Week Four: Challenges and Illuminations

January 31, 2012 § Leave a comment

January 29, 2012

“Begin your day by reading something nourishing.”—from Dani Shapiro’s 28-day writing habits challenge
That was easy enough with the second book of my Goodreads challenge, The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening. I had listened to it on Audiobook last year and was immediately hooked. It’s an addictive and fast read, so I actually have a little more than a snowball’s chance in you-know-where of finishing it before the month is over, thereby staying on schedule.

“Wait until you’ve been at work for awhile before checking email or going online.”—from Dani Shapiro’s 28-day writing habits challenge
I kicked the habit of checking my Black(Crack)berry as soon as I get up, and because of this productivity boost I was able to post my book review and work on my novel and still get to bed on time. (I am trying this no checking email every ten minutes thing at my day job, too. It is a bit more problematic, though, since people, especially my boss, like to pop into my office and say, “Did you see that email?”) It turns out that beginning the day by reading also helps with writer’s block, which I experience frequently. My brain freezes when I sit down knowing that I only have twenty minutes left to write something before I get ready for work, but reading for a few minutes first really gets the brain working.

Friday night I attended an Air Force awards ceremony for my friend, where I got to swim in a veritable sea of clean cut men in sharp uniform. Unfortunately, I had a wardrobe malfunction (note to self: always carry safety pins—always), so I spent most of the time trying to duck and cover, so to speak, and had to bail as soon as the dinner was over. No dancing and no flirting for me. I came home instead and stayed up way too late drinking vodka and reading. That helped me all but forget this latest episode in my trying-to-put-myself-out-there-and-meet-somebody comedy of errors.

Saturday morning was the Black History Month Kick-Off Brunch with guest speaker Donna Brazile, who quoted my literary hero Maya Angelou: it is through our defeats that we discover who we are and what we’re capable of rising above. When I heard that I immediately thought that this concept is the basis of all good stories, not to mention our life’s journey. It is because of the defeats that the hero grows stronger.

The weekend culminated in driving to Santa Fe with my homegirls to do a photo shoot for an upcoming web series. It was a beautiful Sunday New Mexico morning—sunny, blue skies, 32 degrees. We listened to Pink’s Funhouse CD and I sat in the backset with my notebook and my Blackberry, scribbling away.

Book Review: Club Dead by Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse #3)

January 26, 2012 § 2 Comments

1 Down, 24 to Go on Goodreads Challenge

Cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse is forced to rethink her feelings for her vampire boyfriend Bill Compton. Sure, he’s hot, the sex is amazing, and telepathic Sookie can’t literally hear Bill’s thoughts, making him the only man she has ever been able to get close to romantically. Yet being in a vampire’s world has a downside: the blood, the beatings, the bodies, and, now, Bill’s betrayal. A betrayal with deadly repercussions.

Sookie is dismayed when Bill leaves town on a mysterious mission, giving her nothing but a vague explanation and instructions on what to do if anything happens to him. Then he goes missing in Mississippi, and Sookie sets off to find him. With the help of Eric, the tall, blond, dangerous vampire sheriff, she infiltrates the sinister underground hangout Club Dead, looking for information. What she finds out is not pleasant. Bill has been kidnapped, and the vampires who are holding him captive are now after Sookie. She must use all her wits to find and save Bill, before he winds up deader than he already is, and she winds up just plain dead.

Club Dead is the third in the Sookie Stackhouse series and my favorite book so far. Two reasons: Sookie and Eric. Sookie is tougher and more resourceful than ever, despite violent attempts on her life by supernatural beings and unhappy discoveries about her boyfriend’s loyalty.  She doesn’t know if Eric is a friend or a foe, yet her refusal to be cowed by him seems to increase his regard for her. In more ways than one.

Fans of the True Blood HBO show, which is based on the Sookie Stackhouse series, will appreciate the novels’ irreverent blend of horror, mystery, sex, and humor. In one way, I prefer the books, because the stories focus on Sookie, the grounded, spirited, working-class girl at the center of all the chaos. More often than not, she is the one rescuing herself as well as the powerful, superhuman men who are drawn to her.

Week Three: Strange Synchronicities

January 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

January 22, 2012
This weekend I returned to the cave. It has to be done now and again. Don’t go anywhere, don’t talk to anyone. It was heaven. That probably makes me sound a little anti-social. Good thing I write.


1 Down, 24 to Go of Goodreads Challenge

Saturday I holed up and, along with tackling piles of laundry and catching up on paperwork, I finally finished Club Dead. (My book review will be posted this week.) The only problem is, in a reckless moment of over-confidence, I also signed up for the Goodreads challenge: read twenty-five books in the year 2012. I don’t know what possessed me to enter “twenty-five,” it just seemed like a good number at the time. That’s like, two books a month plus one. I am now one down, twenty-four to go. I need to read one more book in the next week or already be behind. Why do I do these things to myself?

It is now officially a habit. Every day I wrote, and the only day I did not work on my book was to finish the Comic Con article. The strange thing is, I published my post about Comic Con that included a blurb about actor Daniel Gillies on the same day that his character, Elijah, made his surprise return to The Vampire Diaries. Gillies’ compelling villain had not been on the show since the end of Season 2, and how we had missed him.

