Saturday, December 13, 2008

Happy New Birthday, Matt!

I'm so proud to say that Matt fought and won every battle he faced to get to this day. His new birthday: December 13th. Today, he'll receive an infusion of his donor's stem cells and his new life will begin.

Happy New Birthday, Matty. We're so, so proud of you!

Michele

P.S. Thank you, everyone, for all of your continued love, prayers, good thoughts, and support! Matt will continue to be in a extremely vulnerable state for quite a while, as his body rebuilds this new immune system, and your support means so much to me and my family--especially to Matt. Thank you! :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Some Family Time And A Hero

I'm taking some time off from blogging to focus on family right now. As a lot of you know, my youngest brother-in-law, Matt, is critically ill with EBV-HLH and T-Gamma Lymphoma and is in dire need of a bone marrow transplant. Fortunately, he has a match...Yay! Thank you so much to the anonymous, international donor--WE LOVE YOU!!

Unfortunately, our battle remains in keeping Matt in remission long enough to get him to the transplant stage. This has been the struggle since June.

So, it's a little crazy over here, and we're doing everything we can to keep our heads up and to stay positive. Most of all, we need to encourage Matty to fight, fight, fight. :)

He's a strong one and he's going to win. He's a Hero in every sense of the word.

Thank you so much for all your good thoughts and comments over the past several months! Your support means everything to me and my family. Everything.

Take Care,

Michele

Sunday, November 02, 2008

NaNo Update: Day 1

I didn't start until 7PM today, so I've only written 915 words tonight and I stopped at midnight.

Tomorrow will be another late start... well, heck, all week I will be starting late. But I'll make up the difference later in the month. Right?

Right.


Hope everyone is doing well!

M.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Nooooooo! He's Leaving the Show?!

I. Am. So. Bummed. I think I'm officially in mourning.

I just happened to have seen this Reuters article (October 30): "Actor David Tennant to leave 'Doctor Who.'"

I had a feeling something like this would be dropped on us, though. Remember this post?


Now that I think about it, I cannot think of another show on television that I'd really care whether the lead talent left, but with this show... I do. Tennant just naturally seems to bring out the energy, compassion, humor, love, as well as a hint of darkness to this character (of course, the writers make certain those elements are in the stories).

Sigh.

Michele

Image of "The Doctor" courtesy of BBC.com

Monday, October 27, 2008

Certainly a Treat

Thought I'd pass along the offer of this free paranormal novella written by award winning, Silhouette Nocturne author Caridad Piñeiro. You can find the novella on Harlequin's Paranormal Romance blog, just click here to download the PDF. The offer is available through the end of October! Pretty cool, eh?

If you're not familiar with Nocturne, it's Silhouette's line dedicated fully to Paranormal Romance, and I know I've read quite a few compelling Nocturne stories. Maureen Child writes fantastic paranormals for Nocturne, an Immortal Guardian series and a Vampire novella, and is one of my all-time favorite authors, and Erica Orloff also wrote a Vampire novel and I enjoy her stories, as well. Both authors write for other imprints and/or publishing houses, too. :)

Happy Halloween!

Take Care,

Michele

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

NaNoWriMo 2008


Can it already be the middle of October? Sheesh.

Well, NaNoWriMo begins in two weeks...Anyone else participating this year? I have a new story of which I'm going to finish working on the synopsis this month, and then I plan to start writing the novel during NaNo. That way, I should have a bare-bones, first draft finished.

It'll be an interesting test of my focusing skills with all crazy stuff going on around here, especially with what's on the calendar for next month, but I'm determined to meet the goal and be a NaNoWriMo Winner! (I love the Viking helmet on the widget, by the way. Perfect.)

So how's your writing going? How have you been?

Take Care,

Michele

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Doctor Who Scripts and TWO Book Releases

A huge THANK YOU to Stevyn Colgan for posting the information and the link to this site last week! I just haven't had a chance to share it with you guys until today. Six full shooting scripts from series four of "Doctor Who" are available there for free as a PDF: "Voyage of the Damned", "Partners in Crime," "Midnight," "Turn Left," "The Stolen Earth," and "Journey's End." The last three are the final ones of the season. Did I mention these scripts are available for FREE?

All six scripts were written by Head Writer Russell T Davies and are part of a promotion for a new book by Davies and journalist Benjamin Cook about a "year in the life of a hit television series," entitled Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale.

Also, more Fantastic News...

Joined-up Thinking: How to Connect Everything to Everything Else by Stevyn Colgan
hit the bookshelves on October 3rd! Woo-hoo!! (You may have seen my comment in the previous post.) However, as of right now this book of how everything connects is currently only available in the UK, as well as pretty much every other country--except the US. BUT! We can still order it online through Amazon UK. And since the price is quoted in British pounds, those of us in the US can pretend we're actually paying half price! (Even though we're not.)

Joined-Up Thinking (Macmillan) features cover quotes from Stephen Fry and John Mitchinson and it also contains a foreword from John Lloyd, the man behind the brilliance of many popular BBC shows, including QI and Blackadder.

From the Amazon Product Description:

What is the link between the Sex Pistols and crude oil; between Isaac Newton, Pink Floyd and a suicidal dwarf on the set of "The Wizard of Oz"? What is Scooby-Doo's real name, and why should you make a point of avoiding armadillos? You'll find out the answers to these questions and a whole lot more in "Joined-Up Thinking". Each chapter of the book begins with a fascinating piece of information, spins a dizzying web of connected facts and, with a spine-tingling final flourish, brings the loop full circle. So open up the book, begin at the beginning - and end at the beginning...

'I found myself fascinated and, like a child who thinks it's fun to go round and round in circles, somewhat dizzy. Most impressive' - Stephen Fry.

'The book that nails that odd, slightly unnerving feeling that everything really is connected' - John Mitchinson, co-author of "QI: The Book of General Ignorance".




That sounds so cool! Can't wait until my copy arrives. :-)

Michele

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

It's Banned Books Week

Which means... The American Library Association is "Celebrating the Freedom to Read." On their website, you'll find Banned Books Week events, the top books that have been banned or challenged, how to deal with those challenges, and how to support Banned Books Week.

Reading Banned BooksI've had this button in my sidebar for awhile now, the one that reads: "Everything I need to know about life, I learned by reading banned books." One of my friends, a school librarian who has been battling narrow-minded parents for the past couple of years, has a button with those words written on it pinned to her cork board in her library. I love that.

We cannot ban books. No, no, no. No one should be able to control what other children read, what my child reads. I'll take responsibility for what he's reading (or not, as the case may be).

So, do you have a favorite banned book? There are so many on the most frequently challenged list of 100 from 1990-2000. I think you'll be surprised by the older books STILL on the list.

I loved reading #22 A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle when I was a kid, and seriously... #88 Where's Waldo? by Martin Hanford? What? Why? Sigh.

Take Care,

Michele

Another Fantastic Author Interview and Contest!

