Saturday, December 31, 2011

Getting Ready For The Parade Part III

The photos from the last post were in a large warehouse.  Here is a "self-decorated" float from the City Of South Pasadena.


This is the artist's rendering.

And here is the actual float!  They still have about a day's worth of work to do.

It is being built in a tent behind the War Memorial Building off of Fair Oaks. 


Here are those tube things I was trying to explain in the last post.  You fill the green tubes with a mix of half water, half Seven Up.  It keeps the flower alive longer, I guess.  And then you stick one flower into each tube. It is messy, sticky work and I did it for about four hours.  My fingers got all shrivelled up and it was cold that year...

Getting Ready For The Parade Part II

This is one of the large warehouses where the parade floats are built.  The flowers are starting to be added. 


It is 9:30 in the morning and already chaos.  I especially like the "Glue Bar" where you belly up to get your mix of glue.  See those gentlemen with the red ties?  Those are Tournament of Roses officials. I believe (don't quote me) they volunteer.  You start out directing traffic or some other lowly task the first year and slowly work your way up the responsibility chain.
These folks are up pretty high.  I took this from the catwalk above. (Lions Club Float)

The decorating is all done by volunteers.  I volunteered one year.  Spent a day filling little tubes with a mix of water and seven up.  And then cutting purple flower petals into teeny pieces the size of a centimeter.

I think local high schools give credit or something for volunteering (again, don't quote me).  When I went for my day of volunteering, the crew boss was a high school senior who'd been doing it for "years"!

This is the City of LA float

This gives you a better perspective of tall the floats are. (I think this is the Lutheran Float)

These ladies are in a lift.

City of Glendale Float
I didn't realize the attention to detail that went into the decorating.

Look at how carefully each flower is selected and prepared to be glued onto the float.

This brave person had to climb onto the Elephant to get into the hard to reach places to decorate.
Just some advice for people who might be in town.  Avoid Orange Grove and Colorado starting tomorrow afternoon.  The people start to line the streets, camp out overnight for the parade.  If you drive down these streets, you are likely to get things like  marshmallows and tortillas thrown at your car.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Getting Ready for the Parade part I

Watching the city get ready for the parade is to marvel at the well-oiled machine.

The no parking signs are up










The street barricades are in place and ready to be put up













The viewing stands started going up day after Thanksgiving.


We're ready!!!












City Hall.  Do you recognize it from "Beverly Hills Cop"?

Even the weather is ready.  The temperature is in the '80s.  Yeah, T-shirts and shorts weather.

Warhorse

First off, this movie was gorgeous!  Beautiful.  I loved it just for the cinematography.  Second, geez, that horse (which was probably played by hundreds of horses) really knows how to act!
Third, the story was gripping, exciting, and I was on the edge of my seat towards the end.  That Steven Spielberg really knows how to tell a story. 

The only quibble - and it is teeny... Well, there is a scene that is kind of trite, overdone, at the end.  I'm not going to do a spoiler.  I've seen different versions of this but it didn't take away from the enjoyment of the film.
I'm giving this 5 stars (maybe for the first time in a long time).  I liked it very much and urge you to go see it!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Farsighted Review

So I also got a chance to read Farsighted.  I'm not going to give a synopsis since I've been doing the blog tour thing all week about it. (read previous posts)

Things I liked (in order of importance):

Alex, the main character is blind.  He was born that way, but it doesn't define him.  When the story begins, he is a normal, well-adjusted high school sophomore.

The gradual introduction and development of his powers and the mysterious, mystical world around him kept my attention.

The plot kept me guessing, and it kept building and raising the stakes to a climax.

Simmi was very likeable, and not your typical love-interest, side-kick.  She's got some powers too.  There is a third character, Shapri, not as well-defined. I think maybe she'll play a more prominent role in the next novels?

Parents - I like that there are parents who are active participants in the story. So many of the YA books I read have no parentals due to accident, boarding school and the like.

