

Had to take one with the flash so you could see the snowflakes falling :)

Better one of the beautiful old church in the center of our home town (Ellington CT)
I can't remember the last time I experienced a true "white Christmas"...and to be honest, living in South Carolina and not seeing snow all that often means that I get very, VERY excited when it DOES snow. No matter where I am. (You probably would do if you'd only seen proper snow maybe four times max in a period of 3+ years. Especially if you'd grown up in New England and were used to experiencing it on a regular basis.)

I kind of love how this picture is super blurry...EXCEPT for the gazebo in the town green. haha

Anyway, the excitement of the snow seemed to wake us up a bit, so even though we went back to Steve's parents' house and got ready for bed, we weren't sleepy until after we'd watched two episodes of Arrested Development. Which meant a 2 AM bedtime. And we woke up at 9:30 for presents with his parents, then to shower and head to Providence for Christmas dinner with the rest of the Grosses. I caught a quick nap in the car on the way to Rhode Island, but after about three hours of more food and presents and wine we had to rush to the airport for our 7 PM flight back to Charlotte. More wine. More Arrested Development. We landed in North Carolina just before 9 PM, made our way back to our car, and then had to drive an hour and twenty minutes back home to South Carolina, not making it until nearly 11 PM.

So. Thirteen and a half hours. Four states (Connecticut, Rhode Island, North Carolina, South Carolina). Twenty degree temperature difference. Waking up to snow, going to bed with rain. Needless to say, I'm really, really happy to be home :) Pin It

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday


Well, I think I've decided to continue Six Sentence Sundays through the end of the year, and then revisit the idea of posting excerpts from a different work...mainly because it may take me another month to *really and truly* finish The Way of Reckoning, and I don't want to give *too*  much away ;) So here is the second-to-last six sentence blurb that I'm going to share...of this W.i.P., anyway ;)

They didn’t ride in silence for anywhere near as long as William would have liked – Mac soon insisted on trying to make small talk, apparently to lighten the mood. “The women here in Mexico are amazin’, William. Big brown eyes, so soft they could melt the snow off the mountains in January. And the liquor’ll take the bite out of a frosty mornin’…we’ll sure have some fun if we set out to.”

“I’m here for Art Stiles, nothin’ else. I don’t need no distractions.”
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Friday, December 21, 2012

Book Review: Going Bovine by Libba Bray

So...generally I'm on the fence about whether or not I "like" Young Adult fiction. Generally, I'd have to say "not really", but sometimes I come across a YA book or series that makes me feel just a little bit better about this category of writing.

While Going Bovine certainly isn't the most amazing book I 've ever read - or even the best YA novel I've ever read - it definitely made me think. And it made me laugh. And for that I have to say that it boosted my opinion of YA fiction at least a little bit ;)

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I have to admit that I don't quite understand why the names of some entities were changed - for instance, "YA! television" was clearly MTV - yet others (Disney World) were left as is. It seems to me that if the author was going to go the route of changing the names of some companies/entities, she should have renamed them all.

Although I think this novel was somewhat anticlimactic - and I'm also still at a loss as to why every YA novel seems to have to include a love story - as I mentioned above, Going Bovine certainly amused me - and even moved me. 3/5 stars.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Writer's Block Wednesday: Men's Gift Guides

So I read an article a few days ago. It was funny, and I enjoyed it. But after reading it...I couldn't stop thinking about it. Because this article described the man that men's gift guides cater to, clearly insinuating that such a man cannot exist...and I realized pretty quickly that he, in fact, does.

And that I am married to him.

Now don't get me wrong - there are surely a few things on these men's gift guides, here and there, that Steve wouldn't want. But generally? He is pretty close to the man that they write those gift guides for.

If he had time to shave with a straight razor, he would. Though any sort of scented skin tonic would be out, because - no lie - he produces some sort of pheromone that makes him never smell bad. I know, I know, that doesn't make sense. But it's true. Trust me.

We own a cast iron skillet, and though it was a gift to me, he's the one who uses it most often. If he could eat bacon for breakfast every day, he would. (Honestly, come on...who wouldn't? Other than vegetarians, of course.) So while I'm not sure I'd purchase him or any other man a cast iron skillet, why not buy him a bunch of fancy bacon or bacon-related items as gifts?


Though we are staunchly against those coffee machines that make one cup at a time (we call them Katie Keurigs, though you may not want to ask why), we do have a fancy coffee machine. In which we put whole-bean coffee that is ground with a burr grinder. It's amazing. In the summer, Steve even makes [frozen] coffee cubes out of the leftover coffee. Moral of the story: don't ever knock a fancy coffee machine, or giving such a thing to a man. If that man is anything like Steve, I mean. Though we purchased ours together when our last coffee machine gave out, I did in fact purchase Steve a nice Breville espresso machine for our first Christmas together, and he loved it as a gift and he loves it now as a kitchen accessory.

