Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The 14.5k Likes Giveaway


The rules are simple. The more pages you like and follow, the more points you rack up. And the more points you rack up, the greater your chance of winning! Good luck!


***Prizes will be divided between 4 winners by the sponsors.*** 
 ***All prize designations are non-negotiable and final.***


Each author and/or blog listed in the sweepstakes is responsible for shipping/emailing their own giveaway donations to prize winners.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Friday, April 11, 2014

Mini Movie Reviews


This week I've got reviews for Freezer, Gravity, Odd Thomas, and Contracted.  
MY GRADE KEY: A+ (Outstanding); A (Perfect); A- (Almost Perfect); B+(Great); B (Very Good/Memorable); B- (Good w/some flaws); C+ (Above average); C (Average); C- (Okay, but disappointing); D+ (Bad); D (VERY bad); D- (Dreadful); F (Don't waste your time)



FREEZER





Year: 2014
Rated: R
Time: 91 minutes

Netflix Synopsis: A mechanic is knocked unconscious at his birthday dinner and wakes up to find himself locked inside the restaurant's walk-in freezer. But why he's there will reveal a chilling nightmare of mistaken identity, the Russian mob and a missing $8 million.

My Grade: B-

My Take: I really enjoyed this. I went in thinking it would be another B movie stinker, but it was actually suspenseful *and* it had a twist at the end. Dylan McDermott keeps the tension up and holds the movie together, which is not easy considering 95% of it takes place inside a freezer.



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GRAVITY 




Year: 2013
Rated: PG-13
Time: 91 minutes

Netflix Synopsis: As a medical engineer on her first shuttle mission embarks on a space walk with a seasoned astronaut, debris strikes their craft and destroys it -- leaving the two floating through space tethered together, with no connection to Earth.

My Grade: B+

My Take: The special effects were mind-blowing and I loved the concept. It kept me entertained, and on the edge of my seat wondering what the heck could go wrong next. The ending was a little anti-climactic for me, but overall this was a decent film.

  

======================

ODD THOMAS 



Year: 2013
Rated: NR
Time: 96 minutes

Netflix Synopsis: In a California desert town, a short-order cook with clairvoyant abilities encounters a mysterious man with a link to dark, threatening forces. Anton Yelchin stars as the titular character in this adaptation of Dean Koontz's best-selling thriller.

My Grade: B-

My Take: I was pleasantly surprised by this film. Sure, the special effects were a bit cheesy, but the acting was good and the story kept me engaged. This guy can predict when a disaster is about to happen. He can also see dead people. Not an original concept, but I'd still watch it again.

 

======================




CONTRACTED 




Year: 2013
Rated: NR
Time: 85 minutes

Netflix Synopsis: On the outs with her girlfriend and overwhelmed by daily stress, a young woman has a one-night-stand with a strange man at a party and soon becomes alarmingly ill. But what she thinks is a sexually transmitted disease turns out to be far worse.

My Grade: C+

My Take: An STD that turns you into a zombie. Who'd a thunk it? The makeup was so good it was downright scary. A girl goes to a party, has sex with a guy in a car and the next day she wakes up and her body begins to deteriorate. Oh, and btw, the guy she caught the disease from works in a morgue and likes to have sex with corpses. Yeah, I know. ::sigh:: So the viewer is left to assume this is where he picked the disease up. He seems to just be a carrier though because he didn't have any outward symptoms. Anyway, the film failed big time with the shoddy medical treatment/advice the heroine got. With everything that was happening to her, the girl should have been hospitalized and quarantined. Instead she continued walking around, not demanding that she get better care. This was the case of a TSTL heroine and a clueless doctor. Even so, it's worth a watch. This movie is currently streaming on Netflix.

 
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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Within Temptation Cover Reveal!


Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Mini Movie Reviews


This week I've got reviews and commentary about Austenland, Diana, Blackfish, Romeo + Juliet, Haunter, and Rush.  
MY GRADE KEY:A+ (Outstanding); A (Perfect); A- (Almost Perfect); B+(Great); B (Very Good/Memorable); B- (Good w/some flaws); C+ (Above average); C (Average); C- (Okay, but disappointing); D+ (Bad); D (VERY bad); D- (Dreadful); F (Don't waste your time)
 

AUSTENLAND

Date: 2013, Rated: PG-13 Time: 97 minutes, Genre: Romantic Comedy

My Grade: C

Netflix Synopsis: Jane Hayes is so taken with Jane Austen's novels that she decides to splurge on a trip to an English resort that caters to Austen fans. But when the authentic period romance Jane was promised proves unacceptable, she acts to alter her fate.