No typo's that I noticed.  It was properly formatted and even had neat little rune drawings.  It also had chapter breaks which is my pet peeve with most e-books.

Things I didn't like:

Ending:  Without giving away spoilers... Yes, there was a definite ending.  The whole thing has been building building to a climax and then Ka-Pow, there is a sudden shift in one of the characters.  Didn't see it coming but then, it didn't really satisfy either.  Turns out this is the first in a series.  While it wasn't the "non-ending" I hate so much, it did still bother me a little.

Cover.  Yeah, I'm shallow but in an environment where book bloggers are critiquing cover art, I felt like there was so much more potential for this novel.

Overall:

It was entertaining and enjoyable read.  I'm not sorry I read it. And you can't beat the price. $0.99.  Heck, my cable TV costs more than that! Will I read the next one?  Yeah, for sure. 

My rating:  4 stars - I liked it but I'm not sure you will

NOTE:  I received a e-book copy in exchange for a review.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close Review

I went and saw it after my sister gave the movie such an outstanding review.  And I agree, the boy should be nominated for best actor award.  I liked the movie.  Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock were great.  It had a definite beginning, middle and end. 

Okay, but here's my confession.  I kinda fell asleep in the middle.  And you know what?  I don't think I missed anything.  The middle kind of dragged because it was about the boy meeting all these characters.  These minor characters weren't developed enough.  Or maybe something else happened and I don't remember, but clearly, it wasn't that important.  Maybe could lose 30 minutes and still be as good, if not a better movie.

So I'm giving it 4 stars - liked it but you might not. 

Farsighted Day #4

So somehow I missed a day?  Whatever.  Here is today's effort - a New Year's themed post from the author of Farsighted = Emlyn Chand

About Farsighted: Alex Kosmitoras may be blind, but he can still “see” things others can’t. When his unwanted visions of the future begin to suggest that the girl he likes could be in danger, he has no choice but to take on destiny and demand it reconsider. Farsighted is the winner of the 2011 Dragonfly eBook Awards. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
About the Author: Emlyn Chand has always loved to hear and tell stories, having emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). When she’s not writing, she runs a large book club in Ann Arbor and is the president of author PR firm, Novel Publicity. Emlyn loves to connect with readers and is available throughout the social media interweb. Visit her on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.
Hello 2012. Goodbye World!
A Guest Post by Emlyn Chand
The New Year is upon us. And if the Mayans were right, so is the apocalypse. Oh, man… Just when Earth was getting good.
Well if I’m going to go by flame, flood, meteoric collision, or zombie uprising, I think it’s best to be prepared. No, not with a flame retardant unitard or a well-equipped cross bow, but with mental resolution—with a calm acceptance of humanity’s plight.

Consider this a combo suicide note/ Dear John letter to the world. I might as well get a few final words in (just in case those Mayans knew what they were talking about). Pfffhew, here goes…

Dear World,

I wish I didn’t have to write this letter. We’ve been together some twenty-seven years, and that’s a long time. Sure, we’ve had our clashes. You’ve sent a fair share of inclement weather my way. Remember that thunder storm when the tree almost broke through the window of my apartment? I was so scared. That was totally not cool on your part. And tornados? I mean what’s that about. Control your temper!

But I know I’ve hurt you too. I’ve been frivolous with your resources and have sometimes even—gasp—littered. I bought a V6 when I could’ve bought a hybrid. In fact, I think my carbon footprint is a size 12 at least—and that’s a size you have to special order at the shoe store. Yeah, I’m not saying I’m perfect. We all do things we regret, but Earth, you know I love you, right? That’s why it’s so difficult saying what I have to say…

We can’t be together anymore. I’ve heard talk of a major problem. They say you’re going to die a horrific death, and since I count on you for protection, I’m gonna die too. I’d like to say we’ll be together in the next world, but do planets go to Heaven? I can’t say for certain, so I think I should say goodbye instead.

We’ve had a good run, you and I. And I never regret having loved you. How I wish I could save us both, but who am I to interfere with an ancient prophecy?

