Monday, February 28, 2011

Calling on Those That Write

Credit
Everyone who has a brain is serious about writing knows that you don't just vomit out a story and BOOM! you get published. Writing is the easy part. The hard part comes after.

What in the blue hell are you talking about?
Editing. Revising. SELLING YOUR SOUL*.

Though there are many ways to go about it, editing and revision are necessary evils if you want your novel to work. Somewhere in the first draft process, you probably have some android doing the macarena in a comma happy sentence. No matter how clever you think this was. It's not.

Fortunately for you, NaNoEdMo is here to help. Just like NaNoWriMo dedicates a month to the art of first draftdom, EdMo gives you a full month of editing joy**.

What do you mean by "editing"?
Technically, this is all grammar and spelling stuff. For some reason, I can never do editing by itself and revision comes into play.

And revision is...
When you take your story and change pieces of it. There's more technical stuff involved, but I know not everyone in the Lurkdom writes or cares.

Why should I join NaNoEdMo?
If you write, you need to edit at some point. All you need to "win" is 50 hours under your belt. You can edit anything as long as it's yours. So if you have multiple projects, you can edit all of them.

If you plan on editing in March, let me know. And if you want editing tips throughout the month, DEFINITELY let me know.

Also! Don't forget to enter our race to 150 contest!

* Here at The Pie, we do not endorse dealings with the devil. We know what happens to people that do. In case you don't, we recommend checking out the stories of Dr. Faustus, Johnny of Georgia, and Billy Markham.
** While some people truly do get joy out of editing, yours truly is not one of them.
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Last.fm hit of the day: The City of New Orleans by Johnny Cash & June Carter

Friday, February 25, 2011

Someone Was Asleep at the Marketing Wheel

And it wasn't me.

Like any good pet owner, I signed up for those reward things at both Petco and PetSmart. Because of this, I get mail and coupons. This works out AWESOME since the Stripey and White Ones are pretty pricey.

In case you're new*, you might not know that I'm talking about cats. They're pretty cute, and most days they actually like each other. However, they are indeed feline. They play with shakymice and meow - or more apt, yodel (The White One) and trill (The Stripey One).

So you can imagine my confusion over this most recent marketing attempt from the folks at Petco.


This flyer brings up the following questions:
  1. If I'm a cat lover, why are you showing me a semi-cute dog instead of a ball of stripey fluff?
  2. On the whole, cats do not like dogs, so why are you showing me something that angers my cats**?
  3. How does a dog fit in with a cat nutritional consult?

People, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.


What's the strangest piece of marketing you received?

PS: Help The Pie reach 150 followers. Enter our contest and urge your friends to follow as well!


* Hello, by the way. You look excited for the weekend.
** No lie. Stripey has begrudgingly accepted our upstairs neighbors dog because a door or window separates them.
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Last.fm hit of the day:Unnerving by Whitechapel

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Welcome to Dead Island


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

Moving... oh my. There are very few things that are more stressful. And to add to my stress, as I got home last night, I discovered that my internet was out. Three days earlier than it is supposed to be. As annoying as this is, I can't be too upset or worried about it because I have way too much to do!

So, today is short and sweet as I'm borrowing internet from someone while also hauling boxes to and from my car. I know I promised to introduce you to the second member of my zombie army, however... I am sharing this! A friend recently posted this awesome trailer on Facebook. It's actually a trailer for a video game called Dead Island. Probably one of the most cinematic trailers I've seen for a game and so well done! I don't know much about the game other than it's a first person melee zombie killing game (able to be played with four other players).


Awesome, huh? I kind of wish it were going to be a movie!

Have a great week, and don't forget to enter our HUGE CONTEST!! Okay, back to moving...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What Would You Adapt?

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.


The ladies at YA Highway changed it up this week. Today we ask the questions and you give the answers in the comments. Exciting, right? RIGHT!

So, today's question: What book do you want to see as a movie or TV series?

Since my Dark Tower prayers have been answered, I get to pick something else. And since it's my blog, I get to pick two.

