Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I WUZ SIK

Yeah, I have been feeling poorly again last week.  So I call up the doctor's office on a Wednesday and they can't take me until today.  The following week later.  They tell me to try for a same day appointment.  I do that Thursday, Friday.  No luck.  They give me the number and address for urgent care.

On Saturday, I go to urgent care.  There are at least twenty people looking much worse than me.  I go home, stay in bed.  On Monday, I again try for a same day appointment.  It is like some kind of twisted lottery system.  No luck again.

By yesterday I'm feeling much better thanks to my own treatment of a pint of orange juice twice a day.

So, I still have that Wednesday appointment.  If I cancel they charge me a cancellation fee.  Dang it.  I'm going to go and give my doctor a piece of my mind.

I get there and they weren't busy - there wasn't even another patient in the place.

So basically, I pay my co-pay, wait 20 minutes in an empty waiting room, listening to admin. assistants make chit chat.  Someone calls and the admin assistant informs them of the fee for cancellation of appointment.  Maybe that is how they make their money?

So I finally get into see the doctor who tells me I should have come in earlier?  Hello?!!!  

The doctor is good at listening.  That is why I'm still with him.  We talk about symptoms I HAD and he thinks it was a viral infection.  Not that it makes any sense to do tests at this point. 

As I leave, the Dr. says "Thanks for feeding my kids."

ARGH!!! 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The time I went to the Vanity Fair party

I work in advertising in Los Angeles.  I've been to a lot of Vanity Fair parties.  But this one was special.  This one was the mother of all Vanity Fair parties, the Oscars party.  I've only been one time - in 2007.  And I didn't go as an advertising exec, I went as a "Plus One".  You know the kind - the cousins, the mother's friend's son, the co-worker who owns a tux and owes you a favor?

So when I got the call, I said "Sure, I got nothing else to do." I had a dress, I had some shoes. No problem.  OMG, I was so wrong.

Two weekends before the event, I make the mistake of looking at photos from past Oscar parties.  Aiyee!! Wrong move.   I pull out my dress, which is fine for your typical weddings, operas, fancy restaurants, cruises.  But compared to pictures in Vanity Fair, mine looks like I bought it off the rack at the 99 cent store. Oh boy. 

Dress - Off I go to look for a dress.  I spend an entire week going from mall to mall looking for something VF worthy.  In the back of my mind, I know I'm never going to find anything but I do manage to find something less "discount-y".  Gals, in case you ever find yourselves in this situation, classic is the way to go.  If it is a classic design, then you can get away with going with a non-designer gown.

And of course, I have to find shoes and purse to match.  And jewelry.  That was the year everybody was leaving off the necklaces so I didn't have to find a necklace.  And I went to an antique mall and found some wonderfully unique pieces of costume jewelry.  So I guess that is my second tip - shop for jewelry at antique stores.

Hair - I have the kind of wash and wear hair.  A couple brush strokes and I'm good to go.  But of course, this being Oscar party I have to go get a fancy up-do.  Trouble is, everybody is booked solid way in advance in this town.  So I drive all the way out to the next city and have to get it done like 10 hours prior.  My hairdresser sprays like a good half a can of hairspray onto my creation and jabs what feels like a thousand hairpins into what reminds me of a 1950's beehive do.

The 'do weighs a ton.  And I can't risk lying down or even resting my head on the back of a chair or sofa for fear of messing the thing up.  I realize then that showering is going to be a challenge as I don't own a showercap large enough.  I opt for a careful bath instead.

Make-up - I luck out here.  A friend of mine knows a make-up artist and she happily comes to my home to do my face.  She's never met me and I haven't met her and she takes and awfully long time fixing my face.  I think to myself  'Geez, I can't need that much work...'  But I guess I do. 

Finally, finally I get dressed and the stretch limo pulls up.  I feel awkward and my neighbors all come out to see what the commotion is about.  The place, Morton's is about a forty-five minute drive.  The driver is nice and gives us his cell number to call once we're done.  I try to memorize his face as there is no way we're going to be able to tell which limo is for us in the sea of limos pulling up to the curb.

My photos are terrible but here is one of drop off.  See all the people watching across the street?

We get out and it is extremely awkward and embarassing for me and friend to walk down the red carpet.  There are hoards of photographers, reporters, and gawkers lining both side.  Nobody takes any photos. lol.  Luck is again on our side as my friend's publicist is working carpet and ushers us in like we're somebodies.

The place is packed to the rafters and I immediately bump into the back of a tall tuxedo leaving.  It is Hugh Jackman.  All the effort is suddenly worth it.  I vow not to wash my left upper arm where it touched his back.  Kate Winslet is standing by the bar looking incredibly gorgeous.  Al Gore towers above the crowd facing the door.

