Saturday, November 16, 2013

Poetry of the Mad

Mom are you ok?
No. My brain is broken.
It’s not broken, you just have a headache.

So, did the doctor say anything?
She called in an anti-depressant.
But what is wrong? Is it
There has to be something specific.

What did she say was wrong with you?
She didn’t say.
Could be hormonal
Could be chemical
We’re trying this first to see if it works.
How can she prescribe something if she
doesn’t know for sure?
Are you sure you need meds?

What do you think is wrong?
I don’t know.
My brain is broken.
My feels have a hiccup
My skin doesn’t fit
I burn with rage
I float in apathy
I feel the joys and sorrows of the entire planet
And it consumes me

Monday, September 30, 2013

We're not telling you to suck it up

We're sure you're in a ton of pain, honey, but it'll be three weeks before you can see the doctor. Just take it easy or go to the E.R. if you really can't handle it.

Because yes, a $250 ER Co-pay and 20% of the fees is something my budget has just been dying to splurge on. And, oh, yeah, they'd want to give me morphine. Another fun thing to look forward to: red angry veins from the hydrochloric acid they call a godsend of a painkiller burns my arm off while making me hurl my stomach and lungs up.

In other words: suck it up, soldier.

You are a woman: you've had six kids, pain is an old friend, a monthly friend; you can do this.

Ok, someone's definition of "friend" is completely different than mine, but I guess I'm still breathing.

Last week it felt like my right ovary had declared nuclear war on my left. The left then mutated into some kind of shark-tooth covered alien trying to gnaw its way out of my abdomen while retaliating with carpet-bombing across the way back to the offending O.

And then all hell broke loose Saturday when I was pretty sure my lower abdomen went supernova.

Drugs? Sure. I have them on hand. I filled my prescriptions after my Appendectomy/Hernia/OvarianCystRemoval Trifecta Of Doom surgery a couple of years ago. And then never took them. Pain AND narcotic allergies really don't make for a fun experience. Especially when the narcotics don't really get rid of the pain, but add massive headaches and nausea to it.

But, you know, sometimes I take them because the pain is so bad I have to believe the other side-effects are worth it. And then it all snowballs to Hell and doesn't melt for a couple of days.

1 - I will never understand how people can get addicted to pain killers. Gross

2 - My female bits have done their part, and are broken. They're past warranty and I'm pretty sure I can't get a factory replacement, so I'd just as soon have them removed, thank you very much. Besides, if they keep fighting, who knows what other organs they'll incite into rebellion.

The last thing I need is for my kidneys deciding to be the Luke and Leiah to my brain's Emperor, with the liver shooting out cloned Storm Troopers while my pancreas declares itself the moon of Endor. I'd be a living breathing disco ball of lights, suspended from the ceiling and spinning from the blaster shots, light sabers, and Force being thrown around. Ooh, Pretty.

Three weeks.

At least the supernova has burned down, leaving my uterus a flaming bonfire. Today the two O's are sitting around it singing Kumbaya until their next high school drama fight begins and they start trying to claw each others eyes out again. Using ballistic missiles.

I'll take it. I have dishes to do and girl scouts to run and a couple of birthdays to plan. And if the O's can keep the cease-fire up for three weeks until the doctor can fix the problem, fine.

Because scheduled medical anything is cheaper than unscheduled.

Monday, September 16, 2013

top ten must-read epic fantasy books

Let's assume you're someone who has never read epic fantasy before and is interested in picking up a book. What book should you read first?

First, hopefully you understand that Epic Fantasy is going to generally mean bigger books, bigger storylines that span several books, lots of magic, is usually set in a midieval time period of some sort, and usually has lots of Dungeons & Dragons style critters in it: elves, dwarves, monsters, etc. And if you don't know what those are, I guarantee you'll find out in a hurry.

Now, most folks would say, "Start out with Tolkien! He's the father of Epic Fantasy!" And, sure, that's true. He is. But... unless you're used to his style of writing - and you've read a lot of, oh, let's say Dickens or Bram Stoker, I'm going to hand you "The Hobbit" instead of "Lord of the Rings." Trust me, it's just better for us all that way.

1 - "The Hobbit"
* Introduction to elves, dwarves, wizards, goblins, trolls, and dragons
* It's lighthearted and funny whilst still having an epic story to tell
* If you like it, the stage is now set for you to read "Lord of the Rings" as well as any number of other fantasy novels involving dwarves, elves, etc. (David Eddings, Terry Brooks, David L. McKiernan, Tracy Hickman, R.A. Salvatore, Raymond E. Feist)

There will be Tolkien fanatics who tell you to read the Silmarillion first or insist you add it to your reading list. Don't. Just trust me. Unless you read the bible often and think about how it influences your life and the culture around you, I think LOTR stands on its own just fine without having to read its bible (which Tolkien never intended to publish.)

