Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dear Blog, Part VII

Dear Blog,

I'm sorry I've neglected you in recent months. You should know that this isn't intentional on my part, but more of lack of motivation paired with not being chained to a desk 40 hours a week. I promise that I will work out a schedule that will suit both of our needs while entertaining The Lurkdom.

Please know I've enjoyed our time together and that you've taught me a lot in the last few years. Since we've renewed our partnership with vigor, I will not abandon you now. Of course, revisions have also pushed you to the backburner and I'm sorry for that. In the spirit of total disclosure, you should know that you are here to enhance my writing career, not become it.

Much love,
Alicia

PS: While I'm slaving over revisions, you can be mesmerized by The White One's sweater.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Best Read Books in 2011


Back in January, I made it my goal to read a book a week. By the summer I blew that goal out of the water. With so many books read over the year, it's hard to pick just five. I did it though, Lurkdom, just for you*.


What were the best books you've read this year?

* Though, as with everything here at The Pie, opinions are subjected to change at the whim of Yours Truly.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

On Unemployment... and Writing

Six weeks ago, I was laid off from the day job. The same day job that should've only lasted three weeks in 2007. This fact hasn't softened the blow and I've been staving off a major bout of emo-ness for weeks. This totally explains why I still haven't cleaned the basement.

Unless you've been laid off or are very close (read: married or related) to someone who has been laid off, you might not realize what a slap in the face the situation is. You've been rejected. The company that you've worked for has essentially left you for someone else. Yeah, I know there's circumstances like budget cuts or reorganizations, but it doesn't matter at this point. You feel worthless.

It's very easy to fall in to the trap of doing nothing while on unemployment. At first, it's like you've taken a few days off from the day job. You sleep in, stay up late, wear a crazy amount of lounge pants. Then, a month has gone by. The dishes pile up and you're working on your final pair of socks--for the third day in a row. Sure, you've looked for work because if you don't you don't get paid, but the job search yields no results. Probably because your heart isn't in it.

Because of the depression.

The local unemployment office has a workshop called, "Coping with Job Loss" that is so popular I have to wait until next month to attend. I'm hoping it will give me some great tips on getting past this hump. To be honest, it's a miracle I'm as cheerful as I am right now.

One good thing about not having a day job is that this gives me a lot more time to write, revise, and read. It's because of this I was able to complete NaNoWriMo in two weeks. My current goal is to complete requested revisions before it becomes 2012. I'm also trying to take charge of my health by exercising regularly and eating better. With no true schedule, this is a challenge but one I'm willing to meet head on.

To those who have been or are unemployed, how have you handled the time?

______
Last.fm hit of the day: Numb by Portishead

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Flippant Girl's Guide to Surviving the Holidays

someecards.com - Jesus Christ, not Christmas again.
Credit
Whereas Thanksgiving is a one-day-a-year phenomena, December through early January is riddled with holidays and holiday parties. If you're not careful, you can sucked into three events in a night. This many parties and dinners will seriously expand your waist. (Trust me, I'm a professional.)

Of course, you can be in the opposite boat and not have even have a plan of Chinese and a movie. You might feel that this is worse than being overbooked. Don't worry, we can debate the misconception of that later. Today's all about holiday survival.

1. Drink in abundance. There's a reason why Santa is so jolly and it's not because he's full of good cheer. Embrace the nog, snuggle with schnapps, spike your cocoa. Make a drinking game out of every festivity you attend*. Is someone wearing an ugly sweater? Take a shot. Is there a couple snogging under mistletoe? Chug until said snog is complete.

2. Confuse holidays. Light sparklers and play John Philip Sousa marches. Dress up like a bumblebee. Later on you can always blame the sheer amount of booze you've drank since December 1.

3. Wear pajamas everywhere you go. Hey, you might as well be comfortable if you're going to be stuck at a party and if you're on your way to pick up your large pizza for one, you definitely want something with an elastic waist. Oh, and pick up some ice cream while you're at it.

4. Be surly. Not only did some crazy shit happen because Scrooge was such a miser, sometimes being a raging ass can be fun. Think of it as intensive therapy to yell "screw you" to that stranger who rings a bell and says "happy holidays."

5. Document EVERYTHING. If you're a writer, you can call this research. Write notes down on every family interaction you have to succumb to for the holidays. Study office relationships as your colleagues get drunker and less inhibited. Photograph anything that looks questionable as you prowl around on New Year's Eve... Then use anything you can as leverage.

Hope everyone in The Lurkdom is enjoying this holiday season. If not, please employ one of the suggested methods above.





