30 December 2011

The Winds of Khalakovo

by Bradley P. Beaulieu

I wasn't exactly sure what to expect when I started THE WINDS OF KHALAKOVO. It was recommended to me and though I purchased it this summer it took several months for me to get around to it. I am sorry I waited so long to read it. Bradley P. Beaulieu, paints a beautiful world that I could picture as I read. I am grateful that I had a small knowledge of Russia, thank you older brother who was obsessed with Russia during high school, but it is by no means required to enjoy the book.

THE WINDS OF KHALAKOVO takes place in a society that is similar to that of Russia during the time of Czars. The population live on these small islands and are grouped together and ruled by duchies. The son of one of the dukes, Nikandr, is determined to find a cure to a wasting disease that is killing is sister and is now taking him. Not only is the population of some of the duchies being decimated by this disease but there is a faction of the populace who hold a grudge against the aristocracy. When the high duke is killed, Nikandr has to determine whether it was a freak accident or an assassination.

The characters are vivid, the plot moves along, though I wouldn't necessarily call it breakneck, and the magic system, did I mention the awesome magic using elemental spirits, is unique. I was excited to hear that there will be a sequel but the book ends in such a way that I don't feel like there is anything untold. I am curious to see what else Bradley P. Beaulieu will do with this world. This book isn't for young adults, but I was pleased it wasn't overly graphic in any way. Can I just add that this is one of my favorite covers. It is stunning and really helps solidify the world with airships and mystic creatures that cross between worlds.

This is the cover without the text. Isn't it just a pretty picture. I could see it hanging on my wall. It is pictures like this one that make me want to pick up painting again.The cover art is done by Adam Paquette.

28 December 2011

End of Year Summary 2011

I am looking back over what I accomplished last year and sometimes I feel a little down. I do not have a novel published. I have a few things in my home life that aren't exactly how I want them, though I have no complaints with my husband. He is so sweet and loving. I enjoy my job but it isn't my dream job. But as I went through everything I have accomplished I realized that even in my week to week work I got a lot more accomplished than I realized.

Chronological List of Flash Fiction
1. Fallen – 714 words – Science Fiction
2. Future of the Fallen – 1,229 words – Science Fiction
3. Roll Over – 915 words – Fiction
4. Waiting – 996 words – Fiction
5. A Necessary Evil – 433 words– Fiction
6. Cupid – 753 words – Fantasy
7. Valentine – 361 words – Fiction
8. Forbidden Resources – 975 – Science Fiction
9. Briar Patch – 995 words – Fantasy
10. Faces – 766 words – Fiction
11. Stone Cold – 654 words – Fiction
12. Ghosts – 507 words – Book
13. Trash – 972 words – Fantasy
14. Aftermath – 893 words –Fiction
15. Weight of the World – 787 words – Fantasy
16. Bear – 988 words – Fantasy
17. Onward – 296 words – Fiction
18. Forgotten Memories – 740 words – Science Fiction
19. Pretty – 968 words – Fiction
20. Fall of Civilization – 980 words – Science Fiction
21. Riding the Storm – 482 words – Fantasy
22. Thunder of Wonder – 260 words – Fiction
23. City Bound – 962 words – Fantasy
24. Reminiscence – 1,004 words – Fiction
25. Winning Ticket – 808 words – Fiction
26. Name Game – 830 words – Fiction
27. An Unopened Box – 943 words – Science Fiction
28. Angel of Death – 1,072 words – Fantasy
29. Storm Warning – 555 words – Fantasy
30. Karma – 1,009 words – Science Fiction
31. An App for That – 413 words – Fiction
32. After the Rainbow – 791 words – Fantasy
33. Prophecy – 1,032 words – Fantasy
34. Walk Alone – 95 words – Fiction
35. Death at a Funeral – 605 words – Fiction
36. Man of her Dreams – 974 words – Science Fiction
37. Escape Plan – 977 words – Science Fiction
38. Tears in the Darkness – 720 words – Fiction
39. Shivers – 998 words – Fantasy
40. Uncollected Souls – 1,020 words – Fantasy
41. Stairs – 945 words – Fiction
42. Haunted – 543 words – Fantasy
43. Playback – 1,020 words – Science Fiction
44. Birth – 3,434 words – Science Fiction
45. Every Other Thursday – 363 words – Science Fiction
46. A Hollywood Romance – 1,080 words – Fantasy
47. Story of my Life – 936 words – Book
48. Christmas Presents – 472 words – Fiction
49. Grandfather – 990 words – Fiction
50. Knowing – 811 words – Science Fiction