2 - "Dragon Riders of Pern" by Anne McCaffrey.
* Completely different dragons
* Completely different world/monsters/politics/magic
* If you love these books, you'll love books by Christopher Rowley

3 - "The Swans War" series by Sean Russel - because it's a twist between the first two recommendations. And if you like those three books, then you should read his "Initiate Brother" duology, as well.

5 - "Codex Alera" by Jim Butcher
* This is getting your feet wet in epic fantasy. Six books, not small, each with awesome stories yet working together to tell a bigger story overall. Some fantastic magic here.

6 - "Scent of Magic" by Andre Norton
* this is a one book standalone novel to give you a break from the stack of books you just read and the wall of books I'm about to suggest after this. However, if you like this, you should definitely check out all of her other novels, as well as those by Ursula K. LeGuin and C.J. Cherryh. These women are the Goddesses of Sci-fi/Fantasy

7 - "Wheel of Time" by Robert Jordan, finished by Brandon Sanderson
* Ok, yes. This is a boatload of fifteen humungous books and looks daunting right off. Take it one book at a time, one word at a time. And if you love it, it's the stuff dreams and many a conversation are made of.
* Note: If you like the first few books and get bored, say in book five, I won't be sad if you put them down and go read something else. If you can't make it through book one, that's ok, too. Try "Mistborn" by Brandon Sanderson :) No, that series isn't anything like Wheel of Time, but they are epic fantasy and are awesome. In fact, if you end up liking WoT, definitely read Sanderson's books, and I would add Tanya Huff and Holly Lisle to the list as well.

8 - "Servant of a Dark God" by John Green
* I've just added this to my top ten list after reading it this week. Amazing story, amazing world, it's just that good. I think anyone who loves epic fantasy needs to read this book. And anyone new to the genre should maybe start here.

9 - Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett
* doesn't matter which book you pick up first. There are over 20 novels plus short stories, most stand alone. The ones that don't are labeled accordingly. Read them, laugh, read some more, laugh some more, and learn to laugh at the genre itself and society while you're at it. This is satire at its best.
*if you like these, I'd recommend books by Robert Aspirin, Piers Anthony, Harry Turtledove

10 - Oh, I don't know how to pick what goes here. "Time of the Dark" by Barbara Hambly? Anything by Barbara Hambly? Go read her books. Read them all, right now. The woman can write.

This post inspired by Chuck Wendig's crowdsourcing of favorite epic fantasy reads. LOTS of awesome books suggested there.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Arting through the Lows

My friend Lee was the Major General --and was FANTASTIC-- in a local community theater production of Pirates of Penzance. I told him I would do artwork for their next show, for free even, if they'd please, please, please let me help them with their backdrops.  I may not be the worlds greatest artist, but, well, it's better than them not having an artist at all.

He took me up on the offer, and I've been decorating fans for the upcoming Mikado. I've finished the flowered fans for the women, now I'm working on the big buff manly-man warrior fans for the men. 

This project has been a lifesaver for me. Struggling with being tired all the time, I've had to cancel all kinds of things because I have zero energy. But sitting in my chair and sketching out forms with a white colored pencil has activated my spirit in a way that is encouraging. I don't feel frustrated, or sad, or useless when I'm drawing.

So while my energy levels are still low (I seriously needed a nap after doing the first fan) this project doesn't make me feel tired on the inside. I pull out that silver Sharpie and get to work, gritting my teeth and forcing myself through the tired because I'm excited to see the finished result.

silver sharpie on black nylon

silver sharpie on black nylon

And nope, these are not my own original images, let me say that right up front. They are a study in black and white of some very talented artists' work. Ecept the demon. I looked at a bunch of oriental demons and came up with something that I thought would work on a fan.

black and silver sharpie. first lines drawn in w/ white colored pencil

Are they perfect? hardly. Will they work as props in a play? I think so. I'm not sure about that demon, though. I need to rethink some lines that blur or conflict or are maybe too thin.

At the end of the day, it's nice to be useful. And drawing with sharpie doesn't take anything out of me, leaving me feeling all used up. Instead I feel... filled? Does that make sense? Physically I'm tired, but I woke up in a happier place this morning after yesterdays Art Harder marathon. (thank you Chuck Wendig)

Monday, August 19, 2013


In May we adopted two six-year old sister beagles.

A couple of weeks ago there were two sister kittens in our back yard that we've been feeding and keeping safe. In spite of various family member allergies, I can't seem to bring myself to part with these cute little fuzz-balls.

At first, the dogs were very not happy about this. They had those kittens cornered under the table in my back yard and were proud of their hunting skills, darnit. Now, the dogs come sniff the cats and go about their business, and those little kitties fluff out and hiss and spit, and I laugh so dang hard, because they're so teensy.

So here, have some pics of the kitties and the dogs.

