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Thursday, December 06, 2012

Blue Hearts of Mars Cover Reveal

Here it is, the cover to my next book. My designer, Ronnell Porter, did an amazing job, plus he was really patient with all my changes. The book is set to be released to Kindle just before Christmas. It takes place on Mars, but that's not the main thrust of the story, so if you're not a huge fan of sci-fi, don't worry, it's still a fun, exciting read.



Sunday, December 02, 2012

Maps

I've found someone to do the maps for my upcoming book.  Or rather, he found me . . . through Cartographer's Guild.

He's done some amazing maps and it makes me wish that I had something more epic and complex for him to map. Like maybe if I'd written The Wheel of Time books or something. I totally could have done them.

Heh.

The mapmaker goes by Sapiento on deviantART and lives in Austria but has perfect English and, literally, some of the most gorgeous maps I've seen. Think that's just hyperbole? See for yourself.   

Anyway, I'm thrilled to be working with him and someday, I may even do an epic fantasy just to utilize his talents more. I could definitely do an epic fantasy.

Right? 

In a week or so, I'm hoping to have a map to post here before I publish the entire book just before Christmas. So, check back. The map will be so worth it. I promise.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

I've Discovered a New Disorder for WebMD to Catalog. It Has to Do With the iPhone.

Tonight I have weak wrists. I think it's from playing Rage of Bahamut on my iPhone. And I think I have iPhone-eye, from looking at my iPhone all day. There's a holy war going on in the game and I've had a miserable cold--and, well, there's a chance the iPhone eye is a result of the cold.

No idea, really. A mysterious red welt appeared on my neck yesterday, as well. Almost like someone was trying to strangle me . . . in my sleep . . . Stoker pretended it wasn't him and this morning he casually said, "Oh yeah, I was going to ask you about that . . ." And I thought to myself, "I'm on to you, buddy."

Really, maybe the welt came from Corbet. He probably scratched me because he's always scratching me. He's got these nails like your great Aunt Bobbi--you know which aunt I'm talking about, the one who gets her nails done once a week at the salon with all the other CEOs wives--EVEN though I would swear to you that I truly do cut his nails at least once a week.

I'm honestly one of the walking wounded. I have about a hundred bruises, cuts, and scrapes on my body at all times and I have no remembrance of where any of them come from. I veer a little bit toward being a hypochondriac simply because I'm certain I'll end up with something disastrous like leukemia BECAUSE I bruise easily and I never recall where the bruises come from (as though easy-bruising causes leukemia and is not a sign of leukemia. Perfect logic).

Once in a while I'll try to keep track of things. So, for example, when accidentally I ram my thigh into the evilly-placed too-high corner of the foot of the bedframe, I say, "Damn. Yeah, that's going to leave a mark. Nik, remember. Remember this, so help me, remember when you see the bruise in a few days, THIS is where you got it: the jerk bedframe. Stupid bedframe. Should have gotten a futon." By the end of the sentence, when I'm thinking about a futon, I've totally forgotten about the future-bruise.

This really happens.

The welt on my neck? For all I know, I was bitten by a black widow the other day and thought to myself, "When that swells up, remember it was a black widow that did it."

Most likely, though, it was Corbet, waving his arms at me in irritation when I was trying to put him in the kid-basket of the shopping cart (at Target--his real mother). I had a gouge on my forehead for a few days from when he didn't want me to carry him on my shoulders.

Can't believe I remember that.

The iPhone eye. A totally new disease, I think. I want to say it's from scratching my eyes too hard, but I'm almost one hundred percent certain it's from staring at my tiny iPhone screen (should've gotten a Galaxy S3) for five hours in the dark, in bed (when I should be sleeping), as I quest the crap out of my feeder accounts so I can get some high rare cards . . . before the holy war starts (can you hear the desperation in my voice . . . drug addicts have a name for it . . . no clue what it is . . .) . . .

iPhone-eye: an affliction of the eye-lid, wherein the lid sags from overuse or a due to a weakened muscle caused by 
straining to look at a screen ten-times too small (usually in the dark). Photo credit: someone at Android Authority

But what's with the weak wrists? I mean, come on! I'm BARELY thirty-four. These kinds of problems are for sixty-five-year-olds. Is there NO justice? I can hardly type this. I have to keep cracking my wrists. Stretching. Massaging. Do I need a brace? My step-dad's been wearing these wrist braces around all the time and he looks, honestly, kind of, well, like he doesn't care how the wrist-braces look. Is that what I'm turning into? My step-father? He's in his sixties. Pretty sure I am not.

You know what I need to do? I need to sit down and write. Like, with a pencil, or a pen. Calisthenics for the fingers and wrists. That's what that is.

New goal: write a two page letter to a friend . . . or someone like unto a friend . . .

Reality-check: write a short thank-you note to that chick who brought you sugar cookies. From the ward.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Interview with "Occupy Space" Author, Grady Hendrix

I met Grady a few years ago when I stumbled across a short story he did on the site Strange Horizons called "The Bright and Shining Parasites of Guiyu". I don't NORMALLY* write to authors to tell them I liked a story they did, but I sent a quick email to Grady letting him know how much I enjoyed the story. Anyway, it was two years ago, I don't remember everything about the experience, except that Grady wrote back and then when his book came out, Satan Loves You, he let me know. The premise of that book is fantastic.



I started reading it, but I'd just BARELY had my son. He was maybe a month old at the time and I was hypersensitive to everything. So in the first few pages of Satan Loves You, where the story is being set up, a bunch of people are in an airport and a baby gets killed. So I stopped reading, because that scene literally wrenched my guts out. Literally. They were everywhere. No, OK, I should have used virtually instead of literally.

In any case, maybe someday when I'm feeling tougher in my guts, I'll be able to finish the book. It's just one of those things. Sometimes a person is just too sensitive. Having a kid does that to you. It's true.

So then Grady's next book came out, Occupy Space (oh, and I should mention I've kept up with his short stories too). He let me know and I got it and read it. No dying babies in this one, I'm happy to say. Nope. None. Just a lot of great and memorable characters. The book is only about a hundred pages, and it reads rather quickly because the writing is sharp and concise. Grady's the kind of writer who doesn't tolerate a lot of fat in his work. He trims it down nicely to the most succinct wording while managing to still have gripping prose.


Occupy Space is the story of a failed, drunken astronaut shedding his self-loathing and failures long enough to bring an economically challenged town together in order to build a rocket. But why build a rocket? Um, to rescue a former member of the town (who has been a successful astronaut) from a now defunct space station. Duh. Anyway, it's a fantastic read. I loved it.

I could truly go on and on about how great it is. But that would be all me, wouldn't it? So what I did, is, I got Grady to do an interview for my blog. I've never done a single interview for my blog, except for those ultra boring me-interviews, and no one even likes them.

You will absolutely adore this interview with Grady. And if you read Occupy Space (you should. Right now. Go buy it. Read it) and then read this interview, I'm sure you'll really want to meet him. You'll have to add Grady Hendrix to your list of people-I-want-to-have-lunch-with-because-they're-so-damn-interesting.

Right then, enough about me. Here's a bit of Grady for your reading pleasure:

Me: I read in another interview that you wanted to write about building something, because America used to be a place where we built things. Why did you pick a rocket as the thing to build, aside from it being hugely daunting?

Grady: We need a space program, and if the government isn’t going to give us one, then we need to build one for ourselves. The space program was the closest thing we ever had to a national religion. It was born in sin (read: Nazi rocket scientists), but it let us dream about a future where the service industry wasn’t our only destination. It was the biggest ambition our country ever had (once we gave up on conquering the world back in the 19th century), and we need something to aspire to that isn’t just about making money. But there’s also a more practical reason. The tools we have shape how we approach the world. For example, if all you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail. One of the biggest tools America has is its military-industrial complex. We can’t wish it away because it’s too big and too lucrative, but we also can’t wage wars all the time. So why not apply it to the one peacetime program it has always excelled at: space? It’s a way to use it to its full potential, but keep it off the streets and out of trouble.

Me: There are some excellent examples of the "hive mind" in the story. My husband frequents Reddit and talks about how the "hive mind" can solve anything. In your opinion, after writing about it and presumably doing loads of research, would it be possible for a group of laypeople to build a viable rocket using the resources Walter's team uses?

Grady: Not only is it possible, it’s happening. Check out Copenhagen Suborbitals (Walter refers to them in Occupy Space as “EU-worshipping, socialized-medicine-loving homosexuals in leather pants building a manned rocket in their spare time” and you can see them in all their beardy glory here: http://www.copenhagensuborbitals.com/). I sped up the timeline, and I think the ability to get enough liquid nitrogen to get into low earth orbit, as well as the legal obstacles, will keep it from actually happening, but this is something people can do. And a big shout-out to Reddit. There are some smart people out there who don’t have the jobs they deserve and their big old brains are burning holes in their pockets. I found a lot of them on r/space.