We meet Ioan Griffudd.  We chat about a mutual friend and how much I admire his work.  It is good to see he's on "Ringer" now (on the CW).

It is wall to wall celebrities.  My friend and I decide to make a loop and pretend not to gawk at everybody.  We do make the loop but we're not good enough actors not to ogle everybody.  In the back "power corner" Oprah holds court with John Travolta and Kelly Preston. 

I can't help it.  I take out my camera and snap a photo.  I'm pretty sure it is a no-no but I figure it is the only chance I'm going to get.  So apologies for the poor quality.

 I've always heard John (like I'm on a first name basis with him) is a nice guy.  He is.  He chats with us.  I tell him Kelly and I used to go to school together.  She doesn't remember me.  Ah well. 

We gawk a bit more, have some champagne.  By this time it is about 2 am and the party is definitely breaking up.  We leave and wait for our limo to fight its way to the front.   Puff Dadd/P Diddy/Diddy is waiting for his car.  I have no idea who he is but people are shouting at him from across the street.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Book Review - The Darkening Dream by Andy Gavin

The description from Amazon:
“Wonderfully twisted sense of humor” and “A vampire novel with actual bite” — Kirkus Reviews
Even as the modern world pushes the supernatural aside in favor of science and steel, the old ways remain. God, demon, monster, and sorcerer alike plot to regain what was theirs in Andy Gavin’s chilling debut, The Darkening Dream.

1913, Salem, Massachusetts – Sarah Engelmann’s life is full of friends, books, and avoiding the pressure to choose a husband, until an ominous vision and the haunting call of an otherworldly trumpet shake her. When she stumbles across a gruesome corpse, she fears that her vision was more of a premonition. And when she sees the murdered boy moving through the crowd at an amusement park, Sarah is thrust into a dark battle she does not understand.

With the help of Alex, a Greek immigrant who knows a startling amount about the undead, Sarah sets out to uncover the truth. Their quest takes them to the factory mills of Salem, on a midnight boat ride to spy on an eerie coastal lair, and back, unexpectedly, to their own homes. What can Alex’s elderly, vampire-hunting grandfather and Sarah’s own rabbi father tell them? And what do Sarah’s continuing visions reveal?

No less than Gabriel’s Trumpet, the tool that will announce the End of Days, is at stake, and the forces that have banded to recover it include a 900 year-old vampire, a trio of disgruntled Egyptian gods, and a demon-loving Puritan minister. At the center of this swirling cast is Sarah, who must fight a millennia-old battle against unspeakable forces, knowing the ultimate prize might be herself.

------------------
Things I liked:
I have to say I am in awe of this author's writing style.  To convey the language and customs of the period (1900s) and still make it easy to read and understand is a difficult task.  I understand this is the author's first work.  I am envious.
And the research that must have gone into this is mind boggling.  The story covers Judaism, the Greek Orthodox church, demonology, vampirism, Egyptology, and 1900's Salem.  I learned quite a bit about all by reading this.
The characters were well written and I always felt I understood them.  Even the evil ones. 
The plot was well paced.

Oh, and I know this is a small thing but I do appreciate a book with no typos. You get a lot of book for your money here and I didn't find one mistake.  Obviously proofed and edited. 

The thing I didn't like:
This is a dark fantasy, historical in nature with young adult characters.  I was warned.  I think I chose to ignore the word "dark".  I didn't realize how dark.  Even though the title is "The DARKENING Dream."  So I think it is partially my own fault, but I was a little shocked at three of the elements:
-Graphic detail on the torture, killing of the first victim
-Twisted sexual relations of a pastor with a demoness
-Young girl touching herself (she was possessed by a spirit at the time)
After that, the tamer erotic thoughts and actions of the two main characters didn't bother me.
All the above are probably selling points to a different kind of audience.
I think the point is, that even though the main characters are young adults, this is not a  YA book.  I read it thinking it was, which was why the above was kind of shocking.
I think a little warning about the graphic nature would have prepared me better for the read - you know how some of the blurbs say things like "Warning: profanity or sexual situations type deal?
------------------

Overall, I'm not sorry I read this book. 

I'm giving it 4 of 5 stars = Liked it but not sure you will. 

Here is a link to the amazon page:
http://www.amazon.com/The-Darkening-Dream-ebook/dp/B006PIMYLY

Oh, and an interesting note about the author: 

Andy Gavin is an unstoppable storyteller who studied for his Ph.D. at M.I.T. and founded video game developer Naughty Dog, Inc. at the age of fifteen, serving as co-president for two decades. There he created, produced, and directed over a dozen video games, including the award winning and best selling Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter franchises, selling over 40 million units worldwide. He sleeps little, reads novels and histories, watches media obsessively, travels, and of course, writes.

Find him at: http://andy-gavin-author.com

___________________

Note:  I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.




Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Been Tagged and questions for you

Blissfully Brenna has tagged me.  She gives good advice for the aspiring writer.  Visit her over at:
http://iwriteandread.blogspot.com/.  Anyway, in case you wanted to know even MORE about me:

1. Coffee or tea?
Coffee.  I make it for the office every morning because I'm the first one in and I can't function without it.

2. What was the first story you can remember writing?
A picture book about a girl looking to find somewhere to eat her breakfast.  Okay, it was a banana but I didn't understand the symbolism at the time...  And I got first prize in my 4th grade class so THERE!

3. What TV show, video game, movie would you recommend to other writers?
"Letters from Iwo Jima" since I know the writer. (yeah, shameless plug).

4. What time of day are you most productive?
If I can stay awake - between 1-2am.

5. Green or black olives?
Black olives.  They lower your cholesterol too. (or so I've been told)

6. What was your first car?
Um, Buick Opal.  Do they make those anymore?  Sky blue.  Yeah, never seen another one that color on the road. 

7. What is your guilty pleasure?
Salted Caramels - obsessed with them  

8. Are you a fan of footie pajamas?
(No.  I know this is the boring answer.)

9. What's something you didn't think you'd like that you did/do?
I didn't think I'd like reading "The Hunger Games" from the description.  I mean kids killing kids for sport? But I really got into it.

10. Favorite salad dressing?
Hmm.  Ranch?  But only when I don't have to talk to anybody afterwards (garlic).

11. What is your most embarrassing nickname? (Or, just any nickname. You don't have to give an embarrassing one.)
That would mean I'd have to give you my real name.   Let me just say that many people tell me they have pigs named the same as me.  Is that embarrassing enough for you?
----------------

I'm not tagging anyone as I mentioned before, it is kind of like a chain letter.  But nobody wanted to answer the questions I thought up last time so I'm posting them again in case you want to share more about yourself. (And I thought they were pretty good questions myself...)

1. If you could pick any movie to write a sequel for, what would it be? Why?

2. & 3. Stealing this one from "Inside The Actor's Studio." What is your favorite word ? What word do you hate?

4. & 5. If you could have dinner with anyone (real or imaginary, living or dead) who would it be? What would you serve or what restaurant would you go to?

6. What is the significance of the images or colors or name of your blog? Or just tell me why your blog is set up the way it is.

7. What is the last book you read? Why'd you read it? How'd you like it?

8. What would be the title of your autobiography?

9. What is the worst gift you ever received?

10. Who is your favorite actor/singer/celebrity?

11. Stephen King in his book "On Writing" talks about the 'Ideal Reader'. The person he's looking to entertain with his writing (the person he's writing for). His ideal reader is his wife. Who is your Ideal Reader?

----------------------

Review - Sleeping Handsome by Jean Haus

This is a book I picked up on Amazon because it was FREE.  I was surprised at how good it is.

Here is the description from Amazon:

Paige should have never agreed to do her best friend’s semester English project. Community service sucks. Especially when you have a major social life. But it’s that or possible expulsion from school. Reading to a boy in a coma is just plain creepy, but her English teacher somehow thinks her acting skills make it the perfect community service match.

But when she finds the boy’s journal hidden among his books, things turn from creepy to interesting. Very interesting. The boy who looked like death slowly comes alive as she reads his own words to him. And each day Paige is wishing more and more he would wake up.

This is a novelette length story.

And a warning for those sensitive to profanity, this story contains some.
--------------------------

I'm not posting the cover because, well, it needs a better one.

As you may guess from the title and the description, this is a re-telling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale.
But as I read it and got into it I completely forgot that it was a re-telling.  To the point that I gasped at one point towards the end.  When I thought about it later, I should have known.  But still...
Very cute, easy read (easy to read all in one sitting)

And, well, you can't beat the price.

If you like the current trend of fairy tale retellings, and even if you don't but like your sweet YA, go get this.

Here is a link:

http://www.amazon.com/Sleeping-Handsome-ebook/dp/B006OGOVM2

I'm giving it five stars.    I just liked it very much.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The next summer

This is the part of the writer's platform building campaign I love - the writing challenge.  Here are the parameters for this installment (in a nutshell)
  • 200 words or less = check!
  • start with "Shadows crept across the wall" = check!
for extra credit
  • end with "everything faded" = almost... I have "everything else faded"
  • include the word "orange" = check!
  • write in the genre you normally write  = check (for me YA)
  • make your story 200 words exactly = check.
Okay girls and boys, here goes:

_____________________________
Shadows crept across the wall, stretching longer and taller as the daylight waned.

He wasn’t coming.

I signaled the waitress, ignoring her pitying expression. She’d let me sit there all afternoon. I put a fifty into the tray for my one latte.