Ten Books That Make Me Smile, Laugh, and/or Giggle

I seem to be in a "List" kind of phase now, so what the heck, I'm rolling with it.

Books that make me laugh, smile, and feel good.

1 - "Summon the Keeper" by Tanya Huff - Paranormal - Magic, ghosts, cats, and Hell in the basement. I laugh so hard every time I read this. I think there are three?? books in the series, but this one is my favorite. I can't even count how many times I've read it.

2 - Discworld by Terry Pratchett - Satyrical Fantasy? - I don't even know which book to recommend first. The Tiffany Aching series is fantastic, it's probably middle grade or YA level. The illustrated Last Hero is also not to be missed. Dragons! Dragons!, Going Postal... it doesn't matter where you start, each book is stand-alone yet they all fit together in this beautiful world that makes me giggle, belly laugh, and enjoy the ride.

3 - Incarnations of Immortality Series by Piers Anthony - Fantasy - Piers Anthony's Death is quite different from Terry Pratchetts, and I must admit that it has been over twenty years since I've read these novels. I do remember thoroughly enjoying his take on gods and myths and not being able to devour the books fast enough. Looking them up on Amazon reminds me that I need to purchase copies for myself.

4 - The Princess Diaries Series by Meg Cabot - YA Real Life Fiction? - (is that even a genre?) Normally not my favorite genre to read, but when it's good, it's this good. Mia makes me laugh, the silliest things happen to her, and I just love her. Always a giggle to be found no matter which book it is. And lovely enough, the books don't have to be read in order if you can't find them that way.

5 - A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck - YA Historical Fiction - At first I thought this book was going to be similar to "Walk Two Moons" in that it would be funny, but it would be more poignant and sad. (Don't get me wrong, I loved Walk Two Moons. It totally earned it's Newberry Medal, but it made me cry, so no, it doesn't get on this list.) I was pleasantly surprised. This book is full of awesome, and it didn't make me cry. I think Granny is my favorite character, ever.

6 - "Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs" by Molly Harper - Paranormal Romance - Hilarious. Can I say it again? HILARIOUS! The 'adult moments' are a little explicit, so if that makes you uncomfortable, don't read it or skip those bits. But I was rolling, seriously rolling on the floor laughing. I have had to find a copy of everything she's written because I love Molly's sense of humor.

7 - Myth series by Robert Lynn Aspirin - Fantasy/Paranormal - I was introduced to these books when I was sixteen. Oh my goodness. For one, I liked the puns in his titles. For two, I remember giggling through every story. I loved the way his magic worked.

8 - The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher - Urban Fantasy/Noir - This list would not be complete without Harry Dresden. He's a wise-ass, smack-talking wizard detective whose view on Fae, magic, etc, makes me laugh out loud. He gets his butt handed to him over and over, but he always somehow comes out on top. Well, by the end. But not always. I wanted to write a ranty letter to Jim Butcher at the end of Changes, let me tell you. But Harry, he's good people. I LOVE Harry's attitudes and his sheer determination. And, well, Bob the skull... what more can I say? They crack me up!

9 - "The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump" by Harry Turtledove - Urban Fantasy/Noir -A friend of mine lent me this book a couple of weeks ago. Imagine the 1980's powered by magic and imps. This was fun to read, because I like a good mystery and I like the tongue-in-cheek humor. It's a little dark for this list, but it was a fun read. :)

10 - The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede - YA Fantasy - Princess doesn't like the prince she's supposed to marry, so she runs off to be a scullery maid to the dragons. And princes still show up at her cave door to beg for her hand. Read these out loud to my daughter and we giggled and laughed our way through it.

I really want to put Charles de Lint on this list. I used to have several of his books, but I think I gifted them during a move. I know the book I'm thinking of was a Jilly Copperfield novel, and I remember being delighted at the urban fantasy elements and that she was an artist. I'm not sure I could say the books were 'humorous' but I remember they made me feel good, not gritty. Even though they had grit. There was always something wonderful and hopeful that made me light up with delight when I read them. So. Go read everything by Charles de Lint and find out for yourselves how awesome he is. Me, I think I need to buy them all over again.

 What are your favorite novels that make you laugh?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Top Ten Life-Changing Books

I woke up this morning with a top ten list of books in my head. Not just any books, but books that changed my life.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Plethora of Thoughts

On Doctors

July marked the two year anniversary of moving into this house, as well as my first ever surgery. I had my appendix removed and while they were at it, they fixed a hernia I didn't know I had and removed a cyst on my ovary. That experience is why I refuse to go to doctors now. It wasn't because of the doctor, the nurses, or the hospital. They were great. It was because of my experience recuperating. Never, ever, ever again will I put myself in a position where I can't do anything but lay in my bed for a few weeks.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Painting with Alcohol and Sharpies

A friend of mine is directing a local theater company's Mikado and has asked me to help him with props. I'm painting fans for the players.

