Friday, September 22, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things


It's Friday fun time! Release the confetti! This fabulous blog hop is hosted by the author of Bloodwalker, Lexa Cain and L.G. Keltner and Tonja Drecker.

1. It's officially fall, but the weather doesn't seem to care. We're still getting up into the high 70s and low 80s and it's beautiful. I even got a lot of plants around the house trimmed and cleaned up all the garbage/planters/ancient hoses hiding under/behind the plants surrounding our deck. It was a disgusting job and I ruined a pair of white sneakers, but it was worth it. 

2. I went to visit my daughters' teachers last night at their school's open house. The most common comment for both kids: "She's so quiet!" Really? I ought to record the screaming matches that go on at home and post them sometime. But seriously, I'm thankful the kidlets behave at school and work hard. Kudos to them. 

3. Books and cats. Without these, I don't know how I'd handle all the stress. Here's some photos and fun filters taken by my daughter, Sedona. Enjoy!





A reversal of darks and lights. I ought to update my blog photo with this. I love it.




Mr. Mistofellees perched on our grill-turned-bird-feeding station. Catch anything, bud?




Our sweet Dove, snoozing on the kitchen table. But don't let her cute looks fool you...





She can be a real blockhead. For example, Dove sticks her tongue in other people's water glasses (and laps it up) allll the time, and...




She's not above sticking out that same tongue at us, but we don't mind too much because...



Dove rocks the house! Yeah, baby!


Have a rockin' good weekend, y'all!

_______________

Does it look like fall where you live? What's your least favorite chore around the house or yard? Do you take crazy pictures of your pets? 


Friday, September 15, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things



It's Friday and I'm glad. No complaints about the impending loss of free time for the next two days, because I will happily turn into a short-order cook/laundress/maid in order to sleep in. Getting up at 5:15 or 5:45 Mon.-Fri. is killing me, y'all. Killing me!



Bed = Happiness

(Image: cupcakexoxo)


Let me interrupt my rant to thank the host and co-hosts of this weekly blog hop: Lexa Cain and L.G. Keltner and Tonja Drecker.

In addition to sleep, I'm celebrating the movie It. I saw It yesterday. It was going to be a busy day, so I had to get my exercise in early. What better way to celebrate "It Movie Day" than with a bike ride? I even passed by some honest-to-goodness balloons on my route. Thankfully they were white and green (and being used to advertise vacancies in an apartment complex) instead of red.



Red balloon plus sewer grate equals creeptastic photo. Thanks Blondinrikard Froberg!


The movie itself had a lot going for it. The actors fit their parts, the clown was terrifying, and the special effects were used wisely without going overboard. They tried to stuff as much information about the dark history of Derry into the film as time would allow. The most frightening part, for me, was the first ten minutes when Georgie Denbrough meets Pennywise for the first and last time. 


Image: Wikipedia


Despite all the things the film gets right, I still left the theatre a little bummed. There's so much in the book that just can not fit into a two hour film. I understand that. But I wish I could have seen the dam the Losers build across the Kenduskeag in the Barrens along with the underground chamber where they performed the Ritual of Chüd. Or the chapter where Bill and Ritchie encounter a werewolf, Stan's meeting with the dead boys in the Standpipe, Beverly's dash across town after her father goes insane, or Richie's encounter with the Paul Bunyon statue. 



Image: The actual Paul Bunyon statue in Bangor Maine. No wonder it gives the residents the creeps! The ax in his right hand is bad enough, but check out that tool in his left. Picture by Doug Folkerts.


All of those are key action sequences, but I also miss some of the small stuff. There's a beautifully written chapter about Ben staying late after school in the winter to help the librarian stack books and later his walk through the desolate frozen town (right before he meets the Mummy). I love that part, but it couldn't be in the movie. All the kids' first encounters with Pennywise had to occur around the same time in the summer, so major changes had to be made in the film. 





It makes me wish that the book had been turned into a series by HBO or Netflix and given the kind of attention to detail seen with Game of Thrones or 13 Reasons Why. Ditto The Dark Tower. The liberties they took to stuff a seven-book series into a single movie are cringeworthy.  Oh well. Maybe someone will make a series out of The Talisman someday.

___________



Lastly, I got notice from fellow blogger and author C. Lee McKenzie that her novel, Double Negative, is in a list for Readers Choice Awards for YA and Middle Grade books (page 12/16). If you'd like to vote for her book, here's the link: https://www.tckpublishing.com/readers-choice-voting

Voting ends on December 10. Here's what it's about:

Double Negative

Publisher: Evernight Teen, July 24, 2014 (Digital & Paperback)

Reviews: Evernight Teen - Amazon & Goodreads 

"My life was going, going, gone, and I hadn't been laid yet. I couldn't gointo the slammer before that happened." Hutch McQueen.

