Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What Are You Reading Between the Covers? - #20

Wow! Summer is almost gone, my stepson is back in school, and I haven't posted a book review all month. It's been busy here, though in the last half-week I've had more than enough time to catch up on a few books. I bring you four picks today -- all fiction.

The first is by Charles de Lint, The Blue Girl. This YA novel takes place in the fictional town of Newford where many of his stories are set. I personally wouldn't mind living there with all the fae and wood folk and interesting characters. Imogene doesn't fit in with anyone at her new high school; she's punk with an attitude, smart, and confident. She befriends a mousy girl named Maxine. Maxine longs to express herself, but since her parents' divorce has fallen prey to her mother's bad wardrobe choice of girly, prim skirts, blouses and frilly dolls in pink. Together the two of them set out to discover the mystery of the ghost haunting the halls of their high school. Enter Imogene's childhood imaginary friend, Pelly. Pelly turns out to be real and so are the brownies -- those mythical fae that like to clean up for you, but they aren't as nice as they seem to be. Did they cause the death of the boy? Did they put Imogene's life in danger? Read and find out.

I liked this book because it deals with the current topic of bullying, a topic we need to take seriously in our schools. It also deals with the question of finding yourself in those troubled teen years. The cast of characters are colorful and fresh and the plot moves along quickly. I highly recommend this for adults and teens alike.

My second pick is Miyuki Miyabe's Brave Story. Miyuki Miyabe is a popular contemporary Japanese author. This YA novel is a long read, but worth it. Wataru, the main character, comes from a newly broken home with a suicidal mother. To save the family he loves so dearly, he ventures into the fantastical land of Vision, which is created from his own imagination. He must face his own demons and gain the knowledge he needs to get his wish from the Goddess. On his travels, he makes some loyal friends, including a kitkin and a dragon. Wataru learns the importance of integrity and friendship as he rushes to complete his five quests before another traveler, so he can get his wish. But what does he wish for in the end? This book is a great read for teens and adults. I especially recommend it for any young adults coping with divorce or suicide in their family. Miyabe handles these topics creatively.

My third pick is a collection of vampire shorts edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Vampire Slayers: Stories of Those Who Dare to Take Back the Night. This collection of stories is not for the lovers of Anne Rice and Stephenie Meyer. There are no Lestats or Edwards lying between these pages -- no sparkling vampires and no vampires looking for love or redemption or questioning their own creation. Nope. The vampires lurking between these pages are raw, gritty, and vicious. They are blood-hungry and will stop at nothing to sake their thirst, and they need to be hunted down. The stories in this collection are all previously published, but they represent a wide variety of authors spanning decades from the pulp fiction of the 1950s to the present. This is an enjoyable read and quite refreshing.

My fourth and last pick for you, is the eleventh Sookie Stackhouse novel by Charlaine Harris, Dead Reckoning. Now, I am a fan of Sookie Stackhouse's and I love my True Blood series as well, but by the latest book, I seriously hoped Sookie would have left Eric and Bill in the dark and gotten herself a new boyfriend. Sadly, such is not the case. While this book is enjoyable, it predictably showcases Sookie as the damsel in distress, AGAIN. Someone is out to kill Sookie. Surprise, surprise. *eye roll* Like we haven't seen this plot before. However, we do learn more about her interesting fae history and there's a promising hint that her fae cousin is not staying with her just to be nice. Disappointingly, at the end of the book she is still with Eric, though they aren't really speaking and Bill has AGAIN, proclaimed his love for Sookie. Again, what a surprise. *eye roll* Not! Maybe, next time around she'll get to date a Were again and Eric and Bill can go suck a dry one. And Sookie, girl, do you really need all those men to save you in every book? Why not save yourself?A girl can dream, can't she?

As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Latest in Frankenstein Fashion

This lovely boot could be yours. It's half-off; it's going for the price of a leg, not an arm and a leg. Heheh. I'd apologize for the bad pun, but it's really early or really late -- depends on how you look at it.