I'd never painted on fabric before, and I pulled on what I'd learned from a colored pencil class in college when I learned how to use washes with colored pencils using fabric brushes and denatured alcohol. Since the fans are made out of nylon, and all the dyes and fabric markers suggest cotton, natural fibers, or a poly blend, I figured why not try it with marker. It's just as permanent as paint, right?

First I colored in the border with a pink crayola marker. Does that look pink to you?? Me either. I didn't like the look at all.

Friday, August 9, 2013

On Being Different, but not really

We're different at our house. And just a titch crazy.

I think people who think differently make the best of friends. They have the best conversations, since they see points from different perspectives. People who agree all the time don't have much to talk about, I would think. People usually have a few things in common, sure, but I think differences are the spice of relationships. (unless you disagree violently, in which case it's probably better for all involved to just keep your distance)

Saturday, August 3, 2013


So in between and after various camping trips this summer, I've made a couple of logo's.

I'll share, shall I?

For Jwelr's Cakes

for my cousin, MontE, because he capitalizes his E, and because he's Uncle Monkey :)
That monkey e there? Illustrated type. Finally, I can mark off that I've officially done it, now.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Testosterone Flicks

Can't sleep and am in the mood to make a list. So tonight's list is going to be about my guilty pleasure: testosterone flicks.

Friday, July 12, 2013

John Cleaver series - Spoilerific Book Review

I don't normally do book reviews because there are a gazillion blogs out there that review books. But I just finished the John Cleaver series by Dan Wells, and AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!

*note: I knew about these books because I follow Writing Excuses, and Dan Wells talks extensively about his writing process and his experience with these books, so I've been dying to read them for a while. I met him at Conduit last year and ordered the T-shirts for Christmas because, well, wow.... Anyway, my library just got book three, and I have just finished it.

So, !!SPOILERIFIC!! stuff to follow, but I have to talk about these books!  I'm not even sure I have words... and they're all going to gush out in run-on sentences when I find them.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Multitude of Thoughts

 June came and went, and with it a great many thoughts I've been trying to distill so I can understand them. I just don't understand people sometimes. I understand motivations based on love, greed, compassion, bias, bigotry, moral standards, the need to be right, etc, but I don't understand how motivations translate to hurtful behavior that is considered acceptable. Isn't there a filter somewhere in there that says, "This behavior will yield this result or this result".

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Summer of Travel

I feel like I should write, but I don't know what. So here's a travel log for the past few months.

Phoenix ComiCon - 748 miles one way

Girl Scout Sleepover - 40 miles each way

Bear Lake - 127 miles one way

Do Hospital visits count? After Bear Lake, this little one got super sick - so sick she lost four pounds. She sure looks happy, though...

Girl's Camp - somewhere around 97 - 110 miles, not really sure. It's up in the Uintah's somewhere, and people only drive ten mph on the gravel roads, so it takes 3 hours to get there if you're stuck behind someone.

This is just the beginning. There are still two Girl Scout Camps coming up as well as family reunions in Bear Lake and Preston, Idaho, and probably something else that I can't remember.

I'm pretty sure my butt imprint is forever branded in the van seat at this point.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I Guess It Went For A Walk?

So... My Wacom Tablet has decided to go for a walk, apparently. And it did not ask permission first, nor did it leave a note.

I rearranged my living room a couple of weeks ago, and in so doing, I pulled everything out of every desk, put it all on couches and chairs while I moved furniture, and then put it all back in a more organized fashion. I remember putting my tablet inside the desk 'cupboard' next to the monitor before closing the door and calling the room clean.

Today I wrote up a blog post about traveling but discovered my camera battery was dead. Since I couldn't upload pics for the blog post, I decided I'd play in Photoshop and Painter for a while. Why? Because I'm supposed to be writing, but I'm still mulling over possible next steps, and I figured ANY kind of creativity is better than a day spent doing pet battles on WoW. (And I am really in love with some of those pets, let me just tell you. Plus there's a check-list for the pet achieves, and I have a personal goal to try to find rares of each kind, and so, yeah, time-sink of wasted time I will never get back.) But I digress.

No tablet.

I am hoping that when it decides that it misses me, it will return home and we can play. I have a fire piece that needs working on, and a mouse just doesn't cut it. I guess I will sketch instead.

Does this ever happen to anyone else?

Friday, June 14, 2013

My Top 40 of Turning 40

I normally don't do birthdays. I dislike them. (I do stuff for my kids, but when it comes to my birthday, just trust me, it's best to leave well enough alone on said day. I like to read all the well-wishes the day after, when I'm not feeling crazy.)

I have issues.

When I turned 32, I had a little-kid birthday party for my birthday, and I tried, I really did, to enjoy the day. It didn't take.