Me: I believe I read somewhere that you're from South Carolina, but I can't find the source. Why did you pick Melville, South Carolina?

Grady: I was born and raised in Charleston, SC. My parents are both from SC, their parents are from SC, their parents are from SC, and I think my original ancestors floated over to South Carolina on a barrel of potatoes two hundred years ago. And I hate it. I mean, who really loves the place where they grew up? I left when I was 18 and never went back, but over the years I’ve become fascinated by it and I go back a lot now. I get SC in a way that I don’t “get” New York. I can wrap my head around it and it’s so fabulously corrupt (even our governor’s private chef just got fired for ripping off the state), so incredibly strange, and so much fun that I’m probably going to be writing about it forever. What other state do you know of that has a black separatist Yoruba nation located inside its borders?

Me: Tell me about glomping? I'd never heard of it till I read your story. The glomping moment was one of the funniest parts of Occupy Space.

Grady: A friend of mine was describing it to me. According to him, if you go to anime conventions it is very likely that it will happen to you. And weaponizing an overly-enthusiastic hug sounds awesome.

Me: Speaking of writing humor, do you find it difficult to do or does it come naturally? And do you have any tips for writing humor for aspiring writers?

Grady: I have tried and tried to write serious, but I just can’t manage it. My hard drive is full of very dark, very intense stories I spent years writing and they are all loathed by everyone who reads them. In college I even wrote a very, very serious play about AIDS that won an award. The play was performed once and the (small) audience spent the entire three hours peeing themselves with laughter. Afterwards, people came up and told me how funny they thought it was. I wanted to make a bold statement. Instead I made people laugh. I came to realize that that wasn’t entirely a bad thing. In terms of tips, I’ve only got one and it’s not even mine. John Waters once said “Good taste is the enemy of art.” Replace “art” with “comedy” and you’ve got the formula that works for me.

Me: Continuing the glomping thing, Volor is into LARPing. Have you done it yourself and if you haven't, tell us how you decided to use it.

Grady: I haven’t, but I love LARPers and cosplay and gamers and anyone who has decided that mundane, everyday reality isn’t enough for them and that they’re going to hack it. I’ve been to Comic Con in New York and San Diego a few times and at first I found it really overwhelming and very threatening and extremely easy to mock. But then, a fter a few hours I realized that all of these people were there because they genuinely and passionately loved something. Some of them loved it so much that they wanted to proclaim their love out loud even at the risk of looking silly. And that’s an amazing and rare thing. Enthusiasm is so un-cool these days, passion is so “over” that when you find it you need to put it up on a pedestal and protect it.

Me: There are loads of modern concepts floating around in Occupy Space--the "hive mind" that the Internet makes possible, the shrinking of the U.S. space program, and the whole occupy movement, just to name a few. Did you set out to merge these things into one story or did it sort of just happen?

Grady: I started writing Occupy Space while the Occupy movement was going on in Zuccotti Park down near Wall Street. The economy was tanking, people were out in the street demanding a referendum on what kind of future we were going to have, and I wanted to engage with it on some level. I think this country lost its way and mortgaged its soul for cash when it gave up on the space program. I know I sound obsessive, but I think that the only way we’ll ever return to national sanity is to start sitting highly trained individuals on stacks of explosives and shooting them to the stars again.

Me: Walter is this kind of pathetic, washed up old man (I loved the way SAC John Richter describes him the first time he sees Walter--an elderly man) whose career was a flop. What made you decide to use a failed astronaut and not one who retired after a successful stint as an astronaut?

Grady: Pop culture celebrates winning, success, the celebrity 1%, the special magical child born once every thousand years who will save us all, but for every winning team, there’s a losing team. For every first place champion there’s someone who came in last. And the fact is, most of us are going to spend our lives failing, not winning. I know that for me personally, I’m far more acquainted with failure than success. When someone wins, they jump up and down and yell, “We’re number one! We’re number one!” and everyone loves them. I’m far more interested in the person who watches their dreams die on Saturday night and then has to drag themselves in to work on Monday morning. An Olympic athlete who wins is just doing what’s expected of them. An Olympic athlete who loses has something to say about life.

Me: As I was finishing Occupy Space, I thought it would make an excellent film. I'm sure you've thought about it. Do you feel like it would transition well into a film? What actor do you see playing Walter?


Grady: I hadn’t actually thought about that - right now I just want people to read it! But I love that crop of older male actors like Ed Harris and Fred Ward. One of the biggest things I’ve noticed about movies is that they used to be about grown-ups. Watch any action movie from the 60’s, 70’s, or even the 80’s and you’re seeing middle-aged guys kicking ass. Now everyone is 23 years old with washboard abs. Remember when Walter Matthau was an action star in movies like The Taking of Pelham One Two Three… and Charley Varrick? Walter is all about that kind of rumpled masculinity. I’ll take a 45 year-old with a grizzled mug in my movies over a Botoxed gym rat any day.


----------

More from Grady:

Grady's Website

Satan Loves You

Occupy Space

Messengers from the Stars Will Come to Help Us Overcome the Obstacles That Hold Us Back From Achieving Our True Potential




*And, well, that depends on how you define "normally." I can count on one hand the writers I've written to. Two. No three. Two poets--Alberto Rios and Eleanor Lerman. And then Grady. What can I say? I'm just that way.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

"Ronan" by Taylor Swift

Someone posted this video on Facebook and I obviously watched it because I'm a masochist, who likes to cry all the time. Evidently. I went in knowing I'd probably sob.

Ever since I had my own son, the slightest thing can set me off. I can't just watch movies where people get killed or anything, because now I know that every man is some woman's son. I'm sure it's the same with daughters, but I don't have one of my own, yet. And we like to fool ourselves about what men are, these days, anyway. Deep down, they're all just little boys who have big hearts and hide their vulnerability with bravado. And they all love their mothers. Right?

Anyway, the little boy in the song was beautiful and I feel for his mom. And of course Taylor Swift does something with her lyrics. My little boy is sleeping in the next room, and I hear his feet going "pitter-patter down the hallway" too, all the time, and it kills me, and I would do anything for him.

Yeah, he sometimes keeps me up all night, crying because he wants to get up and play, but really, small sacrifice to experience the most amazing love I've ever known. It's scary, though, because I feel so vulnerable now. I thought romantic love was, you know, dangerous, because you put your heart on the line. But it's totally different when you have a child. Well, I have no idea how to explain it. So I'll stop trying.

A link to the story on KSL and the song:


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Liebster Award


The Liebster Award is given by bloggers to up and coming bloggers as a way to spread the word about smaller blogs who deserve a bigger audience. This award is an honor, but once nominated you must earn it:


  • You must list 11 things about yourself
  • Answer 11 questions put to you by the person who nominated you
  • Choose up to 11 bloggers with less than 200 followers to nominate and post 11 questions for them to answer
  • Visit your nominee's pages to inform them of their award 

So wait, is Liebster a play on LIE? The LIE award? I still don't see how it's an award. I mean, what kind of award do you have to earn AFTER you've been given it?

Just wondering.

Anyway. To not be a spoilsport, I'm going along with it. Here you go:

Questions from Andrea (who nominated me)

    1.    Why do you blog? I have a lot to say! Right? Before I blogged I wrote in my journal religiously. I was young and saw my life as extremely important. I mean, come on, it was fascinating, like a film. Right? Ha. That's what I thought then. I know now that the reality is more like what Thoreau said about us, that "we live lives of quiet desperation." Although for a ton of us, it's hardly quiet. And, I'm pretty loud and I'm teeming with opinions. I've tempered loads of them since I started my blog back in 2005, though that's most likely not obvious to the casual observer. I don't write as often as I could or should because I have less time. Anyway, my life isn't like a film at all and there is no soundtrack and if there was, it would probably be banjo music.

    2.    If you had a million (tax free) dollars to spend what would you use it for? I'd pay off student loans and some other debt I have. Debt is hell. And college is a racket. My advice, don't buy into it, or at least, if you're going to, don't go into debt for college. What a load of crap! And I LOVED college. Maybe I'd go back to college with the money. Ha! Anyway, after paying off debt, I'm sure I'd figure out a brilliant way to invest it. Maybe in gold bars. Or a really fast race horse. Or maybe a Bentley. Cars are an investment, aren't they?

    3.    If you were to go on any reality TV show which would it be? and why? I hate reality TV for the most part, but if I had a brilliant way to make money, I'd go on Shark Tank because I think that one is somewhat educational rather than puerile and contrived. I'm also into survival shows like Dual Survival, but I don't think I could just go on that. I wish I could. If only I were a star, because I think I could really win that new one, Stars Win Stripes. Ha ha. For reals.

