Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wednesday Weird

How fitting, that the third installment of Wednesday Weird should fall on Leap Year day!Also, happy birthday to all those people who were born on this day and really only get a birthday once every four years.

Onto the weird! Today, we're going to talk about an unsolved death. And not a normal unsolved murder like over at Slam Dunks's blog.

Nope, it needs to be weirder.

Like the Taman Shud Case.
The victim was found dead at 6:30 am, December 1, 1948, under a street lamp at Somerton Beach in Australia, which is why this is also called The Mystery of the Somerton Man. And that's pretty much all we know about this guy.

Of course, there's tons of crap we don't know, which is what makes this case so mysterious and weird.

All the identifying tags on his clothing had been removed and his fingerprints and dental records didn't match anyone. And not just in Australia, either. They looked almost everywhere for the identification of this man.

The autopsy came back with some congestion in his brain that would be consistent with poisoning, except there wasn't a trace of poison found on or in him.

They found a brown suitcase that belonged to the man, but it only held more clothing with the tags ripped off.

But, the best part, in my opinion, was the secret pocket in the man's pants which contained a scrap of paper with the words "Taman Shud" printed on it. The words mean "finished" or "ended".

The text was cut from a book, a collection of poems called The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Which isn't that crazy, but it turns out this scrap was from a specific, and extremely rare first edition, translation. So, you know, not just from the local library.

In the back of the book, the cops found a handwritten code:

And no, the letters aren't just random scribbles. They actually are some mysterious cipher. Just one that NO ONE has been able to solve. Ever. And people have been trying to solve it for over 60 years.

And that's pretty much it!

So we have an unidentifiable dead man, who may have been poisoned, with secret pockets in his altered clothing that leads to an, as of yet, uncrackable cipher in a rare, first edition, book of poems.

Yeah. Weird.

But it would make a great novel.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

In Which We Catch Fire!

Welcome to the Catch Fire blog party! wOOt!!

Today is the Catch Fire Blog Party, celebrating the release of CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh!

The goal is to help CassaFire “catch fire” on the best seller charts and achieve the success of the first book, CassaStar.

There’s also a special package of prizes being given away at the author’s blog (copies of CassaFire, CassaStar, tote bag, mug, and bookmarks) as well as book giveaways during his two-week blog tour. (See Alex’s site for details)

Unfamiliar with CassaStar? What? How can that be? Well, no worries! Here's the breakdown:

CassaStar was just the beginning…

The Vindicarn War is a distant memory and Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters are over. He has kept the promise he made to his fallen mentor and friend - to probe space on an exploration vessel. Shuttle work is dull, but it’s a free and solitary existence. The senior officer is content with his life aboard the Rennather.

The detection of alien ruins sends the exploration ship to the distant planet of Tgren. If their scientists can decipher the language, they can unlock the secrets of this device. Is it a key to the Tgren’s civilization or a weapon of unimaginable power? Tensions mount as their new allies are suspicious of the Cassan’s technology and strange mental abilities.

To complicate matters, the Tgrens are showing signs of mental powers themselves; the strongest of which belongs to a pilot named Athee, a woman whose skills rival Byron’s unique abilities. Forced to train her mind and further develop her flying aptitude, he finds his patience strained. Add a reluctant friendship with a young scientist, and he feels invaded on every level. All Byron wanted was his privacy…

What? You want more?

Well then, here's the book trailer!

Yeah, you'd better believe you want to nab a copy of that.
Luckily now you can!

Barnes and Noble


Amazon Kindle

So head on over to Alex's site and pick up a copy today!


Monday, February 27, 2012

In Which I Get What I Ask For

So a few weeks ago, I totally won a full MS critique in the Write Dreams Auction. Which was awesome and I really really wanted it.

So I sent her my Break Free MS, which I am still plugging away it, revising and line editing and loving and revising and... well you get the idea.

I really needed a full MS critique to spot BIG ISSUE things. You know, plot holes, character arcs and development. I'm usually pretty good at spotting big issue things in other people's work, but there's no way in hell I can spot it in my own. The blinders are totally up once I finish that first draft.