Next week is not only my birthday, but I'm turning 40. I know this sounds silly and dumb, but, well, sometimes I'm silly and dumb. And neurotic.

Turning 30 didn't phase me. I didn't feel like anything had changed, and I couldn't figure out why some people hate that number. For me, it's 40. I didn't think it would bother me, but it does. It's this looming number that will be part of me forever. Every number thus far has added up to it, and every number after this will just add to it. All the gray hair on my head attest to the fact that forty does, indeed, belong to me.

Well, then.

First thing on the to-do list: dye my hair. It may not change the texture of the gray, but it may as well be FUN, right?

Second thing: It's not like I'm dying. It's just a day. And I'm not about to set up a lawn chair and start yelling at kids to get off my lawn. At this point, it would be my kids I'm yelling at, and I don't want to be THAT kind of mom.

Anyway. I have decided to make a list. Because I like lists, that's why.

I have compiled the Top-40 Songs of my life. (ha ha) The background music to the screenplay of my life, if you will. Or, put another way, a selection of music that makes me happy.

1973 - 1982

- Bad Bad Leroy Brown - Jim Croce Jim Croce tells the best stories. I love all of his songs.
- You're So Vain - Carly Simon we had a Carly Simon 8-track, and my brothers and I would sing this song over and over
- Me and My Arrow - Harry Nilsson - Speaking of 8-tracks... my little brother Jon LOVED the show "The Point" and would listen to this soundtrack constantly. To this day I still hear this song whenever I think about my brother.
- Superstition - Stevie Wonder I remember learning about Stevie Wonder in grade school. I always wished I could play the piano like him, not to mention make music that made my feet move in all kinds of funky ways.
- Sing - The Carpenters - my parents were huge fans of The Carpenters, and more often than not, if it wasn't one of dad's metal albums being played, it was a Carpenters album. Dad talked all the time about how they went to a Carpenters concert for their honeymoon. Sesame Street included, any song by the Carpenters reminds me of fuzzy warm moments of childhood.
- Dancing Queen - ABBA - Because it wouldn't really be a 70's list without ABBA, now would it?
- Cold As Ice - Foreigner  I remember this being on the radio during a drive home from Idaho to Wyoming. And it was cold outside, the wind was blowing (because the wind ALWAYS blows in southwestern Wyoming) and the song stuck in my head forever.
- Dream On - Aerosmith My dad loved metal, my mom loved classical music. Tchaicovsky on one end of the house, Aerosmith on the other. Stand in the middle and it was this intense orchestra of clashing sounds.
- China Grove - The Doobie Brothers Because China Grove, people!
- I Wanna Rock And Roll All Night - Kiss This is only on my list because I have a memory, faded and blurry with age, of a hotel room. My mom tucking me in and telling me to be good, and dad being so excited he could hardly stand it because they were going to see KISS in concert. I vaguely remember mom saying she was sure it damaged her ears, whereas my dad was grinning and excited forever. Very different personalities, my parents. Not a song I particularly love, at all, but it triggers a memory.

1983 - 1992

This is hard. I can point you here and honestly say I have memories for every single song on that list (and every year thereafter.) Whittling things down to include ten years is hard work, peeps.
- I Just Called To Say I Love You - Stevie Wonder Yes, yes, I know, not up to Stevie's normal par and seriously lacking some bass. And a band. But 11 year old me loved this song. My parents were getting divorced, and this song was my happy. I was constantly calling the radio station to request it.
- Venus - Bananarama Ah, Junior High and our lip-sync assemblies. This was 7th grade at its finest, and this song had me pretending to be on drums up on stage with my friends. We got to perform at night for parents because the girls who had won first place got disqualified because they'd started a food fight during lunch. (which was awesome)
- Little Fifteen - Depeche Mode The very first official cassette tape I ever owned was this album. This song was the one that stuck with me because I was fifteen when I got it for Christmas. Yep, it's depressing, but it fit my moods back then.
- Boom There She Was - Scritti Politti First album I bought for myself. LOVED the lead singer's hat, and I wanted to be just like him. I had every song memorized.
- Open Your Heart - Madonna oh, the memories. Watching the video on Friday Night Videos with my friends... ah, that was the life. And then, to make it even better, my step-mom's friend's son Jason gave me this album. Not only was he hot, hot, hot! but I loved the album, and that made it even better. Plus it made me feel all cultured because La Isla Bonita was all in Spanish.
- Stand - R.E.M. I have very clear memories of the boys in P.E. singing this before dodgeball would start.
- Opposites Attract - Paula Abdul I once had a friend call a radio station and request this song. Over the air he dedicated it to his real life Paula Abdul, which was me. People used to tell me I looked like her, but I never saw it.
- Ringfinger - Nine Inch Nails It's not the 90's without some Trent. This song played at every dance club and sponsored dance that I went to. And something about his anger resonated with me.
- Right Here Right Now - Jesus Jones The first Gulf War was on the tv all the time, history was in the making, and people were capitalizing on the war. Even I bought a sweatshirt.
- Winds of Change - Scorpions The Berlin Wall came down. I watched it happen on tv. It was crazy; the whole world was in flux. The USSR had a coup and "dethroned" Gorbachev, Tieneman Square and tank-guy happened in China, Germany united, and the whole of Europe changed. Maps haven't been the same since.
- Recipe for Making Love - Harry Connick Jr. Back when he was just my fiance, my husband and I would listen to this tape and sing out loud to the big-band songs. Have been a fan ever since.

