Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Planes, trains, and ... um, camel vans?

When I was stuck in traffic while evacuating Virginia Beach ahead of Hurricane Irene, I got to thinking about transportation. Funny how crawling along I-64 with my husband, son, son's girlfriend,  daughter, and daughter's two cats, in an over-packed minivan, will inspire a reverie on just how wonderful it would be if Star Trek transporters really existed.

Alas...

So, yeah. Car travel over long distances isn't my favorite. Neither is flying (as any of you who've read my blog for long have undoubtedly already gleaned). 

Buses are okay for local transportation, as is the subway. 

TG swears motorcycles are the most fun way to get around. Yeah, they can be exciting, but what if it rains? And I do worry about getting smacked in the face by bugs.

Personally, I like piggy back rides best, but for covering distance, nothing beats a train. TG and I back-packed all over Europe with Eurail passes as our tickets to adventure, and it was wonderful. Aaaah...the charm of the choo-choo. The romance of the rails.

The lustiness of the locomotive! 

Yeah, I said lustiness. Think of the movie North by Northwest. (That's a link to one of the best movie endings ever. Go check it out. Seriously, do it. It's only 30 or 40 seconds long. Don't worry, I'll wait...)

What'd I tell you? Who can resist imagery like that? 

 Speaking of imagery, and since it is Hump Day, how's this for transportation?


(Hey, you didn't think you were going to get away from here on a Wednesday without looking at a camel, did you?)

What's your favorite mode of transportation?

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Winner of the Verifictionary Contest (and the odd reference to earthquakes and hurricanes)!

But first, a moment to sigh over leaving this:

Yeah, I'm back from vacation. 

It was wonderful. Well, other than that it started with a freakin' earthquake (apparently the biggest in Virginia since 1897) and ended with a hurricane evacuation. But there was that one really great day on the beach between those two things, so who am I to complain?

Especially when I got to sit on my hotel balcony with TG, sipping a caffeinated beverage while enjoying sunrises like this:


Gorgeous, yes? Though, in retrospect, that old "red sky at morning, sailor take warning" saying comes to mind.

But even amidst earthquakes and hurricanes, when my mind was focused primarily on the safety of my family (and, okay, perhaps a teeny bit fuzzy from a Bloody Mary or three on the beach on that one reeeally nice day), I still managed to think of you, my loyal blog readers and contest enter-ers.

Yes, before we high-tailed it out of Virginia Beach I grabbed a box of my favorite beach candy:


And that, my dear contestants, is THE PRIZE!

Uh-huh. I KNOW! Bet all you people who didn't enter are sorry now.

Oh, come on. I told you it would dumb and/or silly, and possibly edible, didn't I? I think this qualifies as all three. Plus, it's taffy. Pure cap-pulling deliciosity. Yum!

Choosing the winner of the Verificionary Contest was difficult. There were so many great definitions to choose from! But don't take my word for it -- click on that link and go check out the comments yourself. You will giggle, I guarantee it.

After much deliberation (which included my hand in a hat full of names on slips of paper), I chose...

Karla Nellenbach!

Karla, if you'll email me your address, I will dispatch your taffy with all speed. :)

P.S. Starting today I'm officially a Deb over at The Debutante Ball (I'll be blogging there on Fridays). Monday Deb Joanne Levy -- a super fantastic middle grade author -- is kicking off the season for us. If you get a chance, pop over and say hi to her. Trust me, it's worth it just to get a load of her outfit. ;)

Monday, August 22, 2011

JUST BECAUSE I'M NOT HERE DOESN'T MEAN YOU CAN'T ENTERTAIN ME!

Wanted to remind you that...

But that doesn't mean I've left you with nothing to do! Remember, there's the VERIFICTIONARY CONTEST. Go here to enter. And then enter again! Do it as much as you want. (Heh-heh. I said "do it.")

Don't mind me. I'll just be sipping a Bloody Mary on the beach while I wait for your bursts of brilliance.

(Oh, and if you see me around the interwebz this week, it's because the hotel has wi-fi. But if I'm playing my vacay cards right, you won't be seeing much of me! Try not to get too comfortable with that.)

Friday, August 19, 2011

VERIFICTIONARY CONTEST!

Okay, usually I'm the one to supply the definitions. But why should I have all the fun?

(If you don't know what the hell I'm talking about, you obviously missed my previous verifictionary posts. Go here to get the lowdown. If you still don't get it, you can follow the link in that post back to another previous post...and so on. Like an Easter egg hunt.)

