Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of my bloggers!

Wishing that every one of you may feel God's love as wonderfully as I do this holiday season! So many kind words from so many people whose faces I don't know have been left on my blog in the past few months... you have no idea how much it means to me that our story is bringing smiles and excitement to people we don't even know. I hope to share more of it very soon - just 24 days (and a honeymoon!) before I settle into a new normal and get back to regular blogging!

Monday, December 16, 2013

OUAT 3.11 "Going Home"

Oh this show breaks my heart.

I loved this episode but I cried actual tears. Man.

Still, it's a great set-up for the second half of the season.


I love how both Regina and Gold completed their cycles of redemption.

I HATED that they killed Gold. I'm actually not sure whether he's gone for good or not though. I could believe either way. I hope we get some decent Belle follow-up though, because Emilie de Ravin's reactions were fantastic.

I also HATED that Neal was once again separated from Emma and Henry. However I do love that Emma and Henry got one normal happy year together regardless of what comes.

I loved how Regina redeemed herself. It was perfect, and I really hope it stays when she goes back to the Enchanted Forest and she doesn't like loose all her memories of what happened and turn evil again. That's not super likely though, since Hook obviously remembered everything when he showed up at Emma's door. Which was lame. It should have been Neal.. But whatever. (Shippers can ship whatever they want, I now ship Hook/Tink, but we'll see).

I've got my heart set on a Snowing baby in the spring.

Not sure what to think about the Wicked Witch of the West being the next big baddie, but it wasn't much of a surprise. (Would it be terrible to have a villain that was NOT sexy? Seriously. It's getting a little predictable.)

Ready for Robin and Regina to meet, and to see Aurora, Phillip and Mulan again. Plus it looks like Storybrooke is coming to the middle of the Enchanted Forest? Looks like it won't be goodbye for long... unless you count three months until we get another episode as long which I certainly do!!!!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Shower Snapshots

In the space of one week I was thrown two bridal showers, drove across two states and back, and celebrated Thanksgiving with Nathan's family. It was intense but so wonderful!

From the shower thrown by my aunts - me and my girls! R-L, Sister, Sister-in-law-to-be, and Sister by mutual adoption. (all bridesmaids, but only 3 of the 6!)

Tea time! Both showers were tea parties, but very very different! For shower #1, my cousin brought her mom and grandmother's teacup collections to serve everyone their tea of choice in!

So much good food, and so much of it gluten free! In heaven!

Alas, I don't have such a good picture of the food spread at shower #2, but it was also amazing! My mother-in-law (to be!) pulled together an amazing and very authentic Victorian tea. It was fantastic.

Bridal showers are usually for the ladies, but since I knew so few of Nathan's extended family, I was glad to have him around! He regaled us all with the story of how he and I met, and then helped me open gifts and helped me connected faces with names.

And now I'm back home, just in time to enjoy another snowstorm. Hopefully all this weather will blow itself out by January 17th...!!!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Holidays! Wedding! Doctor Who!

Some thoughts

  • "The Day of the Doctor" rocked. It needs a full review, but I need to watch "An Adventure in Space and Time" So I can comment on the 50th as a whole...
  • ... because the 50th isn't just the one special, it's also the docudrama mentioned above, the radio drama (which sadly I have no way to experience) AND the amazing spoof "The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot" which is probably the most fantastic thing ever for a Whovian and Go Watch It Now.
  • First official holiday with the In-Laws-To-Be is this weekend and so I'm going to be away from the blog for a bit. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
  • My mother-in-law-to-be surprised me by driving in from two states away to attend my wedding shower this weekend.
  • My aunts, cousin and sister threw me an absolutely amazing shower, complete with miniature china teacups and tons of gluten-free goodness.
  • I was surrounded by the love of 30 women in person and more in spirit who God has placed as blessings in my life. The presents were amazing, but even more wonderful is the fact that I will be reminded of this love every time I see one of their gifts.
  • I'm trying to get as many thank yous done before I leave tomorrow morning... and pack... and, gosh, so many other things. Getting married is crazy and wonderful and there's only 51 days until I get to marry Nathan... I hope I can stay sane until then! 

Friday, November 22, 2013


I just finished reading this book called "Moloka'i" by Alan Brennert. It tells the story of young Rachel, a girl who is diagnosed with leprosy in Hawaii in the late 1800's. Though just five years old, she is torn from her family and sent to the leper settlement on the island of Molokai to live out the rest of her life.

But rather than give into death, the inhabitants of Moloka'i and their caretakers choose to celebrate life, strive after a cure, and look past the deformities of the body to the realities of the soul. Rachel grows up and wrestles with questions of religion, sexuality and family just as all humans do, in a rapidly changing world.

The discovery of this book was the result of a church rummage sale, and I've had it floating around my room for a few months. Although it was a New York Times Bestseller, I'd never heard of it before, but the premise was interesting, and I was curious to learn more about Hawaii's history. Although this is set after the death of Father Damian, his legacy is imprinted on the island, and Mother Marianne is a character in the book. Brennert does a superb job of writing respectful portrayals of the different religious backgrounds of all his characters - Catholic, Protestant, Morman, Hawaiian, and Buddist. 

Life in the midst of death also means the creation of life, and leprosy doesn't bar the characters from having normal sexual lives. However there are a few scenes that make this book only suitable for adult readers. There is also a plotline involving a transgender character, which at first may seem an odd interjection, but in it's resolution you understand why it was an important part of telling a story of a leper colony. 

Looking for a good book to read over Christmas break? I'd recommend this one.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sound of a Bridal Entrance

Who knew picking the right music was going to be so hard? Or that I would be so picky? Everything else about the wedding has come together fairly easily, but choosing the bridal entrance music is just about giving me a headache. I have this nagging feeling that there is a piece of music I'm forgetting that would be absolutely perfect. The problem is I have no clue what it could be. It's driving me nuts!

We've picked some of the pieces though, I'm just a little stressed because I have to get the selections to our musicians soon so that they can practice.

I'm not a huge fan of the traditional bridal entrance selections, but I also don't like any of the non-traditional stuff either. I keep going "that's nice, but..." and there's always a reason why I'm not sold on it. Which makes me feel really picky. I can't visualize myself walking down the aisle to anything I've listened to so far. People have been giving me suggestions too, but honestly hearing "I saw this at a wedding once!" doesn't do wonders for my individualistic tendencies. Which is lame because I really do appreciate help!

I wonder if part of this is because I'm so visually and kinetically wired. Audio is harder for me to process, and I most appreciate music that I have an emotional connection to via story or culture (I like ethnic instrumentals better than traditional classical). Unfortunately, picking something with lyrics isn't going to work for the wedding we have planned. And the movie scores I like are - well, a little too dramatic/foreboding/sad for a happy wedding day!

So yeah, that's what this bride-to-be is going through today. I'll get back to broadcasting some nice tv reviews soon.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Snowstorm Stories

 The first snowstorm of the year hit us Tuesday night. Thanks to my weather app on my new phone I was able to track the progress all day, but although the start time moved from 3 to 7, and the number of estimated inches dropped from 4-6 to 3-5, I knew it was still going to be more stress than it was worth to drive myself to my premarital counseling appointment.

Thankfully the timing was such that Nathan could drive out, eat supper with me, and we could go into the appointment together, and my father graciously agreed to come pick me up afterwards. We set off and the snow was coming down, but although Nathan had to drive carefully, it wasn't extremely scary. The roads were snowy, but not slick.

We got to our appointment, delved into stuff with our Pastor, and then I got a text from my Dad. Our power had gone out! The county electric was working on it, but there was no telling when we were going to have heat, light or running water again.

So I got home and my sister was practically buzzing with excitement as she ran around lighting candles. Normally lighting candles in our bedrooms is verboten, but now we got to light as many as we needed. We just had to be careful. Thankfully I had quite a nice stash of pretty safe candles that we were able to set up.