I’ll miss the way you spill light through my closed blinds in the early morning, gently telling me it’s time to start my day. And I’ll remember fondly the way the ground smells after a restorative rain shower—the way the pitter patter on my skin prickles like teensy weensy fingers giving me a massage, the way the earthworms come out of the ground and dance on the pavement. The songs of birds in the morning are my favorite; they always sound so happy. I wish I understood the lyrics to their upbeat symphony so that I could join in with them. And ice cream? I’ll give you credit for that, because the cows are yours, the vanilla bean is yours, the sugar is yours. The taste is magnificent! To never feel that icy sensation arouse my taste buds again is such a great shame.

I’m tearing up now just thinking about all our good times together. I hope you’ll remember me with the same fondness. No matter what happens, I will ALWAYS love you.

Now it’s time to say goodbye. Go out with a smile,

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Farsighted Tour Day 2 More ways to win prizes!

Go participate in today’s featured social media event for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card or an autographed copy of Farsighted. You simply have to share the post linked here via Google+:

https://plus.google.com/100227436861049512391/posts/LeWU2syKdnQ



Another $200 in prizes up for grabs in the Farsighted photo contest—It’s open to entries now! Are you ready for some more fun? Take a picture of yourself with your copy of Farsighted either in paperback or on an eReading device, then post it to Emlyn Chand’s Facebook page or email a copy to author@emlynchand.com. You just may win one of three Amazon gift cards! A $100 prize will go to the photo with the most interesting setting (so put your holiday travel time to work for you). Another $50 will go the funniest photo, and one more prize of $50 will go the scariest photo—this is a paranormal YA book after all. An autographed copy of Farsighted will go to one randomly selected entrant. For more details about this contest, please visit www.emlynchand.com.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Farsighted Contest!

Yeah, Here is the part of the tour I forgot -- you can win stuff!!.  I wasn't sure from the instructions if it was just the blog host who could win, but I understand now that anyone can win!  There are contests every day until Friday so I'll be updating.

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Farsighted eBook edition is just 99 cents this week.
What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including lots of Amazon gift cards (up to $100 in amount) and 5 autographed copies of the book. Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, December 30th, so you don’t miss out.

To Win the Prizes1.Purchase your copy of Farsighted for just 99 cents on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

2.Fill-out the form on Novel Publicity to enter for the prizes
http://www.novelpublicity.com/farsighted-whirlwind/

3.Visit today’s featured event; you may win an autographed copy of the book or a $50 gift card!

4.BONUS: If you leave a comment on this blog post, you have another chance at $100!

5.DOUBLE BONUS: If I receive more comments than any other blogger, *I* win $100.
…And I can win too!Over 100 bloggers are participating in this gigantic event, and there are plenty of prizes for us too. The blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card as well. So when you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to say that I referred you, so I can get a point in the poll.

Here is today's (Tuesday's) contest:
A tweet is tiny, only 140 characters. But on Tuesday, it could win you $50. Send the following tweet across the twittersphere, and you just may win a $50 Amazon gift card. An autographed copy of Farsighted is also up for grabs. The winners will be announced Wednesday morning. Here’s the tweet: Looking for a fun read to round out your holiday break? The paranormal YA hit Farsighted is just 99 cents! http://ow.ly/81Dt1 #whirlwind

Farsighted by Emlyn Chand

I decided to participate in this Novel Publicity Tour because I was curious (as a writer) how it works and also the novel sounded interesting.  I'll have a review later this week but for now, here is an excerpt:

“Did Dad tell you? A new tenant moved into the old pharmacy next door.”
“Really?” I ask, not letting on I already know. If I feign ignorance, Mom’ll divulge all the details. “What is it?”
“It’s a psychic shop,” Her voice crackles with excitement like a fire that’s just beginning to burn. “The All-Seeing Miss Teak. Isn’t that cute? Miss Teak, Mystic. Ha, I wonder if that’s her real name.”
I laugh. “That is funny. Never had a psychic in town before. What’s she like?”
“Oh, she’s very friendly. Why don’t you go over and say ‘hi.’ I’m sure she’d like to meet you.”
“Okay, I think I will.” I’m incredibly intrigued, because first off, it’s a psychic shop—how weird is that?—and second, its presence made Dad super uncomfortable—also very cool. I waste no time heading next door to check out the scene.
As I step cautiously into the new shop, a recording of soft, instrumental music greets me. I can make out chimes and a string instrument I don’t recognize but for some reason reminds me of snake charmers. The smell of incense fills my nostrils, which explains the burning I detected earlier.
“Hello?” I call out into the otherwise quiet room.
Nobody answers. I walk in deeper, sweeping my cane out in front of me in a metronome fashion. This place is new to me, so I need to be especially careful while moving around.
Thump! Despite my precautions, I stub my toe on something hard, big, and made of wood. Just my luck to stub the same toe twice in one day. I reach down to press my fingers into my throbbing foot to alleviate some of the pain. Something teeters before rolling off of the chest and across the floor; the sound it makes indicates a curved path. Suddenly, the object stops. Somebody’s stopped it.
“Hello?” I call again.
“Hello,” a deep, feminine voice responds, placing more emphasis on the first syllable than the second.
“I- I’m sorry I knocked that thing over. I didn’t mean to…” I hope she’s not angry. Probably not a good idea to get on a psychic’s bad side.
“That wasn’t just a thing, it’s a crystal ball,” she says as she walks over, sending my blood pulsing through my veins. I sense her looking at me for a moment before she places the ball back on top of the chest.
“Can it see the future?” I ask, allowing my curiosity to outweigh my uneasiness.
“No.” After a pause lasting several beats, she continues. “But I can see the future sometimes when I look into it.”
“Oh, okay.” I tighten my hand around my cane and turn to leave. It may not be the most polite thing to do, but all of this hocus-pocus stuff is freaking me out more than I would’ve guessed.
The psychic lady speaks again, stopping me cold. “Don’t run away, Alex Kosmitoras.” She must’ve spoken to Mom earlier today. That must be how she knows my name.
“I’m not running away,” I say meekly. “I’m just going back over to Sweet Blossoms.”

“Don’t run away,” she repeats—this time she speaks louder and with more energy. “Don’t run away from your abilities. They are gifts.”

“What?” I ask in confusion. What abilities is she talking about?

“You already know. Watch. Listen. Be open to your gifts.”

I turn to face Miss Teak, but find she’s already gone, returning to wherever she was before I got there.

Is it safe to leave? I trail my fingers across the wooden box I ran into earlier; a thick coat of dust clings to the tips as I pull away. If this shop just opened, why is it already so dirty? I wipe my hands over my shirt to get the gritty substance off. Shivers rock my whole body. Something about this place is wrong, and I’m not sticking around to figure out what. Tapping my cane along the floor, I’m able to find the exit without knocking into anything else.

Made It

Made it through the holiday with all obligations fulfilled.  This is a big deal from someone who has in years past resorted to sending out new year's cards and giving gift cards bought at the local supermarket at 11 pm the night before.

But no, had all my cards personally addressed and mailed with cute holiday stamps well before Christmas.

Had my presents all purchased two weeks prior.  Wrapped and addressed at least two days prior to giving them out.

The pot roast for Christmas Eve turned out and the potato side dish turned out well.

I think it is because I know my limit.  Like I would never attempt to make my own Christmas tree the way sister-in-law did (picture on left).  She made this tree!  Isn't it awesome? 
The only thing I slacked on was my writing and my blog.  Okay, that is two things.  Oh, and I kind of gave up on exercise.  But I guess that will be a New Year's resolve.

