31 January, 2009

I'm Still Here!!

It has been an incredibly busy week, so busy that I have completely forgone blogging to work on other writing project. When the muse calls, I have to answer. So I hope you will find in your hearts to forgive me for not keeping up with everything this week. I will do my best to get out and check out everyone's happenings, and I thought of you all every day!

I've been writing like mad. In the last two weeks, I've written more than the NaNoWriMo challenge requirements. It's been a fantastic routine. Wake up, check mail, work, finish work and then write. The Writing sometimes overpowered other important things like eating, breathing and of course, blogging. I even passed on several of my favorite television shows throughout the week because I couldn't tear myself away from the plots I've got going on.

In other news, last night's episode of Battlestar Galactica still has me on edge. It was incredibly powerful, but I went to bed feeling like I'd been sucker punched. Haven't been able to catch my breath since. Now that, is quality entertainment. If you don't watch, you're missing out. If you do watch, you know what I'm talking about.

At work it's been Super Bowl Madness, let me tell you. As a semi-Pittsburgh native, I've been looking forward to the game, even as I really am not a big fan of football. The game makes little sense to me, even after having spent about four years as a cheerleader in my youth, and several games wandering aimlessly around our high school fool field checking out the guys from other schools. (No wonder I don't get it...:p) But when we lived in Pittsburgh, it was one of the coolest feelings when the Steelers won a game. There was pride there, and the atmosphere of the city seemed to shift momentarily to capture the excitement and wonder. There were always fireworks when home games were won, and we could see them perfectly because the Three Rivers Stadium wasn't far from our house. So I am looking forward to the game tomorrow night. We're actually heading out to a friend's party, something we haven't done in years. Should be fun.

Well, I'm off to check on some blogs, and then I have a date with my plot. I hope everyone has a great weekend, oh, and check out my Super Bowl post!! :)

Sneak Peak at 2009 Super Bowl Ads!

At work our entertainment team hustled all week to prep pages for the Super Bowl Ads that everyone seems to look forward to all week. I was really excited when I found out that Jason Statham was going to be in the new Audi ad called "Chase." Seriously, it was the only Super Bowl ad that got me excited. On that note, however, if you're a big fan of the chaos known as Super Bowl Ad mania, check out these awesome pages our team put together for the Super Bowl Ads. Some of them even have sneak previews of the commercials, so you can get an insider look before they even air.

Angels and Demons Super Bowl Ad
Budweiser Clydesdale Super Bowl Ad
Career Builder Super Bowl Ad
Cars.com Super Bowl Ad
Cheetos Super Bowl Ad
Chuck Super Bowl Ad
Denny's Super Bowl Ad
Doritos "Free Doritos" Super Bowl Ad
Doritos New Flavor Pitch Super Bowl Ad
Doritos Power of the Crunch Super Bowl Ad
Doritos Super Bowl Ad
Doritos The Chase Super Bowl Ad
Doritos Too Delicious Super Bowl Ad
Fast and the Furious Super Bowl Ad
Frosted Flakes Super Bowl Ad
GI Joe Super Bowl Ad
Go Daddy Danica Patrick Super Bowl Ad
Go Daddy Super Bowl Ad
H and R Block Super Bowl Ad
Heineken Super Bowl Ad
Heroes Super Bowl Ad
Hyundai Genesis Super Bowl Ad
Hyundai Super Bowl Ad
Kings Super Bowl Ad
LMAO NBC Super Bowl Ad
Land of the Lost Super Bowl Ad
Medium Super Bowl Ad
Miller One Second Super Bowl
Monsters vs. Aliens Super Bowl Ad
NFL Network Super Bowl Ad
Pedigree Super Bowl Ad
Pepsi Super Bowl Ad
Sobe Lizard Lake Super Bowl Ad
Sobe Super Bowl Ad
Star Trek Super Bowl Ad
All Super Bowl Ads for 2009
Super Bowl Commercials 2009
Super Bowl Commercials Live Coverage
Teleflora Super Bowl Ad
Transformers 2 Super Bowl Ad

The Mahalo team will be doing live coverage of the Super Bowl, complete with live ad and commercial coverage as well, so don't miss it!! And please take a moment to check out the above listed pages. They look awesome!

25 January, 2009

The Dark Muse Sings

There are moods that come and go for me as a writer. While most of my stories tend to be romantically inspired, I write in several different subgenres. One of my favorites has always been fantasy. You can do anything in fantasy, and yet the more realistic the worlds you create are, the better the fantasy. I've also enjoyed writing dark fantasy for as long as I can remember. Vampires, werewolves, zombies, even mummies.

The very first novel length story I wrote back in high school was about a ballet instructor who fell in love with a vampire. It turned out that the vampire had a twin brother, who was seducing her behind his brother's back, in an attempt to create a new race of half-human/half-vampires that would one day take over the world... I still have that story somewhere. It turned out very badly, but I was so passionate about it at the time that I could wait to grow up and write dozens upon dozens of vampire novels.

