Monday, December 21, 2015

#Booktags Bloghop with Toi Thomas, Dec. 2015

Today I'm participating in the monthly blog hop #BooktagsBloghop with Toi Thomas , a great place to discuss what you're reading and/or writing. Feel free to hop along, Cassidy.

I went wild on Cyber Monday with Kindle books. Me and Earl, and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews was just too intriguing to pass up. It's about a kid named Greg who's brilliant idea of surviving the shark tank of high school is to be friendly to all, friend to none. This works out smashingly until his mom arm twists him into being friends with cancer-stricken Rachel.

It may sound like a sapfest along the lines of The Fault In Our Stars, but you'd never know it from the text. Here's an excerpt from when Greg first calls Rachel's house. Her mom answers and tells Greg that Rachel is in her room.

In her room, just waiting around. Waiting for me? Or for death? My God, that's bleak, I tried to put a positive spin on it.

"Livin' it up," I said.

This was the second brain-punchingly insensitive thing I had said in about thirty seconds, and again I considered closing my cell phone and eating it.

Until the end, the book reads like a farce, as if the Greg from the Wimpy Kid Series got to high school, kicked Rowly to the curb, and replaced him with film-making cohort Earl, whose every other word is an expletive. If you find excessive use of the f-word offensive then steer clear, but if not, this story was hilarious and devastating at the same time. And surprise (to me)! The movie came out last June. Well, neato mosquito. I really should get out from under my rock more often.

Have you read this one? Seen the movie? Big fan of John Green and/or The Fault In Our Stars?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Joy Bloghop

This blog hop is brought to you by Liz's Random Ponderings. Let's see, what brings me joy at Christmas?

1. Getting the tree.

When I was a kid, we had a fake tree, but I loved it anyway. My husband, on the other hand, would traipse out to the woods with his family, cut down an actual tree, and chop off the top of it to drag back. These days, we compromise, traipsing about the local nursery, until we find the perfect Frasier Fir. (Our first time around, I insisted on a Blue Spruce, which is pretty, but its needles are deadly sharp.) 

Once home, our kid dance around, fighting over who gets to cut off the plastic mesh that holds the branches together, who gets to hang the first ornament, who gets to hang the fanciest ornament, and where the ornaments that they made get to hang. While they argue, I sneak around, rearranging the ornaments to my liking until they catch me. Then they holler to put everything back and just who do I think I am, the Queen of England? (No, but I am the Queen of Ornaments, and there will be an even distribution of color, shape, and sizes so help me!)

I have an image, but Blogger is being Grinchy this morning.

2. Snow.

Up here in Rochester, NY, we are almost guaranteed to have a white Christmas. No so this year. Right now it's sixty degrees and there's not a flake in sight (except me). There is something exquisitely wonderful about being the last person awake, turning off the Christmas tree lights, going to the window, and watching the snow silently drift down in the light of the street lamp before going to bed. 

3. Going home.

We made the mistake of staying put for our daughter's first Christmas. After opening up her gifts, our baby fell into a deep sleep and my husband and I just sat around thinking, "Hmm. This is boring." No more of that! From then on, we traveled to see my parents, his parents, and all our siblings. I love being in my mother's house, eating all the yummy things she makes, and being overwhelmed by all the presents she gets for my family. It makes me feel like a kid again. 

Merry Christmas to each and every one of you!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Question of the Month with Michael D'Agostino, December 2015

Good morning, everyone! Today's question is: 

Which one social convention would you get rid of?

How about this idiotic phrase: Good morning.

Seriously? Mornings are almost always bad. People and pets interrupt your dreams just as you are about to fly to the top of Mount Olympus on the back of a fluffy pink unicorn. 

Kidding. I don't dream of fluffy pink unicorns. (They are all classic white.)

The social convention I really hate is shaking hands. Think of the germs, people. The germs! This dislike didn't start until my kids went to Montessori School (which is fabulous btw, except for this hand-shaking biz). Every morning the children would shake hands with their teacher before entering the classroom.

Do you have any idea what children under the age of five do with their hands? It's revolting, I promise. So basically (unless the teacher has a pump sanitizer on stand-by), your kid is shaking hands with all the other germ-factories every single morning. Now that I think about it, this may have been a clever way to inspire parents to get their kids to school early just to be first in the hand-shaking line. That way you could cut down on the hand-to-hand germ dispersal quite a bit.