So she got back to me after two weeks (super fast, right?) and her critique was EXACTLY what I wanted and needed. Some of the things I worried about, she loved and had no problem with. And some things I didn't even know had problems were problematic. Perfect. I was so happy she was able to spot things I couldn't.

So what happened?

I sank into a pit of despair.



This is figuratively me. Not literally, obviously. I don't wear denim baseball hats

Sometimes that happens to me, when I get a good/helpful critique. Even though I'm excited about it, I'm still disappointed that I have to make changes and am, you know, not perfect. Which obviously I'm not, but sometimes you have to trick yourself to feel extra good about your writing so you don't lose momentum. Or at least I do. Maybe that's just me.

It's just irritating. Because had I got a not helpful critique back, one that said something like "this is great! I loved it! Good job!" and that's it, I would've been flattered, but mostly irritated because I need constructive criticism, not just feel good happy times. Right? Right.

Anyway, I knew my bad mood would pass once I was able to fully absorb and accept the critique. And it did, about three days later. And now I'm back in the saddle, working even harder on the MS. Prepared to really make this one THE ONE. Yeah? Yeah.

What about you? Do critiques, even good, helpful, critiques, send you into the pit of despair?

(OT: OMG guys, I managed to write this whole post, without a single typo! It's some sort of miraculous record for me!)


Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Fun!

It's Friday! Which means it's time for Yvie to show you the fun!!

Let's do this!

funny pictures - Ooooooo!!!!!!

The solution for close talkers

Funny Pictures - Do Not Want


funny pictures - Tripple play



funny pictures - i look amazin  in a mirror


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wednesday Weird

It's time for the second edition of Wednesday Weird!

Today we're moving away from crazy animal stuff and onto books.
What books you ask? Why, the Voynitch Manuscript.

The Voynitch Manuscript is an ancient book that no one has ever been able to understand or decipher.
It's an actual book, with consistent script, organization and detailed illustrations, but no code-breaker, cryptographer or linguist has ever been able to figure it out. And boy have they tried.
It appears to be an actual language, just one no one has ever seen before.

Throw in the mix that fact that no one can even figure out who wrote it, or really when, and you got some sort of crazy MS on your hands.

Most of the manuscript seems to deal with herbs and plants, but none of the pictures match any known plant or herb species.

So there you have it! You think your rough drafts are bad? At least it hasn't become some sort of mysterious cryptological mystery.


Monday, February 20, 2012

In Which I Celebrated My Birth

So a few weeks ago I celebrated a b-day and got some fun writerly and readerly things from the fam.

The first was a Kindle! Yay! I've been wanting an e-reader for a while now.

Kindle Touch 3G

Youngest sister, who's living in Chicago while she goes to college at Columbia, sent me an amazon gift card to use on Kindle accessories. I don't know about anyone else, but I love to buy accessories for things. I mean, getting something that lets you do more shopping? That's just awesome!

So I bought a kindle skin, to make it look pretty.

And then I bought a lighted leather cover.

the kindle powers the light. No batteries needed

Bro got me the last 3 of the rangers apprentice series, which is awesome because I love this series and am both excited to finish it, and sad it will be done.

Parents also sneakily got me an awesome necklace.

Sneakily because they had to get it at renfest. And the only time they were at renfest was with the rest of us. Twin explained that once last summer our mom had disappeared to get some cider. But when she came back she didn't have any. I must've been preoccupied about something because I didn't even question it, and normally that would've been something that got my suspicions up. Because I am a suspicious person by nature.

It's a talisman for poets and writers. The info says:

These symbols are said to create a powerful magic to help one find the right word at the most opportune moment.

On the backside of this talisman (top picture) is the "Seal of Eloquence" or the "Seal of Mercury". It contains the names of powerful angels, magical words, and Latin phrases, all of which help to greatly increase the power of the Talisman.

Concentrating on the endless knot work of the six-pointed star will intensify "natural inspiration" and assist in all of your writing endeavors... poems, plays and books, even your personal journal!

So there you have it! I got a few other present with Twin, but they aren't related to writing or reading.