Flash Fiction Stats
Total number of words written: 38,638 (I took Birth out since it wasn't written as a weekly flash fiction)
Average story length: 788 words
Genres: Fiction (20), Fantasy (15), Science Fiction (13), Book (2)
Favorite Stories: Pretty, Winning Ticket, City Boud, Aftermath, After the Rainbow
Stories most likely to become something more (that aren't currently tied to a project): An Unopened Box, After the Rainbow
Average Title Length: 2 words

Published Stories
Run and Stand

Novels Finished
ReCON Currently 74,167 words
Death (NaNoWriMo) Currently 50,197 words

Goals for Next Year
Get 4 stories published
Submit novels to 2 places
Complete NaShoStoMo
Complete NaNoWriMo
Write a flash fiction story a week (At least 50)

25 December 2011


Intro: It probably would have been more appropriate to do a holiday story but I have had this idea on my mind all week. In church on Sunday there was a comment about how it was a good thing people didn't know their exact death date. I would like to think that people would be better but honestly I feel that a lot of people would find it an excuse which would push civilization over the edge.

The numbers hovered above the crowd and Laurel did her best not to look at them. It was hard. Everywhere she turned civilization glowed a like a doomsday clock. Exactly like one. She avoided her reflection as she pushed open the door to the building. The door panels were made of reinforced Plexiglas, which was the only reason they were still intact.

Inside was more of outside. Trash, debris, filth, and the dregs of humanity. She inched around the various piles and had to kick off a couple of groping hands. The staircase bred shadows and she always took a moment to steel herself before starting her run up to the third floor. On step seven she took an extra large step over a broken stair. On step twenty she caught sight of the second floor where a few people sat. They were the ones who could make the jump across the six foot hole between the stairs and the floor. At step fifteen she moved to stand against the wall and edged along the ledge for the last ten feet. The third floor had fewer people but more than the second floor.

A few people backed out of the way as she passed. Her gaze flicked to the numbers without thought. 12:05:21:10. 00:07:02:45. She turned away, her stomach roiling. Her own numbers. She'd avoided them for almost a year but she was sure they were close to 02:01:15:00. Or something. A child ran in front of her on chubby legs and for a moment Laurel could only stare. 25:11:25:31. Only twenty five and the child couldn't be more than four or five. The young mother scurried out from a room and scooped up her child.

The room at the end of the hall had no door. Laurel knocked on the doorframe and stepped in. A makeshift couch stretched across one side of the room, cinderblocks holding up half a mattress that had been stuffed with old clothes. A young man lay on the couch looking out the broken window which had been covered with chicken wire. In the winter she attached cardboard though she wasn't sure it actually helped.

"How are you feeling?" She avoided his numbers like a plague, more so than her own.


She would have believed him save for the cough that wracked his body. His brown eyes were sunken and had anyone walked into the room they never would have believed them siblings, let alone twins. When they were younger she often dressed as him to play pranks. She pulled her attention back to Matthew. His brown eyes were focused over her head.


"Don't, I don't want."

"Your numbers."

"Matthew, no. I don't want to know. I am not going to live my life like every monster out there."

"Is that why you won't give me a mirror. You don't want me to know?" He turned his gaze away from her and looked out the window. "Yet you don't give me a chance to live."

She opened her mouth but Matthew held up a finger.

"I don't really want to live out there, but I am living the way you criticize the others for."

She sat down on the foot of the couch with her back against the wall.

"I will only ask one more time. Are you sure you don't want to know?"

"Positive. Even if I try not to, I know my attitude will change. Last day repentance and all that."

"So you live as if each day were your last?"

"If I did that I would be kinder to everyone and treat you better. No, I am not the best or the worst. I forget important information and am not a nice person."

When Matthew fell asleep Laurel got to her feet and looked out the window. Ever since the world had changed and people started seeing the countdown to their deaths, the life expectancy had decreased over the years. Anarchy reigned among all the cities. She gripped the chicken wire and felt it bite into her flesh.

As she turned back to Matthew she let out a moan. The red numbers above his head blinked at 00:00:00:00.

