Monthly Archives: March 2007

Thought to Ponder…an “OOOOH” moment

So since I’m a writer (and just a student of human nature in general), I love checking out the “weird” news stories throughout the week.  Tell me that this one doesn’t give you one of those OOOOH Damn, why couldn’t that have been me? 

I mean seriously, as I read this I was channeling Nic Cage in National Treasure.  Sigh.  Guess since I haven’t found any stray priceless documents around the house, I have to go back to work, eh?

What’s Going on With Me Wednesday…

So I had an absolute blast this weekend at the Spirit of Spring in Oklahoma conference!  We learned how to make incense (the “real” kind…no preservatives or nasty toxic crap), I didn’t make a complete ass of myself at my talk (or at least so they’ve reassured me), I got to attend an evening ritual AND I sold 25 books!  All in all it was a great way to spend a weekend, and something I’ll be attending in future years, whether as a speaker or an attendee.

One of the most interesting parts was the evening ritual.  I’m not going to go into details, because that would go against the whole concept of it, but I *have* tried to explain it to the folks at work, so I’ll attempt the same here. 

For those of you who have ever attended a Catholic Mass, it’s kind of the same (and yes, I’m fully aware that I’m going to Christian Hell for even comparing the two)…  The attendees are dressed in their best “church” wear (although Wiccans/Neo-Pagans go mostly barefoot, and in gowns that DO NOT involve wearing pantyhose…explain to me how this is wrong, again?), candles and incense are lit , and the group is asked to chant or answer at specific areas (sounding familiar, here?).  In this case, the ritual was invoking good luck…no not the Lotto kind of good luck, but rather a spiritual kind of “letting go” of bad luck and chasing it away.  It also involved some great visualizing that really reminded my of Astral Plane stuff.

While I’ll never be a Wiccan, I guess I could consider myself a neo-Pagan of a sort…I just can’t get into the whole organization thing, and probably never will.

When it comes to writing, I’m dabbling here and there, just kinda getting my feet wet again after not writing for a bit.  Since we’ve got ABSOLUTELY NOTHING planned this weekend, my ass will be in the chair while August watches soccer, and with any kind of luck, I’ll get through my rewrites and really haul ass on something new.

So what did y’all do last weekend?

TABT…Poison Study by Maria Snyder

Poison Study

Maria Snyder

Choose:  A quick death…or slow poison… About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered and extraordinary reprieve.  As a food taster, she’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.  As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting.  Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control.  Her life is threatened again and choices must be made.  But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear…

 

An excellent entrée into a new series, Snyder doesn’t disappoint when it comes to setting up a multi-layered, complex world.  While some of the outcomes *were* predictable, at least for me, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Yelena was definitely a heroine to root for, who went through a well-crafted metamorphosis and Valek was the perfect anti-hero.  I’m looking forward to the next book, Magic Study.

Movie Monday…The Departed (2006)

Movie:  The Departed (2006) …We watched this last weekend, and I was *really* anticipating it.  Let me open this post by saying that this is a looong movie…two and a half hours, and unlike Zodiac (the last Movie Monday post), I felt it.  It’s not that the movie isn’t compelling…it is, but it just seemed longer than I thought it would.  Okay, enuf of that drivel…now to the good stuff.   Jack Nicholson was creepily perfect as the villain, playing the part with perfect depravity (then again, what else do we expect from Jack?).  Leo DiCaprio and Matt Damon were the true stars of this film, as they worked against each other without knowing of the other’s true identity.  The violence, as with a lot of Scorsese films, is frequent and graphic, but didn’t bother me overmuch because it all fit in with the plot.  As a whole, the film was quite well put together, with lots of red herrings and “ah-ha” moments, and beautifully filmed with a great supporting cast.  In my perfect world, though, Damon and DiCaprio would have swapped roles.  For some reason I just didn’t buy DiCaprio wholeheartedly, while I did Damon.  I guess if the roles were reversed, I would have been more immersed in the film as a whole. 

That is probably just me… I really like Matt Damon, but I’m not a big DiCaprio fan.  The kid just doesn’t work for me in any of his parts…probably because I’ve been forever scarred by Titanic (shuddering here).  Usually I can look past stuff like that (hey, I like Vin and The Rock…and not just for their buffed bods), but even in movies I’ve really liked (Gangs of New York comes immediately to mind), I never have cared for him.  I’m not sure why…methinks it’s just the way he looks.  Sigh.  All in all, if I had to make a recommendation, I’d say The Departed is definitely worth the experience, but it’s not one I’d buy for my library. Now, can they FINALLY release The Last King of Scotland?  Soon?  Please??