You may be wondering how I managed to snag such a great new pair of boots. I'd like to say I stole them from Frankenstein's mama, but sadly, that is not the case. I'd like to say I fought someone for a signed first edition of Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven, but sadly, that is not the case either. Nope. This sick puppy is brought to yours truly courtesy of exercising. Working out is supposed to be good for your health. Yeah, right. *eye roll* The wise writer would have just given her eyes a good workout by rereading Stephen King's The Stand or attempting to slog through the entire Norton Anthology of English Literature Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. Instead, I opted to work out to my favorite Jillian Michaels video, something I've done many times before, but it's never cost me my leg. I am now the proud owner of one torn left calf muscle and two weeks of excuses to not be on my feet that much. This means more writing time, if I can focus through the pain.

Oh the horrors of being injured -- getting help with the laundry, having my meals served to me, which happens most of the time anyway because I have a great husband, spending many hours in bed reading book after book. Yep, I'm really suffering. Well, my leg may be suffering, but the rest of me is just fine. *grins* Except for the part of me that doesn't like to sit still. I'll just practice my gargoyle skills, instead. Maybe, there's a building in need of a new statue. I hear stone lions are quite popular on the steps of grand local libraries. Perhaps, they'd like a stone writer?

As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Night Thinking

Night Thinking

by Nora B. Peevy

Up there in the Appalachian Mountains you see things are they truly are. Once you leave the mountain people the memory of their stories slowly vanishes as summer turns to fall and fall to winter. Blank spots develop like air bubbles on a photo negative, and unless you struggle every day to remember these people and their stories they will pass by you like fog on a fall night. I am as susceptible to this virus of forgetfulness as the others that traveled with me up the narrow and winding mountain roads. Remembering is not a conscious act, but an unconscious act like our breathing. We know that we must breathe to live, but we don't concentrate on it physically. Our bodies inhale and exhale sending oxygen through our blood vessels to our heart simultaneously while our mind wanders to mundane thoughts of the dry-cleaning we need to send out on Wednesday and the appointment we need to keep on Friday with the dentist. Sometimes I find myself trying hard in quiet moments, when I cannot sleep and the ticking of the grandfather clock in the room beside me invites thoughts of my childhood, to remember the mountain people's stories, how someday Ted's mountains across the way would be given to his little boy and then someday to his little boy's child and so on, so that the mountains would always be in his family's blood. And someday he would be buried on the smallest mountain far over to the left, he said. His father and his father's father were all buried in the small family graveyard marked with white wooden crosses. I looked at where Ted pointed across the horizon to the misty mountains purple in the afternoon sunlight, and I remember saying to myself, Nora, you must remember the mountain people and their homeland, the way the mountains cradle you in their bosom, the way they rise like giant humpback whales in the morning sunlight swirled in oceans of mist, and when you walk to the edge of the holler in the afternoon you can look down on the city spread out before you like tiny dollhouses.

I wrote this poem as part of my portfolio for entrance into the Creative Writing Masters program at UWM-Milwaukee in the late 90s. As I mentioned before in another post, I originally intended to focus on poetry, but found I loved fiction writing more.

Throughout high school and college, I volunteered with a group called The Appalachian Service Project. I traveled to Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky to repair homes for people in the mountains. It is one of the greatest experiences of my life and I learned so much about the culture of the Appalachian people and about myself. Those experiences made me the person I am today and I'd like to thank the people of the Appalachian Mountains and the other volunteers for giving me such a wonderful opportunity and teaching me so much. I am forever humbled by the experience.

While The Appalachian Service Project is a mission funded by the Methodist Church, the group  accepted my nonreligious friends and me as we were. I had the privilege of serving both as a youth volunteer and then as a youth leader.

If you enjoyed this entry, you might like to check out some other bloggers participating in The Weekend Creation Blog Hop, a hop supporting all forms of creativity.

As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Fridge Ate My Poetry

I know the zombie on the fridge didn't eat my magnetic letter, so where the heck did it go? After a rousing round of insomnia, the husband got up around 5AM and made me blueberry pancakes. As I type, I have a bellyful of food and think I might actually be able to get in a catnap after he leaves for work, but the disappearance of my magnetic poetry will bother me until I fall asleep.