I know what you're thinking. How, then, should people greet each other with mutual respect? I'd like to switch to a traditional Asian greeting. Keep your germs to yourself, press your own two filthy paws together, and bow. It's quite respectful and looks way cooler.

So in closing, I'd like to apologize to the travel agent I shook hands with the other week. I was sucking down cough drops like a fiend our entire session, and I know she was hesitant to shake my hand. I should have fessed up and told her I'd been sick and we should just skip it, but that seemed rude somehow. Lady, I'm sorry to tell you, I was one day away from completing my antibiotics for pneumonia. I hope I didn't ruin your Thanksgiving. And Good Morning!

The Question of the Month Bloghop is hosted by Michael D'Agostino at A Life Examined. Click here to check it out.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Insecure Writers Support Group--A Harsh November

Diary of a writer:

November 4: Write witty blog for IWSG. Visit other blogs. Curiously tired after an hour or so. Fell asleep before lunch. Fever comes on strong along with cough--pneumonia suspected.

November 5: Go on antibiotics.

November 6: Third day of fever and cough is feeling like punishment. How did my older daughter put up with this crap for 10+ days? I'm losing it. Pneumonia is kicking my butt. Jello is my new friend.

November 7: Fever breaks. Energy nowhere to be found. I'd planned on resting up after the craziness of October, but this is ridiculous.

November 11: Take Jesse-cat to vet. Poor girl is eighteen with diabetes and now limping in both hind legs. Vet says it is severe arthritis. Heart murmur detected. Vet recommends special recovery food to boost her appetite and fluids (given by needle in loose neck skin) every other day.

November 12: Family trip to Hoopla yogurt bar. Older daughter gets ill that evening--howdy, Ralph! I regret sharing her yogurt and wonder if I'm next to worship at the porcelain throne.

November 14: Husband asks if I've heard what happened in France. With Sedona still ill and no cable, it won't be until Monday that I get a chance to learn about the extent of the tragedy.

November 16: Jesse is deteriorating. I consider taking her to the vet, but don't because it's my husband's birthday and I want him to have a nice dinner. After dinner, Jesse is not moving and I realize I can't let her suffer through the night. Arrive at emergency vet around 10 p.m. The doctor asks if I understand the process of euthanasia. Having gone it with another kitty two years ago (almost to the day), I say yes. Manage to hold emotions in check until I have to leave the room and her sweet lifeless body behind.

November 17: Go on two hour bike ride first thing in the morning to clear my head. It's freezing. I bike out to the end of the pier on Lake Ontario anyway and let the waves smack into me. When I get home, insane coughing ensues.

November 18: Pneumonia returns for round two. (Like, duh.)

November 20: New antibiotics doing terrible things to me. Switch to different medicine and buy more jello. Misery level reaches new high (or is it new low?)

November 26: Pneumonia gone in time for Thanksgiving. Subdued dinner with immediate family. High praise for my stuffing.

November 27: Attend Nutcracker ballet. It's gorgeous, but younger daughter completely bored by end of show. Entertains herself by grabbing my hands whenever I try to clap. What the . . . !?!

November 28: Get fantastic Christmas tree which fills house with its scent. Realize we own 100+ ornaments, but put every darn one on anyway.

November 30: Older daughter gets follow-up chest x-ray. Pneumonia (that she had in Oct.) all gone. Huzzah! Realize I have accomplished no writing for an entire month--will have to settle for surviving it instead.

Thanks to Alex Cavanaugh, creator of this monthly par-tay, and a shout-out to this month's cohosts: Sandra Hoover, Mark Koopmans, Doreen McGettigan, Megan Morgan, and Melodie Campbell! Rock on with your bad selves.

How was your November? Fun? Harsh? Nano Productive? 

Monday, November 16, 2015

#BooktagsBlogHop with Toi Thomas

It's the third Monday of the month which means it's time for another #BooktagsBlogHop book review! If you'd like to join us, please go here.

Today I'm going to discuss the latest book by my favorite author, Stephen King, called The Bazaar of Bad Dreams.