It was Anne Rice who pushed me over the edge. Of course, I'd been dabbling in the macabre as long as I'd been reading. As a kid I'd dig out every ghost story in the library and bring it home. This was long before the Goosebumps series was ever created, so there weren't as many stories to choose from then as there are now. My mom was a big Stephen King fan, so I read all of her books after she finished them, discovering my immense fear of clowns just around the time I turned 13, as that was the year I read IT. That same summer, I also read Salem's Lot. Needless to say, it was one of the most terrifying novels I ever read, and I spent two weeks sleeping with the blankets up tight against my neck. Anne Rice made the vampires beautiful though. The fear factor was still there, but it was a tempting fear, and during those early years, while following Lestat from adventure to misadventure, I fell in love with everything vampires stood for.

After we got home from the movies yesterday, I had the strongest pull to write about vampires again, possibly with a werewolf twist. I haven't written a vampire story in so long, that I almost forgot how to do it, but an idea came to me in full form and before the end of the evening I started my introductory chapter. At this point, I'd love to find a way to keep the idea I have as a short story, but the complexity may not allow for it. We shall see. Either way, I'm pleased with how much I've already gotten done on it. The three main characters have all been introduced, two of them named even, and the protagonist has already been clearly established.

I got a lot of writing done today, and for that I am incredibly grateful. I knew all it would take was a bit of action, and then inspiration and motivation would both follow in full force. Now, it's half an hour before bed time, and I'm thinking I need to see if I can get in another 500 words before hitting the hay.

'Night all.

24 January, 2009

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, A Review

Ever since that fated scene in Underworld when Michael Corvin sees the truth of Lucian's history in his blood, I have been fascinated with Lucian's past and the story of Sonja and Lucian, a forbidden love affair between Vampire and Lycan. There was an inkling of hope in me at the time that one day a great movie would rise out of the ashes of Lucian's story, but I never dreamed it would actually take place.

I saw the first preview for Underworld: Rise of the Lycans while watching the Battlestar Galactica series four webisodes in December. I was so excited by the prospect of seeing a fantasy movie come to life that I immediately paused the webisode and started googling for more details about Rise of the Lycans. It was true. Michael Sheen returned to the big screen as Lucian, and the history of the great war between Lycan ad Vampire would be revealed.

From what I gathered from a few online groups, interest level in this movie was pretty low. There was no way that a third Underworld film could possibly be any good. Many seemed to feel that the first film should have been enough. I even had one person tell me that everything was ripping off Lord of the Rings, and now Vampires and Werewolves were doing it to.

The story takes place during a darker time in the world. The Lycans created by William Corvinas are no better than wild animals, never able to resume their human form again. But then one day, a Lycan gives birth to a child, and everything changes. The Vampires see this as their opportunity to change their position, and using this child, whom is named Lucian, they create their own race of lycans and enslave them.

It's a classic theme that has been seen in stories throughout the ages. One race enslaving another, pushing them over the edge, treating them like animals. It's only a matter of time before that enslaved start to see that there is possibility for a better life, and then comes the revolution. Lucian's revelation comes in the face of his beloved. To spend the rest of their lives as they are, him enslaved and her unable to express the love between them is not an option, and he already knows he can ever live without her... A plot hell bent on tragedy, and you can guarantee that tragedy ensues.

The action in this movie was coupled with a gritty darkness, the type of darkness that should haunt all Vampire films. It was a very cold world the Vampires lived in, their aristocratic nature far outweighing the type of warmth that comes from relationships built on love. It becomes evident at once that this is what Sonja sought from Lucian. The love her father bequeathed her came with expectations. The love Lucian offered her was free. This sets her apart from her father and the coven in a way that the vampires find shocking. Her own father tells her that the loyalty between them is the only thing that separates them from the animals at their door, and Sonja breaks that loyalty.

I have to confess that I have not a single complaint about the movie. Well, I do have one complaint. It could have been longer. My new secret wish (which is obviously NOT a secret since I'm sharing it here with you, dear blog friends,) is that they write another prequel that goes into the War, introduces Kraven and Selene to the picture, and shows the secret pact between Lucian and Kraven. Hear my secret wish, Underworld writers and producers, and know that as a writer, I would LOVE to have my hands in the writing of that script.

The cast was fantastic. Bill Nighy is Viktor, as he so often becomes the roles he portrays. It becomes impossible to even see Nighy beyond Viktor, and there are some really incredible screen shots of him all throughout the film that would make fantastic artwork. One of the great things about Michael Sheen's character, Lucian, is that when we are first introduced to him in Underworld, there is something distinguished about him. He scolds the other Lycans in his command for acting like a pack of rabid dogs. As he was raised by Viktor, almost pampered like a favorite pet for most of his life, Lucian appreciates his humanity and knows first hand that the Lycans are not animals anymore than the Vampires are. Seeing him fight for their freedom in this prequel, it becomes understandable why he wants them to act civilized.

Rhona Mitra, who portrayed Sonja, was striking in the film. It is apparent why Viktor chose Selene and kept her close as well, based on the characteristics she shares with Viktor's traitorous daughter. While they share a similar look, both women are also fierce warriors, headstrong and determined. Taking this into consideration, Selene actually becomes Sonja's vengeance in the end, as well as her own, and that is one of the great things about this prequel bringing the original story full circle.

