Sunday, March 30, 2008

Lost and Some Memories

Hi everyone,

I mentioned the Byodo-In Temple at the Valley of Temples Memorial Park in the earlier post "Shock and Awe" and posted a photo of the koi, so here is my photo of the Buddhist temple as well. This replica of a 900-year-old temple in Japan rests at the bottom of the dramatic Ko'olau Mountains on the island of O'ahu. Besides the koi in the pond pictured below, peacocks, turtles, and at least one black swan roam the gardens and waterways.

Wish I could have this view everyday. But sadly, no. Probably wouldn't appreciate it if I did, right? ;-)

Well, if you want to surf Waikiki, you definitely need patience. Look at how flat the waves are! Click on the photo to enlarge and you'll see just how many surfers are hoping to catch at least some action. And they're out there for hours. The North Shore looked like a harbor as well, not like the body-breaking, life-threatening monster curls of which surf legends are made. One can watch those big waves (sometimes 20-30 feet high!) and the pro surfers at Sunset Beach or Pipeline during the early winter months (December and January) when the international surfing competitions take place. Good luck finding a parking space, though. You're probably going to have to do some hiking, as parking's at a premium even during the off-season.

And speaking of the North Shore...I know, I swore I wasn't going to get sucked into watching "Lost" this year because they killed off "Charlie"...BUT...they pulled me back in! Damn it. And the way they're playing with time on the show, well, maybe Charlie isn't dead (he did appear to Hurley). Sigh.

Anyway, we were touring around the island and on the North Shore we happened upon...(drum roll, please)...The Others Camp. Locke and his group were nowhere to be seen--thank goodness. ;-)

We stayed in our car and did not trespass onto the property, as it's actually a YMCA camp. But we're trying to decide whether the creepy, rusty playground equipment was added to the location by the set crew to give the camp an extra boost of eeriness. There seemed to be new equipment across the road, so we're kinda leaning toward the freaky factor. (click top picture to enlarge)

And in the Punchbowl Crater, the solemn and majestic memorial to World World II casualties rises at the end of the National Cemetery of the Pacific. This pic only shows the middle section of the memorial, as the wings form half-circles with incredibly detailed mosaic tiles (about 10 feet tall each, and about 10 different pictures) of the islands and battles in the Pacific. My little camera couldn't capture the detail of the mosaic tiles properly, so I don't have a pic to show you...sorry about that.

Also, at Punchbowl, we found the marker for Ellison S. Onizuka (Colonel, USAF) (1946-1986), one of the Challenger Astronauts, and immediately I was thrown back to that day like it had happened only a few years ago. My freshman year of high school and I had just finished taking my first semester science final when one my teachers rushed in and told us something had happened to the Challenger. He flipped on the television and we all sat in shocked silence as we watched the replay over and over. A teacher had been on board. The first civilian: Christa McAuliffe. And somehow that brought it even closer to us. But, as we all know, seven lives were lost that day.

Other days stick out to me, too. The Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in January, 2003. 9/11. Diana's death. The day the Berlin Wall came down (1989). And the day the U.S. Diplomats that had been held hostage were freed in January, 1981 (also the day Ronald Reagan was sworn into Presidency).

I remember exactly what I was doing when I heard the news for all those events. And in the case of the last one on my list, I was eating cherry pie in a coffee shop with my mom and a neighbor when we heard it over the radio and the waitress started crying while she refilled our drinks.

What about you guys? Do you exactly where you were during certain events? Do you ever use your own experiences or actual events when creating backgrounds for your characters? (See, I brought it around to writing...eventually. LOL)

Take Care,


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Two Congrats and a Nomination!

So while I was out of town, more great things happened to some fantastic people in the writing world and I want share that news with you.

* Congratulations to SpyScribbler, whose thriller/suspense submission from her novel, For Love or Country, won first place in the BookEnds, LLC contest! Congrats, Spy! I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you!!

* Congratulations again this week to Maureen Child! She received a very special e-mail then phone call from author Linda Howard a few days ago...She's been nominated for a RITA in the novella category for her Silhouette Nocturne Christmas Cravings...Woo-hoo, Maureen! You'll definitely be able to hear me cheering for you in S.F.!

For those who are not acquainted with the RITA, it is an award akin to the Oscars in the Romance community (judged by peers, formal wear, ect), so it's pretty exciting to be nominated. And I believe this is Maureen's sixth nomination.