I discovered long ago while trapped in an office cubicle that they never put enough of the important words like "the" and "a" in the collection. Now one has gone rogue. Where did it go? I searched everywhere. I think my fridge has its own Bermuda Triangle or maybe, there's an angry kitchen brownie camping out underneath it, holding my word for ransom. If so, I expect to find a note posted to my fridge that reads something like this: Have letter. Will return for a dish of milk. Please respond before dawn. My only other hope is that my klepto cat,

Houdini, will find my word and attempt to stash it in his not-so-secret-secret hiding place under my dresser, which doesn't happen often.

Until then my new poem reads like this:

picture death
...red miasma

It would have made a great addition to the others collected on my fridge by friends and family:

capture a piece of wood

this fashion model is rigid

i only sculpt in the nude

throw old canvas
make mess

ate a raw cigarette

I compose deep metal sculpture


think free
sense suffering
approach meaning
give your best

Refrigerator Gods and Goddesses, if you are listening, please have pity on a poor, tired writer and give me back my word.

If you're easily amused or bored at the office, you can create your own magnetic poetry online.

As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Keeping Pesky Insect Pests out of Bookcases Naturally

If you're like me, you have your own library at home and your books are just as much your babies as your pets or children, but when you live in an apartment, you can't pick your neighbors and are left with few options for keeping nasty insects out of your apartment.

I've dealt with more than a few types of insects over years of apartment living and discovered creative and affordable nontoxic solutions to keeping them at bay. I've found patience is a pest's worst enemy and these remedies do work, though roaches are tougher and sometimes need to be exterminated.

Please Note: I won't provide images because of copyright law, but I am including links to pictures of the bugs under each section.

1) Silverfish -- You can find images here:


These pesky critters eat your book binding glue and paper. They love starchy vegetable matter and damp conditions.

The best way to keep them away is to fix your dampness issues. This works as a temporary solution, though. First, vacuum up any food particles and eggs you find. Then create your own traps out of recycled glass jars with tape wrapped around the entire outside. They can climb up the jar, but once inside, cannot climb back out because they can't climb smooth surfaces. Set the traps on your bookshelves.

There are also a variety of nontoxic commercial silverfish traps available as well.

2) Earwigs -- You can find images here:


Earwigs eat organic matter, which includes paper. They live in paper and other organic matter and love damp conditions.

You can leave a wet newspaper, towel, or rag on the floor in front of your bookcases. In the morning, you will find them gathered inside. Just dispose of them outdoors or as you wish and repeat until they are gone.

You can also fill a small shallow pan with vegetable oil, which attracts earwigs. Set the pan near your bookcase. Remove the earwigs daily and you can reuse the same oil.

3) Cockroaches -- You can find images here:


Cockroaches do not like catnip, but love your books because they are full of dark places to hide and are also a yummy snack. If you don't have catnip, you can use another member of the mint family. The catnip solution only works if you do not have cats. You put dried catnip into homemade sachets tucked into your bookcases or brew a catnip tea to spray along the baseboards beside your bookcases. Personally, I don't want to risk spraying my books, so I would choose the dry method.

They do not like cayenne pepper either. However, this is messier and will need to be applied in a continuous barrier across the point of entry. You can also try dried bay leaves or fresh basil, which are cleaner to work with. Mothballs and cedar shavings or other products work also work. I would line each shelf, the entire base, and the top of the case as well.

You can also use vinegar to spray the baseboards.

Roaches may also be sprayed with soapy water, which kills them.

You can even create your own roach trap out of a coffee can to set on your bookcases. Put some bread soaked in beer in the coffee can. This kills roaches.

If you are brave or child and pet-free, you can use boric acid, but again, this would have to be placed on your bookcases.

There are also a variety of nontoxic commercial roach traps available as well.

4) Ants -- You can find images here:


Some ants do eat cellulose, which is a component of paper.