Thanks to my new phone, I was able to take pictures of the cool ambiance and upload them to the internet right away. Which was bizarre, to say the least!

However before I had a chance to start straining my eyes reading in the low light, the power came back on. It was still a bit chilly, but at least we could flush the toilet!

It was all pretty worth it though when I woke up the next morning to a gorgeous winter wonderland outside my window.

Even for this far north, it's really unusual to get snow this early. Even more unusual for it to stay, and there was still snow on the ground when the sun set today, almost 48 hours after it had started. I'm a little worried about what this means for the rest of the winter, but at least after I get through the next 70 days I won't have to worry about driving through bad weather to see Nathan!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Self - Congratulations on a New Phone

So I got a new phone. I feel like I should say "I'm finally in the 21st Century!" but considering that we're already 13 years into the century and how phones have progressed during that time, it would hardly convey exactly how awesome my phone is.

It's not an iPhone. I'm one of those people for whom Apple software just does not work intuitively. When I've been on Macs or iPhones I get so confused. I've finally trained the older members of my family to go to my other siblings (who have ipads, phones and macbooks) for Apple help. I'm a Windows girl.

Not to mention that fiance has had a Windows phone that I've been able to test drive, and the overall functionality and the navigational system had me very impressed. So it was important when we were figuring out our phone plans that we pick something that had a Windows option. We both went with the Nokia Lumia 521, which is a lower end phone (just $99 at Wal-Mart right now). The downside is that it doesn't have a great camera (neither in pixels or forwards facing), but otherwise it works really well, and even the camera is such a step up from what I was working with that it's pretty awesome for me.

Amazon picture looks almost like my phone - my layout is teal.
And it was important to get a cheaper phone, because we were switching to T-Mobile's $30 a month unlimited Text&Web plan. T-Mobile has decent coverage in our area, and neither of us are big phone talkers (deaf here! Engaged to a deaf girl there!) so the 100 minutes of talk that come with the plan are plenty for us. I know there are going to be times when I miss Verizon's coverage, but paying twice as much per month simply was not a good option for us (and would still be less data than the T-Mobile plan). So far I've found the T-Mobile data to be very fast, although we've had a couple times when texts were delayed or lost... but we think that was weather related.

Of course, having the same phone has been a bit confusing, but I just got a cool case for mine. It's not a super heavy-duty rubber one, but then it's not a fragile Apple phone that needs the protecting. It's a $7.50 soft plastic case I got from Amazon. It's cheap, but it's what I need right now and it's very pretty. The soft plastic had me concerned at first, but then my sister pointed out that it would better absorb any impacts, so that works in it's favor after all.

So we'll see how I feel after I've had the phone and the plan a year, but overall I'm pretty optimistic about the cellular situation. (and I LOVE LOVE LOVE being able to access the internet anywhere.)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

House of Hades

I've not written about the Percy Jackson books since my initial review of the series. However since then I've reread most of it, and of course dived into the sequel series. For the most part I like the sequel series better. I think it's more interesting, with more depth, and c'mon, the books are awesomely large! It's also been fun to get to know some more diverse characters in the demigod ranks, particularily Leo, Hazel and Frank. Piper and Jason are kind of awesome too, although their characters are still being fleshed out.

Character fleshing out is actually one of the biggest strengths of "House of Hades." Every single character has their 'big moment' of testing and trials that reveals new truths about them and helps them (literally, in one case) grow. Frank and Hazel especially reveal that they are forces to be reckoned with.

I remain in awe of Riorden's ability to include new Greek (and now Roman) myths in each installment. I can't imagine the time he must spend researching in addition to all that writing. Every inclusion so far has fit the story's needs perfectly. I was glad to see the return of Calypso, and surprised and delighted by the return of Titan Bob, a character almost forgotten but now back with a purpose.

But the best part is the humor woven expertly even through the darkest of times. It's never quite so over the top that you can't believe it. The cast of characters know the truth that there is nothing more powerful for defeating the darkness than laughter and love, and they use both weapons with gusto. Evil takes itself too seriously, but we grow stronger when we can see our own weaknesses and laugh at them while playing to our strengths.

Speaking of Love, the love god, Cupid, finally makes an appearance in a scene that is probably the most divisive in the fandom yet, as Nico di Angelo reveals his hidden love for Percy. I was a little surprised, but not shocked. We're in the realm of greek gods, after all, and their exploits contain quite a bit of this sort of thing. Not to mention that the whole series revolves around illegitimate children. Conservative families will perhaps be less than happy with this inclusion, but I do feel that it is keeping in line with the themes of Greek mythology expressed so far, and that Nico's suffering and chastity display the situation as Christian morality dictates... so it's actually one of those places where you find a good discussion starter. The sequel series has definitely been darker in tone and directed towards an older audience than the original books.

I wouldn't quite give this book five stars, but it comes close, doing just as well as the previous two books in telling a good tale and balancing (just barely!) the large cast of characters and introducing more and more levels of Greek mythology along the way.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

OUAT 3.5 - "Good Form"

Spoiler alert

Let's talk about the title.

Captain Hook is known for being a little obsessed about 'form.' Good form. Bad form. It indicates that, in the original play, at least, he came from a background where there was a code of honor. "Once Upon a Time" tries to pay homage to that, and gets it half right.

"Good Form" is the story of Killian Jones, an honest sailor from the land of the Enchanted Forest. For king and country he sails under the command of his brother to the second star to the right and arrives in Neverland. Only once there, they find that the king's command is not for honor, but deceit, and Killian loses his brother due to a certain Pan witholding some important information.

So what does Killian do? Why turn Pirate of course! "At least there is honor among thieves!" he declares.

And that's where OUAT fails. We all know the saying "No honor among thieves", and Killian's declaration would work had the story in any way taken the cliche theme and proved it to be untrue, thus explaining why his words are the opposite of the cliche. On the contrary, just last Thursday on their sister show (Once Upon a Time in Wonderland) the theme was that you are a thief if you steal for yourself, but if you do have honor and steal only to make a better life for others, you are not actually a thief. Still a problematic statement, but not as problematic as Killian's.

Which is a real shame because it was a really good backstory up until then, especially when bookended by an even better present-time storyline, with Hook indeed choosing good form by saving David.

But there's still a lack of logic. Killian is a "good man" with "good form" but he's also a 'bad pirate boy.' It's confusing. Is he good, or is he bad? Why turn pirate in the first place? Why not confront the king? Declare the truth to the people? Killian's decision to turn pirate is not at all good form, but rather the actions of a selfish coward... which is not, I think, what the writers are intending with this episode!

Well. Time will tell. Because Killian now has the choice whether to do the right thing and tell Emma that Neal is alive... or hide the truth and continue winning her for himself.

I liked this episode. I found Killian sympathetic, and I enjoyed the plot. It just doesn't hold up under scrutiny, which is a shame. Regina and Rumple were really well done villains with strong motivation... but it feels like the writers cant quite decide what they want to do with Killian Jones/alias Captain Hook.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

All hail the baby prince!

It's an ittle widdle prince! And isn't he a cutie? Already getting tons of personality that we can finally see in his official Christening pictures. Check out more of them here.

When given the choice, I would always rather link to and share official pictures released by the families themselves than anything taken by papparazzi (unless it's from a clearly designated media event, like the Royal Wedding or a press conference). So delighted that they are releasing these lovely photos.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What's YOUR Social Media?

I've been around on the internet for a long time. My first foray was onto hotmail, and I had an aol chat account, and got inducted into the land of "forums" back in 2005. Some of you will be going *gasp* "she's ancient!" and others will shake their heads and go "young whippersnapper."

Anyhow, the point is, I've seen a lot of social media come and go. I never got into MySpace because it just didn't appeal to me. However, I was in college when Facebook was just beginning and I was in love with it immediately. I liked how streamlined it was, how easy it was to find friends, how you could share pictures and updates and keep in touch with people across the country without sending everyone long detailed e-mails every week. Or, even, you know, short e-mails. There's a lot of people to keep in touch with! And photos still don't e-mail well.