If you haven't been checking out the author interviews over on Shauna Roberts' For Love of Words blog, then may I suggest you hop on over there? Seriously. They're fascinating and informative. And Shauna has pointed me in the direction of several authors I'd never considered before I'd read about them on her site...now I'm definitely curious enough to pick up their novels. Her authors have presented different cultures and settings that I've found particularly intriguing--from the backdrop of the Appalachians to the traditions and beliefs of China.

Recently, I won one of Shauna's contests (thanks again, Shauna!) and had the opportunity to pick a novel from one of the authors she's interviewed. I chose debut author Amy MacKinnon's novel, Tethered.

According to Shauna's interview with MacKinnon, Tethered was a September pick for Borders' Original Voice program. The loner heroine, Clara Marsh, works as an undertaker in Massachusetts and befriends a young girl, Trecie, as she helps the police solve the murder of "Precious Doe."

I haven't had a chance to dive into the book yet, but I'll let you know as soon as I do. Can't wait!

If you get a chance, check out some of Shauna's past interviews.

Today, Shauna has posted a fascinating interview with historical romance and fantasy author Jade Lee. And BONUS... Jade Lee has offered to give away one of her books to someone who leaves a comment (picked randomly, of course) on Shauna's blog. So head on over there and check it out. :-)

Good Luck!

Michele

Monday, September 29, 2008

Contest Week at Murder She Writes!

Okay, so the title of this post pretty much says it all. BUT wait a minute, turns out I do have more... Murder She Writes is having a Contest Week (9/29-10/3) because they're adding new bloggers to their staff, so they're giving away a lot of books! Lucky us!

It's Monday, so good friend Jennifer Apodaca is the first one to post the news and the hints with whom she'll be sharing every other Monday.

Go forth and comment! Win stuff! Spread the word!

Good Luck!

Michele

Monday, September 22, 2008

Here With You

On Saturday, September 20th, my family and I participated in a cause close to our hearts... the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's "Light the Night Walk" at Angels Stadium in Anaheim.

We walked in honor of my youngest brother-in-law who is battling a rare form of lymphoma that has been induced by an extremely rare auto-immune disorder. He told me it was cool to post some of the photos from the walk, so this will give me a chance to show you all what we've been up to since May 11th...the day he went into the hospital for the 3rd time and stayed until the end of June (he's been in and out numerous times since then).

My sister-in-law found out about the walk and rallied the family (and it's a huge family). She also discovered that Andrew McMahon, the frontman of the band Jack's Mannequin, had a team for the walk. McMahon founded the Dear Jack Foundation, which benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Pediatric Cancer Research Center, and the UCLA stem cell transplant program. In 2005 and 2006, when Andrew was 22, he fought his own battle with Acute Lymphatic Leukemia and underwent a stem cell transplant that was donated by his sister. It's a pure coincidence that this happens to be one of my brother-in-law's favorite bands and that the similarities between he and Andrew are truly uncanny.

Spearheaded by Christine, my hardworking sister-in-law, Team Jack's Mannequin Angels Stadium raised over $16,000... and we're still going. Not only that, but we were the top fundraising "Friends and Family Team" at that location, so we were given the prime location of under the big red baseball cap near the entrance to the stadium!

Here are a few photos from the night:

Rod Carew and Angels Baseball President Dennis Kuhl, co-chairs of "Light the Night"


Our banner under one of the big Angels caps!


You know what was really cool? Andrew and his family showed up and walked with us, a show of support. And other than our family, friends of our family walked, as well as few others who had signed up on their own.


5000 people walked around the parking lot and inside the stadium, a total of 2 miles. We shuffled our way toward the finish line.


I think Matt and Andrew are commenting on the crush of people ahead of us... And we're telling them that we'll hang out in the back.


And we're walking... :-)


The banner for those whom we're walking In Honor of and In Memory of...





But we're not finished YET! The goal of Team Jack's Mannequin, nationwide, is to reach $100,000 and we have until December 31st to continue our efforts. If you know of any corporations, businesses, friends...anyone who would like to donate to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, please feel free to pass along this link (please copy and paste--if it doesn't work):

http://www.active.com/donate/ltnSanta/2284_ccwiertny

Thank you so much! And, of course, all of your good thoughts, prayers, and emotional support are always welcome. :-)

This is the trailer for the Dear Jack Movie: The Journey of Andrew McMahon. If you have/had a family member go through this, it's a little difficult to watch, as he chronicles his struggles with a hand held camera. It's eerie how similar it is to what my brother-in-law is going through. The trailer's only a few minutes, but I do encourage you to watch it... Keep an eye out for this full length movie in 2009.


And this is the video for Jack's Mannequin's "Dark Blue," which they posted on their YouTube site. I LOVE this song!


Photo Credits: Eric Cwiertny, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

Same Place, Different Season

So if you're like me, maybe you've visited a place during the summer or the winter and thought, I'd love to come back here during the autumn. Or maybe, Wow, I'd love to see what this town looks like during the holidays.

I've been longing to get back to New England for awhile now. We've traveled there in the summer and very early spring (might as well as been winter, though, as a freak snow storm powered through the East Coast right around our visit--burr--but the snow that blanketed the historic towns--stunning!). Anyway, I'd LOVE to be there in the fall to witness the change of the brilliant foliage, the crisp weather, the cold-weather food. It'll be awhile before we'll make it out to New England again (sniff)... So here's my question for those of you who live on the East Coast: Do you mind telling me what I'm missing? I'd like to know about the weather, the food, the tourists, the peepers, the crimson blueberry fields, everything!

One of the stories that I hope to write is set in Maine during the fall. I say "hope" because it's the second in the series. And since I've lived my entire life in suburbia California where the trees pretty much stay green all year round--unless it's "fire" season--I'm in awe of regions with honest-to-goodness seasons. :-)

Another place I want to visit is London during Christmas. I think that may be because I've watched Love Actually more than a few times. ;-)

I know we had to wear jackets and scarves there in June and also wore them when we traveled there at the beginning of July a few years ago, so I can only imagine how cold it is during December. But just one time, I'd like to experience that city all dressed up for the holidays--the lights, the decorations, the music, the food. Doesn't that sound fun? Have you been to London during the holidays? Do you live in the UK? Do you mind telling me about your experience?

So, what about you? Is there a place you'd like to go back and visit during another time of year, another season--maybe the holidays? Is it someplace local to you that you just haven't been to in awhile? Have you ever set a story there?

Take Care,

Michele

Thursday, September 18, 2008

PR Boot Camp: Everything You Need to Know to be Your Own Best Publicist

Hi everyone,

This October online class is a popular one and with good reason! Everyone I've talked to who has taken this class learned so much in this four-week boot camp...they're recommending it to anyone who will listen. Seriously. I've also taken this class (although I was in lurker mode because I was on a deadline), so I do know for a fact that she's helped many writers be their own publicist. :-)

Below is the information for this online class.

