Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Infinity

Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Rather than a summary this time, here's a video for the book trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REzJ6LxFwcY


I am a fan of the DH series. So, Nick's character isn't unfamiliar to me. In all honesty it's difficult for me to find fault with the book. It's also been awhile since I read it. However, I do recall that the way the teenagers spoke wasn't true to reality. Any criticisms I had were little things, though. If you like Sherrilyn Kenyon, you're more than likely going to enjoy this book. I'm really looking forward to the next installment.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mistwood

Mistwood by Leah Cypress

The Shifter has always served the kings of Samorna. But when Crown Prince Rokan comes into Mistwood for her and she allows herself to be caught, she feels something is wrong. Caught up in court intrigue with her memory still in pieces, she finds she has trouble shifting and fulfilling her duties. As she uncovers the past she finds herself and much more.

It’s been a little while since I read this book, but what I recall most about it was the strength of the central character, the Shifter, also known as Lady Isabella. She seemed very much the wild animal forced into a human world. The book is a really good fantasy, not so much a romance. I’d recommend it.


Here's a link if you're interested:


http://www.amazon.com/Mistwood-Leah-Cypess/dp/0061956996

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Mark

The Mark by Jen Nadol

Cassandra is a sixteen year old with a natural “gift” she’s only recently figured out. She can see if it’s someone’s last day by a light surrounding them. But there’s so much about her life to question already and she’s wondering if it’s really a curse. When a summer spent in Kansas turns up a boyfriend who’s really into philosophy and a new connection to her deceased mother, the time to act is here. Cassie finds the answers to her questions. Problem with uncovering truths and deciding what to do is it’s never easy, especially when you’re sixteen and pretty much on your own. In THE MARK, Cassie is confronted with “should she tell?” As a reader, the book feels more like, “would you tell?”

The book was a quick read for me—228 pgs, not speaking for pacing. I enjoyed the premise, the question. And I like how it’s setup for a series. The mythology toward the end was a bit unexpected, in a good way. Though I should say a lot of authors seem to be doing the Greek thing, it was a different direction. And while I wouldn’t call it thrilling, I did enjoy the characters. Never once did I lose interest. Overall, it’s a good, solid read from the YA section.


Here's a link if you want to purchase "The Mark" by Jen Nadol:

(I don't profit)


http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Mark/Jen-Nadol/e/9781599904313/?itm=1&USRI=jen+nadol+the+mark


Mel

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Brightly Woven

Thoughts on "Brightly Woven" by Alexandra Bracken...

Sixteen year old Sydelle lives in a border town plagued by a ten year drought. When a cursed young wizard named North brings rain with his arrival, he asks for Sydelle as his only reward. While claiming her ability to weave made his choice--so she could repair his tattered magical cloaks--they leave the town on the heels of an invasion. In the weeks long journey to reach the Capitol they are hunted by North's archenemy, a dark wizard. Sydelle and North's relationship slowly develops even as she discovers he's been keeping devastating secrets from her. While finding herself, a war and the fate of empires are at stake. Sometimes stability can come from the most unstable of characters, with a little help from a magician.


My favorite part about this book is what Sydelle actually is. I love the idea of a "Jinx" in magical mythology. Someone who is born creating magic, rather than a wizard who would manipulate it. And then I love the costs of that existence.

The book was a bit slow to start. But once I got into it I couldn't put it down. If you've wondered about moods in relation to storms, this book might intrigue you. It's a fun read.

Here's a link if you're interested:


http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Brightly-Woven/Alexandra-Bracken/e/9781606840382/?itm=1&USRI=brighty+woven

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Seers of Light

My thoughts on "Seers of Light" by Jennifer DeLucy

Lillian Hunt is young woman unsure of the reality behind the oddities in her life until a Seer has her retrieved and she finds herself at home among her kind--Sentients. As she learns to control her natural gifts she is confronted with a conflicted romance. While she wants to hate William, it becomes all too difficult not to fall in love with the jaded vampire. And since Christian, a human, despises him the household is always teetering on chaos. Missions for the "family" to use their gifts become more intense. And finally one comes that threatens to tear them all apart forever.



I found the book to be a really good read. In the YA paranormal romance it's difficult to find a romantic relationship that will keep me happily reading for extended periods of time. This book did it for me.