Congratulations to you both!!


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Shock and Awe

Some photos over the past few days...all of which are shot from my point of view and taken with my Canon PowerShot SD750 Digital Elph.

I'm standing over the U.S.S. Arizona in Pearl Harbor, which sank when it was bombed by the Japanese on December 7th, 1941. It's still the final resting place for many of the 1171 crew members who lost their lives that day. Many of the crew members who survived the attack opt to be interred with their shipmates when they pass as well. Also, many families lost a couple family members that day, as there were 37 sets of brothers on the Arizona and 23 sets were lost.

Standing on the Memorial, we caught a rainbow arched over Ford Island.

Torpedos and bunks on the World War II submarine, U.S.S. Bowfin. Fourteen crew members took turns "hot bedding" in shifts here as there are only a few beds and the torpedos take up most of the room.

"Don't Tread On Me" Navy Jack Flag on the deck of U.S.S. Bowfin.

And the big guns on the Battleship U.S.S. Missouri. It was on the deck of this ship that the Japanese officially surrendered and World War II ended. But the ship was kept in commission through the first Iraqi War with the US in 1991 and could be re-commissioned at any time (with a bit of updating).

At Nu'uanu Pali lookout. The trade winds rush up the mountains from the windward side of the island and the erosion from the wind and rain causes the dramatically sharp angles that steal your breath. Not to mention, the wind itself nearly sets you a flight, if you're not paying attention. Word of caution: Don't run with the wind or you'll end up flat on your face!

This is the spot where King Kamehameha won one of the bloodiest battles in Hawaiian history when he invaded O'ahu--after already winning over his own Hawaii, as well as the islands of Maui and Molokai-he drove the 400 warriors of O'ahu to this point with his own 10,000 warriors and drove them over the edge of the cliff where they fell to their deaths. Thus, effectively, uniting the Hawaiian islands. Good plan. ::nodding::

It's certainly an awe-inspiring spot.

The beach where a lot of scenes from the show "Lost" are filmed, as well as the famous beach scene (where they roll around in the surf) from the movie From Here to Eternity and the Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore movie, 50 First Dates.

Koi pond at the Byodo-In Temple at the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park.

Hope you're all doing well!


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Peace and the Aloha Spirit

The perfect sunset welcomed us this past Friday night after our family arrived in Hawaii. We sat on Waikiki Beach, with about a hundred other photographers and sun worshipers, and squinted into the horizon.

It happens every time we travel here: The moment we step off the airplane, we immediately relax. There's something in the air here. And no matter what we have on the agenda, we know that if we don't get to big deal. We'll just take everything in stride. No other place affects us like that, just Hawaii, and maybe that is what is called the Aloha Spirit. It's certainly contagious.

So this time, we're here with a lot of our extended family, not all of them could make it (only 12 this time), but we wish the rest could be here, too! I know, we're strange. We LOVE to vacation with our family. LOL

Anyway, just a couple photos of peaceful scenes for an Easter post...Although, with the time change, it's late on the continent...And who will see these on Easter anyway?

I do love the fact that I'm on the most remote chain of islands in world. It appeals to the "inner hermit" in me. ;-)

Peace. And I hope you all had a wonderful Easter.



Looking East toward Diamond Head...

And the opposite direction...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spreadin' the Good News...

...Or the Love. (However you want to think of it.)

I'm here to post some GREAT news because there's a lot to celebrate in the writing world.

* My friend, the awesome writing goddess Maureen Child, announced that her book Bargaining for King's Baby has been #1 on Walden's Bestseller List for 2 weeks now!! Woo-hoo!!! And as you can see from my sidebar, being the prolific writer she is, she also has a single title comedy paranormal romance on the shelves right now, A Fiend in Need (NAL), which is a follow up to her hilarious demon duster novel, More Than Fiends.