I’d been away at university for nine lonely months. But I was in L.A. for the summer and Spence was joining me. Supposedly.

I checked my phone one more time.

Maybe he’d met someone. L.A. was the land of beautiful people and Spence fit right in with his GQ model looks. I didn’t fit, what with my Bozo the Clown carrot-orange hair and pale, freckled skin.

Still, when we were together he made me feel beautiful and important. Was it any wonder I loved him?

I stumbled out onto the sidewalk, tears stinging as I walked to my car.

“Mels!”

Only Spence called me that. I turned to see him emerge from a yellow cab.

“I wasn’t sure you’d still be here. Lost my phone and the plane was late.” He ran a hand through his hair.

My mascara was probably running. I didn’t care. I crushed him to me, pulled his lips to mine.

Everything else faded.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Answers from me and questions for you

I totally enjoyed reading everybody's questions and answers to their various eleven questions.   I'm coming in at the tail end and my answers are probably similar to everybody else's.

But the kind Anna Mittower  annamittower.blogspot.com has found me.  Here are her questions and my answers:

1. What country is the home of the majority of authors you read?
I wish I could come up with some really cool answer but I only read English so it will have to be USA.

2. An otaku is someone who's obsessed with something (not necessarily anime/manga). What kind of otaku are you?
Ha!  I am a YA Otaku then.  Food Otaku, Barry Manilow Otaku.  Not necessarily in that order...

3. Ebooks vs. Paper: which do you like better?
Augh. Hmm.  Ebooks I love the convenience and the PRICE.  But if I really really love a book, I'll buy the printed version too, preferably a first edition.  I know, I'm weird like that.

4. Do you have a sweet tooth or are you a salty dog?
Sweet Tooth!  Current obsession - Salted Caramels.  Can I be a Salted Caramel Otaku?

5. Would you ever dress up as a favorite character? If so, which one?
Sorry, I'm not putting on the Spongebob costume.  It's hot and it smells.

6. What upcoming movie are you most looking forward to?
This is easy one "Hunger Games"

7. "Cats rule, dogs drool." Do you agree or disagree?
Agree!  Charlie and Chester would pee on me while I slept if I answered otherwise.

8. What fictional world do you spend the most time in?
Hmm, don't really spend time in any fictional worlds but if I had to pick one, I kind of like Regency England (although not fictional) because of all the pretty ballgowns.  Of course I'd have to be a countess or a lady, not cut out to be a parlor maid or tavern wench.

9. You are given a $1000 gift card to the store of your choice. Which store would you pick and what would you buy?
Amazon ebooks. At 99 cents I'd be set for 3 years (give or take)

10. Who or what encouraged you to pursue your current career?
Um, I guess Darren from Bewitched?  Mel Gibson from "What Women Want"? Teri Garr's character from Mr. Mom?

11. If you could build your own house, what room has to be included and have the most money/care spent on it?
I'd make a "creative" room.  One like Martha Stewart has for crafts.  I'd put a laptop in there and big screen tv and sound system and a large desktop and a sofa for taking naps.
--------------

I know I'm supposed to tag people here but I hate to do it.  It is kind of like a chain letter.  And I did look for some victims but some had been tagged 5 or 6 times so I didn't think they'd appreciate it. And I did find a few folks who hadn't been tagged but then I thought to myself, what if they had and didn't want to play?  Then I'd be an annoyance. 

So I guess I'm going to ask you to read the questions.  If there is/are one or two or eleven that you feel like answering, please do so in the comments, or leave me a link to your blog.  I'd love to read your answers.
Again, forgive me if you've seen these questions elsewhere:

 
1.  If you could pick any movie to write a sequel for, what would it be?  Why?
 
2. & 3. Stealing this one from "Inside The Actor's Studio."  What is your favorite word ? What word do you hate?
 
4. & 5. If you could have dinner with anyone (real or imaginary, living or dead) who would it be?  What would you serve or what restaurant would you go to?
 
6. What is the significance of the images or colors or name of your blog?  Or just tell me why your blog is set up the way it is.
 
7. What is the last book you read?  Why'd you read it?  How'd you like it?
 
8. What would be the title of your autobiography?
 
9.  What is the worst gift you ever received?
 
10. Who is your favorite actor/singer/celebrity?
 
11. Stephen King in his book "On Writing" talks about the 'Ideal Reader'.  The person he's looking to entertain with his writing (the person he's writing for).  His ideal reader is his wife.  Who is your Ideal Reader?

Friday, February 17, 2012

What do you do when you get stuck?

Or should I say blocked?  Do know what I mean?  When you spend hours staring at a blank page or blank screen waiting for inspiration to hit?  If you've never experienced this, don't tell me, I'll get depressed.

Do you have any techniques to overcome this obstacle? 