Though PJs - even plaid ones - are out, a nice bathrobe or fancy slippers are always, always in. Video games? Are we really knocking video games/video gaming items as gifts for a man? That was my Christmas gift to Steve for our third Christmas together, after all...a gaming system and some games. And if he could lounge around in a comfy bathrobe and slippers and play on his PS3 all day, you bet he would. Shoot, sometimes he DOES...on weekends, anyway.

Desk items are never a bad thing. Every man should have a fancy nameplate for his desk at work, and recently, after Steve admitted to me that people at his job kept acting shocked when they found out that he was married (he is an engineer and works on the floor and therefore can't wear a wedding ring; knowing that he didn't have children, people were assuming that he wasn't married, either), I decided to make him a desk calendar on Shutterfly. More useful than a picture in a frame, and at least now people will know that he has a significant significant other. (Yes, I intended to use that word twice.)


Now, before reading this article I had no idea what a tiffin was. I actually had to Google the word, and then look at images because the definition still didn't seem to fit. But once I found them, I fell in love. And yes, Steve would love these things as well, if I could get him to pack his own lunch. Sadly (for him), I am not the type of wife who feels it necessary to pack a lunch for her husband. I'll cook a dinner no problem, but lunch is his responsibility. Therefore...he doesn't pack one. But if he did, it would absolutely need to be in one of these:



So I ask you, why make fun of something so awesome? ;)

Of course, the one major difference between Steve and the Fictional Man who wants the items on these lists is that Steve has a job. One that requires him to be at work, actually working, for an average of 50 hours a week. If he didn't have that job? Well, then craft beer brewing, building a woodworking shop, reading books about World War Two and/or jazz, rerouting the electricity in our home, playing with his million gadgets, and whittling bar stools would definitely be up there as favorite past times of his. (Additional to the video games, of course.)

And do we really have to talk about why someone wouldn't like fancy chocolate...be it from Switzerland, Belgium, Madagascar...wherever? I'd also like to meet a man who hasn't dreamed about deep frying a turkey, because pretty much every guy I know has mentioned it at least once...if he's ever been asked about cooking a turkey, that is.

I suppose my point is that while not every single gift on those men's gift guides will fit every single man...there are certainly men out there who want to eat fancy bacon and chocolate from their awesome tiffins, build things that they don't really need, learn about things they don't need to know about, put together ridiculously expensive layered outfits from Banana Republic, and top it all off with a hat.


...but here's a hint: It only works if you're a really great guy and awesome enough to pull it all off ;)
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Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday Confessions



I confess...that the last thing I wanted to do was get out of bed and come to work today. ::Sigh:: coming back from Vegas is always beyond exhausting.

I confess...that I hope to God that I never have to fly United Airlines again. They literally screwed up EVERY. SINGLE. FACET. of *both* legs of our trip to Vegas. I'm honestly speechless in regards to how inept they are.

I confess...that even though I don't know anyone who was killed or even directly effected by Friday's shooting in Newtown, CT, my heart is broken for those involved and for my home state in general. Newtown is very, very much like my hometown of Ellington, CT, and maybe that's part of the reason why I can't wrap my head around how something like this could have happened in a place like Newtown. Or anywhere, in fact.

Don't worry. I'm not going to go on some diatribe about what happened. I think there's been quite enough of that on the internet in the past few days. I just thought I would quote another blogger: EVERY LIFE IS VALUABLE.

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday


As promised, yet another six-sentence excerpt from what was my NaNo novel and - now that NaNoWriMo is very much over - has become a full-on Work in Progress :)

William was up before dawn – though his sleep had been restless and he was still exhausted, he found that he didn’t want to close his eyes again. Not once he’d woken from his nightmare about the day Lillian had left him.

He roused Sam and Mac as early as he dared, and sure enough they rode into the outskirts of Eagle Pass by nine in the morning. “Daisy’s got a prime spot with her house…right on the main drag. She’s smart enough to not have a bar there, though.”

“No bar?” Mac whined.
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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What's that? An Ice & Fire Con *commercial*, you say? ;)

So. This past Saturday my friend Matt and I had planned to film a commercial for Ice & Fire Con. Unfortunately...the weather didn't really cooperate.

Despite owning a pretty nice video camera, and despite trying to use Final Cut to fix the low light levels etc...we weren't able to salvage a lot of what we flimed.

That's okay, because we're going to film a second commercial after the holidays. But for now, enjoy what we WERE able to salvage, and I apologize for the parts that are clearly low video/sound quality ;)

(Oh, and this is SUPPOSED to be humorous/not taken seriously. :) )

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Confessions: A bit late. Oops.



I confess...that I probably should have had a bit more practice driving manual before buying a manual car. Oops?

I confess...that I have no idea how I'm going to do everything that I need to do tonight and tomorrow night. Oops?

