Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Holidays are Still Here!



Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.


Are you still recovering from the holidays? I feel like I am, but unfortunately the holidays aren't quite over yet. We still have New Year's Eve and Day, belated Christmas parties, gift exchanges, holiday returns, and snatching up all those post-season sale deals at the stores! It's exhausting. So today, I have a simple video to share with you all. The holidays can be distracting, but make sure you never let your guard down... that's when the zombies strike!


**Special thanks to my friend Shae for sharing this with me before Christmas. It was posted on Facebook, but I wanted to share it with you all here!**

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Best of December

Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday.

Today's question: What's the best book you read this month?

The good news is I actually read more than one book this month! I managed to read five six books, with a couple of them sitting patiently waiting. The best title by far was Paranormalcy by Kiersten White.

In case you haven't heard about this book, here's the blurb from Goodreads:
Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.

But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.
I got to say, I'm a bit of a Kiersten White fangirl. Her blog is clever and funny. How excited was I to find all of that inside Paranormalcy?

Like, this excited:
Credit


Evie is a bubbly, fun narrator and protagonist. She approaches all situations with a certain humor that has been missing from the zillion of paranornmals I've read*. The voice is crisp, and I felt like I knew her for a long time.

Also, after spending years reading paranormals where vamps and werewolves are as common as brunettes, it was so refreshing to read something where they weren't the stars. They were there, but on the periphery. I'm pleased that we got introduced to other critters besides the usual, as well. It's nice to see a different take on the fey as well as meet new kinds of creatures**.

Don't forget to stop by YA Highway for more Best of December picks. In the meantime, what's the best book you've read this month?






* I admit that most of these haven't been in the YA market, which might explain part of the problem.
** And by new, I mean ones I haven't read outside of fairy tales or mythology. Hooray!

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Last.fm hit of the day: The Collapse by The New Regime

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Blog Spotlight: Reasoning With Vampires

Credit
Here on The Pie, Miranda and I support the arts. We know how much goes into the creation of anything. We aim not to heckle/poke fun/abuse any creative endeavor.

That doesn't mean we can't enjoy when other people do.

But Alicia, that's awful.
Maybe, but sometimes it's so warranted.

Oh, really? When?
When it involves a little franchise called Twilight.

Before you go off about how awesome Twilight is, how it's so romantic, blah blah blah, you should know I'm not going to listen. I'm firmly lodged in my belief that it's awful. Reasoning With Vampires backs me up. She breaks down Twilight* into separate chunks and corrects the grammar, questions word choices, and questions plot elements.

If you're a true fan of Twilight and the subsequent books, you probably should stop reading.

For an example of what she does, look at the passage below. Not every one is this long, but it does showcase what you can expect if you go onto the site.

Credit

Reading through her entries is useful to the writing process as well. When you see the text in isolated chunks like this, you're able to find more things that don't work. I might try this out when I'm working on revising more clunky scenes.

Now I'm curious, Lurkdom, what are your thoughts on Twilight's story and writing?

* And will continue with the other books.
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Last.fm hit of the day: Endtime by Praxis

Monday, December 27, 2010

Snow Day!

What you see is remnants of the first blizzard of the season on my ENCLOSED front porch. The snow is all over part of the tacky Christmas display giving it that real Christmas feel. It's still flurrying outside and it's very cold.

The plus side is that I'm able to do the 9-5 job in my pajamas from the comfort of my bed today.

Hope all of you in The Lurkdom enjoyed your Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Books, Books, and More Books

This meme's shamelessly stolen from Kate Hart, who stole it from The Book Lady. Basically, the BBC thinks out of the 100 books listed, the average bear has or will read 6 of them.

Oh, BBC, you've never been so wrong*.

Anything bolded means I've read it. If it's purple, that means it's purchased and on my TBR.

1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter Series – JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6. The Bible (I'm giving myself half a point for reading multiple pieces while not in church or CCD.)
7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8. Nighteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens (I'm giving myself another half point since I've read exactly half.)
11. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Ubervilles – Thomas Hardy

13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare (I'm giving myself half a point for having read multiple pieces)
15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
18. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch – George Eliot
21. Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

30. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34. Emma – Jane Austen
35. Persuasion – Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis (Why is this separate from the whole series?)
37. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Correlli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41. Animal Farm- George Orwell

42. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
45. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47. Far from the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50. Atonement – Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52. Dune – Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night – Mark Haddon
60. Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66. On the Road – Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones Diary – Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72. Dracula – Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson

74. Noted from a Small Island – Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses – James Joyce
76. The Inferno – Dante
77. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal – Emilie Zola
79. Vanity Fair – William Makepiece
80. Possession – AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance – Robinston Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88. The Five People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94. Watership Down – Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet- William Shakespeare
(Why is this not included in the complete works??)
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

I've read 32 from cover to cover, and 3 in pieces.


