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This Week in Writing

Edits, edits, edits. I finished the crisis that came up, then I had my own story to work on. I have two other novels to edit, then hopefully my nonfiction will be coming back in galley proof form. Eventually, my newest novel will come back from the beta readers.

I don't mind doing edits. Sometimes it's a nice change from creating. It gets old after a while, and I'm sure by May I'll be ready to create again!

Speaking of upcoming months, the publisher told me last night my story, Finding Eden, is scheduled for release on April 29.

As usual, I will let you know when it comes out!

Yesterday, my 5 year old had his yearly check-up. It was also his "kindergarten visit," so he had to have his final vaccinations. He knew they were coming. He kept telling me that he wasn't going to cry when he got his shots. Even so, I tried to get his mind off the impending needles.

One of the other things he had to do was pee in a cup. I told him that on the way, and he looked at me, his brow wrinkled in confusion.

"Why do I have to pee in a cup?"

I shrugged. "I don't know."

"What do they do with it?"

"Test it. Or maybe they drink it. Do you think they drink it?" I smiled through the rearview mirror.

He wrinkled his nose in disgust. "Yeah. I think they drink it."

When we got to the doctor, the nurse handed us the cup and we headed into the bathroom. When he finished, while washing our hands, he says, "I definitely think they drink it."

"We'll have to ask the doctor," I told him.

I wish you could've seen the look on the doctor's face when we asked. It helped, though. The 5 year old didn't think about shots until the needles came out.

Have a great weekend!

Love and Hate, But Mostly Hate

As most of you know, I recently finished my fourth novel, Wucaii. It's with the beta readers right now, so I'll have more edits to do in a few weeks. I have mixed emotions about the book. I know us writers always have a love/hate relationship with our work, the high highs of actually getting it done, then the low lows of thinking it's crap.

My feelings lean more toward hate. This piece has been a burden for me for a long time. I started it when I was in high school, then in college, I workshopped it for a class. I had a vision of how I wanted it to read, but the professor didn't think it would work, so I rewrote it.

I didn't like how that version read. It was too slow. So after many years and several other projects, I decided to work on it again. I attempted to take it back to my original vision, but it didn't flow for me. I put it away again and worked out the details in my head. I decided to change it from a sword and sorcery fantasy into an urban fantasy.

It still has elements of the first version in the form of flashbacks and memories. I've never written a story like this, so I don't know how well it works. Do the flashbacks take away from the present action? Are they boring and convoluted? Are there too many of them? Should there be more?

On top of that, the story is only slightly over 68,000 words, and I've read/been told that agents/publishers won't look at urban fantasy unless they are 85,000-100,000 words long. I have a problem with that, but if it's true, I'm way short of the mark.

Editors, agents, and publishers always tell you to write what you want, and that's exactly what I do. Does that mean agents are chomping at the bit for my work? No. I can usually find a publisher, but that's beside the point. I understand the standard for fantasy--all genres and subgenres, really--has been these huge series of books. Look at Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin, the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, the Harry Potter series, and the list goes on and on.

Now, I'm not saying these books don't have their place or they are terribly written. They are great stories, but I don't have time to read them. I finished Eragon when my son was a baby--5 years ago. I attempted to start Eldest, but have never finished it. I started Game of Thrones, but didn't have time to get through it. I never had a desire to read Lord of the Rings, so I haven't picked them up. I tried to read the Hobbit once, but I couldn't get through it.

The problem with most of those books is that they are too long. Trying to read 600 pages would take me months, especially with all the other stuff I have to do. I really don't have time to read five or six books that long. For me, the ideal book is something short and entertaining, which is exactly what I write (at least what I hope I write). I do what I want when it comes to that, and I guess I'll have to be fine with agents not wanting it. With this book, though, I'm having a rough time. Maybe it needs to go in a drawer and ruminate for a while longer.

What about you? How do you feel about long series of fantasy stories?

Home Today

I'm at home with a sick kiddo today, so I'm not going to do a huge post.

I did want to point out that Code Z: An Undead Hospital Anthology is now available in print. I highly recommend checking it out!

Meet An Author Tuesday

Meet Mary S. Palmer. She has a Bachelor of Arts (Cum Laude) and a Master of Arts in English with a Concentration in Creative Writing from the University of South Alabama. She also took a semester of French (her minor) in Arcachon, France. Her screenplay JOE AND JOE received third place in the Eugene Walter Writer's Fest in 2005 and her essay DIMES AND QUARTERS was awarded third place in the Baldwin Writers' Group Essay Contest in 2011.

She has published five books: MEMORAMOBILEIA, THE CALLINGS, FALSE GODS, QUEST FOR FORGIVENESS and TO CATCH A FISH (all coauthored). Her science-fiction book entitled TIME WILL TELL will be released as an ebook March 9, 2012. TO CATCH A FISH, coauthored with David V. Wilton, will also be released by Musa on May 25, 2012.

She writes in different genres: biographies, crime, novels, and poetry. She teaches English at Faulkner State Community College and at Faulkner University. She has also taught Creative Writing in the past. Mary resides in Mobile, Alabama, but loves to travel and has visited all fifty of the United States and every continent except Antarctica.

