30 September 2011

Fahrenheit 451

by Ray Bradbury

In honor of Banned Books Week I figured I would talk about a banned book. FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury is a book about a fireman. He is not a firefighter, but a fireman. He starts fires, he doesn't put them out. This book was written in 1953 and talks about technologies that at the time were almost considered science fiction, and yet now are commonplace. This is a dystopian novel and really gets you thinking.

The story follows Guy Montag who is a fireman. It is his job to set books on fire. In this society books are considered to promote too much free thinking. There are several instances when the person collecting the books would rather die with the books. He wonders why anything, especially books, would be worth dying over.

This book has a lot of different levels to it. It can be viewed as a novel against censorship or even about how television ruins books. For anyone who loves books and reading, I highly recommend FAHRENHEIT 451 and it has stood the test of time and only gets more frightening as the similarities between the societies become even more similar. And in case you were wondering 451° F is the temperature at which paper catches fire and burns.

28 September 2011

Sewing Project is a Go

Last year I mentioned that I was going to try and make costumes for a convention my husband and I are going to. This summer I made a pattern for my costume because I couldn't find an appropriate pattern. With the writing contest now over, I started thinking about the costumes in a more serious manner (actually thinking about purchasing fabric). The more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn't trust the pattern I made. I did some more searching and actually found a pattern that would work, after altering it. I feel a lot more comfortable altering a pattern then creating one, although I eventually hope to be able to create one in the future.

So with three and a half weeks to go I am now sewing two costumes. I am really positive about how they are going to turn out. I am so glad that my mother enrolled me in sewing classes as a child. At the time I had no idea those four years of begrudgingly going to the neighbors for an hour once a week would actually turn into something I really enjoy as an adult. I have grand plans when we have children.

26 September 2011

Adverbs and Verbs

One of the times I submitted a story the editor gave me some advice on adverbs. The advice was "Don't use them." At first I was confused because adverbs can add details to the story. As I went through and removed the offending words I realized that this fellow made a good point. When I removed the adverbs it forced me to think of more descriptive verbs.

Kenneth slowly walked over to Janice. He picked up her hand gently and carefully rubbed the back of it. He looked at her longingly and spoke softly in her ear.

A cheesy example, but hopefully it will get you thinking about all of the verbs available.

Kenneth ambled over to Janice. He cradled her hand and caressed the back of it. He gazed at her and murmured in her ear.

While an adverb here or there doesn't hurt anything, I find it is good to go through and just see if I can be more descriptive in the verb itself.

25 September 2011

*Tears in the Darkness

Intro: I attended a workshop on horror at the writing conference I went to last weekend. Though I don't write horror I found the information interesting. This story is an exercise we did. We had to write about our most terrifying experience.

Georgia inched her way along the rocks, her hand stretched out to the side not quite touching the wall of the cave. Her friends walked before her. She could see their figures silhouetted in the flashlight one of them carried. It swung to and fro as they took in the surroundings of the cave. To one side was a dark strip. It was probably a rut, only a couple of feet down, but in the shadows it looked like it would continue to Hades if she fell. The black walls looked wet because of the years of people ran their hands along the rock. Georgia wanted to feel the security of the rock as she stumbled after her friends but instead kept her fingers inches from it afraid of how it would feel.

The voices of her friends echoed in the blackness all around her. There seemed to be noises from behind them as well. Though she couldn't see the other side of the tunnel, the ravine was between her and it, it sounded as if she were in a huge cavern. Only, with every step she took away from the entrance, it closed around her, as if the darkness itself were the walls. Her breath caught in her throat. There was a faint odor to the air that infiltrated her every thought.

"We have to cross up here," Jeremy said, his voice drifting back through the darkness.

She'd come into the cave because he'd said it would be fun. That he and his friends were always coming in here. As she stared down at the bridge she could see they weren't the only ones who came here. On the left was still the ravine. The right side of the bridge was a different story. She could see exactly where it led, to a cesspool of human filth. The green water brooked no argument as to what the teenagers had been doing in the cave for the past several decades. Her stomach roiled at the stench. As her three friends traipsed across the four-foot wide rock divider Georgia remained fixated on the other side.