Ants do not like cinnamon, but this is messy. You need to make a continuous line at the point of entry. Clove oil, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, coffee grounds, and citrus oil also repel the insects and can be applied to points of entry. Cucumber peelings work too. Make sure you don't have any other food crumbs or sugary substances in reach for them to eat.

You can also make your own solution of boric acid mixed with sugar and place soaked cotton balls in a covered yogurt container with holes poked to allow ants entry.

They do not like scented dryer sheets either. Simply tuck the sheets into the point of entry.

Soapy water kills ants on contact.

There are also a variety of nontoxic commercial ant traps available as well.

I hope some of these solutions work for you and your bookcases are pest-free.

As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!

Friday, August 19, 2011

It's My Birthday... and a Poem to Share

It's my birthday today and I resurrected some pictures from my past to share with you. Hope you enjoy! You'll have to excuse the dorky glasses; it was the 80s. Hehehe...

I also have a poem to share. I've never been one to take a subject literally. In college we were given the word "baby" and asked to write a poem. I wrote about a romantic relationship and a guy who called her "baby". Today, I am sharing a poem about cake, but not a birthday cake. This is from my graduate portfolio that got me into the Creative Writing Graduate program at UWM-Milwaukee in the late 90s. I've since changed direction and write more fiction than poetry now. If you like this entry, you might check out The Weekend Creation Blog Hop going on now.

Cake Walk

his heart has been rusted shut and she has been
trying to pry it open for fourteen years
with her words pushing against the rusty hinges
but he has never budged not even a chink
to let her in and share his bold blue thoughts
she thought that marriage would be
fresh and crisp like laundry off her mother's clothesline
and when she wrapped herself in its breezy shroud
she would be safe and comforted
but like a fine cake she has served him well
always presenting their marriage to family
friends and co-workers as a sweet confectionery
swirl of grand rosettes and she has never told them
that it is cold and lonely to share a bed with a stranger
and that she wants to smash his old rusted heart
and scatter the tiny paper-thin flakes
they would float like ash from a fire
and she wouldn't enter his chambers
even if his stubborn door magically opened
because his hinges would always
creak out reminders of the past

As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Practice Random Acts of Kindness

Last night my husband and I grabbed a bite to eat before we headed to Whole Foods to do our weekly grocery shopping. It was a simple act, one we'd done many times before. On the way to the store, we saw a man standing by the side of the road with a sign asking for help. This is a common sight in Dallas near busy intersections; we have a lot of people passing through the state on their way to other places and a lot of people that came here thinking the warmer climate would bring them better luck. Most people didn't even look at the guy; they seemed uncomfortable that they had to wait at a red light with him standing next to their car.

I think it should make us feel uncomfortable as  members of the human race to live in one of the richest countries in the world and still have a huge homeless problem. Our society is a throwaway society; everyone upgrades to the latest and newest phone or gadget without even blinking about how much money it costs. We pack our groceries in plastic bags that end up littering our highways. We're taught that secondhand isn't as good as brand new. We are a nation of fast food and energy drinks, exhausted from trying to cram too much into our precious waking hours and eating garbage on the go, with no thought to the Styrofoam cup and the extra napkins and condiments we throw away or the treatment of the animals we eat. And if we see a homeless person on the side of the road, our first thought is, "I'm not going to help them because they're probably scamming people." We just want them to go away so we don't feel uncomfortable. We don't want to look at them while we travel to do our errands and go out to eat. When did we become so callous?

My father grew up during The Great Depression. I'd like to think he didn't live through some of the most tumultuous times in our nation's history just so he could watch his children become apathetic and uncaring. My mother always told me growing up, "Don't judge a book by it's cover." Now I do judge real books by their covers sometimes, but when it comes to people, I know the outside doesn't always reflect the inside.

Last night my husband and I stopped and picked up that man by the side of the road. He got in our car and he didn't even know what to say. We sat there in silence for a few moments before I asked him if he was staying or just passing through. Turns out he is from out of state and is trying to get the papers he needs to get a license and work, etc. We took him to get some food. When we got to the restaurant we told him he could order anything he wanted on the menu. He didn't even look us in the eye when he thanked us. I shook his hand and told him to have a good evening and I like to think that because of two kind people, he did.

