Friday, April 29, 2011

50 Cents an Inch? Jackpot!

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
My addiction has struck again. This time I feel like I had the upper hand. Let me give you some background. I buy books. I read them. I clutter my room with them. If you looked at my checkbook (not that I actually keep up with the balance), you would see that one out of every three purchases has been at a bookstore. The other two are coffee related buys. Yet another addiction I haven't had time to deal with.

Today though, I came out of my book buying spree victorious and only $8.50 poorer. And I bought fifteen books, including an illustrated, hardcover, 1936 edition, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare in fairly good condition. I giggled like a psychopath when I found it in the stacks of books for sale this morning. I couldn't believe my luck. It only cost me a dollar. One of my other prized finds of the day is a 1913 copy of Jack London's Before Adam, also hardback and in a little worse for wear condition, but not anything I can't handle with care.
Before Adam

Where did I find these literary treasures? My local public library. They were having a 50 cents an inch book sale today and tomorrow, and being the addict that I am, I couldn't resist going. It was a gold mine. I'm going back tomorrow just in case they put new ones out. I've got the shakes from the anticipation. Just writing about the books I might buy is exciting.

The Story of Roland
I also want to mention the delightful find that my grandmother bought for me as a surprise. The Story of Roland by James Baldwin, printed in 1930, I believe. It's wonderfully illustrated and smells like adventure.

If I ever garner the amount of followers that would lend itself to a contest, you can bet I'll hold a contest (redundant, I know) giving away a book from my increasing collection. Believe me, there are many books in my room that I'm sure someone would love to get their readerly hands on. I have to build another bookshelf--and by build, I mean get my sister to build it for me--just so I can house these spectacular purchases.

One book that I didn't purchase at the book sale but rather at my local bookstore, is Defiance by Lilith Saintcrow. I'm going to read it today, and I'll be back tomorrow with a review and my comments on the book and series as a whole. I'm sure it won't be a repeat of the City of Fallen Angels fiasco.

At least I hope not.

Until then, have a great weekend and please keep the tornado victims in your prayers!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Those aren't Stars Falling on Alabama...

Tuscaloosa after storm
I don't know how many of you have heard, but this week has been just plain horrible for people in the South. The massive storm system that birthed the Mother of all tornadoes--that in turn spawned her own monster babies--ripped apart the state and left over 200 dead. The death toll is expected to rise.

I hate numbers.

I just ask that y'all keep us down here in Alabama in your prayers. I was blessed to live below the danger zone this time and my family is safe as well, but there are a good number of people who just lost everything.

It's hard to imagine what they are going through. Shock. Denial. Pain. Agony. Fear. Hopelessness. Sorrow. The list of emotions could go on and on. I just pray that those of us left unscathed will have the courage and compassion to help those who did not.

Because you never know when something like this will happen. It's unpredictable, as nature always has and will be. Sure, we have our weather men and women and our radar maps, but they can't prevent these things from happening anymore than I can predict the winning lottery numbers.

Seeing the pictures on TV was jarring. I'd just been in Tuscaloosa in December. My cousin had graduated and we had lunch at his house in one of the student populated neighborhoods similar to the ones that were flattened by the tornado. All I could keep thinking was, "He could have died. I'm so glad he finally graduated and lives in Illinois now. He could have died."

And then I realized that I had friends in the other areas hit by the storm, and I checked on them. Thank goodness they were okay. One of my friends said he saw the tornado go past his dorm.

This disaster is...well, disastrous. It's heartbreaking. And the most terrifying part of it is knowing that it was an act of nature and thus unpreventable.

Hurricanes are something I'm well-acquainted with. I'm used to the danger of 100 mph winds and blinding rain. I know to board up my house, fill the tubs with water, and hoard supplies a week in advance of the storm. Hurricanes are easy to prepare for. They don't just appear out of the blue.

Tornadoes do. You can't prepare for a tornado a week in advance. They don't give you time to gird your loins. You have to find a closet, basement, or a bathtub in less than ten minutes and sometimes without any warning at all.

It's just indecent, but there's nothing we can do about it other than pray and take care of each other in the aftermath. So, I urge all of you who read this to donate to the Red Cross. They are only accepting monetary donations at the moment, but once the areas hit by the storm have been thoroughly combed, they will start to put up lists of items that they and the victims need.

If you pray, thank you. If you donate, thank you. Anything--no matter how small--helps.

God bless.
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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

RTW: They Can't Live without the Tunes


Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday prompt is:
If your WIP or favorite book were music, what song(s) would it be?