Her story is called "Time Will Tell," and you can check it out here.

Q) What inspired you to write this story?
I was inspired to write this science-fiction story because I wanted a change of genre. I like to experiment and explore the unknown and I wanted to see what I could do in a different field. It took quite a bit of research, but I'm glad I tried something new.

Q) How long did it take you to write?
It took about as long as it takes to have a baby--nine months.

Q) What is your favorite thing about writing?
My favorite thing about writing is seeing the characters come to life and being able to identify with them--love, or hate, them.

Q) What is your least favorite thing about writing?
My least favorite thing about writing is seeing that I've made mistakes, especially about things when I know better.

Q) If you could be any famous person for one day, who would you be and why?
If I could be any famous person for one day, I think I'd like to be Thomas Jefferson. Maybe I could learn something from a person with such a brilliant mind.

Q) What is the oldest thing in your fridge and how old is it?
The oldest thing in my fridge is a jar of Jalapeno peppers. It's probably five years old.

Q) What can readers expect from you in the future?
I have just finished a sequel to TO CATCH A FISH entitled BAITING THE HOOK, and it's under consideration by Musa. I am working on a sequel to THE CALLINGS entitled A CLEAN SLATE. My next project will probably be to revise a mystery that I started on years ago, or I may write a sequel to TIME WILL TELL. I also have a couple of other books in different genres that I may revise.

I'm A Little Slow

No Movie Review Monday today. Mainly because I didn't watch any movies this weekend. My family was in town for my son's birthday, so we hung out with them.

I did, however, find out what my standings are in the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll. I know, I'm a little slow. I think the results have been out for a month. Honestly, I thought they would send an email if you finished in the top ten, but I was wrong. The only reason I know about the standings was because Jerrod Brown posted them on his Facebook page.

Anyway, I FINISHED IN THE TOP TEN! Woooooot! I was #9 in the YA category.

And the cover artist was #10 in the cover art category.

I have to say, I was more than a little surprised. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you who voted. I'm am honored and humbled, and incredibly excited!

This Week in Writing

I finished my second read through of Wucaii and am getting it ready for the beta readers. Unfortunately, I don't have time to do another read through while they do theirs, I've had some crises come up that I need to take care of. Hopefully, I'll get to it soon.

I got edits back for Finding Eden. They are a bit more involved than I expected. It's going to take me a while to get those done. The timeline was to have them done by April 10, but I don't think that's going to happen. There's been another crisis with a content edit I did a month ago. I won't go into details here.

My oldest son's birthday is on Monday. He'll be 5 years old. We're celebrating this weekend, so I have family coming in. I'm probably not going to get a lot of work done this weekend!

For his birthday, we got him a Honda 50cc mini bike with training wheels. I have my reservations about it, but my spouse says he had one at that age, and he was fine (that can be debated, but for the sake of this blog, he's fine). The 5 year old knows he can't ride it without his helmet and gear. He also can't ride it unless Daddy is around because I have no idea how to make it run!

The bike was used, and we got it from one of my friends. After checking it out, we loaded it into the back of the truck, but the 5 year old wasn't paying attention, he was playing on their swing set. As he was being put in his car seat, he turned to his dad and says, "Can we come back to your friends house sometime so I can ride my bike?"

My spouse showed him it was in the back of the truck, and his eyes lit up. It became real that the bike was his.

After he was buckled in his seat, the 3 year old tells him, "You have to share that with me."

Knowing the five year old, I'm sure he will. However, the 3 year old will be riding in the Power Wheels Jeep until he learns how to steer straight!

Have a great weekend! May you get what your heart desires!

Look What I Found!

We all know many of our favourite Zombie flicks and books make their start in or around a hospital but they soon leave the confines of the medical building and start to lay waste to the world but what happens in those first few hours.

Now is the time to find out.

" CODE Z – An Undead Hospital Anthology " is a horror anthology with an undead theme it contains tales of life, horror, excitement and of course the undead. Each author shares with us a unique and new story.

What happened in those few precious hours before the plague of the dead left the hospital?

I have a story in here called "Anticipating Death." There are many a wonderful authors in there, so check it out! It's available on Kindle. Check it out here!

Conan the Cimmerian

I have fond memories of watching Conan the Destroyer (1984). My dad let us watch it when we were in grade school. My sister and I thought it was the greatest movie. We went on adventures to find the jeweled horn.

It wasn't until I was older and could watch Conan the Barbarian (1982) that I realized Conan the Destroyer was a terrible, terrible movie. I know why my dad let us watch it though. It was pretty tame compared to the first, not a lot of sex and violence and pretty horrible special effects. I let my kids watch it. They really enjoy it. It has the basic elements they deem necessary in a film: a cool hero, sword fights, and monsters. Pretty much the same things I look for in a movie. Despite its awfulness, it will always have a special place in my heart.

I had reservations about seeing the new Conan the Barbarian (2011). My spouse and I went for our anniversary. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed it. We own the DVD. I needed to round out my collection.