Book to TV Series
Megan McCafferty's Sloppy Firsts. I think it would work best on the CW.

Book to Movie
Stephen King's Eyes of the Dragon made as an anime.

Did you like this question? Then hop over to YA Highway and see what the other road trippers are saying!

Don't forget to enter our race to 150 contest! (And spread the word for extra entries.)

_____
Last.fm hit of the day: No Good by Vermillion Lies

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

We're Not Worthy!

We're stylin' now!
Don't forget to check out the awesome contest Miranda and I are hosting in honor of hitting 100 followers!

Now that our own shameless pimping is out of the way...

So Kate, Perri, Kris, Pam, and Quita thought The Pie was award-worthy. We're a quiet bunch over here, humble, even*. So when someone gives us an award, it's like when Wayne and Garth met Alice Cooper.




Anyway. Like with all meme-awards, there are rules:
  1. Acknowledge and link back to who gave you the award.
  2. List 7 things about yourself.
  3. Pass the award to 10 other bloggers
7 things about Alicia
  1. My imaginary friend as a child was a giraffe.
  2. My first apartment was a glorified attic.**
  3. My first car - The Ghettomobile - was the super hero of cars.
  4. I snicker way too much when I listen to death metal.
  5. Alicia + celebrities = social disasters
  6. I went to my first wake when I was 4***. 
  7. I've contemplated training the cats to do housework more than once. That this would take longer than actually doing the housework hasn't escaped my notice.


7 things about Miranda
  1. I don't really like zombies, I just pretend to.
  2. I lie a lot, as in the above statement.
  3. I have six piercings.
  4. I drink, on average, four cans of Coke per day.
  5. Every Sunday, I watch the 'Predator Raw' marathon on msnbc.
  6. When I was 16, Alicia's dad warned her that I might be a serial killer when we met "in real life" for the first time.
  7. It turns out, he was correct (but I didn't actually kill Alicia... yet...).


Even though we're humble, we here at The Pie are also rule-benders. I, for instance, eat dessert before dinner more times than is allowed. That being the case, we won't be dishing this out to 10 bloggers, but we will share.

Richard Diaz
Leah Miller
Windy Aphayrath
Lisa @ The Cutting Edge of Ordinary



* Yep, that was my attempt at a "humble pie" joke.
** Or 5. Not sure what this says about me...
*** A fact that Miranda and bestie Lisa didn't realize when they came for a visit and ended up walking into my downstairs neighbor's apartment while he was showering. (I still giggle at that.) Note from Miranda-- Oh my... he should have locked his door.

______
Last.fm hit of the day: Through the Horned Gate by 3 Inches of Blood

Monday, February 21, 2011

Race to 150 Contest

We reached 150 followers!!! The Race and contest entry has ended! Thank you to all who followed/entered and congratulations to our winners! If you're new to 'The Pie,' stick with us-- we'll have more contests in the future! ~Alicia & Miranda

Last week we exceeded 100 followers in The Lurkdom. *throws more confetti* This is fantastic because Miranda and I have been planning a celebration for a while now.

Like what?
Besides impromptu dance parties, we're doing some giveaways. FIVE As of March EIGHT giveaways to be exact. You can win one of these fabulous prizes:
  • One of two handmade scarves by Alicia*.
  • Cupcakes of awesome by Miranda.
  • An ARC of Divergent by Veronica Roth. You can read my review here.
  • A handmade critter by blog follower Empress.
  • Cookie Prize Pack: one box of Girl Scout Cookies and a dozen homemade zombie cookies from Miranda.
  • Zombie Surival Kit: zombie survival flashcard, zombie mix cd, Amazon.com gift card, and your very own zombie.
  • Writer's Survival Kit: iTunes gift card, pens, post its, notepad, a copy of Bird by Bird, and your very own chocolate stash.

These sound awesome. How do I enter?
So glad you asked. Comment on what you would like to read about on The Pie and fill out the below form. We'll keep the contest open until we get 150 followers. Tweeting, blogging, and telling/inviting your friends to The Pie gets you bonus points!