As I shopped last night, I thought about that man and asked myself, "What if that had been me by the side of the road? Would someone have stopped for me?" I wonder. I'm someone's sister and child. I'm someone's friend. I'm college educated. I've been published and even won a writing contest once. I once saved a baby bunny from a crow. I don't litter. I say "please" and "thank you". But you wouldn't know any of those things about me, if you saw me standing by the side of the road holding a sign. My mother was right. You shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Instead, you should practice random acts of kindness.

As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Old Books and Old Loves

This weekend I spent some time cleaning and organizing my bookshelves at home. The bookshelf gods are kind to me. I have a lot of extra space to fill in after recently culling my collection. Some books are part of my permanent collection because they're favorites/collectors that I don't want to give away and then there are some I don't miss because I got them free from other people or they're good, but not worthy of staying in my home next to the Clive Barker section. Besides, books are meant to be shared with good friends and family. I used to keep every book I got, but then I ran out of room. Now, if I don't pass along good reads to other people, I donate them to my library for their fundraising sales. Either way, the books get a second or third life and I get the chance to go book shopping -- not a bad deal, except for my wallet. My poor, poor wallet. Oh well!

I came across some of my favorites I hadn't visited in awhile that old boyfriends had shared with me. At least they were good for something besides a few nights of tears and ice cream; they expanded my reading scope and opened whole new worlds to me when I was younger. I thank them for sending me off in the direction of my current writing today.

Here's a short list of books that shaped me in my late teens and early twenties:

1) Clive Barker's Imajica -- Until this point, I hadn't read any really dark fantasy authors, just horror.

2) The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield -- Not fiction, but it sure has made me look closer at coincidences in my life. It's philosophy, but the stories to illustrate it are fiction.

3) Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Persig -- I have to admit this one took me four tries to actually finish. It's philosophically dense. I've read the first half four times and the last half once.

4) Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's American Gods -- This book led me to a bunch of new authors and opened my horizons greatly in the fantasy genre. It also introduced me to Discworld, a true love of mine.

5) Douglas Adams Hitchhiker's Trilogy -- I don't know why I avoided reading this one for so many years, actually. I would have enjoyed it in high school, but that was my Stephen King only phase for a while.

6) Ray Bradbury's The Golden Apples of the Sun -- I'd read Ray Bradbury my Freshman year in high school, but wasn't too impressed with most of the stories I read. Then I got this one as a gift one year and realized my tastes had changed. Now he is a favorite. I even have an autographed copy of Dandelion Wine, which I would save from a fire before any diamonds. It's that precious!

What books did your exes introduce to you?

As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Every Writer Needs a Cat

Any good writer knows they need a cat to complete their air of mystery. Why do they need a cat? Well, it's simple really.

1) Cats are nocturnal a good part of the time and you may find yourself working into the dark hours. They make great companions.

2) Cats also aren't afraid to give you the criticism you need. They have been known to walk across your keyboard, erasing your sentences and thereby saving you great embarrassment amongst your peers. This also prompts you to save your document repeatedly, to avoid such pitfalls and computer crashes.

3) They also remind us not to take ourselves too seriously, which is a blessing when it comes to writer's block. Often, the best ideas seem the most ridiculous when you first think about them. Take cheese in a can, for instance. I'm not a fan, but a lot of Americans are. I'm sure the inventor of cheese in a can had a cat. Only a cat would not laugh at that idea.

4) Cats are very good at appearing to be busy, when really they're not. This is something we writers can mimic to get out of annoying social calls you wish to avoid or housework. If you look busy, you're family might leave you alone. Thus, giving you time to solve that pesky plot problem before you go to bed; then you'll be sure to get some sleep.

5) Cats also really don't care what you think about them. If you like them that's fine and if you don't, that's okay too. A writer can learn a lot from a cat's approach to publicity. Not everyone will like you or your work, but that's okay. Just act like you don't care and are quite busy, when bad press comes calling.