But now, my town sets itself into high gear for the annual parade which takes place next Monday.  (Rose Parade is never on a Sunday).  Hopefully, I'll get out and take some photos of the preparation this week.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Office Holiday Lunch

Was last week.  I've only just recovered enough to write about it.  It was fun fun fun.  First off, our boss owns the restaurant so we could order whatever we wanted from the bar and menu.  He said even if it wasn't on the menu, if we wanted it and the chef knew how to make it, they would accomodate us!  (okay, this is yet another post about food disguised as a posting about an office party).  I had a wonderful Halibut on some kind of pilaf with seasonal vegetables.  And all kinds of appetizers.  I had a long drive home so I didn't drink anything alcoholic but the diet coke was plentiful!


And then the games began.  First there were door prizes.  Everyone won something. Some people won booby prizes like whopee cushions.  I won a snicker's bar (I thought) but I looked deeper and found some money!
Then we had trivial pursuit.  I somehow ended up with a twenty-dollar question!  And the answer (which I knew) was Madonna (the singer). 
Then we had Bingo.
Yeah, I was ready to go home at that point.  But wait, there's more!










The White Elephant Gift exchange.  Have you heard how "White Elephant" got it's name?  This is what I found when I Googled it:

"Legend has it the rare albino elephant was sacred in Thailand and each new white elephant became the property of the king. It was forbidden to kill such an elephant or to use it for work, so whenever the king wished to punish an obnoxious underling, he'd present him with one of these useless pale pachyderms.
Even if the story isn't true, it certainly encompasses the spirit of modern White Elephant Gift Exchanges. More like a swap meet for unwanted, weird and regifted atrocities, a White Elephant is tons of fun and makes a great party ice-breaker."

These were the hits (traded three times each - the max).  I did my version of blocking out the faces to protect the not-so-innocent.

Santa Blanket and Cap
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Reindeer cap (the antlers move, light up, and play music)  comes with a six pack of bud.










A good time was had by all!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lunch with Friends

Yes, another post about food...  I really am going to go on a diet soon...

Today I went to Din Tai Fung dumpling house with friends.  I think I've written about this place but never showed photos of the dumplings because I eat them too fast to remember to take a picture!


So here they are!  They are filled with soup so when you bite into them you get warm soup and filling.  I was wondering how you make them.  Brother-in-law says the soup part is frozen when it gets wrapped so it melts when they steam it.








And here are the Shui mai.  They also have soup in them but they have a little shrimp on top and the filling of your choice in the bottom.

Did you ever see so many desserts?

 Every year, my sister's husband's sister (got that?) has a big open house.  This is a catered affair and everyone is asked to bring a dessert.  It is definitely overkill.  Look at all the sweets.  There were so many that they ran out of places to put everything

Some were outside, some in the kitchen, some here... wherever there was a flat surface, there was a dessert there.

I took this when we first got there.  The desserts here just kept piling on, ontop of each other - all vying for attention.









Chocolate fountain with mountains of fruit cut up

 They had both a dark chocolate and milk chocolate fondue.


















I brough this cute little strawberry shortcake with the "Happy Holidays" sign.  It was yummy.  No, I didn't eat the whole thing myself.









 
 More!


















More

Serious diet starts tomorrow...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

My sister saw an advance screening of this movie and says the kid should win best actor and this movie should win best movie, best everything at the Oscars.  High praise from her.  Now I'm curious and will be in  line to see it when it comes out.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Caldecott Chronicles No. 1 by R.G. Bullet

Here is the description (from Amazon):

A unique, chilling and often hilarious zombie short story adventure set in Victorian England.
Caldecott Estate, the ancestral home of the 32nd Earl of Rothshire, is besieged. The undead are traipsing and crawling across overgrown lawns, intent on ripping the very flesh from the Earl’s body.
But many of them will not make it that far as the 32nd Earl has two things in their way: A prised Purdey shotgun and an accomplice named, Saffy. Saffy is a young and simple girl from the local village. She is quick of foot at setting traps, and dispatching the undead to the afterlife. She is endlessly coming up with cunning and disturbing methods to rid the estate of disease.
The bizarre and gruesome details are narrated in a journal by a very Aristocratic British gent. Get a first hand look on how the Victorian upper class deal with stumbling trespassers and see how one draws inspiration from a teenage girl born to kill.
 