Take Care,

Michele


********** permission to forward **********

PR Boot Camp:
Everything You Need to Know to be Your Own Best Publicist


With Louise Ahern
October 13, 2008 – November 9, 2008
Enrollment Information: http://www.occrwa.org/onlineclassOct08.html

COST: $20 for OCC members, $30 for non-members
Enrollment deadline: October 11, 2008
If you have specific questions, email: occrwaonlineclass@yahoo.com

ABOUT THE CLASS:

Gone are the days when a good book was all an author needed to build her career. Today, authors need to master the art of self-promotion to build the buzz that leads to higher sales, new readers and a loyal audience. Not sure how to do that? Do you consider yourself a promotional weakling? Then boot camp is for you!

In this four-week online class, PR Drill Sgt. Louise Knott Ahern will whip you into the best PR shape you've ever been in.

Louise will teach you to approach book promotion in a new way. You'll learn to stop reinventing the PR wheel with each new book, and instead envision and develop long-term PR goals and high concept plans that sell YOU as much as your novels. Topics include goal-
setting, your author brand, your "PR personality" and the kind of PR campaign you need. Be prepared to work! Class participants will be asked to write (or rewrite) their biographies, complete a PR planning guide, craft sample press releases, identify an "expertise" and brainstorm ideas for freelance articles. By the end of the class, you'll be armed with tools you can use immediately to launch your own PR blitz.


ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:

Louise Knott Ahern is an award-winning journalist with more than 12 years of experience as a reporter, editor and PR specialist in some of the biggest news markets in the country. When she's not chasing down freelance articles or working on her own novels, she coaches authors on how to master the media and promote their books. She's the instructor of the popular online classes "PR Boot Camp" and "Pitching the Press" and several live workshops, including, "20 Questions to a Killer PR Plan" and "How To Talk to a Reporter."

She's been published in the RWR and was for many years the content editor of the Orange County Chapter's award-winning newsletter, The Orange Blossom. Her clients have used her coaching to grab the attention of large and small media alike, including The Wall Street
Journal, the Florida Sun-Sentinel, and Wisconsin Public Radio. You can find her at
http://www.louiseknottahern.com or on her blog, http://www.weeziestories.blogspot.com.

Enrollment Information: http://www.occrwa.org/onlineclassOct08.html
COST: $20 for OCC members, $30 for non-members
Enrollment deadline: October 11, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Good Writing Music


Have you guys heard of the Icelandic musical group Sigur Rós? They categorize themselves as "rock," yet they're the most ethereal rock band I've ever listened to. For me, it's the perfect music to listen to while writing.

On Friday night, my youngest brother-in-law introduced us to Heima, which documents the band's return to Iceland after they'd toured the world. Throughout this film, they conduct free concerts all around the island, from one at a coffee shop to a couple huge open air concerts. And the visuals of Iceland...wow. It's absolutely gorgeous and wild, if not stark in many areas. After watching that movie, I realized how much I don't know about that country and its people. That's going to have to change.

Below is a trailer for Heima, and the word "Heima" in Icelandic means "at home." This clip was taken off the Sigur Rós YouTube site, so it'll give a taste of their music, as well as a good idea of the raw beauty of the island.

So, what are you listening to these days? I need some new music.

Take Care,

Michele


Friday, September 12, 2008

Room for Inspiration. And A Slice Of Orange.

I'm over at A Slice of Orange today talking about places that inspire writers.

This dining hall at Christ Church in Oxford, England struck inspiration in at least two famous authors: Lewis Carroll and J.K. Rowling.

The staircase behind the High Table, the portraits, the fireplace, the lighting, the table settings...

What places have inspired your writing?

Hope you join me!

Michele



Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A Bit of a Laugh

A family member shared this hilarious clip, so I thought I'd share it with you, too. I know I needed a laugh today.

How are you guys doing? Any good news? How's your writing going?

Hope you're all doing well...

Michele


Friday, September 05, 2008

Very Cool: VFRW and $1500

Thought I'd post the information for this raffle, as the cost of the San Francisco conference is still oh-so-fresh in my memory. And I'm fairly certain D.C. won't be any less expensive!

Raffle tickets cost $5.00 each or three for $10.00. Not bad for a chance to defray your conference costs.

This one is sponsored by the Valley Forge Romance Writers and proceeds benefit the Sheila A. Conway Memorial Fund, which helps financially strapped writers.

Good Luck!

Michele

P.S. I saw this on the contest loop and permission to forward was granted.

*******permission to forward granted*******

YES! We're doing it again!

Valley Forge Romance Writers Presents
The 2nd Annual VFRW
Writer's Rafflemania!


The Prize: $ 1,500.00

To Defray Your Costs For... 2009 RWA National Conference Fee!

Held In Washington, DC
July 15-18, 2009
4 Nights Hotel Accommodations!
Roundtrip Airfare To Washington, DC!

See our winner from this year, Nancy Naigle &
Rules and entry information at:

WWW.VFRW.COM

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Where Do I Belong?


So, for the past week I've been fighting the achy muscle and extreme fatigue thing. Ugh. I thought maybe I'd caught one of the viruses going around (and I was sooo ready to blame the germ factory called "school"), but it turns out it was just a new cholesterol medicine I'm taking and once my doctor changed the dosage...Voilá!...Good as new! Phew. My little wild dog kept me company while I was feeling under the weather, though. I thought that awfully nice of her.

Now, it's back to the writing for me. And I need to write, write, write. But dang, I have so many ideas and so many directions I want to go with my writing--paranormal romance, romantic suspense, western historical romance, contemporary romance--that I just have to put on the brakes say, "FOCUS, Michele."

I think it's a matter of setting aside the time each day to work on these stories and figuring out where I belong. I've completed stories in all of those sub-genres, except contemporary romance (but I'd love to write one!), and I truly, truly enjoyed every moment I spent writing those stories. I connected with those characters, those settings.

Okay, what about you? Do you know exactly what genre or sub-genre in which you should absolutely be writing? Do you love to mix it up and write in several of them (I know a lot of you do!)?

Take Care,

Michele

"Unleash Your Story" in September

I heard about this writing and reading challenge and fundraiser through a fellow OCC member, Beth, who posted it on our chapter loop. It's a challenge to "Unleash Your Story" for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation this September, so I thought I'd pass along the information.

Take Care,

Michele

From the Unleash Your Story website:

Whether you're an author or a reader, you can help. The idea is simple. You can work alone or with a team to set a writing or reading goal for the month of September 2008. Debbie Macomber has volunteered to be the pacesetting author and has committed to writing 30,000 words in September. We'll give you a button for your website or blog so that your supporters (readers,friends, family or anyone else) can click through to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation website and make a donation in honor of you or your team. If you don't have a blog or website, we'll set up a link for you here. Challenge your friends to read more, write more or raise more!