William is a wonderfully written underdog of a character--it's difficult to have a reader believe this when you're working with a vampire. But it came across really well. And Lillian was a strong female protagonist, in spite of all the crying she did--that was a bit annoying. Still, her actions were consistently strong. Keeping with her age, I thought her behavior was true. By the end of the book it is William the reader will love, though. Very well-written character.

I liked how it wasn't a pure vampire story--it was kind of a ghost hunter, paranormal mix. So yeah, overall it was a solid novel. I would recommend it to anyone wanting a romantic plot. The action was entertaining, but the romance made it great.

I included a link to Amazon for the book if you want to check it out:

http://www.amazon.com/Seers-Light-Jennifer-DeLucy/dp/1936305038

Mel

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Going Bovine and My Reviewing Style

I've read "Going Bovine" by Libba Bray twice. For a long time I debated how I wanted to review this book. Not whether I liked it. I could say this is the best YA release of 2009 and call it a day. But this book requires something more than that in a review, and something less than what I've read so far. It's a book that changed so much about me in a hundred tiny little ways. And as we all know, such changes create others in an infinite ripple that moves throughout the world. If this book did that for me, what did it do for others?


An aside for my reviews:

A lot of people give you advice in writing. You have to weed out the bad from the good. I think it's good advice to not publicly state you didn't like an author's book(s) if you're a writer.

But if you're going to say you didn't like a book, I think you should say it to an author's face and be polite about it. And you should have a reason for doing so. I don't like the nagging of dishonesty hovering between the surface. That's not how I work. Of course, if the opportunity to "face" the author isn't a factor, I believe your review should be true to your feelings for the work. Still, you have to keep in mind that you are a professional. Act like one. Your review is your review, not to be influenced by any other source. If everyone else hates the book and you love it, then let your review reflect that love. Recommend it others. If you despise a book that everyone else adores, then don't hold back the loathing--just be clever with how you use your words. That's what distinguishes an amateur from a professional.

So, if I read your book and review it here, I'm going to be honest. This presents an immense challenge for me. It's kind of funny. When I signed up for the debut author challenge I considered this and pushed right on ahead. Now, the time has come for me to begin reviewing these books on my list--I'd planned on June, but now it seems it will be July due to recent traveling. Anyway, as I review each of these books I take a risk. If I review one negatively I might make enemies. An author such as myself cannot afford enemies. That's why I say it's good advice to keep it to yourself if you, as a writer, don't like the book.

But, to hell with it! This is my blog and I'm going to give all of them honest feelings about their books without any influences. That's a gift. Any reviewer who gives a review (without an agenda) has courage. If you're a writer risking your career, it's damn near suicidal but it's a great thing. I'm pointing this out because I wish more reviewers would do so from their hearts, stop following crowds, quit the agenda crap, and experience standing as they voice their truths. Books can being the greatness in us to the surface if we allow it. Reviewing books has the potential to bring out the best and the worst. Look for the great, try to avoid the worst, and maybe you'll be the best at it.

Now, you must be wondering why I put this aside in the middle of a review for "Going Bovine," right? Well, I have a lot of respect for Libba Bray. In fact, I have so much respect for her that I didn't like any pretenses at all. The only contact I've ever had with this author is posting one thing on her facebook wall. Why there? Why not in e-mail or in person? It seems to me I don't ever need to bother her with an e-mail. Likewise, why would I ever bother to meet her? "Going Bovine" may have changed my life, but she's a busy writer. I do, however, believe in not having that uncomfortable partial dishonesty feeling when I praise a book. So, on her facebook wall--months ago--I mentioned something like...while I had read three of her other books and they were not my cup of tea, I thought "Going Bovine" was the best YA release I'd read in a long time. My intention was not to criticize. Rather, I wanted absolute honesty. In my opinion, I gave her the ultimate compliment. Normally, I dismiss an author after three books don't take with me. For a 4th to rock my world...it taught me a lesson--two in fact. That's another post, though. Now I'm laying it all out here so anyone can learn whatever they can from the whole thing.


Back to "Going Bovine"

Every review needs some kind of summary.

Cameron is a slacker, coasting his way through high school and life. When he finds out he's dying, reality blurs. A trip across America ensues with a punk angel telling him he has to save the world She says he can save himself, too. With a hypochondriac dwarf as his sidekick and a yard gnome who claims to be a viking God, they get into one insanely hilarious adventure after another. Each is light enough to just move and keep moving, but on reflection leaves the reader introspective. Reaching the finale is about learning to live. All the fabulous action aside, the finale essentially asks the question "why do we live?" And Cameron's answer is surprisingly satisfying. The final chapter is an explosive beginning--there are two Chapter Ones. The book may, at first glance, appear to be about death, but that's wrong. This is a book about life. Sometimes you have to find the beginning at the end, and life is a crazy road trip to Disney World.


