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Movie Review Monday

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

I didn't read this book.  We had the option to for book club, but I had heard it's really hard to get into.  I don't have time to waste getting into a book.  I have to say, I'm tempted to try and read it after watching this movie.

The opening credits were great.  Nice computer-generated weirdness with great music.  Trent Resnor did the soundtrack.  I like him. 

The film was really good.  It was a bit long, 2.5 hours, but it didn't drag.  There are some scenes that are a bit disturbing, mainly a rape scene, so if you're sensitive, I'm not sure I'd recommend it.  The girl does get revenge, but it leaves your skin crawling.

I'm not sure how much I can tell you about the film.  It's about a journalist, Mikael, who is discredited because he runs a story about an executive who is embezzling without any concrete proof.  He gets a second chance when an eccentric family asks him to investigate an occurrence that happened in the 1960s.  He runs into Lisbeth, the girl with the dragon tattoo, and their worlds collide. 

The only issue I had with the movie was how Mickael became discredited.  My spouse was totally confused.  I know in the book the author goes into lengthy detail about the embezzlement and what happened, but they kind of gloss over it in the film.  The only reason I had any idea was because my friends told me about the book.  That's part of the reason I want to read it.  That, and I'm hoping to get more details about Lisbeth's life.  I want more interiority. 

There are two other films that are supposed to be coming out after this one.  It sounds like the second might delve more deeply into Lisbeth's past.  Should be interesting.  I suppose if I'm really interested, I could always watch the Swedish versions!

All in all, it was an interesting film with a great mystery and fabulous characters.  As I said, there was one pretty disturbing scene, but it's pertinent to the film.  I enjoyed it, and I'll watch the others.

Don't forget to leave a comment and be placed in a drawing to win an authographed copy of Life After the Undead!

This Week in Writing

Believe it or not, but last weekend I didn't do any work--no edits, no writing, nothing.  I know!  I surprised myself!  I did attend two birthday parties at the bowling alley and watched some movies, though.  It was really nice.  Don't worry, I got right back to work after my relaxing weekend.

I finished another round of revisions on Wucaii.  I'm over 70,000 words, so I feel a little more comfortable with the story.  I still don't know if I like it, but I'll reserve my judgement until my beta readers get back to me.

I finished my content edit and formatted it.  It's now out of my hands and with the line editors.  I have a short story waiting for me to edit, but other than that, I'm wide open.  Feels good to get this stuff off my plate.

Normally, I have a funny story to tell you about my children, but they've been the cause of some of my grumpiness lately.  Seriously, I don't know what's gotten in to them.  They have been whiny and mean.  So, instead, how does a contest/giveaway sound?  I have several print copies of Life After the Undead that I could sign, so who wants one?

Starting today and running through next week until Friday (I'll do the drawing Thursday night), leave a comment on any of my posts.  I'll put your name into a drawing for a copy of the book.  The more comments you leave, the more chances you have.  Who wants it bad enough?

Hope you have a great weekend!

Self-promotion Thursday

I apologize for the lateness of this post.  Since Blogger has changed their format, I'm having a hard time accessing some of it's features on my computer.  I'll figure something out so this doesn't happen again!

I finally got the OK from the publisher to release some information on my nonfiction book! Most of you know that it's about slasher films and I spend an ungodly amount of time indexing it. That's probably the most important thing to know about the book.

The book takes an academic/scholarly look at slasher films and the importance they have in our culture, but since I don't have any "credentials," I can't actually claim it's a "scholarly" book. The writing has been altered to appeal to a more general audience, so it should be accessible to all readers. I look at seven films: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Psycho, Black Christmas, Halloween, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Scream, along with the remakes of every film, except for Scream (Scream 4 wasn't out yet while I was working on this). I picked these specific films because they helped define the genre.

Some of the things I examine in the book are gender, the rites of passage from teens into adults, the killer as a demonic teacher, and how the remakes have tried to make the killer sympathetic, along with some other ideas. It's the culmination of years of work, and I still can't believe someone is going to publish it.

It comes out this summer, which will be here before you know it, from Scarecrow Press. As usual, I will give more information when I get it. Until then, please enjoy my awesome cover!

My Snarky Is Showing

I've been in a really bad mood lately.  It started about two weeks ago (I'm sure some family/friends will say it started when I was born, but screw them!).  I wasn't sleeping very well, so the exhaustion led to a bit of depression, which led to some stress, which allowed strep throat to settle in.  I had a ton of things to do, including indexing and finishing some edits, along with doing my own story edits.  I felt like I was being pulled in 800 directions, and none of them were the direction I wanted to be going in.  Sadly, some people who stepped into my path got the brunt of my dissatisfaction.

I feel bad about snapping at people, but my patience level has been nonexistent.  That's really bad because I have very little patience to start with.  Plus, if they weren't being idiots, I wouldn't have to snap at them.  Still, I need to get my emotions back into check.