On the inside cover flap, the publisher is proud to point out that some of these short stories have never been published! What? That's supposed to be a selling point? I guess it's nice to let the reader know that not all the stories are new, but gee-whiz. Some of them have never been published? Like, yippee y'all.

So I was a little concerned, but since I'm such a huge fan, I decided to go for it. And I'm glad I did. My memory is absolutely terrible these days, but I did recognize the first tale (Mile 81), one in the middle called Blockade Billy, and the last tale (Summer Thunder). So those weren't my faves, but everything else (17 stories) was great stuff. No stinkers.

I particularly liked the Kindle Single King wrote called Ur in which one Wesley Smith gets his paws on a magic Kindle that sells books from thousands of other dimensions than ours. So Wes gets to read stuff by Hemingway and Faulkner that was never published in our dimension. Here's an excerpt of Cortland's Dogs "by" Hemingway. 

A man's life was five dogs long, Cortland believed. The first was the one that taught you. The second was the one you taught. The third and fourth were the ones you worked. The last was the one that outlived you. That was the winter dog.

Cool, huh? Could you imitate one of your favorite authors? I might be able to take a stab at King (pun not intended), but the classics? No way.

Speaking of an author's voice, each story comes with a little intro. from King describing the tale's origins. I love reading stuff like that. King writes how other author's voices influence his work and, as a writer, I found that fascinating. When I went to hear Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (author of Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun) speak, she said she didn't read fiction while she was writing fiction because she didn't want another author's voice coloring her work. I was impressed and horrified. How could I not read fiction while writing my own? That would be like not breathing while writing! So it was a relief to read that King doesn't worry about that. Instead he embraces it.

If you are a writer, do you worry about another author's voice coming out in your work?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group--Me vs. The Universe

Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen! In this corner, weighing in at 20 pounds past the ideal, writer, complainer, and occasional blogger--me! And in the other corner, weighing in at (well, that's complicated since we'd have to discuss mass and known vs. unknown matter--argh--just go here)--the Universe!

(Early October) Round One: Ding-ding!

Me: I am so going to finish my short story even though it bloated into 26K novella on time. I can do this! Plus, I'm going to enter the IWSG Anthology contest. Take that, Universe!

Universe: Here, have a cold that will whip you abs in shape with a nonstop, near vomit-inducing cough. Wham!

(Mid October) Round Two

Me: I don't care if I have to expel a pound of snot! I'm writing that IWSG story come hell or high tissues!

Universe: Oh really? How about I give the same cold to your daughter? WHAP!

Me: Mother!

Round Three

Me: I will tell my daughter I have deadlines. She will understand and go into a mind meld with her iPad mini. 

Universe: True. But only for the first day. Then she'll stick to your side like velcro. For funsies, I'll let her cold develop into pneumonia so it'll last ten days instead of five. BLAMMO!

(Final week of October) Round Four

Me: I still don't care. I will give up Netflix in the evenings and finish both of my writing projects. Nothing will stop me!

Universe: The pneumonia isn't keeping your darling up enough. Let me throw in an ear infection. She's got super sensitive ears and now she'll want to stay up way past her bedtime to keep you company. And while I'm at it, here's a migraine to take away your last evening of work.

Me: I hate you.

(Saturday, Oct. 31) Round Five

Me: HA, HA, HA. I finished both writing projects and turned them in on time. I ROCK!

Universe: Bully for you. But you've forgotten one little thing. 

Me: What?

Universe: Marketing. And here. Have another migraine. KER-WHAM!


Winner by a knockout: Universe.

How was October for you? Did you enter the ISWG Anthology contest?

Thanks as always to Alex Cavanaugh for creating the ISWG. Be sure to visit this month's cohosts: Stephen Tremp, Karen Walker, Denise Covey, and Tyrean Martinson.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Question of the Month with Michael D'Agostino

This month, Michael from A Life Examined asks: Are you an introvert or an extrovert? 

That's easy. I'm an introvert. The things I love doing are all solitary pursuits: writing, reading, watching TV shows my husband would hate, biking, kayaking, rollerblading, and jogging.

My favorite definition of these terms involves energy. An extrovert gets energized from being around other people, while an introvert is recharged by being alone. Being shy is a side effect.

As an introvert, this Internet/Blogging/Email stuff is a godsend. I can interact with others when it's convenient without the stress of being in the same room with them.