This book is one of those love it or hate it things. Give it a shot. All I know is that I haven't reread a YA book since the Harry Potter series and Twilight saga days. Oh, I have classics. But of recent releases, "Going Bovine" blew me away. If this isn't some sort of quiet phenomenon I would be surprised.

As I mentioned earlier it changed me in so many small ways. I can't help but wonder how it worked on other people. Will future artists, writers, and leaders be shaped by this book? What subtle ways will it change them? Maybe you think I'm silly, but if I'd had this book when I was in high school, I have no idea what would have happened... That I have it now, well, my path is altered.

To a generation that is increasingly disconnected from life, perhaps this book will be an awakening.

Mel

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Kev!

Kevin Costner, I believe!

As the reader, if you can remember a particular April post, you might believe too. ;)

Mel

Sunday, June 6, 2010

May Trip/Part Five: We Are Zoos




Sometimes the Moon is the heart of my soul--cold, distant, beauteous, and so rarely visited that I am ever struck anew by its pull.


18. I felt drawn to the Fort Worth Zoo, as though it held an answer...a key to a creative door. And it did.

We are all zoos. I don't mean that in the typical "we're all crazy" sort of way. It's something I'll have to illustrate.

19. We are the cheetah pacing a track.



Even though everything inside of us tells us we were born for racing across wide open spaces, we keep making circles. Our only entertainment seems to be the tease. But that gets boring too. So some days we just lay hidden in the brush.

20. We are the Asian Elephant who strays from the group, reaching for something different.


Can't you see it?


21. We are the Sun Bear. Just the little grumpy guy who can't stand the noise and the neighbors.


How beautiful they are. When you next look upon your grumpy little neighbor, try to see the Sun Bear in them. But don't look them in the eye. ;)

22. We can be Giraffes.


These creatures are majestic. When we aspire to greatness, when we live in moments of immortality, then we are Giraffes. The world changes. We walk with a different view. There are Giraffes and then there are other creatures. You can kill one, but to become one is a million times more difficult.

23. Sometimes we are the lioness, forced to listen to her son whine about his separation anxiety and housing issues.


See how her claw is just digging into the stone? And her ears... Children are both a blessing and a curse, I suppose.

24. Life will often taunt you, as though you are an alligator in a glass tank adjoining the river otters' tank--and they're feeding the otters.


So a lot of times you'll end up like the alligator, jaw hanging open in front of the glass. Maybe you're hoping an otter will swim right on in, even though you know better. Hope is a b*tch, but otters are sons of b*tches if you're an alligator. Yeah, sure, they look cute...

25. The part of us that is sly, quick, and frightening is as easily mesmerized by its reflection as a King Cobra.


This creature can stand up to six feet. It's lethal. And it merely rested its head there and watched its reflection. Power can be mesmerizing--the deadlier the more so. That is a weakness, perhaps a one flaw, for some of us.

26. A male silverback gorilla is the one person you know who can shame you without saying a word.



He'll turn his back on you, stare you down, or simply pretend you don't exist. It's a perfected look, a gesture, and a style.

No matter what went on behind him, this gorilla ignored it. You could tell he was aware. But he had this expression on his face, like he was contemplating "life, the universe, and everything." To interrupt him was to be rude.

27. We are zoos because in each of us there are a variety of animals in need of conservation, and perhaps, observation.

Take from that what you will.

I will say...sometimes you need to go into the dark building and seek out the King Cobra to really believe it exists. Humans often need to see to believe. Many animals were once thought to be mythical until they were brought to the public.

Perhaps believing in yourself is something like seeking out an animal that's never been documented. The risks are incredible. The adventure is high. And the rewards are infinite.

I can be a giraffe. Can you?



The end. (of the May Trip blog series)


Mel

Thursday, June 3, 2010

June Plans

I am going to do reviews in later June. I'm thinking something like a book review a day, my style. My list is almost complete--all but one, an ARC of "You". So I took a pic with a sub photo as a place-marker. The list comes from an earlier blog post on a challenge entered.



I'll try to get the ARC before then, but if not...that sucks.