I seem to be on the upward swing.  I finished taking my antibiotics, so my throat is better.  I've been sleeping a little better, so maybe I'll catch up on what I missed.  The depression has waned slightly, and the stress is slowly receding.  I've finished all my assignments and actually have a chance to breath/sit on the couch and be lazy.  Give me another couple of weeks, and I should be my normal grumpy self instead of uber-grumpy.

In the meantime, if any of you have been at the brunt of my ire, I apologize.  If I were you, I would back away slowly, and I'll let you know when it's safe to return.

I also have a guest post up today.  You can check it out here.

Meet an Author Tuesday

Today's guest is KM Rockwood.  KM has two books with Musa Publishing.  Check them out!

The first is Halfbreed Werewolf.  You can order it here.

Kurt yearns to tell Daphne he loves her. If only he had something to offer her, if only she weren’t engaged, if only he were’t a werewolf…

Kurt was raised by his father’s werewolf pack after his human mother abandoned him. Or had she been eaten? When he returns to the area from which she came, seeking answers, he does not anticipate falling in love with a woman. But what can he possibly offer her, especially when he realizes she is engaged to an heir of the wealthy family that now occupies the land?


Daphne paused, appeared to listen for a moment, then moved further away from the car. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll walk back.” She slammed the door and turned her back on it, tossing her long dark hair over her shoulders.

Kurt sprang to his feet, trembling. His breath came in huge gasps and his thoughts raced and tangled. Dark desires and instincts rose in him.

The car peeled backward with a squeal of tires, then jerked forward, leaving the scent of burning rubber hanging in the air.

The deer Kurt had noted earlier, startled by the commotion, leapt into the road. The accelerating car slammed into the deer full on, sending it flying back and hurtling back toward where Daphne stood. It careened over the hood, then the roof of the car and hit Daphne.
The car continued down the winding mountain road at breakneck speed.

Both the deer and Daphne collapsed in a heap.

With a few bounds, Kurt landed next to them. Neither moved, though the deer’s sides heaved in death throes.

The smell of fresh blood filled Kurt’s nostrils, driving any human thought from his mind. His ripped the deer’s throat open with his razor teeth and eagerly lapped up the blood that spurted from the opened veins. The deer lay motionless. Kurt tore chunks of warm flesh from its body and swallowed them. His powerful jaws crunched the bones, his strong claws ripped the hide and stuffed pieces into his mouth in an uncontrolled frenzy.

His hunger sated, Kurt sat down and fought to regain his thoughts.

The deer was completely gone. He had eaten the entire thing, hooves, entrails, antlers and all.

Kurt turned to where Daphne lay sprawled on her back, her limbs flung wide. Her long flowing skirt was hiked up over her thighs.

Her dark hair tumbled across her face. Gold earrings and a delicate chain with a locket caught the moonlight and glinted against her pale skin. He saw no obvious injuries, but she didn’t move.

Kurt put his moist nose next to her mouth and sniffed. She was breathing shallowly and her breath smelled of sweet wine. She was alive. His body quivered with desire.

Werewolves usually mated with any available females and then devoured them. Since he had just downed an entire deer, Kurt was not hungry and was not tempted to eat her.

He moved between her spread legs, lifting one of his massive paws to pull her blouse open at the neck. Even if she regained consciousness, she would never be able to fight him off. He touched his sharp teeth to her neck. So easy to tear her throat out.

There was nothing to stop him.

The second is Steeled for Murder.  You can order it here.

On parole for a murder conviction, Jesse is the first suspect when Mitch, a forklift driver at work, is killed. Will Jesse be able to figure out what happened, or be sent back to prison?

After nearly twenty years in prison on a murder conviction, Jesse Damon has been released, a home detention monitor strapped to his ankle. Determined to make it and mindful of his parole restrictions, he struggles with life outside prison. He finds a basement apartment, a job on the overnight shift at a steel fabrication plant and a few people who treat him like anybody else. Especially Kelly, a woman who works in the shipping department. He seems to be making it. Until Mitch, forklift driver on the shift, is found murdered in the warehouse. Investigating detective doesn’t want to look any further than Jesse to close the case He’s not fussy about the methods he uses to gather evidence. If Jesse isn’t going down for this, he will have to be the one to figure out who killed Mitch and why.


Taking one of my wrists in his iron grip, he brought my hand behind me, turned the palm outward and snapped on handcuffs. Tighter than necessary. He did the same to my other hand.

“OK, Detective Belkins.” He stepped back.

Detective Belkins eased off the desk and walked around me, eyeing me up and down. “Anything you want to tell us?”

My throat was dry, but I managed to say, “No, sir.”

“On parole?”

“Yes, sir.” I continued to look down at the desk.


“No, sir.” What had I done that might violate my parole? Nothing I could think of.


“Yes, sir.” Don’t show doubt.

“What was the charge?”

He knew. He just wanted to hear me say it. “Murder. Possession of a handgun during the commission of a felony. Conspiracy.”

“And you pled guilty?”