    4.    If you could have dinner with any one person alive or dead who would it be? and why? Shiz. There are too many people I need to chat with. Please don't make me choose. It's sincerely imperative that I meet C.S. Lewis at some point, as well as Wallace Stegner (these guys are dead so they count as ghosts, which makes them a personage rather than a person, so I still get to pick a living person). The ghosts will clearly give me excellent advice about the afterlife and they even knew a lot when they were living. I love their bodies of work. Heh. So, that's why I must meet them. And as for the living, maybe David Tennant because he's great. I mean, honestly, I doubt any living person has any advice for me that's going to assist me in any real way. So I just need to chill with David Tennant because he's the best iteration of Dr. Who. He's got a wife and a kid, so they can come too because it's imperative that we hang out, at the lake or something.

    5.    If you could live anywhere in the world where would you live? Right here, in Utah. I lived in Phoenix and Nashville and discovered that most cities are the same when you get right down to it. If I could have multiple residencies, then I'd have them everywhere because the world is my oyster, right? ;) So maybe coastal cities are cool and foreign cities are exotic. But they're all cities. And I want to live everywhere, but mainly right here in this perfect desert climate, near the mountains and my family. Whoa. What was that? A mind-twister? I think so.

    6.    If you had a super power what would it be? and what would you use it for? I would be omnipotent and omnipresent and all-knowing. Sort of like God. My super power would allow me to pretty much rule the world and/or have every other super power because I'd have the knowledge to harness the secrets of the universe. Or is that cheating? I mean, if that's cheating then I'll just take the ability to fly while being invisible. I don't need the recognition, just the ability.

    7.    What is your favorite movie? I don't get into favorites as much these days because I've grown to realize that I change my mind a lot. But for the time being, I really enjoy British TV more than anything else. Dr. Who is big for me, and I know it's not a movie, but movies kind of suck lately. If you held me at gunpoint and demanded to know which movie I love otherwise I'll be chewing lead, I'd say Casablanca, just because it's pretty great and the classics never get dull.

    8.    Where is your favorite vacation spot? Vacation? What's that? Ha ha. Kidding. For the past six or seven years, the only vacations I took were back here, to Utah. So by default, I have to say Utah. Most of my life the best place on earth was my grandma's house, in central Utah. I'd love to say somewhere cool like Antigua. I'd love even more to say I go there all the time and I have summer residences in Portugal, France, Greece, and Turkey. But I'm a country yokel, I suppose, and the greatest spot on earth is still my grandma's house, even though she died two years ago.

    9.    What is your favorite book? Too many to choose just one. Rating pretty high are Crossing to Saftey, The Great Divorce, Ender's Game, We, and damn, just so many others. Books are some of my most important friends. I've lived a thousand lives because of books and I hope to live a thousand more.

  10.    If you could tell your 15-year-old self one thing what would it be? Don't change. Keep living and loving the way you do. Gregory Peck told me that. It was when I was a stupid fifteen-year-old, actually, and I wrote to him and told him how much I loved him as Atticus Finch and Father O'Flaherty in the Scarlet and the Black and he was sweet enough to send me a signed picture. It said, "Dear Nicole, don't change." I bet that's the advice he'd give his own fifteen-year-old self. He's right. I've made loads of stupid mistakes, but I couldn't have the lessons without them. So, anyway. I mean, I'm pretty sure it was truly Greg who signed the picture. I mean, he was what, eighty at the time? I bet it was great to get fanmail at that point. And then, guess what? Later that year, I freaking got a Christmas card from him and his wife, Veronique. That's a damn highlight, if you ask me.

  11.    What is your favorite band/artist? Right now it's Future Islands, Metric, and the Jezabels, but that's subject to change, and also, there are several others that I absolutely adore at the moment. I'm not good at being in love with just one thing, except of course Stoker. 


OK, I actually hate this kind of stuff, but I did it because I like Andrea. The thing is that I just can't answer simply. It's beyond my skill-set. And I suck at dealing with obligation. I still need to finish my interview questions for writer, Grady Hendrix, who has kindly agreed to do an interview for my blog. So, expect that as my next blog post. And Andrea, please know that you are wonderful, it's merely the fact that I suck at answering questionnaires that I hate them. But it's great that you'd nominate ME to participate. 

Oh shiz. I still haven't done the freaking list.

Damn. OK.

1. I love peanut butter. It's a sickness, actually. There needs to be a term to describe it as such.

2. My opinions exhaust me. Sometimes I get tired of hanging out with myself. Maybe I should split my personality so I can have a break. Ha! Psycho jokes are the best.

3. Sometimes I miss my old life. It was fun being carefree. But then, I wouldn't have Stoker or Corbet. So I think the trade off is worth it.

4. I don't have boatloads of friends and I like it that way because the friends I have get the most of me, which is very little these days. But when I make a friend, I try to do it for life. That makes the investment matter to me.

5. I like to know what makes people tick. I really do. I like to figure them out. But not in the Sylar from Heroes kind of way. Man that guy was a total freak-job. I hated him. But he was good as Spock. Too good. Creepily good. Brrrr. Did it just get cold in here?

6. I want to give the people I love the best of me, but often I feel like they get the worst. Poor things. I'll work harder at it.

7. I like making lists, mainly to-do lists, but these blogger/chain-letter kind of lists bug me.

8. Good books, songs, and movies make me want to die. In a good way.

9. I didn't see the Sound of Music all the way through until I was thirty or so. It made me want to die. I'm a total sap. So sue me.

10. I can't figure out why Stoker loves me. I was a total nut-job when we were dating. I love him. Maybe that's why?

11. One time I fell on someone's lawn and wouldn't move because he was going to California for a few days and I was going to miss him. I have no idea whose lawn it was. It was winter, dusk, and for some reason, he asked me to marry him when he came back from California even though I'd been aloof while he was gone. Guess he likes drama queens!


That's done. Now I guess I pick some people to do the same thing. I consider it torture to do these tasks, and mostly I seem to follow/read blogs that somehow have over two hundred followers (including Andrea and Aubry). I guess I like being part of big crowds. But there are three people I adore who don't blog enough, in my opinion. So I nominate them. I really question whether they'll do this, and that's fine. I still love their guts and I totally understand if they don't want to or have time. Here they are:

Jodiferous
She is completely hilarious. I long for the time when she blogged lots.

The Number Five
Em, who I have the good fortune of hanging out with in RL so it's cool that she doesn't blog enough because I get to be with her anyway.

Baughtronic
She's actually my heterosexual eternal companion, or at least, was, I'm not sure what our relationship status is these days. I guess we need to have a DTR or something.

These ladies don't blog much these days and that's understandable. If they want to do this thing, cool. If not, no biggie. Here are their questions from me:

1. Who was your first kiss? Providing you've kissed someone that's not related to you or something? And, I mean, how was it?
2. Is there something really quirky about yourself that you're willing to share?
3. What's the last film you saw and what the hell did you think about it?
4. How do you feel about Twilight, the book or the movie? Please be honest.
5. Do you believe there's life on other planets? If yes, are they monstrous or pretty nice?
6. Continuing the sci-fi theme, would you live on a space station, like a big one, i.e. Star Trek Deep Space Nine? (p.s. I wouldn't, FYI)
7. Back to the basics, what's your favorite color and why isn't it pink? Oh wait, it is pink?
8. Who's your favorite celebrity these days and why?
9. Do you know who David Tennant is?
10. Why isn't he your favorite celebrity?
11. Why have you been such a negligent blogger? ;) Do you foresee a time where you'll blog more?

P.S. I love you.

Nik

Monday, September 10, 2012

Book Details, Considerations on Death, and the Tenth Doctor

I'm almost ready to release World in Shadow. So, yeah. Give a little cheer. And then read the book when it comes out.

And I want to buy this and hang it above my writing desk . . . for inspiration. It's the best fan art I've seen of the Tenth (and best) Doctor. It's for sale at Society Six.

Curse you, David Tennant, for ever leaving Dr. Who! Curse you!

And here's a little note for Blogger. I hate the new interface. It's exactly like the shitty new Gmail interface, which sucks. I loathe, absolutely loathe having to hit a bunch of hard returns so that my face isn't aimed at the bottom of my computer screen when I've filled a page with text. Who's with me? Everyone? Right. I knew it.

Yes, it's extremely annoying. I'm this close [] to switching my entire online life away from anything related to Google. I get it, I get it. Minimalism is in. It's so blinking awesome to strip everything down to the smallest, cleanest unit. Right. Yeah. Sure.

But sometimes minimalism doesn't work.

That's how I feel about it.

Wait a minute, let me look at the Tenth Doctor again and I'll feel better. Have to scroll my stupid window up, first. Ah. There we go. All better.

I'll be putting an excerpt from World in Shadow up soon. Have to decide on which excerpt. I'll make sure to try and pick a very tantalizing bit so everyone can see that they really need/want to read it.