Anyway, it should be interesting.

Mel

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Contest and Cont...

Agent Nathan is running an awesome contest. Check it out. Enter! "Rock Paper Tiger" looks mighty interesting.

http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/06/rock-paper-tiger-chaseaction-writing.html



In other news, I will resume the May Trip series with Part 5 in the next few days. Just in case anyone wondered.

Little editor Laura rocks, by the way! I had to say that. I'm so fortunate to know her.

Mel

Monday, May 31, 2010

I Remember You




In honor of Memorial Day.

When we went to see Pelham "the Gallant" in Alabama (http://melskinner.blogspot.com/2010/05/may-trippart-1-insanity-makes-for-fab.html), there were other heroes honored.

Right across from the small car park was the monument you see above. It needed just a bit of cleaning, so we did the best we could with what we had on hand. This Ranger, Dwayne Williams, died during the September 11th attack on the Pentagon. My mother and sister wept as they gently wiped away debris from the polished stone. The heat and the wind worked against us, but we fought until the breeze surrendered.

Our military gives so much. The very least we can do is remember. I think we owe them a hell of a lot more.

We are to recall the fallen on this day. Mine is a military family. We've endured losses in many wars. But out of all my memories, I can’t help thinking of one soldier who is not blood kin and has not fallen.

He worked in the Pentagon, just as Dwayne Williams did. Only this man happened to have an appointment on 9/11. Everyone else in his office went to work. Just a normal morning, as far as any of them could tell.

There were no survivors in that office.

Soon thereafter he contacted someone in the Air Force. In his quest for vengeance against Bin Laden he needed the aid of the best and the best agreed. From what I understand, he put together a team, went overseas, and has been fighting ever since.

I can’t help thinking that wherever he goes he carries the ghosts of that office with him. Though I’ve never seen him in action, he must be great at what he does. He has to be, don’t you see? And on this Memorial Day I wonder how much he suffers the memories of the fallen.

We do what we must, what our souls compel us to do. If we are War, then let us be. War can want Peace and never find her. Indeed, the forces of each are great.





Sometimes the battlefield of life is dark and ominous.




Other times it’s haunted by lost souls.



I once wrote..."I realize now that I walk the edges of a holy battlefield few ever see. The sight has a divine beauty beyond compare. To set foot on this ground you need only give your life in exchange. And then you too can feel the ultimate rush, moments of Heaven on Earth. But beware that I fight for every step. One day, I want to fly right into the fray."

It convinced Mama J that I'm nuts. I already knew that.

In the end, we are all battlefields. Whether you have Peace or War reign is irrelevant.

On this Memorial Day, I remember those who fought and died, whether in battle or in an attack that preceded a war. I respect them.

Most of all, I remember you.


Mel

Sunday, May 30, 2010

May Trip/Part Four: Art Is Key



The sky above a mountain in WV. When in West Virginia, often only the sky can remind you there's a way out.

Note: I made Memorial Day a separate blog post. It seemed the right thing to do.


13. Sometimes a really old painting makes you think of "The Ring." As in, the horror movie...



It's called "Head of a Woman" by Sebastiano Del Piombo. He painted it in the 1530s. Looking at it in person though, I found myself thinking of that video in "The Ring." You know, where Mrs. Morgan is brushing her hair in the mirror and she looks up? Soooo creepy! I kept expecting this chick to look up at any moment. Of course, that would make me the weird little girl, or something. Anyway...

But, that's the mastery of the art, I guess. It's something you have to see for yourself. Like Michelangelo's first painting (see earlier blog post)...you'll be in awe.

14. When I go to see an art collection, I play "Where's Waldo" in my search for unusual watchers in odd scenes. Hybrids are bonus points!



It's supposed to be a "wary dog." I've never seen a dog like that in my life. It's like a dog-cat hybrid or something, and it's wary of the so-called "menacing cat" on the other side of the painting. I had to wonder why. Had the reason to do with hybrid genetics? ;-) So awesome!

The painting is "The Supper at Emmaus" by Jacopo Bassano.

15. There's a cursed scroll at the Kimbell, in the Asian section. At least, that's my opinion.



When I first took this picture of the center of the scroll it reversed itself. I showed two witnesses. Later, it reversed itself again. And I showed two witnesses. Maybe it's a technological glitch? Maybe it's cursed? At times, people say they can see things in the photo.