Freaky Location Friday…Enid

So I’ve already said that I’ve adopted Oklahoma as my home state.  You might ask if this is totally insane, coming from a chickadee who was born and raised in California.  In a word…NO!  Allow me a moment to explain…

The town I grew up in(Mariposa, CA) was the kind of place where you said “howdy” on the street (at least 30-ish years ago).  Where my graduating class was 106.  Yeah, that’s right, a senior class with only 106 grads.  So you’re getting the small town flavor, right?

So after I graduated, I bopped around a bit, and ended up in Yosemite for almost 5 years, doing this and that (and learning tons about myself in the process), before I met my hubby.  Then all bets were off…we moved to Vacaville, CA, pop of 76,000 (at that time, now I’m sure it’s close to 100K, if not significantly more).  DEFINITELY not small town.  Then we were stationed in the Portuguese Azores (heaven on earth, if you can stand wind and rain for 6 months of the year).  So we finish up our tour in the Azores, and pick Enid, Oklahoma for our next base.  Who knew it’d be the last one?

See, it’s like this…people say “howdy” here, even though we’ve got a population of over 50,000.  People smile at you and MEAN it.  You can’t beat that with a stick. 

Other great reasons to love Oklahoma?  We bought a 1500 sq foot ranch for $55K.  Yeah, that’s right.  Now, granted, that was 10 years ago, but still.  Then, we started incorporating ourselves into the community and found out it was a pretty damned nice place to live!  There’s almost NO crime (mostly stupid shits blowing themselves up in their meth houses…but that’s stopped over the last few years wit the new Sudafed restrictions)…I’ll post a link for you to laugh over at the end of this post. 

As August neared the end of his career in the Air Force, we had to sit down and think about what we wanted…did we want to move back to California, and try to find a place to live, jobs, etc…or did we want to stay in the place that calls itself…are you ready for this…Enid America.  I’m not shitting you. 

In all of my years associated with the military, I’ve NEVER seen a community so buy into it’s base.  In fact, I’m certain that the community support (hell, it was downright coersion on Capitol Hill) is the BIG reason we didn’t hit the BRAC list last round.

Enid’s not not flashy, by any means.  We’ve got one big high school in the town proper (and we live and die by football season), the ubiquitous “strip” where you can get flash-in-the-pan fast food (i.e., Chili’s, Applebees, etc) and a pretty damn decent selection of “local” food that includes a no-kidding Japanese restaurant (trust me, coming from CA, I’m a sushi connoisseur, and this stuff is fresh and good!), some excellent Mexican spots…basically the works.  And since August and I are major foodies, that’s a good thing.  Granted, you’re not gonna get the major spread you do in significant metro areas, but it’s still damn good eats.

Lets see, what else…every year, the city fathers put on two fireworks shows…the first on the 4th of July…it’s kinda cool because we can see the whole gig from our back yard, so margarita consumption is NOT limited by driving considerations *g*.  Tho we did stop lighting our totally illegal fireworks after a visit from Officer Friendly a few years back!

The other fireworks extravaganza is on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and is called Enid Lights up the Plains.  Basically it’s a chance for everone to converge on the town square (yup, a no-kidding, totally functional town square), visit with Santa, buy shit they don’t really need, and kick off the Christmas season.

As an aside, Good Morning America and Money Magazine rated Enid as one of the top 5 places to live in American last year, which was totally cool…until I realized it was going to make land that much harder to buy…sigh.

See, the dream is this…we’re going to find a 2-5 acre spread and build our dream house, then rent our current house out to base folks (and no, there’s no discrimination going on here…but with military folks, if they screw up the place, or miss their rent, I just walk over to housing and bitch, and voila, I have my money!).