Anyway, so here's what we're going to do today. I'll give you a list of verification "words" I've collected while blog-hopping over the past few weeks. You tell me the first "definition" that pops into your mind when you see them.

(Or, obsess about it for hours and come back later with the most perfect definition known to man. Your call.)

To make it more interesting, let's call it A CONTEST. The cleverest--or silliest, depending on my mood--definition will win one of my infamous dumb and/or silly (possibly edible) prizes.

Prize to be decided at a later date. Yup, when you enter one of my contests you take your chances. Yessirree, it's risky business.

Come on, live life on the edge! DEFINE your gorgeous little tushies off! In other words, ENTERTAIN ME!

On your mark...get set...GO!

AMERME

BEDOT

DORSEST

STABIAS

PRANTER

MODIC

FLUMMUT

WINGLERT

PLOTLENT

EXPEA

Rules: Invent a definition for any of the "words" above. You only have to define one to enter, but are welcome to go for all of them. Enter early, enter often! Overachievers will get extra credit.

Since I'll be out of town next week (on vacay at the beach, YAY!), and won't be entertaining you with my scintillating wit (tee-hee...yeah, right -- I can see you rolling your eyes...oh yes I can!), the contest will be open until midnight on Friday, Aug. 26.

I'll announce the winner on Monday, the 29th.

Have fun! And, seriously, don't take it too seriously. ;)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Vice Redux (Complete with wacky camel pic, of course.)

On Monday we discussed virtue and vice, and where we fell on the great Virtue-Vice scale.

In keeping with that theme, let's extend it to fictional characters.

Oh, hell. Let's just skip the virtues and go straight for the good stuff. (Yeah, patience is not one of my virtues.)

My main character in IN A FIX swears, drinks, blurts out ill-advised words when under stress, and occasionally bites her fingernails*. (But all in a *cough* charming way. Naturally.)

If you're a reader, what are your favorite vices in the characters you read?

If you're a writer, what vices do you like to give your characters? Or, if you write like I do, what kind to they appear fully equipped with in your head?

Also, is there a vice you just can't tolerate in a character? Me, I'd have a tough time getting past a protag who habitually spit. Or chewed tobacco. Or scratched his/her privates. What's your deal-breaker?

And, since it is Wednesday (HAPPY HUMP DAY!), we must have a camel pic:


How's that for a vice?

*Does biting fingernails even qualify as a vice? What elevates a bad habit into a full-fledged vice, anyway? Now, there's a philosophical question for you. Wax away.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Musing: Vice or Virtue -- Which way do you lean?


We may love people for their virtues, but I think we like them for their vices.

(Hmm. Or maybe that's just me...)

See, I think there's a spectrum:

Virtue...1...2...3...4...5...6...7...8...9...Vice

On the Virtue-Vice spectrum, most people gravitate toward the middle. And thank goodness (or badness!) for that.

The Ones are too saintly...

We may admire them, but it's uncomfortable to be around them for any length of time. Hard not to compare yourself to them, and you're likely to wind up feeling bad about yourself if you do. And, come on, who likes that?

The Nines are just plain scary...

Vice that strong has gone beyond the pale. If you don't fear for yourself, you fear for them and what they are doing to themselves. Again, who wants to be around that?

Twos and Eights are pushing the edge of the envelope...

Tolerable. Twos can be inspirational, and Eights can be exciting to be around. But you probably wouldn't want to live with either of them.

Threes and Sevens...

Well, depending on where you are on the scale, they could provide a nice balance. A Three could keep a Seven on the (relatively) straight and narrow, and a Seven could keep a Three from sinking into the depths of dullness.

Fours, Fives, and Sixes...

The regular, not-too-nice, not-too-nasty types. Your average Joes. Most people are Fours, Fives, and Sixes, I think.

To help put it in perspective, an Eight is who you wanted to date in high school. And a Three is who you want your kid to date. (Maybe a Two.)

My favorite vice? Gee, it's kind of tough to narrow it down. Let's see ... I do like to ogle cute guys -- unobtrusively, and from a respectful distance -- but that's more art appreciation than a real vice. (What? I happen to think our Creator is great artist. It would be rude to ignore His *cough* body of work.)

I guess I could just go with the classics in overindulgence: chocolate and intoxicating beverages. But honestly, I'm probably barely a Four or a Five in those, as much fun as it is for me to spin it over to the wilder side.