Me?  I keep away from the computer for a day (okay, maybe three).  I watch some movies, read some, go shopping.  It helps get the vacuum that is my brain filled.  It may be filled with useless junk but it is better than having nothing up there at all.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

ROW80 Wednesday 2-15

Here is my check-in

Fitness - GOOD GOOD GOOD.  I stepped on a scale, lost five pounds in two weeks! And I wasn't even trying.  I'm sure it will get harder as I go along but I did the victory dance this a.m.

Writing - yes. Critique group Sunday night, fixed stuff from critique notes and plodding into the next section of revisions.

Eating healthy - yes and no.  I've been eating healthy but I've been eating at weird times of the day.  Today there is no food in the house because I skipped the grocery shopping this past weekend so I ate  gherkins and black olives for dinner... probably not the best nutritionwise.

Reading - currently reading "The Darkening Dream" so I can post a review here.  "On Writing" by Stephen King is extremely smooth reading.  "Unearthly" by Cynthia Hand. I wasn't going to read this til after I finished Darkening Dream but it is extremely addictive and one of the gals in critique group is writing about fallen angels as well.

Those who can, write.


 Sister got into a very prestigious professional writer's program.  One of ten selected.

Critique partner #3 won a scholarship to San Francisco Writer's Conference this weekend.

Plus I found out today that CP#1 is (and has been for a while) a working writer who is actually paid for her words!!!

I'm genuinely happy for all of them.  But at the same time, I'm wondering what the heck have I been doing all this time? 

In my own not-so-humble mind, I'm at least as talented as sis.  I'm the original critique partner who had the guts to tell her "this sucks" when no one else would. 

Maybe it is the old adage, those who can, do, those who can't, teach? Or in my case, those who can, write.  She who can't, critiques?

Although, in sis' case, she teaches at the university level as well as writes so there goes that theory...

Today is one of those days where I spent my writing time fixing all the things crit partners found wrong with what I thought was a very polished and hopefully last draft of my WIP.  I keep making the same mistakes and the CPs keep calling me on it.  I feel like I should know better at this point.

It is one of the days when I feel extremely sorry for myself, like I should just box the thing up and put it in the attic. Plus it is raining and cold out.  Do you hear the violin music?  It's a pity party!
 

Monday, February 13, 2012

A great way to study openings

Last week I posted a a free sampler of 5 YA books from the Breathless Reads tour. (Legend, Across the Universe, Born Wicked, Matched, Nightshade)  I'd already read two of the five but I went and read the other three and then I re-read the other two I already owned.  And each was so gripping that I'm having to get the ones I don't own.

But it struck me that even if you don't buy these books, it is a great way to see how to write a first line, first chapter that grabs the reader.  So here is the link to the post. 

http://viewfromfairview.blogspot.com/2012/02/another-free-sampler-ya.html

sunday 2-12 ROW80 Check- in

writing
well feedback from CP #1 was very encouraging. Had critique group tonight as well. Not as encouraging but still, positive. I guess I will continue on with the current revision method.

Fitness
Had pilates session yesterday. Not as sore as when I had the personal training but the trainer wasn't paying as much attention either. Is it just me, or does the pilates equipment remind anybody else of instruments of torture? I mean one of them looked like the rack, the other looked like a stockade... I did the cardio thing twice on top of that so I did good.

Healthy eating
didnt do so good what with the tuesday night drink-a-thon, last night's gal's night out and today's lunch with sister. will try to do better

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Transcendent: Tales of the Paranormal

Got this request from Rita J. Webb.  One of the authors. (and a follower, hurrah!) 

LANI WOODLAND, MELANIE MARKS, WENDY SWORE, RITA J WEBB and several other YA writers have put together "Transcendent: Tales of the Paranormal," a collection of 8 stories.

It's a short, fun read, full of interesting characters and adventures, lots of twists and turns and creepy crawlies, and a touch of romance.

50% of February's net sales forTranscendent will go to St Jude Children's Research Hospital to support the care and treatment of children with cancer.
Description provided:

Discover the secrets of a siren, fly with a hawk girl over the mountains of Montana, and flee supernatural party-crashers as the dĂ©cor comes to life in this magical journey through paranormal stories. Along the way, watch for ghosts in a haunted house, or ride through the moonlight with a stranger. Save a comatose boy who has lost his soul, and don’t forget to bring your garlic and wolfsbane—you never know when the shadows will snag you. Transcendent includes eight stories of magic, love, death, and choice by some of the newest names in young adult fiction.

Purchase Information:

Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0615572324
Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006JV1NM8
Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/transcendent-lani-woodland/1108015082

Follow usGoodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13096259-transcendent
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Transcendent-Tales-of-the-Paranormal/255603224494043


Excerpt from “Feather”

By Rita J Webb
The morning air chills my bare arms and legs. Stars smile down on me, though I frown back at them. Who wakes before dawn to travel into the wilderness to find a crazy spirit guide? Idiots, that’s who.

