Small Talk

Hello… ello… ello… ello

That was supposed to be an echo, in case you couldn’t tell.

So hey, it’s been a while since I’ve actually just sat down and written a blog post. Like, a LONG while. This is just how I am with blogging. I do really awesome for a while, write a dozen posts in a day, and then I taper off until I haven’t posted anything in a month.

Normally this is the point where I give up. I decide I’m clearly bored and what’s the point, it’s not like anyone was really that invested in what I had to say anyway. And that’s why I have a half dozen blogs across the internet with a handful of posts and a mound of dust inches deep on top of them.

Except I’m not letting that happen this time. It’s not just because this time I actually have a few followers (creeping closer to 100 every day…) but because for the first time I am really feeling the benefits of having a blog. It’s great for networking, for putting me in touch with people who have similar interests.

And it’s great to just have an excuse to sit and write.

I mean, I’m a novelist who is currently out of a day job, so I spend a lot of time just sitting and writing, but you know what I mean.

So here I am, just sitting and writing. I don’t know what I’m going to write about. I suppose I could write some inspiring post about how important it is to stick to your goals and knuckle under through the low points so you can enjoy the high times. But haven’t we all heard that one a thousand times already?

I made cookie dough for dinner. Just thought I’d add that in there. Clearly the low points in my diet aren’t going as well as the low points in my blogging.

Oh so in less than two weeks I’m leaving for a spring break trip in the UK. I’ll definitely write some posts about that when I get back, including some pictures hopefully if I can figure out how to get them onto my computer.

Tech savvy, I am not.

I think that’s all I’ve got to say for now. Not like things are really exciting around here, which certainly isn’t helping the “coming up with things to blog about” scene, but hey, it’s life. You gotta take the low points with the high ones.

And sometimes you just gotta eat cookie dough.

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Daily Prompt: It’s Friday, I’m in Love

Remember your first crush? Think about that very first object of your affection. Oh, the sweaty palms. The swoony feeling in your stomach. Tell us the story of your first crush. What was it about this person that made your heart pound? Was the love requited? Change the names to protect the guilty or innocent if you must! No judgement here. Happy Valentine’s Day!

————-

As I mentioned in my post “Help! I’m in Love With a Fictional Character” I am always more likely to get a crush on a character than an actual person. Well that’s not a new development in my life. Even as a little girl, my first few crushes were on characters I saw on the television.

I still remember my very first crush – at the tender age of about 3 1/2 – and my sweeping declaration that one day I would marry him. He was sweet and loyal and fun-loving, and he had the most charming laugh. And that lucky man was… Mickey Mouse.

Mickey greeting guests at Disneyland Park

Don’t laugh, I was 3! The fact that he was an animated mouse was completely inconsequential.

Part of me still loves that mouse, although I’ve accepted that it’s a love that will never be. (I still hold a grudge against Minnie for stealing him away from me…)

My next crush, at the age of 5, was on none other than Han Solo from the Star Wars trilogy.

Han Solo

Now there’s a man! I’ve got a bit of a thing for anti-heroes. A little gruff, a little rugged, and a little devil may care but with a secret core of good. And we all know he was a little bit of a romantic too underneath it all. I’ve been known to use the “I know,” line on guys when they tell me they love me.

I also use “Laugh it up, fuzzball,” but that’s usually in entirely different situations.

Truth be told, I don’t even remember my first actual person crush. I know that when I started school and finally started meeting kids my age, I was completely floored by the sheer number of boys in my classes. There were so many of them, in all different shapes and sizes. I was a little boy crazy, and I’m pretty sure that at some point, I had a crush on every boy in my year.

I just don’t quite remember what order it happened in…

In the end though, it’s not the boys in my school that helped to shape the men I look for now. It’s those early character crushes. Which is why my dream man is sweet, fun-loving, a little cavalier, but secretly a bit of a romantic.

If that guy is reading this… Happy Valentine’s Day! Gimme a call, yeah? 😉

 

 

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Daily Prompt: Captive’s Choice

You’ve been kidnapped and given a choice: would you rather be stranded on an island, dropped into an unknown forest, or locked in a strange building?

Road Sign

Now I don’t know about you guys, but for me this one was actually a pretty easy decision. If I get a say in the matter, I would definitely go with the strange building.