1993 - 2002

- You Think You Know Her - Cause & Effect I listened to this album while giving birth to my first daughter. TMI? Perhaps, but it's a song that is woven into life-changing experiences, and having a baby was definitely one of those.
- Cohesion - Matthew Ship  I started listening to NPR and the Garrison Kieller show. In the evenings, the jazz music was all that would put my daughter to sleep. Although this particular song feels more 'new-ageish' to me than jazzy, but I'm rolling with it. Enjoy the dissonance.
- Somewhere Other Than The Night - Garth Brooks Yep, I got on the Garth train and rode it all the way. Loved his voice and his songs.
- Should've Been A Cowboy - Toby Keith Yeah, I can't explain it, but I fell in love with country when I started having kids. Not gonna apologize for that, there's some awesome music there.
- December - Collective Soul Baby number two came along, and for some reason this was the song I loved when she was born.
- All Apologies - Nirvana Wouldn't be a 90's list without Nirvana on it. They changed music, people went back to having real bands instead of just synthesizing everything.
- Flood - Jars of Clay I heard this song on the radio and thought America had released a new album. Had to buy the album because I liked the sound so much.
- Bitch - Meredith Brooks Money was tight, husband was in and out of the hospital, and I was trying to figure out how motherhood fit in with working two jobs while trying to make ends meet. This song epitomized me. I was everything on the list and loved Meredith Brooks for singing it.
- Spice Up Your Life - Spice Girls When my husband was home, he was either listening to the Hackers soundtrack, or this. I knew how long I could nap between jobs, and which song meant it was time to get up and go.
Amazed - Lonestar Baby number three came along, and I remember this playing on the radio when I drove home from the hospital.

2003 - 2013

- When I'm Gone - 3 Doors Down Husband was in the hospital again, this time we weren't sure if he was going to live or not. 2003 he got his kidney transplant and this song fit the emotions that I was feeling that year.
- Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy - Big & Rich This song was on every. single. morning. in Grace, Idaho during the year that the hubster and I were separated. It just wouldn't be a complete list without it.
- Moves like Jagger- Maroon 5 I love this band. Probably because Adam Levine sounds like Stevie Wonder. But I love most of their songs. Except that stupid payphone one. (blargh)
- My Immortal - Evanescence Daughter number four came along and with her a love for this band.
- Trouble Maker - Olly Murs Speaking of sounding like Stevie Wonder or Maroon 5... And while it's a much more recent release, it sums up the personality of daughter number five.
- Do You Want To Date My Avatar - The Guild After my son was born, I was uninsured and had no way to deal with severe post-partum depression, except to play WoW. It got me out of bed. I made a lot of great friends that way. I was not the greatest mom, but it was better than suicide.
- Dance, Dance - Fall Out Boy And thus started the "if it makes me move and dance, I love it" phase of music. I'm not all that picky. If it's got a good beat, I'll add it to my you-tube playlist and let it go while I'm cleaning, writing, gardening (ha) or anything else.
- Paralyzer - Finger Eleven As I was finishing my illustration degree, music fed my homework assignments. I can't even explain how or why. Even the lyrics mattered, whether they had anything to do with the actual work. This is one of those songs.
- Victoria - Eve 6 And then I started writing. The sci-fi romance I'm working on right now, well, this is my theme song for it. Some day I'll explain why.
- Breath of Life - Florence + the Machine This is one of those songs that reverberates in my bones and through my soul. I can't explain it, I'm not sure I want to. But I love this song.
- Into the Night - Santana & Chad Kroeger Doing dishes? Cleaning the bathroom? This song at full blast makes everything brighter, funner, and worth doing.
- Better Now - Collective Soul Speaking of making everything better and brighter and funner... yeah :) This song puts a huge smile on my face every time.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

First Lines

There are about a million and one blog posts that talk about the importance of having a great first line for your book. Today a friend posted in our writing group another of these posts, and while I agreed with the bloggers point, I wanted more examples.

Ok, ok, I was procrastinating writing and editing. 

Instead of being long-winded about something readers either love or hate, I'm just going to post my favorites. The first lines hooked me enough that I bought the book. (to be fair, I have other books just because I love the cover art.) I wish to be able to wordsmith like this. Agree? Disagree? Have your own favorites? Do tell!