Anyway, I know I've been MIA a lot lately, but things have been going on. My dad's in the hospital and he could go any day now. I mean, well, he's been close to going for quite a while. Which actually makes it harder to determine when he really might go. But somehow, even though I haven't been spending every waking minute at his bedside, just the knowledge that I SHOULD be there stresses me out and squeezes every last drop of life energy from me.

Also, there's that addiction I have to card games* on my iPhone. A very unholy, unwise habit. It renders me useless if I let it. I need to find a support group or something. My husband's trying not to pass judgment every time he catches me playing or soliciting someone's phone as a verifiable device, so I can have multiple accounts going, for all the free cards and referral cards and whatnot.

I make myself sick. Sick.

But using my family's phones to register? That was his idea. So, it's kind of his fault, if you think about it. Heh.

So yeah. My dying father. Et cetera. Makes me wonder how many people get a bad prognosis, and are knocking on heaven's door, and decide, even though there are crazy procedures that might prolong their life, choose to just go with end of life care and die. Not to be Debbie downer, here, but my dad has been in a bad way for quite some time. It's rough to see him like that. And when given the choice, he picks some procedure that might give him a little more time, despite being bed-ridden, unable to move, and generally miserable most of the time.

He even has a living will that at one time, evidently, said "do not intubate" and "do not rescusitate" and still, when he's in the emergency room, I guess the doctors ask him if he wants to be intubated and he says yes.

And maybe the difference from person to person is the difference between a life full of regret and a life full of happiness. Aside from the general, run of the mill fear of death. You know? What's beyond this mortal existence? Is there life after death? Or will I just cease to exist?

Right now I'm pretty convinced there's life after death. Who knows how I'll feel when I'm staring death in the face?

But that's why I've decided, once I reach a certain age, to just start living crazy. I'll be jumping out of planes at seventy. Climbing dangerous cliffs, ooh, and cliff-diving, and boating up the Amazon or Congo, and all that. Fairly certain that I'll take up para-sailing at some point. And I'll go out in small-engine planes any chance I get. There will most likely be general space flight at that point, so count me in, even though I've always said no way. No way will I go out in space.

When I'm ready to die, I'll do it.



*Incidentally, I'm nearing the end of my rope because Rage of Bahamut has "temporarily" suspended trading and in-game gifting, which renders the game pointless, boring, and dull. They're supposedly going to make an "announcement at the end of the week. But that sounds grim, doesn't it? I have no hope that things will ever be back to normal.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rage of Bahamut Review

This is a modified version of a review I left on the iTunes App store for my latest gaming addiction. Yeah, I can still be addicted even though I'm calling the game "total crap" (as you can clearly see below this paragraph, even though you haven't yet begun reading it).

Rage of Bahamut is total crap. The developers call buying a single card for the game at $3.00 a card, a CARD PACK. Three dollars for one card. A card pack. Really?

By these terms, one cow is a "herd" and one bird is a "flock."

Oh, hang on a minute, there's a quiver of cobra on my porch. Must go shoo it away.*

It doesn't end there, to get six cards you must spend $20. Yes, you heard me. And that's because you can't buy the rage medals in anything other than big lots that require spending up. So you want to buy six cards for $15? You have to spend $20 because you can't buy just $15 worth of RAGE MEDALS (said in a Bigfoot Monster Truck racing advertisement voice).

Also, you should feel lucky. You're getting SIX cards for the price of ONE.

In real life if I want to play Magic ze Gathering, I am at least guaranteed a rare or a mythic rare card when I spend $4 for SIXTEEN cards. AND I can sell the cards if I want. Cygames or Mobage doesn't allow this. So you sink hundreds of dollars into building your deck for what? To be told you can't sell your virtual cards that YOU bought with REAL money?

It all comes down to Cygames or Mobage controlling the economy that surrounds the game. It would RUIN them if suddenly it was possible to buy a very rare card for $15 actual dollars on an auction site. Financially, they'd be in the hole. Suddenly the gears that moved forward the Cygames development department, the design and that glorious writing ("You follow the evil wizard into the pawn shop where he sells his wand for a new motorcycle!"), and all that paper and ink to print those fantastic cards . . .

They sell you one card for three bucks and guess what? It ends up being a crap card. Your loss. And if you're lucky and get a good card, you can't sell it for real money because that's against the rules. So keep the card. It's virtual. No care or actual space required. No big deal.

They'll never change it either as long as players continue to pay astronomical real life money for the rip-off card "packs" that don't even come with any sort of rarity guarantee (like Magic). So word of advice: if you're going to play this rigged game, don't spend real money on these virtual cards until things change. Money talks for all of us and you can't sell your cards for real money without potentially having your account banned.

But, well, Cygames will happily take your real money for six crap cards.

Adding insult to injury is the seedy underbelly of prostitution that's cropped up on the required social network app associated with the game. There are loads of people selling pornographic "pics and vids" for in-game cards.

Hello? So I can't spend actual real money on a card from someone other than Cygames/Mobage, but it's OK for a bunch of slutty chicks (whether or not they're real, I have no idea, but it seems plenty of dumb men are willing to fork over cards for the promised goods, judging from the visible-to-everyone conversations) to sell their bodies for cards? This is the equivalent of saying that prostitution is fine, but a money-based market is not.

Essentially the game is fun as long as you don't get frustrated with losing every battle because you don't spend thousands of dollars on "packs" of six cards to find the extremely rare cards that will win for you. But there are real issues that need to be addressed before I can say "this is a five-star" game.

Frankly I'm sick of games that require a continual influx of money for them to remain fun and viable. These games are the Amway, multi-level marketing scams of the modern age and it seems EVERYONE is willing to fall for them. Next to starting a religion (thank you L. Ron Hubbard), designing a game like this is the next best way to get filthy stinking rich. But really, I'd be willing to pay for the card packs if they WERE packs (i.e. the standard 12-16 cards for $4) with a rarity guarantee.

Until then, I won't.

That said (and this is one of the few ways to get decent free cards), if you decide to play after all, add my referral at the end of the tutorial and remember, don't pay real money for crap cards. Take my advice: not worth it. But multiply your chances to get free cards as much as possible such as by providing your referral code to new players.

Yes, it would seem I'm selling out. I admit it. Though I loathe the methodology of the game, I'm an addict. Hi, my name is Nicole. I'm currently addicted to ROB. And hey, by the way, you only get one chance to use the referral code. Using it will give you 50,000 rupees and a rare card, so be sure to do it. My referral code is xao95452.


*It was just one cobra. Oh whoops. Did I misuse a word? My bad. Count your blessings: at least you didn't spend three dollars on my mistake! 

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Rage of Bahamut

I downloaded this game last night and have been confused the usual amount upon beginning to play it. And now I'm slowly getting a grasp on it. Just in time for it to wreak havoc on my goals.

I finished the first draft of "The Blue Hearts of Mars" two days ago, nice job, me. Thank you! And yesterday I began editing it. It's been fun.

Have I done any editing today? No. Because I was figuring out Rage of Bahamut. And so you see how my goals are being slowly dismantled by a fairly innocent-looking game. Here's a picture that will probably blow your mind with it's sheer awesomeness:


Doesn't that make you want to play it? It promises dragons. And...dragons! Lovely, lovely dragons!

But, truly, it's an inane game. And yet, if that's what you're looking for, can you fault it for being inane?

No.

And I was looking for inane.

What you do is you tap the screen when an "enemy" appears and your cards' stats determine whether or not you win. About three enemies appear, and then a treasure box appears. You open the treasure box and get some kind of treasure. A new card. Rupees (very original!). Or a ring or something.

Doesn't it sound amazing?

The best part is the anime-style drawings. The girl figures have the MOST offensive proportions, and they're always coupled with vacuous expressions. The most heinous expression imaginable on a woman or girl. Generally girls. Never, actually, women. Always, always girls. Too young girls.

Illustration of a vacuous expression for the hard-of-understanding. I didn't edit this. Beyonce really 
did achieve this expression all on her own. She must be thinking: "Single badies...no, single babies....no, 
single ladies....fing on it...no, that's not a word! Ding on it...no ring on it! Sigh. Who cares? I just love unicorns!"*

I still can't figure out why game developers cater to that facet of the market. I suppose because we women just deal with it. We look at a drawing of a stupid, brainless looking schoolgirl with humongous, unrealistic breasts and a vacuous expression on her face and sigh. And move on.

Because most of us aren't on crusades to change the world. And what's the point? This type of media seems to be designed for lonely, sad geeks who will never actually get to touch a pair of breasts like that. Ever. And you know what? That IS really sad.

I hope my sarcasm is detectable there. It's not that sad. There are sadder things in the world. Whether or not some dude gets to fulfill his fantasies isn't that depressing. I mean, I could MAKE it sad by writing a really sad story about it and we'd all indulge the notion that it IS the saddest thing in the world until we realized, wtf? There are truly worse things. And then everyone would deplore me for trivializing true tragedies by making THAT seem like a tragedy.

You know what I mean.