I confess...that for so long I've said I wasn't worried about turning 30, but now that it's just a few days away, I'm freaking out juuuuust a bit ;) Oops?

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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday: Still working on my NaNo Novel!


Well, I think I've decided that until I finish my NaNo novel, I'll continue posting little six sentence excerpts...because, well, why not? Of course, it could be another two months before I actually finish the thing, so...this decision may change ;) But for now...here's another blurb!

She piled a plate with bacon, eggs, and warm bread – then, sure enough, handed him a cup of coffee. Before he could thank her, though, she continued, “You know, even though this area was still mostly wild when I arrived, enough of it had been settled that the Indians were gone. Most of the outlaws too, in fact…until Arthur Stiles showed up. But I suppose I should still be grateful that the worse thing I’ve had to fight is illness. It was cholera that took Mr. Baker from me, you see.”

“I…I’m sorry to hear that.”
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Friday, December 7, 2012

Book Review: Greenville's Heritage by Judith T. Bainbridge




Greenville's Main Street circa 1910 - source -


The only place I've ever seen this book for sale is at the Mast General Store on Main Street in downtown Greenville. When I first stumbled across it I made note to look for it elsewhere, but numerous searches online - spread over a period of several months - revealed nothing. So I went back to Mast General and purchased a copy that was actually signed by the author. That part is pretty cool ;) Though to be honest I was disappointed that the few copies that Mast General had available were all in terrible condition.

Anyway, from what I can tell Greenville's Heritage was apparently printed through a local publisher. I'm not sure if it there were high costs in getting it printed or if it was printed to be a textbook, but regardless the price tag for this book is outrageous. Whether I'd purchased a signed copy or an unsigned copy, it would have cost me $30. I lusted after this book for *quite* some time and in the end it was basically purchased for me as a gift, or else I likely never would have owned a copy. I won't even pay $30 out of my own pocket for a brand-new, mint-condition hardcover book, let alone a new but inexplicably dog-eared signed copy of a paperback book.

But there I go, digressing again.

I'll admit that Greenville's Heritage wasn't *quite* what I expected, but in the end I did like that it wasn't a straight history book as I'm used to, but rather comprised of a bunch of short - and easy to read - essays/articles that the author has been writing for a column in the Greenville News since 1999. These articles are very informative, though some are far more interesting than others. I'm not sure that the organization of the articles into the book was the best; knowing that Bainbridge has been writing them for so long I have to imagine that some of the ones that were included could have been swapped out for ones that would fit better - mainly because some of the articles included were seriously outdated in terms of information pertaining to Greenville today, but also because some of them were simply about very specific things when more general historical articles would have served the book better. 3/5 stars. Pin It

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Order your Ice & Fire Con t-shirts soon! + a quick ticket update ;)


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Oh, and while I have you here...a quick ticket update ;)

~ Stag tickets are now $65; there are just *15* of these left!
~ Iron tickets are now $50.

Aaand.......


We are now offering day tickets for SATURDAY ONLY! These are also limited in number and are $30. They include admission to *all* Saturday events/panels that are taking place between 10 AM and 10 PM. These are the only available tickets that do not require you to book a room or cottage at Ravenwood, but please note that between 7 PM and 8:30 PM there are no scheduled activities due to the fact that all organizers and volunteers will be attending the feast in the Great Hall. Also please note that if you purchase a Copper Star Saturday ticket, you are on your own for dinner.

Some of the Saturday events included in the Copper Star ticket are:
- Small & Large group photoshoots (especially for those in costume, though if you won't be dressing up and just want to take/be in pictures with anyone who IS costumed, that's fine too - please note that any prints or files ordered from the photographer(s) are not included in the ticket price)
- Several panels/discussions
- Mock tournament (viewing only)
- Costume contest (viewing only)
- Game night (Song of Ice & Fire board game and RPG will be available for playing)
 
(All that said, we do still suggest that, if possible, you come out for the entire weekend :) - even Iron tickets, besides having access to Friday afternoon/evening/night and Sunday morning events, will have advantage over the Copper Star Saturday tickets in that they will include a gift bag *and* provide access to our exciting Saturday night conclusion, Westerosi Karaoke!)

Random personal addition...YAY I got my Convention of Ice & Fire iPhone case!


If you want your own Convention of Ice & Fire iPhone case, please let me know. iPhone 4, 4s, & 5 cases start at $50 + shipping; iPhone 3/3gs cases start at $40 + shipping. All proceeds go to Ice & Fire Con. These are made to order and therefore take up to 3 weeks for delivery. The cases are shatterproof, 2-piece slide-ons with a bevel edge to protect your screen - VERY high quality!
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Monday, December 3, 2012

Monday Confessions



I confess...now that NaNoWriMo is over, I have SO much other stuff that I *need* to focus on...but I can't, because I *really* want to finish this novel. I think I've just taken on too much :-/  (as usual)

I confess...that I colored my hair on Saturday - and NOT platinum, for the first time in five years! I love this new slightly darker color, but weirdly enough as much as *I* can see the difference, in pictures it still looks super light? I don't know. I also got bangs. Still not sure how I feel about those.  