____________________________________
 
I have to admit, I had a really hard time getting started.  It is only my promise to the author to get this posted this week that forced me to sit down and read it after a number of false starts (hello - in time for Christmas).
The reasons?  First, I didn't know it was a zombie book when I agreed to do the review.  Second, the drawings made me thing it was a middle grade book for boys. 

That being said, once I was halfway through the first chapter I was hooked and read it all the way to the end in one sitting.

The story is set in 1896 England and told through the eyes of the 32nd Earl of Rothshire in a series of letters to his son Albert.  I liked the way this is done as we see the cold rigidity of the aristocratic earl in the beginning and then his gradual growth and personability as the story progresses. 

He unwillingly takes a local village girl, Saffy, under his wing and together with a horse named Willow and a kitten named Virtus, fight the zombie invasion.  Saffy is a spunky heroine and someone you can really root for.  She also provides humor (calls the earl 'Number 32).  By the end of the short story (121 pages), I was invested in both the Earl and Saffy.  Just to be clear - there isn't anything romantic between the two, at least not in the first book.  I get the impression Saffy is a young teen, the earl ,old with grey hair and a grown son.

The thing I didn't quite understand was the zombies.  I know the "shorthand".  Like when you say vampires, I immediately get that they're undead, drink blood and sleep in a coffin.  I get that zombies are undead and flesh eating.  But I wanted a little more backstory -- how did the county come to be infested with zombies?  Are these zombies unique in any way? (like Stephenie Meyer's vampires sparkle in sunlight).  

The ending was satisfying - not one of those cliffhanger types that I hate so much.  But it left the door open for more adventures.  The second book is already out and available (yeah, that is what I like - no waiting a year between books). 

All in all a very pleasant surprise.  I'm giving it four stars out of five - I liked it a lot but not sure you will. 

Note:  I was provided a copy by the author for review.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Woman In Black

I know this is the Holiday Season and all but this trailer for "The Woman In Black" looks good and creepy!
And it has Daniel Radcliffe Post-Harry Potter.  Reason enough to go and see it.

Friday, December 9, 2011

An update on the revision

I wrote two weeks ago that I was going to try to revise/edit by going through the laborious process of rewriting  each page a minimum of five times.  Each time looking for a specific thing.  After two weeks I have five pages done. 

But guess what?  They're good!  Even self-depricating being that I am, I can say they're good.  I took them to critique group last night.  Usually, my pages get ripped apart beginning to end. And sometimes, so relentlessly that I vow I'm going to quit.  But this time, it didn't happen.  Not that there weren't comments - there were.  But they weren't the usual "tear it up and start over"  type comments.  No, these were minor comments, the use of a word, the awkward phrasing of a sentence.  All things I can handle.

And today, with some confidence that what I'm doing is making a difference, I managed to get three pages done (a lot for me).  Yeah!  Slow but steady!  And now I'm motivated, too. 

 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Miss Snark's First Victim Contest

Miss Snark's First Victim (MSFV) had her annual Baker's Dozen Agent Auction.  It is incredibly helpful to go read the entries and see what got bid on, what didn't.

Here's how it worked:
You write a log line which is 100 words (I think), could be more or a little less?  And then the first 250 words of your novel.

MSFV had two days where she accepted I think the first 300 entries in the adult fiction category and then two more days where she accepted the first 300 YA entries.
Then she read them all and selected the top 25 adult entries and the top 35 YA entries.
She posted all 60 on her website.  Then 13 agents bid on them.  They bid in pages.  So agent A would bid to read 10 pages, the agent B would bid to read 50 etc.  When they reached 150, then someone could bid to read the full manuscript.

You can go over and see the 60 entries that MSFV thought were well written enough from 600 to make the cut.