It is not too early to start forming your teams and setting your goals. You can register with us now at: info@unleashyourstory.com and we will put you or your team on our list of participants. As soon as we have our link set up, we'll give you a button you can put on your blog or website to invite your readers, friends and relatives to donate. One special prize I'd like to announce now is donated by the authors of Romance Unleashed. We will be donating the complete MP3 of the 2008 RWA National Conference to the RWA Chapter that brings in the most donations. So, if you are an RWA chapter member and would like your total to count for a chapter, be sure to let us know by e-mailing us at info@unleashyourstory.com.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Online Class: Can This Manuscript Be Saved?

Hi All,

I haven't posted the information for any online classes in the last few months, so I thought I start up again with this one offered by OCC/RWA in September.

Hope you're having a great weekend!

Michele

********** permission to forward **********

Can This Manuscript Be Saved?
With Susan Meier
September 15, 2008 – October 11, 2008

Enrollment Information: http://www.occrwa.org/onlineclassSept08.html

COST: $20 for OCC members, $30 for non-members
Enrollment deadline: September 13, 2008
If you have specific questions, email occrwaonlineclass@yahoo.com


ABOUT THE CLASS:

Rejected? Can’t get an agent? Can’t sell, even though your critique partners LOVE your work? Susan Meier reviews the seven most common rejection catch phrases and explains why you and even your critique partners can't spot them, then shows how determining whether your book's trouble is a story, scene or word problem is the first step on the road to recovery.

Following the assignments at the end of each lesson, attendees will learn how to "skim-read" their manuscripts quickly, marking specific problems with post-its. Susan also demonstrates how to use a storyboard, a list of twenty and a one-paragraph blurb to create a plan of attack for fixing your book's trouble.

Susan can't revise or rewrite your manuscript for you, but with her tricks you'll not only see how to revise the book of your heart, you'll also see how published authors are able to write four, five and even six books a year without breaking a sweat!

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:
Susan Meier is the author of over 30 books for Harlequin and Silhouette and one of Guideposts' Grace Chapel Inn series books, The Kindness of Strangers. Her books have been finalists for Reviewers Choice Awards, National Reader's Choice Awards and Cataromance.com Reviewer's Choice Awards.

Her latest book, Her Pregnancy Surprise, an October 2007 release for the Harlequin Romance Line made both Walden’s Bestseller List for Series Romance and Bookscan. Millionaire Dad, Nanny Needed and Her Baby’s First Christmas are her 2008 releases. Visit her website at susanmeier.com.

Susan loves to teach as much as she loves to write and is a popular speaker
at RWA conferences. Can This Manuscript Be Saved? And Plot Points, Taking the Train to Somewhere! are her most requested workshops. Her article, “How To Write a Category Romance” appeared in 2003 Writer’s Digest Novel and Short Story Markets. Susan has also given online workshops for various groups and her articles regularly appear in RWA chapter newsletters.


Enrollment Information: http://www.occrwa.org/onlineclassSept08.html
COST: $20 for OCC members, $30 for non-members
Enrollment deadline: September 13, 2008

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Don't Look in "The Mirror"

So I saw this horror movie parody last night on Hulu and couldn't stop laughing. It's an SNL sketch, called "The Mirror," and it's created by Andy Samberg and features him with Ellen Page.

Anyway... I thought it was funny. :-)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Summer and Writing.



So once again summer has sped along faster than any of the other seasons. Next week, school starts up again--poor kids. Or should I say poor parents who have to jump back into the routine of hours of homework and weekend science and social studies projects, essays, early mornings, quizzes, tests--the stress!

Okay. Breathe in. Breathe out. Let's look at the pretty flowers instead! :-)

One of my favorite things about summer? The daylilies in our garden. They bloom from spring to mid-August. Which means right about now, they're starting to lose their pizazz, just in time to mark the beginning of the school year...sigh.

Oh, and I've been a writing fiend these past two weeks. Seriously. A brand spankin' new proposal written! Of course, I've had to put in 14-18 hour days to accomplish this, but hey, whatever works, right? And yeah, I also visited blogs...I'm not a machine! LOL

So, how's your writing going? Any good news?

Take Care,

Michele

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Loving the BBC. And Doctor Who.


So, I'm a "Doctor Who" fan. And thanks to a post by SB Sarah over at SBTB, I read that the BBC website is offering classic Doctor Who stories in e-book form...For Free! Woo-hoo!

Just thought I'd pass along the link...

And I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the tenth Doctor returns next season and doesn't regenerate as another Doctor! David Tennant rocks.

Michele

EDITED:
Image/wallpaper of "The Doctor" and "Rose" courtesy of BBC.com.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Over at Slice of Orange Today...

It's the 12th already! Ack! Almost the middle of August. You know, time is flying by way too quickly.

Anyway, I'm over at A Slice of Orange today and I'd love to see you over there! I'm talking about the amazingly detailed inscriptions the prisoners carved into the walls of the Beauchamp Tower in the Tower of London. Many of those prisoners had a message they wanted to impart and some of them turned them into works of art.

Hope you join me!

Michele

I took this one during our recent June trip to the Tower of London. I'm amazed by the intricate detail, but it does appear it wasn't finished... I posted more photos on A Slice of Orange.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The RWA Literacy Signing

One of my favorite events at conference is the "Readers For Life" Literacy Signing on Wednesday night. About 500 authors sign their books at the only event open to the public and the proceeds go to ProLiteracy Worldwide. This year, the 2-hour signing raised $58,000! Not too shabby.

This gives fans the opportunity to meet many of their favorite authors in one location, and it also gives folks like me a chance to say hello to a lot of people we only see once or twice a year...As well as buy those books we hadn't purchased yet. And it's all for a great cause. Yeah, I carried around an armful, which tends to make taking pictures a little difficult.

Oh, and just for a moment or two, I thought one monster crowd toward the back of the room was the checkout line, but it was two different lines for Nora Roberts and Sherrilyn Kenyon kinda mushed together. :-)

But! I did get a photo with fellow OCC Member Chris Marie Green. She writes for Harlequin as Crystal Green and also writes dark Urban Fantasy (VAMPIRE BABYLON) for Ace as Chris Marie Green. However, her newest release is a story in the anthology FIRST BLOOD (Berkley). I had such a great time catching up with her and her adventures! She came straight from Comic-Com in San Diego and had quite a few stories. Be sure to check out her blog, as she was even on a panel with Joe Hill, Adrienne Barbeau, and more!



Did you go to the literacy signing? Who did you run into?

Michele

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Feeling Good...

So, I can't believe it, but I've actually written 50 pages since Monday. That's a record for me. Sure, I need to revise... But I've actually managed to push through and write until I've finished the first 3 chapters of this new story about which I'm soooo ecstatic.

This will give time to delve into a little more research as well. Whew.

And then, of course, there's the synopsis. :-)

Oh, and here I go sending you to another blog again...

BUT in case you haven't already read Barbara Vey's Publisher's Weekly Blog, "Beyond Her Book," from last Thursday (July 31st), you'll find a photo with a group of OCC/RWA members--including me! And we're right above Nora's shoes. Which sounds just about right, IMHO.