People ask me all the time what kind of music I listen to. I don't know why they want to know, but somehow my answers never seem to be consistent. One day, I'll be in a country mood and rocking out to Taylor Swift. Don't judge me; that girl can belt out her heart like nobody's business. Have you even heard Haunted?

Other days, like today, I'm more in the mood for soundtracks. The one on repeat on my iPod at the moment is Deathly Hallows part uno. It's so beautiful.

As for my WIP's, well...they're pretty much the same way. I tried to make playlists for them, but they kept changing. I don't know if that's a bad omen or something good. I hope it's good. For the most part though, I have noticed that I tend to follow a pattern songchoice-wise.

For one of my WIP's, which shall be left unnamed at the moment, the actual story idea sprang from one song by 30 Seconds to Mars. Night of the Hunter. It's spooky and compelling and I was suddenly struck with the image of someone who was cursed yet felt responsible for the world. Someone as old as time, but vulnerable to her own thoughts. Someone created out of an evil purpose, but rebelling against her creator. Someone...someone who hunted the night.

The story arc itself follows the MC as she struggles to maintain a semblance of who she wants to be as she fights demons both external and internal. At times, because I felt a need to lighten the story up, humor surfaces and a song like Beautiful Disaster by Jon McLaughlin make things seem less dark. Although that song isn't too overly positive now that I think about it. It's the tone I think. Oh well. I don't think I could lighten the story up anyway, haha!

The romance involved in the WIP is part Beautiful Disaster and Assassin by John Mayer. Although, Assassin is more the song the male MC embodies. Actually, they're pretty much both Assassins of each other. It's a strange dynamic. As it's supposed to be.

Other WIP's have less dark soundtracks. Man, this is a long response. I need to end it before I list all of the songs I've ever listened to while writing. That would take years.

Anywho, what songs do you think about or listen to when you write? Or read? Anything in particular, or are you a song whore like me?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mayhem Monday

A photo of a cup of coffee.Image via WikipediaMy day started out fairly well. I texted my Mom, "Me need coffee. My room is cold again," and she brought me a cup of Joe in all due haste. She makes good coffee. (In case you are wondering, no, my Mom is not my slave. She likes to feel useful and I like to give her ways to be useful. It's a win-win. In other words, she likes it when I text her as she's about to get in the shower and ask her to make me a cup of coffee even though my room is only twenty feet from the kitchen. Yep.)

Then, after such a great start, it started to go a little less sunny. And I mean that literally. I haven't seen the sun much today at all. It makes me sad. We're such good buddies. I'm also trying to work on building my base tan back up before Summer starts, but so far I've only managed to go from Corpse White to Partly Pasty. I still have a ways to go, and today didn't help.

I know none of that seems mayhemy, and you'd be right, but we're about to get to the darker stuff, so hold your britches.

Over the weekend I developed an all-consuming new addiction to rival my former addiction to coffee. Yes. It's strong in the Force all-right.

I'm talking about...

the Words with Friends application.

I know, I know. How could I? It's so easy to resist something so small right?

Wrong! Once you send your first word, you're hooked for life! I haven't been able to stop playing the Scabble-like game all day! I played it while I was walking the half-mile to class today, and I almost got hit by a car on the crosswalk. This app addiction is going to get me killed.

Even my own sister has said I need to slow it down. It took her too long to play a word today and I shot her a text message telling her to "Word Up!" and she said, "No, not now," and I was like, "Yes! NOW!"

...And she did. (Now who's strong in the Force?)

It's been said that Words with Friends is a gateway app (I said that), and I believe it. I get mad when the advertisements come on and I'm tempted to purchase the full app so I wouldn't have to deal with their interruptions while I'm considering my letter tiles.

I just have to ask...am I alone in this addiction? Is there a cure? (And do I even want to be cured?)
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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sharing Saturday #1

Furie Sauvage (2560 x 1600)Image by xalamay via FlickrI've decided to start a "thing." It's going to be a regular occurrence on the blog, most likely on Saturdays. I think I'll call it Sharing Saturday. This "thing" will be me sharing an excerpt from something I'm working on. This first post is from a W.I.P. that I call Hard Knocked, and it's from the perspective of one of the main characters and he's describing the character that the book is all about. Enjoy!

I could see Jena Winter tense like a jungle cat about to pounce after she had been talking to the person on the other line. The change in her posture was strange to witness. When I’d first come in to the bar, I was afraid I’d been wrong about her.

The stories I’d heard, gleaned from my sources in the smoky bars and badly lit motel meeting places, all seemed to indicate that Jena was someone you didn’t mess with if you wanted to stay alive. Or even have your body found to be buried.