Recently, I downloaded and have been listening to the original Conan stories. The version I have is a special edition, so it had an introduction that talked about the history of the stories and about Robert Howard. What a fascinating and tragic guy. The stories are actually a collection of short stories/novellas, but they're not told in chronological order. The book sticks to Howard's original vision for the stories, so they are told in the order they were published.

Wow. That word describes it all. Howard's writing is so rich and descriptive, and his use of magical elements is amazing! The narrator is fantastic, which adds to the wonderment of the stories, but I can't get past Howard's language! I have the book on my Kindle in print form too, so I can always go back and read it that way. I might, just to experience the magic of the words!

I can totally see how Conan helped shape the fantasy genre. Conan himself is more an anti-hero than a true hero. He does some fairly questionable things, but he's still likable. He has his share of hardships to overcome, so you can sympathize with him and loath him at the same time.

As you can imagine, there are quite a few differences between the written stories and the movies, but they are both enjoyable in their own ways. I'm so happy to be able to round out my Conan experience!

Meet An Author Tuesday

I would like you to meet Madeleine McLaughlin. Here is her bio in her own words:

I was born in Thunderbay, Ontario, the great white north of Canada. At the time, it was two cities, Fort Williams and Port Arthur. So I was really born in Fort Williams at McKellar Hospital in 1958. I can remember my Dad building us three kids an ice house for us to play in. I was happy back then with lots to do.

In 1962, Dad retired from the RCAF and we moved across the country to White Rock, BC where we stayed until I was about 21. My parents chose White Rock because my Mom's parents lived there. When we first arrived, Dad did not have a job right away so Mom went to work. He tried salesman and Mom worked as a waitress. I stayed with my grandparents all day for four years, going home at night with Mom. I played all day with my grandfather and was happy.

When I went to school I stopped staying at my grandparents. I did well in school until about grade eight, then I began to slide. I took a lot of art classes and did a lot of writing and was proud when my English teacher said my stories were the best student compositions she'd ever read.

After grade twelve I moved to Vancouver and then on to Ottawa, where I have lived since 1979. In 1980, I met my lifelong friend, David Dubie. We are now room mates and take care of each other. I have never been married nor do I have kids. My parents are both dead now and it's just the three of us kids left, with our families, of course and also my Dad married again after my Mom died and so I have a wonderful step-mom.

I hope to stay with MuseItUp Publishing and write many more books. You can buy The Mountain City Bronzes here , and you can visit my blog ,

Q: What inspired you to write this story?
A: I was working in sculpture and painting in the 1980s and I wanted to do something about visual artists. Plus, I thought I'd like to try my hand at a dark story with children.

Q: How long did it take you to write this story?
A: I began this story in the early 1990s. I took writing as a correspondence course and this was one of my first stories. I had some trouble finishing back then because the course was over before I was happy with the story. So I put it away for some years. Then I got on an online critique site and brought it out to work on. I re-wrote and re-wrote and finally I sent it in to an online publisher so many writers on my critique site were talking about, that was MuseItUp Publishing. The day they accepted it was the happiest of my life with only one downside, and that was that my Dad, who had supported my writing for years, had just died in September. I was accepted just two months later. I'll always regret that he missed it. This is all for him. I dedicated my story to him.

Q: What is your favorite thing about writing?
A: There's so many perks to writing, and I mean emotional perks. There's the fact that writing is a type of play. I mean the making up of characters and plot. Of course, once you work it up so someone else may read it, it's hard work. Then there's also the 'high' when you work and it goes well but the best thing is when someone else reads it and they like it. I think any writer would tell you of the happiness when they get a letter or an e-mail from someone who was moved by their work. That's the best.

Q:What is your least favorite thing about writing?
A: When you work and work and it just doesn't click. The self-doubts that come with those days are a drag. It's a good thing I have support.

Q: If you could be any famous person for one day, who would you be and why?
A: Isabella Bird. Because if I had to be someone else, why not be extraordinary. It would be so much fun to travel to the places she did on a horse when the world had more nature. I found 'A Ladies Life In The Rockies' to be a phenomenal travel tale.

Q: What is the oldest thing in your fridge and how old is it?
A: I'd be afraid to tell you.

Q: What can readers expect from you in the future?
A: I would like to write all other genres, historical and humorous etc. I don't want to be known for just one genre. I hope it's not writing suicide.

Theater Review Monday

Last Thursday, I had the privilege of going to see "Beauty and the Beast" on stage in Denver. I took the 4 year old, and we went with my mom, sister, and my niece. We had a lovely dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery, then we were off!

The show started at 7:30, which is pretty late for my child, he's usually in bed by 8:00. I hoped he would have napped in the car on the way down, especially since he went swimming earlier that day, but he didn't. He did great, though. He was quiet and intrigued. As it got closer to the end, he got a little restless, but he was tolerable.

There was one part, when Belle's father gets lost in the woods and the wolves were chasing him, that I thought would freak my son out. It got darker in the theater, and he stiffened on my lap. The wolves were howling, lightning flashed, and then they came on stage. They were puppets. He turns to me and says, "Are those fake?" I told him they were, and he completely relaxed. That was the scariest part of the play, and he had no problems, which made me very happy.