Might have to go with Smart-Assery. I'm at least an Eight and a half there, and I do tend to appreciate it in others.

My favorite virtue is Kindness. Not the smarmy, oh-aren't-I-a-saint type. The real, Golden-Rule type. Because I've been the recipient of it, so I know how important it can be in someone's life.

Do you have a favorite vice? Or virtue?

If not, you might try shopping at this store in Panama City Beach, FL:


I've never been there myself, but you can bet I'll be paying them a visit if I'm ever in the area. 

Oh, and before you leave -- if you're the sharing sort -- tell me your number. Don't worry. I won't tell anyone. ;)

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Truth about Muses

I was going to write a big ol' long post on inspiration this morning. Really. But then I found this...


...and suddenly it all seemed moot.

Even if you're not a writer, surely you have a muse to help get you through your day. A Day Job muse, a Cooking muse, a Laundry muse, a Please-Don't-Let-Me-Kill-My-Children muse...

Yeah, I'm pretty sure there are muses for all endeavors.

So, what kind of muse do you have? And what muse methodology works best for you -- gentle and cajoling, or armed and dangerous?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hooky, Hooky, Hooky! Let's Play HUMP DAY HOOKY!!!

Admit it. You want to do this, too.





Fill in the blank:

When I play hooky, I like to ___________________________________!

Why, no, that's not just something to keep you busy while I'm off playing hooky.*

*Okay, so I just lied. That's totally what it is. But, really, I'm only doing it to set a good an example. I mean, I can't in good conscience recommend you do something I'm not willing to do myself, can I? CAN I??

Of course not. I knew you'd understand.

Now, shoo. Go play hooky.

WAIT! But not before you tell me your favorite hooky activity. Especially if it's naughty. ;)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday Musings on Wanting, aka "No, I mustn't! Well, maybe just this once..."

A while back I blogged about wanting, and how our wants evolve over time. The things we want when we're kids, we don't (necessarily) still want as adults.

Except, of course, wanting to have a hot fudge sundae for dinner. I'm pretty sure that's a universal want, never to be outgrown, unless you are a person with weird and warped taste buds.

A culinary Scrooge.

A gastronomical Grinch.

A *gasp!* healthy eater. *shudders*

As a kid, I used to daydream about eating an honest-to-God, full-sized, cherry-on-top hot fudge sundae for dinner, instead of the meat and veggies meal put in front of me like clockwork.

Okay, it's still pretty high on my list.

Sure, now that I can technically have ice cream for dinner whenever I gosh darn feel like it, some the sharpness of the want is gone. There's nothing quite like the thrill of the forbidden to hone one's desire, and if the forbidden isn't really forbidden, well, some of the ... let's call it "experiential pizazz" ... may be lost. But here's a secret: if you squirt a little extra whipped cream on it, that pizazz will come right back.

(Hmm. One could say that about a lot of previously forbidden things. But one won't, as one's children have been known to read one's blog. *cough*)

Of course, I can also recapture some of the pizazz by forbidding myself to eat the sundae, for, say, dietary reasons. But that contaminates the pureness of the want by countering it with a perfectly reasonable, albeit conflicting, want; i.e. I want to be able to zip my jeans.

(But whipped cream is better, so try not run out. Trust me on this.)

This whole WANTING thing is directly related to writing, too. Think about it. A piece of fiction is basically a story about somebody (a person, an anthropomorphized animal or alien, whatever -- as long as the "somebody" can be related to by the reader) who wants something. Love, money, a shiny new toy, revenge, salvation...again, whatever.

The author's job is to stretch out the agony (otherwise known as "foreplay") for the length of the story. Once the character gets what he or she wants, the story is over.

Unless, of course, the sneaky author has replaced the want with a newer, even want-ier want.

Now, for the ending of a story to be satisfying (to me, anyway), the character's want (and, by extension, the reader's want) must be fulfilled. This can be by:

(A) the character getting exactly what s/he wanted all along,

(B) the character realizing s/he didn't really want it after all, and getting something even better (or at least better for her/him), or

(C) the character coming to terms with (aka "getting screwed over by") life.

Granted, (C) isn't all that much fun for me to read. But there are those who find these kind of endings somehow satisfying. Masochists, I suspect. Or maybe sadists. The same people who rooted for Lucy when she kept pulling that football away before Charlie Brown could kick it.


So, what kind of endings do you prefer?

Come on, now. You can tell me. I promise not to judge you, even if you're a sadomasochistic Lucy Lover.