It was also fascinating to see Steven Mackintosh as Tannis again. His character in the second film simply begged for more backstory, and I would have been disappointed had he not been in the film.

Whether you're a fan of the previously released Underworld films, or not, Rise of the Lycans is definitely a world apart from the others. Taking place in the past, it sets a completely different tone. I can't wait to see this movie again (and again...) and though I hope it has a long run in theaters, I can't wait for it come out on DVD so I can watch it again (and again and again.)

Back in Action

The last couple months have not been the best time. I've had more problems with asthma and allergies than I care to dwell on, and just after I finished on the treadmill Monday night, I felt the ache of the flu settling into my bones. By the time I crawled into bed, I had a fever of 99.6 and Tuesday morning kicked me out of bed with a massive heaviness in my lungs that could only be pneumonia. Unable to get into the doctor until Wednesday afternoon, I burned in bed for two days.

The doctor was pretty sure that it was this nasty flu that's been going around, which with asthma and allergies on top, would just feel like living hell. He was right. I'm still standing by as my lungs recover that heavy dread, the ache in my back still shifting and sharp from time to time.

The good news is, fevered dreams are great fodder for science and horror fiction. I had some fantastically frightening dreams while my fever spiked into the 102-103 range. Crazy cylon storm trooper hybrid dreams, and liquid devils lurking inside sink drains. At one point I actually dreamed that I was living inside a skull. It was crazy.

Last night was the first night I actually felt human enough to start writing. Between then and this evening, I managed to finish another chapter in my current project. It felt good.

I will catch up with everyone's blogs and tags this weekend. I missed you all.

18 January, 2009

Visiting Grandma

For the last two years, Sundays have been a day for riding with my dad to visit my grandma. At ninety years old, she was finally admitted permanently to a nursing home in August, something she is very unhappy about. Unhappy in that it seems like a convenient way to tuck her away and forget about her. At least that is the impression I get from her whenever she calls me. The last two years have been incredibly hard on her. As a mother of six, she never expected to outlive so many of her own children, but as luck would have it four of her six children are dead and one is lost to her. My dad is her only living son, and though I love my dad very much, he has never been a very emotional kind of person. He doesn't express himself well, when he actually does try to express himself, and that can leave you wondering what's really going on inside his head.

Over a period of about eighteen months, his three older brothers have all died. It started when my Uncle Lee, who lived with and cared for my Grandmother for the last ten years, dying in a tragic car accident. About six months later, my Uncle Ed's condition worsened and at the time they only expected him to live a couple weeks. Uncle Ed was mentally ill and spent quite a good chunk of his adult life in and out of special care facilities. During the last year of his life, I traveled every other week with my dad to visit his brother.

Uncle Ed was an interesting character to say the least. Even up until the end he had a lot of lofty ideas about how he would like to one day work in a bakery making donuts. Our visits, which often consisted of Dad driving around for half an hour so my uncle could smoke about eight cigarettes, were somewhat hard on my dad. I'm not sure if it was because of the pressures going on in his own life, or because my uncle was mentally ill, but I could always tell it was hard on him. Nevertheless, we ventured to the nursing home together on Sundays on see Uncle Ed, sometimes driving him over to visit with Grandma.

He had hepatitis c, and though his body fought it off a lot longer than they originally anticipated, he finally passed away. Not long after that, my Grandma's oldest son, Carl, died from cancer. It was all very hard on her.

Sometimes she calls me to tell me how lonely she is. It breaks my heart that we don't go and see her more often. As I mentioned above, up until this past summer, she was very independent. She worked right up until she was 87 years old, get this... caring for the elderly. She took care of an elderly couple who were twenty years younger than she was. She drove right up until then, but finally her eyesight grew so poor that she was no longer able to see to drive at night, and eventually she didn't feel comfortable driving at all.

I won't lie. There's a part of me that fears growing old sometimes, that fears the inevitable death that claims all of our lives in the end, but it's the great loneliness that comes with being elderly that bothers me the most. She said today while we were visiting her in her small cubicle of space, cut in half to share with a woman she never met until two days ago when the woman moved in... "I guess this is my home now." There was terrible sadness in her voice, as though the realization was too much for her to really wrap her mind around. My dad made light of it by pointing out, "At least you don't have to do a lot of cleaning anymore." She didn't laugh. She would have laughed at that even just six months ago. She just twitched and said, "No, they have people, and they do a good job. They come in and dust and sweep, even underneath everything..."

For the last year she has talked about being depressed, experiencing a sense of tiredness that is so heavy she just doesn't even want to get out of bed. Would this depression be lessened if she got to see her family every day? Sometimes I wonder why we started putting our elders in sterilized homes with other elders so someone else can take care of them. I wonder what happened to the sense of family unity that more or less dictated that the young care for the old. Then I think of all the times I said myself that as much as I love my own mother, I don't think I could care for her when she was old.