But I do go on. I'm exhausted now. That tangent went on WAY too long.

The truth is, I know I'm going to be sucked into this game more than is healthy. And a part of me really wants that. I went looking for it. And I'm happy to say, "Good riddance Dragonvale and Stardom: The A-list, you are pure crap now. I have Rage to fulfill my iPhone gaming needs. Thanks!"

So if you find this review of Rage, please don't be offended. I've only said what is true. You know it's true. But you don't care, because you're like me (unless you're male and you love the vacuous female character drawings) and you wanted a somewhat inane game that could monopolize your every thought that isn't related to subsisting and taking care of your cats and/or child (you probably don't have a child if you fit the stereotype, right, I mean, who are we kidding?).

And when you find this review, please look me up. My game name is obviously grotepas and my referral code is XAO95452. Please give me rupees and cards and referral bonuses. Now. Do it. DO IT!



*Meh. That was stupid. But I'm leaving it! Maybe it should be I with a vacuous expression! I mean, ME. Be ME with a vacuous expression.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Insanity and Salt Water Taffy

I've been doing this workout program. You might have heard of it. Insanity? Yeah? Heard of it? Great! Then you know what I'm talking about.

But, I've been a fool.

What I did was, I started it and then I was at Macey's, the grocery store, not the huge department store*, and there was this enormous display of salt water taffy. There had to be like forty boxes, which is approximately the population of the Earth in salt water taffy.

I'd seen it a week or so before. And it is my weakness. Cinnamon salt water taffy. Black licorice salt water taffy. Peppermint salt water taffy. Watermelon salt water taffy. Grape salt water taffy. Uh, salt salt water taffy. A1 Sauce salt water taffy. You name it. Any flavor. It is my kryptonite.

But I am no Superman**.  

Well, actually I was, the first week they had it out. And I was really proud of my strength. I resisted. I said, "Hell no. I don't need no salt water taffy. I am woman, hear me roar." Crap like that. You know. Like a Nike commercial.

The next week I thought to myself in an admittedly conniving voice, "You know, the cinnamon salt water taffy won't last. It'll be gone by the time I'm done with Insanity. So . . . hey! I'll buy a supply of salt water taffy and when I'm done with Insanity, and the diet, of course, I'll have an occasional piece of taffy. As a reward. A reward!"

It would totally help me get through the sixty day program.

So I bought a huge bag of salt water taffy.

And I was pretty good for a few days. But then, one night, I thought, "Hey, dessert. A piece of cinnamon salt water taffy. I've been good. A reward. Yes! Just one piece. As a reward."

Stoker saw me getting some and he was like, "Oh, sweet, salt water taffy!" And he got a few pieces. So when I saw him grabbing a handful, I felt it my duty to take two peppermint pieces, two black licorice pieces, and two cinnamon pieces.

Obviously if I didn't do that, the supply would eventually be whittled down to nothing, because now Stoker knew about, and seriously, the minute Stoker knows about anything in the cabinets like that, the trail mix, or the mixed nuts, or the salt water taffy, it all has a tendency to vanish over a week or two. Sometimes three days, depending on how delicious the treat is.

So it went on like that for a while because I'm a creature of habit and it only takes me a day to get into the habit of something, like eating six pieces of salt water taffy at a time. Occasionally one or two more, because my fingers accidentally grabbed hold of the wax-paper ties and I got more than I intended, but why put it back? Why not just eat it too? I mean, I'm looking at it and now it knows the fate that awaits it, why not just get it over with and spare the poor little piece of peppermint salt water taffy?

You know what? I will! Poor little guy (I thought at the time, as I ate two more pieces).

And now the bag is totally gone. I was a trooper. I actually let Stoker have the last two pieces. Mainly because I'd already had six pieces earlier that day. So it wasn't that I was being all generous or anything, even though he smiled and hugged me and cooed over me being such a damn sweetheart that I'd let him have the LAST TWO PIECES OF SALT WATER TAFFY.

I admit it. I still felt pretty good about it.

So the bag was finally empty last Friday or something. I'd been doing Insanity of two weeks. This week I haven't had ANY salt water taffy. And you know what? I'm finally losing weight!

Thanks to Insanity. And no thanks to stupid salt water taffy season***! My weakness. My ONE weakness.



*Imagine my confusion when Macy's--the department store--bought out ZCMI here in Utah . . . "What does a grocery store want with a department store? They can't possibly see each other as competition!" Honestly. I was baffled for a while. And no, I never did watch the Macy's day Thanksgiving parade. My family did not have that tradition.
**I'm actually a woman. But kryptonite goes with SuperMAN and I didn't want to spoil the metaphor by saying, "I am no superwoman." Because that just makes the kryptonite line fall flat. I can't think of any kryptonite-like weaknesses that apply to women, either. Huh. I guess because we just don't have any major flaws. Historically speaking. Oh wait. The apple. Eve. Damn. Ah well. Too late now!
 ***Which coincides with parade season here in Utah . . . it's good for throwing to the crowds as they watch the floats go by. They throw candy here, from the parade floats. They do that everywhere, right? I'm asking, because I don't know. I've never gone to a parade anywhere else. As far as I'm concerned, it's the only reason to go to parades! 

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Book Cover Unveiling! "World in Shadow"

Holy crap. I went a month without posting? Oops!

What have I been doing? Writing!

Pretty excited to unveil the cover of my next novel, World in Shadow. It's a YA sci-fi/adventure. Designed by the talented Ronnell Porter. Release date forthcoming. Stay in touch for a preview before the release.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Wildfire Season

So I heard it was going to be 108 degrees in Nashville sometime this week.

!!!!!!

The above sentence is a swear-word. You pick which one. 

Glad I'm no longer living there. Yes, I'm a true desert-lover. This is where I belong, where wildfires ravage through the scrub from the merest evil glare or fiery glance. That seems to be the case, anyway. All it takes is a tiny spark and whoosh! The entire place has gone up in flames. I forgot that summers were considered wildfire season out here until this summer.

Smoke from the fire across the valley hovering ominously above my house. Was it the end of the world? Almost

There was a small fire across the street from my house last weekend. I don't know how it started. The houses are brand new there, and the fire department came out and extinguished it. Thankfully.

Our neighbor was like, "Yeah, no idea how it started. Just a little blaze in the mulch. Spontaneous combustion, I guess. The fire department couldn't tell us how it started."

Yeah right. I'm sure he was out there, hiding between the houses–which are these very narrow alleyways–sneaking a smoke, when his wife came out looking for him, "Honey! Honey!"

And he threw down the cigarette and ran inside.

That's what I was thinking, anyway. They're new in the neighborhood, so I don't know them. Maybe he doesn't have to sneak a smoke when he wants one.

Though he did blame the construction workers down the street as a possible source for the fire. "Could have been one of the construction workers, or landscapers, smoking, who knows?"

That's more believable than spontaneous combustion. Right?

Then a few days later, the entire mountain across the valley from us went up in flames. I tweeted about it, because Corbet and I drove over there to get an up-close view. So we took some pictures and put them up.

We weren't really in danger from that one, although, after the Colorado Springs fire, anything is possible. Also, there was a huge fire in central Utah that burned over 39,000 acres, so, I suppose the dump fire, as it was called, COULD have crossed the valley and reached the Thanksgiving Point area.

Watching the dump-fire from a relatively safe distance.

Despite the wildfires, nearly every day, I look outside and think, "Man, I love Utah."

But I'm sure everyone else hates it and if you can't tolerate a religious majority or the dry heat, you would hate it here too. That encompasses, what, ninety-nine percent of the world's population? So don't move here, unless you get a personal OK from me, and then you can come. That's how it works here.

Lemon sunsets. Every night, almost. When I lived in Nashville, I really missed those. Sunsets in the south were these sultry, hazy affairs that blurred against the trees or rolling hills. In Utah they're always colorful and sharp, defined in dark lines against the mountainous horizon.

The sunrises are probably the same, but I'm usually sleeping.

And the temperatures. What a dream! If it got to 108 here, it would be far more tolerable than a 108 in Nashville, where the humidity would push it up to a 120 or something murderous like that.

I've gotten sunburned and stuff living here again because I forget what it's like to spend time outside, because in Nashville, I never wanted to be outside in the summer. So I stayed in.

Another thing, no cicadas. None. Just the sweet symphony of the crickets and grasshoppers. Also, no human-sized insects to torment you.

Monstrous bugs are very common in the South.

So anyway, if I had to choose the west with all the wildfires or the south with the humidity and temperatures ranging +105 degrees (F), which would I pick?

Really, not a tough choice. 

Baby screaming at me. Must go....

Friday, June 22, 2012

I'm an Indie-Author.

Just updated my About page and wanted you to see it: 

I’m an indie-author. For five years I worked in publishing, which gave me insight into author-contracts, acquisitions, and the pre-publication process, as well as how things work in that mysterious machine—the publishing house. Hint: it's not that mysterious and it's not romantic, really. But it IS a machine. A cold, heartless machine. ;) Plus, the velvet rope that separates writers from agents and publishers is disintegrating, much to the chagrin of those businesses.