But after having her threaten me and then seeing the transformation, I knew I was on to something. How to get to the truth was another something that I was afraid to find out. She scared the shit out of me, and she knew it.

With her back turned to me as she whispered into the phone, I had a better chance to look at her without getting caught in her wintry blue eyes. All the stories said she had demon eyes, eyes that could freeze a man in place so she could do what she wanted with him.

Her eyes were like shards of sky-blue ice, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone with hair as blonde as hers. If I didn’t know any better, I would say Jena Winter was some forgotten fairy of old made of the stuff of ice and winter, and designed to inspire songs and stories about her frozen heart.

But I’m a historian, not a novelist or a poet. I write what’s true, and I think that Jena lived up to her surname quite well, but that some of it was an act. I’d seen the way she’d looked at the slipping foamy head and it was like the fond look of a mother to her child. Miss Winter had a heart, and it wasn’t completely frozen.
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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Muuuuuurder With a Side of Spoon

Sometimes I really love my cousins. Especially when they can act out this entire ten minute video about spoonicide. He kept me entertained for a good five minutes with his version, and he's only twelve. He has a future in something. What is anybody's guess.

Now watch this video. It's hilarious in that sick way that we all love so much.

RTW: Let's Get to the Kissing

Taken June 13th outside the attraction "H...Image via WikipediaAs usual, the gals at YA Highway manage to find topics and prompts that I can't help but respond to. So thanks. So very, very much. This week's Road Trip Wednesday asks us to compare our first kiss with the first kiss of one of our favorite characters.

I thought this was going to be easy, but it turns out it isn't. Okay, so I'm blushing. Why am I blushing? Let's just say I'm not one to air my personal business. I think I'll start with my favorite character's first kiss.

Dadgumit. Now I have to choose a favorite character. Think, Bailey, think...aha! Got one!

And the winner is...Harry Potter! Yeah, I know. Y'all could probably see that coming a mile away. Harry's first kiss was with Cho Chang in the Room of Requirement. While my first kiss was not in nearly so awesome a place, although I wish it was since that would mean I was at Hogwarts, it was with someone who I consider very cute.

My first kiss was on a holiday and Harry's was near a holiday, so we have that in common. Sort of.

The best way my first kiss differed from Harry's was that mine did not end in tears. Thank goodness.

Anyway, that's about it. I wish I had a more entertaining story to tell y'all but my first kiss was pretty normal by literary standards.
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Monday, April 18, 2011

Space Dragons FTW

Twitter is just about the best thing to ever happen to me. I follow people and I get links to awesome stuff.

Like this post Six Signs You're Not Ready To Make A Living As A Professional Writer. I laughed until I threw up. Okay. Not really. I just liked that line. It has a nice ring to it.

Plus it conjures up some really disgusting mental images that multitask as hilarious. Anyway, thanks to a Tweet by Lilith Saintcrow, I found this blog post and I was entertained for a few minutes.

And then it stopped being funny. Why?

Because those are some legit reasons, neighbors of mine. And they scared the spit out of me. They're just so honestly true. I don't think any of those reasons apply to me (except for the times when I claim to have "writer's block"), but I still recognized that he wasn't kidding.

Sure, the whole post was funny and I laughed like a loon, but there was an undercurrent of truth that I couldn't miss. It's sobering to hear these things from the blog-mouths of professionals. You can't shrug the points off.

Since I've just gone off on a rather depressing tangent, I'm going to leave y'all with this. Enjoy.
LOLCat

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

RTW: Scars Make Me Feel Dangerous

Prompt from the delightful mavens of YA Highway!
Why House Uses a Cane



What is the story of your best scar?

Scars make me feel dangerous...

When I'm really not. Actually, the only way I could be classified as dangerous is when you include "to myself" at the end of the word. You see, I have this 'disorder' where I find myself inexplicably drawn to running into random objects and coming away in less than original condition.

Think of me as an unmanned bumper car. Or a bumper car driven by a drunk or a monkey. Maybe even a drunk monkey.

Thankfully, I don't have too many scar stories to tell that wouldn't involve some sort of fabrication or dramatization of the actual events. If I were my sister on the other hand, I'd have oodles of scar stories to tell you.

She has the bad habit of running into barbed wire on a four-wheeler, falling off four-wheelers, and just plain rotten luck with falling and hitting her head in general.

Although, I can tell y'all about the time where I got into a fight with my school locker and came away victorious with only a small scar to show my valor...

