Friday, May 25, 2012

Freaky Friday: The Avengers

My husband saw The Avengers without me. Boo! Hiss! As punishment which I inflicted upon him for daring to see the movie without me an appeasement which he so generously offered, he will be giving the review for our Freaky Friday post. Here is his take...
"The Avengers gets the double E: entertaining and enjoyable. The characters meshed well together and shared the spotlight, which is unusual for movies with such star power. The focus was kept on the story and how the characters fit within it. But, one character stole the movie – The Hulk played by Mark Ruffalo. His portrayal was spot on when compared to the Hulk TV show. He also provides the comic relief through the movie.
On the opposite spectrum, Iron Man, played by Robert Downey Jr., annoyed me throughout the movie. A lot of witty sarcasm came across as forced and not so witty. The audience agreed as most of his one liners got no response.
"Do you have the big cassettes ready?" "The what?"
Another small tiff I had with the movie was the graphics. They are great at times yet some scenes look like they were shot in someone’s backyard on grandma's VHS recorder.
All in all the movie made me feel like a kid again. I was rooting for the good guys and booing the bad guys. It transported me into a New York city overrun by aliens (I was a bit pissed when one of the aliens came crashing through grand central but that is another story all together)."

Rating: B+

PS The Hubs insists that Chuck aka Devil Dog also gave a rating despite not seeing the film. Apparently, The Hubs related it to him afterward. Chuck gives the film a B- as he did not care for the lack of animals in the movie (not including the Hulk).
For reference, The Hubs has been told he looks like both Adam Levine and Stifler. *Shrugs*
PSS The Hubs wanted a catchy nickname for the blog to be henceforth known as...? But, since we couldn't agree I'm putting it to a reader vote. Check out next week's post where we give my husband his blogging tag name!

What did you think of The Avengers? Do you agree with The Hubs or Devil Dog? Have any names you'd like to see featured in the "Name My Husband" poll (please, keep it clean)?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Winter Wonders: Cover Reveal

Today, I'm sharing some exciting news. This winter one of my short stories will be featured in an anthology entitled Winter Wonders. I am SO thrilled to be a part of this anthology from Compass Press and to share the pages with these fabulous authors. The best part is all of the proceeds will be going to a charity that fights illiteracy and encourages young people to read.
Squee! These are the authors I get to share the pages with:
Anne Riley, Heather McCorkle, Alexandra Shostak, Christine Fonseca, Connie Keller, Crystal Harris, Elle Strauss, Harley May, Jamey Stegmaier, Jen Stayrook, Jessica Naccari, Jodi Burrus, Judith Graves, Karen Amanda Hooper, Krissi Dallas, Mercedes Yardley, Natalie Cone, Regan Leigh, Susan Kaye Quinn, TS Tate, and Yelena Casale.

The anthology is listed on Goodreads here and thanks to Compass Press, we get a special look at the cover:
For more details, check out the news at Compass Press.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Freaky Friday: Oh Mom's Meatloaf

Do you know what really creeps me out...meatloaf. Wait, lemme 'splain. My mother was not the world's best chef. She made a great eggplant parmigiana (not parmesan, the difference between the two is the American vs. Italian vs. Italian-American argument which is a WHOLE other post). She also served my brother oodles of spaghetti (although I don't care for the stuff, and I once had to perform the Heimlich maneuver on him for choking on a strand, but I digress). 
Whenever my mother made meatloaf (say that three times fast), the entire house would smell of meat. Not the good hamburgers on the BBQ smell. No. Something akin to broiled flesh and pig slop. The very concept of having a loaf of meat smacks of horror movie imagery. Think about it. Instead of a slaughterhouse filled with animal carcasses, let's have the cameraman do a sweeping shot of a restaurant kitchen filled with dishes of meatloaf. *shudders*
Even the dictionary definition sounds unappetizing...

Meatloaf: (noun) "a baked loaf of ground meat".
meatloaf. (n.d.). WordNet® 3.0. Retrieved May 18, 2012, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/meatloaf

My first dabbles into the world of writing for publication included a short story entitled "Cindy and the Meatloaf Monster". Little unsuspecting Cindy refuses to eat her mother's stinky meatloaf - complete with green peas and sour smell - and is sent to her room. Unfortunately, her room is not the safe haven she thought. She must fight off a colossal Meatloaf Monster and his army of meatloaf minions! One day I'll bring that story with the other short tales together in a collection.
My dear husband swears if I try HIS version of meatloaf, I'll like it. He's a great cook after all, and I love hamburgers, so what's the difference? I'll tell you the difference, meatloaf is nasty. Even if it tasted like chocolate wrapped in hot fudge with caramel sauce and ice cream on top, I still wouldn't go near the stuff. Sometimes you can't break the lessons of childhood. In this case, mom taught me meatloaf is not for me.

Do you have any fears or habits that have stuck with you since childhood?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Random Acts Of Kindness BLITZ

A smile. An encouraging word. A thoughtful gesture. Each day people interact with us, help, and make our day a bit brighter and full. This is especially true in the Writing Community

Take a second to think about writers you know, like the critique partner who works with you to improve your manuscript. The writing friend who listens, supports and keeps you strong when times are tough. The author who generously offers council, advice and inspiration when asked.