It makes me a little sad. This whole blog is very depressing. I won't deny that. But the small ray of light in it all is that even though the weather was bad, I was so happy that I got to see her today. I wish I could see her every day, just so I could make her feel the happiness and sense of family she deserves. Maybe I should take advantage of the fact that Jason isn't working regularly right now and start going to see her by myself once or twice during the week. I hate driving in the city, but she's a good enough reason to do it.

I think one of the reasons I'm so melancholy today is because I'm tired. The aforementioned sleepover from yesterday's blog has me up most of the night and then out of be way earlier than I would have liked. On a positive note, in the quiet this morning while the girls all slept in, I wrote the next chapter in the story I've been working on. That made me very happy. And now, I'm off to do some research for the next chapter, which I hope to at least get started on before bed tonight.

17 January, 2009

Tag, and then I'm It

Morgan Mandel was kind enough to include me in one of her blog games, so here I with my list of six things that make me happy:

1. Spending time with my family. And not just any old time, but good time talking, laughing and truly enjoying the greatest parts of each other.

2. A good book. There is absolutely nothing else in the world as satisfying as a good story. My favorite types come with characters you can sink your teeth into and plots that leave you feeling like you left a part of your own world behind every time you put the book down for even just a minute.

3. Warm, fuzzy socks. I believe it was Albus Dumbledore who once said, "One can ever have enough socks." Fictional, though he may be, he was right.

4. The distinct sound of silence.

5. A good giggle with a friend. I don't care what anyone says. You're never too old to giggle, especially if you're with friends.

6. Writing. Something about putting words on paper has always made me incredibly happy. Even those days that feel frustrating, the act of writing itself is always wonderful enough to make me feel good inside.

Now, according to the rules of this game, I am supposed to tag three of my friends. I pick Mindy, Nikki and Jae. Hopefully, each of them has time to respond in kind. :)

In other news, today was a strange day. For the last two weeks, Ms. Fourteen has been planning a birthday party. It was a huge to do. She had ten guests coming, boys and girls, and after the boys left, the girls were all going to spend the night. She had invited 5 girls and 5 boys. In the end, two girls and three boys showed up. I was a little disturbed by how bored they all seemed to be, but no one really wanted to do anything. They didn't want to play any games (not even games of the video variety...) They had no interest in the table spread of snacks we provided. They didn't even seem to be interested in talking to each other. They just kind of sat there for awhile. Maybe it was because her dad and I were both nearby. They didn't feel like they could be themselves. It's hard to tell. All I know is that even when I was seventeen we had little parties like that all the time right at my parents' house. My parents would be in the next room while eight or ten of us would gather in the kitchen and play crazy games of Uno, Monopoly, Poker or whatever else we came up with.

We easily had a blast just goofing around. Maybe it's just me, but from the outside my daughter has always seemed like she was afraid to just have fun. There's an air of, "what if they laugh at me," surrounding everything. I just hope that despite appearances, they had fun and strengthened their friendships. That's all that really matters in the end.

I got some writing done today, and managed to complete a goal I have been mulling over for about a year. There is a company I have wanted to submit to, but just couldn't bring myself to actually writing an article as sample. After a blog I wrote the other day on the pagan blog I share with Mindy and Nikki, I felt inspired enough to do some revising. After adding a whole section that wasn't here before, I typed up a letter to them, included the article and hit send. It felt good. :)

Now that the house is a little quieter, I think it's time to sneak off to the bath. It's been so cold these last few nights that a long hot soak in the tub sounds like just the thing.

And speaking of Dumbledore, here is the trailer for "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" which better come to a theatre near me before I die, or else.

16 January, 2009

Once a Great Notion, Indeed

Today was one of those days where I don't feel like my time was wasted, even though many would probably say, "I could never do that. I don't even watch TV." I love a good TV series, and they are rare in this day and age. I spend very little time watching TV, and there are very few things I'll give myself to completely, especially something as trivial as a television series, but Battlestar Galactica, the re-imagined series, is different. Since I first became a fan of the show, I have studied the patterns, the signs, the cylons and I have waited a long time for tonight.

Tonight premiered the first episode of the last half of season four, the countdown to the series finale. Building up to the premiere episode, Sci-Fi played all of season four so far, and as soon as I finished working for the day, I blanketed up on the couch and had myself a marathon.

It was worth it, and the episode premiere was worth the wait. So much was already revealed in just that one episode, it seemed, as though everything we wanted to know as critical fans was revealed. They explained what happened to Earth, shed a little more light onto Starbuck's nature and revealed the fifth cylon of the Final Five. All I have to say is that while I loved learning it all tonight and I can't wait for the rest of the episodes to see what else we can learn, I was very happy with all we were given tonight. It was well worth the wait.

No need to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it yet. If you do want a brief synopsis, check out the guide note on my Battlestar Galactica Season 4 Episode Guide on Mahalo. I added a pretty thorough synopsis of the entire episode just thirty minutes ago. Check it out if you want.

15 January, 2009


Today is my daughter's fourteenth birthday. I'd love to withhold the sappiness of saying, "It seems like yesterday that I held her in my arms, her static tufts of golden hair..." but it really does seem like that. The passage of time moves so quickly, and yet I feel blessed to have lived through every moment of it with her. I can still see the roundness of her bright face, the overwhelming smile that had the capacity to melt the heart. She had the most wonderful little voice when she learned how to speak, and if I close my eyes, I can still hear it.