For a while I said it was from a fight with my pet seal, but people started to doubt that once they realized civilians aren't allowed to keep seals as pets. I had to scale back the flair and it ended up me fighting my possessed locker which hit me over the head making me retaliate with slamming it shut in an act of passion.

Of course, it got its revenge later in the day when I came to get my books once again and somehow it materialized a switchblade to cut me on my right arm. Yep. I still have the scar to prove it. Needless to say, I didn't expect that to happen and from that moment forward I knew to give it some respect.

You don't diss on the locker, yo. It's just not done. Not if you want to stay in one piece and see your books ever again.

Well, that about does it for this Road Trip Wednesday. See y'all next week!

Monday, April 11, 2011

City of Fallen Angels, And How I Lost My Mind (Spoilers!)

Cover of "City of Fallen Angels (Mortal I...Cover via AmazonI repeat: SPOILER ALERT!!

First, I'd like to say a sad farewell to my sanity. It was nice while it lasted. I hope we can still be friends. Maybe I'll text you a few times a month to check on you. It only seems polite.

Second, I just finished City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare.

...

WTF!!! I don't often use such strong acronyms, but Holy Publishing Industry!! I can't hold it in!!

Why are you acting so messed up towards the fourth installment in the Mortal Instruments series, Bailey?

Haha, funny you should ask, neighbors of mine, but I have a few good reasons, and none of them contributed to my sanity remaining in the same zip code as myself.

(SPOILER ALERT!! JUST IN CASE YOU DIDN'T BELIEVE ME THE FIRST TIME!!)

When I first clapped eyes on City of Bones, I was like, "Well this looks pretty awesome. I bet I'll like it." I was right. I'm hardly ever wrong about that sort of thing, except of course for the times I am, which is another series of stories all-together. But back to my past.

Oh how much I wish I could go back in time, slap my younger self, and say, "You better be careful what you wish for Younger Me. There'll be some heartache for you in the future. So put on your big girl panties if you wanna ride this roller coaster."

Of course, if that had actually happened, I'm pretty sure me and my sanity would have parted ways much sooner. As it is, my roommate is seriously alarmed at me at this moment, because as soon as I read the last four pages of the book (SPOILER!) I immediately shrieked like the banshee my parents always said I was, and screamed, "WTF! I'm not reading this! It can't be happening! WTF!" And a few other expletives that don't have nice little acronyms that I feel like typing.

Anyway, (as you can see I'm only using emotional SPOILERS) I freaked. Up until those four pages I was okay with the book. I'd even recommended it to one of my coworkers who had read the others in the series. She saw me reading it and asked me if it was new and I was all, "Yeah, and it's pretty good too. You should read it."

And she said she would.

GOOD GRIEF!! DON'T READ IT TAYLOR!! You'll only have your heart ripped out of your chest and then flung in your face like trash...

If I could type my tears, I would. I just have this one thing to ask Cassandra Clare:

Why...why for the love of Sweet Baby Jesus did you have to end it like that? Do you not know that your readers like having the bad guys die and stay dead? We LIKE it. A lot. In fact, I would like to venture to say that I LOVE it. (Okay, I know that was two things, but can you blame me?)

I also love the love in the books. Especially the love between Jace and Clary. Now, I know you have to keep us hooked, and goodness knows I won't be able to stand waiting for the next book so I can find out if you finally kill the little bastard. But please...please, I'm begging you. Just don't do it again.

I don't think my roomie could take another scaring like she had a few minutes ago. I'm pretty sure she's never heard me cuss before, and the shock might have jarred her immune system. If she gets a cold, it's on you Cassandra. I'll send her doctor's bill in your general direction.

That's it. I'm done. I can't take this anymore.

I need some aspirin and a whole box of chocolate, STAT.

If this hasn't scared you away from City of Fallen Angels, then you are truly a worthy reader. I admire your courage. Go read, you little self-harming people you. Read like there's no tomorrow.

Which there isn't.

Because City of Fallen Angels ended my existence as I knew it.

And that may or may not be a good thing about the book. Or a testament to Clare's skillz. With a z. I gotta end this post. It's trying to take over my blog. 
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Drip, Drip, Drop!

Nachos as served on a Circle Line Sightseeing ...Image via WikipediaLittle April showers!

Alright, now that I've gotten that out of my system, I can get to writing about the topic of today's post. Inspiration.

Last week, or sometime in the past, I wrote about dry spells and how they just make us feel icky. It's horrible being a writer stuck in a slump. We know we should be writing, but the words...they just won't come.