I confess...that there is a small part of me - a part of me I'm trying my best to bury - that is scared to turn 30 next week. Sigh.

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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday: NaNoWriMo Edition #4


Now that NaNoWriMo is over I'm trying to decide whether I'll continue "Six Sentence Sundays" with excerpts from my NaNo novel, or whether I'll start posting bits and pieces of my other big Work in Progress...but for now, here's at least six more sentences from my NaNo novel!

The deputy had the intelligence to look cowed. “This man says he’s here to see you, Marshal, but I don’t like the looks of ‘im.”

“And how do you think I feel about you?” William mocked.

“Leave us,” Marshal Miller ordered the deputy. The man curled his lip in distaste but obeyed without question, and once William and the Marshal were alone, Eli Miller turned and faced William. “You must be the man that those Bureau of Investigation agents contacted me about."
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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Monthly 101 UpdateS: October & November

So in September I missed my 101 post because I was busy posting about Dragon*Con...and in November I missed posting my October update because I was out of town...and then I came back and let myself get sucked in to NaNoWriMo ;) But hey, whatever, it makes for a slightly longer update post this month!

Now, I could lie a bit and say that I actually completed this first task...but somehow I think driving around the neighborhood a few times and driving home from downtown once (the back way, on top of that) does not count for me actually being proficient at driving a manual car. So...[Re-] learn how to drive stick is my current big Work In Progress for my 101 list. And honestly the fact that I got behind the wheel of a manual car and even tried to drive it is a *huge* step for me. Beyond huge. I won't get into why because honestly it's a bit of a sob story that doesn't need to be aired on a public blog.

Anyway, over the course of the past two months I completed a whole three goals! Wow, right?

(Yeah, I know it's actually a bit pathetic, but what can you do? I figure I'm somewhere between 55% and 65% done with my 1001 days, and I've completed 54 of my 101 goals (about 53%) so at least I'm not failing miserably...right? heh)

Go to 5 concerts (6/5) (Kenny Chesney, BB King & Buddy Guy, Miranda Lambert, Zoso, Galactic, The Who - technically completed on 10/31/12 but I saw The Who about a week later so I'm including them as well)

*Technically* my 5th of the 5 concerts I was supposed to attend...Galactic at Tipitina's in NOLA!
 
Put together another recipe book/binder - I honestly had enough new recipes that I'd actually made to put together one of these...shoot, months ago. At least. But it's time consuming to type them all up nice and neat (with my notated edits on the original pages that I printed out), which is why it wasn't finished until just a couple of weeks ago :) But now I have it in my kitchen with over 120 recipes inside...and that's in addition to the one that I put together a couple years ago that has over 100 recipes in it :)

Participate in NaNoWriMo - I suppose I could/should have made this goal a lot more difficult and had it be to participate in and win NaNoWriMo...


...but as I did BOTH those things I guess it doesn't much matter anymore!

I haven't actually finished the novel that I started for NaNo yet (which is actually another goal - to finish something that I've been working on, writing-wise)...but I'm close. At least 2/3 done, maybe more. So hopefully that goal will be completed soon too, and it will be very much thanks to NaNo if it is :)

Until next month... Pin It

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Book Review: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

Okay. Normally I hate jumping on the bandwagon when I review books, but this time I'm just going to have to suck it up and do so.

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I feel as if I have to begin this review by stating that I was absolutely not expecting Harry Potter, or anything like it. I knew better than that, and I was okay with it. I actually do think that J.K. Rowling is a talented story teller outside of the Harry Potter series...but I also think that this book was a rush job (which is sad to say considering the last Harry Potter book came out over 5 years ago, but what can you do). Or maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it wasn't a rush job, but rather the opposite - maybe too much time went into it?

Regardless, the fact of the matter is that The Casual Vacancy was, simply, Not Good. Not the worst book I've ever read, but I have to ask...did they just decide, "Oh, this is J.K. Rowling, she doesn't need an editor!" ??? Because the run-on sentences and comma splices in this novel were, in a word, rampant.

But even if you ignore the terrible editing job - or, dare I say it, the terrible writing (at least in the grammatical sense of that word) - in general I couldn't shake the feeling that Rowling was simply trying far too hard to be "edgy". Now, I love me some books with questionable content - most of my favorites deal with some pretty serious issues - but not one single character in The Casual Vacancy is likeable. I honestly didn't care what happened to any of them. At all. And this took the story to the point of being unrealistic, though I know that what Rowling was attempting was to make it completely realistic.