The photo above the OCC one was taken at the Romance Bandits Bash, which was a fabulous party thrown by the Romance Bandits blogging team. One of my friends, Kate Carlisle, is a Bandita and was so cool as to invite a group of us to this bash. I loved meeting these women after reading their blog for the past year or so! And I was standing on the other side of the camera when Barbara Vey took that photo. That's a cute picture of them all, isn't it? They're a fun group. I even had the opportunity to try Tim Tams for the first time because a couple of Banditas flew in from Australia for the conference and passed the cookie tray around the party. Awesome! (Apparently, a group of 30 flew in from Australia; that's quite a flight!)

Hope you all are doing well! It's back to my story for me. I'm trying desperately not to pick up one of the many books that I brought home from conference...desperately. If I do, then I won't be able to write. And I need to write.

How about you? Are you working on a story, poem, song or article?

Michele

Monday, August 04, 2008

Conference and Friends

I'm back from RWA's National Conference in San Francisco and I had such a wonderful time! Not only did I reconnect with friends I only see once or twice a year, but I managed to learn quite a bit about what's current in the business by hitting quite a few of the publishers' spotlights and workshops. Oh, and I returned home with quite a collection of books.

I also hung out with some really good friends whom I do see every month, but it's always fun to meet up with them a couple of times during the day and compare notes, to encourage one another before that certain meeting, or just to laugh.

Maureen Child was really good and already posted a blog about our lunches--photo included! So hop on over to her blog and take a look... I can't help but think I have helmet hair, though, LOL (Jennifer Apodaca, Kate Carlisle, and Maureen look fantastic). :-)


So, right now I'm working on proposal that I'd promised and it's certainly nice to know I still have that post-conference buzz going for me. Especially since I can't drink coffee. Yes, you should feel sad for me. So, so sad. Coffee, how I miss thee. ::sniff::

How's your writing going?

Michele

Monday, July 21, 2008

Chasing Dreams or Living Them


This fragment of the Berlin wall stands at the entrance of the Imperial War Museum in London and serves as a stark reminder to check our priorities. At least, to me it does whenever I return to that incredibly moving and emotionally intense museum.

Remember when I asked you guys a few weeks ago to name some of the museums that top your list? This one is at the head of mine and it's because I can't leave the building without a no-holds-barred reality check. It never fails that I end up sobbing quietly as I wind my way through one or more of the exhibits.

Back in 2006, it was "The Children's War" where the entire exhibition was dedicated to Britain's home front during World War II. I think I probably made it through the beginning of one letter that started "Dear Mummy, Are you still alive..."

And I just lost it.

I seriously could not imagine having to stay in a city that I knew would be bombed while I put my child or children on a train in order to send them to the country to live with strangers (but where they would be safer). Yes, we were in the war together, but to see it through another country's eyes? Sigh. It's powerful.

Also, this time, we went into the Holocaust Exhibition, as last time one of our family members was a bit too young for such a heavy and graphic subject matter. I believe we spent a good hour and half listening to the testimonials of the concentration camp survivors, watching the various clips, and looking at the photos and displays that filled rooms and rooms of the exhibition. Silence overcame everyone as we all took in part of rail car that had deported the prisoners to the camps, as well as the massive, clear wall display that was filled with shoes and other possessions of the murdered...

Let's just say I was emotional here too.

Oh, and I think it's interesting to note that the war museum has been housed inside the old Bethlem Royal Hospital, or Bedlam, ever since King George VI moved it there in 1936. Before that, it had been housed in South Kensington at the Crystal Palace from the time the museum opened in 1920.

So, this is a roundabout way of getting to my point today. (Now that I've depressed you, right?). If there's anything that I've learned over the past few months--and not just from this museum, of course--it's that LIFE IS TOO PRECIOUS TO WASTE. It's too damn short. As many of you know, my 23-year-old brother-in-law has been hit with not one but two incredibly scary and extremely rare diseases and he's got quite a battle ahead of him. But his strength blows me away, a true fighter! I'm so proud of him. And I only pray I'm the same if faced with the monsters he's up against. And throughout his treatments, he's making plans that will help him reach his dreams.

Therefore, here's my question to you: What are you doing to live your dream? Are you still reaching for it? Are you chasing them or living them? Do you have a "Just Go For It" attitude about life? A "What the Hell Do I Have to Lose By Trying?" attitude?

This doesn't have to be writing related; it could be about anything that you dream about doing, about learning, about wanting to achieve.

I have pretty much always had that mentality, especially when it comes to visiting places (as you know, I love to travel). But now more than ever, I'm not letting anything stop me from living my dreams.

Have you seen the Matt Harding video below? "Where The Hell Is Matt?" This guy has traveled around the world for the past three years and danced in front of some spectacular sites. But the best part is: The millions and millions of people who have been watching his progress and who now join in with him around the world. It's become so popular that Stride Gum has sponsored his travels. This guy lives his dream. It's a delightful, charming, heart-warming, and inspiring video and I hope you all enjoy it... But you may have seen it already with the millions and millions of other folks. :-)

Take Care,

Michele



Where The Hell Is Matt?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Whedon is Back!



I'm probably the last person to know this, but Joss Whedon is back! Please tell me you guys have watched the hilarious and well-performed Acts 1 and 2 of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. PLEASE. This is sooo fantastic and makes me wonder why Whedon isn't on television now--I miss "Buffy" terribly!

Thanks to a really cool TV blog, The Flaming Nose, I read about Dr. Horrible and learned that Whedon is only posting Acts 1-3 THIS week for free on the website. It is available for download on iTunes and you can bet I'm buying it! I had a big ole grin on my face the entire time I watched Neil Patrick Harris (Dr. Horrible), Nathan Fillion (Captain Hammer), Felicia Day (Penny), and Simon Helberg (Moist) on the screen...I think the music and lyrics are perfect for an evil, yet heart-warming musical. And the storyline captures my attention as well. Sigh...That Whedon. :-)

Each Act is only about 13 minutes and only Acts 1 and 2 are available to watch right now. Act 3 will be available July 19th. Like I said, I'm probably the last to know about this, because over the last two days their server couldn't handle the traffic. But apparently it's been fixed; I had no problem logging on today.

Hope you have a chance to watch and enjoy it!

I'm going to have to break out my "Buffy" DVDs sometime soon...

Michele

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sharing the Mystical...

With a crowd of 600. All right, not exactly "friends" per se. Fellow tourists who all hoped for the same mysterious and inspiring experience--perhaps even a spiritual one--out on the Salisbury Plains. We all made the pilgrimage to Stonehenge.

We were a tad surprised at the amount of people we had to wade through in order to find a good spot and take in this amazing stone circle that we've watched specials on and learned about in school. It stood before us now in all its mystic glory, not 20 yards away, and that sent chills dancing down my spine. Only two days before, 20,000 people had stood on the grassy field in and around the stones for the summer solstice...so 600 really didn't seem so bad, considering.