Dressed in shorts, tank top, and hardy boots, I stand alone. Maybe I should have done this when I was thirteen like everyone else—maybe I would have enjoyed it—but Grandma had been sick that year. I refused to leave her.

With white braids and a crinkled face, Dirty Face steps out of his teepee. I roll my eyes. Yeah, a teepee. He keeps it around for tourists. Like the rest of us, he lives in manufactured housing with thin windows and doors and no insulation.

When I’m old enough, I’ll leave this hole. I refuse to live in poverty for the rest of my life.

He carries a bowl of white paint. Dipping his finger in the bowl, he chants a prayer then streaks my forehead and cheeks. A weight settles over my shoulders, and fear clenches my throat.

“Come.” Facing the forest, he trudges forward.

I follow, my skin prickling as if a pack of wolves lurk in the shadows, watching me. The deer path winds ahead of me, leading me away from civilization and up into the mountains. Whatever is expected of me on this journey is a hazy idea. Stories of native boys and girls finding their spirit guides race through my mind, but they’re only stories of people who have no bearing on who I am.

The sun tinges the sky a golden red, and as it climbs high above me, the heat beating down on me reminds me that this is July. Sweat burns my eyes, and my hair slips into my face every time I lean forward. This must be why my ancestors wore their hair in braids and wrapped headbands around their foreheads.

Dirty Face’s long strides carry him around the bend, leaving me alone on the path. Stopping to rest on a rock, I pull bands from my pack and braid my hair, laughing at myself. My grandmother would be so pleased to see this.

A rustle of wings and a hawk feather drifts down to me. Snatching it from the air, I look up into the trees, but nothing’s there. So I tuck the feather into my hair.

“What are you doing?”

My stomach leaps into my throat, and I jump up, stumbling backward, and fall on my butt in the middle of the path. In the tree above me, a teenage boy perches on a branch. He’s dressed in traditional deerskin breeches, a talon necklace around his neck, but rather than moccasins, his feet are bare. He is shirtless, and lean muscles cord his body.

His intense eyes capture my attention. They’re like golden fathomless pools. I could get lost in them.

“Don’t your feet get hurt, walking barefoot on the forest floor?” I ask.

“I rarely walk.” He drops down in front of me. His face is so close that I take a step back and thump into a tree. He leans toward me and sniffs. “You smell different. What are you?”

“I’m a girl.” I can’t take my gaze from his.

“No, humans stink. You smell…” He sniffs my hair and grins. “You smell good.”

“Is there a reason that you’re invading my space? I have somewhere to be.” My voice cracks.

He tugs one of my braids and winks at me. My pulse quickens, and my breath catches in my throat. His eyes study me with intensity, and he leans closer. Is he going to kiss me?

“I don’t know what’s up with you, but I don’t like it.”

“You have a feather in your hair. A hawk’s feather.”

My hand flies to the feather tucked into my hair. “So?”

“Nothing.” He shrugs, but a secretive smile spreads across his face.

I push past him and shoulder my pack. Without looking back, I tromp away. The skin on my back pricks as he laughs. I know he’s watching me, but I won’t give him the satisfaction of glancing behind me. I won’t.

“Be careful. There are hunters in the forest,” he calls after me.

I peek over my shoulder, but he’s not there.

Dirty Face waits around the bend, leaning on a walking stick. Silent and steady, he stares out at the trees, his breath deep. I inhale too, taking in the forest smells.

His gaze falls on me. “The road you will travel will take you many places far from here. The reservation cannot keep you safe forever. Pay attention; we must equip you for what comes next.”

A cold breath creeps up my spine, and I shrug it off. Not the usual speech of understanding our past and living in communion with the earth. Maybe he sampled too much booze, and it rotted his brain.

“We need to keep moving. I must take you up the mountain before night fall.” Dirty Face leads me up a steep path. My legs burn until I think I will melt into a puddle of goo, but still we climb, one painful step after another. My feet ache from hiking in worn-out tennis shoes, and my blisters have blisters.

Stepping out on the ridge, I gaze out on my home. Once upon a time, my people ran free through this countryside. Now we cringe from the world, hoping we can remain true to our heritage.

“Here you will meditate.” He sits a few paces away and closes his eyes. The mumble of prayers drifts on the air.

With a sigh, I drop my pack and sit by the cliff’s edge. My eyes closed, I pretend to meditate. What am I even supposed to do? Wait for a spirit guide to show up. If only I could at least do something…

I wonder what his name is—the boy on the trail. I bet his lips are soft.