"Are you coming?"

She gazed between the pit to Hell and the hellish pit and twisted her hands in her shirt. "I can't." It came out in a whisper. Images rolled through her mind. Falling either way would stop her heart.

"Come on, Georgia. It isn't that bad." They flashed the light across the rock path again. The shadows made it look even skinnier and the green water glowed with the brief light.

"I can't," she repeated and backed up. Now the path looked even smaller. She balled her hands in her shirt willing herself to walk across. Telling herself that it would be easy.

"Are you coming?" Jeremy asked. "It's just up ahead."

"We're coming." They turned back to her. "We're taking the light with us. If you want light you'll have to cross."

"Don't leave me," she said, her voice not even making a dent in the ever increasing shadows. "I can't."

The light moved farther away and Georgia stumbled back. Her hand brushed the wall. Moisture coated her hand as her heart froze in her chest. She glanced back at the bridge completely invisible in the dark but the green of the water seemed imprinted on her mind. The rocks from the wall pressed up against her back. The light from the flashlight disappeared around the corner and she sobbed. Covering her mouth with her hands and feeling the residue from the wall against her skin.

"Are you alright?"

A light illuminated her shoes. She looked up as two people walked up to her, flashlight in hand.

Georgia glanced up, her breath coming in ragged gasps. One of them placed an arm around her shoulder.

"Come on, let's get you to the light."

"Georgia?" One of them called. "Where are you going?"

"We're talking her out of here."

As Georgia stumbled between the two people she focused on the beam of light in front of her. It took all of her willpower not to break into tears as the sounds echoed around her. She could hear them talking and a second beam of light removed some of the darkness.

"What is her problem?"

She hung her head; glad her tears echoed only silence.

23 September 2011

Eight Days of Luke

by Diana Wynne Jones

I recently watched a movie (I would tell you which one but I don't want to give away too much) and thought of EIGHT DAYS OF LUKE by Diana Wynne Jones. When I finished reading it I started it again because of what happens during it. This book is what started a fascination that eventually led to me writing a paper on the subject in college.

The story follows that of David who has just returned home from boarding school. His relatives, who are pretty awful in and of themselves, have nothing planned for him. Now enter Luke, a boy who is just a year older than David. Luke says that whenever David needs him, all he has to do is kindle a flame. During the next week David and meets up with Luke as well as some other strange characters who show up at his house. Can David figure out what is going on and protect his new friend Luke?

Whenever I read a Diana Wynne Jones book, EIGHT DAYS OF LUKE or even HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE, I always look for the unusual. None of her books are what I expected them to be when I started reading them. This book is no different. Don't expect the normal when reading this book.

21 September 2011

Authors All Around

This last week was amazing. It was the fall writing conference for the League of Utah Writers. Not only did I have the chance to rub shoulders with some of the people I admire, but I was able to have conversations with them as well. At lunch there were two authors sitting next to me and that evening was another author, who I don't think I will ever have the opportunity to meet again although I hope I do. He was such a nice fellow. All of them were very polite despite the fact that I felt like I was making a fool of myself. I mean I never know what to say when I am meeting an author.

The night before the conference I actually went to another writing event where I had the chance to listen to one of my all time favorite authors. Though I didn't actually talk to him for an extended period of time, every time I see him at an event I am struck by how down-to-earth and congenial he is. I only hope that if I can be as good of a person whether I am an author or not.

19 September 2011


This weekend I had the opportunity to attend a writer's conference. Since the theme of the conference was "Writing on the edge" there were several panels on horror writing. I attending a couple of the panels and though I don't normally write horror, I like the idea of putting more horror into my stories because it is a powerful emotion. The comments I make here are what I learned from the presenters: Alexander Gordon Smith, author of the ESCAPE FROM FURNACE series, and Rick Chiantaretto.

