11/16/14

Figment contest

And who could resist logging onto a website called Figment. Sorry, guys, but I have a soft place in my heart for Disney's Figment dragon!
 
Through  a weird roundabout way (a writer mentioned it, but didn't give any details and I went to work googling the internet, took me less than 2 minutes to find it.) I discovered this Bandon Sanderson contest on Figment. Brandon Sanderson is the writer who finished Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, but also has a bunch of his own books.

Anyway, I discovered this short story contest, 1000 max. words, which has a log line of,

“If you were a super-villain, what would your one power be? And how would you use it to conquer the world?”

So I started thinking about my Goblin's Apprentice stories and wondered about Mike and his story.

And I started writing. . . and wrote a bunch of backstory crap that really didn't need to be written. I realized this when I started talking to Meg. I think I knew it, but she helped me 'see' what I was doing. So I rewrote it, did a little bit of editing and submitted it to this contest.

According to the rules, I can't publish it anywhere except on their contest page until after the contest, but I can provide the link.


When you get to the page, just click the big red 'start at beginning' button.

Read it if you are curious about Mike and why he did what he did. I don't think you can comment or score it unless you are a member of this community.

And I don't expect you to join.

I hate the fact that so many of these contests are 'popularity' contests, where people try to force writers into reading their story just to get someone to comment on your story.

I hate, hate, HATE that. Tit-for-tat doesn't do anything but load the stories up with false scores.

Read the story, if you like it or don't like it, score it or don't score it, but don't ask me to read your story just so you'll come back and read mine. Do you really think I'll believe that you will come back to my page and score it? Really? I also have the deed to a popular bridge in New York City, just send me a moneygram for a gazillion bucks and you can have it--the deed, not the bridge.

I don't play those games, home girl.

And yes, one person asked this of me and I went all '*itchy' on her in my comment in response to her comment . . . less than an hour later another chick asked the same darn thing!

If you want to read how I went off on someone, then click the link and head to the comments. It probably wasn't professional of me, but I'm really tired of this popularity crap. I was never popular in high school and I'm certainly not popular in my crotchety old age.

I will ask one thing of you--anyone who reads this blog and is interested doing for me--read my story, and if you like it enough, then tweet it on your twitter, click like for facebook, or t+ for tumblr. It won't earn me any points, but all I ever wanted to do was to share my stories with other people.

And I can't do that without your help.

Later, Peeps!

11/5/14

Dem Bones . . . Gotta Have Dem Bones

No, not Halloween. It's done for the year.

I'm talking about the bones of a story. My good friend and writer, Meg Reid, and I were chatting the other day when I confessed that I had a hard time sitting down to write the next scene in my book, DRAGON DAYS OF SUMMER. It's a tough scene, an emotional one, where two of my characters witness a scene featuring a third character.

Have you ever been out and about and witness an explosion of anger? Even with people you don't even know? Or been in the room where two people are arguing, getting louder and louder.

I have. Not often, thank God. I'm one of those witnesses who curl into themselves, frozen in fear. Should I even say it? I'm the rabbit who freezes, and prays that the fox doesn't see me.

Just like me, they don't know how to react or what to do. They are frozen as they watch this scene unfold, just like many of us would be if we had to witness something similar.

It isn't a fun scene. We're talking drugs, poverty, abuse, threats and violence. The two characters who witness this scene finally realize how sheltered their life is and just how horrific this third character's life has been. An "Ah-Ha" moment, if you will.

I have to write this scene. It's pivotal to all the characters. And I don't want to because it's overwhelming, brimming with emotion. And I have a very difficult time writing emotion, especially something as tense as this situation is.

So Meg suggested that I simply write the skeleton of the story. Simple facts that would allow me to place the characters in their positions, like a stop-action type of movie. Write the scene as I watch it unfold in front of these characters, but don't worry about the emotional impact--yet.

That part of the story can be told during the second draft, AFTER the story is written.

In fact, this story is riddled with bold red comments that I've made when I've thought about how to deepen one section, or delete another scene and add something more pertinent to the character. Or characterization for one of the secondary characters that seemed to know stuff she shouldn't know, etc.

That emotion/characterization is the meat of the story to lay over the bones of the skeleton.

And guess what the third layer is?

The flesh, the skin that covers everything and ties it all together, the finishing touches, the grammar tweaks, the word choices, along with the pacing, etc.

This story has taken me a long time to write, but by following Meg's suggestions, I'm not as scared as I once was to tackle uncomfortable scenes.

Time to get another cup of joe and open up my document.

Later, Peeps!