“Alford plea.” Copping to an Alford plea—not admitting guilt but agreeing that the state had enough evidence to convict me—had been a problem from the beginning. Anyone who had any say in my future, like counselors and parole board members, wanted to hear me express remorse. Much harder to do when the plea itself denies guilt in the first place.

“Refused to take responsibility, eh?” Det. Belkins said.

I couldn’t think of any reasonable response to that. So I kept quiet.

“No armed robbery?”

“Those charges were dropped,” I said. “Part of the plea bargain.”

“Possession of controlled dangerous substance? With intent to distribute?”

“Dropped.” The convictions would show up on any kind of check. But he knew all my original charges; he’d done his homework. Why had he bothered?

“Part of the plea bargain, too, I suppose?” he said.

I nodded. No point commenting on that.

“Been reporting to your parole officer?” he asked, rubbing his nose with a thick finger.

“Yes, sir.”

He glanced down at my ankle, where the black box made a slight bulge in the leg of my jeans. “Following the terms of home detention?”

“Yes, sir.” What did he think I was going to say?

“Like this job?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Getting along with your co-workers?” He came closer. I could smell his sour breath.

“Pretty much, sir.”

“How about one Mitchell Robinson?”

“The forklift driver? He thought I was looking at his wife, but I wasn’t.” Jeez. What had Mitch told them?

“He threaten to call your parole officer?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Must have worried you. Don’t want to go back to prison where you belong, do you?” He shook his head. “They should never parole these killers.”

He swung back to face me. “You know your Miranda rights.”

He wasn’t even going to read them to me. I wouldn’t complain; I was a parolee and no one would listen anyhow.

I nodded.

“You sure you got nothing to tell me?” Det. Belkins tapped hard me on the chest. I would have a bruise there. I ignored it.

“Yes, sir.”

He smiled. A mean smirk. “Jesse Damon, you’re under arrest for the murder of Mitchell Robinson.”

Movie Review Monday

Big Fish (2003)

I love this movie, and so does my husband! It happened to be on HBO this weekend, so we watched it. This movie has it all. It evokes emotion, it makes you think, and it has a great story line. Visually, it is stunning.

The basic plot of this film is about a son that is coming home to reconcile with his dying father. The father has told the son all about his life through these elaborate stories. At first, as a child, the son believes what his dad tells him, but as he gets older, he decides his dad was lying to him and tries to figure out what he really did as a young man. He desires to get to the "truth" because he thinks it will help him understand his own life and hopefully relate to his father in a different way.

My favorite part of the film is, of course, Ed Bloom's life and trying to figure out the metaphors he puts into his stories. I also really enjoy how even though he exaggerated his stories a little, for the most part, they were true. It gives you a nice outlook on life and how you shouldn't take things so seriously. Look at life through whimsy and imagination, it makes it much more tolerable. It is such a great film.

If you haven't seen it, I recommend watching it. It's a little strange--it was directed by Tim Burton--but I truly enjoy it.

The Rite (2011)

I'm not a big fan of possession movies. They creep me out a bit (especially The Exorcist), but I think the main reason I don't like them is because I don't understand enough about the whole culture of "possession" to get the full impact of the film. I mean, where does the demon go after it's been exorcised? Why do they even feel the need to possess humans in the first place? Aren't we awful enough without help? Wouldn't they be a bit more cautious while possessing someone so they would get caught?

Demons fascinate me. I've written several short stories of what would happen if people had run-ins with the Devil, and originally, my thesis was going to look at demons in culture. My basic knowledge of the creatures is that they are a social construct to keep citizens in line. For example, don't go into the woods because there are demons out there who want to possess your soul. Maybe there are, maybe there aren't, but the real lesson is to not go into the woods because there are things out there that will kill you--predators, wolves and bears and whatnot. But they aren't always as scary as unseen entities.

I'm a huge skeptic. I totally related to the Michael Kovak character in the movie, and I try to place scientific explanations on the occurrence. The film wasn't terrible, a little predictable, but not horrific. It wasn't overly scary, either. Anthony Hopkins looked a little creepy at times, but it didn't freak me out at all. It inspired me to find out more about possessions and exorcisms, so I suppose it did it's job. I've been thinking about the topic long after the movie was over.

To me, the notion of possession seems like the "werewolf" phenomena. It gives people a reason/excuse for acting outside of accepted social norms. But I could be wrong. Perhaps it truly is a plague on humanity. I'm going to find out more about them. I still have several books on my shelf about demons (leftovers from my college days), and I'm sure there are several books about possession. Do any of you have any suggestions of what I should check out?

This will be an ongoing saga. I will keep you informed of my progress. I suppose if you like movies like this, you will enjoy this one. I watched all of it.

This Week in Writing

I AM FINALLY DONE WITH MY INDEX! Oh, man, I don't think you know how much of a relief it is to have that off my plate. I feel 10 pounds lighter. I feel free.