* As long as you drink responsibly. We at The Pie do not encourage drinking and driving.
_________
Last.fm hit of the day: In the Middle of the Night by Within Temptation

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Zombie Holiday Gift Guide 2011


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

There's only a week and a half left to get your Christmas shopping done! I've barely started, but hopefully I'll think of some good gifts to buy in the next week. How are you all in the Lurkdom doing on your shopping?

Are you behind on your shopping? Fear not! If you have any zombie lovers in your life, then I have the perfect gift guide for you!


This is a great stocking stuffer! Made by some lovely people on CafePress, this (faux) hunting license gives authority to your little zombie killers to go out and take down some undead walkers. The permit is actually printed on a 3x5 vinyl sticker, so it is perfect for applying on your car, notebook, or anywhere else you might want this little guy. The permit costs $5.


Munchkin is the perfect card set for the gamer in your life. It is so much fun on its own that the only way it could possibly be better is if they were to make a zombie version... and they did! In the normal Munchkin set, players chose from a variety of characters and battle monsters, steal treasure, and backstab your friends. In the zombie version, players take control of the undead and the 'monsters' you battle are living people! Munchkin can seem a bit complicated at first, but after a round or two of gameplay, the rules start to make sense and hours of fun will be had. Some of the artwork and jokes can be for a slightly older crowd, so I would rate any Munchkin set as a PG-13 (maybe PG).


Everyone needs a calendar to ring in the New Year, and what a better way than to celebrate each month with the living dead? There are a lot of zombie calendars out there for sale, but I particularly like this one because the artwork is done by a man named William Stout who was the production designer on the cult classic zombie film, Return of the Living Dead. Each month has a themed zombie such as Undead Father Time for January or the Zombie Easter Bunny. The calendar also offers fun facts and history about zombies.


Not only is the Think Geek website a great resource for any 'nerd' or gamer in your life, but they also have an amazing array of zombie products. A search for "zombies" brings up a lot of great stuff. This year some of my favorites are the Brain Mold Ice Cube Trays (perfect for a zombie themed party), the book So Now You're a Zombie: a Handbook for the Newly Undead (reminiscent of the handbook in Beetlejuice), and zombie wrapping paper (so you can appropriately wrap all your zombie gifts)! Check it out and see all 88 zombie products!

What gifts are you excited to get this year? What have been some of your favorite zombie or horror themed presents? Share in the comments!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Yay! Fictional Christmas

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 topic: What would be the ideal holiday present for your main character (or favorite character)?

Credit
I'm entirely engrossed in my requested revisions for Falling to Normal, which means I'm focused on Cheyenne and the gang.

Coincidentally, Christmas happens during Falling to Normal's timeline. Of course there are things Cheyenne would love to get for Christmas, as long as realism isn't an issue.

  • The ability to reverse time
  • For her past to remain that--the past
  • Her first kiss.

That's it. Don't forget to go to YA Highway and see what everyone else is saying.

Like Contests?

Of course you do. So do I.

Because of this mutual bond, you should head over to YA Highway and enter their contest*.




* And if you win, my birthday's coming up and I love presents.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Things That Amuse Me: Tacky Christmas

It's a known fact among my group of friends that I don't really rock the Christmas spirit. If there's not a sense of tacky, chances are I'm not into it. I mean, there is a reason why I own a six-foot royal purple tinsel tree.

So imagine my utter happiness when Bestie Danielle told me about the chicken nativity scene.


That's right. There's a chicken Jesus and a chicken Mary. It can't get more better than that. Well, it can and you can see more here.

Confess, Lurkdom! What's your favorite Tacky Christmas item?

____
Last.fm hit of the day: Graveyard Love Song by Miguel and The Living Dead

Monday, December 12, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Why I Participate

Oh god, y'all are thinking, not another NaNoWriMo post. It's December for chrissakes. I know and I'm sorry, but we'll all get through this together.

Every year, NaNoWriMo gets a lot of flack, saying that it enables people who fashion themselves as writers when they're really not. I disagree, but that's a subject for a different day. Today is all about why I always go back to NaNoWriMo*.

It's so easy to get stuck on the revision/editing wheel that anyone can get so sucked into it that you can go two years without writing anything new. NaNoWriMo guarantees me that at least once a year I'll create a new novel-length work, which is important since I want to have a writing career.

With this in mind, I use NaNoWriMo to experiment. Whether it's planning techniques or story structure, I make sure that I try something new each year. This is how I learned I was a plotter and that plotcards are what works best. If it wasn't for this, I would never have wrote a novel in present tense.