I think that the main issue with The Casual Vacancy is that Rowling peopled her novel with an entire [albeit small] town's worth of characters - far too many of whose points of view she tried to capture - and every one of them had ridiculously over-exaggerated negative qualities. Except for the [SPOILER ALERT] character who died in the very beginning, who was apparently [nearly, and also unbelievably] absolutely perfect. Oh, and a side note - while I noted above that far too many of the characters in The Casual Vacancy had point of view chapters, pages, paragraphs, whatever - personally I'm used to reading books with a lot of characters and didn't get tripped up by the number in this book. I only want to point that out because I feel that it's important to note that my disliking this novel and its characters had nothing to do with how many there were in general or with any sort of confusion over who was who on my part.

The thing is, I did want to like this novel. I'd heard not-so-great things about it, but I did my best to read it with an open mind. Unfortunately, in the end I just couldn't wrap my head around what exactly Rowling was trying to accomplish in writing it. It was drawn out, often very slow and boring, and I honestly did not care what happened to any of the characters. There are simply so many books out there that visit humanity's dark side and do it well...and The Casual Vacancy is not one of them. 1.5/5 stars.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday Confessions



I confess...that I've finally gotten sucked in to reading The Hunger Games...after watching the movie this past weekend. I'm about 25% into the book, according to my Kindle, and while I can't seem to put it down I also can't figure out if I actually LIKE it, if that makes sense? Hmph.

I confess...that now that I've FINALLY started hitting the "official" daily goals for NaNoWriMo, I'm becoming even worse about making them than I was about making the higher goals I had to set for myself to *get* to this point :-/

I confess...that I'm a bit disappointed with myself in regards to Steve's Christmas presents this year. But what can I do? I can't really afford a "big surprise gift" like I've gotten him in past years :-/

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday: NaNoWriMo Edition #3


 Well...this is the last Sunday that falls during NaNoWriMo! Of course, I think I'll do a final NaNoWriMo excerpt next weekend, as at this point it actually looks like I'll make - and maybe even break - 50,000 words! I wish I could say that meant that this work would actually be finished...buuuut I think I've got a story that will need at least 70,000 words to tell. Possibly Probably more. But for now, I hope you enjoy this six-sentence excerpt...oh, and by the way, it at least has a working title now ;) That being, The Way of Reckoning...

William didn’t know why he felt so resentful of Freddie just now. “We should just bring the girl home.”

“I think not.” The answer came so quickly that William knew Freddie must have been prepared to hear – if not from Will, then from someone – that they should give up on ransoming the girl. “Eventually we’ll get something from her. Or for her."
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Friday, November 23, 2012

The Making of a Dragon's Egg

So the other day someone in one of the Dragon*Con Facebook groups - for costuming, specifically - asked me how I made my dragon's egg. And I realized that I *still* hadn't posted the harrowing tale of the making of said dragon's egg here on my blog! (Oops.)

Let's get one thing straight - I made my Drogon egg (because duh, of course that's the one to make!) with fire and blood a lot of paint and glue. ;) To be honest there is probably a better way to do this that isn't quite as time-consuming, and I wish you luck in figuring out what that way is because this is the only way I could accomplish making my egg and having it look the way I wanted it to look. So without further ado...


This is the base that I started with. (Please excuse my chipped nailpolish and whatever is in the background of this picture, heh.) I'm honestly not sure if it's plastic or wood or what, but as you can probably tell by the ridiculous Pepto Bismol coloring, it's an Easter egg decoration. I purchased it at Michael's - on clearance - in April of this year. Like, about a week after Easter. You see, I knew that I was going to have a Daenerys costume for Dragon*Con, and I also knew that I needed to have a dragon's egg to go with it...I want to say I paid maybe $3 for this thing, and other than the color (something easily fixable) it was absolutely perfect - especially the size, and the fact that it weighed next to nothing :)

First things first though, that pink had to go. I used Krylon Indoor/Outdoor flat black spray paint to hide the Easter color of my egg...and then it was on to step two - the scales.

I started with three sheets of black craft foam, but of course I wanted a proper book!dragon's egg, which mean that (1) the egg needed to have some red in the scales, and (2) it also needed to have some sheen to it. So I painted two of the craft foam sheets - one with a couple coats of Americana acrylic paint in Alizarin Crimson, and the other with a couple coats of Americana acrylic paint in Cherry Red. Then I sealed that paint with Patricia Nimocks Clear Acrylic Sealer *Gloss* spray paint - and I used this sealer on the third piece of craft foam, the one that I left black, as well. Because it was a gloss finish sealer it gave the painted (and unpainted) foam that bit of sheen that I was looking for :)


Next, I cut out three scales in different sizes - the small ones were probably about 1/2 to 3/4 inch long and about the same width at the bottom; the big ones were probably close to 2 inches long and maybe 1 1/4 inches wide at the bottom. (Obviously the medium ones were in between that). I used these first few scales as pattern scales to cut out many, many more. This is where I wish I'd had some way to stamp the scales out of the foam, because WOW, was cutting them out one by one time consuming :-/

As for the shape of the scales...that's hard to describe, but hopefully you can see what I mean in my pictures of the finished egg - they all had straight bottoms and were tapered fairly evenly, coming to a point at the top - sort of like triangles, I suppose, but a little more "rounded" on the sides, if that makes sense.