I remember coming home from school and telling my friends "You guys. Facebook is awesome. It's going to be the next big thing. You've GOT to get it." Some of them were really funny and resisted and didn't get it until everyone and their grandmother had it... actually my grandmother got it before most other people's grandmothers got it. I guess being technologically ahead of the curve could be genetic for me... One time one of my cousins was in class and the prof asked "whose parents have facebook?" and everyone but my cousin raised their hand. Then the prof asked "whose grandparents have facebook?" and everyone's hand went down but my cousin's went up!

Facebook might tick us off with it's periodic changes and the every shifting privacy settings, but let's be honest. It's kind of been a brilliant thing. And if something works... why would I feel the need to go somewhere else? Which is why I never got into Google+. I do think Google+ has some features (like their hangouts) that are worthwhile, but I haven't needed them enough to add something else to my internet presence.

I did try twitter. I really did. But honestly hashtags weird me out. To this day I still can't figure out who is saying what and who is replying and to whom in a twitter post. I try, but usually I have to read it three times. And if it takes three tries to read 144 characters and understand who is speaking to whom... well it's not for me.

On the other hand, I absolutely adore tumblr. Okay the social justice warriors and the potty mouths get old, but it's one big happy fandom most of the time and it's been a really fun way to share and discuss and discover everything I love, from Doctor Who to Downton Abbey. The format was crazy to try and understand until I actually got an account and discovered... THE DASHBOARD. Which is like the best thing ever. Just saying.

I resisted Pinterest. I really did. But I finally caved and while I don't get over there every day as I do tumblr and facebook, It's fun to poke around and get inspiration on.

And then there is this blog. Guys, I love Blogger. I know some people love Wordpress, and that's cool, but I love having it tied into all of my Google stuff already. Because I sort of have a love affair with Google that dates back to my first gmail address in 2005, back when you still had to get invites for it.

I haven't gotten into Instagram. I don't really have a phone that's compatible with it yet, and I prefer to do my own photo editing anyhow.

Social Media is tied into everything we view nowadays, and I've deliberately disconnected it from my yahoo browsing because honestly Facebook doesn't need to know every article I decide to read. (I link to all the good ones myself). Yes, that's my dark secret. I'm one of those people keeping Yahoo alive. I don't use it to search, or even for e-mail nowadays... but it's somehow, weirdly, become my world news homepage. Shhh! Don't tell anyone!

So anyhow. That's me, as defined by social media choices. What does your picture look like?

Monday, October 21, 2013

OUAT 3.4 - "Nasty Habits"



Was it just me or was this episode a bit of a letdown? It seemed to just recover territory we've been over before... more than once. The actor who plays young Bae is quickly growing too old to pass as younger than the Bae who went through the portal, so hopefully this is the last time he'll appear in the Enchanted Forest (although I'm sure we'll get more Neverland Bae - hope so, at least!).

We know all about his relationship with his father, and this episode doesn't really give us anything new, other than *surprise* Peter Pan's history with Rumple and Bae goes back further than we guessed. And he's also the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Well. Actually that bit was the best part of the episode. It set up a nice backstory for Peter, and gave us a clue as to what is wrong with the magic of Neverland.

The other highlight of the episode was - briefly - seeing Neal and Rumple working together. It's nice seeing how competent Neal really is and definitely wonderful to see how determined he is to be a good father.

As much as I like Belle, her vision scenes are another redundancy. We've seen these conversations before. I know they're trying to keep her in the show because she's such a fan favorite character, but fans are going to get bored fast with her saying a variation on the same lines every time we see her onscreen.

Hook is growing on me, and I'm looking forwards to getting more about his backstory next week. Not so excited to see Henry falling under Pan's spell... the last scene was incredibly creepy.

Like many other fans, I don't believe "undoing" necessarily means "death" and really was hoping that Neal would point this out. There's also plenty of ways that someone other than Henry could be "the boy" in question. It could very well also be Peter.

Not nearly enough Emma in this episode. *sigh* her one decent scene was great though. Same goes for Regina. She only got about two lines, but they were real zingers.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Flowers, Words and the Internet

I'm feeling a little less stressed about wedding stuff today. My mom and I visited a florist on Thursday and contrary to our expectations, she gave us very reasonable pricing. Which is a huge relief because if the quote had been any higher we would have had to go the route of buying flowers in bulk and making our own arrangements, which would have been doable but added a lot of stress to the wedding week. And we're all about keeping stress down, because of how much it impacts my health.

I also think I have the centerpieces figured out! They will be some work, but I can start them any time and they'll be very elegant and economical. What are they? You'll have to wait for the wedding pictures to see... (I promise I'll share some).

We're also in the process of figuring out our photographer and cupcake maker. Hopefully none of that gets too complicated...!!!

Meanwhile today, being Friday, is another writing day for me. "The Mermaid and the Unicorn" is currently at just under 35,000 words... lets see how many I can write today! I had a bit of a drive from my doctor's over to the coffee shop where my writing trio is meeting this week and had plenty of time to think about different characters in this book. My main girl is one of those people who is an extremely good person - so writing her to fit this image but still be realistic, relateable and interesting is a challenge... but a really good challenge that is growing me as a writer.

I'm so thankful for the internet. Being able to look things up on the internet like the average temperature of Paris in February, or a map of the Louvre is invaluable. Okay, to get a map of the Louvre in English I had to turn to my sister who was there two years ago, but otherwise the internet is quite helpful. I've also found "Stuff Parisians Like" to be a good (but very tongue in cheek!) peek into what contemporary Parisian life is like and what cultural expectations might be different from American ones, or even the rest of France.

I've been pinning some (spoiler free) inspirational images and helpful links over at my M&U Pinterest Board. If you're curious to see what this book holds besides mermaids, nuns and a unicorn, you might want to check it out!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

OUAT 3.3 - "Quite a Common Fairy"

Hi. Let's talk Tinker Bell. Or rather, the fairy called Tinker Bell that appeared in this episode, but didn't have a whole lot other than looks in common with Disney's iconic pixie.

Spoilers Ahoy.

Don't misunderstand me, I really liked this episode (which I'll discuss at further length below). I'm just continuing to be annoyed by the show's decision to portray every single Neverland resident completely opposite to their canon selves. Pan is evil, Hook is selfish but sexy and working with the good guys, Tinker Bell is non-sassy looking for the best and genuinely wanting to help bring true love...

It's like we went through a looking glass to a reverse world. All I can say is, they had better have a really good explanation for why our world has such a different concept of what these characters are like, otherwise I'm going to remain extremely ticked. (I'll still be slightly annoyed, but at least it'll make sense, rather than just seeming like willy-nilly writing, since all of the Enchanted Forest characters are reasonably close in personality to the characters we've all grown up with).

But what are the good points of this episode? Some really wonderful Regina stuff. Her backstory never fails to bring some new riches, and in addition to seeing once again my favorite of her dresses, we also got to see her make another move towards redemption. She acknowledged that she made the wrong choice so many years ago, and her words of wisdom to Tink seem less like manipulation and more like truth than we've heard from Regina in a long time.

We also know that there is a true love waiting for her, if they ever end up in the same world again... who would have guessed it was Robin Hood? (well other than seeing his familiar haircut in the tavern and knowing right away). Unusual, but full of potential!

And can we gush over how adorable Roland was? I love that they're giving Robin a chance to be a father (although alas, Marian!!!), and I have a lot of hope for future adventures with his Merry Men and Mulan! Even though it's at the cost of Mulan's heart breaking. Hopefully at some point we'll get to see Aurora and Phillip return with their baby in tow.

Right now, however, I am most interested in seeing the reunion between Emma, Neal and Henry, plus of course more Rumplestiltskin scenes, and a look at what is going on back in Storybrooke!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Keeping up, Numbers, and DISHES

Life just doesn't get any less busy.

