Monday, September 14, 2015

Another Reading Challenge Update

Here's where I am so far on the reading challenge:

Added this time are:

1. A book I've been meaning to read. I read Rocks of Ages by Stephen Jay Gould, which has been on my reading list for a VERY long time. It's a fascinating breakdown of the unnecessary "feud" between religion and science, how it came about, and the history behind it. I found it particularly interesting (and also disheartening) given that this issue has actually intensified since the book was initially published.

2. A book that was originally written in a different language. Haruki Murakami, The Strange Library. I picked this one up because it looked like it might have a Neil Gaiman-y feel, and it did, but it didn't have that thoroughly satisfying "I've read this before, maybe in another lifetime" feeling that so much of Gaiman's work has. I'm guessing the book is more rooted in Japanese mythology, because duh, the author is Japanese, and that might be why, since I'm not as familiar with that mythology. But I don't know. In any case, an interesting book, though the knife-twist on the last page seemed unnecessary.

3. A book recommended by someone with great taste. Haruki Murakami again, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. My BFF recommended this one. It was a quick and easy read, but with depth to it, and it's more--or at least as much--about life and writing as it is about running.

If anyone else is working on this list, I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

It's All in Your Head

This is a flash fiction piece written for the Creative Writing Ink prompt for August 26. Fellow writers--take a look at the link and see if anything sparks your muse!

It’s All in Your Head

She wears the headphones for a reason. They drown out all the sounds in her head—the random thoughts and wayward musings of everyone around her. She blasts the music so loud sometimes people give her the side-eye. Without it, though, she couldn’t function. There would be no room in her head for herself.

It doesn’t drown out him, though.

He’s been following her for three days. She’s never seen him, but she can sense him. Somehow the background noise that is his roving brain eases past the blast of screamo and dubstep that constantly inhabits her skull. It’s a soft voice, so she’s not sure how it manages to find her in the midst of the chaos, but somehow it does.

Mostly it’s a low murmur, like white noise, a burbling river. Like those music tracks you get to help you fall asleep—the ones that don’t wok for her because they aren’t loud enough. But sometimes there are words.

I see you.

It doesn’t scare her as much as maybe it should. She’s used to weird things going on around her, both inside and outside her head. She’s lived with that her whole life. But even if it doesn’t scare her, not really, it puts her on edge. Why is he here? What does he want? Is he even a he?

Three days. And after breakfast today, when she realizes she hasn’t heard him, she wonders where he is.

Not very dedicated, are you? Stalk me for three days and then give up? Weak.

She starts her car and heads in to work. Sometimes she can drive without the headphones on, but not always. Today she sets them on the passenger seat and gives it a try. She knows from experience that cops will pull you over if they see you driving with headphones on. And somehow, the movement of the car eases the cacophony in her head. It’s a respite of sorts.

Today it’s surprisingly quiet, at least once she gets onto the highway. She takes a slow, relieved breath and leaves the headphones where they are. Sometimes the music is as disturbing as the voices.
Where is he? she wonders idly. If she can hear him, can he hear her? Is he, maybe, on the highway with her right now?

She gets that feeling—that weird itch even normal people get when somebody’s watching them. She looks to the left, at the car coming up beside her in the passing lane. The driver looks right back at her and smiles.

God. It’s him. Is it him? She shoots her attention back to the road in front of her. She doesn’t dare look at him again, but that face is burned into her memory now, emblazoned on her retinas.
Black hair. Blue eyes. Cheekbones that could cut glass. And then she hears the whisper.

I see you. I’ll talk to you soon. Soon.

What do you what? she demands in her head, though her lips move to match the words. Why are you following me?

But there’s no answer.
* * *
After work she heads downtown. It’s raining, and it’s dark—the sun goes down early this time of year. It gets quieter downtown as it gets later. Soon there are only a few people here and there. The din dies down, but it’s more fractured. Many of the people who linger in the streets after dark are broken. Anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, PTSD—she’s heard it all.

This time, though, the headphones are as much to strangle her own thoughts as to drown out everyone else’s. It was a difficult day at work, overhearing her boss thinking about firing her because she’s withdrawn, antisocial, and what is it with the damn headphones every damn day? For some reason she couldn’t block him out, not all the way. It’s never been like that before, and she can’t figure out what changed to make it happen.

The temperatures have dropped with the darkness and the rain, and the cold against her face feels good. She shoves her hands deep into her pockets and ducks her head, just walking.

Suddenly a hand touches her shoulder.

She spins, and he’s right there.

Black hair. Blue eyes. Cheekbones that could cut glass.

“We need to talk,” he says, and smiles.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Reading Challenge 2015: Update

I've been busy this summer, and I have some more posts to make regarding my Colorado Bucket List, but first how about some updates on that reading challenge?

Here's a reminder of the things that were on the list:

I already posted about a book in a genre I don't typically read (my choice here kind of felt like a cheat, but oh well). Now I can add a book from my childhood (okay, more than one book from my childhood).

I'm currently working on a book recommended by someone with great taste and a book that was originally written in a different language (technically the first book could also be the second book, but I think I'm going to split them up because again, that would be cheating...). I've also finished a book I've been meaning to read (for about 15 years or more), and I'll report on that one later.