See, I rationalise it like this:

If you choose the island, you’re pretty much screwed. Your chances of survival are rather slim; even if you’re an outdoorsy person, there’s no saying just how much there is on the island in the way of plants or animals. And you’re definitely not going anywhere unless you’re the world’s strongest swimmer. Your best chance of escape relies entirely on the hope that a cruise liner happens to pass by your little spit of land.

Now the odds are a little better with the forest. You’re still outside and separated from civilisation, but at least the chances for food and water – and shelter – are better. It’s also the only one where you’re not constrained in any way, which is a bonus. The downside is that your chances of being able to get out of the forest, depending on its size, are still pretty questionable. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to walk a straight line without a path to guide you and no visible landmarks, but it’s not exactly a walk in the park – pun intended.

Which leaves us with the building. Now you’re locked in, but as someone who has experience in this I can tell you that it’s not entirely difficult to pick locks. Worst comes to worst, you break the door handle off with some loose debris or a couple good kicks. Either way might take a while, but it’s still better than swimming across the ocean or hiking through the forest for hours. Less exhausting too, most likely. There’s no guarantee but logic says that the majority of the time, buildings equal civilisation. You might be on the outskirts of town, in an abandoned town, or even a warehouse in the middle of nowhere, but buildings are made by people. If there’s not another building or people nearby, there’ll at least be a road to follow.

So all three situations suck, obviously, but if my captors are giving me an option then I pick the building.

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Packing Up the Stress

Baggage claim ecomo

 

Planning for vacation is stressful!

Now if I’m being completely honest, this is like the first proper vacation I’ve ever taken by myself. Before this all of my vacations were with family, so my parents handled all of the difficult stuff and I just tagged along for the fun. So I suppose there is the possibility that I just haven’t had enough experience to really get the hang of things.

I’m sure it also doesn’t help that I’m going out of country, which is something that is completely foreign – no pun intended – to me. I’ve never actually left the continental US before, but this March I’m flying out to spend two weeks in the UK. So I’m having to figure out a lot of this international stuff on my own.

These last few weeks – and the seven remaining weeks until I leave – have been a non-stop whirlwind of stress and planning. I’ve been scouring airline sites for the best deals on flights. I’ve been refreshing the page obsessively on hotels.com and cross-checking the locations of the cheaper hotels to find out if it’s worth the cost or if I’ll be paying that much in transport anyhow. I’ve been meticulously scratching out how much money I’m allowed to spend on food a day to stay within my budget and checking the costs of local transport to get around. I’ve been comparing international cell phone rentals to get one that works for what I need.

Sometimes the stress of it all makes me wonder if it’s going to be worth it in the end. I’m going to need the vacation just to relax from the exhausting ordeal of planning this vacation.

And then I remember that I’m finally going to be visiting my dream city and I feel better.

Along this tornado track of madness though, I’ve picked up a couple useful tips that I will definitely remember for the next international – or any, really – trip that I take.

1. Start early. Whatever you do, do not leave everything until the last minute. Not only will it save you a great deal of stress, but also a lot of money. Airlines and hotels will often give you discounts for booking early. (I just saved 150 dollars for booking my hotel so far in advance.)

2. Make a checklist. This has helped me keep my head on straight and make sure that I’ve not forgotten anything. It’s great for keeping track of costs as well, especially for those of us that are travelling on a tight budget. Not to mention, there’s something really satisfying about being able to scratch off each thing as you complete it.

3. Ask around. Have a friend or family member who’s visited there before? Don’t be afraid to check in with them. There are a lot of cultural and economic differences that you need to consider when travelling to another country, and the best place to get that information is from someone who’s been there. Having a friend who lives in the UK has been invaluable for me, not to mention he’s been coaching me so I don’t make social faux pas and get grouped in as one of “those Americans.” You know which ones I mean. And if you don’t know someone personally, check the travel sites forums. There are a lot of great people there willing to offer free advice.

4. Don’t forget the little things. This one bit me in the ass hard. When planning a trip it’s easy to remember the big stuff; the plane, teh hotel, packing your things. But don’t forget to think about the minor details too. Are there eating constraints to plan around? Have you looked into how the public transit works or rented a car? Do you know the basic driving laws? What about communication; does your cell work abroad or do you need to activate your international calling? They might seem like little things now but they can really ruin a trip if you’re unprepared.