Before I forget, thanks to everyone in The Lurkdom for your support. We do this for you.


* Hubby was going to be modeling the scarves for you, but my lack of attention span due to Captain Tripps prevented this so far.
________
Last.fm hit of the day: Hell Angel by Gorgeous Frankenstein

Friday, February 18, 2011

Four For Friday

Greetings from the Typhoid House!

Okay, maybe not the best way to start a post, but I'm battling a head cold so my funny is on the lam. If you've tried to blog on cold medicine, you might know what I'm experiencing. That said, it's time for a Four For Friday.

Four For Friday: Steampunk Edition 

1. Steampunk Month. Susan Dennard declared February as steampunk month. She's giving away some books, created a quiz to find out your steampunk personality*, and more.

2. Exhibits. Back in October, Hubby and I went to a steampunk exhibit at The Charles River Museum of Industry** in Waltham. This was a big to-do because we're an old married couple and we're about two seconds away from yelling at kids to get off our lawn. Also, steampunk is pretty cool so why wouldn't we go one town away?

Basically the exhibit, which has the complete name of Steampunk, Form & Function, and an Exhibition of Innovation, Invention and Gadgetry, includes submissions from a steampunk contest. Click through on the link above for more information***. Hubby fell in love with the working steampunk pinball machine.

Hubby the steampunk pinball wizard
3. A Whole Weekend of Steampunk. Because of the popularity of CRMI's steampunk exhibit, Waltham will become the international steampunk city for one weekend in May. There's going to be tons of different things going on, and I can't wait to find out if some of my favorite steampunk bands will be there. The official site is scheduled to go live February 21st; so if you like steampunk and are near Massachusetts, check out internationalsteampunkcity.com.

4. Music. You wouldn't guess it looking at me, but I love the steampunk music genre. If you like steampunk and want to listen to some bands that fall in that genre, check out Abney Park, Vernian Process, Unextraordinary Gentlemen, and The Clockwork Dolls.




* I'm a swashbuckling airship pirate.
** The Charles River Museum of Industry is, as you might guess, next to the Charles River. What you might not know is the same river flooded ridiculously last spring, and, with the proximity to the river, the museum had got flooded. Months later, they were still working on repairing the damage. The steampunk exhibit was helping drumming up business.
*** If you don't, I'll just ramble more. Trust me, you'd rather click the link.
_______
Last.fm hit of the day: Ants Under Glass by Unextraordinary Gentlemen












Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Zombie Army has Begun!


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

Hey, Zombie Thursday fans and Pie followers! Life has recently become quite crazy for me. I finished up my Repo! show and am already trying to plan the next one. I'm also in the process of moving! But, Miranda, didn't you just move not long ago? Yes. Yes, I did. But I'm moving again. I'm going to be spending the next ten days packing like a crazy person. So, for today and next week, I am debuting my paper zombie army!

You may recall my holiday zombie gift guide. On it, I listed a really cool calendar that also came with a crafting project-- foldable, glue-able paper zombies! Each month has a new zombie and a corresponding project to build that zombie. I found the calendar at Borders for 50% off after Christmas and could not resist.


For the month of January, it's the "All Business" zombie! Even though he's dead, he still has a strong work ethic. Building this paper zombie was no easy feat. The folds and sections to glue are very tiny. I chose to use a glue stick to have better control. Unfortunately, although I had more control, the holding power wasn't as strong as a more liquid type glue. However, the glue stick certainly proved to be less messy. This calendar doesn't seem like a great gift for a child... many times I started to get a bit frustrated when parts wouldn't go together. But having thin small fingers was a bonus!


So there he is, all completed! He does stand up on his own, which is very cool! However, he can be slightly unstable on his feet. But after all, he is a zombie. They are not known for their balancing skills.

Next week is the zombie nurse! And... stay tuned for our HUGE CONTEST starting next week... there's going to be a little (actually a BIG) something(s) for all our different readers in the Lurkdom!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Title Me This

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: How do you pick your titles?