She always loved to sing. I have videos of her from when she was three and four years old singing as though she was having a concert. I don't know how many times the bear went over the mountain before she finally felt like letting him see what he could see, but she would allow no one to tell her when it was time to go forward. "No, Mommy, I will do it!"

Those words, "No, Mommy, I will do it," soon followed questions like, "Do you want me to tie your shoes?" and "Let me pour you a drink." Before long it applied to "Do you want me to dial Grammy's phone number for you?" and "Can I make you some lunch?" Soon it'll be in response to things like, "Do you need a ride to the mall?" and "Do you want me to help you with your homework."

Her independence is liberating and exciting, while it simultaneously pokes me in the ribs with nostalgic despair. One day I hope she'll be a mother herself so she can understand and enjoy the kind of wonder children inspire. Pre-parenthood, we arrogantly think, "Ha! All those years I had to take lesson from them, now it's my turn to teach the lessons." In truth, I have learned more from her in the last fourteen years than I did during the twenty years that preceded her birth. I could be wrong, but I don't think you really understand how to love others unconditionally until you've had children. That compelling madness that forgives every wrong, the strength and ability to look beyond the mistakes and wrongdoings. There have been mothers who loved their children so much as to forgive them for crimes as dark and unforgivable as murder. Only a mother could love so deeply that she sees beyond the fatalist of flaws.

It's like we're blinded by them. By the notion that they once existed inside of us, as a part of us. That there was a time in their life that they were helpless and relied on us to care for them in every way. They don't remember that time in their life, of course, so when you yell at them for trying to roller skate across an icy parking lot, or for divebombing off of the bed and into nothing more than a highly stacked pile of laundry, they think you're insane.

Sometimes I can't believe it's already been fourteen years, but on the inside, I only hope that I am blessed enough to see the next fourteen years of her life, and the next fourteen after that (and the next fourteen after that...)

And for what it's worth, the fact that she still likes to play dress-up at fourteen is one of the most refreshing things in the world: Photobucket

14 January, 2009

Scheduling More Hours Into the Day

Whenever it comes down to buckling in and doing what needs to be done, I always resort to feeling as if there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything that needs to be done. The thing is, there are plenty of hours. I could easily get everything I need and want to do done. It's a lack of discipline that holds me back. It has always been an issue with me and I want to change it. I'm not just talking about my writing and my career, though that is a major area in which I feel the pressure from this. It has also happened my entire life when I've tried to set aside time to exercise, read and create. I've recently set aside an hour every day to exercise and it's been a refreshing change. The thing is, now that I know I can do it, I've seen the evidence and the results in one area of my life, it's time to make the leap for positive change in another area.

One excuse that I've got to nip in the bud now is that because I work on the computer, I don't feel as compelled to spend time outside of work on the computer writing. Break the block. Grab a notebook and a pen and head to the library. I can always type it in later. Another thing would be to write more poetry. I don't like to write poetry on the computer anyway. It always feels more natural with a pen and paper. I have stacks of notebooks filled with poetry, though since I finished college I haven't written near as much poetry as I once did.

Cutting away excess time on the net where I'm just surfing for things that don't really matter or pertain to my life is another place that I think will really make a difference. It's a poor excuse to continue falling back on the old, "writer's will do anything it takes to keep from picking up the pen." Time to break the mold. I have so many short stories finished. They just need a little bit of a facelift so I can start submitting again. I have some very realistic goals set for myself when it comes to submissions. Goals I know I can achieve without problem.

I read a quote a few weeks ago that I had never read before, but it really stood out for me and hit home. I haven't been able to find the exact quote since I read it, but it basically said that rather than waiting to be inspired or motivated to do something, take action. As a writer I've lived far too long under the misconception of inspiration. My mind is chock full of ideas. I've had more inspirations for stories in one lifetime than you could possible imagine. Entire stories already mapped out beginning, middle and end... yet I often hold back on writing them because I feel I need more inspiration. It's insane. What more inspiration is needed if the idea is already there? Take action. Write.

I also try not to take myself too seriously, to have a little fun now and then. My husband and I were just talking about playing cover tunes (he's a musician,) in comparison to writing fanfiction. I recently had an inspiration for a Battlestar Galactica fanfiction. I picked up and started writing immediately. I took action and just wrote. It felt really good.

More action. I have a strong feeling that taking more action will create a feeling of more hours in the day to get the things I want to get done done.

13 January, 2009

Too Late: Frozen

And no, that's not just the title of a clever Type O Negative song... it's the current title of my existence. Temperatures are dropping here and they are saying we may even have some in the negatives by week's end. I am not a fan of Lady Winter's wicked breath. She burns my lungs and makes me sleepy. Like a bear, I would rather hibernate beneath a stack of warm, fuzzy blankets than join the world and be productive. It's a shame they don't make some kind of hibernation fund people like me can subscribe to so my family doesn't suffer financially from all of the work I'd rather not do. The hibernation fund could also send people around to do the things I'd rather not do, like shop, cook, clean and of course, transcribe all of my ideas into perfectly formatted novels and short stories.