So do you have an e-reader? Did you buy fun accessories for it?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Fun

Yvie's here, ape-friends, because it's Friday and that's what I do!
I went to the vet last week, for a yearly checkup, and the vet says I awesome, as always. They even took a photo of me, because that's how great I really am.

Maybe the photo looked a bit like this...

True story.

Onto the fun!

funny pictures - Make fun of my tooth....  I dare you...

funny pictures - How the hell did you get in there?

funny pictures - U R Wun Needy Kitteh, Kitteh!

funny pictures - Sorry Tolkien!




Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wednesday Weird

So, I'm starting a new theme on the blog - Wednesday Weird.

I totally love all the crazy, weird, stuff that happens in the world that can't be explained, or can, but is still weird, or fun/crazy animal facts. I could read about that stuff ALL DAY. Serious.

So I've decided to devote a day on my blog to all the fun and crazy stuff out there. Will this happen every Wednesday? Probably. But I certainly reserve the right to switch it up for whatever reason, including blogfests.

Speaking of which, have you signed up for the Teenage Heartthrob Blogfest yet?  I want to see the celebs you crushed on as a teen!

All right! So, onto the first edition of Wednesday Weird!!

What do you think is the largest ant colony in the world? Something as large as a house? A football field?

It turns out an Argentine ant colony is EVERYWHERE.

Seriously. They live in a colony that that spans 4 continents. Yes. You read that right. The small, individual colonies are considered interconnected to all the others because the ants won't fight each other. And we all know if there's one things ants do well, it's go to war.

That and carry relatively heavy things.

Anyway, the global-mega-colony is made up of over 22 million ant hills each with upwards of 10,000 member each.  Math tells us that over 200 billion ants.

Yeah. So there you have it.

Next time you see some kids burning an ant hill, maybe warn them away. Their 200 billion relatives across THE WORLD may decide one day to get some payback.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Origins Bogfest

Today is the day for the Origin's blogfest:

 On Monday, February 13th, you should post your own origin story. Tell us all where your writing dreams began. It could be anything from how you started making up stories as a child, or writing for the school newspaper, or even what prompted you to start a blog. How about stories about the first time somebody took an interest in your writing, or the teacher/mentor that helped nudge you along and mold your passion, or maybe the singular moment when you first started calling yourself a writer. It all started somewhere and we want you to tell us your own, unique, beginnings.

So let's see. I mean, I guess I could talk about how Twin and I started writing a story in... middle school I think, that would be reversible with her story on one side and mine on the other. But, meh.

What really started me on my journey to becoming a writer was fanfiction.
Specifically Ronin Warrior fanfiction.

stare at the awesomeness!!

Ronin Warriors was an anime on TV in the mid 90's. The premise was Talpa, the demon lord of the Netherworld, is bent on conquering the mortal world. Standing against Talpa and his four Dark Warlords are the five Ronin Warriors, each in possession of mystical armor and weapons.

It's pretty straight forward. And totally awesome.

Myself and a group of friends began to write fanfiction for it, complete with our own Mary Sue characters. Because, for me, fanfiction was always a lot more fun if you got to create your own characters.

The stories were epic!

Seriously. We're talking about close to 4 years of a group of us writing and sharing fanfiction with all of the created characters. The cast list was huge, and required lists of names and attributes just to keep things straight.

Twin and I recently (within the last few years) went back and re-read all the fanfiction we still had saved. There were some gaps, but it's a pretty comprehensive collection of everything that was written in high school.

It was both terrible and awesome.

And, because I'm here to entertain, here's an example of the awesome/terribleness of my fanfiction (now over a decade old)

(omg guys, in just reading through some of it to find something to post I am filled with a terrible burning shame and embarrassment. Seriously. It's only because I love you so much that I am going to share any of this at all. The below chunk is recreated identically to how it was originally written. The only thing I've changed is formatting, due to blogger issues.)

Mild setup - the characters (so many characters) have been captured by the bad guy (named Pat) and they think one of their number has been killed when she fell off a cliff. Also, one of the characters is from the future. Because when you have like 30 characters, it gets harder to fit in back stories so we had to resort to future back stories. Natch

"He can't do that!" Rick yelled suddenly, getting frustrated.