Alternatively, tell me -- what's one of your forbidden desires? And would you like a little whipped cream on that? ;)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Appreciating the FUNdamentals

fun·da·ment/ˈfəndəmənt/Noun

1. The foundation or basis of something.
2. A person's buttocks.

Guess which definition I'm going with for this post. *waggles eyebrows*

Yes, for your Friday viewing pleasure, I bring you the first (and possibly the l-ass-t, depending on how well it is received) installment of...

The Friday Fundament:


Now, if that's not getting down to basics, I don't know what is! Thank you, Mr. Craig, for what you do to a pair of chaps.

(Hey, I grew up in Texas. Can you blame me for appreciating a nice cowboy getup?)

No, I haven't seen Cowboys and Aliens yet. But I'm going to, as soon as Opera Hell* is over and TG has some free time to go with me. Even though the film has received less than stellar reviews. Because who cares about reviews when Daniel Craig's butt is starring in a movie? 

So, what do you appreciate on a fundamental level?
(It doesn't have to be a butt. It could be anything. But a butt would probably be more fun. Just sayin'.) 

* Our "affectionate" (ha!) term for summer, when the theater god spends waaaay too much in the Valhalla of Warbling Stage Performers. Not that I don't appreciate opera...oh, hell. Who am I kidding? I don't appreciate opera. To each her own, and opera ain't generally my own.**

** (Oh, look. I footnoted my footnote.) There are exceptions. I kinda like the funny ones, especially the ones in English, so I don't have to keep staring at the supertitles (like subtitles, only above the stage) just to understand what's going on in the show.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Few Wednesday Wants

I want these:





Or maybe this:




Both would be good.

You can get camel pen holder here. Silly? Verging on tacky? Yeah. Still, I might just get it.

Because, yannoh ... I want it.
 
(The website where I saw the camel pens doesn't seem to have any ordering information. Thus proving The Rolling Stones right: "You can't always get what you w-a-a-a-n-t..." But at least it's a good camel pic for a Hump Day post.)

Okay, okay. Wanting frivolous, camel-related paraphernalia is not as noble as wanting, say, World Peace.


Or Cures For All Horrible Diseases.


I mean, of course I want those things, too. Duh.

But in the Want Department, it pays to have some trivial desires to fill in the chinks. Just a few things you have a snowball's chance in hell of actually getting, because, face it, getting what you want feels good.

And what's wrong with feeling good? Not a dad-gum thing.

If you're into self-denial as a recreational activity, it might help to consider "feeling good" as part of the Essential Human Being Maintenance Package. It's like oiling a fine piece of machinery -- it extends life and improves performance.

Right now I also want a hot fudge sundae, a foot massage, and a clue about a certain chapter in my WIP. I know these things will make me feel good. Bonus: They aren't very expensive.

What do you want? What's cheap and easy, and will make you feel good?

[Aside to TG: If you say me...well, you're probably right. ;) ]

Monday, August 1, 2011

Just pinch me and call me Cinderella!

Y'ALL!!! Guess what?

*tries to pause for dramatic effect*  *fails utterly*

The Debutante Ball, a group blog for debut authors, has invited me to be a part of their 2012 roster! (If you missed the announcement on their site yesterday, you can see it here.) 

I'm so excited I could pee!

Oh, wait. That lacks a certain ... gentility, shall we say? Not very debutante-like. Perhaps I should rephrase it. 

I'm so excited I could barf! 

No? Maybe something a little more southern. 

Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit!

Um, okay. Perhaps gentility isn't my forte. Maybe proper clothing would help. I'm thinking something like this...


...because that pink matches the stripe I dyed in my hair after my agent, the amazing Michelle Wolfson, sold my books to the equally amazing Melissa Frain at Tor Books. (Try to ignore the fact that there are no comments on the book-selling/hair-dye post. There used to be over a hundred, but the Intense Debate commenting system I was using at the time had a glitch. *bites knuckle and sobs quietly* Not that I'm bitter ...)

But back to the outfit: the tiara looks kind of like a fountain pen nib, which is totally appropriate for a debut author, right?

The new class of Debs takes over at the end of August. I'll be filling the bawdy/naughty Friday slot currently held by Tawna Fenske. She's a tough act to follow, but I'll do my best!

Anyway, I'm hoping you'll come visit me at the Ball, and maybe stick around and meet the fabulous ladies I'll be sharing the dance floor with. It's a great group, and I'm proud to be a part of it.