My Take: This was sort of a mixed bag for me. While the costumes and setting were very well done, the cast was hit or miss, the acting was uneven, the script needed more work and the direction was all over the place. Things I liked: The clever way they loosely followed the plot of Pride and Prejudice; JJ Feild's suave and stoic portrayal of the Mr. Darcy "archetype," and Jane Seymour as Austenland's eccentric owner. This wasn't a bad movie. It just wasn't a great one. Whatever the case, if you like romance with a plash of the farcical, this one's for you.


   
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DIANA

Date: 2013; Rated: PG-13; Time: 113 minutes; Genre: Drama

My Grade: B

Netflix Synopsis: Princess Diana, the world's most-watched woman, struggles to find herself after her painful divorce. In the two years before her death, she embarks on a vital campaign to ban landmines and on a passionate love affair with heart surgeon Hasnat Khan.

My Take: Naomi Watts did a great job slipping into the late Lady Di's skin. She delivers a very heartfelt and nuanced performance as the troubled, and oftentimes misunderstood modern royal. I was very surprised at how Diana actively manipulated the media, which was quite clever of her. I guess she figured they would never leave her alone, so why not use them to her advantage? I was also surprised to learn that she wasn't in love with Dodi Fayed, and instead fell deeply in love with Dr. Khan, and was still very much in love with him at the time of her death.



Bonus: Here's her memorable interview with Martin Bashir in 1995.


==============================

BLACKFISH

Date: 2013; Rated: PG-13; Time: 80 minutes; Genre: Documentary

My Rating: B-

Netflix Synopsis: This fascinating documentary examines the life of performing killer whale Tilikum -- who has caused the deaths of several people while in captivity -- and questions the safety and humaneness of confining these intelligent creatures.

My Take: This was a highly emotional piece that chronicles the tragic deaths of killer whale trainers and the extremely sad lives of whales held in captivity. There is a lot of controversy going on about this film, namely from animal rights activists who, for decades, have railed against places like SeaWorld, charging them with inhumane practices. To stave the Blackfish backlash, SeaWorld has responded with an aggressive PR campaign that, according to some reports, has done little to improve public perception. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. However, regardless of whether half the claims by the film's producers are true, I don't believe these magnificent animals should be held in captivity. Anyone viewing Blackfish should be able to see why.

This movie is currently streaming on Netflix.

 
==============================

ROMEO + JULIET

Date: 2013; Rated: PG-13; Time: 118 minutes; Genre: Romantic Drama/Shakespearean Tragedy

My Grade: B+




Neflix Synopsis: Oscar-winning writer and "Downton Abbey" creator Julian Fellowes provides the screenplay for this version of Shakespeare's classic tale. The action unfolds in Renaissance Verona with Douglas Booth and Hailee Steinfeld playing the star-crossed lovers.

My Take: I don't know why I do this to myself. How many freaking R&J movies do I have to watch before I stop hoping they'll go off script? This is a tragedy, so why do I keep praying that the writers will allow R&J an HEA? IT NEVER HAPPENS, but yet and still, I spend five to ten minutes crying and hoping Romeo will open his eyes during "the" death scene, when it's clear that he's NOT going to wake up. Einstein's definition of insanity truly applies here. Doing the same thing over and over again, and then expecting a different result. When will I ever learn?

 
==============================

HAUNTER

Date: 2013; Rating: NR; Time: 1hr 37m; Genre: Horror

My Grade: B-

Netflix Synopsis: Putting a new spin on spooky, the haunted soul in this film -- 15-year-old Lisa -- is long dead, and the ghost she senses is a flesh-and-blood teen. Once Lisa figures out the score, she must help her real-life haunter unravel their house's secrets.

My Take: This was surprisingly original. It starts off very mysteriously, and the viewer is left trying to piece things together. Once you do, they pull the rug out from under you, and you're left to try to piece things together again. Haunter is far from predictable, and it's very entertaining. It's also currently streaming on Netflix.