Is there something on here I definitely should add to the TBR? What is it and why?

* I'll forgive you since you do have some awesome TV.
_____________________
Last.fm hit of the day: Purple Rain by Prince

Thursday, December 23, 2010

'Twas the Night Before Christmas-- a Zombie Survival Tale



Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

Merry Christmas! I have a special holiday treat for everyone today! Normally, I stick to the realm of non-fiction writing. I feel like I lack the creativity to write a fictional story with a plot and characters and all that stuff. I like to cling to my research books like a loser and then make up outrageous hypotheses that may or may not have any validity to them.

I've had an idea for awhile now to re-write a Christmas classic as a zombie story. This concept is, of course, not new territory at all. You may remember that last Christmas I shared with you all a book of re-written Zombie Christmas Carols. But I decided I wanted to work on the most famous Christmas poem of all-- The Night Before Christmas! Much to my dismay, I recently saw a book at Borders that was just that, The Zombie Night Before Christmas. I thought, "oh no! Someone else has already done this, and it's published!" I took a peek inside and was delighted to see that it SUCKED. It wasn't a creative re-write at all. And forgive my ego, but I think mine is pretty awesome. So, without further ado, enjoy my version (which is property of me, so don't even bother to steal it. I've taken steps to prove I wrote it, and I may try and get it published someday)!

The Night Before Christmas-- a Zombie Survival Tale
by Miranda Angelic Baldwin

'Twas the night before Christmas; every boy, girl, and spouse
were waiting for zombies to break into the house.
The windows and doors were all boarded with care
in hopes that they'd hold when the zombies got there!

The children were trembling, hiding under their beds
while visions of death lumbered by through their heads.
And I with my crowbar and my guy with his gun
knew we were in for some zombie killing fun!

Then out on the lawn there arose such a moaning
from zombies who were intent to do nothing but groaning.
Off to the windows we flew like a flash,
our guns were ready to take out the batch.

The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow
gave a luster to the green, decaying flesh below.
When what to our wondering eyes should appear?
A military tank-- zombie killers were here!

With a tough looking driver so lively and quick,
I knew it was famed zombie hunter, St. Nick!
The tank rolled on, killing zombies as they came;
St. Nick shouted and called his team by code name--

"Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen!
Pull up to the porch! Watch out for that wall!
Now blow them to bits! Shoot away! Kill them all!"

The zombies exploded as I watched them 're-die.'
Grenades all around, body parts rose to the sky!
So up to the house came the tank and its crew
with an armory of guns and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a panic, I heard on the roof
the scratching and gnawing of each zombie tooth.
As I drew in my head and was turning around,
busting through the door, St. Nicholas came with a bound!

He was dressed all in camo, his boots splashed with mud,
and his clothes were all tarnished with entrails and blood.
A bundle of machetes he had flung on his back,
and he looked like a madman who was ready to attack!

His eyes-- they were blood shot, his skin was so sallow.
His nose-- it was broken! His cheeks-- they were hollow!
His droll little mouth was set in a frown
as he yelled at us all to drop and get down.

The stump of a cigar he held in his teeth,
and the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face that was dire and sour.
He chuckled a bit and exuded great power!

He was ripped and strong, a definite bad-ass!
I laughed and I thought, "these zombies won't last!"
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
I knew that we all had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work.
He killed all the zombies and left none to lurk!
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
he gave a quick nod to the crew he had chose.

He sprang to the tank, to his team gave a whistle,
and away they all flew like a heat seeking missile!
But I heard him exclaim as he drove through the dead--

"Happy Christmas to all! And AIM FOR THE HEAD!"

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Best Gift to Give

Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday. 

Today's question: Give a book character a Christmas present!

Ah, YA Highway, you kill me. The question is deceivingly simple, but the one thing I would give could totally ruin an entire world.

I'd give Susan Delgado back to Roland.

SPOILERS BELOW, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.


















Credit
Losing Susan was one of the biggest shapers in Roland's life. Cliche as it sounds, but part of him died once she left. When we first meet Roland, he's battle-hardened, world-weary, and all business.