I seriously meant to keep up with blogging about all of the shows this year - and I still will do a lot of reviews, but I just have to accept with so much good TV around, I may not be able to write about every single episode of every show I love.

I have been putting a lot more time into my business, with my new desk and commission process making it a lot easier to stay on top of things. I also have a new assistant that I've been training in.

Then there has been writing happening - I've been trying to get about 2000 words a week, and it is working so far. Got to get "The Mermaid and the Unicorn" into your hands ASAP!

I love our dishes! So does Nathan!
And of course there's also the wedding. I've been getting back RSVP cards which has been really fun... I keep track of everything in a spreadsheet which has made life a lot easier. We even got something more momentous this week... our first wedding gifts! Plates and bowls (Pier 1 Imports) that we had a lot of fun unwrapping. We both are really happy with the pattern we picked. Italian country is my favorite kitchen/dining room design, and I feel that these plates really fall into that aesthetic.

We're also hunting down a photographer, and this week my mother and I meet with the florist. Then I'm trying to find the right shade of guava lace to add to the bridesmaid dresses... fun and intense all at once.

94 days seems so long when I think of how badly I just want to be married. But it seems pretty short when I consider how much there is still to do to prepare for the wedding!!!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Agents of SHIELD - 1.3

Well, it got better.

Actually, it got a lot better. Most of my concerns from last were answered. Though the show still has some work to do, it drastically improved on all counts - character, plot, dialogue, humor, and Marvel-tie in.

Spoilers to follow.

I found Skye intriguing this time around. I actually liked Ward. Fitz and Simmons made me laugh. The opening sequence was pretty epic. The moral question was - well, a moral question that we can all consider even in a non-superhuman world. And Dr. Franklin Hall had the type of origin story I like best - conscientious person tries to do something great that turns disastrous... and although I had to learn this later on tumblr, Graviton is a comic canon villain, so we are finally getting some more solid tie-ins with the familiar Marvel Universe.

And Malta. I love Malta! They went to Malta!

"It used to be muscle memory." I'm pretty sure Coulson is a robot now. I liked that theory back when the fans were throwing it around as a way Coulson could be saved, and I love it now that the show seems to be backing up. Of course it could be a big switcheroo, but either way it should be interesting.

And who is Skye really working for? This episode had solid evidence for both sides...

Friday, October 4, 2013


I sometimes feel like I'm not getting enough done. Not sewing enough. Not writing fast enough. Not doing enough blog posts. Not spending enough time with friends. Not getting the photographer for the wedding and the centerpieces and the programs and the music and -

And then I stop and think - wow, I've got a lot of balls up in the air. And you know what? I'm keeping them afloat. Maybe not as high and fast as I'd like, but I'd rather have all the balls than give one up. And being able to juggle even one ball successfully was a major feat for me two years ago. To be able to manage a business, a book, a family, a fiance and a wedding now and not go insane and not be sick all the time is the most insane blessing and testament of God's blessings.

I'm able to do more of the sewing for my business now and not delegate so much. I just got "The Mermaid and the Unicorn" up to 100 pages/31,000 words. The invitations are out, and the appointment with the florist is on the calendar. I may not get to see as many of my friends as often as I'd like, but I try. Right now I'm prioritizing family and fiance, knowing that it will be easier to have time for friends after Nathan and I are not living 30 minutes apart and sacrificing all that driving time just to be able to see each other. (I'm not complaining, just explaining).

So I tell myself not to stress. God has never let me fall without catching me. Everything I've been through has built me into who I am and every trial that comes will be further refining fire.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D

I'm going to be honest with you. I'm not sold on this show yet. So if you absolutely adored it... you may want to skip this blog post altogether. Maybe check back next week and see if I've given it a higher rating yet...

I mean if it wasn't for Coulson I don't even know if I'd keep watching. but Coulson is so wonderfully wonderful - he's just awesome. I have to get my Coulson fix.

The other characters? They're... far more meh than anything I've come to expect from the mind of Whedon, which makes me wonder just how much he's really involved with this show. Fitz and Simmons are one dimensional squabbling comedy right now, Agent Ward is stiff and boring, Skye is cocky and annoying, and Agent May... okay Agent May is pretty cool. Not Coulson cool but close. I want to know more about her.

And that's what's sad. We're two episodes in and we know almost nothing about anyone. When you consider how much we knew about everyone in the first episode of Firefly - or even by episode two of Dollhouse... it's sad. Last night's episode was so action heavy, they didn't leave time for character. It wasn't just not Whedon quality, it wasn't even well-written/plotted/characterized television.

But no one is talking about this because they're in love with the cameo at the end. And it was an awesome cameo.


I mean. Nick Fury saves everything. His 45 second appearance may be all that gets the show good ratings next week, because if it wasn't there, I think a lot of viewers would not be intrigued enough to continue on. The only interesting things at this point are "what REALLY happened to Coulson", and "What is Agent' May's backstory." Skye's apparent infiltration motive would be more interesting if we actually loved or hated her at this point... and while some people do, she's honestly not that well developed at all. And she should be. For a show of this profile with everything it has behind it... it's sad. And this week's mysterious object was a not-even-glorified MacGuffin. For a show whose selling point is their connection to the Marvel Universe, they're going to have to actually do something awesome with the sci-fi stuff (and NOT just more cool gadgets) if they can't get the characters up to par, or this show is going to be dead in the water.

"Once Upon a Time" (for comparison) may not have had a perfect first season, but they had an intriguing plot and I, at least, cared about every character shown on screen in the first episode and continued to do so (except for when Snow and Charming just got stupid but whatever). 

I'm not giving up. I said I'd give it six episodes before passing judgement and I'll keep watching. But this was a pretty disappointing episode apart from the ALL HAIL THE GLORIOUS CAMEO. Hopefully next week will be less action intense and more plot and character heavy and make me care about somebody besides Coulson and May.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

OUAT 3.1 - "the Heart of the Truest Believer"

Hello folks. I seem to be on a "have a headache every Sunday" schedule, so if my reviews are a little late while we get those under control, please excuse me!

Spoiler alert!

Well. Here we are again. After a long summer of anticipation, we pick up right where we left off... a pirate, a prince, a villian, a queen, a princess and a mother forming an unlikely alliance as the Jolly Roger sails into a portal... while Henry is delivered to the Shadow and Neal is discovered by some old friends.

We get one single flashback in this episode, which isn't a bad thing as the episode is already jumping between three - no, four - plotlines. And the solitary flashback is a good one - the moment of Henry's birth (with some ominous magical light flickering). The look on Emma's face when she resolutely kept her eyes trained away from Henry... heartbreaking.

And then forwards into the future, where Emma has embraced her role as mother wholeheartedly, even if (as Rumple points out) she isn't ready to be 'the truest believer.' She does however place her trust in her family's love for her by diving into the ocean to quell a storm. She knows that her parents will not hesitate to save her, and this is, for her, the biggest leap of faith we've seen her take yet. Mostly good scenes (getting Neal's Sword! Regina being sassy! Snow punching Regina! Mermaids!) although the whole sailing-over-the-wave montage was... laughably over the top.

Meanwhile Greg and Tamara meet quick ends on the Island of Neverland, which is having more and more in common with a certain island in another show inhabited by a shadowy monster... I'm not 100% certain that Greg is out of the picture, however. His body is dead but his shadow spirit might still come into play.

Henry is all of the awesome in this episode, making friends with a friendly lost boy... who looks just a little too much like Peter Pan... suspicions that are proved right when he reveals his true identity at the end. But what does he want with Henry? Why is he so evil? And what are we going to do with the hordes of newly awakened fangirls?

We only get a handful of scenes with Rumplestiltskin, but he is utterly brilliant in them. Turns out, he's been to Neverland before, and there's painful memories waiting for him there.

