Thursday, November 13, 2014

Blogging from A to Z Challenge - 2015 Team

Today is a big day over at the Blogging from A to Z site -- they're announcing the team behind the upcoming 2015 challenge. And though I've been posting there for the past two months, this is the first time I'm making the official announcement on my own blog that I will be making my team debut this coming April. I am so thrilled to be apart of this challenge, and I can't wait to get started!
So head on over to the Blogging from A to Z site and meet the rest of my amazing cohort! And don't forget that it's never too early to start thinking about themes and what you might want to write about for next year's challenge. Happy blogging!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Insecure Writer's Support Group

It's the first Wednesday of the month and time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. I am honored to be one of this month's co-hosts, along with Donna Hole, LG Keltner, Lisa Buie-Collard, and of course, Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh. If you're an insecure writer or just looking to give some support to those of us who are, check us out here!

Two days ago a friend of mine posted something on my Facebook about writing -- it was an excerpt from Amy Poehler's newest work 'Yes Please', and it was dead on. On the subject of writing, she says: 

Everyone lies about writing. They lie about how easy it is or how hard it was. They perpetuate a romantic idea that writing is some beautiful experience that takes place in an architectural room filled with leather novels and chai tea. They talk about their “morning ritual” and how they “Dress for writing” and the cabin in Big Sur where they go to “be alone” — blah blah blah. No one tells the truth about writing a book. Authors pretend their stories were always shiny and perfect and just waiting to be written. The truth is, writing is this: hard and boring and occasionally great but usually not. Even I have lied about writing. I have told people that writing this book has been like brushing away dirt from a fossil. What a load of s***. It has been like hacking away at a freezer with a screwdriver.
- Amy Poehler, Yes Please

I hate the term 'lol', but I literally (and I mean literally in the literal sense, not figuratively as people often do) laughed out loud when I read this. Because she's absolutely right. When I write, it's not lovely. It's not some BBC version of the melancholy artist, shut up in a beautifully sparse attic diligently hand writing great works of literary fiction. 

It's ugly. It's typing out two pages of text, only to delete all but three paragraphs. It's reminding myself over and over again "show, don't tell" or "active voice, active voice, active voice". It's cursing at the monitor or taking a two hour "break" to binge watch cat memes because I have no idea where my story is going next. And when it's done, it's endless hours of edits and revisions. Of changing things that seemed to make sense at three in the morning when you originally wrote it. 

And though I can't imagine doing anything else, it's rarely fun. It's work. It's hard. And it's what we do. So let's go out there and do it. Happy blogging people, but more importantly, keep up the good work and keep writing. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

It's-A Mario Party

I'm sorry to see the end of October, and with it, the passing of Halloween. The sun may be setting on my 20's, but I'm still child-at-heart enough to love dressing up for the holiday. Every year my friends and I go to the Houston Museum of Natural Science's Spirits and Skeletons party, and this year was no different. 

With our critical success last year with as the cast of Firefly (check our costumes out here), we knew we had to come up with something spectacular if we wanted to continue our upward momentum and outdo ourselves for 2014. And thus an idea was born. 

It started out with this . . .

A few refining details . . .

The we added a little paint . . .

And voila, we were ready to go Mario Kart-ing . . .

From Left to Right:
Princess Peach, Mario, Toadette, Yoshi, Waluigi and Luigi

My husband and I as Luigi and Princess Peach.
Don't we look awesome? It was a lot of work making those karts, but we are nothing if not committed. And by god if we didn't have the best costumes at the party (which, by the way, I hear reached over 8,000 guests). We were stopped over and over again to have our pictures taken by our many admirers, and even had fellow party-goers helping us pop each other's balloons (I survived the night with one balloon still remaining). 

It was a blast! Anyone else have any great costumes this year? Or go to an amazing Halloween bash perhaps? 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A New Monster Universe

Last weekend my friends and I went to see the new Dracula movie, Dracula Untold. It was a decent movie, about what you'd expect for this type of genre (which, considering my love of cheesy vampire flicks, I enjoyed immensely). 

But when doing a little research on the ending (and the potential it left open for a sequel), I stumbled across some news that made me very excited. Apparently Universal has begun a relaunch of the Universal Monsters franchise that made a splash from the 1920's to the 60's with big names such as Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney. Some of the truly classic monster films come from this series, films like Dracula, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Wolf Man . . . the list goes on and on. 

And now these films that shaped the horror/monster film industry are back! And sure, we can question for the thousandth time if Hollywood really has run out of new creative ideas (the answer is an obvious yes). But as long as they're going to steal from past genius, I'm more than thrilled to hear that monster universe is getting another moment in the sun. 

But better yet, Universal has borrowed from their Marvel counterparts and decided to launch a Cinematic Universe for their creepy classics (it's really all about franchising these days). With Spider-Man's Alex Kurtzman and Fast and Furious's Chris Morgan at the helm, this shared universe will feature big names in the monster world -- Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolf Man, the Invisible Man, the Bride of Frankenstein, Creature from the Black Lagoon -- in a cohesive cinematic world. 

Granted, Dracula Untold was written and filmed before Universal's plans came together, but last minute reshoots of the final scene made for a quick fix, stitching the famous vampire into the fabric of their new monster universe. And I for one can't wait to see what they have in store for us . . . 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Survive and Thrive Bloghop

Today I am participating in a very special blog fest hosted by Stephen Tremp, L. Diane Wolfe, Michael Di Gesu and Alex J. Cavanaugh. Thank you guys so much for hosting this amazing event. 