What happened in the music industry (an industry that my husband worked in for five years in Nashville) is happening in the publishing industry. Why should I hunger for a publishing deal? I could get one. But it will trap me. You see, a publishing house fronts the money for editing, copyediting, proofreading, paper, binding, and any marketing they do. That's a loan. If an author doesn't sell enough books to pay it back . . .  well.

All that has prompted me to go it on my own and publish my own stuff using the widely available and easy to use venues like Kindle, Smashwords, and Lulu. Everything the publishing house would do for me, I can now do for myself. With the budgets of publishers shrinking and layoffs (they were a constant where I used to work) happening all the time, cover designers, story editors, and copyeditors are out on their own, freelancing. They're available to me as much as they're available to publishers or other indie-authors.

Most authors think that once they land a deal with a publisher, all the hard work has paid off and now they can rest on their laurels and simply write. Not true. Never rest on your laurels. Be ready to work hard for the rest of your life. I work for me and I love it. I'm saying these things for the other indie-authors out there who are secretly hoping to get a book deal or strike it rich. Maybe that could happen for you, but don't bet on it. Enjoy your freedom. Write for yourself and your fans. Work hard. Market yourself, you'd have to even if you had a book deal with a major publisher.

All that said, this is my website, which is a cross between an old MobileMe website that was sort of sci-fi and my long-running blog, which has always been sort of frenetic. I've loved sci-fi (Ten is mine!) and fantasy for a long time, and I think speculative fiction is the most gratifying of the genres to work in. But I’ve been known to write non-fantastical stuff as well. I liked Twilight, not ashamed to admit it, but I confess I’m worn out on the vampire crap and don't even get me started on zombies (hate 'em). I read Anne Rice growing up, but found it cold and soulless, which you might say is rather fitting. I like trying to come up with new ideas and things that haven’t been done to death in fiction already, but for all I know, I’m failing miserably at that. Give my stuff a try and let me know what you think.

The End.

OK, that's it! One thing I didn't mention there but will mention here is the discrepancy between royalties that authors get from publishers and those that Amazon and the other indie-publishing sites offer. For more on these things, read these posts that appear on J.A. Konrath's blog, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing: Guest Post By Barry Eisler and The Agency Model Sucks.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A White Winged Horse

So I asked my sister what her little girl wants for her birthday and she said, "She told Anji that she wants a white winged horse." I have no idea if there's some special toy out there that she's looking for or if I should go buy the porcelain Pegasus statue that came up when I did a Google search for "white winged horse."

I think a four-year-old might get hours of fun out of a porcelain statue. You can do so much with breakable items.

That's actually the kind of present my dad always gave me after my parents were divorced and he was really out of touch with how to be a dad. No big deal, the poor guy, he did the best he could. No hard feelings, Dad.

His reasoning was that we got toys from our mom. From him we'd get some type of sculpture or art that would appreciate in value (or so he thought. I haven't actually looked yet to see if I can sell that dog statue for millions of dollars). Toys just turned to dirty hunks of plastic and metal.

But a dog statue! You can display that in your curio cabinet as a trophy and once in all while, all you've got to do is dust it off.

Anyway, so then I was looking for a My Little Pony horse and this gorgeous purple horse came up with a beautiful long mane that a girl would have fun braiding and whatnot. I stared at it for a second and thought to myself, "Dang. I wish I could be appeased with a toy."

Wouldn't it be great to reach thirty (or whatever age you are) and still have your dreams hanging on a My Little Pony or a Tonka dump truck? Such a simple item. Costs so little. And so readily available. All you have to do is hop down to the Target and buy it and there, you've got everything your heart ever wished for.

I don't know about you, but I'm seriously considering exchanging the American Dream for a much simpler dream: cheap objects that engage my imagination. Like maybe some Dr. Who action figures. Or a slew of Doc Martin action figures. They don't make those? They should. They really should. Then, when the show ends, fans can just keep making up stories. Kind of like how when Futurama was off the air (before it started on Comedy Central or wherever), I had to buy the comics to get new stories.

 Damn you, David Tennant. Damn you for ever leaving Dr. Who.

Oh my hell. I just realized, I can get more of the Tenth Doctor if I just buy a Tenth Doctor action figure and make up my own stories! Let's see, I'll need a Tardis, obviously, and maybe a Donna Noble action figure too, since she was my favorite of his companions (I loved Rose until she came back with weird teeth in the later episodes). Hmm. That should be all. And then just my imagination, right?

This will be good. I can totally see this turning into some really great fan-fiction.

Monday, June 11, 2012

How to Not Make Friends and Influence People

I don't know how to make friends any more.

That's a true confession.

Ever since I left college and got married, it's like I have no interpersonal skills. When I was in college, it was relatively easy to connect with people and strike up a friendship. But now it's worse than what it was like to try to date or hook up with someone.

By hook-up I mean, maybe make-out at a party or something. Do they say make-out any more? When I was in junior high and high school, the word of choice was scam. It sounds so 90s now. And I think when kids today say hook-up, they mean, have sex. Right?

I don't keep up.

I'm too busy not knowing how to make friends. I obviously don't have time to follow what the cool kids say these days.

I'm fairly certain I'm not the only one who gets a big WTF? on her forehead when looking at the prospect of making friends. A friend of mine (old friend) works in a marketing agency. She started there recently and she was giving me the rundown on the office politics and her attempts to make friends with some of the girls there.

And another friend (also an old friend) went through the "it's like dating. Or worse..." thing recently when she started working at a restaurant in between her semesters in a doctorate program.

"I've got to play it cool," she'd say. "____ doesn't work on Friday, and someone wanted to switch shifts with me and I said yes because ____ was working that shift too. But I've got to play it cool, like nonchalant though or else I'll seem desperate."

And it's totally true. They're friends now, but it was one of those foggy starts where it could go either way.

I haven't made a friend that I've kept since leaving college. And I've been out now for eight years. I've had several jobs and almost become pretty good friends with some girls. But for one reason or another, they've never stuck with me.

Maybe it's me.

But now I'm here, back in Utah, and I'm looking around at some potential friend material and I'm dying to figure out a way to play it cool but also show my interest. I feel like a borderline stalker or like I'm trying to catch a man. It's completely ridiculous.

I mean, making friends with someone shouldn't be this hard. It's like all my insecurities have poked through the surface and I feel like a worthless piece of crap. Who would want to be friends with me? I've met several cool chicks in my area and I have no idea how to proceed from thinking, "She's cool. She should be my best friend," to actually fostering a friendship.

What does one do?

My sister offered me totally useless advice. She said, "I'm always the instigator of get-togethers with the girls. So you say to her, 'Hey, want to go to the park and let our kids play?' and then you guys go hang out at the park. Simple."

And one day I screwed up my courage and walked to this cool girl's house with my son in the jog-stroller (I don't have her phone number) and when I got there, I knocked real lightly on her door (my excuse was that her kids might be napping). No answer! I turned and hurried home, embarrassed that I even tried.

So that was my attempt. And now I think I'll just stay home during the day and work on my career. I have old friends. They're all I need, right? I mean, they're great! They're perfect! I adore them! They just have careers outside the home and now I don't (opted to stay home with kid and it's right for us). And they live far away. But hey! Who needs new friends? It's worse than dating!

So glad I don't have to date any more.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Woman in Pink Buying Diapers for All the Babies Everywhere

Yesterday I was leaving Target, you know, that upscale store that everyone loves? And this lady paused to let me exit before her. She was pushing a cart with about a thousand boxes of diapers in it, and even carrying a couple in her arms. So I let her go in front of me. All I was carrying was Corbet and one bag of shirts.

The first thing I noticed about her, besides the gazillion diapers, was how done up she was. She had on shiny pink high heels. And I mean, HIGH, high heels. Like stilts. Just seeing them I tipped over. She had extremely blonde hair, a very perfect tan, and her outfit was pink and black and it matched her shoes perfectly. She was also in a tiny skirt of some kind. It eludes me right now, but it most likely went very well with her heels and her top.

Normally I'd scoff at the value of this type of woman. I'd think to myself, "Lady, you are one done up girl." And I'd consider her vacuous, vapid, and a series of other adjectives that either begin with a V or are synonymous with the other words I've already used to describe her.

I know! This is a real confession. Because I try to be decent. And I guess you could say that I've always thought being decent meant not being like women who pay extreme amounts of attention to looking like a trillion bucks at all times. You know, waxing, tanning, dyeing, spending exorbitant amounts of money on a wardrobe, botox, and face-lifts.

More than that, I thought I was a kind person even though secretly I'd see a woman like her and feel superior in some way because I know that what matters most is what's inside. That a person's heart is more important than what they look like. And a woman like that doesn't get that, obviously, otherwise she wouldn't feel like she had to invest so much in her appearance.