Meanwhile over in the Enchanted Forest, Neal wakes up to find Mulan, Aurora, and the mysteriously rescued/aliveagainbutnotazombieasfarasweknow Prince Phillip. Aurora tries to contact Snow via the dreamworld but has no luck, whereas Mulan takes Neal to his father's abandoned castle where they find magical aid and a plucky new outlaw friend. Who is enjoying the Neal/Mulan bromance? Yes, that's right, "Bro"mance. I refuse to accept a romantic pairing there yet. I'm 100% Neal/Emma all the way. Loving the new casting and slight writing change to Robin Hood. Looks like he's going to be a properly fun character, which we desperately need as we begin this obviously darker season.

Speaking of darker... I'm really not sure what to think of this Neverland. It's not at all the land I've adored since childhood, and I'm curious to see whether it was once the happy place of a celebration of imagination, or if it has always been this dark.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Invites are out!

 I have been working insanely hard on the wedding invitations for the past month. Well, over that, actually. I started designing them almost as soon as we got engaged, and we've been working on the guest list just as long. There are still a few addresses I am tracking down so a few invites will be shipped off later, but the majority of them went to the post office yesterday.

We opted for a simple package. The main invite (the front is to your left) is a single sheet, with the information on the backside. Anything we couldn't fit nicely there is on the wedding website, address included in the invite. 

The RSVP postcard (view front below) includes the meal choices, and is already addressed and stamped. We debated whether to have cards at all, but then I got a good deal on them, and once we had them we knew we'd get better responses if we stamped them. So far I've gotten back four responses from my hand-delivered efforts. Pretty fun to get them in the mail! 

My only concern has been making sure that everyone really does reply. I've done my best with the wording both on the RSVP card and the website to make it clear that we need a definite reply or there will not be food. I've heard horror stories about people showing up with out RSVPing, or RSVPing and then not showing up. With how much a plate costs at a wedding these days, even four unclaimed plates is a tragic waste of money. And I've been working so hard to be economical with everything!

(The pink is not showing up 100% color true here... it's a color called guava, which is close to coral, and I am utterly in love with it.)

Also on the wedding front, I went shopping with my grandmother and mom this week to pick out their ensembles for the wedding. I'm terribly excited about what we found for them... very Downton Abbey. I kept saying that we were the Dowager Countess, Lady Cora and Lady Mary. It was pretty fun.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Downton Abbey is BACK! Or not? Where do you live...?

Downton is BACK! Well, overseas, that is. Tragically PBS has once again decided NOT to air the show simultaneously in the US, and it'll be January before most Americans see it.

Because the show has a huge following, a great many of whom live most of their lives outside the computer and therefore don't even know that the show airs earlier in the UK than the US. Which is why PBS can delay the airings and claim that it is still highly successful. Because our moms and grandparents and aunties don't watch it until they can see it properly on Masterpiece Theater. But there is still a large contingent of those who spend a lot of time online who are given the conundrum of whether to wait and watch it on the (relative) big screen and likely have the whole thing spoiled on tumblr, or whether to try to find another way to watch it online. If you're in this group, I highly encourage you to contact one or all of the following and express your frustration:

Producer: WGBH
One Guest Street
Boston, MA 02135

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Nine Tailors

My copy of this book had nothing about churches or bells on the cover, so you can forgive me for thinking it might have something to do with sewing. I mean, it's Dorothy Sayers and it's a Peter Wimsey mystery, but the word "Tailor" on the cover is certainly what made me choose to purchase this title over any of the others in the store.

It has nothing to do with tailors. Or sewing. Although clothes do figure rather prominently in unraveling the mystery.

Rather "The Nine Tailors" refers to the old English practice of ringing out the "Tailor" bell nine times when a man passes away. When an anonymous corpse is discovered in someone else's grave, a sleepy country village has to ring the bells for this stranger, and call on Lord Peter to solve a murder that grows more sinister with every turn.

Still, I found the novel to be deeply intriguing despite the lack of needles and chalk. I know very little about the English art of bell ringing and the book made the whole mathematical music deeply intriguing.

And the mystery! While I figured out one important aspect very early on, there were still plenty of other pieces to be surprised with. Plus, like any Sayers novel, the mystery is but the framework in which an investigation of human nature is launched.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Care and Keeping of Deaf Ears

I went in for my semi-annual hearing check-up last week. Now that I'm an adult and my hearing hasn't changed in years, I don't have to go in unless there is a problem. When I was a child I had to go multiple times a year... which wasn't fun at all.  It's still not super fun, but now I at least understand the importance of it all. 

For those of you who don't know, I'm deaf. It's a genetic thing that only showed up in one person of my generation - me. I started loosing my hearing when I was about four, and it got progressively worse until I was about seven. I spent a lot of my childhood in audiologist offices taking hearing tests and getting new earmolds made and trying out new hearing aids.

I've written more about what it means for me to be deaf here. This post is specifically about hearing aids and levels of hearing.

This is the hearing aid from my left ear. It is nine years old and by today's standards, it is quite large. Believe it or not, my aids before these were even larger... when I got these I couldn't believe how small they were! And my very first power aids had a power box that I had to wear in a pouch on my waist, and it had cords that went up to my ears. NOT what a six-year-old wants to be wearing.

The earmolds are soft. I'm not sure if they're silicone or something similar, but they're about four years old and will need to be replaced soon. The tubes are new - tubes shrink up and get hard so you have to replace them every year or so. My old tubes were so bad that I was actually loosing sound. As soon as I got these new ones in, I realized that there were a lot of high pitched sounds I hadn't been hearing for months.

One battery lasts for 7-10 days. They cost about $1 each.

My hearing aids cannot be exposed to water. I have to be very careful to dry my hair, or cover my ears if I'm out in the rain.

The aids get my hearing up close to but not at normal level. I can actually hear most sounds with them (except the last few notes on the piano), but I don't hear the very high ones normally. I also have audio processing issues, which is why I rely so heavily on lipreading. Many many people don't realize that I'm deaf unless they recognize my slight accent - this is because with lipreading I get 94% of what's being said at a reasonable distance (listening to a pastor, for instance, is very different, and forget television). Without being able to lipread, I only get 20% of what is being said. Even though I can hear a lot of the sounds, my brain just can't go fast enough to keep up. No wonder my eyes get tired!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sleepy Hollow

I've been simultaneously intrigued and turned off by the lead-up to Sleepy Hollow's pilot release last night. Ichabod Crane does a Rip-van-Wrinkle and ends up in the 21st Century battling the horsemen of the Apocalypse? That could go either really well or really bad, and it's more likely to go bad.

However, after seeing some gifs on Tumblr, I was drawn in by the acting of Tom Mison as Ichabod and decided to give the show a try. And while there is certainly room for a lot to go wrong with this premise, the writing and acting draws the viewer in and keeps them there.

Not surprising, it's a creepy show. I watched in on Hulu during lunch today, but I don't think I'd be nearly so interested in it if I'd been creeped out of my socks at 9 at night. There's a lot of talk of the supernatural, and a coven of witches (one apparently was masquerading as a reverend) is due to play a big role which is undoubtedly going to result in a lot of Christians blacklisting the show. And they might be right. It's too early to tell whether the mixed up theology is going to be interesting or offensive... but at this point I'd say this is a show to keep an eye on, if only because lead characters Ichabod and Abbie are so enjoyable to watch.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Fall TV Shows - 2013

Oh it's a delicious sense of anticipation that fills me as I realize it's only a week until the fall television season starts!!! What shows are you looking forwards to watching?

Here's my watchlist, which I've set up over at TV Guide to keep track of what's airing when!

Old Favorites Returning
Downton Abbey (UK only) 9/22
How I Met Your Mother 9/23
Castle 9/23
Modern Family 9/25
Parenthood 9/26
Big Bang Theory 9/26
Once Upon a Time 9/29
Raising Hope 11/8

New Potentials
Sleepy Hollow 9/16
Agents of SHIELD 9/24
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland 10/10
Reign 10/10
Dracula 10/25

Friday, September 6, 2013

In Defense of Hufflepuff

So... my fiance has been reading Harry Potter, and he mentioned that his view of the Hufflepuff House is that they're all rather fraidy-cats hiding off in the corner. Which I suppose in books 1&2 is accurate enough. I mean, they're 1st years, and they're being contrasted with Gryffindors, who of course are known for being exceptionally brave and daring.