The Survive and Thrive Bloghop is aimed at bringing awareness to disease prevention and early detection for medical conditions that could be avoided with the proper care. This is something I've always felt very strongly about, as a little awareness, a few check ups and screenings can save countless lives. So join us today and help spread the word!

I have a few things I'd like to bring up today, both related to one of the leading causes of death in the United States -- cancer. My maternal grandmother died of melanoma when she was only in her early 30's and my paternal grandfather died of pancreatic cancer when I was a little girl. How many countless others of you have also lost friends and family members to this deadly disease? I implore everyone out there to do a little research into their family history, as genetics do play a role. Knowing what diseases your relatives have battled can give you a better idea what you might face, and what you should screen for. My grandmother (and several other more distant relatives) have died from skin cancer, therefor I need to take special notice of any discolored skin or moles. 

But don't stop with your family history. Until my mother found out that she had breast cancer, there wasn't one other relative in my family tree that showed any signs of it. And yet, when she went in for her yearly check up, her doctor noticed a lump and did a biopsy that showed Stage 1 breast cancer. Getting checked out once a year saved my mother's life, and it could save yours too.

There are also tests now that can check for genetic risk factors in regards to cancer. For example, the BRCA1 and BRCA2 tests can help women determine the likelihood of breast or ovarian cancer. This might be a good test for anyone out there who doesn't know enough about their family history to determine whether they might be at risk. 

So please, take the time to do your homework and get tested, even if it's just once a year. You never know what might be the difference between Stage 1 (treatable) and Stage 4!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Zombie Cookie Extravaganza

I was feeling a little sad last night -- it was the would-be 29th birthday of a friend of mine that died two years ago -- so I asked my husband if he'd like to make Halloween cookies with me. I looked forward to using my new zombie cookie cutters for the first time. So we got all the supplies together, busted out the cookie batter, dyed some icing a delicious shade of green and got down to business. Here's a taste of the finished product:

Hmm, I probably need to work on my pastry decorating skills. Anyway, after a while we got a bit more creative: 

The heart was mine -- a gift for my husband. The spider was his creation, a tribute to his rampant arachnophobia. And then, to my great displeasure, I had to abandon my culinary creations and head out for a late night soccer game. I left him in charge of our "son" Freddy, a zombie toy I gave him when we first started dating. When my soccer game was over and I checked my phone, here's what I found waiting for me. 

"Freddy getting started."


"The Skeleton."

"Freddy is good."

"Father and son watching Avengers post-cookies."
Needless to say, it cheered me greatly. My husband is the cutest! I hope you come up with some fun, Halloween related festivities to celebrate this spooktacular holiday! 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Best of TV's Halloween Episodes

We're already more than a week into October and I haven't written a single post on Halloween yet! I'm behind on my holiday festivities (or rather, I'm behind on my blog - my apartment has been decorated since September).

Every year I have a series of Halloween activities I like to complete before the big, spooky day - carve pumpkins, watch Hocus Pocus, eat waaay too much candy. And of course, make my way through the best Halloween related episodes of my favorite TV shows. This year I thought I'd be a bit more organized and make a list of what I consider the 'best of the best'. Here goes . . .

The Best of TV's Halloween Episodes:

1. Bones - "The Mummy in the Maze"
I love this episode of Bones. Watching Booth and the squint team dressing up for their annual Halloween party as they team up to find a missing girl and take on a killer clown (a real challenge in light of Booth's Coulrophobia). It's one of the best.

2. The Office - "Halloween"
I simply love the antagonistic relationship between Jim and Dwight, and nothing shows it off better than a Halloween episode. With Dwight's elaborate 'Sith Lord' costume and Jim's more creative 'Three Hole Punch Jim', hilarity ensues.

3. The Big Bang Theory - "The Middle Earth Paradigm"
What could be funnier than a handful of scientists in their nerdiest costumes amid a sea of inebriated slutty nurses and chest baring ex-boyfriends? Not much, I'd say.

4. Community - "Epidemiology"
I'll admit I was late to the Community game, and frankly didn't have that much interest in the show. That is, until my friend insisted that I watch the Halloween episode in which the study group and their classmates get transformed into zombies. How could I possibly resist Troy and Abed dressed up as Ripley and the Alien? After that, I was hooked.

5. Castle - "Vampire Weekend"
The season 2 Halloween episode was just the right blend of spooky, funny, and touching. But Nathan Fillion's Castle dressed up as a "space cowboy", aka. Mal Reynolds, aka. Captain Tightpants makes my heart grow three sizes in my chest, just like the Grinch. I simply could not love this episode more. Side note: He absolutely gets my vote as they winner of The Best of TV's Halloween Episodes costume contest.

6. Buffy the Vampire Slayer - "Halloween"
There are so many things I just love about this episode. The deliciously evil Spike. Catty Cordelia. The first glimpses of the Willow/Oz relationship. And most especially, Buffy the Butt-Kicking Vampire Slayer transformed into a weak, dimwitted aristocrat. Its one of the greatest Buffy episodes and Joss Whedon at his finest. 

7. Buffy the Vampire Slayer - "Fear Itself"
The show is so great I had to give it a second episode. This Buffy episode takes haunted houses to a whole new creepy level, with a dash of Anya in a "terrifying" bunny costume to lighten things up. A must-not-miss for the Halloween season. 

I've definitely got a lot of TV viewing to do to get ready for Halloween! Not to mention finishing up my costume for the annual Houston Museum of Natural Science - Spirits & Skeletons Party. I just can't wait for All Hallows Eve! Only 22 days to go . . .