"I don't see you stopping him," Liz said. Rick sighed. All of a sudden the door opened, letting in bright light that blinded them all.

"Well, I know you won't believe this," Pat said stepping into the room. "But I've already got your individual rooms set up!"

"Yay."  Ian said with bitter sarcasm. Pat snapped his head in his direction.

"I'm getting tired of you, Mr. Future." He started to walk towards him. "Just because your parents are Ronins, doesn't mean you can talk down to me." He slammed him against the wall and Ian grunted in pain. "And besides, I believe the one I dropped off a cliff was your mother, so iIdon't think you should be talking."

"Your right." Ian forcefully said through his pain.

"What?!" Pat glared at him.

"I shouldn't be talking. To tell you the truth, if my mother was dead I wouldn't be here at all. I would cease to exist, so therefore she's not dead and that means she's somewhere out there just waiting for the right time to kick your ass." Pat just stood there, and for a second Ian thought he wasn't going to do anything, but then he slammed him against the wall again, and cracked his skull.

"I believe you will be the first one to be situated in your new accommodations." He said, breaking the chains and dragging him on the floor behind him. He pulled Ian out of the room, and before he shut the door he turned back to them. "I'll be back for the rest of you later, so don't feel left out." He slammed the door, and once again they were enveloped in the dank darkness.

Secretly Liz hoped that he would be back soon.

And she oped he would be back for her.

OMG! The incorrect punctuation! The missing paragraph breaks! The head-hopping! The melodrama!

How embarrassing.

But still. I look at this bit of a scene and I can see hints of the writer I am now. It's definitely worth saving your old work, even if it's horrible horrible horrible. At the very least, it's a great feeling, to look back and see how far I've come.

So there you have it! A painful look at my origins.

How about you? How did you start out?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Emotion Flash Fiction Blogfest

Finally! We've reached Day Three of the I'm Hearing Voices Blogfest.

Rules for the final day:

Emotion Flash Fiction: Emotion is the engine of a story. Pick an emotion and in a flash fiction piece of 250 words MAKE us feel it! We want to connect with your character. This will be a challenge in 250 words.

Friday’s Prize

  • From Angela: A full manuscript critique.
  • From Cassie: A full manuscript critique.
Right? Yeah, pretty awesome.

So, without further ado, here's my flash fiction piece!

She felt no fear.

The beginning held only resignation. Lita had been expectant. Hell, she’d smoked her first cigarette at twelve.

“As you can see…” The doctor’s bald head reflected the light. He smelled of antiseptic. “This is the healthy lung tissue. And these shadows…” He gestured to the xray with a flat palm. His wedding ring flashed in the light. “Is the cancer.” 

“Not long then?”  She’d always been blunt.

“I’m sorry Ms. Mercer.”

She walked up the driveway. Her life hadn’t been long enough. She’d miss stupid things like sushi and singing over the radio. Where was her happiness? She had no flashing ring on her finger.

Everyone had to feel this way - hardwired survival instinct. It wasn’t fair, to never be satisfied, to always be left wanting.

Inside the house, silence and darkness greeted her. A neighbor had been looking after her dog TJ. She’d have to make permanent arrangements, now. It’d be easy, he was a good dog.

She sank into the couch.

“I’m going to die,” she announced to her drapes, her silent TV. They didn’t answer. Not that she’d expected the darkness to evaporate.

She reached for her cigarettes and lighter. Her hands shook. She pictured the x-ray and the cancer covering her body like a wraith.

The lighter sparked and the fire obscured the dark.

Later, after the sirens left behind a charred ruin, she found she couldn’t quite express to the officer why she’d felt the need to erase the shadows.

There you have it!

And don't forget to sign up for the Teenage Heartthrob blogfest on March 5th! It's easy, and lets you post pics of fun celebrities from your childhood.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dialogue Introduction Blogfest

All right. Today is Day Two of of the I'm Hearing Voices Blogfest.

Rules for today:

Dialogue Introduction: Have two characters introduce each other using only dialogue—no backstory, no internalization, just dialogue between the two. Max 250 words.