Okay, so I’ve sung the praises of my adopted hometown a ton…here’s the link I promised.  This was the “big” news for the month.  http://www.enidnews.com/localnews/local_story_080004413.html

It basically boils down to this…a massive ladder truck (fire) drove over a pretty-damned-busy bridge on it’s way back from a call, a exceeded the weight limit…and collapsed the bridge.  Folks are all up in arms about it.  God, I love this town…not a murder to be seen…

Thought to ponder…on a Thursday…

Okay, I know it’s a lot to ask to think deeply on a Thursday (at least I know it is for me), so instead, I’ll leave you with this little gem. 

http://www.usatoday.com/news/offbeat/2007-03-13-drug-buy_N.htm

The most depressing part is that it takes place in my beloved adopted state, Oklahoma.  Sigh.  I guess there are freakin’ idiots everywhere.

What’s Going on With Me Wednesday

Sorry for disappearing into the ether!  I was all set to post my movie review on Monday, but when I got into work, I found the AF has finally decided to block us from a multitude of fun sites…again.  That’ll last about six months, or at least until a commander discovers he can’t use his favorite time-waster, and then we’ll be back to where we started.  Anyway, the saga continues *g*…I’m in the shower yesterday morning (during the mother of all thunderstorms) when…of course…the freakin’ power goes out.  Sooo, I finished rinsing out my hair, grabbed a flashlight to get dressed and put my makeup on, then packed up my hairdryer and curling iron and headed into work.  And obviously, couldn’t post my Tuesday book review from there because we’re blocked!! Shit, at this point, I’m just happy I got to post this bad boy!  LOL.   

Anyway, that’s the update on the “life” front.  On a totally cool note, I was asked to speak at the http://www.spiritofspringinoklahoma.com/index.html on Saturday, so now I’m trying to refresh my memory on all the Wiccan/Pagan info I learned years ago when I was writing Summerland and Brotherhood.  It’s kinda weird, because it seems like just yesterday when I was researching this stuff, but I haven’t really written about witchcraft in general since I finished Saints almost two years ago!!  I guess this “refresher” is a good thing on two fronts…one, I get to hawk some books and meet new people, and two, I’ll be undergoing edits on Saints pretty soon, so having stuff fresh can only help!  Anyway, I’ll report on how it went next week.  When it comes to writing, our scheduled appointments with the agent and editor last weekend were cancelled due to the winter storm on the East Coast.  While I was kinda bummed, it does give me a chance to fine tune View and flesh out the proposals for Live and Let Die (LLD) and Die Another Day (DAD).  Because there was no structured “meeting” planned, I didn’t go down to
Oklahoma City (three-hour round trip just seemed excessive for lunch and a book signing), and now I’m totally regretting it.  I missed playing with all my writer friends <pouting>.
 I’m finalizing the first round of edits on the current job I’m working on, so am really hoping to dive into View rewrites starting next Monday.  I’m hoping to have the first round of moving/shifting stuff done by the 31st, so I can make a fresh start of it in April…

I CAN’T freakin’ believe this Friday…

In a departure from my semi-regularly scheduled programming, I’m taking a moment to be so outraged, my damned hands are shaking.  The reason?  Some pinhead (and I’m being really, really, really polite here) Baptist reverend is supporting medical research into finding and then CHANGING the gene that “makes” a person gay or lesbian…IN UTERO.  This from the people who are vehemently opposed to stem cell research.

To say that I’m appalled is probably one of the biggest understatements I’ve ever made in my life. 

If you don’t believe me, check out this commentary (NOT his blog…I WILL NOT drive traffic there)… http://blogher.org/node/16833

I know that I grew up as a liberal Californian, and traveling the world and living in different cultures has certainly made my viewpoint a lot broader, but this…I just can’t put how freakin’ angry this makes me into words … and I’m a writer!

Isn’t part of life celebrating our differences, learning from them, and making the world a better place as a whole?

I understand that folks have differing opinions, but this is the place where I get to post mine, right?  So what do you think?

Okay, done now, because I’m just getting more pissed as I type.

Series…the good, the bad and the ugly…

Okay, I admit it, I’m a series freak.  I LOOOVE continuing storylines.  But, sometimes I have a BIG problem with them…the angst, especially in paranormals.

I recently *tried* to read an famous author who shall remain nameless (because I’m not freakin’ suicidal), and her book bored the living shit out of me.  Now granted, I picked it up in what I assume was the second or third book of the series (bought it at the Romantic Times convention last year), but by that point, I expect the pages and pages and pages of “otherwordlien” angst to have been worked out, y’know?