It's come to my attention that some of you might not know what indexing is. So you can see the whole picture of my pain, I'll explain it. You know when you're reading a nonfiction book and you think, "Hey, I want to specifically look up cats." You turn to the back of the book, where there is a list of terms, and look up what pages cats occurs in the book. That's the index.

I have to decide what terms go in the back of the book. It involves reading through the entire manuscript and deciding what is important and what isn't. It isn't overly hard, but it's incredibly time consuming. THEN, I had to figure out cross references and subcategories (thank goodness for Tamara's help on that!). But it's done. I don't have to worry about it any longer!

I also got some content editing done. Not a lot, but enough to make me feel like I accomplished something. Edits also came back for Wucaii, so now I'm waiting for time to get started on that. I'm okay with putting that off for a week or two. I think I'm going to need a break.

On Wednesday, I had a book club meeting, and my spouse took the boys out to dinner. He said that while they were waiting, the kids needed to go to the bathroom. He took them in, and the 5 year old was in one stall, the 3 year old in the other. The toilets had sensors, so when my spouse left to go help the 3 year old flush his toilet, it triggered the 5 year old's.

My spouse said he walked back to check on the 5 year old, who was still sitting, and the 5 year old shuddered.

"That was disturbing," he said. "When he flushed his, he also flushed mine."

Have a great weekend!

Self-promotion Thursday

I've highlighted this book before, but I'm doing it again (dang it)! I had a book club meeting last night, and we talked about vampire books, so I thought this was fitting for today. If anyone reads it, I would love to know what you think. Write me a review, you'd totally make my day! Either way, I hope you enjoy!

You can order your Kindle edition here.

When you're told your life is tragic, what else can you do but believe it? To deal with her own tragedy, Stevie drowns her sorrows in alcohol while never venturing beyond a three block radius of her home. A menial existence at best.

Then, a blue-eyed mysterious stranger offers to take away the pain and heartache and show her the world, all Stevie has to do is make a wish...or three.

Making an Impact

As an author, one of the things I strive to do in my work is invoke feelings in the reader. Love or hate my story, if I can get you to talk about it after you've read it, I've accomplished my goal.

As many of you know, my friend Tamara has been helping me index my nonfiction book. It's about slasher films, so it talks a lot about killers, maiming, deaths, and not trusting strangers.

Well, recently, she had to go to an interview out of town. She said the guy was super nice, and then he asked her to go to the basement to retrieve some documents. Tamara hesitated. The basement? Where killers dispatch of their victims in gruesome fashion? Would she come out of this alive?

Armed with her recorder (to catch her final screams, of course), she headed down. And came back out unscathed with a great story. I laughed when she told me this, and so did she. It does my heart good to know my work has influenced (and freaked out) a reader!

Meet an Author Tuesday

Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer and editor who lives with her husband in a hundred and sixty-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. Surrounded by books and dragons, she writes fiction, edits, does book reviews, and has a few blog columns. Her several novels to date include mystery and romance, all with a twist of grace. She has penned dozens of feature newspaper stories, short stories, magazine articles, and radio theater episodes. She is the editor in chief of Creative Wisconsin magazine and of OtherSheep, a Christian world view sci fi/fantasy magazine, an imprint of the cross-over company Written-World Communications.com. She loves to encourage new authors. Find her at www.LisaLickel.com.

Q) What inspired you to write this story?
The Map Quilt is the second book in the Buried Treasure series. The story takes place three years after The Gold Standard (Muse re-release in December 2012) and uses the Underground Railroad as its backbone in contemporary time. I love history, so I usually manage to wiggle it in a lot of my work. I like to quilt, too, and when I learned of the rumor that perhaps some UGRR routes might have been sewn into quilt patterns, I knew that Judy, Hart, Ardyth, and Bryce, along with Pancho Villa the new cat, were going to be involved somehow.

Q) How long did it take you to write?
The original draft was written in my usual length of time (don’t ask me about book #3), about six weeks. I reworked it for Agent #2, but thank heavens I have a great editor here at MuseItUp who made it shine.

Q) What is your favorite thing about writing?
I’m one of those weirdoes who adores research. Must be the historian in me. I get lost the most in old newspaper accounts – and that plays heavily into this book but most especially the next. When I’m not glued to the microfilm machine at the historical society, I’m searching records online.

Q) What is your least favorite thing about writing?
My least fav part about writing is getting the tantrums about where all my time goes. Half of writing is staring into space, listening to what your characters are telling you, or running after them in your mind, so if I forget to stir supper when I---just---have---to---write---one---more thing, then I pay for it with the scratchpad and “that look” from hubby later.

Q) If you could be any famous person for one day, who would you be and why?
Really? Ug-this isn’t like celebrity wife-swap dream, is it? It shouldn’t be somebody I’ve met…and usually other people have creepier problems than me when I read the rags. It shouldn’t be somebody overly brilliant, cause it would be too painful to go back to being me; same with gorgeous. This sounds weird, but I think I’d be Kay Scarpetta even though she’s smart and pretty but she’s not real, so I could live a cool FBI case, and a day would probably be enough.