While most people think of the slasher horrors, (Scream, Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw Massacre), there are other types of horror: psychological, paranormal, monster, and smart.

Horror is the only genre that is named after an emotion. It is also one of the only genres that can be incorporated into other genres seamlessly, especially when you think of the non-slasher types. Adding a bit of horror to any story will draw the reader in and truly make them fear for the characters.

This genre plays off of the reader's emotions and not only makes them fear for the characters but also themselves in a way. Sometimes the best was to come up with a horror element is to use your own fear for the starting point. Gordon really emphasized this and had us do an exercise where we took an experience in our own life (good or bad) and asked "What if it hadn't been alright?" Rick had us write down our most terrifying experience and told us to start from there.

The other comment I liked was that in horror you don't have to have answers for everything. It is the unanswered questions that really get people thinking. Rick talked about how at the end of the Thriller music video you think that it is a dream until Michael Jackson turns around and you see his eyes are yellow, but make sure not too leave too many unanswered questions.

While I don't think that I will be writing horror novels, but I will be adding elements or horror to my story just to get the emotions of the reader and add depth to what I write.

16 September 2011

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

One of my all time favorite characters comes from TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee. This is one of the books that my mother recommended and I was feeling stubborn so I dragged my feet in reading it. At that point in my life I was more interested in fantasy and science fiction. Part of my hesitation to reading this book is because the cover was so odd. It had a picture of a mockingbird with triangles pointing to various parts. Not exactly enticing. (I normally try and find the coolest looking cover, but I decided to go with the cover I grew up with.)

The story is told from the perspective of Scout, a six-year-old girl who lives with her older brother Jem and their widowed father Atticus. It covers a three year period during the great depression. There are a lot of intricacies to the plot but the main part of the story revolves around a court case of a black man accused of raping a white girl. Atticus is the lawyer assigned to defending the man. Not everyone in the town thinks that Atticus should even consider putting forth his best effort and his children receive some of the town's animosity.

What I love about TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is how amazing Atticus is. There are several opportunities throughout the book where Atticus could have acted differently and he would still have been considered a good man. But instead he put forth his best effort in everything whether it is listening to his children, or defending a man who no one thinks deserves it. This book gave me an appreciation for honorable men. Though I rarely say this, even for those who don't want to read the book you should at least watch the movie just so that you can understand what truly makes a man great. This is one of my all time favorite books.

14 September 2011

Wrapping up the Contest

These last couple of weeks have been filled with the contest. I am glad that the awards ceremony is this weekend and I am really looking forward to seeing the reactions of the winners. I am expecting a few complaints since I am doing several things differently and there are some people who just love to complain. One of the big things is that we didn't let anyone know who won. I think it is more fun when the winners are a surprise. Next year when I do this the whole preparation should go a lot more smoothly.

That being said, I am sorry if my posts are late or non-existent this weekend.

11 September 2011

*Escape Plan

Intro: I wanted to try writing a little space opera. I love lots of space opera shows, books, comics, but for some reason I just don't write much involving space ships and whatnot. I kind of like how this one turned out although it is more character driven then setting driven.

Brighton let the tip gun drop, facing the metal floor as he stared across the room at the large screen. The firefight continued outside the ship. Small fighters darted through the attacks of the larger cruisers. His ship, Midnight Hour, was on a collision course with the Behemoth. He threw himself at the controls, letting the gun spin off the top as he pushed and prodded at the buttons and switched. An explosion rocketed off of the ship and his feet slipped for a moment. He thanked the raiders for attacking when they did to give him the opportunity of a lifetime.

"This time's for real."

The Behemoth turned and Brighton stared down the length of the warship, the weapons casting faint orange light as the prepared for fire. The raiders were gone, dead or jumped out of there he wasn't sure. They were a variable he hadn't expected and it didn't matter if they were there or not.

"Midnight Hour, you will stand down and prepare for boarding or we will fire."