Finally, it was hot glue gun time! Again, I wish there had been a better way to do this, but I had to work with what I'd already purchased...that's what I get for not actually starting to make the egg until a couple of days before Dragon*Con. Oops. So yeah, I hot-glued those scales on one by one, starting at the top of the egg and working my way down. I glued mostly smaller ones at the top, gradually began gluing the medium-sized ones, used the bigger ones around the widest part of the egg and then threw in some more small and medium ones in as "filler" scales where needed. Most of the scales overlapped each other in one (or more) places, to create the look that I wanted :)

About half-finished gluing on the scales...you can see the BLACK egg base a bit in this and the following picture.

^^^ Okay, there, you can see the shape of the scales I think? :)
Total cost? For the Easter egg base, the two cans of spray paint, two small bottles of acrylic paint, and three sheets of craft foam I probably spent something like $25 total. That was thanks to the egg being on clearance, the acrylic paint being on sale and of course one of those infamous Micheal's coupons for 20% off, though ;)

What really killed me was the amount of time involved. As I said, there has to be a faster way to deal with cutting out the scales and gluing them on, but I didn't have time for experimenting and figuring it out, so I made do. Of course, that led to about five hours spent making this thing, so in the end who knows what the best option would have been. But there you have it...the making of my dragon's egg!

Close up of the finished product.

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, Steve and I hosted Thanksgiving for my family today, so needless to say I'm exhausted. Full, too, but mostly exhausted :) I just wanted to say Happy Thanksgiving to anyone who actually reads my blog ;) And since everyone else is saying what they're thankful for today, I also wanted to put it out there that I am very, very thankful for my family. We're not a perfect family unit by any means, but let's just say that recently there's been a lot of patience and understanding between us and it's just been really, really great.

Plus, my mom treated me to a pedicure yesterday.

And then I had an awesome date night with my sister Christy.

Yummm Painkillers at Cheddar's...

...and movie time!

Of course it was all topped off by a relaxing afternoon with Steve, my parents, Christy, and my niece CC today. I couldn't have asked for a better Thanksgiving holiday, and I hope that everyone else had an awesome one as well! Pin It

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Custom iPhone Case: Convention of Ice & Fire Style!

I cannot even begin to express how psyched I am for this. I'm a *huge* purveyor of super personalized phone cases...and since I got my iPhone 5 I've been sticking it out with this awful pink thing that I had to buy because they didn't have anything else in the store. This case is utterly PERFECT for me because anyone who loves the Song of Ice & Fire series will get it, plus as an organizer for the convention it's obviously something I'm super proud of XD


All About Us iPhone 5 2 Piece
Unique shower invitations and birth announcements by Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.
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Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday Confessions: All NaNo, all the time.



I confess...that I shouldn't even be posting Monday Confessions, because I *should* be working on my NaNoWriMo novel. Ugh...whoever thought it would be so hard to write just a couple of thousand words a day for about a month? :-/  

I confess...that speaking of NaNo, I totally meant to go to our local write-in on Saturday afternoon, but honestly, 12 PM was just too early for me that day. Oops?  

I confess...that I'm at times really proud of what I'm writing...but then I'll have days when I'm just super disappointed with it. And I don't mean just what I've written that day...I mean all of it. Period. I feel like my time would be better spent working on my big WIP and not this story that even *I* don't think is interesting enough to publish.

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday: NaNoWriMo Edition #2

It's that time again...Six Sentence Sunday!

I'm not quite as pleased with my choice of blurbs this time around, but I wanted to kind of keep a pattern going of picking out these excerpts every so many pages, blah blah blah, etc. etc. :)

I wish I could tell you the title of my current project - the one I'm writing for NaNo, I mean - but I don't have one. Shoot, I wish I could come up with a decent synopsis for it!

Anyway, on to the sentences...

William did as he was told, wincing as the liquor burned its way over his tongue and down his throat. He could have used several more glasses of the stuff, nasty as it was, but he reminded himself yet again that he had a job to do. And you swore off that shit when Lillian came back to you. He tossed a coin at the barkeep and followed his guide out to the horses.
“Who else knows I’m here, or where we’re going just now?” William asked as Sam unhitched their mounts from the post outside of the saloon.
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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Book Review: Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire

I think it's important to begin this review with the fact that apparently I wasn't *as* disappointed in Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister as other Wicked lovers were.

source

I think it's also important for readers to remember that Confessions was written/published *before* Wicked. I'm blaming that for why his writing didn't draw me in the way it did in Wicked, why the story in Confessions seemed less developed (under-developed, really), and why the setting of Confessions - 17th century Holland - was just not vivid enough, did not come to life the way Oz seems to do in Wicked.