From the top of the large boulder he sat on, Ensign Tom Davis looked across the expanse of the cave toward Captain Lucius Abernathy, Science Officer Q'eeng and Chief Engineer Paul West perched on a second, larger boulder, and thought, Well this sucks. 
--REDSHIRTS by John Scalzi

I was born with the war.
--FOR THOSE I LOVED by Martin Gray

Linderwall was a large kingdom, just east of the Mountains of Morning, where philosophers were highly respected and the number five was fashionable.
--THE ENCHANTED FOREST by Patricia Wrede

"I'm ten years old, my whole life you've called me Vanya. My name is on the school records, on government papers as Ivan Petrovich Smetski. Now you tell me I'm really Itzak Shlomo. What am I, a Jewish secret agent?"
--ENCHANTMENT by Orson Scott Card

Gramps says that I am a country girl at heart, and that is true. I have lived most of my thirteen years in Bybanks, Kentucky, which is not much more than a caboodle of houses roosting in a green spot alongside the Ohio River."
--WALK TWO MOONS by Sharon Creech

It had been over four years since I'd really slept, and I suspected it was killing me. 
-- INSOMNIA by J.R. Johansson

In the week before their departure to Arrakis, when all the final scurrying about had reached a nearly unfathomable frenzy, an old crone came to visit the mother of the boy, Paul.
--DUNE by Frank Herbert

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.

How many times I have wondered what my fate might have been had I accompanied my parents that rainy spring morning. Such musings, I recognize, are more than a trifle insane, for envisioning what might have been has no more connection to our own true reality than a lunatic has to a lemon.
--PRINCESS BEN by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.
--PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES  by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

The stork glided to a landing before Stunk's residence and squawked for attention. "No, it can't be!" the goblin cried in panic, "I'm not even married!" 
--NIGHT MARE by Piers Anthony

[Inscription on the god doll: Be silent, I am talking]
My people, lay down your stones. Before you stone this Annakey Rainsayer, you know it is the law and her right to have her story told.
--THE DOLL MAGE by Martine Leavitt

It was a September morning, hazy with late summer, and now with all the years between.
--A YEAR DOWN YONDER by Richard Peck.

There is no lake at Camp Green Lake. There once was a very large lake here, the largest lake in Texas. That was over a hundred years ago. Now it is a just a dry, flat wasteland.
--HOLES by Louis Sachar

They had tried to destroy the Will, but that proved to be beyond their power. So they broke it, in two ways. It was broken physically, torn apart, with the fragments of heavy parchment scattered across both space and time. It was broken in spirit because not one clause of it had been fulfilled.
--MISTER MONDAY by Garth Nix

"Ida B," Mama said to me on one of those days that start just right and just keep heading toward perfect until you go to sleep, "When you're done with the dishes, you can go play. Daddy and I are going to be working until dinner."
--IDA B by Katherine Hannigan

Corporal Carrot, Ankh-Morpork City Guard (Night Watch), sat down in his nightshirt, took up his pencil, sucked the end for a moment, and then wrote:
     'Dearest Mume and Dad, Well, here is another fine Turnup for the books, for I have been made a Corporal!!'

--MEN AT ARMS by Terry Pratchett.

Dear Lord, if it is not too much to ask, could you please send less wind and fewer turnips?
--GIRL IN A CAGE by Jane Yolen and Robert J. Harris

That fool of a fairy Lucinda did not intend to lay a curse on me. She meant to bestow a gift.
--ELLA ENCHANTED by Gail Carson Levine

Prince Raoden of Arelon awoke early that morning, completely unaware that he had been damned for all eternity. 
--ELANTRIS by Brandon Sanderson

My first superbeing was an accident. Literally and figuratively.

Sabira Lyet d'Deneith toyed with the glass in her hand as she watched her quarry from the far end of the Wavecrest Tavern's semicircular bar. 
--DnD ONLINE: THE SHARD AXE by Marsheila Rockwell

Ambassador Sara Bair knew that when the captain of the Polk had invited her to the bridge to view the skip to the Davanar system, protocol strongly suggested that she turn down the invitation.

Lilly's lamp blew out as she bolted down the hallway. She threw the lamp aside, splashing oil across the painted wall and fine rug. The liquid glistened in the moonlight.
--THE RITHMATIST by Brandon Sanderson

They came in the night. Once, families fought them, neighbors coming to their aid. But now that peace has been established, and the looms proven, girls pray to be retrieved. They still come at night, but now it’s to avoid the masses with eager hands.
--CREWEL by Gennifer Albin

Let’s just get this right out of the way – This book has 275 things to “know” about writing. Not 250. I know. I know. Believe it or not, I can count. Even though I am not a registered mathologist, or even a certified addition accounting therapist, I can still add up numbers without the use of my fingers and toes. In fact, I have a lovely abacus over here. His name is “Steve.”