We didn't make it around the entire path, as our tour guide graciously gave us 15 minutes to soak in the sights and sounds of Stonehenge. Yes, that's right...15 freakin' minutes.

But, I did take a couple photos. This time, using that feature on my camera, I isolated the color blue.

This first picture is the view you get as you first walk up the path toward it from the entrance. I'm stoked I caught that hare hopping in front of me.



And you get this view as you walk around the path...It faces the roadway. This was as far as we were able to get before we had to head back to the bus, as our 15 freakin' minutes were up. Grr.



And my husband took this picture of the all the tourists. Seriously, I wasn't exaggerating. LOL (you can click on it to get a better view)



To have been there and to have actually seen this marvel with my own eyes was surreal, especially when we were rushed through the experience. But truly cool nonetheless.

The only bummer part? I didn't even get a chance to visit the gift shop! :-(

Ah, I guess that's why online shopping was invented, eh? I still need to get a good book on the area.

Hope you're all doing well!

Michele

Monday, July 14, 2008

Only Five More Months Until...

TWILIGHT!!

Bella and Edward. Bella and Edward! On the big screen! (Yes, I've gone mad with the exclamation points.)

Happy, happy sigh.



I can hardly stand the wait until next month when the final book in the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn, hits the shelves. Hmm. Although, I have to confess, I'm almost afraid to find out how it ends--I already know how I want it to end, you know? (Of course, I'll buy it, though!)

Do you ever get like that with a favorite series? Almost afraid to read the final installment because you think there's a good chance it will end differently than the way you would like?


Hope your writing is going well!

Michele

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Black & White and "Red" All Over

I can't believe a week has passed since my last post! Sheesh. I hope you all had a fantastic Independence Day and a nice long weekend.

Have you been writing? I have! I have! Proposals. Queries. Chapters. Ideas. And I've been sending things out too. Now that the dust is settling around here, I've got so much to catch up on and it seems I'm putting in about 16 to 18 hour days now. But, honestly, I don't feel like it's even enough time. I need more hours in the day.

But that's obviously not going to happen, so I'm going to have to figure out a different plan of action. Somehow. Like learning how to write faster! Yeah, that's it. Sigh.

Anyway, I'm posting more of my pix from London, using my Canon Powershot. I like to call these the "Dude, These Are So Going to the Tate Modern" series. (I'm totally joking, of course. My family and I cracked ourselves up by saying, 'Tate Modern, Baby!' after almost every shot--we all had cameras. I know, I know. We have no excuse. We amuse ourselves to no end. Ahem.)

All the photos can be made larger by double clicking...or doing whatever PC owners do to view larger photos. Sorry, I'm a Mac Girl. :-)

On the Victoria Embankment.


On The Victoria Memorial Overlooking The Mall. The road around Buckingham Palace was closed to vehicular traffic that day (Sunday), so pedestrians and bicycle riders had the freedom to roam the street. Also, the Union Jack flags still lined The Mall from the previous weekend, which marked the ceremony of The Trooping of the Colour, a celebration with all the pageantry that now honors the Queen's Official Birthday. I love the surprising amount of red in this picture, including the headbands and even in the crowns on top of the flag poles. And check out the girl at the bottom who's excited to see someone. I just noticed her. Love that enthusiasm. (Or she was in distress and was giving "The Signal" from Team America. Man, I hope it was the former!)



Band of the Scots Guard on Veteran's Day, June 27th.* Our cab just happened to drop us off next to them because our hotel was on the other side of the arch in Trafalgar Square where a huge celebration was taking place. And huge events mean major traffic. Heck there's major traffic even without an event in London. It's just like Southern California in that respect. Anyway, we caught them in their relaxed moment, but I'm not sure if they'd already played for the event or not. By the way, I've searched and searched for the official name of this band and "Band of the Scots Guard" is the one that kept coming up, but if it's incorrect, please let me know. I should have just asked them, as other people were taking pictures with them. (*see update below)



The Queen's Horse Guard Parading Through Hyde Park Corner, Wellington Arch. We had just ascended the steps of the pedestrian subway and entered the park on Constitutional Hill when the Horse Guard crossed the street from Hyde Park Corner and made their way toward the Wellington Arch.



At the Horse Guards on Whitehall.


Scots Guards at Buckingham Palace *.


Scots Guard at The Tower, in front of building with the Crown Jewels.


Okay, it's back to grindstone for me! How about you guys? Are you writing? Getting ready for any conferences?


I also see that I haven't changed my "Currently Reading" sidebar in a looong time! I've read about a dozen or so stories since those two featured, but yes...I obviously loved those books. And right now, I have another dozen in my TBR pile, so I better get crackin'. Wow. I say more hours in the day!

Take Care,

Michele

*UPDATE 7/16/08: Coincidentally, tonight I'm watching a program on PBS called "Guarding the Queen" and the name of the band has been solved: The Band of the Grenadier Guards. Which also means the name of the group of soldiers is the Grenadier Guards. Okay, I think that's it... Hope I didn't miss anything!

MC

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Seeing Stars in London

So, today is my birthday, but we decided to throw a Bash while in London and invited a few of those who were in town. Lucy Liu, Ian McShane, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Jack Black, and Dustin Hoffman were among those celebrants (I'm not sure who invited the Big Panda, but whatever...). As you can see the Paparazzi and well-wishers were out in full force! It was very sweet and humbling. ;-)

No, seriously, not 30 minutes before we stumbled upon the premiere of Kung Fu Panda, we'd been eating dinner and remarking how we only had 1 more day left in town and how we would love to see a celebrity because that would just top off this amazing trip. See, if you read Stevyn Colgan's blog, he often regales his readers with tales of running into the famous on the streets of London...So why not, right?

And lo, and behold! Our wish came true. (Um, if I had realized the extent of our powers, I would have wished for something different, like gas prices to go down and the Dollar to go up and more food for the world. Sigh.)

What's funny is that we've lived in the Los Angeles area our entire lives and have never seen a movie premiere, and then we just happened to stumble upon one in Leicester Square in London. Very weird.

A good view of the press and Lucy Liu's back. Nice dress, though.


Jeffrey Katzenberg (The "K" in DreamWorks Pictures SKG) and the Panda


Ian McShane (he was in HBO's "Deadwood" and the movie We Are Marshall)


Jack Black


And of course, Dustin Hoffman


A view of the theater and crowd in Leicester Square. Another place that was always hopping!


I hope you all have a great day!

Who would you like to run into while walking down the street? Anyone famous? Or an old friend? Anyone?

Michele

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

For Our Friends to the North & Trafalgar Square



It's Canada Day today, of which I was gratefully reminded when I read Barrie's post this morning! Thanks, Barrie. I'm having a heck of time getting back into the swing of things here and completely forgot the date.