Brighton grabbed the microphone, "Death first!"

He turned his attention back to the controls his hands dancing across the keyboard.

"Almost there." The right engine responded and altered his course.

The door behind him hissed open and he dived to the side and scrambled for his gun. A shot fizzed and burned out against the floor as he turned. His first shot took a man in the chest, knocking him backwards with a scorched jacket. The second man backpedaled for the safety of the door, but Brighton's next two shots floored him. The hum from the gun faded away and he sighed.

He got to his feet, and checked the hallway. Nothing moved. The ship rocked and his head slammed into the wall, blacking his vision for a few seconds. He turned back to the screen. The behemoth filled the whole screen, the orange light of the exterior cannons cast shadows in the control room.

"This is your last warning, stand down and prepare for boarding or we will blow you out of the sky."

Brighton closed his eyes picturing the yellow grassy fields that surrounded his house. Two children played on the field watched over by their parents. The wife looked like her murdered mother. He slammed his hand down on the console. He knew it was wrong, somehow, that his mind was foggy.

His worn hands looked even older than usual bathed in the orange light. The ship jolted as the boarding clamps attached just as the left engine roared to life. The larger ship held him firmly in place. He stared at the Behemoth, the gun in his hands. The weapon felt heavy as he weighed life and death. The door hissed open. He raised the gun taking in the crisp uniform of the man who entered.

"Brighton put down the gun."

Five men stood at the door, their weapons trained on him.

He glanced at the gun in his hand, chuckling. "To think, we meet again after all this time, Jeremiah"

"Don't do anything stupid."

Brighton's fingers brushed the switch on the barrel, turning the gun from tranquilizer to particle.

"You haven't killed anyone," Jeremiah inched closer, his hands raised.

"You've got that right!" Brighton raised the gun, his hands steady. "I didn't kill anyone!"

Panic flashed across the other man's face as Brighton moved around the console.

"Brighton, don't do anything stupid."

"I did not kill her and you know it." He glanced at the men standing in the doorway. "I did not kill my wife. I tell you. Someone else killed her. I just want to go home. To see my daughter, Tatianna."

"Brighton," Jeremiah said, "you have no daughter. She died in childbirth."

The reality crashed down around his ears. Tatianna had spent five minutes in this life before moving on. He had no one waiting for him anywhere. Brighton brought his gun back up, "I'd rather die than go back. How about we go together?"

"If you wish, you could resist arrest and I could make sure you never return." Jeremiah gave a sad smile.

Brighton raised the gun, "You're coming with me. You don't think I've lost my mind that much have you? How it must have driven you crazy that a mere farmer could advance higher than a boy soldier when recruited for the war. That, and my wife and child. I could be the one captaining the Behemoth today if not for you."

He pulled the trigger of the gun and Jeremiah reared back.

"Boom," Brighton said and dropped the empty gun. "How does it feel, to know that I killed you?" He raised his hands and put them on his head as the soldiers flowed around him. "I'll go back, for now. But don't worry, I'll kill you again. See you later."

He chuckled to himself as the men bound his hands and followed them over to the Behemoth cells.

Jeremiah picked up the empty gun his pulse still racing. "I'm getting to old for this."

"Sir, are you alright? What is up with that man?" Another man said, coming on the bridge.

"He was the most brilliant tactician in the war," Jeremiah said. "Only when his wife and daughter died he lost all grip on reality."

"Did you know him—before?"

Jeremiah rubbed his neck, feeling every one of his years. "He was my best friend."

"Why do we keep him around?"

"Because even insane, we can still learn from him. Every five years we transfer him to see if he can escape our newest prison transport. He broke the security system you designed. Five more seconds and we would have lost him."

The security officer stared at the control panel his eyes widening at the truth.

"Don't worry, he breaks everyone's system. At least he didn't get away this time."

09 September 2011


by Daniel Coleman

This is a companion novel to Daniel Coleman's other story JABBERWOCKY. When I think about HATTER I am torn. There are times I prefer JABBERWOCKY and the unique take on the story, and other times I prefer HATTER and reading about well known characters in a new light.