Friday morning I was back to work on my book. I was thinking about what song my character would dedicate on the radio to the girl he likes, and “I’d Rather Go Blind” by Etta James popped into my head. Out of nowhere. I haven’t heard that song in years. Later that day at work, while listening to a jazz show on the radio, I heard that Etta James had passed away that morning. Then one of my Facebook friends, a local DJ, posted a video of his favorite Etta James song. It’s “I’d Rather Go Blind.”

Friday night, before heading into the cave of solitude, I went with a  group of friends to see Red Tails, the George Lucas movie about the Tuskegee Airmen. (Commentary to come later.)  I will say that between the broken projector and the armed security guard and the conspiracy theories and the paper airplanes and the hunt for food in Albuquerque at 11:30 on a Friday night and the drive in the dark through the Blair Witch Project parking lot from hell and the buffalo wings that were absolutely horrible, we had a total blast.

Good times ahead.

Albuquerque Comic Con, 1/14/12

January 19, 2012 § 7 Comments

Skipping barefoot across the lawn. Eating peanut butter by the spoonful out of the jar. Sitting cross-legged in a corner by the window with a comic book open in your lap. The simple, splendiferous joys of childhood.

Titans of Myth (comics)

Image via Wikipedia

When I was a little girl, many lonely weekends and lazy summer days were spent with friendly ghost Casper and his magical best friend Wendy. Tween growing pains were sweetened by the adventures of Josie and the Pussycats. The leap into adolescence was fueled by the excitement, romance, and tragedy of the young superhero gang The New Teen Titans. Then my family moved to another city and away from the neighborhood store where I would spend all my allowance on Betty and Veronica and Scooby Doo. Comic book prices rose as the content shrank and the supply dwindled. A possessed person pretending to be me sold a chunk of my comics (yep, don’t want to talk about it) and the rest of my collection got boxed up and stored out of sight. Years passed.

Last year, Albuquerque launched two inaugural comic book conventions, and I rediscovered my childhood, my bliss, a piece of my soul.

“I don’t know where I’d be without comics.” –Lou Ferrigno. Source: Albuquerque Journal, Venue, 1/13/12

As a kid, Lou Ferrigno was bullied because of the way he talked (he is partially deaf) and he would escape into comic books, imagining himself to be the big strong hero. He then grew up to became a world-class body building champion, winning Mr. Universe twice in a row. As the Incredible Hulk on the TV show that ran from 1978–1982, he embodied with his own flesh, blood, and muscle the rage-fueled character of enormous size and power. Since him, the Hulk has only been able to be recreated by CGI. The man just turned 60, yet looks 40. A testament to the transformative power comic stories have on real lives.

Brent Spiner said that often times, when playing the emotionless android Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation, his fans did the work for him. In the episode where Tasha Yar’s sister betrays the Enterprise, there is a scene where Data gazes at a memento she had given him, contemplating her betrayal. Spiner was supposed to be conveying hurt and confusion, but his mind was just blank. “I would get letters from people saying, ‘I could see what you were feeling in that scene,’ but I wasn’t feeling anything.” It was all about what the fans imagined he was feeling. “It was a very symbiotic relationship.”

Daniel Gillies at Albuquerque Comic Con, 1/14/12

The Battle of Art vs. Commerce
Daniel Gillies, who plays the supremely powerful Original vampire Elijah on The Vampire Diaries, took the part because “I needed a job. I was $120,000 in debt.” He wrote and directed a film titled Broken Kingdom (currently in post-production), a passion project, and one that he had difficulty financing—hence the debt. People that he approached for funding wanted him to cast his famous friends and make the story  —“about a poor black kid in the slums of Colombia”—more appealing. Potential financiers often pretended to be on board and would “dangle my dream in front me like a carrot on a donkey’s nose. I still get angry thinking about it.” The panel mediator commended Gillies for seeing his project through without getting bitter, and Gillies replied, “Oh, I got bitter. But I also got enlightened. I found out people are not as sweet as I thought they were.” He said that while he did not regret the experience at all, he would definitely make it easier on himself next time around, and try to make the project more commercially viable.

Fun Quotes
“Patrick was this serious British actor and the rest of us were just clowns. When we were filming the episode where Tasha Yar dies and we’re all on that hill saying our goodbyes, Patrick starts whirling around singing, ‘The hills are alive!’ That’s when he became one of us.” — Brent Spiner on Patrick Stewart

“Me, personally, I would be drawn to Katherine because I think she’s more interesting. Elijah would be drawn to Elena because he would value her purity and nobility, qualities she possesses at a young age that some people don’t achieve in a lifetime.” — Daniel Gillies on Katherine vs. Elena

Fantastic Links
Artist Jon Hughes is my hero. I bought two beautiful Wonder Woman prints and can’t wait to hang them on my home office wall. Check out the gallery on his website.
Check out Albuquerque Comic Con’s Facebook page for some awesome fan photos!

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