So many people take the time to make us feel special, don't they? They comment on our blogs, re-tweet our posts, chat with us on forums and wish us Happy Birthday on Facebook.

Kindness is POWERFUL. Even the smallest gesture can fuel a person and keep them going.


To commemorate the release of their book The Emotion Thesaurus, Becca and Angela at The Bookshelf Muse are hosting a TITANIC Random Act Of Kindness BLITZ. And because I think KINDNESS is contagious, I'm participating too!

First a big THANK YOU to Melinda Collins at Muse, Rant, Rave for blitzing me. When I started blogging last year, Melinda was one of the first writers I met in the blog-o-sphere. She is beyond kind and gracious. She is always there with a supportive word or a helping hand. When I post a blog note on Twitter, she is often the first to RT. I cannot count the amount of times, I've come to her blog seeking advice or guidance from her Friday links of the week. I am so thankful for her genuine kindness and absolutely must Blitz her back! Melinda, I'd love to beta read whenever you'd like, but since you've had an especially tough week, I'd like to get you a little gift as well. So, pick out a book or ebook from your favorite online store and I'll send it your way!

Next, I'd be remiss if I didn't Blitz my awesome beta readers: LM Preston, Danielle DeVor, and Norma Jean Johnson. These ladies are the epitome of awesome. I'd like to offer each of you a copy of the Emotion Thesaurus. This has been a huge asset for me in my writing and I hope you will find it a valuable tool. Please let me know if you'd like it as a kindle, epub or PDF format.

How about you? Will you join the RAOK Blitz and pass on kindness today?

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Avengers Peace Offering

I feel like the only person on the planet to have not seen The Avengers yet. I apologize. It will be rectified. As my peace offering, I give you the official trailer...

This remarkably awesome cast picture...

This shirtless picture of Thor (Chris Hemsworth)...

And this gun-wielding leather-clad Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson)....

Am I forgiven? *smiles*

Have you seen The Avengers? If so, is it as truly awesome as everyone says? If not, why not? Are you slacking like me?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

When the World Throws You a Curveball

I've debated sharing this with you all for some time. In the grand scheme of things, my recent struggles seem very small in comparison. In my own life, I've experienced worse than my current situation. But, I believe that sharing this story may help others. So here it is...

Three and a half years ago I experienced a bout of severe unexplained fatigue. I went to the doctors, changed my diet, exercised more, exercised less, tried supplements, took vitamins, and anything and everything else I could think of to feel better. Nothing worked. Experts blamed stress. I didn't. I knew something was wrong, but I kept going about my daily life trying to push it to the side. After six months it disappeared as strangely as it came. Until this past month...

At the beginning of April I started to feel the odd fatigue again. Only this time it was ten times worse. I cut out going to karate and the gym. I went to bed earlier and had a tougher time getting up in the morning. Eventually, I stopped writing anything new for weeks, when I'd gone only days before at the most. This more than anything sent the red flags up. I KNEW something was wrong.

When I went to the doctors over three years ago, I was borderline for a thyroid condition. This time it was without a doubt. I have Hashimoto's, a condition in which antibodies in the immune system attack the thyroid until there is low function or none at all. I'm not alone as 1 in 5 people develop a thyroid problem within their lifetime. I am so relieved to have a diagnosis and now, to be on the path to feeling better.

So, why am I telling you all this? First and foremost, I urge you all to trust your instincts. If something is wrong, don't stop pursuing the matter until you have an answer. Second, and this is the advice my friend gave me, give yourself a break. When I was going through all this, I felt incredibly guilty. I wasn't meeting my writing goals like I wanted. I wasn't working out which has always been important to me. I struggled some days to get out of bed or walk my dog, and when I couldn't, I felt guilty. And for what? The guilt didn't help me at all. It certainly didn't make me feel better.

When you're going through a rough patch, don't be too hard on yourself. As writers, we can be our own worst enemies. When we have feelings of self-doubt or guilt or frustration, we internalize it. "Oh my work sucks." "No one will want to read this." "I can't believe I didn't write X words today." Etc. These attitudes are all self-defeating and pointless. It's absolutely important to set goals and believe in your work, but when life throws you a curve ball, give yourself a break. Be good to yourself and acknowledge your needs. If you need to take some time off, take it. If you're on a deadline and need more time, be honest and upfront about it. Being writers is who we are, but we can't be our best selves, unless we're good to ourselves first.

Have you ever gone through a rough patch that affected your writing? How did you handle it? What advice would you give to others for getting through it?

Monday, May 7, 2012

It's the Ticking of that Hideous Clock!