Just like experimenting takes me out of my writerly comfort zone, so does the deadline that looms over my head each November. There's no fudging it, if I want the winner goodies, I need to complete 50,000 words by November 30th. I can't afford to spend hours stuck in a Wikipedia hole if I want to get my novel done. Since I'm in this for the long haul, meeting deadlines and honing my focus are important things to learn.

For those in the Lurkdom that do NaNo, what drives you to participate in NaNoWriMo?




* And I do. Since my first one in 2009, I've participated and won each year. I even did one session of Camp NaNoWriMo this year.

_____
Last.fm hit of the day: Blessing by London After Midnight

Thursday, December 8, 2011

How to Cook Brrrraaaaains


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

How is everyone surviving the holiday season? So far, I'm not fairing so well. See, I work in retail. I work in one of the most profitable retail stores in the world, and it's kicking my ass. I apologize so much for slacking on my writing duties. If I haven't been working, I've been visiting family for Thanksgiving, having family visit me, and also trying to work on days when I'm not supposed to work because I'm super poor. I hardly know what day of the week it is anymore. So again, I'm sorry for be absent. As Alicia is fond of saying, "Life Happened." I love that phrase. She should copyright it. Well, life has been happening to me.

But I have something really fun for you all! How many of you know what Epic Meal Time is? Let's pretend you don't know anything about it and I will give you a quick run down. Epic Meal Time is an online cooking series, with a twist. The guys on the show are all really legitimate chefs, but the meals are all geared toward a more male oriented (and meat eating audience). Every episode, they basically make everything out of bacon and Jack Daniels. I'm not kidding. But if I actually ate meat, some of the stuff they cook looks delicious!

In the video posted below, the guys all put on some awesome special effects zombie makeup and the main ingredient in this episode is brains! Real brains (I'm assuming cow). If seeing brains kind of disturbs you, you may not want to watch. But the show is hilarious and I recommend checking out all their episodes!

Enjoy Epic Meal Time and good luck with your holiday cooking endeavors!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I Would Sell My Soul for Twilight Money

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 topic: How far would you go to get published?

More than once I told Bestie Danielle that I would sell my soul for some Twilight money. This should give you an idea of my lack of scruples.

On a more serious note, even though I'm attached to my story lines and characters like The White One and plastic, I'm not stupid. I do realize that the publishing industry contains a bit of give and take. So I'd like to present my list of how far I'd go.

Revision. I have no problems revising. There are people out there much smarter than me that want to make my book better. I've been known to take pretty much any suggestion and try it out*. There are just certain things that won't happen in this though. If you want me to revise so there's a more lyrical quality to the writing, good luck with that. Lyrical I'm not.

Pursue a hobby in cardio torture, AKA running. If you really want me to take up running in order for me to get published, I'll do it.  Be prepared for phone calls after the fact though.

Change my characters. Should their hair color change? Okay. Should they suddenly change sexes? Erm, probably not.

The "Sparkle" Factor. This is where I'll stop compromising. Nothing alive or undead should sparkle. Ever**.

Now that I've shared my thoughts on what I'm willing to do or not, I should go take care of some revisions.

* Unfortunately, this has also included suggestions from Nemesis, he of the infamous "love juices."
** The exception to this is when someone is where sequins, which should only be used for costumed purposes only.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

More About The White One

Making himself comfy at VESCONE.
It's been officially a month since kitty drama has began and I'm happy to say that it's now over. Without getting into the realm of TMI, The White One couldn't keep food down.

After several rounds with the vet and the nice people at VESCONE, everyone was confused. He acted fine, just couldn't keep food down.  They confirmed that cats don't have eating disorders and it was determined that he needed surgery to find out what was wrong*.

Now would be the time to mention that I thought myself to be the type of person who would never opt for surgery on a cat. Turns out that was me being delusional because there was no doubt in my mind that we were having the cat operated on.

The White One, of course, had other plans.

Trying to hide from surgery**.

So they operated on him and found nothing in his GI tract. They biopsied him and thankfully that came back fine as well. The verdict was he swallowed something too big and by the time the surgery happened, he got rid of it.

The White One had to wear a cone while he healed from his stitches. For ten days, Hubby and I watched the cat walk like a drunken sailor. It was sad because the cat had stitches, but funny because he never got the hang of the cone.

Tomorrow will mark two weeks since the surgery and he'll finally be allowed out of the living room to destroy the rest of the house. Things will finally be back to normal.

So to everyone in the Lurkdom who has expressed concern over The White One, thank you.

______
Last.fm hit of the day: Weak and Powerless by A Perfect Circle


* The worst case scenario in this regard is cancer.
** You should know that he hid himself. Neither Hubby nor I had any hand in this.



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