He wasn't always like that, as we learn in Wizard and Glass. We see a younger, more shiny-eyed Roland*. We watch him fall in love with Susan and plan for a future that isn't in the cards for him.

Because I love that Roland, I want him to be happy. It would have to be a delayed happiness because fate obviously had a plan in mind for him, but better late than never.

I'd have Susan waiting for Roland in the Tower and instead of throwing him all the way back to the beginning to relive it again, I'd throw them into a new reality where they both could have the happy ending they deserve.

What gift would you give your favorite character? And don't forget to stop by YA Highway to see what the others are saying.

* Even shiny-eyed, Roland was still all business.
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Last.fm hit of the day: Voodoo by Godsmack

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What Follow That Bird Taught Me About the Journey to Publication

"If I just keep on going, everything will turn out fine."
- Big Bird, Follow That Bird

I loved this movie growing up. Big Bird is sent off to live with the Dodo family in Illinois and far away from Sesame Street, but he doesn't like it there. He's homesick. He takes it upon himself to go back to his real home. It's a simple premise, but it's old school Sesame Street and created for little kids, not us big ones.

The best part of the movie are the songs. My favorite is the song with Waylon Jennings* and Big Bird called "Ain't No Road Too Long." If your firewall's blocking the video, go here for the lyrics.


**

The song speaks a lot to anyone on the journey to publication. At first you know nothing about the journey and think it will be super fast, then someone with more knowledge tells you how long it really takes.

You think, "Crap. It'll never happen."

Then Waylon Jennings breaks into song. When he tells you "There ain't no road too long," he means that if you want it bad enough, it doesn't matter how long it takes to get there. He gives you tons of advice in that first verse: from taking each rejection as a positive and to continue to push ahead.

If Big Bird can do it, all of us can.

* Some people might recognize him as the guy who sings The Dukes of Hazzard theme on the TV show. Of course, I could be dating myself.
** Though this movie is from 1985, I totally owned the flannel Waylon Jennings is wearing in 1994.
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Last.fm hit of the day: The Dark One by Darkseed

Monday, December 20, 2010

2011 On The Horizon

When I wasn't paying attention, 2010 blew past me. Only one of my goals made it to fruition, which has me wondering if I suck at long-term planning.

No matter. I decided that 2011 is the year. If I can stay focused (and positive), I'm going to snag an agent. I outlined my plan to Hubby today and it sounds doable. As long as I stay focused. I'll have a tight time line which I'll have to break out into smaller steps this weekend, but I'll need something to do when all the family together time is done.

January: Complete current draft of Phoenix Rising.
February: Hubby will look it over.
March: Revise and edit Phoenix Rising once more before sending it out for critique*.
April: Catch up on sleep.

This is as far as I've gotten in my plan, but it's only an hour old.

Lurkdom, I hope you'll hold me responsible.

What is your big goal for 2011?

* Speaking of, I'll need some volunteers. If you're interested in critiquing a paranormal, let me know.
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Last.fm hit of the day: Warsaw or the First Breath You Take After You Give Up by Them Crooked Vultures

Friday, December 17, 2010

LIGHTS!!!

I'm busy today due to procrastination, so talking about dialogue will have to wait again. (Blame Paranormalcy, as that sucked up all my time today.)

However, check out these awesome trees.

Boxwood Trees = best part of floral design

As seen at the creepy mall.

And, if you like a little more metal in your Christmas, check out this awesome light display.



_____
Last.fm hit of the day: Renegade by Styx

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Zombie Christmas Gifts



Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.


We're just a little bit over a week away from the big day! How is your shopping going? To be honest, mine has been not good. Lack of time, lack of money, lack of ideas... yeah, I'm not looking too good.

If you're having trouble as well, today I am compiling a list of some awesome gifts that you could get for the zombie lover in your life! Because we all know that everyone loves zombies, so these gifts cannot fail on December 25th--

Build-a-Zombie Calendar! Probably one of the most popular and most bought gifts for the holidays is a calendar! Even though we all have crazy smart phones and iPads and whatever else, everyone still needs a good old fashioned calendar to put on their wall. This calendar provides twelve months of date keeping PLUS twelve paper zombie crafting projects, enough to help you build your own horde. The patterns and paper are included, but you're recipient will need scissors and glue to complete the projects.