6) Above all things, cats are very independent, something you as a writer will need to be too. There will be many days you will spend by yourself, holed up with a cup of tea at your computer screen away from humanity. And there will be many days you will have to make bold decisions by yourself like what markets to submit to or which dress your beautiful young murderous will wear when she runs over her husband in your latest novel.

 7) Most importantly, cats know when it is time to take a well-deserved catnap. Something all writers should learn. It's good to take a break now and then. Good stories need to marinate too.

8) If you own a cat, you're in good company. The Bronte sisters, Emily, Charlotte, and Anne, all loved cats. Charles Dickens owned a cat called "Master's Cat" that kept him company while he wrote in his study. Alexandre Dumas, the author of The Man in the Iron Mask and other classics, owned a cat named "Mysouff". Even good ole H.G. Wells owned a cat named "Mr. Peter Wells", who was known for keeping his visitors's appointments short.

9) Cats also don't mind a little clutter on your desk. They blend right in, in fact. They're not very picky about housecleaning, so you won't need to worry about having a spotless place for them to plop while you write away.

10) Cats also find lots of ways to entertain themselves. Never fret, fearless writer! If you are busy finishing Chapter Eleven, they can definitely find something to amuse themselves with like unraveling the toilet paper roll or raiding the garbage for a new toy.

11) And finally, cats are very good groomers. Well, usually. Sometimes they need a little help, but only if they got into something they shouldn't. You will not need to waste time very often giving them a bath like their nemesis, the dog.  You'll have more time to write!

Note: All of the cats featured in this essay are my own furry friends. In order of appearance in the first three photographs are Houdini, Toshio, and Tiggyr. You can read more about their stories and the rest of my zoo here:

As always, happy writing and happy reading!

And if you're thinking of getting a cat, adopt one today from your local animal shelter. There are plenty in need of good homes and they make the best pets ever.

Also, check out The Weekend Creation Blog Hop for more creative blog selections this weekend.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Urban Fantasy Writers Blog - A Review

Before I begin, here's a definition of urban fantasy from Wikipedia, for those of you not familiar with the genre. You probably have read a book in this genre at some point.

Urban fantasy is a sub-genre of fantasy defined by place; the fantastic narrative has an urban setting. Many urban fantasies are set in contemporary times and contain supernatural elements. However, the stories can take place in historical, modern, or futuristic periods.
I came across this blog, Urban Fantasy Writers that peaked my interest. The blog has some great features, but there are also some really annoying snafus. You cannot register as a user at this time, even though the option is offered on their page. Their forum link also does not work, which is disappointing. In fact, four out of the seven links on the top navigation bar are not functioning.

I found navigating their blog to be less then pleasurable; the organization of their links is confusing. You can only access all the Guest Post Series by clicking on a link at the top of the current article; it is not even offered in their sidebar of links and their Tools and Research sections, while helpful, are not as diverse as I would like to see.

The sidebar sections are also disjointed. There is a link to the Full List of Resources placed inconveniently at the bottom of the long author list, and then below it, a box with four image links to more resources not even mentioned in any of the other lists provided. If you weren't quick enough to infer that the full list includes the links from the Tools and and Research sections already offered, you might think this was something completely new. Why is this link even offered?

I am also puzzled as to why their List of Contributors is linked at the bottom of their sidebar; if I hadn't scrolled all the way down, I might have missed links to some well-written book reviews. They would be better placed in a general article section with the guest contributors at the top of the sidebar. There aren't even any titles given next to the contributor names, leaving readers in the dark about just what they are going to read.

Urban Fantasy Writers' blog organization is fuzzy to say the least. That said, they do have an impressive collection of links to popular author pages and their bookstore link on Amazon, has some good selections in it as well. I also found the most recent article by author, Denise Verrico, to be very informative; it discusses world building in the genre. I would probably read some of the reviews and other articles listed, if I hadn't been so annoyed with all the broken links and the lack of proper navigation.

Would I visit this blog again? Probably not. Their lack of attention to detail leaves me with a headache. The broken links and the discombobulated navigation are enough to drive me away. I do not recommend this blog, which is sad because it holds so much potential.