Q) What is the oldest thing in your fridge and how old is it?
You’re making me get up to look. I just ate the leftover cream cheese frosting from Christmas, so it’s not that. Oh – easy! The blueberry jell in a tube left over from making gnocchi’s with mom two (or was it three) years ago. It’s the stuff that lives forever, though I keep thinking I should either make something with it or throw it out. Coffee cake, anyone?

Q) What can readers expect from you in the future?
Ooh – great question! Real or hopes? Well, the re-release of The Gold Standard with the famous Carranza and my real gold pan from a trip to Alaska on the cover is due out in December. You can see the cover on my web site. I love working on the quarterly OtherSheep magazine and am looking forward to start contracting for a theme year in 2013 with dragons, time travel, space!, and either monsters or steampunk, can’t remember which. As for my current radio project, FreeQuincy Radio Theater is back on the air after a little hiatus. Shows One and Two of the campy hospital soap, “As the Neuron is Lost” should be up (episode one is available for your listening pleasure on my web site front page), and I’m writing Episode Three right now which we hope to record yet this spring. I have a book with a new agent, so I hope that will get contracted. It’s about unethical stem cell studies, the dissolution of the modern family, and how the choices we make affect everyone around us. And I plan to finish The Newspaper Code, book #3 in the mystery series.

Thanks for hosting me today!

Movie Review Monday

I didn't watch a movie this weekend, I've been incredibly busy with other things such as editing and INDEXING (so close to being done. So close).

However, the spouse and I have been watching Full Metal Jousting. Have you seen this? It's on the History Channel.

The first time I saw commercials for it, I rolled my eyes. Pfft! Just what we need, another reality show with a sport no one could care about. Yet, I got sucked in! There is nothing more entertaining than watching two guys try and knock each other off a horse with a long stick. Call me sadistic.

There is a lot of technique involved in the joust, too. More than you'd think. You can't just whack your opponent anywhere you deem fit (though that happens a lot). They have a huge metal plate on their shoulder that you are aiming for. As you can imagine, it takes quite a bit of skill to hit the sweet spot. And there are real injuries involved. It was fun!

If you haven't had a chance to check it out, do. It's very entertaining. Would I ever do it myself? Hell no. But I'll gladly watch other knock the crap out of themselves!

This Week in Writing

Or more aptly titled, This Week in Indexing. Seriously, how many different variations of "sex" can I put in the book? And I don't mean descriptions of it, I mean the WORD. "Teens" is used an indecent amount of times, too. However, you can't talk about slasher films without talking about "teens" and "sex." They just go together.

I'm at a standstill right now with my indexing. I've gotten as far as I can, now I'm waiting to ask my helper some questions and get her list from her half of the book. Then, more hours of formatting and page finding. I can barely contain my excitement.

While I'm waiting, I've been editing a story that needs to be done. Not mine, one for the publisher I work for. It's been a nice change of pace. It will be nice to get that off my plate.

Earlier this week, the boys decided to have their chocolate Easter bunnies for desert. They were the small ones, but still pretty good sized for small children, so I told them they could eat the ears and head, which was about half. The 5 year old inhaled his, but the 3 year old took his time. Which is pretty odd considering the 3 year old is usually the sugar baby.

The 3 year old sat with me in the recliner and was studying every facet of the bunny. He pulled off its eye and asked me questions about it. Then it would hop on the arm of the chair and across his lap. Eventually, I had to get up and load the dishwasher.

As I was in the kitchen, the 3 year old let out this ear piercing screech (not to worry, it's a normal sound for him), and I peeked out. The dog was going after his bunny, of course, and the 3 year old was mad about it. I'd had enough. He had played with it for long enough.

So, from the kitchen, I say sternly, "You better eat that d*mn chocolate bunny or I'm gonna take it away."

"You eat the d*mn chocolate bunny," my child replies. "I wanna play with it."

He eventually ate part of it and handed me the rest, which I put into a bag so he can play with later. His face was streaked in chocolate, especially around his eye. Don't ask me how it got there, I don't know, but I'm guessing it had to do with him closely examining the bunny.

Hope you have a d*mn good weekend!

Indexing Blows

I would normally reserve this type of blog for my Friday "This Week in Writing," but I had to get this out now. I'm sure I'll still complain about it tomorrow, too.

Remember how I said I was looking forward to the challenge of indexing because I'd never done it before? Yeah, I'm over it. It has to be the most tedious, brain-paralyzing task ever. How am I suppose to know what people are going to want to look up in my book? How do I break ideas in subcategories? How do I list names?

There are references out there that help with this kind of stuff--sort of--but it's still my ultimate call to decide if it needs to be in the index. Thank goodness I have help. My index would be incredibly half-assed without Tamara.

The other night, I spent HOURS sitting in front of my computer typing in page numbers for important ideas. HOURS! When I woke up the next day, my back was sore and my shoulders hurt from being hunched over. I was convinced my eyes were going to fall out of my head. And I'm not even done. I still have HOURS ahead of me to finish this thing.

