Wednesday, June 21, 2017

My House Mates

Before moving, I lived in my very cute little house with just my dog, Jonah, and two cats: Kitten and Miss Mel (aka Little Person because she weighs like 4lbs). Now I live with four other people, two more dogs and another cat. Today I will introduce you to Jay. Her official name is Jayqui (not sure if I'm spelling that right) but everyone calls her Jay or Jay Jay. She is the most adorable little plump cat, as illustrated here...


Jay Jay is the most relaxed, easy going, friendly cat I've ever lived with (my cats are both a bit sketchy). You can pick her up and cuddle, she'll sit on your lap, she isn't bothered by my dog (they're almost friends now), and she has the cutest little purrmeow. The only bad thing about Jay Jay is that she has no interest in is doing anything about the mice that have come to party in my sister's room every night. Interestingly, there are no mice coming to party in my room.


Revision update: p. 207 of 346
Currently reading: What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman
Expecting in the mail: one roku so I can finish watching Voyager and be ready for the latest season of Supernatural when it becomes available.


Happy Hump Day all!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Meanwhile...Fallout 4, Revisions, and Something New

In addition to enjoying my new house, I've also been having a lot of fun playing Fallout 4.


Fallout out 4 is a first-person 'shooter' type game, though it isn't all about shooting. Set in the same universe as Fallout 3, the game begins in a vault like its predecessor, but unlike Fallout 3, your character has been cryogenically (is that a word?) frozen only to wake up and witness the murder of their spouse and kidnapping of their son, which of course propels them out of the vault and into the world.

I'm playing the vanilla version, which means I don't 'have' to sleep or eat, and the world isn't as vivid as it could be. I prefer to play modded, because it makes gameplay a bit more real, but I know zip about installing mods (I know, I could probably watch it done on Youtube but...waaay too lazy) so vanilla it is. It's still fun. I've made a good start helping the settlers in Sanctuary, kicked a bunch of raiders out of places, and rescued a Sith (Synthetic Human) detective who will hopefully help me find my son.

Meanwhile, I've also been revising my Paranormal Mystery BELL, BLACK & BRIAR, set in an unnamed city in the late alternative 1950's. I had some fun researching that era, especially the cars





decor


architecture


and the clothes


I would totally wear these. Aren't they adorable?

Finally, I started something new and different, an MG story, which I've never written before. Luckily my CP is well-versed in all things MG :)

So, what's new with you? Writing anything new? Playing any cool games? Glad summer is here?

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Lupines

Because I couldn't wait...

This is the way to the Lupines, and the sandpit behind my new home. First we walk across the lawn to the edge of the trees...



Then we fallow the path into the trees..








That's the ridge ahead that looks down and out over the sandpit.








 As you can see, the old sandpit has now become a sanctuary for birds, though mostly geese.

And here are the lupines...
















Jonah likes the lupines


There are pink ones, too, and white, though we don't have any of those in 'our' field.

There's a path that leads down to the water and up to the sandpit. Jonah's pretty happy with the new digs. You can't beat a pond in your backyard and two other dogs to play with. He thinks he's in heaven!

Oh, and not to forget the chickens (and the one rooster who wasn't supposed to be), who now have their own coop...


You know what that means...Fresh Eggy Weggies!


Monday, June 5, 2017

Thunderstruck

Today I want to tell you about one of the books I recently read, called Thunderstruck, by Eric Larson.



In Thunderstruck, Erik Larson tells the interwoven stories of two men—Hawley Crippen, a very unlikely murderer, and Guglielmo Marconi, the obsessive creator of a seemingly supernatural means of communication—whose lives intersect during one of the greatest criminal chases of all time.

I thoroughly enjoyed this true story and I loved how Larson used description to so perfectly describe the Edwardian landscape in which it takes place. Marconi was presented as an interesting if obsessive man, who had no degree in science of any kind but yet managed to do what everyone said couldn't be done: invent wireless telegraphy. Even though I knew he would succeed, I was rooting him the whole time. I was also rooting for Hawley Crippen, the unlikely murderer.