The little twist that is revealed at the very end is interesting, but also disjointing considering that it simply doesn't fit with, well, basically the entire rest of the book (from a narration point of view). Basically, if you are expecting anything like Wicked, you will be disappointed. If you read this with a more open mind, you will probably see it for what it is - an average (or perhaps *slightly* above average) novel. 2.5/5 stars
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Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday Confessions: I'm too old for this...you know what.


I confess...that I have *no* idea how some people who are participating in NaNoWriMo have already broken the 50,000 word mark. I'd love to say that I could have done that if I didn't have a job or a life or whatever, but shoot...I still doubt I could sit on my butt and concentrate enough to write 50,000 words in 10 or 11 days.

I confess...that we were supposed to get a good start on cleaning and organizing our house this past weekend, and while we got *a* start...I wouldn't say it was a good one. We suck at this. :-/  

I confess...that I have to bring my car to get an oil changed in just a few minutes, and I just *really* don't want to do so. Ugh. Pin It

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday: NaNoWriMo Edition


In doing random searches of writers' blogs, I came across a sort of meme in which several of them participate[d]. The meme is "Six Sentence Sunday", and it allows you to choose six sentences from your current WIP - any six sentences - and post them in your blog. On Sundays...obviously ;)

So, it being NaNoWriMo, I thought this would be a good way to put out some small samples of what I'm working on. I honestly don't even know how to summarize it, other than to say it's historical fiction taking place mostly in the American West, circa 1910 :)

This first six sentence excerpt is from page three of this as-of-yet untitled WIP. I just took the first six-sentence chunk that actually made some semblance of sense when removed from the whole. ( <-- And would you *look* at all that alliteration right there? haha)

Well, they’d certainly shut him up good. William merely nodded in response, wanting more than anything to buy himself time that he knew they wouldn’t give. Sure enough, naught but a few moments passed before Edward Bradley stepped out of the shadows, arms folded over his chest as he glared menacingly at William. “Well then, what’s your answer? You gonna stay here and rot, or do we have a deal?”
But there was one more thing William had to ask, much as he hated to say the words, hated to admit that this outcome was even possible.

Phew, I never realized how little and yet somehow how much can be said in six sentences. I guess I even left y'all with a bit of a cliffhanger there ;) And hopefully I'll remember to post for Six Sentence Sunday at least the next few weekends, until NaNoWriMo is over...
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Friday, November 9, 2012

Book Review: Rules of Gentility by Janet Mullany

First things first: this novel really is a great quick, light read.

source

Now, I have to be honest - the story is pretty predictable and it's clear that many of the characters are empty "stock" characters. The author was apparently going for a Bridget Jones Diary meets Jane Austen/regency romance tale, and while in general I'll say she mostly succeeded, at the same time I'm a history buff and definitely found myself cringing at the number of things that happened throughout this novel that never would have happened in regency period England.

That said, though I was worried that the first-person, present-tense form would be awkward, it was actually refreshing and handled very well. I do think the ending was a bit awkward and rushed, but as I said in the very first sentence of this review ^^^, this book is a great light, quick read. Other reviewers (particularly on Amazon) mentioned that it's great for those who like chick lit or romance novels...personally, I'm not a big reader of either of those genres and the things I enjoyed about this book seem to be the things that those who gave it bad ratings did not like. Take that as you will. For my part, I think this novel rates a solid 3.5/5 stars for being witty - in a wry sort of way - and just generally fun.
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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Writer's Block Wednesday: Post-Election Thoughts

Mehhhhh. Part of me doesn't want to write this entry, and another part of me really, really does. The thing is, I'm not going to talk about Obama vs. Romney or Democrats vs. Republicans. I'm not going to complain about who won or who lost, I'm not going to gloat about who won or who lost, and I'm not going to poke fun at or talk down to anyone because of their beliefs. That's just not the kind of person I am - even if I disagree with you, I believe that everyone has a right to their opinion, and I simply don't feel like arguing or debating about stuff like this.

What I *do* want to say is the following:

(a) Can we get rid of the Electoral College already? It was put in place by a government who basically didn't trust Americans to elect their own leader by popular vote, in a time when COUNTING that popular vote accurately was next to impossible. We haven't needed it for quite some time, and to be completely honest I'm of the opinion that no, every vote does NOT count - so long as the electoral college is in place.