10/29/14

FREE!

In honor of Halloween, this little gem is free.

It's a chapter story (kid speak for 'short story' with chapter breaks).

Download the Kindle link, read the story, and give it a rating! Good or Bad. This little story hasn't had the recognition it deserves.

Read it to a younger child, or let a 7-12 year old child enjoy it at his/her own pace.

Please spread the word and share the link, A Maze of Monster Mix-Ups. This is the US link, but this story is free in all the countries that support Amazon. The picture is also linked.

Thanks!


http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005JTXYXM

 


10/28/14

Half-bath Update

Hubs finished the half-bath.

I don't know why they call it a 'half-bath', they should simply call it 'toilet and sink' room since that is all that fits in there. This room took him a little longer, but it was mainly due to the color choice we made.

We chose poorly.

We thought a deep red (the swatch is stuck in the mirror) would look good. And in theory, it would have. When he painted a splotch on the wall, we stared at it for a few days. It just didn't grow on us. Then he painted a splotch of Mount Tam--the green-gray we used in our bathroom--and we both breathed a sigh of relief.

The red was simply too stress-inducing.

Then I went to the paint store and brought back about ten swatches. I found four of them that I liked--and quietly placed a dot on the back of the swatch. And then let the hubs pick the colors he liked.

We were in agreement, finally settling on a color called, Beaver Pelt, a lovely deep brown.

Again, hubs made crown molding for the ceiling.

Before:

I actually loved this pattern as I imagined the 'leaf men' dancing . . . no, I'm not intoxicated. Can't you see them? Wearing their little green crowns??

After:


 
Again, I will state that it's very tight quarters. We opted to keep the gold fixtures, which looks really nice with this brown. If you notice the light fixture in the before picture was a verdigrises--greened 'copper'. Well, there's all sorts of spray paint to fix that problem. We picked up a 'hammered' gold paint and painted the light fixture.
 
I think it turned out great. 
 
Hubs will be painting the rest of the house, but we are simply repainting and not doing anything spectacular. So don't worry that I'll be posting remodeling pics all the time.
 
Later, Peeps!

10/27/14

Dworked up Knee

For those of you who happen to be on FB with me will know that I managed to tear the meniscus in my right knee.

How did you do that?

You might ask, but as much as I want to brag that I was skiing down a double black diamond and wiped out on a monster-sized mogul . . . I can't. For one, most ski resorts don't have enough snow, and the top of the mountain is usually the last place the snow seems to stick--wind, ya know.

Or maybe I was riding a wild horse and the darn thing bucked me off. . .  I could happen if I didn't have so many neck issues that horseback riding for me is seriously off-limits. I want to ride again, but I don't want to take the chance.

Or I could simply say that I was standing and turning at the same time . . . and that would be the truth.

I dworked up my knee by standing. It's right up there with tearing my rotator cuff while doing yoga. True story, I managed to do that during May of 2013.

Since I crippled myself on a Sunday night, I decided to take the 'wait-and-see' approach to the problem. I didn't have much pain, but my knee popped every time I stepped on my right foot, especially walking down stairs. And it felt 'off', not painful, just not right.

Monday morning, I could barely walk downstairs to get my coffee. The knee was hot, slightly puffy and painful. I saw the doc at 11:30. After some manipulation, and x-rays (simply to rule out anything obviously cracked or whatever), I got some anti-inflammatories, told to ICE it (ice, compression, elevation).

It's better, but since I write on a desktop computer I couldn't get anything done. Just sitting in the chair with my leg on another chair caused every other joint in my body to hurt.

So I gave up on writing this week. I'll be writing, but I have to monitor my time.

Anyhoo, that actually isn't what this blog is about. It's about technology advancing, but the attrition of those older folks who refuse to learn.

About ten years ago when I 'retired' to become a stay-at-home mom, the hospital that I worked at was trying to implement a system which featured laptops at every patient's bedside. The doctor would simply type his comments in the computer as he evaluated his patient. This would free up the nursing staff to actually do some nursing, instead of data input. So much of a nurse's time is wasted doing menial tasks that they shouldn't be doing. It was a crazy waste of the workforce.

The doctors hated it. Let me qualify this--the older docs hated it. The younger docs love the concept. Nurses didn't have to try to read the pathetic handwriting of the docs to try to type in their comments into the computer. There was no issue of miscommunication. IF there was a screw up, there was no one to blame but themselves.

Fast forward ten years.

Yes, my friends, it has taken this long for the system to be implemented, plus they have taken it to the next step.