Titles. Along with blurbing and comp titles and authors, titling your creative opus is work. It has to be thought through. There might be chocolate involved.

Yeah, I have problems with titles. This explains why I number my haikus. When I think of titles, I immediately go to loft and snobbish titles. For years, Falling to Normal was called Trials and Tribulations: Memoirs of a Teenager*. I loved that title and refused to change it for a looong time because nothing I came up with sang to me as my pretentious-almost-Russian-author-esque title did.

Did I come up with the title Falling to Normal? Hell, no. It took an hour brainstorm session where I told Hubby all about my plot  and he came up with the title. He's the marketing and sales person in this relationship.

So how do I come up with a title? If I'm lucky, it will just come to me, like most blog post titles. Most of the time, I have to work for it. Most working drafts have vague titles like "Untitled 1st POV" or "short story 29." As it was, when I first drafted Phoenix Rising, it had the most awesome title of "nanowrimodraft09." It took months thinking about the main characters before I got the title I have now.

If you have an actual process on titling, I'd love to know the secret.

Don't forget to stop by YA Highway and learn more secrets of titling!




* Of course, I came up with the title when I was 16 and then-Trials was a 10 page short story.
______
Last.fm hit of the day: Hey, Good Lookin' by Hank Williams

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Haiku Winner (and Other News)

Thanks to everyone who entered last week's scary haiku contest. It was great reading your entries. I had a difficult time picking a winner, and since this is like Highlander,* Hubby helped me out.

Here's our winning entry.

It happened so quick
How could she not see him there?
Too cold now to care

The winner?

QUITA!!!!


Honorable mention goes to Miranda and Meredith for their entries.

Miranda's Entry
You feel it's dark breath,
Warm on your cold shoulder blade.
The eyes are watching.

Meredith's Entry
Eyes that haunt my dreams
Sallow skin and too much kohl
Bitch be scary, yo.

NOTE: While Meredith's didn't frighten me. My maniacal laughter did frighten some cube mates.

Well done, ladies!

In other news, we hit 100 followers last night. *sprinkles confetti* Miranda and I are working on a contest. Stay tuned, deets will come soon.

Quita, I'll be emailing you for your address shortly.


* Where there can be only one.
_________
Last.fm hit of the day: Understanding the Fear that Lives Within by Evergreen Terrace

Monday, February 14, 2011

Blogest, Now with Kissing

Happy Mass Marketing Day, Lurkdom. Instead of ranting about how much I hate this holiday, I thought I'd be productive and participate in Stina and Christina's Just Kiss Already Blogfest.

The rules are simple: post a 250-word scene where actual kissing happens. Then read and comment on at least three other participants.

While trying to find something for this, I realized that I don't have a lot of kissing scenes in my writing repertoire.* Because of this, I'm sharing a scene from my recently finished WIP**, Phoenix Rising. So if it's still a little rough, that's why.
Kyla wanted to go home. She should’ve never made the initial arrangement in the first place. Should she call Janice and tell her she wouldn’t be coming home tonight? What would she say? “I’m paying my debt of gratitude to the police for not hauling me to jail.”

She was over her head.

The water stopped running. A moment later, the bathroom door opened.

“Found your way back here already?” A towel was cinched around Pike’s waist and water clung to his skin in greedy droplets. His hair was mussed and damp.

Kyla pushed past the fact that it was such a sexy look for him. “I should go home,” she said.

He lowered his head so he was eye level with her. He splayed his palms against the bedroom door, trapping her in between. “Didn’t you like the other night?”

He didn’t wait for an answer as he leaned forward and kissed her. He fed off her lips and took his time tasting her. The rough urgency from the other night disappeared, which left room for a more delicate interlude. Each gentle sweep of his tongue weakened Kyla’s knees more until her legs gave way under her. Pike hoisted her up and Kyla wrapped her legs around his waist. Wedged between the door and the wall that was Pike, Kyla explored the contours of his body.