She knelt at his bed and cried. "I love you. I never even said that today." She pushed herself up and covered his body with a blanket. As she left the building her eyes caught her reflection. The numbers were a blurred mess from the warping Plexiglas and the tears still in her eyes.

"I didn't want to know anyway. I don't want to change." She walked away but couldn't resist a look back. At the distance the numbers were still blurred but it looked as if Matthew stood on the other side of the door looking through. She raised her hand in farewell and gave a small smile as he did too.

23 December 2011


by Robison Wells

Last month I purchased VARIANT in accordance with the book bomb for Robison Wells. I then told my husband he was going to give it to me for my birthday. It was painful to wait a month knowing the book was in the house but that I couldn't read it. When I found out that Rob would be signing near where I live I told my husband I wanted my book signed. He agreed only if I got Rob to write "Happy Birthday." The signing was really neat and he obliged me by writing "Happy Birthday" in the book. When I started the book Tuesday night I was excited but I wasn't prepared for how much I would like it. I finished Wednesday morning and now I get to wait for the sequel. The nice thought is Rob told us that it wasn't a trilogy is it just going to be two books.

VARIANT is a YA dystopic novel. What is interesting about this book is that it isn't that the whole world is dystopic it is just Maxfield Academy, that I know of. Benson Fisher is a 17-year-old boy who has been shuffled around in the foster care system. He hasn't had many fond memories of living with the 30 some odd families and so decides to take the future into his own hands. He applies and is accepted at Maxfield Academy. When he arrives he can tell immediately that something is wrong, and it isn't just the fact that two students go running after the car that brought him. He expects it to be bad, but he doesn't have any idea how bad it is. The school is divided into three teams, more of gangs, Society, Havoc, and Variant. Even after Benson chooses a group he still feels alone. No one else seems to think it is important that they break free. Benson is put to the test as he has to decide what he is willing to risk in order to escape.

I knew VARIANT was going to be good. I didn't realize how much I would like it. I read a lot of YA books and with the recent rash of dystopic novels I thought I knew how it was going to be. I mean obviously it would have its own twist but I thought I would be entertained by something I would probably be able to guess from the end. I was wrong. The book not only has some very surprising twists, but I loved the characters. Benson is presented with moral dilemmas that at first I didn't realize were problems until other characters brought it up. It really made me think. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants something new and fresh to read.

21 December 2011

Summer Employment Part 3

My brother made the comment that I had said I was going to write about some of my summer employment jobs and only had two posts. So this is another post about my job at the amusement park.

One of the rides I ran was the child bumper cars. Unlike the adult bumper cars that have a pedal for power, the child bumper cars always move. As long as the child knows how to steer the car then they can cruise around the floor. The problem came when the kid didn't understand how the steering wheel worked. As the ride operator we had to keep our foot on a pedal to keep the ride going. Kids would drive their cars into a corner and then not figure out how to get out of it. The PA system rarely worked so we would stand there making hand gestures and yelling "Turn the wheel. If you want to move, turn the wheel." After parents came up and complained that their child needed another turn, without waiting in line, because their child's car didn't work. There were times I just wanted to tell them their child was too young and couldn't figure out the controls. Or maybe their kid was just to dense to figure it out.

The other event that often happened at the ride dealt with the children waiting in line. The line bordered the ride on two sides with a metal fence between the two. Some of the children really wanted to see how the ride was going and so stuck their head between the posts of the fence, and subsequently got stuck. I had to call the meds over on three different occasions for kids getting stuck. One kid screamed the whole time and his parents were mad at us. I was impressed that another kid who got stuck was pretty calm and his parents, also calm, told him not to do it again. When he finally got out he wasn't nearly as traumatized and he and his family laughed it off. I hope I am a parent that can keep everything in perspective.

19 December 2011

Happy Koloss Head Munching Day

Sorry about some of the posts going up late. I am better about getting the posts up on time at Blogspot because there is a scheduling feature. In honor of Koloss Head Munching Day I only have one tip.

If you want to write, make sure you read. A lot of people say to read the same genre you are writing, which is important. But reading anything in general will improve your writing and give you new ideas and styles.

18 December 2011


Intro: One of my co-workers told a story about how her 90-year-old grandfather was kidnapped from his nursing home. I am glad that it turned out well, but it makes for an interesting story.

James hovered at the entrance rocking back and forth on his heels. No one paid him any mind as they walked across the foyer. He gripped the straps of his backpack and stepped further into the room. The woman at the desk looked up.