==============================

RUSH

Year: 2013; Rated: RTime: 123 minutes; Genre: Biographical Drama

My Rating: A-

Netflix Synopsis: This dramatic portrayal of the intense 1970s rivalry between race drivers Niki Lauda and James Hunt captures the contrasts between the two champions. While Hunt was a charming and handsome ladies' man, Lauda was a loner with a single goal: victory.

My Take: This was a very exciting film based on the real life struggle between racing rivals Niki Lauda and James Hunt that led to tragedy, and triumph---for both of them. I'm not a race car fan at all, but Rush deftly pulls you into that wild thrill-seeking world, and doesn't let you go until the end. The characters are well drawn, the acting is top notch, the cinematography is stellar and the script is absolutely wonderful. Both actors brought their prospective characters to life. I would definitely watch this one again.

 
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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Five Mini Movie Reviews


Here are some short reviews for 5 movies I've viewed recently via Netflix. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Fruitvale Station, The Conjuring, Easy Money and Alien Uprising.  


The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Year: 2013 Rated: PG-13 Length: 130 minutes My Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 Language: English

Netflix Synopsis: After teen Clary Fray witnesses a murder at a New York nightclub, a sinister stranger named Valentine attacks and kidnaps her mother. Endowed with supernatural vision, Clary recruits a band of youthful human-angel hybrids to help rescue her mother.

My Take: It wasn't as bad as some reviewers claim. It kept me entertained and had nice special effects. However, the incest thing kinda put a damper on it for me. I mean, how can you not be a little creeped out by it? I haven't read the books, so I don't know whether it's true or not. Guess I'll have to wait for the sequel, if they do one.


   
====================================

Fruitvale Station

Year: 2013 Rated: R Length: 90 minutes My Rating: 4 out of 5 Language: English

Netflix Synopsis: This dramatic rendering of a real-life tragedy recounts the final hours of Oscar Grant, shot by San Francisco transit police on New Year's Day, 2009. In portraying the energy Oscar brought to life, the film mourns the tragic loss of a unique soul.

My Take: I've been a huge fan of Michael B. Jordan since his stint on Friday Night Lights. I also loved him in Chronicle, and he didn't disappoint in this movie. The film doesn't paint Oscar Grant in a negative or positive light. It basically shows him as a regular human being struggling with life, like we all do. I will admit that I cried at the end because of course, with this being a true story, I could not believe how it all went down. I was outraged and saddened by the tragic turn of events, and the fact that Oscar was trying to turn his life around made it even more heart-wrenching.


 
====================================
 
The Conjuring

Year: 2013 Rated: R Length: 112 minutes My Rating: 3 out of 4 Language: English

Netflix Synopsis: Based on true events, this spine-chiller tells the story of a New England family who begins having encounters with spirits in their farmhouse, and the paranormal experts who help them do battle with the supernatural forces.

My Take: Honestly? I'm a die hard fan of Vera Farmiga. I love this lady. However, this film got on my nerves. It started out okay, but then it became annoying. The screaming and loud noises got so bad that I actually turned it off. I couldn't deal with it.  The Conjuring is a highly rated film, so this is probably just me. Bottom line, it's watchable---that is, if you like a constant barrage of shrieking and the use of loud noises to jar the viewer.

   


====================================

Easy Money (aka Snabba Cash)

Year: 2010 Rated: R Length: 119 minutes My Rating: 5 out of 5 Language: Swedish

Netflix Synopsis: Three criminals' lives collide as they try to make it big, with a deadly chain of events initiated by an escaped crook battling the Serbian mob. His scheme to steal a fortune in cocaine is abetted by an impoverished con artist and an enforcer.

My Take: This is a solid foreign thriller filled with twists and turns that keep you at the edge of your seat. It's got a lot going for it. Martin Scorsese for one and The Killing hottie Joel Kinnaman.  The thing I liked about this movie is that it had several protagonists who were at odds with each other. This left the viewer with the task of trying to decide who to support. Each character is shown struggling with personal issues juxtaposed with the crime aspect, which humanizes them. They're all bad guys, but then, they're all relatively good guys too, so it's really hard to figure out who to root for. If I had to pick something to complain about, it was the ending. One character did something that left me tossing my hands up. Other than that, Easy Money easily rocks. I'm anxiously waiting for Neflix to get the sequel, Easy Money: Hard to Kill.