Publishers Weekly thought this was a bit slow while Library Journal called it 'fascinating' and 'thrilling.' I agree with Library Journal. I was completely engaged throughout.

In addition to Thunderstruck, Erik Larson also wrote The Devil in the White City, which I want to read, and Isaac's Storm, which I have read. 

I also thought I'd share another house pic, this one of my room taken late yesterday.



Kitten looks very nice on my new quilt, don't you think?

Next weekend I hope to get some pics of the lupines...wait til you see them.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

My new house

Well. That took longer than expected. I figured once I moved I'd be up and running in a matter of days. Not. Moving is one thing. Settling in enough is another. But first the house...



I know. Pretty effing cool. I'm sure I mentioned it before but this house even has an attic, with FIVE rooms. If only the stairway to get up there was wider I'd consider making that my space. But my room is pretty awesome. Big bay windows with this amazing tree outside, and now that the tub is gone...Oh, did I not mention the tub? Yup. there was a big heavy old fashioned tub in my room the old owners had moved in from the bathroom. Why? God only knows. But it ended up in my room. Getting it out proved to be relatively easy (three of us tipped it and pulled it out on a quilt), but took weeks to arrange (don't ask). But it's finally gone and my room feels waaaay better now.

Meanwhile, I bought a nice used reliable car (another Rav4), and a new computer, or more specifically, a laptop. An Alienware laptop. And Fallout4. I forgot how much fun it was to kill to raiders. I'll be adding Skyrim soon, which I may actually be able to play all the way through now.
I also read a very interesting book, Thunderstruck by Erik Larson, and watched an awesome movie, GET OUT.

 Image result

 Now that Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy and Dean. At first, Chris reads the family's overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter's interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined.

I highly recommend it. 

So. Tell me what you've been doing. Read any good books? Seen any awesome movies? Played any cool games?


Friday, April 28, 2017

The Cepalopod Coffeehouse - The Bone Clocks


http://armchairsquid.blogspot.com/2017/04/the-cephalopod-coffeehouse-april-2017.html

Welcome to another edition of the Cephalopod Coffeehouse. The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same.  In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers.

This month I'm going to tell you about The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.

 From Amazon: Following a terrible fight with her mother over her boyfriend, fifteen-year-old Holly Sykes slams the door on her family and her old life. But Holly is no typical teenage runaway: A sensitive child once contacted by voices she knew only as “the radio people,” Holly is a lightning rod for psychic phenomena. Now, as she wanders deeper into the English countryside, visions and coincidences reorder her reality until they assume the aura of a nightmare brought to life.

For Holly has caught the attention of a cabal of dangerous mystics—and their enemies. But her lost weekend is merely the prelude to a shocking disappearance that leaves her family irrevocably scarred. This unsolved mystery will echo through every decade of Holly’s life, affecting all the people Holly loves—even the ones who are not yet born.

A Cambridge scholarship boy grooming himself for wealth and influence, a conflicted father who feels alive only while reporting on the war in Iraq, a middle-aged writer mourning his exile from the bestseller list—all have a part to play in this surreal, invisible war on the margins of our world. From the medieval Swiss Alps to the nineteenth-century Australian bush, from a hotel in Shanghai to a Manhattan townhouse in the near future, their stories come together in moments of everyday grace and extraordinary wonder.



This book was a New York Times Bestseller, Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Named one of the top ten fiction books of the year, Winner of the World Fantasy Award and Named to more than 29 year-end best of lists.

I, however, am going to buck the trend, and disagree with them all for my usual reason: characters I didn't care about. It's a good thing this book started with Holly Sykes because I might not have finished it otherwise. I loved Holly. I didn't much care for Brubeck the reporter, I definitely didn't like Hugo Lamb who was seemingly only out for the buck, and Crispin Hershey, the writer, was a jerk. If there had been more of Holly and the 'radio people' I think I would've liked this book a lot better but I didn't give a hoot about what happened to those other characters. They just weren't likeable enough for me to care.