That doesn't mean that the Hufflepuffs don't grow up into some of the best Hogwarts has to offer.

Can we take a moment to talk about how awesome Nymphadora Tonks is?

(spoilers to follow)

Seriously. She knocks two things over in the books and gets labeled a klutz. She likes to entertain people and is a Hufflepuff so somehow she's not taken as seriously as, well, Moody.

Okay. It's hard to take anyone as seriously as Mad-Eye Moody. And I'm a Hufflepuff so I'm biased towards my house, but I rather think Tonks shows just how insanely awesome the Hufflepuffs are, if anything.

I mean, c'mon. She's an Auror. In HBP the point is made that Tonks is more intelligent than Fleur, being an Auror, and we know that's a good point (Harry disagrees, Fleur being Beaubaxton's champion and all). After all, Harry himself would not have been able to get into the necessary NEWT classes without Slughorn's appointment in Potions.

You know what that means? Tonks got an Outstanding OWL in Potions. She had to in order for Snape (who was certainly potions master when she was in her sixth and seventh year) to take her into his class. And getting her NEWTs is one thing, she still had to pass all the tests for an Auror, making her a peer to such bad-asses as Kingsley and Mad-Eye Moody.

So she's tough and smart and funny... and utterly kind and loyal and open-minded, as we can see by her devotion to Lupin, who had been generally shunned by the rest of the wizarding community. She's also got her head on rather solidly, as she chooses to generally appear with the looks she has naturally, rather than metamorphizing herself to look as beautiful as, say, Fleur. She doesn't feel a need to - she is utterly happy with who she is.

All of these qualities are also shown in Cedric Diggory, the other Hufflepuff to get any decent screentime. Sure, next biggest Huff, prefect Ernie McMillian is a little pompous, but Harry specifically notes that he rather likes Ernie in spite of this, even though this was a quality he found annoying in Percy Weasley, and Ernie is one of the first people to publicly declare that he believes in Harry in OotP. Let us not forget that, other than Gryffindor, Hufflepuff was the only house to unanimously choose to stay and fight Voldemort in DH!

And all of this is only drawing on information from the books! JKR has said a great deal more about Hufflepuff over on Pottermore, including the fact that it is the only house never to produce a Dark Wizard. It's unfortunate that we never got to see their common room on the page or screen, because according to the website it is quite an awesome place to be... not to mention right next to the kitchens! Who wants to bet Hufflepuff was the only house that actually knew the House Elves? Speaking of Hufflepuff Headcanons, here are some of my favorites.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

End of Summer, Beginning of Fall

(Isn't my man handsome? And what do you think of the haircut I gave him?)
Hey there readers! How was your Labor Day weekend? Did you get to enjoy the extra day of fun, or did you have to deal with school stuff?

I had a good weekend hanging out with my fiance. Sunday we started work on refinishing an antique desk for my new sewing room, which was a lot of fun! Sanding is rather rough work, but it's much nicer when you have someone to help you out. Then yesterday I took him to the State Fair, which is rather a big deal around here and since he's not a native of our state, I thought he'd better get indoctrinated into this staple of being one of us. He returned the favor later in the day by showing me "Lady in the Water" and warning me of all the scary parts (M.Night Shaylaman films freak the heck out of me). Then we finished off the evening by spending nearly two hours painting miniatures for our RPG. It was awesome.

Also on the awesome scale is the latest promotional picture from ABC's Once Upon a Time. Check out the first look at Tinker Bell! Just 25 days until it returns to our screens on September 29th!

Oh man, can you believe it's September? This summer has gone by so fast! I had to wear a hoodie yesterday, it was that chilly. Fall appears to be here... I even saw leaves on the ground the other day. Don't get me wrong, I love fall, but I'm not quite ready for the summer to be over yet.

Although... colder days mean January is that much closer. Just 135 days until my wedding... SO PSYCHED!

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Magic of Reading (for lack of a better title)

Reading Harry Potter through for the 6th time, as near as I can calculate. Still just as good as it was the first time through, six years ago. Extra special this time because my fiance is reading them all for the first time... so I feel like we're at Hogwarts together. :)

I find that reading this series makes me happier and also helps me hone my writing craft. JK Rowlings is such a master of characterization, plot, humor, and narrative drive that it helps me think and rethink how I do my own writing.

(Speaking of which, I reached 25,000 words on "The Mermaid and the Unicorn" today. For reference, the typical novel ranges between 75,000 and 100,000 words.)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wedding stuff, check check check!

Wedding RSVP cards have arrived!!! We chose to go with postcards from Vistaprint - cheapest option by far. I did all the design work myself and I think it turned out very well... if I do say so myself. (Okay, a couple people now have thought that I was using a precreated design so I must be doing all right).

Then, Vistaprint had another sale, so we placed the order for the invitations themselves on Sunday night. They've been shipped so... I'm kind of super excited for Friday to come so I can see them!

We are really trying to minimize everything going in the envelope. The invites are single sheets (not folded) so combined with the postRSVPcard (that's what I'm gonna call it now) it'll be a nice efficient planet-friendly combo.

At first I didn't want to prestamp the postRSVPcards, but after doing research I learned that it's the most successful way to get responses. Apparently in today's day and age, people will not respond at all and still show up... unless you call them and track them down. Ouch. I'm afraid if anyone shows up without having mailed their response card, there won't be any food for them. So if you get one of those cards, friends, please mail them in!

Now comes the fun part of handwriting all the addresses! I've told the fiance he can manage the stamping, stuffing and licking, and I'll do the writing. We're both happy with this arrangement. Having been enlisted by my siblings to address their graduation envelopes, and having done most of the Christmas letter addressing myself this past year, I'm in pretty good shape!

Time to nail down the photographer, florist, program design, music and... oh right, finish scheduling the premarital counseling. Plus, you know, dress alterations and gifts for everyone... oh and speaking of gifts, we're going to be doing our registry very soon, which should be quite fun!

...did I forget anything?

Friday, August 23, 2013

For Relationships AND Writing

I'd heard of "For Women Only" and its companion "For Men Only" for years, but it wasn't until my fiance suggested them to me and loaned me his copy that I actually picked one up.

(I figured it was probably an ideal time.)

Now don't mistake my meaning. My fiance was not telling me I was doing things wrong and needed to read a correctional book. He was saying that he'd found "For Men Only" really useful and thought maybe "For Women Only" would be equally interesting and enlightening for me.

It was.

I've read a lot about relationships, character and temperament, and the differences between males and females. It's something that comes up a lot when you're seeking an alternative to normal dating in highschool and also...

...when you're a writer.

Anyhow, I didn't expect to learn a ton. And, well, "ton" would be an exaggeration, because I did have a really good foundation to build on. But this book built on that foundation and helped explain some things clearer than I'd heard them before. It also presented a couple of new concepts that I was happy to learn about.

Then, because I was curious to know what they were saying about women in the other book, I went and read "For Men Only." Well, skimmed it. I didn't feel as compelled to dwell on every section as devoutly. However I found it to also be really helpful, because it gave me some really good explanations for why women are different than men, and phrases and examples I could use to explain myself and my gender to the men in my life.

Or, you know, if I'm trying to write realistic characters, both of these books are invaluable resources of surveys and comments from real people on the issues that are most diversionary between the sexes.

I promptly recommended "For Women Only" to a good friend of mine who devoured it immediately and was, if anything, even more enthusiastic about it than me. The best thing is that both of these books are very small - I read/skimmed "For Men Only" in less than an hour, and only drug out "For Women Only" because I wanted to take the time to think about what I was reading. It was really hard not to rush and read the whole thing in one sitting!

Anyhow, I would pretty much recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the other gender, particularly if they are dating, engaged, married, or a writer.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Man, how I've missed tea.