Magnetic Zombie Poetry! For all the budding writers, lyricists, or wordsmiths on your list comes magnetic zombie poetry! I know what you're thinking... zombies don't really speak or write. They kind of just moan and groan. So how can you write a poem only using the word "brrraaaiiinnnsss?" This classy set of magnetic words seem to contain enough to make simple zombie-esque phrases like "her skin is chewy." I know I like my skin to be chewy! The set is easily combinable with other magnetic poetry sets for even more fun.

The Walking Dead-- Complete First Season! Unfortunately, your lucky zombie lover won't be able to enjoy this gift until March 2011 (hey, they can mark the date on their new zombie calendar!), but you can now pre-order the complete first season of AMC's The Walking Dead on DVD or Blu-ray. It looks like the season retails at $40 (for DVD). For only six episodes, the DVDs better be packed with tons of bonus material for that much money. But, the series is amazing, so get it for that special person in your life and enjoy a romantic weekend of watching zombies kill the living!

Last Night on Earth-- the Zombie Game! Who doesn't love having a good board game night? This game is awesome! It's a fun game of strategy and intensity, complete with the living dead! The coolest thing about this board game is that you can either play as a "hero" or as a zombie. Each hero has a back story complete with their own personal strengths and weaknesses. The game also comes with a mood music CD to help get into the spirit of the zombie apocalypse. The rules may seem complicated, but players will catch on quickly. There are several expansion packs you can purchase as well. I had a fantastic time when I played this, and I know I would love to find this one under my tree...

Lego Zombies! I'm not sure if these are actually made by Lego or if these are just customized characters made with Lego parts. Either way, they are completely awesome! I have always been a huge fan of Legos, so combining them with my love for zombies may be the best thing ever created. Just think, your favorite zombie enthusiast can stage a war on their other favorite living Lego characters. I used to have a really cool pizza parlor set... I can just imagine the unsuspecting diners getting attacked by the evil chef!


So there you have it! Several awesome gifts for that hard to shop for person. I know I would be thrilled to own any of these things (mom, if you're reading this week, *hint hint*). What are you waiting for? Don't get caught paying for express shipping-- go buy some stuff!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wishing to Bend Both Space *AND* Time...

Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday.

Today's question: You spot Santa at the mall, climb onto his lap, and whisper that you've been a good boy or girl in his ear. What do you want Santa to bring you this year? 

Santa and I have a sketchy history that started when I discovered my Lite Brite was from either a flea market or yard sale.With that non-repressible memory in mind, I don't trust any arrangement we would have.

That doesn't mean a girl can't have wishes, and believe you me, I gots them. If realism, money, and time weren't a factor, I'd ask Santa to bring me the following things:
  • A winning Powerball ticket with a large take. I don't want to go out and buy it, he should be able to get it for me. Since I don't have a stocking, he could place it in my sneaker, so I'd see it.
  • The ability to do the day job part-time. Because let's face it: I use this place to pay for bills, but I'm not a fan. If I could be here for only 20 hours a week, I could use those other 20 hours for me and the researching/editing/writing that I squeeze in at night.
  • The ability for my apartment to behave like the TARDIS. Between hubby's comics and graphic novels, my books, and our joint DVD collection, we really need something that's larger on the inside.
  • A new critique group. One where I'm not the youngest person and where everyone has the same goal of publication.
  • One month. One month where I don't need to see anyone, be responsible, or do anything  besides all things writing.
  • Non-weight gain inducing cupcakes. All flavors. All sizes. I want to be able to eat a cupcake and get all the nutritional benefits from, say, an apple.

If you could ask for anything this Christmas, what would it be?

Don't forget to check out what everyone else is saying over at YA Highway!
________
Last.fm hit of the day: Take This Job And Shove It by Johnny Paycheck

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Tacky

I'd like to reiterate something those new to the Lurkdom might not know: I love Tacky Christmas. I love tacky lawn ornaments*. I love all things tacky.

We got that. Why?
The simple answer is "it's awesome." There's more than that, however. When life gets too serious and in the way of more fun things, something as simple as a multi-colored decorative chicken is enjoyable.

The point of tacky is to be able to laugh and enjoy the awfulness that only human can produce. Do you need to have a sense of humor to embrace tacky? It doesn't hurt to have one, but the main thing is to be able to laugh at yourself**.

Of course, there's a downside to tacky. When tacky goes hideously bad or wrong. A prime example of this would be the dollar pregnancy test and ovulation kit. (For reals.)