“Can I help you?”

“I’m here to visit my grandfather.” He let go of the straps and stuffed his hands in his pocket.

“Is he expecting you?”

James nodded. “I know where his room is, can I just go see him?”

“Of course. Don’t forget, visiting hours end at five.”

He hurried down the hall, looking into the rooms. One man sat alone, staring out the window at the snow drifting down on the already white landscape. The man’s cotton white hair was combed back and remained fixed in place as he turned to look at James.

“Do I know you?”

James gave a nervous laugh. “Grandpa, you don’t remember? It’s Parents Night at the school. I’m here to pick you up.”

Grandfather rubbed his jaw. “Tonight?”

He clenched his hands then forced them open. “Yes. Our ride is coming in five minutes. We’ll be back by eight.”

The old man looked at him for a second and James’s smile faded for a moment. “Grandpa?”

“Help me with my coat, Harold.”

“James. My name is James”

“Your parents gave you the wrong name. Now go get my coat, Harold. It is in the closet.”

When Grandfather had his coat on, James lent his arm and they walked out the side door. The snow still drifted down and they shuffled along the sidewalk. Grandfather looked up and let out a chuckle.

“Makes me dizzy just looking at all of the snow falling down. I remember when I lived on the farm we use to make tracks through the snow to get to the barns.”

James’s heart slowed the longer he listened to the stories of the man’s past. A car pulled up and the window rolled down. Kenneth’s face poked out.

“Is this your grandfather?”

“Of course it is. Let us in out of the snow. I don’t want him to get cold.” James pulled the door open and helped the man in. He hurried around to the other side and jumped in.

Kenneth’s father talked to the grandfather about recent current events. The responses from the old man were humorous and James found himself laughing at the cryptic jokes and funny stories. The five minute drive to the middle school went quickly and when Kenneth’s dad parked the car James’s stomach flipped. He held the door open and took the grandfather’s arm again helping him through the snow.

They shuffled down the hall to the home room classroom. Other students and their parents moved past them. Some stared openly at James and the old man. He flushed and stuffed his hands in his pockets. He felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up.

“Harold, keep your head up. You should be proud of your heritage.”

In the classroom they sat down and James found himself sitting across from Nick and his suit dressed father.

“Who’s this?” Nick asked.

“I’m Harold’s grandfather.”

“You mean James.”

“You may call him James. But to me he will always be Harold.”

“Are you related to James?” Nick emphasized the last word with a small sneer.

“I’m his grandfather.”

“He doesn’t have a grandfather,” Nick said.

“Think about that statement for a moment and then tell it to me again.”

James looked at the old man and he winked. The teacher came in and the evening commenced. James read his latest story and showed his art projects. Nick and his father talked about the other students but never looked in James’s direction. He didn’t mind. As he talked with his grandfather he forgot for a moment the fact that he wasn’t like the other students.

“Excuse me, but there has been a problem.”

James’s head snapped up as the officer walked into the room. He glanced at the old man and felt all his fears come crashing down.

“What’s wrong?” his teacher asked.

“There has been a kidnapping. We need to return Mr. Johnson to his room.” The orderly moved past the officer and headed towards their table. “Come with me, Mr. Johnson.”

Nick turned. “Kidnapping. You mean you kidnapped an old man so you could have some family? You really are pathetic. Your mom too drugged to come with you tonight? And how about your dad? Or is he still missing?”

James’s face burned and he stared at the table. He hadn’t meant to kidnap everyone but when he got home and saw his mom passed out on the bathroom floor, again, he was too angry to think straight. He walked by the nursing home every day on his way home from school and it had been easy to ask Kenneth for a ride to school. All he had to do was find a willing accomplice to pretend to be family for the evening.

Mr. Johnson, that was his name, spoke. “I am sorry, but I am spending the evening with my grandson. I’ll be back by eight.”

“Mr. Johnson, you don’t have any family. You’re a bachelor.”

James felt another hand on his shoulder and looked up.

“You’re wrong. I do have a family. This is my grandson, James. Now, if you would excuse me we have some catching up to do.”

When the evening ended Kenneth and his dad gave him a ride back to the nursing home. James helped Mr. Johnson back to his room. The officer followed them in.

“I’m sorry about kidnapping you. But thank you for coming with me.”