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

I don't know how the blog "YA between the lines" is the only one who has it but there is the first chapter of Bloodlines as told by Adrian.  It didn't end up in the final book.  It is like one of those extras you get with a special edition DVD.
Anyway, if you're a Vampire Academy fan, you'll love it.

http://yabetweenthelines.blogspot.com/2012/02/bloodlines-first-chapter-by-rachel-mead.html

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

ROW80 Wednesday Feb 8 Check in

Here is the update on my goals

Writing - yes, still slogging on the revision.  I finally turned in 50 pages to CP #1.  This is after 3 months.  Ugh!!  Now it is pins and needles until she sends comments. 

Finding my critique group is helpful.  One person in particular reminds me continually about the need for "constant conflict" and not to use the words really, just, very, etc.  Another is all about "attributes" (can I confess I had no idea what an attribute was?) and 'was-ings' which is try not to use the phrase 'X was X-ing'.  I am the POV police.  You see, we all have our roles to play within the critique group.

Exercise - when I joined fancy-schmancy gym, it came with free training session and pilates session.  I had my training session this past weekend and the day after, I could barely walk, barely lift my arm. Sore all over.  Stayed in bed.  But I went back to the gym yesterday so I'm on goal here.  Pilates Saturday.  "I can't wait." Can you hear the sarcasm?

Eating Healthy - well, yes, I tried.  I loaded up on pre-made salads to bring with me to lunch.  Only I started reading the label today whilst eating.  500 calories! for a salad?  Oy!  I didn't want to do the Lean Cuisine frozen 300 calorie entrees because of all the sodium... Hmm.  Any suggestions for low cal lunches?
And then this morning, since everyone was hung-over I brought doughnuts.  And I may have had one...

Impressing?

Wracked my brain, trying to come up with something to blog about, since this thing is supposed to be about writing.  Are you impressed yet?

Didn't think so...

Last night, the office took our boss out to The Ice House, which is a local comedy club.  This was our Christmas gift to our boss.  The Ice House is named that because it used to be a storage facility for ice back in the day.  During the time when the Wrigley family (of chewing gum fame) used to live in the area maybe?



There used to be ostrich farms in the area too.  Ever have an ostrich burger?  There is a place nearby that still serves them.








But I digress.  Boss picked last night to go because Kevin Nealon (SNL and Weeeds) was headlining. Kevin was funny, and he didn't use a lot of curse words.  Sure there were some, but it wasn't every other word, like some other comedians.

And he was nice too.  I saw him standing around waiting to go on when a guy approached Kevin (yeah, I'm on a first name basis with Kevin)about a photo which Kevin had no problem with.

But let me back up.  We started out at Le Gran Orange restaurant where we sat at the bar.  I have a hard time drinking and driving (and we had to drive) so I had ice tea.  The others had two rounds of alcohol.  And nachos, there were nachos...

Next we carpooled to The Ice House.  Since I didn't drink, I drove one of the cars.  At the ice house there is a two drink minimum.  I'm confessing here that I broke my 'no aspartame' rule.  I didn't want to drink anything too fattening so I got two diet cokes. I know... I'm such a hard core drinker, right?

Anyway, that put everybody else at a four drinks a piece.  Boss started into his tirade about how he dislikes Brad Garrett.  "Aw," I say.  "I like him. from 'Everybody Loves Raymond', right?"

Well, according to boss, Brad Garrett stole his girlfriend back in the day.  Mind you, this is four drinks into the night.  I think I'm inclined to believe him, only because he had mentioned not liking Brad a few times.

The show was over before 10p.  At loose ends, we decide to head over to the Langham for even more drinking.







This place is gorgeous.  It used to be a Ritz Carlton and, if I'm not mistaken, still plays host to the Television Press Critics annual fall event.

We have two more drinks each here (total six and counting). I have hot chocolate, to heck with the 'eating healthy'.



Talk turns into giggles and I tell the group about my friend who used to work at the hotel and who swears the bungalows are haunted.  My friend worked the front desk many nights and people in the bungalows would often check out in the wee hours of the morning, claiming rocking chairs rocked by themselves, or radios mysteriously turned on by themselves.

By that point it is 1 am.  Semi-sobriety has returned so I drive people to their cars.  A good/fun night has been had by all.  The bad news is I had to go back to work the next morning.  This hopefully explains why I am not waxing eloquently about the pleasures/pains of writing.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Another Free Sampler - YA


Another Freebie.  This time a sample of books at Beth Revis' site:



I've read Nightshade, Matched, and have "Across The Universe" in my TBR pile so if that is any indication, Born Wicked and Legend should be great!  If you don't have these already, I'd say run and get the free samples.

Not sure if people in outside the US can get it  (hello, CP#1).  

The Darkening Dream by Andy Gavin - FREE TODAY

I am currently reading this book for review, but in the meantime, the author has decided to offer it for two days only for free.  See below:
FREE Two Days Only: A Vampire Novel with Actual Bite!
As the modern world establishes itself and pushes the supernatural into the shadows, the supernatural fights back.