Sixteen-year-old Hutchinson McQueen is trapped between an abusive mother and an absentee father. Shackled by poor vision and poor reading skills, he squeaks through classes with his talent for eavesdropping and memorizing what he hears. After another suspension from school and suffering through one of his mother’s violent attacks, he escapes to a friend’s house that turns out to be a meth lab. The lab is raided and Hutch lands in juvenile detention. When the court sentences him to six months in a new juvenile program, he meets a teacher with Alzheimer’s who will change his life and hers.
Now Available at: 

Amazon Kindle • Amazon Paperback • Barnes & Noble • Smashwords

_____________

What's the earliest you've gotten up in the morning for school or work? Have you seen the movie It or read the book? How about Double Negative





Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Insecure Writer's Support Group and Celebrate the Small Things


Whoa, like September, where have you been? August was an absolute whirlwind of trips, eclipse, back-to-school freak-outs, and query madness. It's finally time to sit down at the writing desk again and...blog! Huzzahs to the one-and-only Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh, and his merry band of co-hosts: Tyrean Martinson, Tara Tyler, Raimey Gallant, andBeverly Stowe McClure!

September's optional IWSG question: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre you didn't think you'd be comfortable in?

Why, yes! I did. When I first started writing, I composed suspenseful stories with supernatural or spooky elements.  I found myself using my favorite author's voice. (At least, in my mind.) To break free, I started a historical novel. The first draft was written in third person, but after some discussion with my critique group, I rewrote it in first. This resulted in a stronger voice that does not (I hope) imitate Stephen King one bit.

This was the novel that got pitched in the IWSG Twitter extravaganza in late July this summer.  If you've never tried a Twitter pitch event, I highly recommend you give it a whirl. It's so nice to be able to open a query letter with something like, "I'm writing in response to your "like" of the pitch for my novel..." instead of the basic cold-call-type letter.

Besides querying, I hope to start a new novel this fall and dive into the research for a sequel to my historical novel. Plus I've got several short stories that need a publishing home. So I've got plenty of things to keep me chained to my desk during school hours. 

_______________


Celebrate the Small Things is a weekly (supposed to be on Friday, but I'm cheating) blog hop hosted by the amazing Lexa Cain and cohosted by L.G. Keltner and Tonja Drecker. It's a great way to let bloggers know about the good things, big or small, going on in your world.

1. It's the most wonderful time of the year...

If you're a parent, you might be familiar with this jingle as used in a Staples commercial where the parents dance down the aisles, filling their carts with school supplies as their sullen children drag themselves behind them like criminals on the way to the gallows. 

Today's the day. No requests for food. No shopping trips. No fighting. No whining. Just seven golden hours of peace and quiet and they're mine. ALLL MINE! WAH-HA-HA!!!

I can write. I can blog. I can clean, or take a bike ride, or read a book. Uninterrupted. I can sit down and eat an entire lunch without getting up every two minutes. What bliss. 

2. I (almost) saw the eclipse.

It's kind of a sad story. I dragged my family down to my parents who live south of Asheville, NC. We debated where to watch the eclipse for months, but when it got closer, the predictions of standstill traffic lasting for hours and hours were just too daunting. We decided that 99.2% of the eclipse would be plenty for us and stayed at my parent's house. 

Eclipse, August 21, 2017


With glasses on, we marveled at the disappearing sun and watched the shadows under the trees turn into series of eclipse-shapes on the walk-ways.





We walked up to the lake by my parents house when totality got near.


View to the left.



View to the right. 


About 60 seconds out, a cloud covered the sun. NOOOO!!!!!


Sedona, left, and my parents during totality.


The big, bad cloud didn't budge until about a minute after totality had passed. But, it did get noticeably darker and cooler and the wind picked up. 

On the news that night were pictures of cars in gridlock. There were reports of people leaving their vehicles in droves to dash into the woods and, um, ... you know. My husband joked that the deer would be safe from speeding vehicles for weeks after catching that particular scent near the highways.

Ironically, after all the talk about this eclipse being a once-in-a-lifetime event, we have since discovered that in seven years, another total eclipse is not only going through the U.S., but will pass pretty close to our home! The only catch is that the date is April 8th, which is still winter here in Rochester, N.Y. The chance of cloud cover is about 70%.