As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tips for The Busy Writing Life

Are you having trouble finding time to write? Are you feeling overwhelmed? I've been there too. I used to work full-time and juggle a social life, my family, and my writing. Now I am home, which is a luxury for a writer. I have more than enough time to write and more than enough time to find excuses not to as well.  Here are some of the strategies I used while working full-time. I managed to write around 500-1000 words a day and still have a life. You can too.

1) Go to bed a littler earlier and get up a little earlier. Carve out some time in your morning schedule before work to sneak in some writing.

2) Turn off your T.V., stop texting, and stop playing your computer/video games. I realize all of these are stress-relievers and entertainment, but if you give up just one hour a day, you can use that time to write.

3) Make your lunch break and other breaks from work writing breaks. I used to bring a bagged lunch and worked in my cubicle over my lunch hour writing. This may not work for everyone, since there are some annoying coworkers that don't recognize when you don't want to be disturbed, but if you have access to a laptop, you can take your lunch outside somewhere outside or at your favorite local coffee shop.

4) Everyone has to laundry. Clothes get dirty and they pile up, but now you can look at this as an advantage, not a chore. Sort your laundry, put in a load, and while you wait, use that time to write.

5) Keep a notebook by your bed or a digital recorder. Often times, when I could not sleep, I got the best ideas and found it easier to record them for future use, if I didn't have to hunt down a paper and pen.

6) If you're really serious, you can set aside Friday or Saturday night for writing and save the other night for going out.

7) Sleep in on the weekends if you need to, but don't stay in bed all day. If you work full-time, you only have your weekends to yourself. This is valuable writing time.

8) Consider taking your vacation time for your writing. There are plenty of conventions for networking. There are also lots of writing weekend workshops you can attend, even some cruises. You could even find a quiet, relaxing cottage or hotel to stay at where you can focus all your attention on your writing.

Good luck! As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!

Monday, August 8, 2011

In Response to The Harry Potter Effect

Okay, so I read this article today trolling the net for interesting things to blog about that made me want to shoot myself in the hand as a female writer. Apparently, there's a poll compiled by the Independent in 2005 stating that most people, even women, prefer male literary characters to females. WHAT? Sixty-seven of the one hundred characters listed were men. It would seem the literary world is sorely lacking in good female characters or is it? I'd rather pick my nose in better/more intelligent company with my garden pog then listen to any more of the Independent dribble.

You can view the poll results here, if you must:


In response, here are some of my favorite female characters from some of my all-time favorite reads:

1) Rachel Morgan from Kim Harrison's The Hollows Series. This witch can kick some butt and take a beating.

2) Ivy Tamwood from Kim Harrison's The Hollows Series. Beauty shouldn't be mistaken for vulnerability. This vampire has teeth.

3) Jilly Coppercorn in Charles de Lint's Newford books. She is a strong artist who has overcome a lot of hardship.

4) Taylor Greer from The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. A strong woman with no money who picks up her life and moved out of state by herself, trying to make it and raise a child (Turtle) that found her along the way.

5) Door, the fantastical character created by Neil Gaiman in Neverwhere, the story of a girl trying to save her family and the London underworld from destruction.

6) Sissy Hankshaw and Bonanza Jellybean, two of the most outrageous and strong female characters you will ever meet in the Tom Robbins novel, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.

7) Neef, the human (Changeling) stolen by the fairies in Changeling by Delia Sherman. A great young adult female character with spunk and wit.

8) Maggie Black, the girl who left the West Coast city life for the Southwest and discovers the magic of the land in Terri Windling's, The Wood Wife.

9) Tiffany Aching, the preteen and Granny Weatherwax, the granny of the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. Both have quick tongues and nimble minds. One is a human girl and the other is a human witch, but they think alike.

10) Sethe and Beloved both in Toni Morrison's novel, Beloved. A haunting story of slavery told from the female perspective.

11) Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlett Letter. I cannot even imagine going through what she went through.

I could continue with the list, but I think I've made my point. There are lots of good female characters out there to choose from.

What are yours?