5. Breathe. Seriously, remember this one. Don’t let yourself forget that you’re doing this for fun. When it gets stressful, step back and take a deep breath. Think about all the fun things you’ll do once this stressful planning part is over. Exhale and dive back in.

There’s a lot of work that goes into planning a trip, but if you remind yourself that this is something that you want to do it becomes that much easier. After all, isn’t every thing worth doing a little bit of work? It’s worth it in the end.

I’ll keep you all updated as my first international holiday draws closer and then I’ll share all my adventures once I’m home. Until then,

Bon Voyage! 

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Help I’m Stuck in The Rut!

Wow I have been having a terrible time with trying to write blog posts lately. That’s why, for those of you who follow me, I have been posting a long string of old poems and short stories just to have something posted each day. I did so well for about two months and now suddenly it feels like my well is dry. I sit down, pick a topic and sometimes even a tentative title, and then I stare at the blank screen. And stare, and stare, and stare.

After a while you really start to hate that little blinking cursor. Popping in and out of existence there at the beginning of your empty document, taunting you with its promise of productivity and providing nothing but an annoying distraction.

Maybe I’m being a little melodramatic…

The thing is though, I think I’ve fallen into a bit of a rut. This might be in part attributed to the fact that school has started up again, and getting the reading list for this semester was a bit of a blow. (Twenty novels in thirteen weeks. AH!) It might be that it’s getting down to crunch time in my preparations for my big spring break trip out of country – 7 weeks! – and I’m stressing out about that.

But really, if  you want the honest truth, it’s all my muses fault.

See, my muse has a pretty one-track mind. It can literally only focus it’s attention on one genre at a time. So when I started this blog two months ago, it was because I was stuck on my novel and I was using this as an excuse to force myself to write something. Well in the last week my original fic muse has geared back into life. It does this so rarely that I’ve been devoting all of my attention to milking this burst of energy for all it’s worth, which means my poor little blog has fallen by the wayside.

God, if I treat my children like I treat my writing babies, I’m going to be a terrible mother.

What am I even talking about anymore? Oh right, The Rut.

I can say with a fair bit of certainty that every single person on this site has at some point experienced The Rut. Your writing is going along swimmingly and then suddenly you get high-centred in a ditch. You can try and stamp on that accelerator all you want but all you’re doing is spinning your tyres, probably kicking  up quite a bit of dirt in the process. There are tricks you can use to try and help, and if you’re lucky maybe one of them actually works, but in the end the odds are that you’re going to have to call for a tow.

This is me calling for a tow.

I need your help to get me out of this ditch. I just passed seventy-five followers, so I know there are a few of you out there reading this. To get myself writing, about anything, I am asking for your suggestions.

Got a topic you want me to share an opinion on? One of my previous stories you want me to elaborate? Want me to write a poem about a noodle?

Leave suggestions in the comments and I promise that I will fill them all, no matter how ridiculous they are. It’s my payment to you for pulling me out of this ditch.

Also my payment for reaching 75 subscribers! Holy crap where did you all come from?! I never in my wildest dreams thought my silly ramblings and half-assed flash fiction would ever gain this size of a following, and I want to thank you all every day for your support.

Cheers and musketeers!

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Operation Cookie Jar | An Original Short Story

“1800 hours. Special Ops Agent Cooper Riley reporting. Recon mission into Tango Kilo, land heavily guarded by terrorist leader Boss Mama, to retrieve the target. Will update as events progress. Riley out.”

The special agent reattached the tape recorder to his belt and took a deep breath, preparing his mind for the mission ahead. Giving himself a quick shake, Agent Riley leaned to look around the large tree he was hidden behind. Before him he saw the long trek he had until his destination, and a series of dangerous obstacles between him and his prize.

Just as he made to step out from behind the tree trunk one of the Boss’ guards walked out of hiding not far in front of him. The shadowy character was tall and thin with a large gun held ready in gloved hands. Riley jumped back behind his tree, fearing he had been spotted. The guard glanced shortly at the stand of trees with suspicious eyebrows cocked, then continued patrolling the area’s perimeter. As soon as the guard was out of sight, Riley darted out from his hiding space, keeping low to the ground, and crawled forward through the mud on his stomach.