And then you can see which got bid on and for how many pages.  Very educational, very informative.

Go here and be amazed, impressed, motivated...

http://misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com/

Guest Post from Kenneth G Bennett - author of Gaia Wars

HOW A NASA SCIENTIST’S THEORY INSPIRED A PARANORMAL THRILLER
THE GAIA WARS is fiction, but it was inspired—at least in part—by The Gaia Hypothesis. This hypothesis, proposed by NASA scientist James Lovelock, states that the Earth—the entire Earth—is a living thing. A vast, “super-organism.”

I read an article about Lovelock’s theory a few years back and thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever heard.

The Earth is alive. Think about it. If Lovelock’s correct, the Earth isn’t simply a chunk of interstellar rock hosting a collection of random ecosystems; it’s a cohesive entity. An organism. A being. I daydreamed about this idea, mulled it over; wondered how it might be incorporated into a novel. And in my imagination, I took the theory to the next level: What if the Earth is not simply alive, I asked, but also sentient?

I did some reading, and discovered that a lot of so-called primitive cultures believed this very thing. Understood it in their bones. Our ancestors were in tune with the planet in ways that we’ve forgotten. They could feel her heartbeat. Interpret her rhythms. They created Earth Goddesses to worship and celebrate.

Gaia (pron. guy-uh) is one of the principal deities of the Greek Pantheon. Other cultures used other names: the Tibetan people called the deity Chomolungma—Goddess Mother of the World. The Sumerians knew her as Ninhursaga. To Mesoamerican peoples she was Tlazolteotl.

A fictitious Pacific Northwest culture called the Denelai is at the center of THE GAIA WARS. As readers learn, the ancient Denelai people believed in the Earth goddess so profoundly that she would sometimes appear to them in human form.

At the start of the novel, troubled 13-year-old Warren Wilkes unearths a treasure deep in the Cascade Mountains while fleeing the law, learns about the Denelai and Gaia’s periodic visits, and finds that on one such occasion in 1550 AD, the tribe was attacked and the Earth Goddess wounded. The Indians were slaughtered and Gaia lost her memory and vanished into the wild.

As Warren soon discovers, Gaia is still alive and still trapped in human form. What’s more, the beast that attacked the Indian village 500 years earlier is on it’s way back with an army bred specifically to capture Gaia, unlock her secrets, and seize control of the planet. Warren must fight or see his whole world destroyed.

Readers seem to like the idea of a paranormal thriller with a thinking, feeling Earth at its heart. The feedback has been tremendous. Humbling. Yesterday (November 24, Thanksgiving Day) THE GAIA WARS rose to #17 on Amazon’s list of Top 100 Best Sellers in Children’s Action & Adventure. The Second Book of The Gaia Wars, BATTLE FOR CASCADIA, (just released) is also doing well. A huge thank you to all the wonderful readers giving these books a try!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Gaia Wars

Due to the power outage, I forgot I signed up to help promote this book.  I'm not making any money doing this, I just wanted to see what it was like.  (I'm already a day late as this was supposed to post Monday).  Apologies dear author!  Anyway, Officially:


As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of The Gaia Wars eBook edition has dropped to just 99 cents this week.


What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including a Kindle Fire, Amazon gift cards up to $100 in amount, 5 autographed copies of the book, and 5 autographed copies of its recently released sequel, Battle for Cascadia. Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, December 9th, so you don’t miss out. (more to come on this)