There's also a fine line between "tacky" and "whimsical," and it changes on the viewer. A picture of dogs playing poker? Tacky. Fairies? Whimsical?

It's your turn. Take a look at this little guy.

Tacky or whimsical?


* Not that there's any other kind.
** This is why I have a hand-quilted chicken tote bag. It's tacky and looks ridiculous paired with my normal clothes.
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Last.fm hit of the day: Peace Pipe by Cry of Love

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bad Gothic Haiku

Remember how back in July I told you about my love of goth even though I laugh at how seriously bad the poems are? It's time for Round 2.

blue angel and red rosesphoto © 2009 Anya Driscoll | more info(via: Wylio)

#2
Darkness falls around
Tortured angels cowering
In dusk green corpses




Sorry it's not Christmas-themed, but I did include the color green*. I do have a Christmas poem, but it's in a box somewhere.  

Give me your best haiku below.

* Who knew angels hid amongst zombies?
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Last.fm hit of the day: Sacred Worlds by Blind Guardian

Friday, December 10, 2010

Four For Friday

It's no secret that winter and I are arch enemies. Every year it comes around and I'm miserable until March-ish. It's dark. It's cold. There's snow. Since I'm an eternal pessimist, it's easy for me to find the faults of living in New England during our arctic season, but it's much harder to focus the flip side.

Today I'll do just that.

Four For Friday: The "Hooray for Winter!" Edition

My current scarf, via  Old Navy.
1. Scarves. I have a totebag full of them. They're warm, oftentimes snuggly, and full of awesome colors. I have a preference for bright colors these days.

2. Crochet. Now that NaNoWriMo is over and it's no longer too hot to be immersed in yarn, I can pick up my skillz where I left off. I'm nowhere ready to tackle socks, but instead will take on some bags, scarves, and possibly some critters.

3. An excuse to wear fleece pants. Not that I really need the excuse, but it does look silly to rock them in July when it's 75 or higher. So the cold weather is a blessing because I can lounge in horizontally striped pants that my mother would say make me look too big and not care.

4. Hot chocolate. It's like comfort food, but chocolate. Yes, this can be drank all year, but how many people think "Hot chocolate would make this trip to the beach that much better"? I know I don't. So, yes. Hot chocolate FTW. I have some gingerbread hot cocoa that I'm dying to try.



What things do you like about the winter?



PS: If you signed up for information about the writing getaway Holly, Erinn, and I  blogged about on Tuesday, check your inbox for a survey.
__________
Last.fm hit of the day: Wild Boys by Hardcore Superstar

Thursday, December 9, 2010

WTZF? Surburban Zombie Christmas



Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

Okay... I have NO idea what this is or why it was made. But seriously, it is so horrible it is wonderfully entertaining! I especially love how the trailer is five minutes long and basically shows everything about this film. I can't believe there may be at least another sixty minutes or more that exists of this! But I definitely have a lot of respect that these people went out there and made the film they wanted.

Time to get into the holiday spirit! What are you getting your favorite zombies for the season?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Truncated Memoir

Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday.


Today's question: Write your six-word memoir.

I'm beginning to think the girls over at YA Highway might be sadists because this topic haunted me all night. How can you distill your life down to six meaningful words? The trick is to distill a chapter of your life that way. Still hard, but a wee bit more manageable.

Take The White One for example:
Covered in oil, rescued by love.

For those who don't know, the shelter we adopted Lucky from had found him covered in oil in a courthouse parking lot. Hubby fell in love with him as soon as we saw him.

Again, I have to think about those evil six words for me this time. After some thought, I finally got it figured it out.

A bored brain creates great things*.

What would your six-word memoir say? Don't forget to stop over at YA Highway to see what the other participants are saying!

For more six-word memoirs, check out SMITH Magazine or pick up Not Quite What I Was Planning.

Also! If you're interested in a fun weekend of writerly awesomeness, read yesterday's blog.


* Not to mention it also does stupid things, but I'm trying to stay positive.
_____
Last.fm hit of the day: Shipping Up to Boston by Dropkick Murphys

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Blame This All on Holly Dodson...

Friday, Holly blogged about her writing Christmas wish list. This spawned comments about how we all want time. Then, this happened:


So Holly, Erinn, and I've been talking. We're going to organize a writer's retreat for our blog friends. Yes, I'm serious. No, I haven't lost my mind*.