   
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Alien Uprising

Year: 2012 Rated: R Length: 101 minutes My Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 Language: English

Netflix Synopsis: One night five friends are out drinking, the next they're struggling to survive in a landscape controlled by alien invaders in this sci-fi chiller. Anarchy is in the air as an enormous spacecraft hovers overhead and order breaks down on the ground.

My Take: This UK flick was surprisingly good. Not predictable at all like most horror films these days, especially those of the alien invasion variety. It started off normally with a wild night at a club with a  group of friends. They drink, they dance, they fight, they screw, and then they wake up the next day, nursing hangovers, only to discover something strange is going on. Events happen gradually as realization slowly sinks in, until all hell breaks loose and chaos ensues. Added bonus, Jean-Claude Van Damme makes an appearance, and even performs a couple of his signature kicks.  Alien Uprising is currently streaming on Netflix.


 
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Thursday, February 13, 2014

For Your Eyes Only :-)


Here are the latest promos for Within Temptation:




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    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

    JUICY Indie vs. Traditional Publishing Debate


    There is an EXCELLENT article posted over at JA Konrath’s website. It’s a debate between Steve Zacharius, CEO of Kensington and JA (Joe), a hybrid author. Here’s a snippet just to whet your appetite, but please go read the whole thing. It’s a humdinger!
    Steve: Now maybe you can answer this question without jumping down my throat….if indie publishing is as good as you’re all making it sound…..why do you think that the biggest and most successful authors in publishing don’t go this route? Why isn’t Nora Roberts, Patterson, Lee Child, etc….going this route? Do you think it’s just the large advances they get? And even if you go down a notch from the megastars….those that are getting above a $50,000 advance for example….why do they stay with publishing houses?

    Joe: Do people in happy marriages have affairs? Or do they stick with their spouse? If I had been making great money with my publishers, I would have stayed with them. What impetus would there have been to leave? And if I’d been given sweeteners like escalators, cover approval, expensive promotional campaigns, widespread print distribution, and large launches at BEA with massive media attention, I’d be defending legacy publishers right now instead of being on the other side of the fence. But very few authors get that kind of treatment. The vast majority don’t. In fact, a lot of them sign unconscionable contracts, are treated poorly, and make very little money (as referenced by the deleted blog post that started this line of inquiry.)
    HELLO! lol ...My brief take? Having read the whole article, the numbers Joe quotes from his own sales are wonderful, but they’re far from the norm for most self-published authors. As seen from this exchange:
    Steve: Did you see the recent posts from Writer’s Digest that 80% of self-published authors make less than $1000. That’s from a survey of 9500 writers.


    Joe: And that’s $1000 more than they would have made if they never were accepted by a legacy publisher. BTW, why wasn’t I surveyed? If I and a few choice friends were asked, we could have really bumped up that average.
    EVEN SO, he makes some great arguments for going Indie. The “unconscionable contracts” being one of them. 

    Cross-posted at Southern Fried Chicas.
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    Wednesday, January 15, 2014


    This week was an extreme learning experience. I'm getting my book together for my September release and I just went through edits. Still doing some, but I'm in the final stages. Biggest lesson learned? You can never have too many beta/proofreaders. They are a window into your reader's eyes. They represent your audience, so listening to them is essential. So is knowing what to incorporate and what to ignore….

    The biggest surprise? While each beta found mostly the same typos, each one also found a typo or missing word that none of the others did! This is why I say you can never have enough proofreaders. I have read over this manuscript something like a billion times and I was amazed at how many things my eyes missed. 

    The human brain has a tendency to try and fill in the blanks. So if you keep looking at something over and over again, your mind is going hide stuff from you. This is also true for your betas. Their brains may fill in a word or miss a misspelled word that another beta will zero in on. I had six people reading at the same time and each one found different stuff. 

    As long as you know your voice (and what needs to stay or go in your WIP), there is no harm in having a cadre of people to proof/beta read for you. It can only help. One last thing. Know the difference between a CP, a Beta Reader, an Editor and a Proofreader.