"Missed tea?" you ask. "You haven't been drinking it????"

Well, not so much for the past six months. One of the things I've had to do to help control my migraines is to add some drops to everything I drink. I was on such a high dosage that anything less strong than cranberry juice or lemonade tasted awful. So I haven't even had plain water for half a year, it's been mixed with strong juices.

Thankfully I like juice. But I really missed tea. I allowed myself a few cups here and there (like at the Doctor Who Tea Party at CONvergence), but for the most part I stuck strictly to my regime.

Last week I got the news that I could drop down to less than one drop per ounce... which means that the flavor is barely detectable in water, much less in tea, so I can drink whatever I want now! Huzzah! I had a marvelous cuppa today, which was especially wonderful as my allergies have been miserable and nothing helps allergies quite like hot tea. I was also able to enjoy a cup of hot tea when I hung out with my aunt yesterday. Girl talk and tea - best thing ever.

Like most aspects of being sick, it teaches you to really appreciate the small things in life.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (How are we going to beat that for longest show title ever?)

Remember back when Buffy the Vampire-Slayer got a spin-off show called "Angel" that was different in tone but ended up being just as awesome?

Looks like we can be pretty hopeful about a similar situation in the case of "Once Upon a Time" and their spin-off show "Wonderland."

I've been refraining from blogging too heavily about the spin off, as there hasn't been a ton to talk about if you're not deep into Lewis Carroll lore (and I'm no expert there, I am only just learning to appreciate the source material in the first place). However recent developments have been whetting my interest in the show. Check out the full scoop over at LeakyNews.

Most exciting bit? Our first look at Naveen Andrew's "Jafar." For those of you who don't immediately recognize him, Andrews played season regular Sayid on LOST. He's a pretty diverse actor, as he also did a turn as the dancing and singing Bollywood version of Mr. Bingley in "Bride and Prejudice." Talented and good-looking, I have a feeling that my sharp criticism of the Hook fangirls is going to come back to haunt me if I start gushing about Jafar. Yikes! Not a sentence I ever expected to say!

Anyhow, I'm excited to see that poor neglected Cinderella will be featuring in the pilot episode, and it'll be fascinating to see how they work Grumpy in as well.

What are you most excited about?

Friday, August 16, 2013

So You Want to be a Productive Writer?

My friend and co-writer Matthew Bowman has a whole list of suggestions on how to achieve this end here.

Personally coffee shop writing is my favorite secret weapon. It forces me to focus on writing like nothing else. And I'm not the only one who thinks so, as a google search for "Why do Writers like writing in Coffee Shops" brings up a host of related articles.

William Landay says...
Nancy Warren says...
The AbsoluteWrite Forum Members say...
What Jack Hight says...
Annie Stamell says...

And one of my beloved authors, Gail Carriger, talks about the Etiquette of Cafe Squatting

(Despite the fact that I am taking to a break to write this blog post, I've achieved about 1500 words so far today and have yet another hour of writing time left).

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wedding Planning - Timing and Guest Lists, God's got it all

I am so thankful that I have flexibility in my life to plan this wedding. Because let me tell you, I really wouldn't want to wait longer than 6 months to get married (I don't know how some of you do it!). Of course, I am 24 and my fiance is 27 I know that older brides and grooms are usually more ready and able to have a short courtship and engagement. We've already done our waiting!

Although, I'll be honest. With how everything is coming together it feels like we'd be completely ready for the wedding in November. But it'll be nice to have the extra holiday time for showers and such, and we're quite happy about our January 17th date. Our first date was January 17th, which also happens to be my parent's anniversary, so it's a special date for us. And it falls on a Friday, which was the day of the week we wanted anyhow, and every member of our bridal party and immediate family has told us they can make that date work.

And if we needed further confirmation... our first choice venue was open that day. We didn't know until we were in the process, but apparently it is VERY hard to get this location in the winter. God was working for us and we didn't even know it! It's a beautiful place with both the ceremony and reception taking place in the same building, which will be be awesome as no one will have to drive in a strange place on a dark snowy night to reach their dinner!

The big deal right now is figuring out just who those lucky navigation free people will be. Some parts of the guest list are so easy... others are hard. I was prepared for this, but still it's the only part of the process thus far that's caused me tears. A trusted adviser reminded me that God is the one choosing who is coming to my wedding, not me, and he'll give me peace about the decision that has his blessing. So if I'm uneasy about something, that's not what God wants!

Wise people are important to keep around during wedding planning. Parents are ideal, of course, but it's good to have other go-to advisers who aren't so emotionally wrapped up in everything too.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Flu is not cool.

Flu in August? Not cool, body, not cool at all.

At first I thought it was just a bad cold, but by Thursday I was unable to get out of bed and doing anything other than sleeping or eating hurt like heck. Writing anything between the pain and medicinal fog has been impossible. So I sort of vanished for a week.

I'm still not back to normal, but figured I should let y'all know where I'd gotten to.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Internet in the Annex... would it have changed things?

So something I was mulling over the other night... how would "The Diary of Anne Frank" been different if Facebook/Tumblr/Twitter been around? I don't meant that irreverently (I have nothing but deep respect and sorrow for their story), but simply how would a situation like that play out with different technology.

I mean, other than the obvious... that that type of persecution genocide (in Western Europe, at least) would not have gone as unnoticed and unchecked as long as it did. (Huzzah for the community journalist generation, bringing awareness everywhere).

Think about it, though. Life in the Annex with internet. Would it have been forbidden? One wrong post somewhere and they would have been found out... right? But in today's world people in hiding manage to use the internet all the time. They're usually on the move, however. Would eight people, trapped in one small space, have decided it was worth the risk? Would they have submitted to a life without even scanning the news sites? (Or getting craft and cooking ideas on Pinterest...)

Would they have set up a computer with all sorts of security on it so they wouldn't have been tracked? (it's not hard to set up a new IP).

Would they have created false online identities? Would they have had to browse in pairs to make sure no data was entered that gave away their location and real identities as Jews?

Would the Nazi's have taken over Facebook as they entered a country and forced the company to reveal religious affiliation? Would Facebook (and similar sites) been banned in such countries for refusing to cooporate?

Would Anne have kept an anonymous blog? Would she have filled her time with tumblr and online shows and pouring over Pinterest?

Would they have used Miep's Amazon account to order stuff that would be shipped to Miep's house and later smuggled over?

Would the Internet have made life more bearable, or would it have betrayed them sooner?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Thoughts on Peter Capaldi

If you thought the new doctor looked familiar, this is why...

Ironically it is the same episode that Karen Gillian made her first Who appearance on. Which reminds me, this is grand old Doctor Who tradition for finding the best actors. Both Martha and Amy were on the show before being cast as regular companions. And in a country as small as England, if you rule out everyone who has already been on the show, it shrinks the pool considerably.

Of course, Capaldi did have a fairly significant role in Doctor Who's sister show, Torchwood, being one of the main characters of Season 3. However that was far enough removed from the Doctor himself that I think it will be okay. Perhaps they'll find an explanation as well...? Anyhow, he was brilliant as Frobisher on that show.

I know there are naysayers out there. But that's nothing to worry about. Remember back when Matt Smith's casting was hated? Seems hilarious in retrospect, but people were really mad about it... (it's tradition with a new doctor for fierce loyalty to the old one to emerge).

I watched the live announcement and the moment I saw his face I thought "Oh good, they went with an older actor!" This is more in tune with Classic Who which they've been alluding too all year. It also makes a strong contrast between Smith and Capaldi, and allows them to expand on the grandfatherly vibe Eleven has been giving Clara (when he wasn't oddly flirting with her...).