Here's the idea:  Bunches of blogging buddies, one trip, loads of laughs and learning along the way.  Critique sessions, all-night giggle fests, whatever your heart desires from the friends you only thought existed online!  If you're interested in being included in the awesomeness, give us your name and email address below.  Alicia is going to send out an email to everyone who responds with a survey. 

We're using the survey to determine the where, when, and how so that the most people possible can be accommodated.





The three of us are super excited about the possibility of meeting all of you in person!

* Yet.
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Last.fm hit of the day: Join Me by HIM

Monday, December 6, 2010

An Open Letter to Designers

Dear Kleenex Product Design Team,

Some things shouldn't pose as food. I know this is hard to accept, but it's true.



If this sat on my desk, I'd think about red velvet cake and cupcakes all day. Why in god's name did you design this?

Hungrily curious,
Alicia

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Last.fm hit of the day: Burn Down Heaven by Straftanz

Friday, December 3, 2010

I Won NaNoWriMo... Now What?

Back in college, I acted*. Every winter break I would begin the work I would need to do for whatever bit part I was casted as in whatever Shakespeare production the director decided on. Once the semester started, I'd be eyes deep in rehearsal and any other theatre related class was required for that production** for three months; this didn't include all regularly scheduled classes.
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Once the production came and went, and I recovered from my four day coma and predictable immune system collapse, I would say "I have so much free time that I have no clue what to do."

NaNoWriMo is kinda like that.

Chances are you've recovered from the November writing and food coma and are now wondering what to do with this first NaNo-free weekend, writing-wise. Whatever you do, don't query your 2010 project. Just. Don't. As agent Scott Eagan said, it needs a lot of work.

Instead of mail-bombing every agent you can find, let your manuscript sit. This is the most important thing ever. I left last year's project alone for eight months while I went back to the revision board for FALLING TO NORMAL. If you left a project for NaNoWriMo, this is the time to reacquaint yourself with it.

A lot of NaNoWriMo regions have Thank Goodness It's Over parties to celebrate writerly success. If you've participated in any region events over the course of the month, the TGIO is a good way to bring closure for the year. You can say goodbye to people you won't see until next November and have fun while doing it. For example, I'll be attending the Boston region's party this weekend.

Just because you're not editing your manuscript doesn't mean you can't think about it. If you have nothing else going on, consider Plot Whisperer's Plot Writing Month. It's designed for you to revision your plot so your second draft will be that much stronger.

What are some things you do to combat the NaNoWriMo blues?



* Badly.
** These additional free-of-charge classes included, but weren't limited to: clowning, improv, movement, and Linklater voice training.
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Last.fm hit of the day: Hungry by White Lion

Thursday, December 2, 2010

World War Zombie Thursdays Friday Edition!



Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

Okay... did I forget that yesterday was Thursday? Yes, yes I did. How is that possible? I'm not entirely sure. A part of me knew it was Thursday, on some level, but another part of me didn't even register that I knew it was Thursday. In the end, it's best not to ask. Go on thinking I am a total dork. Which I am. So it's all good!*

Moving on! Lately I have been trying to read more. Keep in mind that I am a voracious reader (typically). I love books and I love my words. But sometimes life gets in the way and I don't always have the time to sit down and read like I'd want to. As such, I've had several zombie books sitting around for over a year now. They've been sitting on my book shelf sad and unread. Until now!

These past few weeks I've been reading the awesome World War Z-- an Oral History of the Zombie War by zombie author extraordinaire-- Max Brooks! We've chatted about him before, you'll know him as the author and genius behind The Zombie Survival Guide. That book is, of course, a humorous take on how to prepare and protect yourself during the coming zombie apocalypse. World War Z, on the other hand, has the same awesome writing quality and scientific believability that the Guide has, however, there is less of a humor element and more of a seriousness and historical voice at play which works incredibly well for the novel.


Written as a series of "reports" that were collected by the author some ten years after the end of the Zombie Wars, the book reads in the form of personal accounts by a variety of survivors from all over the world. Occasionally, the author will interject a question, but many of the accounts are long descriptions by the many people who witnessed the beginnings, middle, and end of the zombie plague. This book is a smart read and almost assumes the reader already knows something of world politics, history, and geography. Although a lot of the writing is very scientific and technical (in theory, the reader should have "survived" the Zombie War as well, so the basic history and terminology should already be known), it doesn't distract from the overall story. If you're nervous about reading something with a lot of medical and military terms, don't worry! It seems a bit daunting at first, but then you get sucked in the overall story and idea of the novel, so it doesn't really matter if you don't know exactly where Rajasthan, India is or what HE 155s are. Often Brooks explains terms in convenient footnotes.