So here are the books:

First, a book from my childhood. In this case, I not only read a book from my childhood, but the book from my childhood, as in the exact same paperback, which I stole from my mom when I was visiting recently (okay, I didn't really steal it cause I asked first). Here's the book:

I read a lot of Andre Norton when I was a kid. And by a lot I mean A LOT. This book is about a dude who specializes in gemstones, the freaky-weird stone he inherits from his father, and his telepathic cat-critter Eet. I remember pretending to be Murdoc Jern and hunting through the front yard for cool-looking rocks, but I didn't actually remember much of the book. Except for Eet. Telepathic cats tend to stick with you.

I also re-read The Beast Master, which was one of my favs. I had a bigtime crush on Hosteen Storm, and I remember crouching over my typewriter writing a story that was a total ripoff of this book when I was probably 10 or so. Here's that original paperback from when I read it as a kid, although I did the reread on audiobook because I saw it at the library and thought, Wow, I didn't know you could get Andre Norton audiobooks!

I enjoyed reading both of these, though I liked The Beast Master more. I think it was because The Zero Stone, is written in first person, and Norton's style, which is a bit sticky and overwrought at the best of times, is even moreso in first person. I'd still like to read the sequel, and I've already started the sequel to The Beast Master. I also discovered the series was extended starting fairly recently with a new Beast Master and her adventures. Somehow I don't really want to read those, though. Hosteen Storm will always be the Beast Master to me.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Weekend Adventure

For our first summer adventure, the kids and I visited the Dinosaur Resource Center in Woodland Park. My daughter and I "discovered" it when we were driving down to Garden of the Gods in the spring, and we put it on our list of places we wanted to check out.

It's a small museum, but has a lot of neat stuff. There are displays of fossils here that aren't on display anywhere else in the world, some of which were discovered in Kansas or nearby in Colorado. Some of the fossils are still in plaster jackets, not entirely restored, and some haven't even been officially identified or named yet. There's also a working restoration area where you can watch people working on restorations/reconstructions (no one was working today, but we could still take a look at the workspace).

I was also really interested in the role 3D printing has played in creating models of different critters. This technique was used to create full-body reconstructions as well as reconstructions of skeletons--using a female pterosaur skeleton to project the size and shape of a male, for example. Overall, a fun beginning to our last-year-in-Colorado explorations.

My new phone takes pretty good pics, so you should be able to click on these photos and see big, hi-res versions.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Colorado Bucket List

In about a year, when my daughter graduates from high school, I’m planning a big change. After 20 years in Colorado, I’m heading back across country to Illinois, where my family lives and where I grew up.

It’s strange to realize that I’ve lived in Colorado longer than I lived in Illinois. But Illinois still feels like home, and there are other reasons for making the move, too, at least one of which is financial, and several of which are personal.

Knowing we’ve got a deadline, my kids and I are making a list this summer of places we want to see in Colorado before we head back out to the plains. I’ll be posting some info about these locations, the trips, why we picked them, and how things went. We probably won’t make it to all of them—in fact, we undoubtedly won’t—but we’re going to do what we can. Some of these places we’ve visited before and just want to see them again. Others are places we want to see before we go.

Some locations that have already made the list:

    •    Elitch Gardens (for one more visit)
    •    The Denver Zoo
    •    St. Mary’s Glacier
    •    Cave of the Winds
    •    Seven Falls
    •    Royal Gorge
    •    Sand Dunes
    •    Mesa Verde
    •    Leadville
    •    Georgetown
    •    Black Hawk
    •    Central City

That’s just the beginning. We’ll see how far we get.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Favorite Things!

Favorite things for this week:

3. Alex Ovechkin dressed as Alexander the Great with a hockey stick and a horse with emo bangs. Snagged from Russian Machine Never Breaks.

2. The Official Return of The X-Files! To celebrate, a vintage picture of David Duchovny wearing a teacup.

1. Marian Hossa celebrating his daughter Mia's birthday with his family. All together now: D'awwwwwww!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Favorite Things--Video Edition!

An exuberant 1-year-old American bulldog mix named King interrupts the weather report on live TV, possibly in search of steak treats.

This pit bull loves when his daddy sings to him.

Jonathan Toews buys Girl Scout cookies and fails at ironing. Also there is a puppy.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Favorite Things Friday the THIRTEENTH!!

This week's Favorite Things.

Chris Pratt, Chris Evans, and Jimmy Fallon photobomb people at the Super Bowl.

Alex Ovechkin donates a car to the Washington Ice Dogs of the American Special Hockey League. You gotta read this whole story. It's worth it.

I know this one's been all over, but dude! The oldest man in Australia knits TINY TINY sweaters for TINY TINY penguins to help them recover from oil spills. If that doesn't make your heart all squishy I don't know what will. (Also, one of these penguins needs a Pens jersey. Get on that, oldest man in Australia!)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Cover Reveal! And some Book Recs

Drum roll, please....