That's what I thought, I guess.

Stuff like that.

It's completely hysterical that I thought things like this, all while finding myself at ease with judging someone based purely on how they looked. It's easy to see someone who looks like crap and feel a tugging at your heart that lets you think, "Awww, bless their heart, bless them, they're unfortunate. Bless them to have lots of good things happen." Or whatever.

It's harder to look at a person who looks good or beautiful, or like they care a lot about how they appear, and think, "Awww, bless their heart. Bless them." Because you're thinking, instead, "Ridiculous. They're putting too much emphasis on what they look like. How disappointing."

Anyway, so I learned my lesson at Target. This woman had a bazillion diapers.

I said to her, "That's a lot of diapers!" Just to be conversational.

She said, in a really sweet, polite voice (I might add), "Did you see that thing on the news yesterday?"

"No, what thing?"

"About the crisis shelter? Yeah, it was so sad. They don't have any diapers. They said the babies that show up there, end up leaving with the same diaper they arrived in because the shelter can't afford more diapers. It broke my heart. Those poor kids. I had to run out and buy some diapers for them. I just can't stand the thought of them being stuck in the same diaper like that."

She explained all of this as we walked out into the parking lot, while she tried to push a cartload of a billion boxes of diapers. 

I offered to help her carry them. I didn't see the thing on the news about the shelter. We talked about diaper brands for a minute, and I let her know what a sweetheart she is (like she needed that validation, right?), and off she went into the sunset.

So, how could I not tear up a little when I realized what a jerk I have been? I will never judge another woman who looks like she cares about her appearance a lot. What do I even know about it? Chances are, all that makeup and glam is concealing a heart as big as the moon, and a desire to love and be loved as wide as the ocean.

She restored my hope in humankind. So thank you for teaching me that lesson, woman in pink, whoever you are, wherever you are. I love your pink and high-heeled guts to pieces.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Parent-hazing (Sick Baby) and a Bit of Sap to Go With That

I'm a real parent now.

I've passed another initiation rite.

Last night my son woke up at midnight because he threw up in his crib. Then he threw up for several hours every twenty minutes or so. He was finally able to fall asleep in my arms and then just wake up to vomit into a blanket as he cried.

So it turned out that Stoker and I only got about two hours of sleep. Like idiots we've been going to bed around midnight. You see the problem?

Anyway, Stoker called the experience parent-hazing and I think it fits. I mean, it's not just the no-sleep thing. It's the holy-hell-my-son-is-in-serious-pain-and-I-can't-stop-it. And that is really hard. Even though we know that most likely, this isn't too serious. It's just real pain. It's just the "WTF is this vomiting nonsense? It's unnatural," he seems to think. You know what I'm talking about. It's one of those human things and it's weird and no one likes it.

Hearing him cry every time it began and while it was happening was kind of hard. I don't want to sound like a wimp, but you get pretty attuned to your child and when they hurt, you tend to hurt, if not a bit more because you want to protect them from that.

He seemed to feel better this morning, and was even playing despite the terrible diarrhea that set in around six-thirty am. And then I fed him some solids, and then he vomited all over me, the couch, himself, and the living room, around four-thirty (as you can tell from this description, it was crazy projectile vomit). So the solids were a dumb idea.

Let me just say that I really admire and feel for the parents of children who suffer more than what my son is going through. You really get taught a lesson by the universe, or life, or mother-nature or whoever, just when you think you have a handle on things.

So, I ought to go to bed right now, because I just heard my son cry and I have a feeling that it will be a long, hard night again. I'm glad I don't have to face this stuff alone. Last night his dad was the real hero. I'm incredibly thankful for both of them.

Corbet gets a stubbly kiss from dad during a Sunday drive up Provo Canyon. 
Notice the grocery bag in a tree to round out the shot. Nature is beautiful!


Corbet likes everything dad likes and wants to do everything with dad. 
Dad feels the same way! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Conway Twitty (Who I Loved BEFORE "Family Guy"): You've Never Been this Far Before

I can't believe it was four years ago that I first posted a Conway Twitty video. Time flies.

Sometimes you just want to listen to Conway and sometimes you need to watch him singing, and see those bedroom eyes and all those smoldering glances. He's really great.

And I mean, real sexy, right?

I can't remember how, but it was while I was in Nashville that I really got into old country music. I think it was the astronomical number of used records at stores like The Great Escape. It was inevitable that I began looking through the country albums and began buying them as well.

Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Porter Wagoner (Stoker got to work with him!). Anyway, also, one time Mel Tillis flirted with me at Starbucks. Flirt. What a disgusting word. I can't believe we've allowed it to stay in the lexicon.

Anyway, there's something real about old country. I love it. It's even better to listen to now that I no longer live in Nashville.

And you know what, I'm trying really hard to be generous and mature and refrain from looking toward the east and saying, "Good riddance, you bastard," to Nashville. I even did a "things I'll miss about Nashville" post. Honestly, it's a great place. But the humidity was a real jerk. And I'm extremely grateful to have it behind me.

In all honesty, I don't miss it (except for the Mexican restaurant).

I just had to get that off my chest. Whew! Thanks.

Tonight I felt like posting a Conway video again. I love him. It's a tradition of sorts, for me to post about Conway. I think I'll keep doing it. Because I love him. Huge crush. Stoker totally understands. He's glad I have crushes on dead singers. Otherwise, he'd worry that I'd run out on him. I'm a real desirable woman.

A once in a lifetime woman.

Who has crushes on dead writers (Chekhov).

Here's the video. Watch. Enjoy. Fall in love with those bedroom eyes.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How to Deal with Other People in All Situations

Did I ever tell you this?

I think the world is so much easier to deal with if you just pretend that everyone else is an alien. I mean, when you go to a restaurant, instead of deluding yourself that you have anything in common with the other patrons, just imagine that you're basically at the Mos Eisley Cantina in Star Wars.

The regular nightly crowd at the neighborhood Chili's.

It works! I often get frustrated with other patrons. Like, I stare at them and wonder who taught them that it was cool to go out in public in a ratty old Corona tank-top, the kind that show off the rib-cage. You know you love them. Right. Completely. So sexy to see that arm-pit hair. 

Or my favorite is when conversation is impossible due to the nearby table of drunken women talking at the top of their lungs and laughing obscenely at EVERYthing.

But when I pretend the loud strangers next to me are from the planet Skaro, suddenly they're no longer a nuisance. I just laugh and all is well.

 Skaro: Home of the Daleks AND the offensively loud aliens at the neighboring table.

This method not only works for eating at restaurants (where I first learned this Jedi-method), but almost anywhere in public. It's particularly fitting at Wal-Mart, the only place I'll currently buy groceries because of the astronomical savings. What I DON'T love about Wal-Mart is the creeping sense that I'm the only one there from planet Earth.

When I apply my everyone-is-an-alien coping mechanism, I really AM the only one from earth. And suddenly, it all makes sense. This is actually the ONLY time the crowds at Wal-Mart make sense, in fact. They're all aliens. So it's totally normal for people to swipe their carts at you and make snide remarks when you park your cart in front of the apples....because, you're getting apples....and of course they're annoyed. They're Klingons. They get pissed about EVERYTHING.

"No, I will not battle you for twenty Gala apples, there's more over there. It's cool. There's more apples. Put away that bat'leth, please," I find myself saying quite often, and not just about apples, mind you.

I only wish that I'd learned this life-saving trick back when I was going to indie-band shows and other very crowded venues. I would have been so much cheerier, especially when I finally got a view of the stage and some tall dude suddenly positioned himself in front of me. Rather than cursing him out beneath my breath, I would have just laughed and said, "This always happens when Wookiees come to shows," and found another spot.

 And then Han said to me, "You wanna get out of here?" And I said, "Yeah." And he punched the Wookiee in the face and we left. We ended up at a nice little coffee shop where there weren't any Wookiees blocking my view. All in all, it turned out to be a good night because I'd met this gorgeous smuggler. Well, I didn't know he was a smuggler at the time. All I knew was that he looked good in knee-high boots and in those pants with a stripe on the side. And he had this smirk. You know the kind. The kind you want to kiss. All this happened because a Wookiee was blocking my view at the Minus the Bear show. Life is crazy like that. And perfect. Han and I are still together, if you want to know.*


This is gold, this method. Use it. Use it well. And remember, all of us really are from completely different universes.


*"How My Life Was Turned Upside Down by a Wookiee" by Nicole Grotepas

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Future Islands: Two Songs and a Live One

Ok, trust me, it's hard to choose two songs here because nearly every song is just amazing. Like, breathtaking amazing. Like, the kind of amazing where you scream a bit and go find your best friend, and force her to listen to the album as you drive around town aimlessly. Those are good moments.

Anyway the actual videos aren't that great. "Inch of Dust" is better than the other one, though.