He journeyed more than half of the way without any further occurrence, but as he made to crawl around the hedges that would direct him toward his goal a guard dog prowled in his direction. Holding his breath, the special agent pressed himself down into the mud, hiding any exposed skin and trying desperately to blend in with the muddy ground. The dog approached him, sniffing the air eagerly as it searched for the intruder. Moving slowly so as not to attract attention, Riley lifted a small stone and tossed it in the opposite direction. The guard animal immediately turned around and raced after the rock, paying no more heed to the agent.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Agent Riley began creeping forward again. He crawled past a position where a large bald guard stood in his outpost, transmitting a report over his radio in a strange language. His heart beat rose as he realised how close he was to succeeding in his mission. Boss Mama’s headquarters, codenamed Tango Kilo, was directly ahead and Riley could see his target sitting on the windowsill of the hut. He took several deep breaths as he crept towards the open window, steadying his nerves. If he got too anxious he would never make it away with his life.

The agent crouched beneath the window, watching carefully for a moment when Boss Mama would be looking in the opposite direction. The Boss turned to look at something on the table before her and Riley leapt to his feet, opening the package and dipping his hand inside.

“Cooper, get your hand out of that cookie jar,” Mrs. Riley said without even turning to look at him. Cooper’s hand retreated hastily. “How many times do I have to tell you? No cookies before dinner. Now go and wash up. Dinner will be ready in just a few minutes.”

Cooper grumbled and turned away, retracing the way he had come. The frustration of defeat hung heavily over him as he passed his father chatting away on his cell phone. His father glanced up long enough to grin and roll his eyes before becoming embroiled in his conversation again. As he stepped into the hall the cat pounced on the ball of yarn, giving a cheery meow.

“Got busted again, special agent?” his older sister jibbed with a snide grin. He shot a short glance at her as she carried the hairdryer past him and toward the hall closet. “You’re never going to get away with that trick, runt.”

Cooper continued past her and to the bathroom sink. As he washed his hands beneath the rushing water a slow smile spread over his face. He hurried into his room and drew the small tape recorder from his belt.

“1815 hours. Special Ops Agent Cooper Riley reporting in. Operation Cookie Jar is a failure. Position was compromised. Recon mission to be repeated tomorrow. Must be wary of extra security in place after today’s discovery. Riley out.”

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Up, Up, and Away

Superman

Let’s be honest here, we’ve all thought about it. Don’t deny it, you know you have. Everyone does at some point or another, probably more than they’d care to admit.

If you could have any superpower in the world, which one would you want?

As a comic book fan, fantasy geek, and all around incredibly nerdy person, I’ve thought about this a lot. Like, a lot. Way more than is probably healthy, really. I mean I’ve even gotten in full fledged arguments with people about what the right answer should be.

Super strength or superhuman reflexes would make for an incredible sports career. Telepathy would be pretty nice for poker night. Every teenage boy wishes he could have the power of invisibility to take a peek in the girls’ locker room.

And as someone currently suffering from a pretty bad round of the flu, I would kill for Wolverine’s incredible healing abilities right now.

Now we all know, practicality-wise, telekinesis would be a pretty great skill to have. Hell, you can move things around without budging a muscle. Think of all those times you sit down only to realise you left the remote on the other side of the sofa. Or you’ve just gotten warm and snuggled into bed, but the lights are still on. Wouldn’t it be handy to just flick a finger and have that remote fly to you or that light magically turn itself off?

Another really popular one is flight. It would definitely make the daily commute easier – no more waiting in morning traffic.  No more cramped economy flights, which is always a plus when travelling. Add to that the pure adrenaline rush of the actual flying and you’ve got yourself a pretty enjoyable trip. And then there’s the fact that it would help with getting the perfect suntan.

Personally though, my superpower of choice is teleportation. All of the freedom and travel possibilities of flying but without the bugs in your teeth. Not to mention that flying would get cold with all that wind and atmosphere. No, I prefer the idea of being able to simply pop up wherever I please. Want to have pizza for lunch? Pop to Italy. Breakfast beneath the Eiffel Tower? Pop.

I love the idea of teleportation because it is like flying but with instant gratification. No wait, no travel times, no worrying about getting soaked by a low-hanging cloud or choking on smog.

What’s your superpower of choice?

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