Ah, the good life.

It's times like this that make me wish I had a laptop. Then again, a laptop would definitely contribute to a lot more laziness. I can already see myself propped up beneath a pile of cozy blankets, mug of tea on the side and the remote poised on my right. Laziness. It is so appealing, but I rarely let it win.

The highlight of my day (beyond a three episode Battlestar Galactica marathon during treadmill and downtime...) was when my mother called to tell me that her house was haunted. We've been trying to tell her that since I was in the seventh grade. I had my first paranormal experience in the neighborhood, just two houses away from her house. Shortly thereafter (around the time I was six or seven,) I woke up one night and heard a strange ring-tingling sound. I was scared, but I also had to go to the bathroom. I jumped out of bed and went out into the hallway only to be drawn into the living room by a brilliant golden-rosy hued light. As I drew closer to the living room, I saw a this strange swirling pattern of light that shined as it turned right in the center of the room. I have no idea what it was.

Some might say I was dreaming, or that my memories are askew, but over the years enough has happened in the house to make me question the truth. Friends and I always had bizarre experiences while playing with Ouija boards, and my brothers and sisters have also had paranormal experiences there as well. My brother believed in an entire phenomenon that centered his things being taken when he wasn't looking. Entire glasses disappearing from right beside him. Once an ashtray disappeared only to fall out of thin air about three days later.

Apparently, tonight the lights in her hallway kept turning on and off even though no one was touching them. Interesting. I told her to call TAPS.

I am pleased with how much I've been writing lately. Four chapters in less than a week is far more than I had written the week before, and I'm really enjoying the story I'm working on as well. So much so that I'm going to say farewell to thee and see if I can't pay homage to the muse for about an hour before hitting the hay.

I leave you with this very funny video that made me laugh today. I hope it gives you a chuckle too.

11 January, 2009

"Wake Up," George Gordon said

For the last couple weeks I wake up every morning thinking about the Romantic Era and Lord Byron. It's as though the restless spirit of George Gordon hovers over me while I sleep whispering, "Away! we know that tears are vain, That death nor heeds nor hears distress: Will this unteach us to complain? Or make one mourner weep the less?" Why those words, I don't know. It just sounds like the treacherous beauty he might use on you if you're the first person to fall asleep at his birthday party or something. And of course, every time I wake up thinking about Lord Byron, I think of Gabriel Byrne, who once portrayed Byron in that crazy film Gothic. Yes, these are the insanities my mind plays upon. You probably had no idea... or maybe you knew all along.

Being winter, the wretched season of discontent, I have been trying to balance my thoughts between the beauty of the snowfall and the comfort of knowing I need not rush out if the weather is bad, but as Lady Death treads softly upon the earth in these, her final days, I cannot help the feelings of hopelessness that grab at me from time to time. The quick passage of time being one of the most pressing (and depressing...) thoughts, I try to fight it, but then waking up with my first thoughts on Byron's poetry is most certainly not a sign that I am winning any battle with bleak thoughts.

Poetry then. It's Byron's message. I know that beyond the macabre moanings of fear, doom and of course, death, there is another message. Write poetry. It's what I always do in the face of depression and adversity. I have done so since I was very young, and though I seem to write far less poetry than I did even five years ago, it is definitely something I miss and look forward to exploring again. I've even got the first few lines of something dark and brooding scribbled in my notebook.

The funny thing is, I have lost my touch when it comes to writing fiction or essays longhand. It used to be I could be found just about anywhere with a stack of paper or a notebook and pen scrawling out page after page of fiction, but after I got my first typewriter and then upgraded to a word processor, I never wanted to go back to writing on paper again unless it was poetry. There's something about writing poetry down though that compels me. The long thought process that pours into every word seems to flow more smoothly when it's done with a pen.

I did a lot of experimenting with Sestinas about three years ago. There's just something about the challenge of putting together a poem carefully constructed piece by piece. I am alway afraid that the words will sound forced, but then there is a strange, ethereal quality to the Sestina that really sticks with me. This is the first one I ever wrote, and I actually had it published in Strange Horizons back in 2006.

"Blood Moon Sestina"

You open up your arms, embrace the dark
night absorbed by the freshly fallen snow.
Face upturned as if waiting for a kiss,
you think he's your lover—it's just the moon.
The neon sign stains the streets like his blood.
You can't wash the memory from your hands

It's cold, but you refuse to hide your hands
in your pockets. "It isn't really dark,"
you say, but the snow white is stained with blood.
What crushes underfoot like old bones? Snow?
Shadows and clouds eat the face of the moon
and you're still out there waiting for that kiss.

Is it really that important, this kiss?
Every time you reach out to take my hands
I pull away, try to hide like the moon,
but there is no real safety in the dark.
The evidence is buried under snow.
Just like human skin, even snow can bleed.