The play itself was all right. I've seen better, and I doubt it would be in my top 10. It's the same story as the Disney movie with the same songs. A few new songs have been added, and some of the characters have been given personalities. The most notable is the bureau on Belle's room. She was actually pretty funny.

My favorite part was the dance sequence at Gaston's tavern. It was the entire company, and they had these metal beer steins that they clinked together in rhythm while moving around the stage. It was upbeat and fun. I could just imagine the amount of practice that went into that one scene. It really paid off onstage. I was amazed!

It was great to get out of the house and hang with my family. The 4 year old enjoyed it to. We didn't get home until 12:40, though, and that's hard on everyone. My child felt he needed to cry for about 10 minutes when we got in the house, waking every therein. What a treat!

The next morning, he came up to me and said, "Do you know why I was crying last night?"

"Because you were tired?" I asked.

"No. Because I didn't want to leave Denber. It was so much fun." He then proceeded to tell his brother about how "scary" the play was.

It made the whole trip worth it. His first play was a success, and I'm sure we'll both be enjoying many more down the road!

This Week in Writing

I am inputting edits for Wucaii after my first read through. I haven't made it very far, I'm working on chapter 3, but I'm hoping to accomplish a lot this weekend. After that, one more read through, then it's off to the beta readers (hi Betty, Amber, and Dax!). I hope they're excited!

The 4 year old and I went down to Denver with my mom, sister, and niece last night to see "Beauty and the Beast." It was his first play.

My spouse took the boys swimming yesterday, and he told me the 4 year old commented about how he was "going to the playoffs." (I told him he was going to see a play.)

My spouse asked him what he was talking about, and the 4 year old was convinced he was going to see a football game. My spouse explained to him it was singing and dancing on the stage, and his face fell with disappointment.

When I got home for lunch, he asked me if we were going to the playoffs, and I told him no. I again explained what we were going to see.

"That doesn't sound like fun," he pouted.

"Then you don't have to go, you can stay here," I told him.

"No, I'll go. I'll go."

And he did. And I'm pretty sure he liked it!

Hope your weekend is full of pleasant surprises, even if they weren't what you expected!

Self Promotion Thursday

Like zombies? Then you'll love this book. There's a whole slew of stories in here. Here's the description:

In a world where the dead walk...
In a world where the living struggle to survive...
In a world where Munchkins fight alongside flying monkeys...
Those are just some of the things you will find inside this mammoth book of zombie fiction by writers from Michigan to Malaysian, from Austin to Austria.
So, pull on your bibs and prepare to sink your teeth in.
There's plenty of brains for everyone!

My story is called "Live, and Let Them Be Undead." Let me give you a little taste.

Caleb stepped onto the sidewalk, blinded by the morning sun. He blinked and squinted. When he could see, the cop cars across the street caught his attention. He stared at them for a moment, his grip tightening on the handle of his briefcase. He approached the barricade.

“What happened?” he asked the cop standing behind the orange and white roadblock.

The officer scanned him up and down, his thumbs hooked in his belt. “There was a zombie attack last night.”

Caleb’s mouth fell open. “What? How? Who was the victim?”

The cop held up his hands to stop Caleb’s onslaught of questions. “All I can tell you is that some regulars escaped the ghetto. They have been taken care of, and you have nothing more to worry about.”

Caleb’s stomach clenched. He glanced over the cop’s shoulder. Patrol cars and detectives blocked his view, but he was convinced he saw blood staining the asphalt. He silently hoped it wasn’t someone he knew. He nodded at the officer before him, then proceeded to work with a lump in his throat.

Dumbfounded, he set his briefcase on his desk. How could a regular get out of the ghetto? Were they even aware they were in a locked environment? From what he understood about them, they weren’t aware of their surroundings until a human was around. Then, their focus switched to devouring flesh. Otherwise, they wandered around aimlessly.

Want to read more? Then get the book. It's available here and here.

Feeling Like a Failure

I edit for a fabulous company. They are so dedicated to making sure authors and editors have access to pertinent information, they offer online classes (which are basically hour long chat sessions with a professional). I was lucky enough to take one of those classes on Saturday. It involved speaking with an agent.

At first, I wasn't going to attend the class. I thought I knew all there was to know about landing an agent (even though I haven't yet), but then I thought, "What the heck? I'm sure I'll still learn something new." And I did. I asked several questions, along with everyone else, and felt my self-confidence slip away.

It wasn't the agent's fault. She was as nice as could be and incredibly helpful. It's just the nature of the publishing world. It's incredibly competitive.

So what depressed me? Well, first of all, just the prospect of sending out queries is incredibly daunting. I've sent out hundreds so far in my career, and no agent has ever picked me up. I'm not looking forward to the rejection. And there will be rejection.

In our discussion, one of the things the agent brought up was that she isn't overly impressed with authors who have ebooks. Books from some small publishers are okay, but she doesn't take that into consideration when she's looking at potential clients. While she can't speak for all agents, she believes that outlook is pretty consistent across the board.