    You need them all.

    Cross-posted at Southern Fried Chicas writer's blog.
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    Saturday, January 04, 2014

    Within Temptation Teaser


    This is the latest book promo for Within Temptation. It's not the cover. Just a teaser.

    And here's another one.
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    Wednesday, January 01, 2014

    Resolutions, goals and other crap we say and never do


    First off HAPPY FREAKING NEW YEAR!!!
    Now, you know the drill. What are your writerly goals, and how determined are you to see them through? What were your goals last year? Did you meet them?

    Cross-posted on SFC writer's blog.
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    Sunday, December 22, 2013

    Website Makeover


    My DH just recently did a total website makeover for me. The dusty thing hasn't been updated since 2006, so it was due. Check it out here.
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    Wednesday, December 18, 2013

    The Surprise Ending


    Cross posted on Southern Fried Chica's writer's blog.

    This just blew my mind this weekend. I have had a paranormal on ice since forever. I'd mapped out the ending scenes 15 in all, and then proceeded to avoid the book like the plague because I was intimidated. Well, this weekend I actually went in and started up again and then a miracle happened.

    But first let me backtrack. I write out of sequence. Yeah, I'm one of those writers. If chapter 3 scene 2 isn't jiving, I'll move on to Chapter 17 scene 1. Hey, that's how they make movies, you know? Production is not in sequential order…

    Anyway, I digress.

    Long story short, I decided to quantum leap to the climax of the book (which had about another 9 scenes to go)--only to discover, much to my surprise that I didn't need the nine scenes. I'd reached the end, and all I'd have to do is write four additional scenes to revise and wrap up everything. I couldn't believe it. I'd had this ending planned, and then I realized, hey, you're ending it now. And this one is just as fulfilling. 

    Has this EVER happened to you? Have you written a book, knowing where you had to end, only to realize, your ending should be sooner?
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    Wednesday, December 11, 2013

    Grand Beginnings


    Cross-posted at Southern Fried Chica's writer's blog:

    Am I the only one who has to get the opening *right* in a new WIP before moving on? To me, if the first few chapters are off kilter, everything else seems to go to hades. 


    I'm not talking about making the words pretty (although I do have a tendency to obsess over that). I'm talking about character motivations and the basic plot. In a new WIP, we don't always know everything when we start, but for me, I have to have that anchor there so if I venture too far away from the crash site, something will be there to tug me back.
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    Wednesday, December 04, 2013

    Forks and Roads


    scared-kid
    Cross-posted on Southern Fried Chica's writer's blog.

    I don't like change. In fact, I avoid it at every turn, but there comes a time when you have to either crap or get off the commode. Everyone faces this sort of situation at least once -- when one decision holds a million possibilities and/or consequences. 


     The only question is, do we have the courage to choose? Or, do we just stay on the path we've been on because it 'feels' safe and familiar, even if it's leading us nowhere. True, there's a boatload of difference between the known and the unknown. The known means comfort and familiarity. Problem is, oftentimes, the 'known' holds hidden as well as overt dangers we're too blind or naive to see. 


    This is a post about fear, something I'm very familiar with having recently made a very frightening career decision. One thing I learned was that I was never going to get on the right path until I took that first step off the wrong one, and when I speak about 'wrong,' I'm not talking about a situation or circumstances, I'm talking about a mindset


    What did I learn? That I had to leave my doubts and fears on the cutting room floor and take a chance. On me. 


     Career-wise (or just life in general), what is the scariest decision you've had to make? Did you regret it, or did it turn out to be one of the wisest things you've ever done?
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    Wednesday, November 20, 2013

    Farfegnugen


    Cross posted at Southern Fried Chicas

    Remember that VW commercial … farfegnugen? The one where driver and car become one? Bliss like happens in every writer's dreams each time she sits in front of the keyboard, but in reality, most of us miss the poetry and kisses because we're just not feeling it. And unfortunately, the finished product sticks out like a cold sore. Up until about two weeks ago, the hero and heroine in my current opus were just stick people. I moved them here and there, according to what the plot dictated. Obviously, something was missing.

    That something was me.


