Monday, December 15, 2014

12 Movies of Christmas

It's Christmas time, the most wonderful time of the whole year! And with the metaphorical Jack Frost biting at my nose (metaphorical because it's only about 68 degrees where I live - much too warm for snow), I am feeling the Yuletide spirit. So in preparation of my favorite holiday, I've got my TV queued up to some of the very best films this season has to offer. And what are they you might ask? Without further ado, I give you . . . 

The 12 Movies of Christmas:

1. The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
2. Die Hard
3. Elf
4. Home Alone
5. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
6. Love Actually
7. Rise of the Guardians
8. All I Want for Christmas
9. Fred Claus
10. The Santa Clause
11. A Charlie Brown Christmas
12. Muppets Christmas Carol

What about you guys? Any Christmas movies you like to watch every year? 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cabaret

This year for Thanksgiving my family all headed up to New York City for a fabulous vacation together. We went to Rockefeller to see the tree, Times Square (on Black Friday, so it was a bit crazy), and the 9/11 Memorial (where I almost lost my cool watching a group of girls taking duck-faced selfies in front of the memorial fountain).

In keeping with tradition every time I go to NYC, I couldn't leave without checking out at least one Broadway play. There were a lot of options to choose from, but after great discussion, we all agreed upon Cabaret -- in large part because we found out that Emma Stone and Alan Cumming were headlining. And believe me when I say, it did not disappoint. 

For those of you unfamiliar with the storyline, it's based on the novel Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood and set in Germany during the Nazi rise to power. This surprised a number of our party who recognized many of the more well-known songs but weren't initially aware of their context in the story's overarching plot.

However, despite Miss. Stone's brilliant performance as Sally Bowles, I think what impressed us most was the role of the Emcee. Equal parts narrator to the audience and character within the play itself, he has the unique metatheatrical ability to critique the story and call the audiences' attention to some of the darker themes hidden beneath the bright lights of the cabaret. In many ways the Emcee is reminiscent of the Shakespearean Fool, characters most known for their veiled examination of misdeeds within Shakespeare's works. 

It was a fantastic play that reached far beyond it's popular soundtrack, with characters whose depth reach far beyond the surface. I'd recommend it to anyone who has the good fortune and opportunity to see it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Insecure Writer's Support Group

It's the first Wednesday of the month and time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. A huge shout out to or fearless leader Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh for starting this amazing online collaboration and this month's hosts for all their hard work! If you're an insecure writer or looking to support others who are, check us out here!

I fear that my insecurities this month are much the same as they've been the past several as I struggle to get back on the writing horse and actually make some headway on a new piece. It's hard to stay motivated when I have a completed novel out there wasting away without a publisher, and an agent I'm worried might have lost my number. But I battle on, trying to nudge that cynical voice whispering dark thoughts in my ear to the back of my mind. 

On a happier note, the IWSG's Guide to Publishing and Beyond is now available for download! For those of you who are new to the group, it's a collaborative work with contributors across the blogosphere and it's bursting with great tips on writing and the publishing industry. 

Here's a quick synopsis from the IWSG website: 

Tapping into the expertise of over a hundred talented authors from around the globe, The IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond contains something for every writer. Whether you are starting out and need tips on the craft of writing, looking for encouragement as an already established author, taking the plunge into self-publishing, or seeking innovative ways to market and promote your work, this guide is a useful tool. Compiled into three key areas of writing, publishing, and marketing, this valuable resource offers inspirational articles, helpful anecdotes, and excellent advice on dos and don'ts that we all wish we knew when we first started out on this writing journey.

If you're interested in getting a copy, you can find it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashword, and Goodreads.
ISBN 9781939844088

Good luck fellow IWSGer's. No matter your insecurities this month, keep up the hard work. And of course, happy blogging!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is the day we collectively as a nation sit around watching football, eat too much food, and most importantly, remember the things we are thankful for. I myself am thankful for so many things. My friends. My family. The husband I still can't quite believe I get to call my own and the six books I've been saving for holiday reading. 

I'm also thankful for a nice home and a warm place to sleep during these cold, November nights . . . a blessing so many in this country live without. I would like to urge everyone in the spirit of this holiday of gratitude to think about giving back. Organizations across the country are collecting food, clothing, and warm blankets for those in need. If you're feeling blessed this year, take some time to give a little back. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 

Note: If you're looking for ways to make a difference this Thanksgiving, check out this site. You can type in your zip code and find organizations in your area that are looking for volunteers and donations. 

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?