(My spouse made the comment that I probably shouldn't tell people I'm so out of shape that sitting made me sore. What does he know? I wasn't just sitting, I was working hard, straining my eyes and body to find "important" ideas.)

I now know why indexers get paid well. Next time, I'm searching one of them out. I thought maybe it would be something I'd like to do, but no. I'm pretty sure it would push me so far over the edge I'd have to be committed to an asylum.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, though. The process can't last forever, and I can't wait to be done!

One of Those Days

I have a guest blog that went up yesterday. Check it out here.


My friend had this posted on his Facebook page this morning. I shared it, but I also thought I'd share it with the rest of you. Yes, it's been that kind of week so far. Heck, it's been that kind of MONTH so far. I need a vacation. Or a good shooting spree!

I know that once I get caught up on all my projects and get back into a schedule, things will be all right again. It looks pretty bleak right now, though. However, I know it will all turn out just fine. It always does!

Meet and Author Tuesday

My name is Penny Estelle and I was an elementary school secretary for 21 years. I heard every excuse and story in the book when kids would be sent to the principal. I promised myself when I retired I would write stories about kids and that is just what I did.

I am retired with my wonderful husband and we live on a fifty-four acre ranch in Arizona on solar and wind. I am the “greenest” person I know, even if I don’t want to be!

Please stop by @ the website, blog, and twitter - @pennystales.

Q) What inspired you to write this story?
My grandson had to do a report on what he would say if he met Daniel Boone. I thought it would be a good story if kids of today (their lingo, attitudes, etc.) met famous historical legends. I wrote Billy Cooper’s Awesome Nightmare with that in mind. Seventh grader, Billy Cooper is informed on a Friday afternoon that an oral report will be due on Monday on a subject he draws from a box. Well he finds this extremely annoying as he has a full weekend planned. He has no idea who this famous person is so he figures he will just do a 5 minute search Sunday evening and skate by on this assignment. Well all that changes when he wakes up in the 14 century and meets his subject face to face. This story will be out in May of 2012.

Q) How long did it take you to write?
This is a short story in eBook form and it probably took me a month to write and put the finishing touches on.

Q) What is your favorite thing about writing?
Writing – The End…LOL Seriously, I like seeing where these characters will take me. Most of the time, it is nowhere that I had originally planned.

Q) What is your least favorite thing about writing?
I am a horrible proofreader. I have to go over a story many times before I am satisfied with the end product – and I still find things that need to be changed!

Q) If you could be any famous person for one day, who would you be and why?
This is a toughie – but I would love to be Janet Evanovich simply to know what it is like to be a hugely beloved author and know my work will be read by millions!

Q) What is the oldest thing in your fridge and how old is it?
One time I had a Cornish game hen that had been in my freezer for YEARS. It moved with me! It was almost a family member. When I married my second husband, he finally convinced me to throw it out. It was heartbreaking – LOL. But present day is probably some salsa I threw out yesterday. I may be wrong, but in that jar I think I had the cure for some horrible disease!

Q) What can readers expect from you in the future?
I would like to do a series called The Wickware Sagas, which would be a take off on Billy Cooper’s Awesome Nightmare. Ms. Wickware is the history teacher of all the students who find themselves involved with these legends. I think these stories could be funny, adventurous, and peppered with some magic and education thrown in.

I also have a MG/YA story already out called Hike Up Devil’s Mountain. It is also a story about 3 boys with lots of adventure and magic involved.

I have tried to get into romance, but somehow it always ends up involving rowdy kids!

Movie Review Monday

Red Riding Hood (2011)

W.T.F.? I'm all for rewriting old stories and throwing in a new twist. I thought making the wolf into a werewolf was fascinating. Until I watched the movie. I'm pretty sure this film wasn't made for my age group, however.

The movie is about Valerie's village, which has been plagued by a werewolf for 20 years. They thought they made peace with the beast until it kills Valerie's sister. Of course, the villagers decide to hunt it down and more people die. They call in a "professional" hunter, a priest, and the story turns into this weird witch hunt Crusade-type film.

BUT the main focus of the film is the love triangle between Valerie, Henry, and Peter. Peter is, of course, the dark brooding guy. The "Emo kid" as my spouse called him. Henry is the rich boy who is kind of a coward. The film tries to make you believe that Peter is the werewolf, but thankfully, he's not.

To me, it seemed like the movie was made for Team Jacob fans. It was very "teeny boppy" feeling to me. So, if you like Twilight, you'll probably like this movie. I don't like Twilight, so I didn't like this film.

Wrath of the Titans (2012)

This movie took the awful taste of Red Riding Hood out of my mouth! It had everything I look for in a movie: a storyline, attractive actors, cool creatures, action, and explosions. I couldn't have been happier!