“Anytime you need a grandfather, let me know.”

“Would you mind if I came by tomorrow? I mean, if you don’t have anything else to do?”

“I would love that. Have a nice evening, James.”

“Call me Harold. I think it suits me better.”

16 December 2011


by Brandon Sanderson

In honor of Koloss Head Munching Day on Monday I decided to review the MISTBORN trilogy, plus one. This is a high fantasy series by Brandon Sanderson. One of the reasons why I like Sanderson's books so much is because he is brilliant when it comes to the magic system. In the MISTBORN books he created Allomancy. This particular magic uses metals. When Allomancers ingest metals they can "burn" them to influence the world including dampening emotions or leaping great distances. The majority of Allomancers can only use one metal but there are a handful that can use all of them. They are known as Mistborn. The Koloss is a race in the MISTBORN books.

MISBORN – Trilogy
The MISTBORN trilogy is made up of: THE FINAL EMPIRE, THE WELL OF ACENSION, and THE HERO OF AGES. The series starts out with Vin. She is a mistrusting street rat who is hired by Kelsier to help with a heist. Before meeting Kelsier she knows that there is something different about her but she isn't sure what. Under Kelsier's tutelage she comes to understand that she is a powerful Allomancer. As the book progresses she and the other members of Kelsier's band grow to understand the political nature of the Lord Ruler, an evil man who has ruled for the last thousand years. Vin also meets a young heir named Elend who isn't like other lordlings she's met. What is she willing to do to help Kelsier overthrow the current regime and can they actually succeed when no one else has? The books go on to continue the development of Vin, Elend and their friends.

The series seems like it is going to go one way but there are several places where it takes a surprising turn. It is not as if the plot twists are unlikely or a frantic grab at trying to vary the story but they are well thought out and developed. Sanderson does a good job of not giving the reader what they expect but what will improve the story. In THE HERO OF AGES this is especially true when he wraps up the story.

The Alloy of Law
This last month a fourth book in the MISTBORN world was released. It is a standalone novel and blends fantasy with western. THE ALLOY OF LAW takes place 300 hundred years after the end of the series. The story follows Waxillium Ladrian a man who has come in out of the wild to the city. He is use to being a lawman but in the city he doesn't have the same power and instead is just a civilian. With a rash of robberies and kidnappings his self-restraint is put to the test. With two unlikely helpers they find themselves in the middle of the mess despite his effort to stay out of it.

14 December 2011

Vacations and Layoffs

My husband and I were married on a lovely Tuesday afternoon. We spent the rest of the week in Yellowstone. At the time I was making more money and we knew that we would need the income with all of the expenses that comes with being an adult. I showed up to work on Monday and was met with a surprise. The cubicles were dismantled and the computers were gone. The one coworker I saw didn't say anything to me. She wouldn't even look my direction. I ended up calling another coworker who wouldn't tell me what was going on but just told me to call someone else. I called the manager and he told me he would be right over. I was then told the company had been dismantled, was given a severance check, and then escorted out of the building with all of my stuff already boxed up. I was terrified about telling my new husband that I was no longer employed. Two weeks later I had a new job.

Two years later I had another job and we were planning on heading to Pennsylvania to attend my brother-in-law's graduation. Two days before we left I was called into my manager's office. This was during the recession and there were four of us let go. I was once again put in the position that I had to go home and tell my husband that I had lost my job. This time not only did we lose the bigger income, but insurance as well. I was given a severance check this time as well. I thought about panicking but realized that at least I have a marketable skill and I wasn't about to let it ruin my vacation. Two months later I had a new job.

And my coworkers wonder why I am always panicked when we go on any kind of vacation, let alone a vacation that lasts a week.

12 December 2011

Editing - Part II

Last week I talked about what editing entails. I want to continue on that topic for a little while longer. Editing is good. Editing is necessary. But, don't let editing get in the way of writing. When you are writing your first draft it is important to keep writing. You aren't expected to get every sentence, every paragraph, and every chapter done perfectly. The first draft shouldn't be perfect. Some people get so caught up in making sure that their writing is topnotch the first time around that they don't ever get to finish their novel. You can go back and add in all the foreshadowing when everything is done. The problem with editing as you write is that you can get caught in an endless cycle of revising the first bunch of chapters because you keep remembering something else you should put in. Instead, keep notes of all of the elements you need to add in so that when you finish your draft you can go back and add what you need to.