I've been an introvert my whole life. I used to wonder why I always had such horrendous headaches after school. I was a great student, but being around others just made me tense as hell. College was tough. Between classes and my roommate, I was around others 24/7 until I managed to snag a single dorm room my junior year.

These days I'm home alone only if the kids and hubby are at their respective schools. It's bliss, mostly because my kids are spoiled and will ask for every little thing under the sun like "Can I have some water, some cheese, and will you please press the buttons on the TV remote because I'm too tired to lift a finger." (I'll give you a finger, darling.) Anyway, my kids are serious energy vampires, but I think that's from bad parenting more than me being an introvert.

Blocks of alone time are the stepping stones that get me through the day. Take them away and I'll turn into this:

Agrunia smiling... Yes, she is smiling!
Image courtesy: Tambako the Jaguar

(Actually, I'm nowhere near this awesomely fluffy, but it's all in the eyes.) Now I'm off to see who else falls into my camp. Not that I have anything against extroverts. Actually I'm quite jealous of them. I even married one!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Share a Scare Blog Hop with Wittegen Press

Happy Halloween! I'm so excited this day is finally here! (Not because I'm going to dress up or anything, but because I've survived the week! Two writing deadlines--met. One sick daughter--on the mend.)

Okay, enough about me. Today's blog hop, hosted by Wittegen Press, is an opportunity for bloggers, authors, and artists to share something scary--for free! Since I belong to two of these groups, this is a great hop for me. You can join too. Go here for details and a link list of participants

To start the ball rolling, I will share a true story:

Once upon a time, when I was about eight, I was lying in bed, when all of a sudden, I had the terrible feeling that I had left the basement door unlocked. It was the middle of the night, but I didn't want my dad (who got up early) to find out I hadn't locked the door. He would not be happy with me even though we lived in a safe neighborhood with woods all around the back and sides. 

I got out of bed, crept all the way down into the basement where I heard our dog, Benji, barking like mad, like there was somebody or something in the yard. Since there was a window right by the basement door, I didn't dare turn on the light, because I knew if someone was out there, they would be able to see me. 

So I crept up to the door, and just as I was turning the tab to lock it (yes, I had indeed left it unlocked), the knob started to turn back and forth, back and forth--from the outside! 

Did I go running to my parents, screaming like a banshee? I don't think I did. In fact, I don't remember what happened after that. But there you go.

And next, I have a piece of flash fiction. This story was entered in a contest held by a blogger who had just reached 100 followers. She wanted us to write something scary. I wasn't in the mood to write about vampires or ghosts, so I took a jog to think about what really, truly frightened me. Two things came to mind. One of them is mental illness. If you read Hush, you'll easily guess the second.

Be warned! This is not a light-hearted piece. (But it did win the contest. Strong language advisory.)


Eileen was okay until the crying started. Her neck tensed as the tiny whimpers grew into strident shrieks. Growling under her breath, Eileen pulled into a parking lot by the city park. It was two a.m.

“Godnadit will you shut up!” She wanted to yell but that would only evoke louder screams. The baby heard her anyway and doubled its efforts.

Eileen’s jaw clenched as a sharp stab of pain shot through her temple, landing in her right eye—a precursor to a migraine. Now she was screwed, having swallowed her last Zomig two days ago in a different town. Getting another prescription would be a tit, especially if she couldn’t drive.

Then it started. First one spot, then two. Like a computer screen with missing pixels, black spots took root in her field of vision and grew, fusing into one big splotch. Eileen slammed her head down onto the steering wheel. Take that, you fucking migraine!

The sudden thud vanquished the crying from the backseat. Eileen dragged herself out of the car and opened the left rear passenger door. Leaning over the infant seat, her nose wrinkled.

“Whew!” Eileen waved her hand as if that would help. She returned to the driver’s seat and popped the trunk. Standing up, she spied someone by the lamppost, smoking a cigarette. A black hoodie obscured the figure’s face. Eileen wondered if she would be mugged. Or murdered.

“Go to a head,” she mumbled, releasing the car seat buckles. Make my day. If that guy wanted to do her in, so be it. At least it would stop the pounding in her head.

Eileen took her little bundle back to the trunk. Inside was a soft blanket, an open pack of Pampers, size one, and a plastic tub of wipes for sensitive skin. She laid him on the stained blanket and made sure to breathe through her mouth during the change. God, it stunk!