________________

Do you genre-hop as an author or reader? Celebrate or mourn back-to-school? Did you travel to see the eclipse? Would waiting in traffic for hours and using the woods for a bathroom be worth it to see totality?


Friday, September 1, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things


Friday kind of snuck up on me this week, so like the white rabbit, I'm late, I'm late, for a very important...blog hop. Okay, that doesn't have quite the same ring to it. Anyway, please put your paws together for our host, Lexa Cain, and her cohosts L.G. Keltner and Tonja Drecker.

Last week, I shared images from our trip to the Toronto Zoo. After that, we zipped down to Niagara Falls for a few days. I love waterfalls, so it's pretty cool that one of the biggest and most beautiful is within driving distance of home.



The boat on the lower left is the Hornblower, or the Canadian version of the Maid of the Mist. These boats will take you right up to the bottom of the Canadian falls, and, as if that wasn't fun enough, you get to wear a cool (actually hot) garbage bag rain poncho. Red for Hornblower, blue for Maid of the Mist.






What does it look like that close to the falls? I have no idea. I had to squinch my eyes shut to keep my Niagara-filled contacts from jumping out of the boat. But I can tell you what it feels like. Grab a garden hose, hold it about a foot from your nose, and turn on full blast. Yes, that's why they hand out ponchos. Sadly it's byog (bring your own goggles). 

Another fun thing to do is The Journey Behind the Falls. For this attraction, you get to ride an elevator down the bottom of the Canadian side and view the falls from a platform.




This attraction also comes with a poncho (yellow). There is also a tunnel that takes you behind the falls. The view isn't that exciting--just white mist, but the roar and rumble of the water is fun to experience.



There is a nice sidewalk on the Canadian side to see both the American Falls (those in the background) and the Canadian falls (the horseshoe-shaped falls). I haven't been to the American side, ironically, or toured Goat Island (the area between the falls).

After dark, there are lights on the falls that change color.

Niagara Falls in teal


Niagara falls in purple

They also have a fireworks show just before 10 p.m., but we were so exhausted from walking around all day, we skipped it. 

Do you like visiting waterfalls? Any big ones near your home? 


Friday, August 25, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things



Is Friday here again? Already? Well, time flies when you're on vacation. But before I get into that, let me thank our host, Lexa Cain, and her cohosts L.G. Keltner and Tonja Drecker.

This past week I was in Asheville, NC, visiting my parents and hoping to catch a glimpse of the eclipse, but I'll save that story for later. Today, I'd like to celebrate our trip earlier this August to the Toronto Zoo. It's a big place, and even though we had four hours to enjoy it, we didn't get to visit all the exhibits. 

First on our must-see list was the pair of kidlet pandas. I won't say baby, because they were half the size of their parents. Here's a nice shot of one of the youngsters:


Nom, nom, nom


We watched the two kids for about 15 minutes and they never stopped munching on their bamboo. There was a huge pile of bamboo behind them as well, kind of moving. Eventually we realized the mother was underneath her breakfast, slowly eating her way out. If one of the bears rolled on its back, it would still keep eating. Now that's dedication.

Dad panda was in another enclosure. I guess he stayed up late, eating.


This is the life.


After tearing ourselves away from the adorable, chomping pandas, we went to visit the polar bears. There were several. It's hard to get a good shot of a swimming bear, but here's a shot of one lounging in the grass. Yep, green grass plus polar bear (equals Lost flashback?)


All I need are ten penguins for bowling pins.


Continuing with the arctic theme, we have a white wolf, who looks a lot like the white spitz I grew up with, but this fellow has longer legs.


Paparazzi fatigue



Keen on seeing a grizzly, we headed off to the Canada domain, but first we met the sweetest little raccoon. I don't know why charities don't employ these little guys. How could you ever say no to this face?



Just drop one french fry. I won't tell a soul.



The grizzly was hanging out in the back of his enclosure, but his head was visible and impressively humongous, even from a distance:


Object behind log appears closer than it is


We found this colorful parrot on the way to see some panthers (who were sleeping behind glass, so those shots didn't turn out so great.)


There is no controversy here. I'm blue, black, white, and gold. Promise.


We enjoyed watching some white lions snooze, baboons by a beautiful waterfall, and a cheetah hiding among some trees. Luckily the zebra wasn't shy and came right up to the front to greet his visitors.


This is my best side.


Then we were off to see the hippos, a tiger, and two lovely giraffes, who long eyelashes would make any woman envious.


Even laying down, I'm taller than you.


It was a wonderful afternoon and I highly recommend a visit if you're in the Toronto area. 



Take a bow!


Have you been to Toronto? What did you do there?