I would love to hear what anyone else thought of this book if they've read it.

And for those of you participating in A-Z...you're almost to the finish line : )

Friday, March 31, 2017

Cephalopod Coffeehouse - The Girl from Everywhere

http://armchairsquid.blogspot.com/2017/01/the-cephalopod-coffeehouse-february.html

Welcome to another edition of the Cephalopod Coffeehouse. The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same.  In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers.

This month I'm going to tell you about The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig



From Amazon: Nix's life began in Honolulu in 1868. Since then she has traveled to mythic Scandinavia, a land from the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, modern-day New York City, and many more places both real and imagined. As long as he has a map, Nix's father can sail his ship, The Temptation, to any place, any time. But now he's uncovered the one map he's always sought—1868 Honolulu, before Nix's mother died in childbirth. Nix's life—her entire existence—is at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. It could erase Nix's future, her dreams, her adventures . . . her connection with the charming Persian thief, Kash, who's been part of their crew for two years. If Nix helps her father reunite with the love of his life, it could cost her her own.

As someone who loves maps and can be transported by just looking at them, the idea that a map of a particular place at a particular time could take you there is about as cool as it gets. I really enjoyed this story, especially Nix and Kash the charmer, and the bits of Hawaiian history thrown in. I also wasn't sure how exactly things would resolve at the end which is always a bonus. I won't spoil it for you but it was a good ending.

If you like maps of strange and far away places, journeys by ship, a little family drama, some history, myth, and an interesting adventure, you would like this book.

In other news, there's a virtual Sale Pending sign on my house so with a move in my near future I will probably be mostly absent until the dust settles. But...

I'll be back






Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Time & Circumstance - Theresa Milstein

Today I am happy to have Theresa Milstein here to talk about her new book, Time & Circumstance.


How and when did you come to writing?
I'd always dreamed of being a writer. Even though I inhaled books and always earned A grades in English, certain people told me my dream wasn't a practical way to make a living. I didn't pursue it. But the dream didn't completely die. I took a creative writing class in high school and college. After graduation, I'd find myself creating a story in my head. I'd begin typing. Then I'd remind myself that I wasn't a writer and close the file. 

About ten years ago, I was working in a fifth grade class, and the author, Melissa Glenn Haber, came to visit our school. She talked about notebooks filled with stories that she'd hide in drawers. That sounded like me. One day Melissa's husband said she should try to write seriously because she seemed happier when she was writing. I admitted to myself, I was happier when I wrote too. 

I waited on line, making sure I was last. When it was my turn, I shared with Melissa my deepest secret: I'd always wanted to write. She received that information like it was the most normal thing in the world. She said something like, "You should do it." Melissa gave me her business card and told me the name of her agent. 

That led to me a six-week writing frenzy, which led to a middle grade rip off of Harry Potter with every cliche imaginable, which led me to join SCBWI, which led me to many workshops, conferences, retreats, how-to books, and critique groups that have taught me how to actually write. 

I think a lot of my early work was a rip off of somebody, too, lol. How did you get from there to Time & Circumstance?
A couple of years later, Vine Leaves Literary Magazine was looking for an assistant to the editor, which meant reading and voting on poetry shortlists. I applied and got the job. I eventually became a poetry editor. Reading hundreds of submissions for each issue helped me improve my own poetry writing. While I concentrated on my middle grade and YA manuscripts, I wrote vignettes for myself and sometimes shared them on my blog. 

The editor, Jessica Bell, asked for a few of my poems for some project she was working on. I sent them and promptly forgot about it. The literary journal expanded into Vine Leaves Press. Sometime later, I asked Jessica about the poems I'd sent. She said the project didn't work out, but she liked them. If I had enough pieces, I should put a collection together and submit to Vine Leaves Press. 