The baby was gearing up for another audio assault. Eileen picked it up and felt the world tilt to the left. She almost lost her balance, but managed to fall towards the car. Something small and soft hit the pavement. She was too far gone to care. If the kid lost its teddy, that was too fuckin’ bad, Freddy.

Eileen staggered to the front seat, praying she wouldn’t drop the kid, and plopped down. That did it. The wailing recommenced. Eileen reached across the gearshift and grabbed the nursing pillow. The foul cushion brushed against the twenty or so air fresheners dangling in a cloying clump from the rearview mirror as Eileen popped it under the baby. She was in a hurry. If the kid didn’t start sucking soon, Eileen’s head would explode.

While the baby nursed, Eileen scanned the park through the bug-specked windshield. There was no one under the lamppost now. She checked her rearview mirror. Nothing. Then she looked in the side view mirror and gasped.

The hooded figure skittered forward, filling the mirror with a lightening quick speed, too fast to be human. Eileen squeezed her eyes shut and tightened her grip on the baby. He squawked.

When Eileen opened her eyes again, all was still. There was no figure, and the migraine seemed to have backed off. Her vision was clear and the throbbing had settled into a bearable pressure behind her right eye.

It wasn’t very smart, she realized, stopping here to nurse at this hour. Eileen put the baby back into its car seat and decided she was okay to drive after all.

The next morning, retired bank manager Jerry Brandt plunked his wide ass on a park bench for a breather and unleashed his dog, Goodfella. No one else was around this early, so Jerry felt safe letting the chow have a moment of freedom. The big mutt started sniffing and snuffling, tail wagging to beat the band. When Goodfella returned he had something in his mouth. At first Jerry thought it was an old, maggoty chicken leg. Then the dog placed its muzzle into Jerry’s lap and dropped his prize.

Jerry screamed.
Philadelphia (AP): The search for Eileen Conrad and her infant son enters its third week with little hope. With Eileen’s history of schizophrenia, mother and child are feared dead.


Yep, mental illness and the death of a child. Scary, scary stuff. Want more? It's not free, but on November 1, I'm releasing a collections of three spooky tales. The title story, Heartstopper, is about a father, his seriously ill daughter, and the mysterious disappearance of several household objects right before Halloween. Visit my publication page for more information.

What do you find most frightening these days? Zombies? Ebola? Or your bills?

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Listing Blog Hop with Bish Denham

1. Welcome to this here blog, y'all (Yep, I grew up in the south).
2. This is a blog hop about lists to celebrate Bish Denham's eight years of blogging.
3. To participate, make a list of 5 to 25 things. No rules, it's whatever floats your boat.
4. Need the linky list? Go here.
5. This concludes my list. Bye.

Just kidding.

Is anyone else addicted to Netflix or the like? Do you sit down to watch one 40 minute show and then end up watching 3 or 4 because of those sneaky cliffhangers? Well, I will admit it. I am hooked and hooked good. Here is a list of the shows I've snarfed down so far:

1. The Walking Dead
2. Lost
3. Gilmore Girls
4. Grey's Anatomy
5. American Horror Story
6. Friday Night Lights

I'll be done with American Horror Story (Season 4) pretty soon. What would you recommend for my next binge? Mad Men? Glee? Has anyone watched James Patterson's Zoo?

Monday, October 19, 2015

#BooktagsBlogHop with Toi Thomas

Good morning. Today is the start of a new monthly blog hop whose purpose is to share and discuss books--ones you are either reading or writing. All the information about this bloghop can be found at The Toibox of Words. Care to join us? Go here.

I'm supposed to include an excerpt (500 words or less) along with an explanation of why I chose the book (300 words or less). I'm going to cheat and send you here for the excerpt, 'cause I've got a bit more than 300 words to share on this one.

Yesterday I finished The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz. This is an unusual book in that the characters created by Stieg Larsson (who sadly died before his Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series was published) became so freaking popular, that they spawned a number of successful films and now this new tale. I haven't seen this phenomenon since publishers continued to use the name V.C. Andrews to pump out incestuous tales for teen girls back in the day.