The movie once again follows Perseus and his adventures in helping the gods. By this point, Zeus and his fellow immortals are losing their powers because no one prays to them anymore. Because they are weakened, they can be killed (which is actually a viable story and Immortals should have used that in their plot. The movie would have made a lot more sense).

Hades has a divine vision of raising their father, Chronos, who has promised to restore their immortality. Hades is afraid of dying and fading into oblivion. If you know about Greek mythology, you know that Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon trapped their father because he tried to kill them. Chronos wasn't a very nice guy, but the other gods weren't either when it suited their needs. Hades captures Zeus and uses his power to fuel Chronos. Perseus has to intervene so that the universe doesn't become unbalanced.

I had a bit of a problem with Hades and his flip-floppiness. I thought his going to the good side was a little too easy, but as my spouse pointed out, "He's a slippery b*tch. He'll take any side if he knows it will benefit him." And that is probably true.

It was a great film. It doesn't take much to keep me entertained, and I loved the creatures and the adventure. There was also this notion of legacy and what a father passes to his son and how his son influences the father. Plus, this whole thing about the importance of family and sticking together. I might write an article about it, but I'll need to find time. All in all, it was a great film.

Of course, you don't have to watch the film for the hidden meaning/message like I do. You can just enjoy it for the action and adventure. If you like movies like this, I highly recommend it. Don't look for completely accurate mythology, just enjoy the ride!

This Week in Writing

I received the pdf version of my nonfiction book, so I have to work on indexing it. I've never indexed before, but I'm very lucky to have a great friend (hi, Tamara!) who is helping me. She is amazing! She's only gotten through 8 pages, but I need to go back through chapter 1 and find some of the things she highlighted. I love it when I have direction!

While I was waiting for edits to come back, I started working on my next book. It's a middle grade fantasy book. It's for my kids. They are the main characters, and I actually use their names in the story. I hope they like it. I have two chapters done and started the third, but that will be on hold for a while so I can finish other things.

On Wednesday, my spouse had the day off, so he spent it with the boys. They ran to the store to get dinner, and while there, the kids got a pop. For whatever reason, my spouse let them have Coke Zero and Pepsi. I let my kids have pop, but I always try to get them the ones without caffeine.

Anywho, they had their brown pops at dinner. Of course, it was the 20 oz plastic bottle, so they didn't finish their drinks with their food. At one point, later in the evening, as it was getting close to bedtime, I noticed they were still sucking down the liquid. I pointed at them.

"Boys, as soon as you're done with that drink, no more pop. Put it in the fridge and save it until tomorrow."

My spouse said something I don't remember, but my response was, "They are caffeinated! The kids have enough problems going to bed."

The 5 year old looked at me with wide, buzzing eyes and said, "What does cappinated mean?"

So I explained it to him, and he was barely able to stand still as I did so. They had some issues falling asleep that night, but when they finally did, they crashed hard. Still, I doubt I'll make it a habit to give them brown pop, unless it's root beer!

Hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend! May you be buzzed by the spirit of the holiday (or whatever else buzzes you!).

Guest Blog

I have a guest blog up. You can check it out here.

I was also informed that "So Long, and Thanks for All the Brains" is on sale for $16.99. You can get it here and here.


Old vs. New

Yesterday, one of my Facebook friends posted a Looney Tunes video from Youtube. It was an old one, with Daffy Duck as Robin Hood. The particular clip was Daffy swinging from a tree to intercept the rich guy riding the horse, but he never makes it because he hits various trees along the way.

I chuckled when I saw she posted this because my kids have recently been really into Looney Tunes. One of the 5 year old's favorite cartoons is the one with Bugs Bunny and the bull.

He likes the part when the bull swallows the rifle and shoots bullets out of his horns. Cracks him up!

Personally, I like almost all of the Looney Tunes cartoons. My favorite character is Daffy. We share a lot of personality traits. Like him, I'm on the verge of insanity and a bit self-centered.

We watch both the old Looney Tunes and the new one. The new one is all right, but it's not the cartoons I grew up with. I've also noticed that Daffy is just plain mean. They have taken his selfishness to a whole new level. I don't relate to that one at all. There are moments that are funny, but I still prefer the classic ones.

It got me thinking about writing and my old vs. new work. As I've mentioned before, a lot of my writing was started back in high school. Back then, I thought I knew what I was doing. Now, when I look at it, it makes me laugh. Really? I thought that was good? But at the same time, there is room for improvement. I like the challenge of fixing my work. It gives me a goal to strive for.

I don't think everything needs to be improved upon. Some stuff should just be left alone (there are several of my stories that fall into that category). Looney Tunes was one of those. You can't fix what was already great (this only applies to the cartoon. Most of my old stories would not fall into this category). It's nice to go back and look at the old (both cartoons and my work), it's always good for a laugh.