When I was in high school, college, and graduate school, I had a certain...how shall we say...aspersion to morning classes. I once took an 8am class in high school and...slept through it. Then, I foolishly thought my morning routine would change with higher education and took an 8am class in college...and slept through it. In high school my teacher got so fed up with my yawning, she actually gave me permission to put my head on the desk and rest! (Did I mention I still did ALL of the work? I was sleepy, not a slacker.)
By graduate school, I finally smartened up. I took afternoon and night classes and I worked at night. It was WONDERFUL! I am a night owl. Except, one small, tiny detail broke this heavenly situation...Auntie N.
Auntie N is *cough* years older than me. As such, she's been working a 9-5pm job for years before I was suckered into the grind. Unfortunately, she always wanted to report the day's exciting news BEFORE she got into work. Hence, the 8:30am phone call which went something like this...

Auntie N: "Hi Tee. Whatcha doin'?"
Tina: "It's 8:30 in the morning! What'dya think I'm doing???"
Auntie N: "Oh. Did I wake you?"
Tina: (sarcasm alert) "No. Not at all."

This went on for quite sometime EVERYDAY. Until, finally, I said, "Auntie N, new rule. No phone calls before 9am." To which she very nicely kept her word, and called at 9:01am. GAH!
Fast forward to present day. I now work during the day, although my hours fluctuate from time to time. I'm still not a morning person, but I force myself up like a responsible adult and I go to sleep early-ish. I figure at 28 years old (yup, I just turned 28 last week), if I can't work at night, then I'll have to fake it til I make it (my karate instructor's favorite line).
Revenge, however, is as sweet as they say. Being in the habit of waking up early during the week has turned into a nasty bug during the weekend hours. The same is not true for Auntie N. She can sleep late on the weekends. So, although I've been nice to keep it until after 9am, I've woken up Auntie N on a Saturday or Sunday morning with the obligatory, "Whatcha doin'?" Ah yes, I do enjoy coming full circle.

How about you? Are you a night owl or an early bird? Have your habits changed over the years?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Freaky Friday: The Cabin in the Woods

*Inhales deeply, counts to ten, exhales* SQUEEEEE! 

Oh you cinema genius!
Sorry. Now that the obligatory fangirl excitement for Joss Whedon is out of the way, let me say... I have not enjoyed a horror movie so much in YEARS. Big THANK YOU to super agent, Jenn for giving me the extra nudge to get to the theater for The Cabin in the Woods.
Pause for a moment, if you will, and reflect with me. Remember the days of classic slasher flicks? Friday the 13th. Sarcastic and witty sounding villains? Ahh, Freddy. How about alternate environments and deadly games? Cube, watched in the glory days of the Sci-fi channel (not millenial the Syfy makeover), or the turn of the century Saw franchise. Let's even give a nod to the new invasion of reality TV as a horror construct. Halloween: Resurrection, Battle Royale, and although not horror, the sensation The Hunger Games.
Try to hold all of the movies mentioned above in your mind. Got it? No? Don't worry. I can't picture it either. But, writer Joss Whedon, the genius behind Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, etc and writer/director Drew Goddard, producer of Lost and Alias, did. Originally shot in 2009, this dynamic duo objected to a conversion to 3D format and eventually won. The result delayed the film to a 2012 release date. However, it is well worth the wait.

My favorite lines of the movie (not enough for spoilers, don't worry):

"These are old horrors." - Chem girl
"You mean gods, monsters?" - Guard
"You get used to it." - Chem girl
"Should we?" - Guard

"Remember when you could just throw a girl in a volcano?" - Hadley
"How old do you think I am?" - Sitterson

I have no way to prepare you for this viewing experience, except to say... Suspend your disbelief, enjoy the dialogue - rich with multiple meanings and nods to other horror constructs - and laugh. Laugh a lot. It's fun, witty and an all around good time. Don't take it too seriously and I promise you'll come back to thank me.

Rating: solid A

PS Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford are pure delight! Fran Kranz is perfect.

PSS It has Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Dr. Avery (Jesse Williams) shirtless. You're welcome.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Shaking the Muse: Razzle, Dazzle Us

My writing partner, the lovely Yelena Casale, and I are running a joint post (pictures changed for your entertainment). We have been throwing around ideas for our "secret project" for some time now. It's become obvious that we need a fresh perspective. And that's where you come in. Yes, you!
We want to hear about your favorite book, movie, TV show or play. Tell us why it's your favorite. What do you love about it? What was the best part? the most iconic scene? the story that you can't live without? Tell us the dirt. Spill the beans. We want to know.
In short, inspire us with your favorites. We're looking to bring out the big guns, cross genre lines, and write like there's no tomorrow. Nothing is off the list. If the secret project becomes WALKING DEAD meets LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD meets MOBY DICK, then heck we'll write the zombie white whale in a red hood. Okay, maybe not, but you get the picture.
Does this picture scare you as much as it does me?
So, help us out. What story last tugged at your heart strings? Which one opened your mind to another point of view? What tale inspired you?

UPDATE: As I was preparing this post yesterday, the muse struck! At about 11:30 last night, I emailed Yelena with a concept for our #secretproject. She loved it and we're hashing out the details. (Reveal in the works.) However, since we don't plan on being a one trick pony, we want that muse to strike again. So, please DAZZLE US with the stories that you love.