Is this a good idea? If the new author does a good job, it could be a great thing for the fans. But as a writer, would it bother you if someone else could duplicate your style enough to pull this off? If the author does a bad job, well, then the fans will feel cheated. Then again, if this monkey business is going on it won't matter much to you. You're toast in this scenario.

Okay, I'm digressing. Did I like this book? Yes and no. I thought Lagercrantz did a good job keeping the characters true to Larsson's version of them. The setting is cold, dark, and dreary. The overall plot has plenty of intrigue. Lagercrantz does a good job of weaving together the narrative from a large number of points of view. He's got to juggle swedish journalists, the police, bad guys, and even the United States' National Security Agency gets in the mix. Plus there's an autistic boy who is a savant in both mathematics and drawing who really drives the tale. His interaction with Salander is my favorite part of the story.

So what's the problem? Well, the cover has the words "A Lisbeth Salander Novel" in the top corner. This is the character fans can't let go of, right? So why do we have to wait until page 130 or so before she comes on stage? And she doesn't stick around much. Salander is hardly in the book at all compared to the other characters. 

Worse still, her trademark crazy, out-of-control violence is described second hand by other characters including the grand finale (which wasn't all that grand). 

I've got other nit-picks, but I'll leave it at that. Are you a fan of this trilogy? Have you or will you read the new novel?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Insecure Writers Support Group

Hi Everybody! Welcome to the show! Today I'm your cohost along with TB Markinson, Shannon Lawrence, Stephanie Faris, and Eva E. Solar and don't forget Kargrande-rustler, Alex Cavanaugh! (Insert raucous cheering.)

We're here to celebrate our victories and share the agonies of writing (hopefully you are experiencing more of the former and less of the later).

For the last month, I've had my nose (fingers?) to the grindstone, pumping out a short story, or novella if you want to get technical, due to hit the hallowed halls of next month. It wasn't a pretty process, but I met the first deadline and sent a (hopefully, please God), decent draft to my editor. This after I swore up and down never to let a deadline sneak up on me again. (Just like I swore not to touch that bag of M&Ms I bought for my daughter, but guess how that turned out?) I haven't heard back anything yet, which could mean the thing sucks eggs, my editor is busy, or it blew her mind so much she doesn't know how to respond. I'm guessing number 2.

Speaking of short stories and deadlines, the IWSG is having a short story contest (details here) with a deadline of Nov. 1. Some of the judges are literary agents. Hmm. Wouldn't you like to have one of your stories read by them? Of course! And here I am, fussing around with my 24K whopper (yeah, when I spew, I really let 'er rip) with a release date of . . . Nov. 1. Well, criminy.

And just to make it more painful, the contest's genre (alternate history, parallel universe) is right up my sci-fi writin' alley. GAH!! (Bang head on desk.)

Depending on when the final draft of my super-sized short is submitted, I might have to give this contest a go. The word limit (6K) won't be a problem, obviously, but it's not about the quantity, folks, it's about the quality.

So how's it going for you? Are you an overwriter or underwriter when it comes to word count? Entering the contest?

Need the IWSG link list? Click here.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Michael D'Agostino's Question of the Month

“Who would play you in a movie of your life?”

Wow, that would be an extremely dull movie, which is probably a very good thing. You know the old curse, right? May you live in interesting times.

Not that things are always calm. Take this fine morning. My pinkie hurts. A lot. I've already dug into the nail bed with a set of clippers and a knife, convinced, absolutely sure, that the nail decided to grow sideways (because it happened on my toe this summer--a wicked little dagger of nail that was quite uncomfortable after running a 5K). Anyhoo, I've cut away all the nail that I possibly can and so far, no relief. 

So, maybe it's an infection. I'll have to go off to the doctor's and see what they think. But I've got stuff to do, man! My parents are coming on Friday for their annual visit and the house and garage and the yard are still a wreck. Oh, calamity.

I need an actress who can play someone tough, but neurotic, and not in her twenties. Hmmm, that last one eliminates Jennifer Lawrence. Too bad. She's so awesome. I'll have to go with . . . Jodie Foster.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group

The month of August was a total loss as far as writing is concerned. With the kids home, vacation, birthday party, and so on, writing didn't just take a backseat; it got thrown from the car entirely.