I had this crazy imagining once that I could somehow coax the words out of my head with treats and if that didn't work, I'd beat them with a stick. Of course, that's all in my head, but still, the fact remains that dry spells are no fun.

As you no doubt have seen, it is now the wonderful month of April, and people everywhere are breaking out the antihistamines as they get outside and enjoy the marvelous green beginning to cover the world. It's nice, isn't it?

With April came a shot of inspiration. ZINGA! One night I was just sitting in my bucket chair watching country music videos and being all nice and tired, and then it hit me. An IDEA! I hurried to my computer so I could type it all up before the idea flew out of the window. By the time I finished, I was exhausted and yet exhilarated.

It had been a while since anything remotely creative had made it through the great journey from my head to my keyboard, and I was super excited. So there you have it. Dry spell over.

It's amazing how that can just happen in a snap. One second you don't have anything to write about, and then the next, after you've taken a bite of nachos, you have so many scenarios running through the streets of your noggin that you don't know how you're going to get to them all.

At least, that's how it works with me. And it isn't always when I'm eating nachos. Most of the time it happens when it's least convenient to me. Like when I'm in the shower or driving my car. Or taking a test. Or giving a speech. Or asleep.

But suffice it say, I'm happy now. I didn't like myself with no inspiration. This new me has my respect again.

Until next time...dance in the rain! (Or not, considering you might catch a cold, which would suck.)
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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

RTW: The Future

For this YA Highway: Road Trip Wednesday, we were asked the following question:

Assuming we make it through the 2012 apocalypse, what do you imagine the publishing world will look like 100 years from now?

Hmmm. Good question maestras of YA Highway. If I had any ability to predict or see the future, I might give this a decent shot. As it is, I do not.
The Future: Next Exit

But, since I like to think that I'm pretty creative and just an overall good-guesser, I'd like to hazard a guess and say,

"If 2012 arrives and I'm not sucked into a vortex of fire and brimstone, I think the publishing industry in 100 years will be a lot less 'peoply' and a lot more 'roboty.' That is to say, I believe AI will take over the world, but I hope by then to have created my own robot army that will protect my cryogenically preserved body until the fountain of youth is discovered. Hear that Captain Jack? Get on it. Maybe this time you'll actually win and get to live forever as a rascally sea-dog. Then, once I have been foreverized, I will publish my book titled How I Beat AI and Myself, 100 Years in the Making, and the book will then liberate the robot controlled publishing industry (my robots an integral part of the liberation, since they're much muchier than the other robots), returning books into the hands of the people. Who will then worship me for giving them control of the printed word once again."

All said, I sincerely hope I have not jinxed myself. The feasibility of actually creating my own robot army depends solely upon my nonexistent engineering skills and equally fictive monetary earnings. Here's to hoping that 2012 takes me before I have to live up to my own predictions. Or here's not to hoping. I'm really confused by this point about what I'm actually trying to prove.

Happy Road Trip Wednesday into the future!
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Monday, April 4, 2011

A Dry Spell

The best thing one can do when it's raining is...Image by Krikit ♥ via FlickrDry spells. We all have them. They're the days that we feel like writing is a chore and if we have to find another word to follow another word leading to another word, we might just take that last step towards Kookoo Town. I'm in one right now, and I have to say, it's a bummer.

Not only do I feel like I'm in a rut, I also feel distinctly less of a person than usual. What do I mean?

For someone who writes for a living (of which I hope to be some day), writing is a daily thing that becomes a part of that person's life, and in a sense, a part of him or her.

I'm only an author-in-training, but I still have the same tendencies as those professionals, and when I'm not writing, I'm thinking about writing. And when I'm not thinking about writing, I'm thinking of great story ideas I could write. And when I'm not doing any of those things, it's a safe bet that I'm dead.

Sometimes though, the world (in my case, classes) conspires to keep us occupied and away from our writing apparatuses of choice and we're forced to keep it all inside. In a way, I think that may be worse than having nothing to write about.

There is no feeling in the world quite like being made to do something when you'd much rather be somewhere else, doing something you know you love.

To return to the topic of dry spells: we have them, but luckily, they tend to go away. We may not always be patient or happy while we wait, and we might try different methods to combat the desert in our minds, but in the end, we all want the same thing.

Words. Inspiration. A fluid connection of ideas that might turn into some grand project as the rain falls once again and creates a lush paradise of imagination.

We won't get any of those things, however, if we stop trying to find the rain. Who knows? You might just have a hidden reserve somewhere inside you, just waiting to be found.

So go fight the drought, writers. I am.
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