Note: When I previewed this blog post, it had reversed again. It's upside down. On my computer it's right side up. I'm leaving it alone, even if it stays upside down. Just stand on your head to look at it, or something. Freaky.



Left side of the scroll. I couldn't fit the whole thing into one take with my camera phone. It was the only scroll raised on a table. Difficult.



Right side of the scroll. "Returning From a Visit" by Zhu Derun is a Chinese work created in the mid-fourteenth century. It's said the time was very "traumatic." This is reflected in the Handscroll.

I'm going with beautiful, but cursed.

16. A magical mask that allows the wearer to identify the guilty--including those who cause disasters.

Butterflies all over the world would go down. Wait. Butterfly Effect aside, would it work on other species? Ah, never mind.



So this is a "Diviner's Mask" from Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola. The Yombe people, in the early 20th century had these hella rad ceremonies where past, present, and future events were revealed. A divination specialist would wear a mask like this one, special to each ceremony. This one was used by a specialist looking for the tribe member responsible for a crime, accident, or a disaster. Awesome, right? And scary. Hate to be in their sights. B*itch of day, or night.

17. That night, I had a nightmare that I was affianced to Frederick H. Hemming. In other words, I dreamed I was Mary Anne Bloxam but I had my mind.



I'd seen this painting of her at the Kimbell.



And I read about Thomas Lawrence's--the painter of her portrait--dealings. Somehow, at the end of the day, my subconscious created a historical horror for me.

So there I was in the nightmare, poised to paint porcelain. Ugh. I had an awful fiance who made me sit for a portrait to enhance his status in society. Lawrence didn't really want to paint me, and I had to hear about it. But paint me perfectly he would, 'cause Lawrence had to live up to his name. And he coveted those drawings my fiance is holding over his head, right? Yep.

No options in life. I can paint porcelain, but I can't have achievements like b*itching Lawrence over there. It's "sit pretty" no matter how many hours it takes or how uncomfortable I am. Everything is stuffy, smelly, and constrained. And all I can see is a legacy of plates and a status symbol painting with me faking a smile for Super Lawrence over there.

Ah, here comes my future husband. Looks like it's time to be his arm decoration. Wonderful. Then I wake up. Thank God!

The painting is lovely. I never realized why it bothered me until the next morning.

Great art can touch emotions in the coldest heart. It's simply a matter of finding the key piece. Some people have to wander through a thousand galleries.


Preview of Part 5...



She's not quite a Turkey Vulture. But she's a little editor. :)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

May Trip/Part Three: A Balcony Scene



Mama J says it looks like someone gave this horse a real good kick in the rear. At the time, I just thought it one of the better pieces at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, TX. Now I see it and I laugh.

8. Sometimes one of your cousins gets married and you have to sit through an outdoor wedding--but it has some surprises.



I love surprises at events that would otherwise be hot and uneventful. Who doesn't love an impish little cousin who takes off during the ceremony? The ever-present threat of rain that comes out of nowhere? Oh, and the relatives that just don't fit in and have no particular want to, the same ones who end up at a table together...they were talking sh*t too good to miss. Little Bo Peep would have taken the crook to her black sheep.

But I think what I liked most of all about the general atmosphere of the wedding was the admittedly geekish theme that kept peeking through. Star Wars played into the music and the intros. In what was, otherwise, a very, well, shall we say "upscale" ceremony that tried to look modest, our family's geek showed through. Gotta love that! We are a family of sci-fi, if nothing else.

9. I have a soulmate, and it can never be.

The details of this are a secret, naturally. But when I could I slipped away from the wedding and went to stand on the balcony overlooking a meadow.



There I felt him in the rising wind. I could imagine those stone walls were protecting me, merely keeping me in wait of his return. If I looked across the meadow long enough I could see him riding--but always away. And I forever wished the wind to be at his back. So it was that I willed my spirit to be the wind...the air that guided him, protected him, whispered of enemies unseen.

That's all I can ever be to him.

Every once in a while we cross paths. We live and die in those moments. We're drawn and are thus compelled to be repelled. Time isn't stolen; it's torture and rapture.



Night came. The path to the balcony was lit, as you can see, but the meadow was dark. It took me a little while to adjust. But the wind was there all the time.

When I wander off by myself, people tend to think me strange. Maybe I am. Ah, but to stand on the balcony at night and think of him with the wind in my hair... I think back on it now and my heart aches to return.