“Stay,” he whispered in between soul-searing kisses. “When will we get this chance again?”

Thanks for reading and definitely check out the other participants!


* Which probably says loads about me.
** By recently finished, I mean it's a week old.
___________
Last.fm hit of the day: Love-Hate-Sex-Pain by Godsmack

Friday, February 11, 2011

Discovering Crutch Words with Wordle

Falling to Normal Wordle
Crutch words are those sneaky things that are the backbone of your personal vernacular. They can be disguised as fillers, such as "um," or actual phrases, like "you know?" and "omigod!" They're so insidious an unobservant person wouldn't pick up on them.*

This is one of the things you should be on the lookout for during the editing process. The problem with this is unless you read through your manuscript over a short, undistracted period of time, it's going to be difficult to ferret them out. Also, since they're YOUR crutch words, your brain ignores them.

Since your brain likes denial, it's time to rely on technology. This is where Wordle comes into play. I touched upon this before, which you can read about here.

I'm the type of person who knows when Hubby's gone looking through something in my pile of stuff. In that same pile of stuff, I remember where everything is even if I haven't touched it in a month. Because of this slight craziness on my part, I like anything visual. This is why I love Wordle.

Phoenix Rising Wordle

Wordle shows me what words I use the most. All I need to do is paste my WIP into their text field and hit "Go." Then a word cloud gets generated. From there I can decide whether I want them to omit common words like "the" or leave them in. I can also see word count to get a solid number.

Pretty awesome, right?

If you have more than one project, it's a good idea to do a comparison. By comparing Falling to Normal and Phoenix Rising, I'm able to truly see what words I use the most in my writing. As you can see from the images above, my crutch words are pretty unoriginal: back, like, one, know.


What are your crutch words?

Don't forget to enter my haiku contest. Today is the last day!




* Unless you were in my cross-cultural communication class where we had a checklist with things to mark off during one exercise. "Um" is my filler of choice.

_________
Last.fm hit of the day: Lick it Up by KISS

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Zombie Sex-tacular presents "Toys for the Twisted"


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

**WARNING** Today's Zombie Thursday blog is NOT intended for anyone under the age of 18. If you're under 18, you should not be reading this. I recommend that you click on this link instead and try your hand at writing creepy gothic haiku. If you're under 18 and choose to ignore my warnings, Alicia and I are not responsible for what you read or see. For everyone 18 and over, please proceed with caution. If you are easily offended, don't read. Also note that while I will not post pictures of the products directly in the blog, the links I am posting are NSFW (NOT SAFE FOR WORK). Wait until you get home. Or, if you are lucky enough to work in a cool place, click away. **END WARNING**

Okay, now that I have that disclaimer out of the way...

Hello! And welcome to another edition of Zombie Sex-tacular! Honestly, today I was going to post about something completely different (it will be up for next week though... get ready to meet the first two players in my paper zombie army!), but for my birthday last week, someone brought what I am about to share with you to my attention. Plus, Alicia believes people in this world are sick (they are) because they seem to have a fascination with zombies and the sex and my writing about the two. Since we're so close to reaching 100 in the Lurkdom, I thought a Zombie Sex-tacular might put us over the edge!

Last week it was my birthday! My friend Tara is great about finding some of the most random and interesting things on the internet. What she shared with me for my special day is nothing short of amazing. And although she couldn't afford to buy it for me, letting me know it existed was definitely present enough.

Let me introduce you to the "Zombi Art Dildo!" (yes, click on the link if you are able... remember NSFW!!!!)

For those who don't wish to have this image pop up on their screen, let me fill you in. It is a seven inch functioning silicone dildo that is *hand painted* to look like rotting zombie flesh. Made by a company called Necronomicox (har har), it is sculpted to have "stimulating arteries" and a "textured rotting penis head." And because these babies are all handcrafted, they are authentically one-of-a-kind!

Think you'd like to get one or buy one as a joke gift or as a collector's item for the zombie lover in your life? Think again... the price tag is 245 dollars! For that kind of money, you could pay to travel and find a real zombie to... you know...