I'm also very excited to see how he interacts with Alex Kingston's River Song. We have no guarentees that she's returning, but I think she's met more than one other Doctor when she meets Twelve in "Silence in the Library" and I get the sense that she and Capaldi would be a smashing pair.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

First Peek at "The Chronicles of the Ruahim"

Matthew Bowman wrote a short story that we passed out at the Minnesota Catholic Home Educator's Conference this spring. It was a big hit, so he wrote another one to tease the second book in the series - the one I'm currently hard at work on! It's pretty fun. He took a scene I wrote and told it from a different perspective, and you learn some very interesting things...

Anyhow, I just got the print format files and had to print them out and show you right away!

How can you get one? Regina Doman, Publisher and Editor (and Senior Author on Book #1) and Matthew Bowman (Editor and Head Series Writer) will be passing these out at the Catholic Marketing Network Tradeshow/Catholic Writers Conference. You can also read it if you are a member of the Fairy Tale Novel Forum, but you won't get the pretty hard copy unless you go out to the conference!

If you look closely at the back under "The Mermaid and the Unicorn" you can spot my name - or at least the one I'll be publishing under after I get married!!!

Caulking the Cracks

I am going to apologize to anyone right now who is waiting for a response from me for any reason, on anything. I'm doing well holding everything together, but I just know things are going to slip through cracks. Please do feel free to remind me if you're concerned I've forgotten something important! (Like your birthday... although Facebook helps with that!)

Business is kicking up. I have to hire another assistant since one of mine is leaving due to life changes. I'm going to miss her, but thankfully I'll still get to see lots of her since she is going to be one of my bridesmaids! Still, it'll take some doing to find a seamstress as skilled as her to take her place!

I'm also figuring out how to use Microsoft Excel and all of its functions. It's been a bit of a headache to set up but in the long run I think it will make financial managing much easier. You'd be surprised how many days my assistants are sewing while I'm stuck at the computer. Oh well, I get satisfaction from numbers that add up right and putting everything in the correct column.

Then I continue writing. I have a pretty regular weekly writing date with some friends, so that helps but I'm afraid it's not going to be enough to make the early 2014 deadline my editors are talking about. So I'll have to work more of that in. I did have a lovely time last Friday inputting all of the dates in a special Google calendar. Now I can see visually when everything happens in the plot!

And of course the Wedding. I'm excited about it and it is coming together well, but there are moments when I'm a little overwhelmed. I asked my fiance the other night if eloping was an option. He said our friends would get so mad, they'd spend the gift money on a bounty hunter instead to track us down. I laughed pretty hard at that one!

And tomorrow my future mother and sister-in-law are coming over so it's housecleaning time!!!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"Confessions of a Shopaholic" and the works of Sophie Kinsella

My reading list tends to encompass a lot of genres. History, mystery, science fiction, fantasy... but chick lit doesn't get on there so much. Mostly because it's hard to find chick lit that doesn't feel like I'm melting my brain. (Unless I'm sick and my brain is so dead that chick lit is the only thing I can read and then it's quite perfect). I enjoyed "Confessions of a Shopaholic" but wasn't really interested in the sequels until I spotted "Shopaholic and Baby" at the library book sale last week. For $.25 I figured it'd be a fun summer read, and there was another Sophie Kinsella title that I grabbed as well. A quarter's a good gamble, right?

"Baby" was pretty fun. It wasn't that the content was so much richer than most chick lit, but... there was something about it that didn't make me feel like I was making myself stupider by reading it. "What is it?" I asked myself. I came to realize that Sophie Kinsella is a really smart writer and a good one too. You know she is poking fun at our society in the shopping obsessed character of Becky Bloomwood, but in a good-natured way. Becky may seem shallow, but she's spunky and kind and fun to read about. It's all very tongue in cheek, as the Brits do best.

And then I picked up "Twenties Girl" which was an absolute gem. It's about a girl who gets haunted by the ghost of her 105 great-aunt... but the ghost appears as her aunt was in the 1920's, as a spunky 23-year-old flapper. Suddenly two mindsets are colliding in a hilarious and poignant story. If the Shopaholic series isn't your style, I would still recommend "Twenties Girl" as a worthwhile read.

(Sex is alluded too but very discreetly. The F-bomb appears occasionally, so if that bothers you then you'll want to steer clear.)

I've already picked up two more "Shopaholic" books and I'm planning to get my hands on Kinsella's other works as soon as I can find them priced within my budget.

Friday, July 19, 2013

More on the Engagement (and Wedding!)

Wow. It's my third day of being engaged and it's still slightly surreal. My facebook has completely exploded with some of the sweetest, most encouraging messages of congratulations and best wishes. It's been so amazing and special.

The Ring has also been popular. I was very adamant that I didn't want diamonds, so Nathan found me this gorgeous vintage inspired piece that I am utterly in love with. I had shown him some designs I liked ahead of time, but none of them were anywhere near as amazing as this one is. (He ran it by both my sister and his ahead of time. My man is so thoughtful!)

Now, there are several questions I get asked over and over, so I figured I'd answer them properly here.

Were you surprised?
Not so much. ;) I knew he had talked to my parents, and I also knew that timing wise this was when it needed to happen. Plus he wanted to make sure it was a proposal I was very happy with, so I had some input.

We live in an area with some very beautiful parks. Nathan took me to one of them and we walked around the lake at sunset. It was absolutely gorgeous and just the right time and temperature that the bugs weren't out yet but we weren't dying of heat either. We found a little isolated peninsula that we reached by crossing a stepping stone bridge, and then he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him...

...and I wanted to make sure I really soaked those words in, so I asked him to say it again, and he did, and then I still wasn't fully saturated yet, so I asked him to say it yet again...  he was laughing so hard he could hardly get it out, but he did, and then I said "Yes!"

Do you have a date?
We have a day we very much would like, but we're still ironing out all of the details. We did just find out that the venue we'd like is availible then, so things are lining up. Still praying about God's timing though! The earliest the wedding would happen is January 2014.

How did you guys meet in the first place?
Okay, no one has actually asked me that, but considering that I always wonder it about other couples, I'm sure there are some of you who are curious. We actually met last December on, after some friends and family had suggested to me that I check out internet dating. We hit it off immediately, and our first video chat lasted three hours! As soon as he arrived in state for his new job we had our first offline date and neither one of us wanted to say goodnight. ;) Two weeks later he officially asked me to be his girlfriend, and a month after that I got to go meet his family (who are fabulously wonderful people). And the rest is history.

 I hope he knows what a treasure he's getting!
Okay, I feel a little egotistical posting that one, but I've gotten that comment so many times I do want to answer it properly. First of all, I feel so humble and grateful that so many people would have that reaction. The truth though? I'm the one getting the treasure. Nathan is so good to me. He is sweet, considerate, funny, hard-working, and incredibly selfless. He's already stuck by me through some difficult health stuff and made it clear that he's in for the long run. He is so much more than I ever dreamed I would find in a future husband and I credit that entirely to God's provision.

What is he like?
Well, some of you have actually gotten to meet him, but for those who haven't... he was homeschooled, like me. He is a very strong believer and really encourages me in living a Christ-centered life. He works as a creative content developer for a prominent gaming company (board games and RPGs, not video games), so my mother calls us "two creative peas in a pod." Example: for CONvergence he not only went in costume as one of my favorite comic book heroes (his idea, not mine) but actually helped me make the costume! And my family rather adores him which is just such a confirmation of how right we are for each other.

So... I think that's all the pertinent information. Wedding planning is already in high gear and we're having fun with it. My sister and I decided on Wednesday morning that we wanted to go dress shopping... and lo and behold the very first dress I tried on was THE ONE. I kid you not. I have spent years trying to imagine my wedding dress and NEVER could figure out anything I really liked. Then BAM. This one appeared. I tried on several others but none of them compared to the ONE. So. My parents went ahead and bought it. Totally unexpected, but rather a relief to have that done! Amanda keeps teasing me that I ought to have the cake made by now... I do have a hold placed on the venue hall and first draft of the guest list done!

I am definitely going to keep this blog from being completely taken over by wedding everything, but I'm sure it will continue to surface, as I only intend to go through this process once and would like to share some of my thoughts as I come up with them.