I'll remember my cousin's wedding, if only for the balcony scene.

10. If you go to the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas--go early.



You might see something weird or really funny. Take, for example, this picture of Marky Mark. I took one picture in the Alamo Drafthouse. The candle is for orders, and so you can pay in the dark, later. All I was thinking about was taking a pic of the theater...totally random. The place stood empty since we were early. And I got a memorial-looking photo of Mark.

They put on music videos, short documentaries--just funny stuff--before the movie. Even their "shut your phone off" run-through made me laugh. Just show up ahead of time. Food and drinks were novel for me, too. Crazy Austin.

11. Sometimes a crow flies over your head and lands on the van nearby just as you arrive at the Kimbell. So you take a picture. And then you get a little weirded out by the statue in front of the museum when you walk up to it. So you take another picture and compare them later.



The crow.



The statue outside the Kimbell Museum--Fort Worth, TX.


Is it just me or is that trippy? Yeah.

12. I want Peter Paul Rubens' confidence.

There's a quote next to the Oil on Panel I showed in closeup in my last blog post. Rubens once confessed, "My talent is such that no undertaking in size, or how varied in subject, has ever exceeded my confidence and courage.”

I want to be so skilled that I can confess this. So I continue to learn. I write. And I'll never stop. I am a writer or I am a dead writer. If I'm smart and lucky, I'll be a great writer. We'll see.


A preview of Part 4...



Michelangelo's first painting, "The Torment of Saint Anthony." He painted it at age twelve or thirteen. The painting is recently acquired by the Kimbell in Ft. Worth, TX and the first by Michelangelo to enter an American collection.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

May Trip/Part Two: I Walk On Graves




Why would you even build this? I'm calling it the "Suicide Staircase." There must be a purpose, but I don't have the time or inclination to find it. It's kind of funny and I'd thought I would share, anyway.
From my recent visit to the Nutter Center in Dayton, OH.

Disclaimer: Do NOT commit suicide. Do NOT try walking down or off the staircase.

I can't believe I need to put that up. This world we live in.

Part Two...

5. Sometimes you just find a tank randomly parked in Alabama and have to take a picture.

Upon leaving the Alabama graveyard I spotted this:



We'd passed a pitiful looking base (compared to what I'm used to, anyway) a few miles back, so this seemed a little lost. I don't know, maybe you can just own tanks and park them there. If I hadn't been on high alert because of the Titanic sighting of earlier that day, I might have missed this gem.

6. I'm descended from royalty--one of the Henrys--and I know this because my mother is a genealogist who is fascinated with all our dead relatives. I should also mention I'm related to at least one historically notorious killer and quite a few criminals.

It's kind of funny because the elderly living relatives don't like to talk about the shameful parts of the family tree. They'll hush you if you bring up, well, even the horse thief our Great Aunt impulsively chose to marry. I just giggle behind my hand as my mom's crowd tells the rest of the tale. You know, how Great Auntie waited until her hubby was hung, moved to a new area, and got her a different man? Yep.

Before heading into Austin, we stopped in a tiny Texas town to take pictures of graves in the family tree. One stood out to me. You see, graves that old in this graveyard were little more than weathered chunks of rock. Mom looked so hopeless. And then, there he was...there they all were. Our family's heritage had been preserved for pictures:




I had acquired burs at that point--not the famous family that sounds similar--so I was relieved. Now I'm a bit sarcastic, as you can see. Apparently, there were so many of the Tullous boys that they formed a whole unit/division(word?) of the Calvary when they joined the C.S.A. during the Civil War. I can only imagine that much of my family in a Calvary charge. Ah, the stories I could have written.


7. On the way to Austin, there are a lot of big, eccentric ranchers and one of them owns a gazelle.

Like the Titanic, my shock was too great for a picture. Then again, there are rich people who have rare animals at their houses, right? Maybe gazelles aren't really rare, just unusual. It's a rather random choice, though. And you'd think it would be difficult to contain...

The mysteries of that drive still confound me. Heck, maybe they just like to have safaris on their property.




A preview of what's to come in Part 3...



A close-up of "The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula and the Eleven Thousand Maidens" by Peter Paul Rubens.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May Trip/Part 1: Insanity Makes for Fab



Don't Giraffes seem...majestic? I watched them for some time. I went to the zoo with them in mind. Thought I should start this blog series with that pic and thought.
Fort Worth Zoo, TX.