11 December 2011

*Christmas Presents

Intro: I wanted to write a story that fit with the season.

"Ding, dong, merrily on high," Kirsten sand, screeching out the words as she danced around the living room.

Pauline glanced at her daughter with a smile and turned back to her sewing. A new baby was a difficult time, but around Christmas was heard enough. Baby Vincent had come five weeks early and there was only eight days left before the big day. The current sewing project was for her third child who was currently in school but would be coming home in half an hour. It was a new dress made from the fabric of one of Pauline's. Ever since Pauline came home from the hospital the day before, she spent every moment working on the projects. Even the hours she spent at the hospital was used as best as she could. She treasured the moments with Vincent but she was determined that none of the others should feel forgotten.

Kirsten started another Christmas song using the same melody, the only melody she knew which was more of a monotone chant. The doorbell rang and Pauline climbed out of the chair to answer the door. The woman at the door raised an eyebrow as Kirsten raised her voice for a rousing rendition of Jingle Bells.

"Can I help you?" Pauline knew the woman; she lived down the street and kept to herself.

"I was hoping I could help you," the woman replied. "I have some spare presents and understand that you might find a use for them." The woman lifted a bag and Pauline could see the boxes all neatly wrapped through the translucent plastic.

"Thank you." Pauline stepped out of the way and motioned for the woman to follow her. The artificial tree was decorated with stringed popcorn that the children had made with a babysitter while she and her husband were at the hospital the night Vincent came. Five presents rested under the tree one for each child, excluding Vincent and the current project, and her and her husband. The woman made a motion to set the presents down but Pauline waved her on to another room. There was stacked another pile of presents.

"I didn't know what to do. I didn't have enough for my brother's family. You see, his wife just passed away and we wanted to make sure they had a Christmas this year."

The woman set down the bag and clutched her hands. Pauline escorted her back to the door and waved goodbye. With Kirsten singing another set of lyrics she picked up the fabric and got back to the sewing machine to clean things up. When her husband got home after dinner, she would head to the hospital and spend the night watching over her son. The best present had been that her son had arrived in the world a little small, but alive.

09 December 2011


by Terry Pratchett

My husband is not a big reader. There are good reasons behind this but since he married me I have encouraged him to read more (read as: took away his television). While I would like to take credit I really have good authors to thank for his interest in reading. He have developed quite an appreciation for one of my family's favorite authors, Terry Pratchett. What really drew his attention to Pratchett was the movie HOGFATHER. So in honor of Christmas, I mean Hogswatch, and to show my appreciation, I will review HOGFATHER, Terry Pratchett's 20th Discworld novel.

Though HOGFATHER is the 20th novel, you don't have to have read any of the other books. All of the books are stand-alone. The story starts out with the Auditors of Reality hiring the Assassins guild to kill the Hogfather, Pratchett's version of Father Christmas. The Hogfather ends up going missing so Death puts aside his black robes and scythe for a red cloak and beard and becomes the Hogfather. With Death running around the city not understanding what exactly his temporary position entails his granddaughter, Susan, tries to figure out what has happened. She meets some unlikely characters and works with the wizards of the Unseen University to determine what she needs to do to return everything to normal. Well, as normal as it can be on the Discworld.

During my trip to Scotland a couple of years ago the movie version came out. The first half was shown on Christmas and the second half was shown on Boxing Day. I loved it. When I got home I told my family about it and when it became available I bought it. The first time I showed it to my husband he was a little skeptical until the narrator started talking. I mean what's not to love when the main character gives this rendition of Jack and the Beanstalk: "And then Jack chopped down what was the world's last beanstalk, adding murder and ecological terrorism to the theft, enticement, and trespass charges already mentioned, and all the giant's children didn't have a daddy anymore. But he got away with it and lived happily ever after, without so much as a guilty twinge about what he had done...which proves that you can be excused for just about anything if you are a hero, because no one asks inconvenient questions. "

Though there are some differences between the book and movie I recommend watching the movie first if you're not sure this book is right for you. If you don't like the movie, I doubt you will like the book.