This terrified me.

Months later, I finally found the courage to take my vignettes and stick them in a document. I moved them around, looking for cohesion. Something began to take shape. I finally hit send. A few more months later, Vine Leaves Press accepted my collection. 

How did you choose what would go into Time & Circumstance?
Every vignette I'd ever written went into one document. From there, I searched for patterns. I decided the pieces should be ordered chronologically by the age of the different protagonists, with the exception of two poems I thought should start the collection. The unrelenting passage of time jumped out as a theme for me, so I came up with title from my favorite quote by James Baldwin. Then I read everything through. A few pieces, especially from my early attempts at poetry, stood out as bad, so I took them out. When Vine Leaves accepted the collection and sent me the first developmental edits, the first poem, a couple of other poems, and a prose piece all hit the chopping block. The editor suggested I divide the collection between poetry and prose. I had to reimagine how each piece worked together again. At that point, a prose piece I'd forgotten about was added. In the end, arranging the poems and prose required the most consideration. 

Explain a vignette, and how you ultimately chose to arrange both prose and poetry around one another.
Vine Leaves Press named itself after the vignette--which originally meant "something written on a vine leaf." I found a more thorough and lyrical explanation on The Review Review: http://www.thereviewreview.net/interviews/reviving-vignette "a literary form that absorbs readers in a setting, a mood, a character and allows the atmosphere to ripen through textual exploration." Instead of writing a story with a beginning middle and end, it’s a refreshing way to write.

Since vignettes can be both poetry and prose, I wanted to include both. I believe I first set up everything chronologically. During the developmental edit stage, the editor suggested dividing the two. So now the first part is prose and the second is poetry. Each section has its own chronological order.

What was hardest about the publishing process? Easiest?
 The hardest part about the publishing process is putting my work, myself out there. I’m quick to promote others, but asking for people to support me by hosting or reviewing or buying my book—that’s out of my comfort zone. I’m trying to connect with the local poetry community, and it feels less penetrable than the kid lit world. I attended my first poetry reading. We sat around a round table. Everyone was friendly and supportive. But when my turn came, I had to clear my throat and I stumbled. My hands shook like crazy. The next time it was my turn, I managed to speak a little more coherently and my hands stayed steady. When I finished, I looked at my chest shocked that my pounding heart didn’t make my shirt move.

What are you working on now?
I’m about 24k into a YA rough draft that’s going very slowly. My critique group looks at chapters, and I keep going back to fix what I’ve done instead of forging ahead.


And finally, just for fun (because those of us who have them love to talk about our pets…), Cats or dogs or Cats and Dogs living together? Who are your furry friends?
I’m a cat person, and I think this is because I’m much more like a cat in real life. My 12-year-old tuxedo cat and I understand each other. Each morning, we walk down the stairs together. She often sleeps on my bed and snuggles on my lap, but sometimes she’s got her own things to do. I respect that.

About 5 years ago, I broke down and let my family get a dog. He’s a Beagle. He’s fine. Friendly and all. But the cat and I are suspicious of him. He seems desperate for attention.

I think a lot of dogs are, lol. Theresa, thanks so much for coming and answering all my question, and I wish you the best of luck with Time & Circumstance!


“If you could relive any moment in time, what would it be?”

Leave a comment and you’re eligible to win a prize during Theresa’s blog tour!