Meet An Author Tuesday

Lydia Nyx is from Cleveland, Ohio. She writes everything from contemporary to historical, as well as paranormal, horror, and urban fantasy, and she prefers all her fiction with a male/male twist. She currently resides in a little apartment with her teenage son and a crazy cat and spends countless hours of the day entertaining the dirty fantasies in her head. As a "day job" she works as a waitress, which gives her lots of free time to slack off and plot stories. Writing since the age of 13, she has always wanted to be an author, and hopefully one day writing will be her only "day job."

Blue-Gray Lines by Lydia Nyx: part of the 'More Love Notes' anthology from Musa publishing.

Wendell Davis is a rarity in 1864 Missouri--a man of eligible age and good health not fighting in the Civil War, thanks to his cruel mother's manipulations. However, Wendell's lifelong lover, Declan Kelly, is away fighting on the side of the Union. Parted for two years, communicating only via letters and bombarded by the horrors of war even on the home front, Wendell is starting to lose hope. The only thing that can bring light back into Wendell's gray world is a reunion with Declan--something he's going to have to fight his own war to achieve.

About 'More Love Notes'

Across battle lines, foolish games, and conflicting tempos, love always finds a way. From rock and roll to symphonies, modern day geeks to 19th century soldiers, this collection of sexy and romantic stories shows even the loneliest of moments can be made right when the perfect note is delivered. Let More Love Notes find a home in your heart, a reminder that love happens all over, any time, any place. Written by four of the hottest authors in gay erotic romance--Lydia Nyx, Scarlett Parrish, Viki Lyn and Jenny Urban--these stories will definitely add an edge of spice to your Valentine's night.

Learn more and buy

Q) What inspired you to write this story?
I've always had a huge, geeky interest in the American Civil War. Elizabeth Silver, the editor of the anthology, invited me to write a story for it and I initially had no idea what I was going to write. I ended up coming up with the idea spur-of-the-moment over dinner in New Orleans at the GRL Retreat this past October. I've always wanted to write a Civil War-themed story and I already had tons of research and knowledge under my belt, so I decided to go for it.

Q) How long did it take you to write?
About a month. I'm a pretty quick writer. Of course that was just the first draft--there was rewriting and editing after that, which took another couple weeks.

Q) What is your favorite thing about writing?
Being constantly surprised at what I come up with! I do very little planning and usually just follow the story and see where it leads me. Oftentimes I surprise myself, as if I'm the one reading it instead of writing it. It's a nearly magical process and I get really excited about it.

Q) What is your least favorite thing about writing?
All the actual work involved. I wish I could just transfer my thoughts to the page via osmosis. Most writers will tell you they love writing, it's the paperwork that gets to them.

Q) If you could be any famous person for one day, who would you be and why?
Misha Collins, because I want to see what it's like to be a really hot guy for a day.

Q) What is the oldest thing in your fridge and how old is it?
A jar of some strawberry goo I bought just because I liked the jar. I collect bottles and jars and I liked how it was shaped. I think I planned to use the strawberry goo for something but I never did. It's been in there at least six months.

Q) What can readers expect from you in the future?
I'm planning on getting the sequel to my urban fantasy novel Black Shore of the White City out this year--hopefully by summer! I'm going to shoot for appearing in some more anthologies, too.

Find Lydia at her website and her blog.

Movie Review Monday

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

I wanted to see this movie since I first watched previews for it. Time got away from me, and this is the first weekend I had a chance to sit down and see it. I really enjoyed it.

The basic premise of the story is that Dr. Rodman is trying to create a drug that will cure Alzheimer's. He experiments on chimps, giving them human-level intelligence. He takes in Caesar, a baby, after his mother is killed. Caesar eventually becomes the leader of the apes.

It wasn't exactly an uplifting movie. It was actually pretty sad. The film totally sways your sympathies toward Caesar and his plight to be "human." You also feel very sorry for Dr. Rodman and his desire to help his father. However, you don't feel as sorry for Rodman because he's pretty selfish and dooms the world to death. By the time he does discover his charitable side, it's too late.

My spouse and I had an interesting discussion on this film. He had a hard time getting into it because he didn't believe apes would really be able to take over the world. He claimed that humans outnumber apes and the Army would take them out rather quickly. He has a point. Even if apes outnumbered humans, guns would still outnumber apes, and we have airplanes and helicopters. There would be nothing to stop us from shooting them from the sky.

Yet, the point of science fiction movies is to portray alternative theories. It poses the question: What if? Plus, in the film, the cure for Alzheimer's is what is inevitably going to take out the humans. It has the ability to make the apes super smart, but it kills us. And it's airborne, so it will spread that much faster. I enjoyed it on that level. I love looking at the "what if" possibilities and constructing stories around that. To me, this movie did a fabulous job of portraying the what if scenario.

It made me wonder how the first film started. I'm pretty sure the first and only time I've seen it was when I was in grade school, and I never watched it the whole way through. I saw the remake in the theater, but I don't remember a lot about that. Maybe I need to have a Planet of the Apes marathon weekend!

If you're a science fiction geek and you enjoy a good story, I would recommend this film. You don't need a background in the other films to enjoy it, although there are some nods to the original.