07 December 2011

December Birthdays

My birthday is in December, really close to Christmas. My husband's birthday is also in December. This is the reason why we were married in July. When I was growing up I had a mixed experience. My maternal Grandmother's birthday is also in December and when she was growing up her birthday was often forgotten or passed over. My mother made a huge effort to make sure I didn't have that experience. My siblings were forced to get me a birthday present with birthday wrapping paper and a Christmas present. They couldn't just hand me one gift and say "This is for your birthday and Christmas." Sometimes my siblings had to scramble because they had forgotten about my birthday but all-in-all my family is awesome when it comes to December birthdays. My friends on the other hand, not quite so much. I rarely saw a present or got a party from them. Now that I look back on it, I probably forgot a few birthdays and presents. I try not to forget birthdays now though it is a lot more difficult since my family is continually growing.

When I reached college I figured out the secret. If I want people to celebrate my birthday, I tell them. I have also learned another cool thing. There are a lot of sales that come around Christmas time. I get birthday money. This works out in my advantage. The other advantage is the majority of the population is in a good mood this time of year. My one word of advice is you never, ever, give someone a birthday gift and tell them it is also their Christmas present. If it is ridiculous in July why should it be okay in December?

05 December 2011


There is a difference between critiques and editing (at least in my mind there is). Critiques are more of a general this is what I liked, this is what I didn't like. They cover story points. Editing includes a critique but also gets in depth into word choice, sentence structure, and grammatical tips. It can be very disheartening to ask someone to look over your paper and have it come back with dozens of suggestions. I remember when I started going to a writing group I met a fellow and he asked if I would be willing to look over his story. I had known him for maybe two weeks and I said yes. When I sent him back the first 4,500 words it had 131 comments, which didn't include the text changes I made. He paid me back in kind and I really appreciated the effort he put into it. The trick is to only let people you trust edit your work. Don't spread it to a whole group unless you know and they know exactly what you expect from them. A lot of people have good intentions but you may never see any feedback or they may not give you the feedback you want.

Self-editing is good, but it will not catch all of your mistakes, no matter how good you are. It is impossible to get your story perfect without having at least one other person look at it. Our minds don't always see what is actually there but what we expect to see. Before you ever send anything off to a contest, agent, or publisher, make sure that you have someone else take a look at it, not just a critique but an edit. The worst thing is to have your story sent off with grammatical errors or plot problems. There are agencies and people out there that will edit work for a fee. If you have the money, they can be worth every cent. If you don't have the money and are just sending it off to acquaintances don't rush them too much. A good edit takes time and if you aren't paying them you don't have much of a right to demand them to give valuable time to your charity case. The best case scenario is that your friend will like your story so much they want to finish it as quickly as possible and give you feedback.

04 December 2011

*Story of My Life

Intro: I am happy to say that I completed NaNoWriMo. It was close at the end but which is why there wasn't a story last week. Now that I have completed the novel I need to start on another one. This story is something I've had bouncing around for a year or so. I hope there is enough of a conclusion.

Killion sat on the bed with his feet tucked under him. Three men occupied the rest of the space. They weren't large men. Their presence was almost suffocating. The body art, piercings, and scars gave them bestial looks. But, it was their attitudes, their confidence, and their mental determination that pressed down on him. They were also his surrogate fathers, his teachers. Fighting techniques from Buckston who had the fewest scars. Investments and gambling from Shaw who always has the best stuff. Acting and literature from Alejo who changed his name every day. No one could tell where he was really from.

"You've been here for five years," Buckston said. "The rules of the prison state that you share your story with three witnesses."

"Do I have a choice?" He wanted these three, but wanted to put it off.

"Flip for it?" Shaw held up a coin and let it roll across his knuckles.

Killion gave him a flat stare and the coin disappeared but his grin widened.

Alejo drummed his fingers on his arms. "I don't know why you even asked." The Spanish accent fit the name, as expected. "Narrative. In third person."

"Really?" Shaw asked.

"Training in everything. Wasn't that what we agreed upon?" Alejo said.

"Just don't make him act it out and that is fine," Buckston said.

"Fine. Just go." Shaw said.

Killion closed his eyes and pictured the scene. "The gavel pounded down the sentence and Killion let out his breath. He had known what the answer was going to be before he arrived at the court, but he'd held on to a small sliver of hope that fate would be changed—"

"You're starting at the end of the story," Shaw said.

"Don't interrupt," Alejo said. "Go ahead."

"An officer laid a hand on his shoulder. He wasn't sure whether it was suppose to be restraining or reassuring. Not that he posed a threat to anyone. When the guard led him through the pushing throng in the realized that the guard was there for his protection. One face in particular caught his attention, a young woman. Tears streamed down her face and hate burned in her eyes."