World War Z is an engaging and emotional read. It's about families, survival, death, terror, and humanity as a whole. I particularly enjoyed the accounts on how the pharmaceutical companies immediately cashed in on the panic of the zombie virus (at first, it was thought to be a form of rabies) and the section that told about how a bunch of celebrities tried turning the War into a reality series... to disastrous results! Both of these topics are so relevant in our current world and it is all too easy to believe the fictional account as the result of a zombie outbreak!

Also I should note, this book is in pre-production to be a film, produced by Brad Pitt. I'm not entirely sure what I think about this. The great thing about the novel is all the different accounts. It's a story of history. But I fear the film version will just turn it into a high budget, high action, scary zombie flick that is just trying to cash in on all the recent zombie mania. Hopefully Brooks will be involved with the film, not just a writing credit, to preserve the overall feel and tone of the work. Fingers crossed!

But I can't recommend the novel enough, and I'm sure many of you have already read it! I feel like a zombie-culture reject for not having read it sooner! But like any good book, it's always there, just waiting to be opened. So do yourself a favor, and pick up a copy of this one soon!**

*And based on a tricky idea from Alicia, I'm past dating this entry for Thursday anyway, so I didn't even have to come clean about missing the day!
**I have also been told that the audio book for this novel is also very well done and read! So, feel free to pick up the CDs for your iPod or car ride-- another great way to enjoy awesome novels!***
***Notice how I am adopting Alicia's footnote system? Mwahahahaha!!!!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Movie Tie Ins

Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday.

Today's question: What movie do you wish had been a book first? (And if it WERE a book, who should have written it?)

I thought this was going to be a hard question. When I first saw it I was like "Really guys? You mean I have to like a movie enough to want to read the book tie-in?" Because I've done that before and it ruined the movie for me. I was in eighth grade and read the book adaptation of Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. My friend Jen loved it. I thought there was too much exposition*.

So if we're going to do a book adaptation of a movie, it would have to be kick ass: tight writing, fabulous dialogue that was both witty and dead-on for the character, and worth while jaunts into the "internal life" of said character. Without any more bullshit, my top picks.


Credit
Number three on the list is Better Off Dead. It's quirky and has some great lines that my circle quotes. A lot. This would be a pretty fun and fast read if it was written in the same style that Louise Rennison used for the Georgia Nicolson series.

There might be some argument over how sight gags wouldn't translate into the written word, but it can work and still evoke the same emotion we get from watching the DVD.

If you haven't seen this movie, what are you waiting for? Go. Now.


Even as I type The Breakfast Club, I cringe a little. This is such a classic film that if it's not executed properly, the book would just completely and utterly fall on it's face. John Hughes was a genius with all his movies, but of course this is probably the best of the bunch. Probably because it spoke what multiple social groups think/feel, but I'm not going to jump into a treatise on The Breakfast Club.

The best, of course, deserves the best. The only person who would be able to carry the enormity of this story would be John Green.

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My final and number one pick for book adaptation though goes to Dazed and Confused. I love, love, love this movie but can't explain why**. It's fun, funny, and the soundtrack is awesome. (Yes, I know in a book the soundtrack is obsolete. Just wait for it.)

This book would be technically historical comedy if I had to put a label on it and because of that, I'm not sure who the best person would be to write it. My gut says it would have to be an ensemble of writers, but still, no clue who.

The book would come packaged with a download link for it's own soundtrack though so you can rock out to the 70s and read at the same time. (See? I had a plan.)


Hubby even participated this week. When I asked what movie he'd want in book form, he blurted out "Se7en" even before I finished the question. He'd want Thomas Harris*** to write it because "he'd write an awesome version of it."

So tell me, what movie would you want to see in book form? Also, don't forget to stop by YA Highway to see what the other roadtrippers are saying!



* Eighth grade Alicia didn't know what exposition was however, so all she thought was "Why the hell is there so many big paragraphs?" (Yes, even at 13, I was a dialogue fan.)
** Just like I can't explain why I love The Breakfast Club, coincidentally. I just do.
*** The author of Silence of the Lambs. Don't worry, I had to ask too.
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Last.fm hit of the day: Watch You Bleed by Crystal Pistol
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