I listened to these two albums as I did this epic run up Farmington Canyon in Utah. The run was pretty fantastic. It was essentially six miles up, four thousand feet or more in elevation gain. The perfect music for such an insane run.

And then I had an injured foot for a couple weeks and had to bow out of the Ragnar: Wasatch Back race I was training for. Ha. Ha.

Was it worth it? Yes, yes, I think it was.





I just watched someone's live version of "Inch of Dust" on Youtube and it was fantastic. Yes, Sam Herring, the singer, is a bit crazy, reminds me of Jack Black being all intense. I love Jack Black, so what does that tell you?

Yes, it means I love Sam Herring. His lyrics are phenomenal. His singing is emotional. You just don't get that these days. LOVE. Big fat love.



Here's a beautiful live performance from NPR. Man, there's just something about his voice. Kills me. Hope you love it. Seriously, you better love it. Or else.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Note from Alexander the Great's Mother. Kidding. It's Just Me. Nicole.

Attention everyone: I have an announcement to make. My son, Corbet, has officially learned how to point and say, "Ah." Sure, when someone ELSE'S kid does it, it's just yeah, you know? Oh. Huh. Cute.

But when MY son does it, he's demonstrating his superior intellect. He's not even a year old yet. The boy understands POINTING. He might as well be writing out complex equations that calculate the wind-speed velocity of the slope of a rocket ship. I have no idea if that's a thing, but it sounds intense.

Anyway, when he does it, I melt and laugh and give him a big fat smooch.

 Corbet on his first swing as a big kid. Well, big-GER than when he was a newborn in a swing. That's his dad's hand. 
Beautiful hand. And the boy is beautiful too, if I do say so myself. And I do.


So that's fun. It makes up for the three or four interruptions of my good nights' rest. Which isn't a good nights' rest at all, unless I were to go to sleep at ten. I don't, so every night's sort of hellish. I SHOULD, but I don't. When else am I supposed to read if not in bed, before falling to sleep? There's no time the rest of the day.

Corbet is also walking like a brand new colt. His legs are a bit wobbly, and he falls a lot, but he's actually learning to stand in the middle of the room. Any new walker understands how difficult this is—free-standing, you know. Instead of crawling to a stationary object, he's realized he can make his legs straight with his hands on the floor and then sort of rise up.

It's pretty amazing when you see it.

Additionally, he's been attempting to run. He usually falls, but that doesn't seem to stop him from trying again. Lately he's taken to walking to my Simple Human garbage can (that made me throw up when I was pregnant!), opening it, and taking trash out.

That's pretty awesome. The best is when it's got cat vomit in it (my orange cat seems to have a weak stomach and throws up once a day at least) and Corbet pulls the paper towel out with the cat vomit in it.

 Orange cat with a weak stomach. Also works as a window security system.

Ok, so that only happened once and then we learned our lesson. Cat vomit goes in the OUTSIDE garbage can. Plus it stinks something delicious.

Something delicious. To describe a bad smell. I like it.

It's adorable and I know it doesn't bode well for the future, but I can't help but laugh when Corbet heads to the garbage can and I say, "Cor-BET," where my voice goes up on the last syllable, like "Oh no you DOOON'T." He laughs and squeals and runs for the corner where the garbage can hides. And I run after him. He laughs like crazy. 

I laugh too, of course. How can I resist? It's hilarious to me that he's learned there are forbidden things that he'll get in trouble for. Sometimes he shakes his head and turns away, like he really knows how to mind. I wonder how long THAT will last.

Maybe forever. Maybe he'll be a perfect saint, unlike his mom and dad. One can hope!

Right now he's in this phase—Stoker keeps saying everything's a phase—where he wants me to hold him ALL the time. It's a bit inconvenient, but I try to enjoy it, knowing that at some point he'll never want to cuddle, he'll only want to play and be as far from me as possible.

That happens, right?

Being a mom is pretty great. I can't wait to teach him how to take over the world. I've got my lesson plans all laid out and soon, I'll begin guiding him toward world-domination. He'll be a great ruler. It's going to be awesome.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ostriching and Generalizing Great Literature

First off, I missed a huge opportunity by living with my head in the sand.

Last weekend there was a rather important writing conference like ten steps from my front door. There were a couple of agents attending that I would have liked to meet and I even have two novels essentially ready to pitch. I put one up for sale on the Kindle store already, but my intent is to still try to get representation with it.

Is that kosher? I have no idea. I guess I haven't really looked into it. But it doesn't matter because I keep writing anyway and will never stop. So I'll always have something to sell. I like to keep forty irons in the fire at once. That way I'll never die. Unfinished business, right?

My goal is to live forever. I'm sure I can. I'm sure they'll have the secrets of immortality unlocked by the time I'm sixty-five. If not, I'll just keep living as a Methusaleh sort of character.

Ok, and another thing I'm thinking about is how derogatory and limiting the term "chick-lit" is. I mean, what gives? I swear I've mentioned this before, but we don't call books that are merely written for a general audience "dick-lit," but I'm thinking we should. Forgive the crassness, please, I'm simply trying to illustrate a point.

So I'm reading a Sophie Kinsella book right now and it's genius. PURE genius. I appreciate it on many levels, one of them being that I'm a writer myself and know how difficult it can be create humor in writing. Perhaps it's easy for Sophie, she seems like the type for whom it might come easy. I haven't read a "chick-lit" novel in some time, so I'm really enjoying it.

Normally I guess I read "dick-lit" because I read things that are not written for women. See? I mean, if you're going to call something that's just about people having hilarious conversations and experiences "chick-lit," then isn't everything else by default meant for men and therefore "dick-lit"?

Ok, so I'm being a bit obtuse, yes. I'll give you that. But it really irks me that Sophie Kinsella's books are being categorized in such a way that if a man wants to read it, he's by default totally emasculating himself, YET if a woman picks up a Hemingway novel, she's being smart.

Totally blows.

And I love Hemingway.

This all relates to feminist theory, and the whole male-gaze bull-crap which also really irks me. The nature of genres and categorizing is to make things easier and I appreciate it all in many ways, but I also think it's highly unfair and a rip-off to target-market in this way. I'd like to be able to say to my husband:

"Hey dude, you really really need to read this Sophie Kinsella book. It's freaking hilarious." And be able to have him say:

"Sure," without being under the impression—given to him by genius marketers and advertisers—that he's about to embark on something that will just bore the hell out of him because it's like, you know, shopping or something (given, some of her books are about shopping, yes, but not the one I'm reading).

Sorry, I must be feeling a bit sweary tonight. I just said hell and it felt right. Yes, I've had one of those long days where you just want to draw a bath, sip some champagne (I don't drink, but it might be relaxing), read, and say, "Calgon, take me away!" But instead I'm writing this blog post and getting more riled up the more I think about the marketing injustices created by absolute genius marketers.

"Hey," I'm sure they say, "better to have an audience than to be lost in the mess of books and bookshelves."

"See," they say, "her books would have ended up falling into those categories without our help. We just did what would come naturally anyway. And we marketed to a built-in audience."

Yeah? Well, they also intentionally give her books pink, flirtatious covers that supposedly attract women also. Right? Pink is well-known to be a woman-magnet, and it's not even that we've been socialized that way! It just happens!

Right. I know. I've watched my son pick between dolls and cars, and without any sort of prompting he picks cars. I'm not joking. I understand these things.

I just find it wrong. Look at an equivalent author to Sophie Kinsella and Helen Fielding, Nick Hornby. Does he get categorized into being meant just for male readers? No. I've read all his books. He IS the male Sophelen (combo of Sophie and Helen). Nick's books are considered to be just literature. And women can pick them up, read them, and be considered up-to-date.

Anyway. Meh. Bleh. I know I'm swimming upstream here, griping about things that are just, well, the nature of our civilization. It's like trying to stop female singers from singing in loud, screechy, high-pitched voices because it grates on your nerves, you know. They ought to sing in more mellow tones. After all, they have a freaking mike in front of their mouth, don't they? Just sing normal.

But no. They can't. They think loud is better.

Sorry. I'm sitting in a coffee shop, the speaker's right above me, and it's a girl singing to high heaven at eleven the entire time. My ear-drums are shot. I need some ear-muffs.

Well, there you have it. Irritated about everything. But really not. I'm pretty excited that Sophie Kinsella is so good, and all the men out there who don't read her books because she's called chick-lit are idiots. Their loss. A woman wouldn't hesitate to pick up, say a Tom Clancy or Nick Hornby and let them be judged for their writing and not their genres/category.

I guess that's why the world is OUR oyster. Us. Women, I mean. Because we're less limited by societal perception.

Somehow. I know that makes sense. I'll figure it out later. I need to figure out this music situation or else I'm going to die of irritation.

Sing normal!

Oh, thank heaven. Ear-pluggy type ear-buds, life-savers that you are.