It stains your shoes. "It's just a little blood,"
you say. Cold, blue lips parted for the kiss
you know won't come. Falling from the sky, snow
spirals toward the earth. "Catch it!" You hold hands
out. It could gnaw away at your darkness
and maybe absorb some light from the moon.

Like the face you thought was your love, the moon
peeks out, but hides again when it sees blood.
It's easier to lie inside the dark
about the lips you really meant to kiss.
They were not mine, but I still take your hand
and like angels we fall into the snow.

Beneath the blanket, we're buried in snow.
So deep, so far, not even a sharp moon
eye will find us. We are still holding hands
and I know you still want to try and kiss
me. All I can taste is the bitter blood
of a dying moon. Everything is dark.

And now the snow is melting into blood.
Old dying moon no one will ever kiss . .
it's on your hands now. Everything's gone dark.
Copyright © 2006 Jennifer Hudock

Time to start thinking about the six words I'd like to incorporate into my next Sestina. The words themselves will contribute heavily to the mood of the poem, so it can be a careful process, or an exciting free for all by just grabbing any six words and running with them. Maybe I'll write about Lord Byron, or Shelley maybe... the Romantic Era in general. Anything to capture the mood I'm in.

I leave you now with the words of Lord Byron:
"When We Two Parted"

When we two parted
In silence and tears,
Half broken-hearted,
To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
Colder thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this!

The dew of the morning
Sunk chill on my brow;
It felt like the warning
Of what I feel now.
Thy vows are all broken,
And light is thy fame:
I hear thy name spoken
And share in its shame.

They name thee before me,
A knell to mine ear;
A shudder comes o’er me—
Why wert thou so dear?
They know not I knew thee
Who knew thee too well:
Long, long shall I rue thee
Too deeply to tell.

In secret we met:
In silence I grieve
That thy heart could forget,
Thy spirit deceive.
If I should meet thee
After long years,
How should I greet thee?—
With silence and tears.

George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788–1824)

09 January, 2009

On the Cusp of Silence

After the hullabaloo of the holidays, every morning started to feel like a madhouse around here, especially after I'd become so used to waking up to an empty house around 7:30, setting in to work alone. With Jason laid off or working sketchy hours, and our girl home from school so frequently either on account of the holidays or cruddy weather, finding a moment's peace felt impossible. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't enjoy spending time with my family, but I also enjoy a good plank of solitude from time to time. It's good for the mind, it clears away that need for dependence. The voices in my head can talk to each other without getting interrupted.

I woke up this morning and the house was calm. The school bus had already come and Jason was still asleep. I crept out into the living room and felt for a moment like things were almost normal. Living in the country, mornings tend to be silent in the winter. We live next door to a small farmer's market, so things can get a little hairy in the summer, but this time of year the mornings are often still.

I suited up (like I was going extended deep sea diving, of course,) and put the dog on his leash. I expected it to be frigid and cruel, but the temperature was actually somewhat refreshing. We started on his daily trek around the yard and that was when I noticed it. Soft, tiny flakes of snow were falling, despite the bright sky. Without the wind, it felt so magical, peaceful. I stood there with my face against the sky until I felt renewed.

I needed that.

Now, as the morning world comes alive, I feel that sense of peace I was missing during the crazy season. May it stay with me all day and make my voice lighter, my reactions calmer and my mind clearer.

"Say I am You" by Rumi:

I am dust particles in sunlight.
I am the round sun.

To the bits of dust I say, Stay.
To the sun, Keep moving.

I am morning mist,
and the breathing of evening.
I am wind in the top of a grove,
and surf on the cliff.

Mast, rudder, helmsman, and keel,
I am also the coral reef they founder on.

I am a tree with a trained parrot in its branches.
Silence, thought, and voice.

The musical air coming through a flute,
a spark of stone, a flickering in metal.
Both candle and the moth crazy around it.
Rose, and the nightingale lost in the fragrance.

I am all orders of being, the circling galaxy,
the evolutionary intelligence, the lift, and the falling away.

What is, and what isn't.

You who know, Jelaluddin,
You the one in all, say who I am.
Say I am you.--Rumi

06 January, 2009

The Communication Age... all that lost data

My friend Pru, after recently reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, brought up some really thought-provoking things about the communication age as we know it.

I grew up during the 1970's and 1980's, a time when it was popular to have penpals from overseas that you could share your cultural differences with in order to broaden your perspective. My husband, who also grew up during this time fondly recalls one of his penpals and the gifts they exchanged with each other bridging the differences between them. While my husband and I were dating we spent a couple of years living far apart and talking for hours on end on the telephone long-distance at that time was a financial no-no. We had limited chats here and there and visits, but some of our most memorable conversations were done through letters. Remember those? No, silly, not emails. These were letters. They arrived in your post box, stamped and addressed. If you were friends with an artist, envelopes often arrived decorated in knotwork or strange creatures playing guitars.

During the time that he lived in Pittsburgh and I was finishing high school, I remember rushing home nearly every day to check the mailbox for some kind of letter or token from him. Though he'd probably blush profusely and deny it today, he occasionally wrote me poetry and romantic short stories. Unfortunately, we moved around quite a bit after we were together and there is very little left from this time. I think in all my vast collection there are only three or four of his letters left in a box on the top shelf of my closet. It made me sad when I realized this because our relationship was very intense and beautiful in those early years, the kind of legendary love you want your grandchildren to discover inside a box of old letters found in a dusty corner of the attic.