So, in honor of our Canadian friends, I just happen to have a picture of the lovely Georgian building in which the embassy, Canada House, resides on Trafalgar Square. The building itself faces the Nelson monument, and to the left of the building sits the The National Gallery. This fantastic museum displays paintings from artists such as Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Degas, Rembrandt, Turner, Constable, Da Vinci, Picasso, and so many, many, many more. A cast of thousands, truly. We spent hours in there during our first full day, just wandering the galleries and staring in awe at iconic works of art, like Van Gogh's Sunflowers and Rembrandt's self portraits at Age 34 and at Age 63 (the year he died), as well as the stunning and vibrant religious art. Such a collection. I highly recommend this museum to everyone, and it's free (all the National museums are)...Although, donations are welcome.

Here's a side view of The National Gallery:



Something was always going on in this Square, some type of event. Be it an all-day Hari Krishna parade and festival or a Veterans' Day Event (June 27th) of celebration. This square also tends to be a gathering place for friends and only once did we find it nearly empty...and that was when when first arrived and the rain kept a lot of people inside.

I must confess, at first I too was confused by the drops of water falling from the sky...I've heard of this phenomenon, but to be a part of it! Very exciting. We just don't experience this in our arid, little Orange County. ;-)

Here's looking out past Nelson's Monument toward St. Stephen's Clock Tower, which, of course, houses the famous bell nicknamed "Big Ben."


(Look! There's water falling from the sky and covering the ground!)

Hope you're all doing well!

Do you guys have a favorite museum? I don't know that I could narrow it down to just one...What about you?

Michele

Monday, June 30, 2008

I've Been off the Continent



But I'm back in the land of sunshine now (and heat waves...ugh).

The 65 degree, somewhat cloudy and drizzly, climate in England suited me perfectly! Fantastic walking weather, especially when we're talking about 5-6 miles a day around London. We stayed in the old hotel turned Ministry of Defense (MoD) building turned hotel: The Grand at Trafalgar Square. And the location truly couldn't be beat--steps from the happening Trafalgar Square in one direction and steps from the scenic Victoria Embankment in the other. Wonderful.

Anyway, I'm just checking in, as I'd planned to post a few blogs from the hotel, but we spent every waking moment out in the city or on a tour; so, now will have to do. :-)

I do need to catch-up on a few things around here, so this is a short post...But, I've posted a few pictures of Picadilly Circus. There's a function on my point-and-shoot camera that allows me to choose a color to isolate when I take photos (e.g. I can focus on just the reds, blues, greens, yellows, ect.) and everything else will be black and white. So, I've experimented throughout the trip with this function and will post some of the photos here. Below are two of my favorites from Picadilly Circus, and obviously, I chose red as my focus (red was my favorite in London: buses, guards, telephone booths). I love the moodiness it lends the scene. This was taken around 9:30 at night.

Hope you all are well and the writing is going smoothly for you! I hope to visit your blogs soon.

Michele

P.S. The camera I use is a Canon PowerShot SD 750 Digital Elph



Thursday, June 12, 2008

Online Class: Innovative Publicity Basics for Authors (New and Hopeful)

Hi All,

Just passing on more information for a 2-week online class. This one looks like a fantastic PR program! For more info, be sure to check out Heart of Dixie's website.

Good luck with your writing!

Michele

***Permission to Forward***

Innovative Publicity Basics for Authors (New and Hopeful)


Sponsor: Heart of Dixie (http://www.heartofdixie.org)
Instructor: Lauren Cerand
Cost: $20
Dates: July 1-14, 2008
Deadline to register: June 25


CLASS DESCRIPTION:

New York-based independent publicist Lauren Cerand walks you through the fundamentals of literary publicity right up to the cutting-edge. This course consists of six instructor-led lectures, three open "Q & A" sessions dedicated to your topics, and three small but significant homework assignments. Content will be useful to authors in any genre and at any level of expertise.

INSTRUCTOR BIO:

Lauren Cerand (www.laurencerand.com) is an independent public relations representative and consultant in New York. Her clients are a purposefully eclectic mix of creative professionals, and she specializes in generating initial buzz and building sustained attention for individuals and projects such as Barnes & Noble's "Upstairs at the Square" series ( www.bn.com/upstairs). She is often asked to share her innovative perspective on publicity and has spoken to audiences at the at the 20th Annual Independent and Small Press Book Fair, Book Promotion 101, Mystery Writers of America, NYU's Center for Publishing, The (Downtown) Omaha Lit Fest, Penguin UK (video clip), Virginia Festival of the Book, Word of Mouth, Women's National Book Association, and next at the Nebraska Summer Writers' Conference (June 14-15, 2008). The Village Voice included her in its "Best of New York" (2004) issue. She is the vice chair of the board of directors of Girls Write Now, "a nonprofit volunteer mentoring organization that has been matching bright, creative teenage girls from New York City's public high schools with professional women writers in the community since 1998." A Cornell University graduate, Lauren compiles "The Smart Set," a weekly round-up of cultural happenings for www.MaudNewton.com,, and writes about art, politics and style at www.LuxLotus.com.

Register at _www.heartofdixie.org_ (http://www.heartofdixie.org/)
Questions? Email _online@heartofdixie.org_ (mailto:online@heartofdixie.org)

  • Cost: $20 -
  • All payments for a workshop must be received by the registration deadline - June 25th.
  • Please email the Online Class Coordinator with questions.


A Little Place Called "Happy"

Over on A Slice of Orange today, I'm talking about what I do to stay in a positive state of mind, especially during tough and scary times--like what my family and I are going through with my 23-year old brother-in-law's health right now. It's not easy, and I'm certainly not alone because every family has their share of emotional upheaval.

On the other blog, I've listed a couple of things I like to do that helps put me in my "happy" place...And in turn, they've put me in a positive state of mind pretty much on a daily basis.

Basically, laughing helps me throw back my shoulders a bit and feel lighter. And these boys, Bret and Jemaine, definitely know their way around a punch line (subtly, I might add).


Also, listening to music has helped send me to Happyville for a few minutes a day. You already know that I'm obsessed with MUSE, right? Well, on the other blog, I posted a live version of their cover of "Feeling Good" from their concert at Wembley Stadium in 2007, which MUSE posted on YouTube (they also post a lot of their videos on their MySpace page for fans to embed to their own sites).

Here's another song of theirs that's a favorite of mine called "Starlight" (you may have heard this on the radio).



So, what about you guys? What do you do to stay positive? Listen to music? Read? Watch movies? Hang out with friends? Write?

I'd love to know and you can answer here or join in the discussion over at A Slice of Orange, if you prefer.

Take Care,

Michele

UPDATED AT 8:45: I had forgotten to add the link to MUSE's site and now it's good to go.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Because I need to laugh

This is purely for fun.

Laughing always helps to put things back in a positive light, right? Right. (Don't you love it when I answer my own questions? Sure, you do.) Who doesn't love to smile or laugh? C'mon, I dare you to tell me you don't partake of the occasional chuckle.