Where does that leave me? All my books (with the exception of my nonfiction) have been put out by an indie publisher. If no one takes books like that seriously, have I been wasting my time? I mean, you'd think that having that type of experience would count for something, but it doesn't sound like it does. It made me feel like I'd settled, taken the easy way out. But if I hadn't, no one would be able to read my books.

When I told this to my spouse, he tried to make me feel better. He said, "Of course an agent is going to tell you they don't look at authors from small publishers. Where's the money in it for them? But it still gives you experience. I'm sure it will be fine." His words helped, but I wasn't exactly gushing with confidence.

For my question, I asked about how many times you should send an agent something before giving up. I've had my heart set on one agency for a long time, and I've sent them two of my works. They rejected both. The agent told me after that many times, it was probably best to move on and find someone new. Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but I understand her reasoning. Still, it broke my heart.

It also got me wondering about other agents. There aren't a slew of them out there that deal in my genre. Most of them I've queried at least once before. Am I supposed to quit after two or three times because they rejected me? Sadly, that won't leave me a lot of other options.

I truly appreciated being able to talk to an agent and get some insight into their world. Like I said, I did learn some new things, but I didn't come away from the class with a sense of optimism and hope. It was more dread and panic.

One of the good things that I came away from the class with was that agents like to know that authors are working on other projects. They like to know that we aren't one-book wonders. That made me feel a little better because I always have book ideas floating around my head. Will it help me get an agent? We shall see.

Meet an Author Tuesday

Today my guest is Karen K Samoranos. When not writing, Karen co-manages a music education business in Santa Clara County, California, with her husband, Clifford, that focuses on jazz theory and live stage performance for children ages 5 through 18. She has four adult children and two young grandchildren. In her off hours, she runs 3+ miles daily, hikes, fishes, rides motorcycles (dirt and street), and is an advocate for daily exercise, red wine, and whole foods.

Links to Karen on the web:

Author blog

Author site

Links to books:

"Road Apples" and "The Curious Number".

Books can also be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes.

Q) What inspired you to write this story?
I live in a very liberal region of California (the Bay Area), but I also reside part-time in a rural town in northeastern California, that tends to be fairly conservative politically and socially. In The Curious Number, I focused on interracial relationships, from the era of the 1950s, to the evolution of social ideals over a span of fifty years. It's the resistance to change in small town America, even in progressive California, that fascinates me, and gave me the inspiration for the story and characters in The Curious Number.

Q) How long did it take you to write?
From start to finish, The Curious Number involved approximately six months of outlining, character development, and historical research. I have to be very careful to weave a believable story without any loose threads.

Q) What is your favorite thing about writing?
Character development is my absolute first, followed closely by planning for shock value, which is always softened by a love affair (or sex). I enjoy the humanity of my characters, and I make a point to put a good "bombshell" element into novels - the kind where you say, "Gee, I didn't see that coming–!"

Q) What is your least favorite thing about writing?
Finding the tiny quirks, such as semicolons where they don't belong, or extra commas and periods. Misused quotation marks, that sort of mundane, and yet very important detail. It was a real challenge (pain) before I acquired Word for my Mac. Now the program really helps me through that tedious task.

Q) If you could be any famous person for one day, who would you be and why?
The late Wilma Mankiller, who was principal chief of the Cherokee Nation for a decade (1985-1995). She had a great sense of community, purpose and humility, and learned how to work effectively with people despite ego issues on either side. I admire her greatly for her accomplishments, and I know I'm not worthy of walking in her footprints.

Q) What is the oldest thing in your fridge and how old is it?
I have a half-full jar of shrimp paste, known as Alamang, that's at least ten years old. Alamang is highly salted, smells to high heaven like a fish just on the verge of stink, but is the perfect addition to certain Filipino dishes such as tomatoes and pork with tabungao (a Philippine calabash). I recommend only opening the jar once you're ready to scoop, and then closing it up quickly. The stuff is potent.

Q) What can readers expect from you in the future?
Continuing love stories, despite my literary cynicism and my preference for the provocative. I think love is enduring, and if you spice it up with enough tasteful sex, it's a hell of a lot of fun to read about.

Movie Review Monday

Two movies again this weekend. I'm getting back into a schedule and fitting in some lazy time!

Immortals (2011)

I had such high hopes for this film. I'm a huge Greek mythology buff. It's been a while since I've read the stories, but I remember most of them. I wasn't naive enough to think this film actually followed the true story of Theseus, but it still looked entertaining.

Don't you just hate it when you're disappointed? Visually, the movie was stunning. Great effects, the costumes were fantastic, the scenery was different and breathtaking (which would probably fall under the "great effects" category), and the bad guy was truly a bad guy. I really like Mickey Rourke, and no one can be as deliciously evil as he is.

Other than that, the movie was really slow and had several plot holes. First of all, the whole point of being immortal is that you can't die. The Greek gods can not figure out a way to kill each other. In the legends, they tried all the time. They hurt each other and beheaded one another, but they always came back! They were GODS for crying out loud!

Secondly, the Titans were not these tiny men-looking creatures with super human strength. They were GIANTS that COULD NOT BE KILLED! They were imprisoned in Mount Tartaros because they can't die. I can't wait for Wrath of the Titans. Those are what Titans are supposed to look like!