* A few weeks ago, another fantastic author and amazing person, Erica Orloff, announced on her blog that she accepted a three-book deal to Jabberwocky! The Magickeepers is "a middle-grade fantasy series about a rogue clan of Russian magicians who escaped Tsarist Russia, and who now hide their true identities in modern-day Las Vegas, and their battle against dark enemies to reclaim relics stolen from them by Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle." She also keeps hinting at another deal that she's super excited about, but she won't give up the details just yet...She just teases us. Hmph. ;-)

* And from the UK... Stevyn Colgan announced that his first book is officially on Amazon! Yay! From his blog, The Unbearable Oddness of Stevyn:

The book is called: Joined-Up Thinking: How to Connect Everything to Everything Else

It's published on 3rd October this year by Macmillan. It will feature cover quotes from Stephen Fry and John Mitchinson (co-author of QI: The Book of General Ignorance) and will have a foreword from John Lloyd - the mastermind behind QI, Not the Nine O'Clock News, Spitting Image, Blackadder, The Museum of Curiosity and (with Douglas Adams) The Meaning of Liff.

What's the book about? Basically, it's about the interconnectedness of things; how completely different and apparently unrelated people, places, things and objects are actually much more closely related than you think.

I stalk his blog daily...Oops, I probably shouldn't admit to the stalking. ;-) Seriously, it's like having another BBC channel. But interactive! I have his link in the sidebar, so if you get a chance, check out the site.

Does anyone else have any great news? Tell us, tell us! :-)


P.S. Actually, mine isn't writing related, but Eric and I celebrated our 15 year wedding anniversary last week...We can't believe how quickly the years have passed! And we still make each other laugh every day. (Awww)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"A Good Diplomat...Speaks Softly"

Last night, being Tuesday, E was channel surfing with little hope of finding anything to watch. I figured he'd given up when stopped on the ending credits of god-knows-what, so I opened my laptop to dive back into a scene I'd been working on a few hours earlier and he flipped his laptop open as well in order to do some research for work.

Then part one of the HBO mini-series "John Adams" began and my gaze drifted to the TV screen...where I was suddenly riveted by this movie. I glanced over at E and the same thing had happened to him. Not only that, but I realized somewhere along the way, I'd closed my computer. E's computer sat in the chair next to him, closed.

That's the power of fantastic storytelling. It reached out, grabbed us by the throats and held us captive. "Join, or Die" was the motto of the revolutionists and that intensity, that threat, fear, dread, and excitement is certainly present throughout the episodes that I've seen so far. I can't wait for this to be released on DVD.

And with it running on HBO, you know the network won't hold back any punches, won't sugarcoat the war or the lives of those caught in it. Nor would executive producer Tom Hanks whose "Band of Brothers" is an all-time favorite at our house.

I haven't read a biography of John Adams since grade school, but this makes me want to again so I can see how closely it follows his true story.

Have any of you had a chance to watch the first two parts? They're airing Sundays at 9 p.m. and there will be a total of seven parts.

Here's the trailer for the mini-series...


Monday, March 17, 2008

Visual Inspiration IV (This Time It's Personal)

Maybe the title should be: Visual Inspiration IV, The Revenge. Catchy. But the creators of the movie franchise Jaws 4 already came up with both that title and tag line. Oh, well.

It's Monday, folks! Back to writing and polishing my manuscript. Yay! This doesn't mean I put it out of my mind completely over the weekend, by the way. No, no, no. I actually figured out how to untie a plot knot, and now I'm going to dive in and fix it. Yay, again!

So, I'm posting the last of my photos, my visual inspiration, for my paranormal stories set in New England.

The Colony resides in Kennebunkport, ME, and we happened upon it while exploring the village during our second trip to New England. Closed for the season, the hotel just screamed to be an important part of my stories and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it, instantly. So, I have one that I've based on this hotel--just what inspired me from studying the outside--and it's owned by wealthy hotelier family, whose son runs it...But more importantly, he's a demon hunter. He's the hero in Book 2 and the perfect one to match up in a battle of wills with my witch heroine, Anne. They have to learn to trust one another and work together in order to rid the ever increasing amount of demons encroaching on their turf.

We passed by The Clam Box as we drove through Ipswich, Massachusetts on our way to Salem and I recognized it from a Travel Channel show, something like "Roadside America," but of course, now I can't find the link...Sorry about that. Isn't this unique? I love how the building is shaped like an open take out box!

Anyway, the clam shacks, the fun, attractive and uniquely shaped restaurants all help in adding atmosphere to my settings.

And what's New England without the Red Sox? During our first trip, we toured the field a few hours before the game, which was such a cool experience! To see the thousands of dents from where the baseballs hit the Green Monster and to stand on the warning track in the outfield and wonder what the grass would feel like under my feet. Nope, we were under strict instructions NOT to touch the outfield grass, so I can't tell you whether it was spongy or packed.