Anyway, I found this a few years ago and it cracks me up. By the way, it's for men and women alike...

Wanna know if you're pregnant? Here's a website that offers an ONLINE PREGNANCY TEST. Yes, that's right, folks. It'll tell you through your computer whether to expect a bundle of joy. ;-)

And guess what? It'll tell you the sex of the baby and who the father is as well! But what if you don't like which father it picks? Well, just tell it to pick another one! It's as easy as clicking the button.

I'd like to announce that I'm expecting a baby boy and the father is Dick Cheney. And even better...My husband is expecting a baby girl and the father is the Mailman. Isn't that sweet?

Don't forget the birth certificate...

Click the link to get your Free Online Pregnancy Test

So, try it and let me know if you're expecting a little bundle of joy of your own.
Watch out, though, you never know who the father might be...

Have fun!

Michele


Monday, June 02, 2008

Online Class: FROM AUSTEN TO ALIENS: HOW TO CREATE CLASSIC TOUGH CHICKS

Here's the information for a June online class. The workshop details and links to sign up for this four-week class are pasted below, and feel free to pass the info along to interested parties.

Hope this is of some help to your writing! :-)

Take care,

Michele


********** permission to forward **********

FROM AUSTEN TO ALIENS: HOW TO CREATE CLASSIC TOUGH CHICKS
with Jacqui Jacoby
June 16, 2008 - July 13, 2008

Enrollment Information: _http://www.occrwa.org/onlineclassJune08.html_

COST: $20 for OCC members, $30 for non-members
Enrollment deadline: June 14, 2008
If you have specific questions, email _occrwaonlineclass@yahoo.com_
(mailto:occrwaonlineclass@yahoo.com)

ABOUT THE CLASS:

As a martial artist, Jacqui Jacoby is interested in self-defense and
how women are portrayed in the media. At first, it seemed as if it
was only Hollywood showing women in a tough light. With heroines such
as Sarah Conner of the Terminator movies, and Ellen Ripley in the
Alien films, women were the ones saving the day when men were being
blown up or eaten. This workshop covers such topics as how to portray
tough chick heroines. We will discuss different types of self-defense
techniques and how to build a tough chick heroine from the inside
out. What kind of women make up the tough chicks and what are they
like in their everyday lives? What drives them to become tough? What
kind of hero must stand beside her and what kind of villains will she
face?

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:

Award winning author, Jacqui Wilson lives and writes in the mountains
of Northern Arizona. A self proclaimed self-defense hobbyist, she is
currently studying for her black belt in tae kwon do along with her
husband and three kids. She can be reached via her website at http://
_www.jacquijacoby.com/_ (http://www.jacquijacoby.com/)

Enrollment Information: _http://www.occrwa.org/onlineclassJune08.html_

COST: $20 for OCC members, $30 for non-members
Enrollment deadline: June 14, 2008

********** permission to forward **********

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Land That Loves "Arnold"

ITALY: THE LAND THAT LOVES "ARNOLD"

(First posted August 3, 2006)


When we were up late one night (Or was it early one morning? I don't know...All I can remember is that it was dark outside), a few members of our party, who were still adjusting to the time change, discovered that Italian television is a bit different than American TV. Several channels were titled Sex TV and tucked in between those channels was a channel with a catholic priest broadcasting mass. Yes, you read that right.

So, we found ourselves flipping through the channels quickly, trying to find something we could comfortably watch with family members of all ages. We all breathed a sigh of relief when a young Gary Coleman popped up on the screen. Different Strokes! Yay! None of us had seen that show since the 80s.

It was an episode I hadn't seen before, but the character "Arnold" was the entire show. I jokingly asked my husband if they had cut out the rest of the characters because Arnold really was the best part. Then the credits rolled and we started to crack up because it was now title "Arnold" and had a montage of that character and ONLY that character.

Later that day, my family and I were walking back to the train station in Florence and spotted the picture shown above in an alley. Guess the Italians really do love Arnold! I think it's sweet. And as warm, friendly, and incredibly giving as the Italians are to everyone, it doesn't surprise me too much that they love Arnold. (If you know something different about their connection to this character, then maybe you should just let me believe my little delusion. Oh, what the heck, tell me about it.)

Have you ever been in a place where you're surprised about who is famous there? And if you write a story that is set in that place, does it change the way you write about the people who live there?

Inquiring minds want to know...

Michele

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Sneaky Flying Snail Head Bug

In keeping with the theme of Italy, I'm posting another blog from my series after a family trip to Tuscany. :-)

Take care,

Michele

P.S. Let me know what you think about the flying snail head bug thing... Or creepy bugs in general. You need the killer-diller bug details in Tuscany for your story? Here you go. See the lengths I go to in order to help you out? LOL

MC

****************

WHAT THE HECK IS THAT?!

(First posted August 1, 2006)


During our first full day at the villa in Tuscany, several members of our party rested in the shade of an umbrella while soaking in the amazing view of the valley and the Chianti vineyards below. We were all in this serene state of mind, sipping iced tea that tasted remarkably like a peach Jolly Rancher, when we spotted what appeared to be a baby hummingbird darting about the flowers. Zip, zip, zip. How cute! A baby hummingbird. I've never seen one before. Have you? It finally flew away to where we all imagined its mother to be, waiting for it to return home. Sigh. Sweet.

A few hours later, another member of our party, who had stayed at the villa the week before we had arrived as well, asked us if we'd seen the flying bug that sports a snail's head.

Waaaait. Whaaaat? Come again? Uh...No, thank God.

I immediately imagined something out of the Jurassic Era, something with a snail's shell attached to the head as it flew around, bombarding unsuspecting viewers of the Chianti vineyards. Gross. I don't WANT to see that. At this point, I was ready to sprint inside and shut the doors and windows, as well as zip up our luggage so the freaky insect couldn't hitch a ride home with us--or worse, lay snail head eggs in my clothing. ::shudder::

A few days later, the baby hummingbird appeared to us again. My husband grabbed his camera and captured an image of it as it hovered near a flower bed. When he looked at the photo on the screen. His eyebrows furrowed and he zoomed in on the image. "What the heck is that?!"

Yep, all of our little fantasies about the baby hummingbird vanished. It was the freaky snail head insect, but fortunately, no snail shell to be found. Later, we were thumbing through a guide book and found a picture of our friend, the Tuscan Hummingbird Moth. If only we had actually looked at the guide books we'd spent a fortune on before our trip. Sheesh.

And if that wasn't enough, just before we turned in for the night, my husband and I discovered a millipede climbing the wall in our room and another one making its WAY to our room. They were huge...At least four inches in length and the width measured a good inch and a quarter, if you included the legs (soooo many legs!). Boy, oh boy, that did cause me to keep our luggage zipped up tight. I even entertained the thought about putting the locks back on...just in case the insects were savvy enough to figure out how to unzip baggage. I didn't want to take any chances.