    I wasn't invested in these people. They were just a means to an end. The proverbial stepchildren in the house who are cared for, but largely unloved and ignored. How did I cross the gap? By spending time with them. It was painful at first. I squirmed and groaned because I was, frankly, bored. It's like making polite conversation with a stranger when you'd rather be somewhere else. You don't know this person, nor do you really care to get to know them. You just want out.

    In my case, it was a catch 22 thingie. I hadn't a clue about these characters and that led to frustration. Next, came avoidance, and finally dread. But to rid myself of these annoying emotions and behaviors, I had to chain myself to the laptop. Forced proximity is what they call it. So I forced myself to stare at a blank page. Forced myself to start typing nonsense. Then they slowly came around. Or was it me? Whatever the case, I was in business again. And wonder of wonders ... my fingers started to fly over the keyboard.

    Soooo…. Ladies and gents, I present to you: Coltrane Dawson and Nina Gray. Two people I can't wait to get to know better.

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    Wednesday, November 13, 2013


    Wednesday, October 30, 2013

    The path not taken ... because frankly, It SUCKS.


    What happens when you reach a fork in the road, but you find that both routes are dark and untested?  You do a pros and cons list, that's what.

    For starters, both roads look promising when you begin your trip, but they have packs of rabid animals further down. There are also carnivorous plants as well as bumps and potholes the deeper you go.

    ... 

    And what if I told you that if you choose the road on the right, someone else will be driving your car and they will go as far and as fast as they so desire? They'll also refuse to tell you where they're taking you until you give them the keys. Even if you just want to know the general direction they're going in, they'll say they won't know until they begin the journey, despite the fact that they know very well where they're going and they've already taken your car for a test drive. Of course you just want to make sure you're both looking to go in the same direction, but they couldn't care less. Frankly, your questions annoy them. I mean, really, who are you to ask them anything, minion?  

    If they decide your car should be lime green or have purple polka dots, they expect you to repaint it, and if you object, they'll just get someone else to do it. They may even have someone else rebuild the engine or modify the frame while they're at it. Why? Because they can do anything they like. It's their prerogative after all. They live in their own private Idaho ... smack-dab in the middle of the Twilight Zone.

    In short, you have no say in how they treat your car or where they take it. Well, they say you do, but their itinerary says otherwise. In fact, no matter what they decide, they will never give your car back, and they definitely won't let you out. They've dead bolted the doors, and they won't let you leave even if they drive recklessly. Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell you that they've tied your feet and hands. They've also shoved a gag in your mouth because they don't allow complaints. If they damage your car's interior, you can't tell anyone. BUT they've benevolently offered to pay for the gas and maybe buy some oil every now and then, yet you'll be responsible for ALL general maintenance.

    However, if you take the road on the left you'll be able to drive the car, you'll have to pay for the gas though, and you'll still be responsible for washing and maintenance. The difference is that you can go as fast or as slow as you want and nobody will stuff a gag in your mouth. 


     I'll gladly take the road on the left, Alex. 

    And no, I'm not a diva. I just know COW manure when I smell it.
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    Wednesday, October 09, 2013

    Beginnings


    I'm currently about 50 pages in to Cole's book and it's really weird how the creative process works. When you first conceive of a book idea or a  character, you don't know how deep the rabbit hole goes until you jump in. So far, I'm still falling, and there appears to be no bottom. Not that I'm complaining because it is a learning process and I like that. However, I just wish I could know these characters a bit more before I take the plunge. It would make the writing process so much easier and I think I'd be far more productive. But it is what it is.

    That said, today I'm blogging over at Southern Fried Chicas. The topic? Fall TV Season So Far.

    Labels: , , ,

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    Thursday, September 26, 2013

    Long Time No See


    It's been a while since I last posted here. Okay, 5 years is more than a little while, however I took My Irrationalities offline for a lot of reasons, but mainly because blogging every day became a chore. So I moved over to Southern Fried Chicas (a group blog) where I've been posting since I closed this blog. I'm still staying at Chicas, but I'll also be blogging here once or twice a week, depending on whether I have something to say. 

     For now, it's good to be back. I missed this crazy place.
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    Thursday, April 03, 2008

    Chica Thursday


    I'm blogging over at Southern Fried Chica's today. The topic? The pains and pleasures of writing. Got an opinion? Come share!

    Labels:

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