Wednesday’s Prize
  • From Angela: A query critique and first 20 page critique.
  • From Cassie: A query critique and first 20 page critique.

So I wrote up this scene. And then I realized I had two characters introducing two other characters, which isn't quite what the rules for today state. They really should've introduced themselves. But I kinda liked my mistaken scene and figured I'd give it a go anyway.

So here's my Dialogue Introduction scene:

“Oh, Karen!”
“It’s so nice to see you again It’s been forever!”
“I know! It really has.”
“This is my friend Sheila.”
“Nice to meet you!”
“She’s a marine biologist. I know, right? Seriously. She has an actual PHD. Oh she’s blushing, I’ve embarrassed her. Sorry, Sheila. Don’t worry, Karen knows what I’m like.”
“It’s true, I do. And this is my fiancĂ© Josh.”
“You got engaged?! No way!”
“I did! He asked me at the game last Sunday! It was on the magatron, and later that night we saw it on the news. Can you believe it? Look, here’s the ring.”
“Wow! Josh has good taste.”
“Yes he does. Yes you do, darling. Though I helped him pick it out, of course.”
“Of course.”
“You know what it’s like.”
“I do.”
“Well… We’re actually late for lunch with Josh’s parents.”
“Oh, of course. We’re on our way to a gallery showing. But it was nice to see you again!”
“Definitely! We’ll have to get together soon and catch up.”
“Yes. I’ll call you.”
“Sounds good!”

So there you have it!
There's one more day to this epic blogfest and that's for Friday, so there's still time for you to join in.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Characters On The Couch Blogfest

Hi All!

Today is Day One of Three of the I'm Hearing Voices Blogfest.  Rules for today:

Have one of your characters answer the following questions (to make this work to your benefit, choose a character who is the hardest for you to write :) Max 250 words (Not including the questions—only the answers).

  1. What is your biggest vulnerability? Do others know this or is it a secret?
  2. What do people believe about you that is false?
  3. What would your best friend say is your fatal flaw? Why?
  4. What would the same friend say is your one redeeming quality? Why?
  5. What do you want most? What will you do to get it?

Monday’s Prize’s

The Color Code by Taylor Hartman

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

All right, so onto the fest!

I used my MC from Break Free, Kiel Reaux:

What is your biggest vulnerability? Do others know this or is it a secret?
Bees. Hands down. Or anything related to bees, like hornets and giant skin-meting wasps. Seriously, if I could, I'd stomp every bee into the ground. And hell no, other's don’t know this. Why would I ever tell them? Bad boy image ruined.

What do people believe about you that is false?

False? Hell baby, everything you see on Kiel Reaux is homegrown awesomeness topped off with great hair. Nothing about me is false. Wait, okay, I just thought of something. Technically, I swallowed this spell-stone. It gives me some weird magical powers. So, I guess that’s false. BUT IT WAS NOT ON PURPOSE. It’s important to know this. OK, I mean, yes, swallowing the stone was on purpose. BUT – and pay attention now – the magical side effects were not intended by me. And that’s what’s important. Intention.
What were we talking about?
What would your best friend say is your fatal flaw? Why?
I talk too much. Clearly. Do you know how many times my mouth has gotten me in trouble? A lot. But do you know how many times it’s gotten me out of trouble? Three. Yeah. So there’s that.
What would the same friend say is your one redeeming quality? Why?
Seriously? I mean, why don’t you ask my friends? There’s the kid, or Lala or… OK, well, anyway, the kid would probably mention how I’m the best person with a knife in the three cities. And that is a fact. Lala…I don’t know what she'd say. Maybe about how I make her knees weak with just a glance. Yes, ladies, I am that good.
What do you want most? What will you do to get it?
Freedom. I’m not even joking now. Freedom. And I will do anything…anything to get it.

All right, so there you have it!
I'll be back on Wednesday for part 2 of this three part blogfest.
What about you? Are you participating?

And please don't forget to sign up for the Teenage Heartthrob Blogfest, hosted by Me, Emily White and Vic Caswell. I want to see pics of those celebs that tantalized teenage you!
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