Killion stopped talking and made a show of drinking from his glass. That face still haunted him.Just get it over with.

"She pushed through the crowd and grabbed Killion by the collar.

'How could you. He was only trying to help you.'

'It was an accident.'

'So they say.'

"She spoke the truth. He had planned every careful moment which had put this girl's brother in a coffin. It was supposed to have been his father in the coffin, but saying that wasn't going to change anything—"

"Father? Whose father? Yours or the boy's?" Buckston asked.

"Shush." This was from the others.

"Father wasn't true. Uncle was the politically correct term. Monster was the term Killion used in his head.

"He had everything set up perfectly. Killion was to get trapped and lure the monster into an accident that would leave everyone in peace. Maiming was expected, death was hoped for. No one had believed him when he said what the monster had done so this was the only way. The monster was a genius and had inadvertently taught Killion everything he needed to know to pull this off.

"The man didn't even have to try and save him. He had all the trip lasers set up a hundred feet away. The man came running but stopped just short of the trap. Killion watched and let out one last scream hoping the man would just take another step. He didn't. He turned away. His friend wasn't supposed to be there but he ran forward to help, thinking him really in danger. Killion's shout of warning came too late. It was a brutal death. Had the court realized it was planned they wouldn't have thought him innocent.

"A slap across his face. He was brought back to the courtroom. The girl was pulled back by another guard. The monster stepped forward. His face drawn and concerned. He placed a hand on Killion's shoulder.

'I'll see him home.'

"The monster stopped at the haunt on the way home. All of the tools Killion had used were found here, they were the least damaging. The man's latest prey was still lying around the room.

'Maybe I should let you join me. You did really well on that boy.'

"Killion snapped. The man was bigger, stronger, and smarter, but wasn't prepared. It only took those few seconds to end it. When he called the police he explained the situation and the next time when he was in court they treated him like the murderer he felt. He was tried for all the bodies and didn't raise a complaint. He should have stopped him."

Killion reached for the glass and frowned when he saw it was empty.

"How many had he killed?" Buckston asked.

"I knew of twenty."

Shaw sat down on the bed. "That's rough. Sorry it happened."

Killion looked up and smiled. "I'm not. The monster is dead and I have learned a whole new set of skills." He removed a brick from the wall by his head and pulled out a sheaf of dusty papers.

"What is that?" Alejo asked tracing the lines on the papers.

"A teleportation device. We're getting out of here."

"Out?" Alejo's accent slipped for just a moment. "I knew you were a special kid."

Killion looked around at the men, the least of whom was serving one life's sentence, and felt completely at home.

Maybe I'm the monster.

01 December 2011

The Three Investigators

by Robert Arthur, Jr.

Growing up with two older siblings I didn't always want to read the books written for kids my age. Instead I read books that I heard my siblings talking about so I missed reading a lot of juvenile books. Some of these books included THE THREE INVESTIGATORS. More people know about the Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys for good mysteries. I actually haven't read many of the other mysteries but when I was in Jr. High, I devoured THE THREE INVESTIGATORS and really grew to appreciate mysteries. These don't revolve around finding dead bodies. These revolve around evaluating seemingly impossible situations. Most of the time when they are hired the client is just confused as to why something is happening and then it blossoms into something more.

This series follows three thirteen-year-old boys who set up their own detective agency. Jupe (Jupiter Jones) is the one who gets everything going. His uncle owns a salvage business where the boys have their headquarters. He is smart and his intelligence is key in solving the mysteries. Pete (Peter Crenshaw) who is the athletic member of the team. He may not be as smart as the other two but he will see clues that the other two miss on occasion. The third member is Bob (Robert Andrews). He is the book worm and researcher. He works at the library pat time which gives him an in on doing the research. These boys are just cool. They all have distinct personalities, qualities, and traits. They aren't cardboard cutouts of each other but you really get attached to them and their relationship with each other is fun.

THE THREE INVESTIGATORS is 43 books long, each a standalone mystery. The first 10 are written by Robert Arthur which are the ones that I read. These cover everything from a treasure map, whispering mummy, ghost, museum robbery, and haunted house. If you have a reader who enjoys mysteries and doesn't want any of the fantastical elements but realistic situations and characters these are great books.