Below is the cover for my upcoming release, Summoning Sebastian, from Samhain. It'll be coming out this August. It's a followup to Necromancing Nim. If you read Nim, you'll know there were some loose ends left behind. This book ties them up.

And some book recs. I did some editing work on both of these, and they're both very good, very involving stories. 

When the mine waste dam above them broke, it scoured the entire valley clean of all vegetation and many inhabitants. Almost every family lost a loved one or more, as well as their homes, gardens, and live stock. Worst of all they lost a sense of dependability and security. Life would never be the same. Clary Gibson was determined that her son, Ben, would not spend his adulthood deep in the coal mines of West Virginia digging for coal—like his ancestors. Her husband, a proud miner, wanted nothing more than having Ben join him in the mine. The marriage which had been rock solid, took a near fatal blow while they tried to put their lives back together, as well as cope with opposite dreams for their children. A very emotional, involving read. (Warnings for child loss.)

This is a really powerful book, but it can be difficult to read. If you have trigger issues, be sure to read the synopsis first to see if it might be an issue. I can disclose that it does have a happy ending. It's an amazing story about an amazing woman. It was a great honor to work with her to get her story out.


Friday, February 6, 2015

Favorite Things

My favorite things on the Internet this week are:

3. This mostly naked guy. His name is Cole Monahan and his Pinterest page is very...Pinteresting... Go check him out. (Possibly NSFW. Which is how we like it.)

2. These two idiots. Because they're awesome.

Chris Pratt and Chris Evans' Super Bowl bet has raised nearly $27,000 in total donations for the charities involved.

1. Alex Ovechkin. Sing "I Feel Pretty" while watching this .gif.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Reading Challenge Progress

A couple weeks ago I posted a link to a 2015 reading challenge from Modern Mrs. Darcey. I'm happy to report I've finished a book that qualifies for the list. Yes, I'm very proud of myself.

Anyway, for "Book from a genre you don't usually read," I read Fortunately, the Milk, by Neil Gaiman. Yes, it's an author I usually read, but in a different genre. It's a kids' book--I'm not sure what level. Not quite Middle Grade, I'd say. Anyway, it was super cute and entertaining and throws some shade at romantic vampires, so I was all good with it.

I'm also about halfway through a "book you've been meaning to read," so I'll report on that when I finish it.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Favorite Things on the Internet

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I am very easily amused.

3. This video of three dogs acting as ball boys at a tennis match in New Zealand.

Here's another link with a bit more information.

2. This photo gallery of superheroes and other familiar faces posed for classical Flemish-style portraiture. (via OpenCulture.)

1. Because Favorite Things would be incomplete without a hockey reference, this gif of Marian Hossa taping his stick (not a euphemism).

Monday, January 19, 2015

Audio Book Recs, or How to Get Tom Hiddleston into Your Bedroom

I really like audiobooks. I know they're not everyone's cup of tea, but for me, after a long day of editing, it's really nice to snuggle up in bed with the dog and let somebody read to me for a change.

Of course, some readers mesh with the story better than others. And some readers are hot British dudes.

Which brings me to something I discovered on Scribd a while ago, which I'm going to recommend.

There is a series of audiobooks of the James Bond series, all read by British actors. So if you want to end your evening or enhance your car ride with the dulcet tones of David Tennant or Tom Hiddleston, then get ye to your favorite audiobook outlet and grab these. I've only listened to one so far, because I'm being stubborn about reading the series in order, but I enjoyed the reading.

This link will take you to Amazon, to On Her Majesty's Secret Service, read by David Tennant. If you're curious, Tom Hiddleston reads Octopussy/The Living Daylights. (Disclaimer--I do NOT get affiliate payments from Amazon, because Amazon doesn't like Colorado.)

Monday, January 12, 2015

What to Read in 2015?

I haven't done any kind of a reading challenge in a long time. Maybe I haven't done one ever. I honestly can't remember. But my BFF pointed me to this post from Modern Mrs. Darcy, and this challenge appeals to me, so I think I'm going to give it a go.

Here's the main graphic from her site with the gist of the challenge:

Please drop by her site if you want to formally participate in her challenge. She's got a pinboard set up and everything.

In addition, I'll add a list of my own that might get you thinking about some other things you could try.

1. The first book in a series you've been thinking about trying but thought it was OMG SO LONG.
2. A primer about a religion you know nothing about.
3. A "short history" of a country you're not familiar with.
4. A book about something you've been meaning to learn, like a language or a craft/hobby.
5. A sacred text from a religion that isn't yours.

I'll stop at five, because I'm not as industrious as Mrs. Darcy. But that's okay. And I'll keep some updates on how I've progressed, or not, as the year goes on.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Favorite Things

The holidays are over (finally), and my schedule is heading back toward normal, whatever that is. So here are my favorite things on the Internet this week.

3. This video of Sidney Crosby and other NHLers who aren't Sidney Crosby surprising a group of sledge hockey players. Watch it. It's not that long. Have a Kleenex ready.

2. "Let it Go." IN RUSSIAN, PEOPLE!!! (And in Russian, it's "Let it Go and Forget."

1. This might actually be my favorite thing on the Internet EVER. Too bad we lost. Damn you, Troy Brouwer!! Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!