One of the highlights was a trip to Lake Gaston in Virginia to visit family. I learned that tubing is like Trix: for kids, you silly rabbit! My back is spasms just thinking about it. Kayaking, however, is right up my alley, so much in fact, that I'm getting one for my birthday. Hopefully, we chose one light enough so I can maneuver the thing onto the top of our car. (My back spasms just thinking about it.)

There's six more days until the kids go back to school. Six more days until the writer's gun goes off in my mind and I can get back to my short story. It's going to be a race, 'cause this baby is due on October 1st. I swore I'd never let a deadline sneak up on me like this, but here I am. My mind spasms just . . . okay, I need to stop that.

The trick here is not to think: I'm so totally screwed. No! I must think: Wow! It's been so long since I've written anything. This is going to be so much fun! I can't wait to dig in and write the heck out of this sucker, for hours, in a row, every day. Yeah!

It's a juicy combo of parents estranged over a seriously ill child mixed, the Mexican traditions with The Day of the Dead, and a hint of the supernatural. Just the ticket for a release date of November 1. I hope.

Finally, I'd like to give a shout-out to two authors whose books I read and loved recently. First, Leesa Freeman's Into The Deep End and The Wisdom To Know The Difference. Both have top-notch characters and strong narratives. And for the cat lovers: Avalon, by Vanessa Morgan. Heartbreaking, but also funny. Excellent stuff. I love reading stories that create an emotional impact. BTW, I discovered these authors during last April's A to Z Blogging Challenge--something to keep in mind for marketing.

Huzzahs to Alex Cavanaugh for running the IWSG show. Be sure to stop by his page and check out the posts of this month's cohosts: Julie Flanders, Murees DupĂ©, Dolorah at Book Lover, Christine Rains, and Heather Gardner.

Ever let a deadline get out of hand? How did it work out? 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Question of the Month with Michael D'Agostino

Hey, y'all! What's shakin'? This month's question from Michael is:

What was the best job you've ever had?

I’ve had three paying jobs: movie theater concession attendant (popcorn girl), zookeeper, and math professor. While the second has its share of unique tales, the first is actually my favorite.

I started working at Beaucatcher Cinemas the summer after my high school graduation. It wasn’t my idea. My beau at the time was quite the movie buff and it was his plan that we both get jobs there. Unfortunately, I got the gig and he didn’t. Poor guy ended up washing pots all summer in the kitchen of a low-end chain restaurant. The theater wasn’t living up to its name, at least, not yet.

Despite this little peccadillo, slinging overpriced popcorn was the perfect gig. First, there were the freebies. All the popcorn you could eat (with or without the butter-flavored diarrhetic). All the soda you could swill (with or without the ice). Plus—and here’s the best part—all the free movies you could watch provided you were off the clock. Pretty sweet deal, huh? We also got a stack of free tickets for friends and family.

Unlike other jobs, “movie week” starts on Friday. New films would come in Thursday afternoon. We’d have a private employee showing after the lobby closed Thursday night for the big ones like Terminator II and Total Recall. If the movies came in on a Wednesday, we could have a private show Thursday morning. This is how I saw Ghost and Steel Magnolias a day early.

While the freebies were great, hanging out with a bunch of high school/college age folk was even better. It was like living in a soap opera: who was crushing on whom, who was dating, who was breaking up. Drama, drama, drama. And yeah, I was part of all that. After drifting through high school as the quiet ghost who wrecked the curve, it was heaven. I’d finally joined “the cool kids”, which were often “the crazy kids”.

Some of the nuttiness was tame, like answering the concession stand phone with a snappy, “Frank’s Pizza Palace, how may I help you?” whenever the ushers called down from their station. Others were completely mad, like The Lost Boys Game.

The theater curtains moved from the floor up to the ceiling before the picture started. There was a heavy bar across the bottom and the idea was to grab the bar, hold on for dear life (literally) and ride that sucker up to the top. It looked a bit like flying, vampire-style, hence the name.

The worst part of this job? The video machine right smack by the concession stand playing the ditty “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Heroes on a Half Shell! Teenage Power!” over and over and over throughout the six-hour shift until I wanted to bring in a sledgehammer and show those terrapins on steriods some real power.

Somehow, I managed to resist the urge.

This is a blog hop, so please join the fun! You can find the linked list at A Life Examined. Thank you Michael for hosting this monthly event.