I'm going to list some of the highlights of my insanely fabulous trip in chronological order with pics. This will have to be broken up in parts because so many incidents came up.


1. In Kentucky I experienced the sci-fi movie feel of sitting on the interstate in my parked car and watching people behave...strangely.

I couldn't see anything except vehicles lined up in both directions. There was no sign of an accident. No news. And after keeping the car on for so long in park, we had to turn it off. The heat became stifling. Though I rolled down the windows, it made me nervous considering the surroundings. I didn't allow anyone in our car to get out, under the circumstances.

During our sitting, some people within my sight got out. Some people came running down the interstate in packs or simply strolled there. Some just wandered around as if lost. Some chatted, leaning idly against their vehicles. I saw a guy exchanging CDs with a stranger. Another guy drove off into the bushes. One lady did a wild maneuver with her car to get it between two parked trucks, across the medium, and moving in the opposite direction. Only one motorcycle passed by, and at a leisurely pace.



(I didn't want to black out faces and tags, so this is one photo with enough weirdness to prove the point.)

After so much oddness and as the time stretched on, the writer in me began to wonder about scenarios beyond accidents. I joked with my companions about zombies, alien invasions, the Apocalypse, and what plan we would follow in each case...how we would survive. Then I had someone call and find out the truth--massive accident, miles down the road.

Still, I've never seen people act that way on the interstate. Fascinating.

2. In the middle of a small town in Alabama, someone has a gigantic blowup float of the Titanic sinking into the ocean in their yard.

We drove by on the way to see a Civil War graveyard where John Pelham is buried. The GPS took us by on this random road and I was like, "What the...? Is that the Titanic sinking? And why are those people leading their horses around it?" But there wasn't time to take a picture in my shock. Yeah, someone in Alabama has a huge blowup float of the Titanic half-sunk into the yard with the ocean waving around it and everything. It towers. I guess those people just happened to be leading their horses around at that time. Who knows?

3. I stood on a shabby brick wall over a busy road to take a cool picture of Pelham "the Gallant," or his grave, anyway.

One shot with the camera phone. I only took pictures of things that I thought were worth my time and I had time to take pics of. Lately I've been so different, so into the rush and ready to go. I'm old enough to know the consequences and I don't care. Awake and alive. It's kind of funny when I think about taking pictures in graveyards.



4. Louisiana is a state for street racing and survival driving.

Disclaimer: I do NOT suggest breaking any laws. You might die or end up in jail, etc.

But I have to say that my trip through Louisiana was an experience in racing and survival driving. I LOVE that state! Everyone drove 20 over the speed limit, at minimum, except for the occasional people considered by the majority to be obstacles in a game. The interstates in the day have hella awesome views. The roads are thrills like roller-coasters to maneuver on. At night, I came upon teams of racers who sometimes put on shows of their skills. Other times I got to race with a pack. And the bridges...oh, yeah!

Due to the adapt or die mentality I experienced in Louisiana, my driving in extreme situations has improved dramatically. I'm also a lot more confident in my abilities. I always thought when I go to Los Angeles, CA, I would just hire someone to drive for me. Now I'm cool with the idea of driving there. It's a step thing, I guess.

The one pic I got of Louisiana happened on the other side of New Orleans. I thought to get a shot of the water with my phone. At that point I'd adapted to flying down the road with everyone else. The cops went twenty above the fastest cars. As far as I could tell they only pulled over suspicious cargo vehicles, etc. Speeders would've had to go to overly obvious suicidal lengths to get their attention.



Though I didn't know it, a cop had shot up on my rear as I went to take the pic. I moved into the right lane soon after and he passed me. But you can just see his car in the rear-view mirror in this pic.



Mel

To be continued in Part 2...

Friday, April 30, 2010

Traveling In May

I'm writing out the new ending. It's late in the game and that makes me nervous--not the plot but my writing of it. So I have to move my schedule back. Yeah, frustration.

I guess I'm anxious to prove something to myself and tired of the effort. Yet, I will never stop. I suppose that's just another definition of insanity.

Anyway, I'm getting ready to spend most of May in the south, with Texas being my longest stay of the month. There will be no rest, but I'm not unhappy.


The end is awesome, or it will be once it's polished. Oh, and the query letter is coming along.

I will probably post some book reviews in June. Thinking of doing a two week set where every day is a different book...

There's always so much to do and so little time.