As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My Brush Is My Pen Too

I've been going through my old photos looking for a watercolor I painted and gave to my brother so I can try to recreate it for myself again. Art tells a story visually. I guess that's why I like to paint and draw. Sometimes, it leads me to a story idea and sometimes not, but it's a great joy and very relaxing. I also am an avid photographer, which you may know. Most of the images on my blog are my own.

For my Weekend Creation Blog Hop entry, I thought I'd share some of my other artwork with you today.

This first one is a watercolor I painted for my father as a gift. I normally paint animals or mythical creatures, but I tried something realistic this time.

This watercolor I painted as a gift for a good friend of mine. It was my first floral attempt.

My second floral watercolor was this poppy I gave to my mother.

I went through a phase where I did a lot of geometric art. I focused a bunch on different jungles of the world. This is a Sharpie and watercolor pencil piece from that time period.

I make my own cards for gifts, sometimes using recycled/found materials. This is one of the cards I made for my father a few years ago.

This is an Indian water sprite that protects rivers,, also done in watercolor. I am going to try to incorporate one of these spirits into a story some day, when inspiration hits. It hasn't, yet.

My passion for insects never left after childhood. Butterflies are so majestic. This work is done in oil pastel and linseed oil.

Hope you enjoyed my artwork. Maybe, it will inspire you to create a story or other masterpiece yourself.

As always, happy writing and happy reading to all! And today, happy creating!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

It's Too Hot!

It's too hot. Here in Dallas today it's supposed to reach 110 degrees. The poor squirrels feeding on my porch don't even want to move after their meal. They lay around like lazy dogs. My plants have died outside, no matter how much I water them and my brain is slowly melting away. Oddly, my cats still think I should brave the sweltering summer to take them out on their patio each day so they can nap in the afternoon.

We've had over thirty days of triple digit heat. There have been twelve heat-related deaths during this heat wave. A police dog even died locked up in a police car; her handler forgot to put her in her kennel. Worse yet, there are no charges against the officer. There is no rain in the forecast. And I am having a hard time blogging or writing these days. My poor apartment A/C can only do so much in the high humidity and I think I've invested half my life savings in popsicles in the past two weeks. I'm getting a lot of reading done, though, hanging out in bed in a tank top and shorts under the fan. My cats are loving it. They hate getting out of bed.

If I could have just one day of rain, I think my brain could cool off and I could write. I have a couple of short stories I'm working on right now and a novel to get started on. Wish me luck ... Hope my keyboard doesn't melt.

Happy writing and happy reading to all!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Alien or Vampire Ceviche Anyone?

I ventured into new territory and tried sole Ceviche. It will not be passing my lips again; it tasted like sweaty gym shoes marinated in lime and pepper, an unsavory combination.

Ceviche is raw fish cooked by the acid in fruit juice. There is some debate whether it originated in Peru or Ecuador, but there is no debate about how popular it is in South America; there it is a tradition. We used fresh limes for ours. You can add vegetables such as tomatoes and green pepper and salt and pepper to taste.

If you're an adventurous foodie, check out this link for recipes:


You can also refer to these links for more on the history and origin of Ceviche:




Of course, my writer's imagination ran wild as I was waiting for Will to get home, so we could eat. I started wondering what would happen if a human or a supernatural creature walked into a restaurant and ordered a really exotic Ceviche like alien or the flesh of one of the fish people worshipping Dagon in the Cthulu mythos. What if you could order vampire Ceviche or zombies could order human Ceviche? How would restaurant owners harvest the meat? Would it be harvested humanely or in the grimy conditions of a slaughterhouse or would your meal be hunted down on the run? What would vampire Ceviche taste like? I think vampire would taste strong and ashy, with a little bite of cinnamon. Now human on the other hand, I imagine that would be sweet like almonds, perhaps. And kitten, well, I have no idea how that would taste, but I can picture a very devious and demented character serving that to someone unawares as revenge or ordering it with relish to shock the other customers.

I'll just let my brain marinate a bit; maybe, in some limejuice and Chile peppers.  Have to make sure I'm tasty if any zombies show up to have me for dinner. *grins*

As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!