Thirdly, there were more than five gods. If I recall correctly, there were 12 major gods. It's possible they couldn't find actors to play all of the gods... I don't know. I wasn't overly impressed.

The film was also incredibly long and really slow. I understand the Greek story process of how a hero is created. They must go on a long journey filled with peril and fall before they can rise to their true potential. Got it. The film didn't need to draw it out so much. The battle scenes were pretty good, but there weren't very many of them.

I had several other issues with the film, but not enough space to get into them here. All in all, I'm very happy that I didn't pay to see the movie in the theater, and I won't be watching it again. It was such a let down after my high expectations.

X-Men: First Class (2011)

To be honest, I wasn't overly anxious to see this movie. I'm a DC girl, not a Marvel chick. However, X-Men are the only good superheroes to come out of Marvel. I'd heard the movie was good, but I still didn't have the desire to watch it. It came through Netflix, so we decided to watch it with the boys.

The movie was good. I enjoyed it immensely. Sometimes prequels like this fall flat. There were some issues with it, but all in all, it was entertaining. The fight scenes were great, the development of the characters was intriguing, and the effects were well done. The story line was great too, and there was just the right amount of humor sprinkled throughout.

Again, the film was super long (132 minutes!). Seriously, I have a very short attention span. Anything over an hour and a half without some type of blood letting or explosions wears on my nerves. I don't have a lot of free time, I can't be wasting it with talking and touchy feely crap. Give me action!

I enjoy the X-Men series, and this film really delivered. There wasn't a lot of blood and guts or scary parts, so the boys really enjoyed it too. I still think the best class is the one with Wolverine, Storm, Cyclops, etc. I LOVED watching those cartoons when I was younger. And, no, Wolverine is not my favorite. I like Gambit and Nightcrawler.

This Week in Writing

DONE! I have finished the first draft of Wucaii. I still have a lot of work and revisions ahead of me, but the hard part is over. I'm going to let it sit for a bit and ruminate. I have a content edit to do, so I'll pick it up after that. (To be honest, I'll probably pick it up before that, but I'm going to let it sit over the weekend!)

The 3 year old is really good at clogging the toilet. Like most kids, he likes to use waaaay more toilet paper than humanly possible (at least he's concerned with cleanliness). Every time he does it, we have to get the plunger out, and he watches how we do it. Now, he knows to run into the other bathroom to get the plunger, even though he doesn't have the strength to actually use it.

Last night, I was getting ready to go to the store, and I knew he was in the bathroom. He'd been in there for a while, so I decided to check on him. About the same time I was heading down the hall, he was calling for me. He stood over the toilet, the plunger in hand.

Normally, we catch the clog before the toilet overflows, so I was in no hurry to get in there. Not last night. Water was streaming everywhere! In a panic, I shoved the plunger in, causing more water to spew out, and got it moving down the drain. Thank goodness the water was clean. My spouse would have been p*ssed if he had to clean up poopy water!

Hope you have a great weekend!

Guest Post

I have a guest post up at MuseItUp Publishing. You can check it out here. In it, I talk about how I balance my work and family schedule to find time to write.

Meet An Author

Meet Arley Cole.

Arley Cole lives with her husband and kids in the wilds of West Alabama along with her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Bruno. Now on her fourth career, she has spent most of her life writing for other people. Now she is writing for herself. The Blacksmith’s Daughter is her first novel, but not her last as she is already at work on the sequel, The Merchant’s Son. Come visit her blog .

Reach me links:
The Blacksmith’s Daughter buy link at Musa Publishing.
The Blacksmith’s Daughter buy link at Amazon.

Q) What inspired you to write this story?
At the risk of sounding trite, I have to say that I dreamed the opening chapter! The characters of Enith and Acwellen just showed up in my dream and I immediately knew I had to tell their story. I loved the idea of a young common woman who had the temerity to break up her liege lord’s impending political marriage was just too good to pass up. When it became clear to me that she was far more than the common blacksmith that she believed herself to be, I knew I had to tell her story.

Q) How long did it take you to write?
I wrote the first draft in a white hot fervor. It took about four weeks writing several hours a day. But then I set it aside to cool for—I am ashamed to admit it—four years! When I finally got the courage up, I did a hefty revision over a period of about a month and then started submitting it. I was so glad when Musa Publishing picked it up!

Q) What is your favorite thing about writing?
The doing it! The creation of a place and people and watching them have adventures and fight monsters and fall in love. The characters become like friends and family to me. I have to admit falling in love with both Acwellen and Nerian (and Selwyn too)! I would love to just go shopping with Juliana and spend time just hanging out with Enith. Writing a book is like entering a very realistic dream. I’d rather write than do anything else.

Q) What is your least favorite thing about writing?
The heartwrenching, mindnumbing, frustrating process of submitting it to agents and publishers! The Blacksmith’s Daughter got picked up quickly by Musa Publishing, but it had been turned down by a number of agents first. Most of them actually had nice things to say, but for whatever reason they weren’t interested in representing it. Now I’m marketing another novel that I finished just after The Blacksmith’s Daughter and the process just gradually eats away at my confidence. I have to force myself to let go of the rejections and remember that this is a long road and one I’ve got a great start on with my first novel.