The Gaia Wars: DEADLY SECRETS have been buried in the Cascade mountain wilderness for centuries. Hidden. Out of sight and out of mind. Until today… Warren Wilkes, age 13, doesn’t like what a greedy housing developer has done to his peaceful mountain community, so he vandalizes the developer’s property, flees into the wild, and stumbles upon an ancient human skeleton revealed by torrential rain. More than old bones have been exposed, however, and the curious artifact Warren finds makes him question his own identity, and his connection to an ancient terror. A terror destined to rise again and annihilate all that Warren loves. He must fight or see his whole world destroyed. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About Battle for Cascadia: When Warren Wilkes, age 13, stumbles upon a mysterious relic deep in the Cascade Mountains, wonder reigns. Brimming with secrets and sentient energy, the relic leads Warren to a fantastic chamber, and to shocking revelations about his identity. Now wonder has turned to dread. A forgotten terror—a demon that knows Warren better than he knows himself—has risen again and is assembling an army; gathering power with a singularly evil goal in mind: to capture and enslave the wild spirit of the Earth itself. As war erupts and the planet slips into chaos, Warren embraces his destiny and finds help where he least expects it. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About the Author: Kenneth G. Bennett is the author of the Young Adult novels The Gaia Wars and Battle for Cascadia (the second book of The Gaia Wars), as well as the forthcoming Exodus 2018, a paranormal thriller set in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. A wilderness enthusiast who loves backpacking, skiing and kayaking, Ken enjoys novels that explore the relationship between humans and the wild. He lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and son. Visit him on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Party Line

The recent power and phone outage reminded me of
when I lived on a small island in the Pacific for a few years.  

The electricity and phone were run by the government. Nobody had their own private phone line.  Instead, we had this service called 'party lines'.

 We shared our phone line with some other random person.  The wait for a private line was something like ten years.  I hope that things have improved since then.

Anyway, we shared a phone line with people who must have been the world's worst party-line partner.  This person or persons would always forget to hang up their phone receiver.  Which meant, we'd suffer   for weeks without phone service. 

Sometimes, the kid on the other end of the line would get on when we were in the middle of a conversation and chatter nonsense at us.  I think that is why I'm so phone-a-phobic as an adult.  I always think the kid is going to pop on the line and make snide comments or join into our conversation.

My dad came home with a megaphone one day during a particularly long siege by the other 'party'.
"What are you doing with that... thing?" I asked.
Dad ignored me, taking the thing and aiming it at our phone receiver.  He used it to shout "Hang up the phone!" to the other phone party.  But to no avail.   

Nowadays, we have so many option to contact each other:  e-mail, cell phone, facebook, texting, tweeting, etc.  Sometimes though, you just don't want to be found.  It is during those times I wax nostalgic for the 'party line'.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Power is on!

I got power back at 4 am this morning! Yeah for central heating!

Check out PasadenaDailyPhoto.blogspot.com (on the right, sidebar) for great photos and an overview of what one newsstation is calling "Windaggedon". Ha!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Dystopic Novel in the works!

Due to the high winds I have no electricity.  I will not have power until Monday earliest. 

I can't blow dry the hair
I have no heat
I have no microwave
I have no television/cable/DVD
I have no wi-fi
gas pumps don't work
And it is like a war zone trying to navigate all the downed trees in the area.

I'm wondering what people did for entertainment before Tesla and Thomas Alva Edison.  But on the other hand, I see a Dystopic novel in my future! 

The entire area was dark last night except for one place - the local supermarket.  The owner doesn't know why he has electricity when everybody else does.  Like a moth to flame, I drove there last night.  The place was packed.  There is a little bakery/coffee shop inside and they had free wi-fi so it was standing room only!

 The owner got on the PA and reported the local news as it happened and also offered everyone free storage space in his freezers/refrigerators.  He said, just bring your foods, label the bags with your name on it and I'll keep it cold for you.  I thought that was very neighborly and he just earned my business away from the big chain grocery stores.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Power of the Wind - 2

This is Old Town Pasadena, CA

On my way to work.  There were a few more downed trees but not as spectacular as these.













Downed electrical wires here.  Couldn't get too close.

The power of the wind

This is our street this morning.  100 mph winds last night. 

















This is our driveway.  I'm thinking, what are all these black things?  Hmm, somebody's roof must be missing shingles.











And then I looked at our roof.  Yup.  They were the shingles off our roof. 

More high winds tonight.  I guess, like Scarlett, I'll think about it tomorrow.