The good news is that they offer two other "models," a one color version and a two color version for those who don't want to part with 245 dollars. However, even the boring "one color" still sells for 150 dollars (not much better). Now, I did a little extra research and came across a more reasonably priced zombie sex toy, although this one is not nearly is good. This one is a (NSFW!) zombie finger vibrator and sells for about 33 dollars. It doesn't quite offer the same WOW factor as the zombie penis, though. But I would say the finger is definitely more of an affordable joke gift.

For me, personally I'd love to own the Zombi Art Dildo for displaying. It's a great conversation starter, and honestly probably wouldn't be the weirdest collectible I own. Unfortunately, I doubt any of my friends will be buying it for me anytime soon. But you all have a year until my next birthday... start up a money collection now and maybe I'll get lucky (in more ways than one *buhduhduh CHING!*).

Hope you enjoyed this special Zombie Sex-tacular! If you're new to The Pie and like what you've read, please "Follow Us" and join the Lurkdom! Once we hit 100 followers, there will be a contest!!! Until then, if you like contests, go back to the top and click on my "under 18 link" to try your luck at the haiku contest.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Bring on the Love

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: Who are your favorite literary couples?

This should be a super-easy question. I mean, who doesn't have couples they love seeing together? Right?

The problem with this is, I'm a cynic. My normal response to love and mushiness is the eye roll and gagging. Hubby's accepted this, you can too. Because of this "limitation," finding those great literary loves is difficult. Most of the time I only like one half of them.

Vicky Austin & Adam Eddington
Books: A Ring of Endless Light, Troubling a Star
Why: Even though Vicky's in high school and Adam is so not, it's not creepy. Their relationship isn't one of those sticky sweet high school things, but more grounded in reality.

Anita Blake and Nathaniel Graison
Books: Burnt Offerings, Blue Moon, Narcissus in Chains, Cerulean Sins, Incubus Dreams, Danse Macabre, The Harlequin, Blood Noir, Flirt
Why: What started as a real off-putting, one-sided weird fest* turned into one of the best relationships I've read in paranormal. Nathaniel is supportive and balances Anita's Type A personality in ways the other dozen men in her life** don't.

Georgia Nicolson & Dave the Laugh
Books: The entire Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series
Why: They get on awesomely. It's one of those great friendships where each of them get more silly around the other. Plus, Dave the Laugh did introduce the concept of putting the word "pants" in place of critical words in most theatrical productions***.

Lurkdom, if you could pair any two characters together, who would they be?

Housekeeping Note
Do you love cookies? Then don't forget to submit your scariest haiku before Friday. You can get all the details here.

* And to be honest, lots of stuff in the later Anita books fall under the weird fest category. (Not to mention the NC-17 category.)
** Am so not kidding on the number. Like I said, it turns into a weird fest.
*** The hills are alive with the sound of "pants" is much more interesting than "music," for example.
______________
Last.fm hit of the day: Step Down by The Moxy

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Contest Time, Haiku Style

That's right, it's contest time. No, not the 100 follower celebration--The Pie is still at 96. This contest is to write the creepiest, scariest, OMG-I'm-peeing-my-pants-in-fear haiku about the girl from yesterday's post.


How do I write a haiku?
Easy. It's three lines and a total of 17 syllables.
First line: 5 syllables
Second line: 7 syllables
Third line: 5 syllables
That's all.

How do I enter?
In the comments section, write your haiku. 

Can I enter more than once?
Of course!

Anything else?
Contest will be open through Friday, February 11, 2011. Cookies are only guaranteed for the United States and Canada.

________
Last.fm hit of the day: Emotional Winter by Anathema

Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday Haiku

It's Monday, Lurkdom and while I so desperately want to discuss what you can learn about writing from R Kelly, the day job keeps surprising me. Which is a good thing as that means my job is secure for another day. So, because I must be diligent, I'll leave you to your day with another haiku.
Free Goth Baby Belladonna Creative Commonsphoto © 2006 D. Sharon Pruitt | more info (via: Wylio)

4
Darkness descends down
Devouring my bleak soul
Nay! I say no more.

Don't worry; despite the extreme emo-ness of the haiku, I'm in an extremely good mood. (You tell by the use of "Nay!")  We're 4 followers away from an awesome contest and a second Choose Your Own Adventure entry is on it's way.