The Darkening Dream is a chilling new dark fantasy novel by Andy Gavin, creator of Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter, that has received rave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads and is FREE for two days only on Amazon Kindle (February 7th to 8th)! Download your FREE copy here: http://amzn.to/yTvZPG

Long-time readers of dark historical fantasy (Tim Powers, Guy Gavriel Kay, Katherine Kurtz) will appreciate the weaving together of mythology, occult, and religion, while younger readers and fans of HBO dramas (True Blood, CarnivĂ le) or urban fantasy (Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher) will be drawn to the twisted imagination, graphic action, and romantic tension.

About The Darkening Dream

Even as the modern world pushes the supernatural aside in favor of science and steel, the old ways remain. God, demon, monster, and sorcerer alike plot to regain what was theirs.

1913, Salem, Massachusetts – Sarah Engelmann’s life is full of friends, books, and avoiding the pressure to choose a husband, until an ominous vision and the haunting call of an otherworldly trumpet shake her. When she stumbles across a gruesome corpse, she fears that her vision was more of a premonition. And when she sees the murdered boy moving through the crowd at an amusement park, Sarah is thrust into a dark battle she does not understand.

With the help of Alex, an attractive Greek immigrant who knows a startling amount about the undead, Sarah sets out to uncover the truth. Their quest takes them to the factory mills of Salem, on a midnight boat ride to spy on an eerie coastal lair, and back, unexpectedly, to their own homes. What can Alex’s elderly, vampire-hunting grandfather and Sarah’s own rabbi father tell them? And what do Sarah’s continuing visions reveal?

No less than Gabriel’s Trumpet, the tool that will announce the End of Days, is at stake, and the forces that have banded to recover it include a 900 year-old vampire, a trio of disgruntled Egyptian gods, and a demon-loving Puritan minister. At the center of this swirling cast is Sarah, who must fight a millennia-old battle against unspeakable forces, knowing the ultimate prize might be her very soul.

The Reviews Are In

"A vampire novel with actual bite." ~The Kirkus Reviews

"Mr. Gavin has brought something refreshingly new to a genre now suffused with poorly-concealed bodice-rippers which have more in common with Fabio than Bram Stoker: depth. His big baddies are scary, not romantic interests, and the added religious lore is complex and engaging. Don't expect another Twilight -- the story can get downright creepy, so be prepared for a return to the old horror sensibilities of supernatural fiction." ~Amazon Review

"With Mr. Gavin's video-game pedigree, I was expecting something aimed squarely at the 18-25 year old fanboy contingent; what I got in The Darkening Dream was something wholly unexpected: A period novel with a female protagonist, a crash-course on Judaism in the colonial years, and multi-layered series of plot arcs featuring a crazy cast of natural and supernatural characters populating 18th Century Colonial America." ~Amazon Review

"…A perfect blend of mystery, magic and myth. A grown-up Grimm's fairy tale...emphasis on grim."  ~Amazon Review

Read the first two sample chapters here >> http://bit.ly/xXVxXS

Get your FREE copy of The Darkening Dream for two days only on Amazon here. http://amzn.to/yTvZPG

No eReader or Kindle? No problem. Get free apps for your Web Browser, PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, or Android Phone.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Writer's Platform Building Campaign Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is the start of another round of the Writer's Platform Building Campaign which is hosted, originates with Rachael Harrie here:

http://www.rachaelharrie.blogspot.com/

I had so much fun, met and admired the work of so many talented writers last time that I will do it again this time.  I especially like the writing challenges and reading everybody's entries.  Join with me,  it is really a blast!

ROW 80 Feb 5 Check In

Well, after three weeks of headaches I'm back.  I think it is just one continuous long headache, not a separate headache every day.  I went to the doctor who said "take an advil and call me back tomorrow if it doesn't go away."  Hmm, time to find a new doctor...

Anyway, I am plodding along with my revise.  I have the first forty-five pages ready to go.  I'm very proud of it.  I'm hoping this will be the final revise.  I can see so much growth from when I first started writing to now.
It helps too that I'm reading Stephen King's "On Writing" finally.  I've bought I-don't-know-how-many copies for writer friends over the years.  Never actually read it myself.   Now that I'm reading it, so much makes sense.

I joined fancy schmancy spa-like gym this week too.  And I went four times!!! I ache all over but I guess that means it's working, right?

Foodwise - I wasn't totally successful here.  I had some pasta yesterday.  Will try to do better...

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Raven Boys


It is no secret I adore Maggie Stiefvater.  I think she's currently my favorite author.  So yesterday she announced she's writing a 4 book series.  The first one is called The Raven Boys.  I can't wait!

Happy Friday all!