One of the things Pru mentioned was how even though we write to each other on forums, in blogs and via email these days, the data is all too often quickly swiped from memory. Sure, some print out emails and tuck them away, but the novelty of doing that wore off for me right around the time I upgraded to my very own dial-up service and stopped dialing in from a shared account with my parents. Here we are in the world communicating with people all day long, all across the world, but how will all of it be archived or remembered? Say some strange catastrophe were to come along and wipe out the internet and all of its memories. Cherished conversations on favorite forums would wither away like dust in our own memories. Loving emails exchanged between those held apart by circumstances, all gone just like that.

It pains me somewhat to think that letter writing has become something of a lost art. Why sit down with ink and paper when you can drop down at the keyboard and tap away to your heart's content? Pru talked about the legacy left behind in the great letters of the world. Think of all we know about history and how much of it was confirmed or disproved by evidence found in written exchanged between people from that time. Letters from great presidents and kings left behind a piece of memory we can refer to. As we move away from written books and newspapers to rely on eFiles and eBooks, what happens to those tomes when the last batteries die?

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for change and evolution. I think it's a wonderful thing that some of my closest and most intimate friends are people I've never met face to face, but have opened up to thanks to the great Communication Age. There is just a sense of sadness that pervades when I think of how all of this communication seems to push us further apart as a whole today, rather than bringing us closer together.

Color me nostalgic for simpler times today.

Now, enjoy the letters Thomas Jefferson and John Adams once shared:

04 January, 2009

Musical Inspiration for Writers

I know I have talked about my writerly playlist in the past, but I will not deny the constant inspiration I have found in music. As I was reading through some of the work I wrote a few years ago, I was reminded how much the music of Sting had inspired several of my plotlines. While there was very little actual evidence for the average reader left in the story itself, I could clearly recall the mood and setting of certain scenes and the songs that I was listening to as I wrote them. It was as if the songs themselves had become associated with mine and my characters' memories of that time.

It reminded me of some of the earliest writing I actually produced, when I was about ten. That writing was heavily influenced by music I listened to at that time, and it seemed to become a trend I followed all through my youth. Many of the stories I wrote were responses to favorite songs which gave me a wide variety of interesting topics to write about, and it still does. Because a mood and atmosphere is already created by the song, I find myself wanting to reproduce the moment, or live through it myself in a way.

Music has been a huge element in my life since I was a little girl, and it seems that all along music and writing have gone hand in hand. I think that's something I need to bear in mind when I find myself frustrated with writer's block. To get the plot juices flowing, I need to find music that makes me feel connected to the story itself. For example, two of the novels I am working on the second drafts of now have soundtracks, if you will. One story is set in a small, farm town very similar to where I grew up and live currently. Finding myself in that place requires little more than queuing up Dierks Bentley and Toby Keith. The other novel is set in the Faerie underworld. Gary Stadler and David Arkenstone are just two of the atmospheric elements of my fantasy soundtrack. While I was writing about zombies, I found myself listening to a lot heavy music, dark, violent, but still atmospheric. I actually had a soundtrack I found on iTunes that was inspired by zombie films. It put me in the perfect mood to pull out the cricket bat and start whacking zombies.

Have you ever heard a song that compelled you to write? Has a character ever cried out from the chorus of a song and begged you to dive in and unearth their story?

Sting: When We Dance

I Am Coming for All of You!

Or at least that's what Laura Roslin says in one of the previews for Season 4.5, the final episodes, of Battlestar Galactica, but what does it mean? I've been keeping up with the webisodes every Monday and Wednesday, (all of which can be viewed after 12PM EST on SciFi.com,) but in all honesty I don't really feel like they've given us any kind of hint at all about what has happened to the fleet since they landed on the destroyed Earth with the Cylons. I really hope that we don't get a "screwy" interlude into the events like we did with Season 3's New Caprica angle. At the end of Season 2, they're living on New Caprica and the Cylons show up, and Season 3 starts after months of Cylon torment and dictatorship. Even the webisodes for that period granted little access to what life was like on New Caprica. The only real look we get at the time spent there was in the boxing episode.

With these being the final episodes of the series (not including the promised made for tv films to come after the airing of the series...) there is a lot of stuff that needs to be wrapped up. I've read Edward James Olmos quotes that it won't be all daisies and happiness, but a satisfying ending nonetheless, and I can only hope he's telling the truth.

I'm so excited as I count down the days to the final episodes of BSG, the first premiering on January 16. In honor, I've been having a bit of a marathon at home, watching the third season in its entirety again, and planning to purchase the first half of season 4 when it's released on the sixth of January.

Anyone else out there a fan of this show? Do you have any thoughts or predictions you'd like to share? What are you looking most forward to about the series wrap-up? I think I'm really looking forward to finding out the final cylon identity the most, coming in second to that is Starbuck's true nature in the grand scheme of things. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please share them.