How's your Monday?
__________
Last.fm hit of the day: Peace Pipe by Cry of Love 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Best of January

I decided that I would do a reading challenge this year and read 75 books in a year. I'm going to do a mix of favorites and titles I've never read, so the odds of me completing this is pretty good.

And I kicked of the challenge by reading five - yes, FIVE - books in January. Not everything was a winner; it turns out that some books that you would've loved in middle school should stay in middle school. I'd get into it, but this is about the best of January, not the most heckled.

My choice for best?


Blurb from Goodreads:
When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

I loved this book and stayed up way too late devouring it. The Shadowhunter world that Clare creates between this and The Mortal Instruments series is vivid, not like Harry Potter vivid, but pretty damn close. 

Her characters were well drawn and felt 100%, something I haven't experienced from reading in a while. Since this is a prequel, we're revisiting certain characters or their ancestors, which gives her a chance to build in particular traits*. How cool is that?

There were a few places where my brain skimmed over, but it wasn't due to lack of interest or purply prose. In fact, there wasn't a lot of extraneous crap. The action scenes were tightly wound and kept me up well past my bedtime yelling - yes, YELLING - at the book.

As I said in an email the other day, "I want to live in her head."

If you haven't read this, but read The Mortal Instruments, go pick up Clockwork Angel. And if you haven't read any of them yet, go read The Mortal Instruments then Clockwork Angel. It's worth it.





* I'm not going to get into it here, because I know some people are reading this right now. If you want to discuss, email me.
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Last.fm hit of the day: Eggshell (Pressure Mix) by Die Krupps

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Zombie Age Appropriateness


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

Tomorrow is my birthday and I'll be another year older (don't forget, tomorrow is also George Romero's birthday). Birthdays are always kind of weird. Everyone else always puts such a huge significance on becoming a different age, but to the person who is actually turning a year older, it really feels the same as it did the day before. Tomorrow I will feel no different being 27 than I did last year turning 26. And honestly, I'll feel no different tomorrow than I did turning 25 (although I turned 25 at Disney World and that was pretty bad ass!).

When do we start feeling the age difference? In fifteen years, will I look in a mirror and think, "oh, crap! I'm definitely not 25 anymore." Or do we always just feel like ourselves and it's other people who notice the differences and changes in the way we look and act?

I started to think about all of this not only because tomorrow is my birthday, but also because of a movie I caught on television yesterday while I was stuck inside during the Snowpocalypse. Yesterday, the USA network aired the remake of Dawn of the Dead. This film (although hardly a remake) is a really great zombie film. I've seen it at least twenty times because it does get played frequently on television. It's always showing up randomly on USA, MTV, FX, and other channels (think of all those royalties the actors are making). So, I wasn't surprised to see it on yesterday. What shocked me though was at what time of the day they were airing it.

Image from 2004 Dawn of the Dead film

It was 2pm and here was a very bloody and gory zombie film on a basic cable network. I wasn't upset or offended by this in any way, but how would other parents feel with their children watching this type of film in the middle of the day? I remember being very young and watching zombie movies, but it was always late at night on shows like TNT's MonsterVision.

So, I guess the debate is-- what age is appropriate to watch a violent and graphic film like Dawn of the Dead? I don't really have an answer. I don't think there is one. I started watching horror movies when I was very, very young and it didn't "mess" me up. Yes, my apartment is decorated with an army of Cenobites, zombie calendars, and Halloween collectibles, but I'm an average girl who goes to work at an average job and does average boring things. Maybe it's okay for all young children to watch blood and guts be splattered across the screen?