1 $25 Amazon gift card
1 signed paperback copy
1 ebook

Extra entries if you share on Facebook or Twitter and link it to me.
@TheresaMilstein on Twitter.
@Theresa Milstein on Facebook
#ReliveMoment or #TimeandCircumstance

Winners will be announced on April 5, 2017

$3.99 AUD (eBook)
Kindle AUS
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iBooks | Kobo | Nook

$12.99 AUD (paperback)
Amazon US
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Chapters Indigo


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Snow and a Double Review: Star Trek Beyond and Arrival

Yup. We got hammered again. I drove home in white out conditions, wishing I'd accepted my boss's offer of a ride. He has a big giant Dodge Ram. I have a '97 Volvo wagon. Guess who's better in the snow? Guess who didn't get in her driveway without shoveling, and then just enough so the plows won't wack the rear end off. There was no way I was getting all the way in. It was way too deep. In the words of my son, good times. But let's talk about Star Trek Beyond cuz it's March and there's only 5 days left til spring and this snow is not going to be able to stick around long.



My thoughts: Disappointed. I was really hoping for something a lot better. There were so many ways this third movie could've gone but some idiot decided to blow up the Enterprise again and offer up what could at best be called a weak story-line. I also thought that the actors felt a little tired, as if they, too, wanted to roll their eyes. This movie is not a keeper in my opinion.

Arrival, on the other hand...




...is the sort of movie you'll watch again because you know you'll pick up on something you missed the first, second, or third time you watch it. Movies like Inception, Memento, or The Usual Suspects come to mind. Anyway. Arrival begins with the arrival of aliens, which prompts the government to call in linguist professor Louise Banks, played by Amy Adams (she was awesome, really, everyone was, but she was perfect, imo). The question, of course, is what do they want? But as Louis demonstrates, asking, "what do you want?" means there has to be a basic understanding of what is meant by 'you.' Is you Joe Blow alien or is you all of them? Is a weapon a tool or a tool a weapon? Or both? Language is tricky, and I love how Louis Banks shows just how tricksy it can be. This movie is a keeper. And as soon as I get it back from my son I'm going to watch it again for everything I know I missed.







Monday, March 6, 2017

Today is art day

Yesterday I went to my sister's for art day. Art day is a day when you hang out with a friend or two and create art. I've been doing this with my friend Lori off an on for the past few months and I thought I'd share the major piece I was working on as well as a few others.

My major project has been Red (Riding Hood), who I think I spent more time on than any other piece of art ever. Here's an early incarnation, which prompted the full blown Red...


 

I think I spent over 15 hours on her. Of course, she'd look better if I could take a proper pic but art work is hard to photograph well unless it's small.

This was a quickie, which I did in an hour or so


I want to do a more a more elaborate/detailed version of this (Sleeping Beauty, of course). I seem to like her for some reason...




But I don't always draw fairy tale characters. Sometimes I do trees...


This one isn't quite finished yet but I think he'll be pretty when he's done.


And this is a card I'll send to someone. I've done this design on bookmarks and other cards as well. I call it Island in the Sun.

And now I'll add another goal to my list: learn to take better pics of my art!

Hope you all have a a fabulous week :)

ps 14 days til spring...even though its been miserably cold these last few days.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Cats vs Dogs



Change

Cats hate change. For example, you bring cat A to the vet and when you get home cat B suddenly hates cat A. This is because 1: you took cat A away and while you were gone cat B looked everywhere for cat A to no avail. The thing is, cat B knows every single place cat A hides. Every single one. And if B can’t find A then A has disappeared and that it not normal and cat B does not like not normal at all. He’s a cat. Not a human. Oh, and nevermind the fact that B saw A in the awful cat carrier. B might remember what happens when you get in the cat carrier, or, he might not. But it probably won’t occur to him to make the connection because again, he’s a cat, not a human. And then there’s problem #2: you bring cat A home and he does NOT smell like cat A. He smells like cats B has never met and that is NOT good. By this point cat B is highly suspicious of what’s going on. Sure, it looks like cat A but it doesn’t smell like cat A, plus cat A was gone and who is to say this is the same cat A? It could easily be a replica. All of which results in cat B deciding to hate cat A who is not cat A as far as B is concerned.



Now, if you have dogs, dog B will exuberantly greet dog A like its been gone forever, and the two will resume their normal relationship as soon as the excitement wears off.

In other news...20 days til spring :)