So, it's back to polishing for me! I'm thisclose to finishing Book One of The Prentice Legacy trilogy.

How're you all doing? How's your writing?


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Run! Duck! More Japanese Game Show Fun

Since it's the weekend, I'm posting another YouTube gem, rather than something writing related. :-)

This is a clip from the "Group of 100" where the entire group singles out one person on the street and pranks them. Funny. The first person in the clip isn't even phased! But the followings ones are and I have to wonder how I'd react in those situations. LOL



Friday, March 14, 2008

How would you do?

I rarely watch American game shows or Reality TV, but give me a good Japanese game show or any program on BBC America (except Dancing with the Stars!) and I'll watch it.

Some of the Japanese game shows just crack me up with their wackiness, and yet, they can be so brutal to the contestants at the same time! Do any of you watch MXC (Most Extreme Elimination Challenge) on Spike? It's a comedy redubbing of "Takeshi's Castle," which aired in Japan back in the 80s. It's hilarious, but some of those contestants really get knocked around. Half the time, I'm cringing when I watch them on the rolling logs and I wonder how the heck they manage to get up with all their teeth intact. Or manage to get up at all! I guess I'm a wimp. It just looks like those challenges would put me in the hospital for a month. LOL

And yet, I watch...What does that say about me?

Anyway, the clip below is NOT brutal, but it cracked me up. So, I thought I'd share. The big guy and the guy with glasses...Way too funny.

This is a clip from a show called "Human Tetris."



Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Paranormal Story...

Hi guys,

Have you ever had a misty figure appear before you? A premonition? Or a dream where a loved one, who has already passed on, visited you in order to tell you something?

I love gathering around with groups of friends and swapping tales, and I'm blogging about this over on A Slice of Orange today. So, if you get a chance, I'd be thrilled if you'd join me there!

I've shared one of my experiences, one that happened to me in York, England (NOT York, Maine...I bet you thought I was going to say Maine, huh? Got ya!). No, this one happened to me in July, 2006, on this street:

So, pop on by! And hey, feel free to tell me I'm just plain mad. :-)


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

He's Back! And He's Taking Names

And kicking some serious ass. Way to go, Indiana Jones!

When I saw the trailer for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I immediately thought back to my childhood and teen years when I'd stand in line at the movie theater with my friends for hours in order to watch these movies on opening weekend. This was before theaters had 20 screens to a center! If we lucked out, one of our local Edwards would have it playing on two screens.

What appeals to me the most about this particular movie and franchise is the continuity. Harrison Ford for one (yay!). The same actor plays "Indiana Jones" and he's not afraid to let the character age as he ages. Oh, and hey, Shia LaBeouf is in the movie as well, as "Mutt Williams." That will draw the kids and adults, as I know the members of my family have been enjoying his acting skills since his days on "Even Stevens" (Disney Channel, 2000-2003).

Also, I think it's fantastic that we get to share the continuation of these stories with a new generation without it being almost a completely different set of movies with different actors, like the new Star Wars trilogy. (Yeah, I know it was a prequel, but still. It just wasn't my bag, baby.) From what I understand, this new Indiana Jones movie is supposed to stay true to the first one, Raiders of the Lost Ark, which was my favorite.

Anyway, I can hardly wait until May 22 for this to be released! It'll be a little bit like stepping back twenty years, more or less...At least for a few hours.

Are you looking forward to any movies this summer?


Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull trailer courtesy of Yahoo! Movies.

Friday, March 07, 2008

"A Little Bit Like Coming Home..."

Last week, Abby Normal posted over on his blog that when he and E (my husband) talk music , E always brings up The 88. Oh, this is soooo true. It's like he's a disciple of this local band, or something. I fully expect one day to find him dressed in a long robe and sandals, complete with shoulder length hair and a beard, singing the praises of The 88.

But the praise and converting attempts have paid off because I'm listening to them now. A lot. It's easy music to listen to when I write. (Ssshhhh. Don't tell him, though. I'm playing it cool. ::wink::)

And they're a local band, which is awesome. Gotta support 'em. The videos below were shot at The Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa, CA by E, and the songs "Coming Home" and "All 'Cause of You" are from The 88's latest CD, Over and Over. Their next CD should be released soon. Oh, and the band thanked E for posting these videos on YouTube and Vimeo (more exposure for them), so it's not a problem posting them here.