I mean, I understand if a character has his/her own personal angst (hello, I’m a writer too!), but after about fifty pages of this book, I got the ENTIRE angst of the freakin’ species…which I have to assume was the same in the preceding books and will continue into the next gazillion.

While I, of all people (two series going right now) understand the value of layering backstory in, IMO it should be done somewhat effortlessly…i.e., a new reader can pick up Book Three and figure out they’re missing some good stuff in Books One and Two, but not really miss a beat (except for deep characterizations if characters are reocurring).

Am I totally smoking dope?  I mean, the book that I read is a NYT Bestseller, and I threw it against the wall after two chapters!  I realize that once you hit the NYT list, pretty much everything you write is gold, but damn!

Then again, I read reviews on this book (again, shall remain nameless *g*), and it’s obvious the reviewers have read the whole series and are all agush about the angst.

Are they in their twenties?  I remember that time well…angst was the name of the game, and that’s cool if we’re selling to twenty-something readers, but that wasn’t my impression about paranormals. 

Sigh…maybe my publicist needs to give me some good #s on what is selling (forget that whole “book of the heart” and “write what you know” gig).  And no, I’m not being bitter in the least…e-pubs buck any kind of pubbing trends as a whole, so I’m cool there…it’s just nice to know, y’know?

So I repeat my question from above…am I smoking dope?  Or maybe I shoul paraphrase and ask if I’m smoking dope again? *g*.

What’s Going on With Me Wednesday

Since I got back late Thursday, I haven’t done a ton of writing…revising, yeah. Based on the recommendations of my crit partners, I’m revising a lot of View, and then expanding it into a trilogy.  So basically, over the past few days I’ve been crunching ideas around, and this is what I’ve come up with…whatcha think?

The Royal Gorge Academy…only the best and the brightest may attend…and only if they possess a Talent the Meece Foundation deems of value.  Founded in the late sixties, the Foundation is the brainchild of Hugh Meece, pharmaceutical groundbreaker…and the Royal Gorge Academy is the Foundation’s shining jewel.  Their motto:  Exploring the last frontier…the human mind. 

View to a Kill      Crime scene photographer Sara Covington has lived with The Sight her whole life…and paid the consequences.  Her ability to see another dimension has caused her nothing but grief since childhood.  Now she’s run across a possible serial killer with a psychic signature she’s never seen, an enigmatic, sexy-as-hell cop with no aura whatsoever and a colleague bent on smearing her name.  When her past—two years spent in an institution for the “gifted”–comes back to bite her in the butt, what’s a girl to do but hold on and hope like hell she doesn’t end up dead?Detective Brian Roney is hopelessly puzzled—and hopelessly intrigued–by Sara.  So much so that he brings her in on a shoot that ultimately gets her fired.  And while he knows that Sara is attracted to him, something is holding her back.

When Sara’s nemesis in the police department is murdered, Sara is one of the first likely suspects.  And while she has an alibi—Roney—the people who once held her in such respect—cops—now look at her with suspicion…for he died in exactly the same way the first two victims had…victims that Sara is now connected to, if by circumstance only. 

Live and Let Die            Arin Thomas is hot on the heels of the story that could make or break her career as an investigative journalist.  She’s made it her mission to discover the secrets of the Royal Gorge Academy, because she’s sure there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the highly selective and densely shrouded school.            Jonah Summers doesn’t particularly care for his role as headmaster of Royal Gorge, but he likes the feisty redhead’s nosing around even less.  As a product of the university himself, he knows the secrets the Meece Foundation hides, and exactly how their graduates benefit the world by keeping criminals and despots under control.           

But even Jonah isn’t prepared for the skeletons that Arin unearths…and the danger in maintaining the image of the perfect institution. 

Die Another Day      Dallas Homicide detective Monica Foudy is one of the select few aware of the Meece Foundation and it’s manipulation of the Talented population of the US.  But even she isn’t ready for the firestorm of controversy and danger that erupts when the secret is leaked.  And even more shocking is the emergence of her own Talent.            Meece Foundation Administrator Heath Farrell has successfully hidden the true nature of the Royal Gorge Academy for a decade.  But deep down, he’s never trusted the products of Royal Gorge, or their motivations.             

Now he must gamble on Monica and her emerging Talent to either continue the subterfuge…or blow it sky high forever.