Q) If you could be any famous person for one day, who would you be and why?
Hmmm. That’s a hard one! Everybody has bad days, even famous people. I wouldn’t want to trade one of my great days for anybody’s bad day no matter how famous or rich or beautiful they were! I would say that right this minute I’d love to just hang out with Megan Rath from the new SyFy series Being Human. I really love that show and I love her character Sally. She’s so effortlessly funny and in video interviews of Megan, she seems like such a fun person. We could go shop then go out for a nice lunch somewhere and she could dish on her sexy co-stars!

Q) What is the oldest thing in your fridge and how old is it?
In the immortal words of Gene Wilder from Young Frankenstein—“It’s alive! It’s alive!” I have a jar of mint jelly that is I feel certain at least three years old. I keep forgetting it’s in there. However my worst offender is a jar of tahini that I had for at least eight years. I moved that thing through three separate households. But every time I opened it, it still smelled great! I did finally trash it!

Q) What can readers expect from you in the future?
I am up to all kinds of craziness!!! I have the sequel to The Blacksmith’s Daughter well underway. It features Nerian and is called The Merchant’s Son. I also am working on a short story and a paranormal romance under my steamier alter-ego Leigh Daley. Plus, I’m always working on some kind of fanfiction project as Arcole on Fanfiction.net. Right now it’s a Lost piece called Grace Period. I keep tossing around an idea for a writing exercise ebook that uses fanfiction as a way to springboard creativity. I know that writing fanfiction has helped me immeasurably both in refining my craft and in getting over the hump of submitting my work to real life editors and agents. Fanfiction gets very little respect, but I feel like it is one of the most genuine forms of literary criticism. I started to do my dissertation on that, but ended up having a baby instead. That was 17 years ago. I still prefer the baby to the PhD!

Not Always Fun Being Right

Meet An Author Tuesday will commence tomorrow. Again, some miscommunication between the author and I. No worries, though.

Most of you know I'm not a dog person. I much prefer feline friends to canine companions. Yet, I have two dogs in my house and am the primary caretaker for them. Most days, my spouse takes them out in the morning to play fetch, but more often than not, I feed them twice a day, I play ball with them when I go home at lunch, and normally (very rarely do I not) I take them to their vet appointments.

We got Riddick when he was 7 weeks old. My oldest was 7 months. They will both be turning 5 this year, so they have grown up together. Riddick and I have had a very tenuous relationship. He's a labradinger, part lab part Springer Spaniel, and full of energy. Having him was like having another baby in the house. I can't tell you how many messes I cleaned up because of him. I thoroughly disliked him for a long time.

I did my best to get along with the dog. He didn't listen to me, so I took him to obedience class. That was a waste of time. Most of the stuff they taught, Riddick already knew how to do. He already sat and waited for his dinner. He knew how to stay. He wasn't stellar on a leash, but we hardly put him on one any way. He still didn't listen to me.

Riddick has always been a high-strung dog. He used to panic and pace when my spouse left the house. Apparently, he felt he was the highest on the totem when my spouse wasn't there, so he freaked thinking he had to protect us. When we got Ryder, some of his anxiety lessened.

Not only is he high-strung with a bad stomach, I've always noticed he had bad eyesight. It was obvious. He'd be at the far end of the back yard, and I'd be at the door. He'd stare at me, his hackles raised, and slowly approach, growling. When he got within a certain distance, he'd recognize me and wag his stump of a tail (they dock Springer tails so his was cut off).

Within the past few months, I noticed he was getting worse. It would be dark in the morning when we got up, and if anything was left in the hallway (laundry baskets, toys), he'd run into them. The kids like to turn all the lights off and run around with flashlights. Riddick would run into them, too.

Within the past few weeks, when I came home from work, the boys would open the dogs' kennels to let them out. Riddick wouldn't come. He'd just lay in there, looking pathetic. He'd come out eventually, but it took a while. My mother-in-law was convinced he was depressed.

He had a vet appointment last Friday for his rabies vaccination (I didn't have to take him for once), and I reminded my spouse to ask the vet about doggie depression. Turns out, Riddick isn't depressed, he's going blind. I knew it. I could tell. The vet said it could be a year or five, but he would go completely blind.

I may not like dogs all that much, but it was news I didn't want to hear. He's still my pet, and he's the 4/5 year old's world. I think he'll be fine, and we'll keep an eye on him to make sure he doesn't snap at the kids. Honestly, I'm not worried. He's had bad eyesight for a long time, and he's grown up with the boys. It's not a secret when those boys are in the room. I'm sure he knows they're there. We'll have to make sure other people don't surprise him, but since we don't have a lot of people come to the house, I'm sure he'll be all right. Despite my dislike, I feel sorry for the guy. I already told him I'd be his seeing eye human.

Movie Review Monday

I watched two movies this weekend. Make-up for last weekend.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

I'm still trying to figure out why this movie was over 2 hours long. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't fantastic either. I'm getting to the point where I think the Pirates franchise has run its course.