(b) I'm supremely tired of the two party system. For the first time this year I voted outside of my registered party *and* outside of the Republican and Democrat parties, and I was more proud of this vote - a vote that I knew was, in the eyes of so many, being "thrown away" - than I've ever been of any vote I've cast before it. I voted before work, wore my sticker at work all day, then when I got home and changed into comfy clothes I took my sticker off my work shirt and put it on my sweatshirt. See:



The thing is, I think if every person actually did the proper research and voted based on the candidate who fit the majority of their own specific beliefs, we wouldn't have seen an election that garnered something like 60 million-ish votes for Obama, 57 million-ish votes for Romney, just over 1 million votes for Gary Johnson, and then of course even less for Jill Stein, Virgil Goode, etc. I'm sorry but (wait, no I'm not) the thing is, people blindly vote Democrat and Republican far too often. Oh, they know the basic issues - who is going to tax the upper middle class and upper class more, who is for or against abortion/gay marriage/etc., who is more likely to extend our presence in the Middle East and who is more likely to cut it back. But the thing is, there are *so* many nuances to these and basically every other issue that our country faces/considers...I can't really get into specifics without voicing my own political beliefs, which I do not want to do here because this is not any sort of political blog (nor do I want it to be), but I'm telling you, do a bit of research and see where you *really* stand. Please.

In the end, there are very few (if any, heh) politicians who really truly care about the greater good. They are politicians for a reason, folks, and they're all just doing whatever they need to do in hopes of getting elected or re-elected. Plus they're mostly owned by lobbyists and big corporations anyway. But to put it very, very simply - if we weren't so stuck in a two-party system, it would be much, much harder for said lobbyists and big corporations to do what they do. And would probably in the end make our democracy a lot more stable than it is at the moment or than it has been for the past, shoot, 11 years or so.

...and now I step off my soap box. This is the only political-type post I've ever made here, and it will likely be the only one I make here for quite some time. Possibly ever. Because as much as I rail against the electoral college and the two-party system, I do understand that the chances of there being any major changes to these things in my lifetime are, well, pretty slim.

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Post-Vacation Monday Confessions


I confess...that I'm 4 days behind on NaNoWriMo thanks to having been on vacation since last Tuesday night. Oops?

I confess...that it was freezing cold in my house this morning, and I didn't want to get out of bed. I don't think it helped that both of my dogs obviously missed me and therefore were being quite cozy and keeping me warm ;)

I confess...that I spend my four nights in New Orleans listening to some of the most amazing music, and I only wish that I had the money to buy a house or apartment there so that I could go back on a regular basis. Seriously - Galactic at Tipitina's on 10/31, the Tornado Brass Band at Preservation Hall on 11/1, Dr. Bones & the Hep Cats at the Bombay Club on 11/2, and on 11/3 John Boutte at d.b.a., and what I suppose were sort of "house" bands at the Sing Sing Club and Fritzel's, as well. Four nights of perfection, honestly. Pin It

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ice & Fire Con Update!

Well, originally there was a slight ticket price for Ice & Fire Con scheduled to happen on November 1st, but as tickets had only been on sale for a little over a month us organizers decided it would be best to push that back a bit...therefore, ticket prices are still set at $45/$60/$75 through the end of November!


That said, due to a flurry of ticket sales in the past few days, we now have only *3* Dragon tickets available :) Of course, once those tickets are gone they are gone - but people who buy Stag or Iron tickets will have the ability to (at a later date) add the Friday night dinner to their ticket. The price for that will be an additional $15, which sets the Iron ticket price at $60 and the Stag ticket price at $75. However, Dragon ticket holders will still have a few perks that Stag and Iron tickets won't have - those being priority seating at the Saturday night feast and Friday night pub dinner, and a larger convention gift bag :) And even adding the Friday night dinner on is a first come, first serve thing once we open the option for people to do so. But the 21 Stag tickets that we have left do at least include the Saturday night feast!

Now, as I write this, so far as I know there are still two rooms available for booking IN the castle (the Empress Matilda and King Arthur suites), and three cottages still open as well (Cinderella's, Woodcutter's, and Clock Tower).

We're also starting to narrow down the schedule for the convention, which is exciting to me because it's the type of thing I enjoy and also sort of excel in ;) I definitely can't wait to start narrowing down the number of panel discussions and their subjects!


Anyway, I suppose I should try to fight my writer's block and work on my story for NaNoWriMo...so difficult when all that I can really think about is this convention ;) Pin It

Monday, October 29, 2012

Super late Monday Confessions...oops.



I confess...that this blog may be a bit devoid of decent posts during the month of November. I really need to force myself to step away from the computer in order to focus on my writing for NaNoWriMo...

I confess...that I've been trying to finish up my second recipe compilation, and working on it has made me ridiculously hungry!

I confess...that the most exciting part of my weekend was probably buying new collars for my dogs at Target yesterday. Wendy's is white and red with hearts and the word "Rescued" on it, and Rigby's is a sort of teal and blue with bones, and also says "Rescued". Yay doggie fashion! haha.
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