Patients can sign up and have access to their records, their doctors, their lab results. They can sign up for their own appointments, update their information and do virtually everything on the computer using My Chart.

I logged onto the site, picked the "make an appointment" tab and scheduled my own appointment for a selection of openings, commented on the problem in as much or as little detail as I wanted, and got a confirmation all before the office even opened their doors for the day.

It was totally awesome!

Technology is a good thing, but if you don't keep up you might just be left out in the cold. . . unless you have a teenager hanging around the house, then they can keep you in the loop. Just saying!

Later, Peeps!

10/24/14

Foodie Friday--St. Michael's Alley Chili

A few centuries ago when I was but a youngling, my friends and I would hang out at this place called St. Michael's Alley. It was a restaurant/pub type of place that was housed in a corner BEHIND a strip mall near 31st and Harvard.

If my kid wanted to go to a place like that in this current day and age, I would have a tough time letting her go. Times were different then and now St. Michael's is closed.

And I have a couple of their recipes . . .

This chili recipe has been ever so slightly tweaked by me: one can of tomato sauce and one diced poblano pepper. The rest is all St. Michaels. The reason I added the can of sauce was to prolong the cooking time to allow hubs to finish what he was doing without burning the chili.

Yes, it is very spicy.

St Michael's Alley Chili
 


2 pounds ground beef
1-2 large yellow onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Tbls chili powder
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. Tabasco sauce
1 Tbls. Worcestershire sauce
2 (16-ounce) cans diced tomatoes with juice
1 (16-ounce) can tomato sauce
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Brown ground beef in large pot or kettle. Drain grease. Add onions, peppers and garlic to beef, stir. Mix in spices. Simmer 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook 20 minutes more. Add sauce if the mixture seems to be overcooking.

Top with cheese and diced red onions, if desired.

Tips & Tricks:
  • If it is too spicy for you, take out the jalapenos and use green peppers.
  • Poblano peppers aren't as spicy hot as jalapenos, so dice two of them instead of jalapenos
  • No there are no beans in this--it wouldn't be chili, right??
  • 1/3 cup chopped jalapenos is about 2 medium peppers
  • Next day chili is really good, the veg is softer and everything has mellowed out.
Enjoy!

Do NOT eat this if you are going to wander far from home. Sometimes the spice might have an adverse effect on your intestinal system . . . jus' sayin'.

Sorry, if it's TMI.


10/20/14

Bathroom #2 finished

Hubs has been very, very busy this fall--especially yesterday.

All of us cleaned house. It's family time. It's what we do.


Hubs finished touching up one wall in our bathroom. He put everything up in my daughter's finished bathroom (or maybe he did that the previous night, I can't remember anymore). He cleaned my dryer vent (16 feet long with two right angle turns--we have a special tool--it's awesome). He shut down and covered the pool (with help). Watched our daughter mow the lawn (excellent job!). Washed his car. Put up the pool stuff. Blew out the garage.  Weedwhacked and edged the yard (right now, the daughter just mows).

Sorry, ladies, he's mine! You can't have him, but I might let you borrow him . . . we'll discuss over glass of wine.

And yes, I did stuff, too. I washed, folded and ironed three loads of laundry, helped with the pool (skimming leaves, unscrewing bolts to hold the cover on, pulled the cover into place), cooked him a chicken pot pie for lunch (I had leftover filling from making biscuit popovers). Made an Orange Crush cake from Pioneer Woman (Total fail. Well, not total. Good flavor. Very moist. It just came out of the pan in pieces. And her recipe made way too much icing, which the cake didn't need!). And I made a new chili recipe, adapted from a local place called St. Michael's Alley--will post on Friday.

This bathroom is very long with two individual sinks separated by a large closet. So here's bathroom #2's before:

We had already changed out the light fixtures and the faucets (generic stainless boring things)

And as I mentioned with the master bath, hubs had removed the carpet and added tile floors . . . of course, I had to have them on an angle to add more interest to the room . . . and cause him more grief with all the angle cuts.

And here's the AFTER, we still have to find a few decorations to perk up the d├ęcor.
Hubs again added crown molding to the ceiling edge. He had a lot of angles, but he's getting better and better at it. For both the finished bathrooms he will be making a cornice piece for over the windows. This shower curtain we found at J. C. Penney's Home store. The silver trees just complimented the dark blue-gray walls. The wall color was from Kelly-Moore paints and was called Feather Falls


 
 
Okay, and now my cursor refuses to click to the left margin. Thanks, Blogger!
 
 
I'll post the chili recipe on Friday's blog.
 
Later, Peeps!