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, 'and what is the use of a book,' thought Alice 'without pictures or conversation?'

I balanced on my surfboard, right thigh burning and salt water stinging my eyes, while the best wave of the early morning carried me like a goddess on a pedestal to shore. 
--PERCEPTION by Lee and Elle Strauss

I dare you to check your own favorites, see how that author strung words together to hook you. And if you're a writer, check and double check your own first lines.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Daughters and Dogs

Sibling rivalry is a constant in our house. I didn't think it was possible for my 13 year old to talk to my 9 year old in anything but a sarcastic tone of voice. Until this morning.

What changed? Two additions to the family. Meet Lucy and Bella. Lucy's the one wearing the pink harness upside down. Bella's the one licking Princess Q's face. These two sisters joined our family last night. They came to us from a friend who's family is being deployed (?? Is this even the right term?) to Spain in a couple of months.

It was hard to take the dogs from a loving family and watch their tears at the separation. I still feel a little guilty for being the cause of pain. But here we are, teaching the kids how to use leashes, brushes, pooper-scoopers, how and when to feed and how much, and mostly learning new personalities.

Now, it's only day one of dogs. We made it through the first night after I learned that they don't like sleeping upstairs in their kennel. Once midnight hit, the growling and barking started. They reminded me more of kittens waking up than dogs. I let them outside in case maybe my husband had put them in the kennel too early and they needed a potty break, but that didn't solve anything.

So I moved their kennel to the basement, and it was like magic! Everyone slept well, dogs and humans both.

This morning an amazing thing happened. My 13 year old was letting the dogs outside for their morning potty break, but couldn't get Lucy to come up the stairs. So she and my nine year old worked together to carry/encourage Lucy up the stairs. The way my daughters interacted over solving this problem was amazing to me. I observed the kids working together to take care of animals they'd just met, and realized that these children of mine are pretty fantastically awesome. Not a drop of sarcasm as they talked and problem solved. There were even a couple of giggles!! *gasp*

These dogs seem to be the needed glue to help my girls bond. And apparently develop a love for yardwork. Honest, this morning the kids were up before my alarm clock so they could clean the back patio so the dogs would enjoy running around outside more. /blink/ They were ready for school in a heartbeat, and spent the rest of their morning playing with the dogs and sweeping up cherry blossoms.

I find this amazingly interesting, since I got the dogs with two things in mind: my son needed company during the day that have as much energy as he does, and my nine-year old needed something to love her just as much as she loves it in only the way a pet can. I had no idea there would be all these other benefits.

Granted, it's only day one of dog ownership. I'm sure there will be bumps in the road. The newness of scooping poo and walking dogs will wear off. Nor do I expect all sarcasm to be gone from my 13 year-old and that she'll now be best friends with her younger sister. She IS thirteen, after all. But so far I'm liking this road we're on, and am extremely glad we made the decision to add the beagles to our family.

Friday, May 10, 2013

College Isn't Hard, Self Control Is

I have a small beef. People keep telling my daughter that college is hard. She can’t quantify what is hard about it, just EVERYTHING!!!!!!  AAAAAAGGGHHH!!!  aaaand, off she goes screaming again. Stop that!!

College is not some tentacular nebulous vortex of doom that we survive like a right of passage.  There are no gangs of pretty or sporty people leaving trails of glitter, lipstick, and danced-upon footballs in their wake of lesser peons.

College is a learning experience that can be filled with all kinds of good and all kinds of bad, just like anything else in life.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Writing Prompt Wednesdays: Haiku

My mistake, it's Feb 1, 2013. Ooops.
Writing Prompt Wednesday. This week the prompt is from Chuck Wendig's Feb 3, 2013 blog challenge. There are a lot of great submissions there, I recommend checking it out.

I'm just doing my thing to the beat of my own erratic drummer, so I wrote mine today.

For a list of the writing prompts I share, please see my Writing Prompt page :) 

A story in three Haiku:

Conversations lost.
Phasing in and phasing out:

To have some control:
The one goal of my lifetime.
Yet I phase.

To shift time and life,
My lonely gift of travel.
I am nine.

Background: My daughter cannot follow conversations. A typical conversation with her is something like: 
12yo: "Hey, I think you'd really love this book."
9yo: "Why? Because you're allergic to cotton?"
12yo: "Why do I even talk to you?"

I decided she must shift through dimensions. So these haiku were about trying to see it through her eyes. I think it'd make a fabulous story if I can figure out some great powers and things going on that cause it to happen. 

Edit: Wow, boy did I do this wrong. Not only can I not read dates properly, I got the haiku syllable count wrong, too. It was supposed to be 5/7/5. Well. I'm leaving it as is for now, but doing a might powerful /facepalm.