As the name suggests, HATTER is a origin story of the Mad Hatter. The two characters of the story are complete opposites, and yet I felt a bond with both of them in some way. Hatta is the loveable, eccentric friend that you don't always understand what he is doing but you know that his heart is in the right place and he wouldn't hurt a fly. Chism on the other hand is the brash young man who you know will do the right thing, but instead of being discreet and thinking through the consequences does the first thing that comes to mind, which usually involves force of some kind.

The writing is as clean as always and though I had a vague idea of where the story was going, there were still plenty of surprises along the way. HATTER is another great book for young adults to read if they want a taste of a fantastical realm with real depth and imagery. Daniel Coleman paints a picture of human nature within each character that is spot on.

07 September 2011

Finding Joy in the Now

There was an article recently about the end of summer blues and how after the Labor Day holiday people become depressed because they realize they haven't fulfilled all of their plans for the summer. I am sure I have felt this a time or two, in all seasons. I always have more plans then times and it is sometimes difficult to take pleasure in what I have accomplished rather than feeling bad at what I didn't.

When I was in high school I had the opportunity to read my great grandmother's journal. (She is one of the reasons I later started keeping a daily journal.) One of her entries has really stuck with me. She had the opportunity to go to California and was really looking forward to the trip. But before she even went on her trip she realized something that I think all of us could do more to think about. We spend too much time thinking about the exciting events in the future and not in what is currently happening. She made a promise to live each day to the fullest and not to waste time wondering how happy the future will be because when the happy future comes, she will enjoy that as well.

That is how I try to look at life now, though I am not very good at always remembering to find joy in the day to day. As my grandmother always says "Don't just have a good week, make it a good week."

04 September 2011

*Man of her Dreams

Intro:I have read quite a few books that have romantic elements where there is a love triangle. I always feel bad for the normal character. This is my attempt of writing a romance.

Nicole traced the back of Paul's hand enjoying the feeling of his skin. The back of his hand was smooth, while the palm was calloused from his work at the woodshop. He always smelled of sawdust and when he had just come from the shop he often left a trail where he walked. The bell rang. She clutched his hand under the table and tried to pay attention to the teacher at the front of the room.

"We have a new exchange student today. Please welcome Bobby Longfellow. He is from Devonshire, England."

"Hello," he said.

Immediately every girl in class sat up a little straighter. Even if Mrs. Miller hadn't introduced him everyone would have known he was English from that one word alone. Paul's hand tightened as she continued to look at the dark haired boy at the front of the class. For the past two months she had seen this boy in her dreams, only there he wasn't human. He was something else, alien, and always asking for her help and was coming for her. Last night he'd said he would be here soon. She stared at him, her heart fluttering at the fact that a man from her dreams was now standing before her.

"Why don't you take a seat next to Nicole and Paul?"

Paul let out a grunt but remained silent because they were the only group with two people. Everyone else had three. Bobby slid onto the third stool, across from Paul and adjacent to Nicole. He smiled and held out his hand. With one more squeeze Paul let go and shook his hand.

"I'm Paul and this is my girlfriend, Nicole."

Bobby raised an eyebrow as he glanced at Nicole who met his gaze. His dark eyes almost seemed to look into her soul.

"It is a pleasure to meet you," Nicole said holding out her hand. "Welcome to Tennessee."

"Thank you. I'm sure I will love it here." He kissed the back of her hand and smiled. Nicole pulled her hand back and set it on her lap. Paul immediately picked it up again and brushed his thumb across the back. She glanced over at him and smiled.

At lunch Nicole sat with her friends and pulled out her home lunch, eating the cookies first. Paul had woodshop now and lunch during the second half.

"Oh, my, gosh. Is he headed this way?"

Nicole looked up from her sandwich and stared at Bobby as he meandered towards their table.

"May I sit with you?"