Parts of the film were entertaining. For example, when I die, I want to come back as a vampire mermaid. How cool would that be? The kids really liked the fight scenes. They swash buckled around the living room. Other than that, it seemed tedious.

My biggest problem was that they tried to follow too many story lines, and I didn't get any of them. Wait, that's not true. I understood Barbossa's desire to get revenge. But otherwise, I was confused as to why Angelica was trying to save her father's soul, and what the heck happened to the preacher?

Blackbeard was a very cool character. I'm a big fan of bad guys who are evil to the bone. They don't need motivation, just someone to kill. My favorite! Shame he didn't survive.

There were a lot of loose ends, and I'm desperately hoping they're not planning on making a fifth one to answer those questions. If they are, I probably won't watch it and won't ever get the answers.

If you enjoy the Pirate franchise, it was worth watching. Like I said, it wasn't awful, but it was a bit long. At least I can say I've seen it.

Fright Night (2011)

You may or may not recall, but I watched the original film a few weeks ago so I could compare and contrast. I have to say, Colin Farrell is a much more attractive vampire than the first guy, but the story line wasn't as good.

One of the major differences in this film was that Evil was the one who knew Charlie's neighbor was a vampire, not Charlie. It didn't work quite as well I didn't think. It seemed thrown together and like, Oh, by the way, he's a vampire. In the original, there was a lot more mystery and fear to it, more suspense.

As you can imagine, the graphics were better in the remake, but they didn't really add to the film. The magic of the first one was that they didn't have CGI to create the effects, it was models and makeup. The original was cheesy, but it was also creepier. As I mentioned in my post, the scene where Evil is transforming from a wolf back into a human was disturbing. There weren't any disturbing scenes in the remake.

My spouse didn't like it because they made the vampire "blue collar." In most vampire films, the creatures are elitist. Think Dracula, who was a count, or Interview with the Vampire, where they were the upper crust of society. Even in the original, the vampire had money and was more snobby. In this version, he was a night construction worker, which would explain why he slept through the day but was out at night.

I suppose vampires have their lower class. But I agree, it didn't work out as well. You'd think that after being around for 400 years, you wouldn't want to settle for a middle-class life. But what do I know? I've never been a vampire. Maybe it would make it easier to blend in to society.

This film was actually a little disappointing. It was longer than I expected, and parts definitely drug. If you're really into the vampire scene, you might enjoy it. The only thing that kept me interested was Colin. And that was tentative.

This Week in Writing

The book event was so fun! It turned out to be every student in grades from Kindergarten to 6th got empty hardback books to write their story in. Then, they are going to be sent to local businesses so people can read them and put comments in the back. They were so cute!

It brought back a lot of memories for me. I never had a hardback book like they did, but in the 3rd grade, my teacher laminated a story I created. That was close to the same thing. It was so fun to see the looks of pride on the kid's faces and read their little books. Every dream has to start somewhere, and this is a great place to begin!

I'm on chapter 17 of the dragon story. I'm thinking six more chapters (roughly) and the first draft should be done. Things are probably going to slow down a bit since I have some editing to do, but I try to squeeze in my writing in when I can. I'm aiming for the end of the month to have it ready for beta readers. *Fingers crossed*

The other night, the 4 year old and I made a trip to Wal-Mart. I heard him in the back seat whispering to himself. I let it go for a while, not able to hear what he was saying, then asked, "Whatcha doin' back there?"

"Usin' my magination," he tells me.

"Oh, very nice," I say. "I use my imagination all the time."

"You do?"

"Of course I do. I have to use it to create the stories I write."

I heard his head nodding up and down. "And your stories make me use my magination."

I couldn't help but smile and feel fabulous. He completely validated my entire writing career with those words.

Have a great weekend! I hope you find your reason to write.

Kids and Reading

Most of us know how important reading is. As an author, I want as many kids as possible to read. I started reading to my kids when they were in the womb. They love books and being read to, and the 4 year old is recognizing letters. He starts school in the fall of this year, and I think he's going to enjoy being able to read.

I, too, like being read to. As I mentioned in a previous post, I never thought I would. I thought listening to a book on tape would make me fall asleep, but it is truly enjoyable. I now know the appeal to kids.

I remember even when I was in grade school, 5th and 6th grade and into junior high, my mom used to read books to me and my siblings. I distinctly remember that she read The Witches by Roald Dahl because she did the voices for the witches. I'm positive she read other ones, but I don't remember them. We used to gather on the couch in the living room and away she'd go. I loved it!

I do the same thing now. I really enjoy reading to my kids and groups, even adults. It gives them a feel of how I envision my characters and the type of emphasis I give my story. I would love to listen to other authors read their stuff too.

My point to this whole thing is that my spouse and I are going to a literacy thing tonight. His business is sponsoring it in some way. From the little information he's given me, we are going to an elementary school where they feature books and stories written by students. We read the stories, then put comments in the back, telling them how much we enjoyed it. It's a way to encourage future writers. Sounds like my kind of event!

The only thing that could possibly make it better is listening to them read their stories. I'll let you know how it went tomorrow.