In a world where a ten year old child banned the airing of a Saw ad after seeing it at 8:30pm, how is watching a zombie film at 2pm any more appropriate, considering it is a film that is rated R and supposedly for those over 17? Obviously some parts were edited out for television, but it was still quite graphic overall. One could argue that it is up to the parents, that the parents should have the final say in what their children are watching. But let's be real-- are parents really monitoring what their children are watching at 2pm? Most parents probably aren't even home from work by the time their kids get off the bus. And I highly doubt my parents realized just how many horror films I was watching at that age.

I'm not criticizing USA or their decision to air the movie so early. Personally, I could care less. It's one of my favorite movies and I'm glad they showed it smashed in between episodes of Law & Order and NCIS. But I also don't have children and am slightly biased because I have been watching movies like Dawn of the Dead since I was five. I try to look back at the young Miranda. Maybe not the five year old Miranda, but let's say the twelve year old Miranda. She doesn't feel any different than the person I am now. I was always very mature (I think Alicia can attest to this fact considering we became friends when I was fourteen), and I knew the difference between fantasy and reality.

Miranda with George Romero at the HorrorHound Convention

So, to everyone else in the Lurkdom, especially those with kids, what are your thoughts? Are horror movies detrimental to young children? Or are they really not a huge deal if the product of watching horror films turns out to be an adult like me-- literate, intelligent, well adjusted, and normal? I honestly feel like I turned out to be a better adult because of my involvement in the horror community. Especially in the last few years, I have met many people in the industry, and the people who are making and supporting these types of films are some of the nicest and sweetest people you will ever meet. It's a small community, but a close knit and intimate one. We just all happen to share a love for all things macabre. But the films themselves get a bad reputation for being violent and evil. That doesn't mean the people who like them are the same way...

Share your thoughts with us! And invite your friends to follow The Pie! We're five away from 100 in the Lurkdom. When we hit that, I promise there will be a contest...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

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: In the movie "Groundhog Day," Bill Murray has to relive the same day over and over. What books would you pick to read over and over for the rest of your life?

In case you've come late to the party (and with the recent surge of followers in the Lurkdom*, you might've), I'll share a non-secret with you: I love books. My love runs so deep that I have more than I have time to read, but I still prowl used bookstores, library sales, and anywhere else where I might find something to read. Chances are if you've come here from YA Highway, you have the same problem. I've been told there's a group for people like us.

Despite the sheer number of books to read and my lack of time, I do reread quite a few. I have books that I'll read for comfort and fun. Don't worry, the list isn't long.

The Stand. One of SK's finest stories, I love the epicness. There are so many characters to root for and without fail, I always get invested in their lives.
The Redemption of Althalus. I love David Eddings, but this stand along has the perfect amount of snark, whimsy, and adventure.
The Austin Family Series. I've reread countless times, which I talked about in August.
The Time Quartet. More L'Engle. Where The Austin Family Series is all about the comfort, the Time Quartet is all about the fun. I just love those Murrys**.
Credit
The Dark Tower Series. Every time I read it, I expect a different outcome. I've now learned to stop before the epilogue.

However, if I was going to rock it in true Groundhog Day style, I'd have to go with the Choose Your Own Adventure series. The story alters each time until you get that perfect ending. My favorite was Mystery of the Maya.



Did you read any Choose Your Own Adventure? What was your favorite?

Don't forget to stop by YA Highway and see what the others are saying!


* A huge hello to all the new people!
** Plus, it's Groundhog Day. Which means Bill Murray. It fits.
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Last.fm hit of the day: Open Wound by Forest of Shadows

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Taste of Spring

Courtesy of Boston.com
For something different, it's SNOWING and my brain is fried. As you can see from the image on your right, most of the country is dealing with this crap. (And based off the comments from yesterday's post, you're as sick of it as me.)

So, instead of a bunch of words filling your screen, I thought it would be great to share some warmth.

Oh really? Like what?
Trees
A tall ship











And a patch of green










Just digging these photos up brightened my day. I hope they do the same for you!

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Last.fm hit of the day: Wake Up the Dead by The Pineapple Thief
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