Mel

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Random Beliefs and Advice

So I was thinking--dangerous habit, of course--and I decided to make a blog post of it. Here are some random things I believe...

1. Celebrities are like disreputable unicorns.

Everyone wants to see a celebrity, to know one, etc. But most everyone knows they are flawed. And if you didn't know, once you do come across one of these rare creatures, you can certainly see it for yourself by a little exposure.

So to my mind, this is what celebrities are best compared to. It makes me laugh.

However, the same rules still apply. Moving on to my next belief then...

2. If you know any celebrities, you keep it a secret.

Even a disreputable unicorn must not be spoken of or they'll go away. And I, for one, like being able to find them when I need to.

My advice to anyone who is new to the game and knows very little about connections--keep quiet. Use them only when you absolutely have to...and I mean last resort. No one likes to have a favor called in or to be called upon.

Moving on from individuals to the general public…

3. To be a celebrity is to trade privacy for publicity, but this contract does not take away their rights as human beings.

Anyone entering into the entertainment industry signs an invisible contract that trades their privacy for potential publicity. Nothing is fair in life, and you are a fool if you do not understand all of this going in. I have no pity for people being followed around by cameras. If they want out, quit, and it will fizzle away--I've seen proof.

On the other hand, celebrities are human and have rights. No one needs to be in their house, taking pictures of them in the bathroom, etc. I consider these basic rights and common decency. But if you walk around naked outside or don't buy curtains, well, that's your problem.


4. Published writers of fiction should not publicly speak of their political views.

It seems wrong to me to use whatever influence you have outside of your realm. How do you know you're right or wrong? Pushing people towards a certain way to govern themselves, basically, or toward a politician who will run their lives, is an act of great responsibility.

Who are we as novelist to dabble in politics? What trouble might we inadvertently cause?

If you are a political writer, that's something else. You know what you are getting into from the start. But for anyone published in fiction to intentionally push politics seems unwise to me.

I understand writing to be controversial and all of that. What makes me uneasy is the intent and the uncertainty of the result. My advice, for what it's worth, is to be aware of that uncertainty if you are carrying political intent around.

Oh, and if you think you are being subtle with politics in your plot or your statements online--it's NEVER subtle.

5. Determination and personality are key to publication.

Recently, I've seen some books be picked up from submissions that truly deserved it, and some that shocked me--in a "why?" way. They all have two things in common...the authors have determination and personality in abundance. They established a presence online, in their own little nooks. For a few years now, they've been around.

So, I thought about it. I have the determination. My personality still needs work. I'll get there, though.

6. People should be more aware.

The more aware you are of what is going on around you, the greater your chances of survival. It’s quite simple. In life, in publishing, it is a principle that transcends.

Mel

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sarah Wylie's Contest

In celebration of the sale and soon-to-be-published status of her book "All These Lives," Sarah Wylie is having a great contest for writers. Among the prizes are a lunch date with The Query Shark and Suzie Townsend.

Check it out:

http://sarahwithachance.blogspot.com/2010/04/something-fun-and-celebratory.html


Mel

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Cocktail Party Prank

The cocktail party is going great. Until...

Some dude brings up Japanese Cinema. And this Chick turns to John O'Lasseter to say, "I never could get into the whole Miyazaki thing."

Well, O'Lasseter's jaw drops, allowing his drink to run out of his mouth and down his shirt. His assistant quickly helps him clean up. The rest of the group is pale and still.

"What?" Chick says, in all seriousness. Or so they think.

His righteous flames of fury grow more intense as an intern chuckles behind him. "Miya--" O'Lasseter begins, only to be interrupted.

"--I didn't know you watched his sh*t Mr. Lasseter." Her voice seems to silence the whole room.

A purple O'Lasseter opens his mouth to speak or yell, roughly handing his drink off to his assistant.

But she's too quick. Just before she turns on her stilettos and heads for the Ladies' Room, she leaves everyone with an ironically airy, "I've gotta take a dump."

John starts to cough, his eyes bulging in his head as she passes from sight.



They say she never came out of the bathroom. An intern who went in looking for her a half hour later still says she just disappeared. And like White House visitors, no one really took note of who the extra guest happened to be.

So to this day nobody knows who took a dump on John O'Lasseter and got away with it.



I wonder if this joke/prank has ever actually happened to someone.





Note: For the record, I love the works of Hayao Miyazaki. I just thought I should clarify that. Oh, and "Ponyo" rocks!