The girls slid closer together without saying anything. Bobby sat down across from Nicole and smiled at her. She focused on her half-eaten sandwich. Her friends talked and laughed as Bobby told them about his life in England and the differences he'd already seen between the two countries. She hurried out of the lunch room as soon as the bell rang but in her math class Bobby strolled in and sat down next to her. He leaned close to her but the bell rang and he sat up, a frown on his face. Two minutes into class, a piece of paper fell onto her desk. She opened it up, her hands shaking.

"Can I talk with you after school?"

With her heart in her throat she bowed her head.

Paul picked her up from her last class when school ended. He pulled her into an empty hallway and kissed her, brushing his lips against hers. When he pulled back his face was flushed. He'd never kissed her in school before and she smiled giving him a hug.

"Come on, let's head home."

They walked out of the building, hand in hand. Bobby stood under a tree and started towards them. He paused looking at Paul before shaking his head and jogging up.

"I need to talk with you, Nicole." He glanced at Paul. "Alone."

Nicole bit her lip and pulled her hand from Paul. "I'll meet you at the park."

Paul caressed her cheek and his rough skin rasped against her. She smiled and stepped back. Paul jammed his hands in his pockets and walked off. The park was two blocks away on their way home. In the winter they drove the two miles home but in the spring they enjoyed the fresh air.

"Nicole," Bobby stepped forward and reached out for her. She felt his smooth fingers against her cheek where Paul had just touched her. "I need your help. I'm here for you."

"Bobby," she said softly. "I didn't think—"

He moved even closer and she could smell the almost fruity smell wafting from him. It had been the same in her dreams. Every night he stood a little closer. Last night he had leaned in to kiss her but she'd woken up before anything happened. His hand still caressed her cheek.

"My ship is waiting for us. Come with me, help me."

She closed her eyes and placed a hand on his chest. She shoved him back, her face flushed.

"Stay away from me."

Bobby rubbed his chest where she'd pushed him. "You're going to stay with him? Paul? I'm offering you everything you could ask for."

Nicole held up a finger. "You aren't offering me what I am asking for. You are a man from my dreams, not of my dreams. I'm seventeen and don't want to travel the universe. I want to live here, find a man who loves me, and raise a family. If anything, Paul can offer me that. You only offer trouble." She walked past him. Bobby made noises of protest but she didn't even turn around. Paul sat on one of the swings staring at the ground. She watched him for a second and smiled. A carpenter was much more the man of her dreams than an alien could ever be.

02 September 2011

The Evolution of Thomas Hall

by Kieth Merrill

I borrowed THE EVOLUTION OF THOMAS HALL from my mom because she wanted someone to read it so she could talk about it. Though I was interested in it, I wasn't sure if I would enjoy it as much as she did. I am glad I had the opportunity to read this book. It was a great book that really made me think about religion and science and the balance of them.

The story follows the artist Thomas Hall. He is a proclaimed agnostic, because he doesn't believe there is a deity but doesn't feel like he wants to proclaim himself an atheist. When the book starts he is an egotistical braggart who doesn't have any idea how to act as a decent human. He has been commissioned to paint a mural for the evolution display at a science museum and part way through the project the museum director changes as well as the scope of the project. At this time he is also presented with the opportunity to paint a mural for a hospital that is centered on Jesus Christ. Through the book a variety of characters discusses evolution, miracles, and faith.

At the hospital Thomas meets Cass who has more belief in him than he has and put her job on the line to get him as the painter. He also meets Christina a young girl who is a patient at the hospital. She was in a car accident and suffered series burns, broken bones, and yet has faith that everything is going to turn out fine, despite what everyone says. The more time Thomas spends with these two women, the more he learns of himself and what is important in life.

The descriptions of this book are beautiful. I love how Kieth Merrill describes people and scenes through Thomas Hall. He sees people as works of art, describing them with colors and details that make me look at the world in a different light. The development of Thomas is realistic and I enjoyed all of the characters.