"Coming Home" The 88 @ Detroit Bar from eric cwiertny on Vimeo.

You might remember the song from this Target Commercial. Targets are nationwide, aren't they? And who doesn't love Target? And their commercials! Okay, I'm a little advertising biased. Ads put food on the table at Chez Cwiertny. :-)

"All 'Cause of You" The 88 @ Detroit Bar from eric cwiertny on Vimeo.

"All 'Cause of You" has been used in movies, so it might sound familiar as well. I believe I heard it in the trailer for You, Me, and Dupree. (Didn't see the movie.)

Now, here's the band I'm obsessed with...Muse. Don't be surprised to find me dressed in a robe and sandals, complete with shoulder length hair and a beard, singing the praises of Muse. (And yes, it's because of E...again.)

This album, Absolution, is on my iTunes and I listen to it over and over (hey, that's the name of The 88 album!) as I've been revising my paranormal. The sense of urgency, need, desire, fear, and strength in the songs help put me in each scene and in each character. This album is so on par with my story and characters, it's scary. And I hadn't known about it until I started my revisions. I actually wrote the first draft while listening to Ben Folds' album Rockin' the Suburbs. Still cool, but a completely different vibe.

I'm particularly obsessed with this song by Muse, "Time Is Running Out" because it's exactly what my hero Cooper Landry is going through with my heroine Elisabeth Prentice.

Wait. I'm not growing a beard, am I?

What are you listening to?


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Online Class: Legal Fiction with Amanda Brice

Hi All,

Just thought I'd pass along the info for this March online class. I've posted the description of the workshop below, and feel free to pass it along to your friends as well! The deadline for joining the class is Saturday, March 8th, so if you're interested...Get crackin' and sign up. :-)
Hope you're all doing well!


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

OCC/RWA March Online Class

with Amanda Brice

March 10, 2008- April 6, 2008

Enrollment Information:

COST: $20 for OCC members, $30 for non-members
Enrollment deadline: March, 8, 2008
Moderator: Gina Black at

Do you know whether or not you can quote song lyrics in your manuscript? Are you wondering if you should trademark something from your high concept story?

Do you want to know how to protect your work and avoid infringing on other people's rights?

If you answered "Yes" to any of these questions, this is the class for you.

Developed by an intellectual property attorney who is also a fiction author, this workshop will lead you by the hand through the murky waters of legalese. Participants will learn the basics of copyrights, trademarks, and the laws of cyberspace. Topics will include:

** What is a copyright?
** What does copyright protect?
** Copyrightable subject matter
** Fair use
** Public domain
** Plagiarism
** Copyright and characters
** Song lyrics
** Digital copyright issues
** Special issues related to book trailers, website, etc.
** What is a trademark?
** How does one obtain a trademark registration?
** What does a trademark protect?
** Trademark and characters
** Trademark and titles/series/pen names
** Using trademarks in your writing
** First Amendment issues
** Slander and libel
** Basic publishing contract law

Students will be assigned some light case reading in addition to the posted lectures, but no previous legal background is required. (We promise!)

Disclaimer: As with any legal issues, you should always check with your own legal professional to verify you are in full compliance with the law. We are not responsible for any errors and omissions presented in the workshop materials or discussed in the online classroom.

Amanda will be donating her entire fee for teaching this course to the Romance Divas Scholarship Fund to help send a worthy aspiring author to RWA Nationals in San Francisco.

In her day job (under her real name), author Amanda Brice is an intellectual property attorney for a federal government agency in the Washington, DC area. Prior to her current position, Amanda worked on Capitol Hill for the House of Representatives' Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property, and in the General Counsel's Office of the U.S. Copyright Office. She holds a law degree from Arizona State University and an LL.M. in Intellectual Property from The George Washington University Law School.

Under her real name, she has published numerous law review and magazine articles on the topics of copyright, trademark, and cyberlaw, and writes adult and young adult chick lit and romantic comedy under her pen name Amanda Brice.

Check out her web site for more details on her upcoming titles at

with Amanda Brice

March 10, 2008- April 6, 2008

Enrollment Information:

COST: $20 for OCC members, $30 for non-members
Enrollment deadline: March, 8, 2008
Moderator: Gina Black at

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

Sunday, March 02, 2008

In London: A Story of Human Interest

A few days ago on the video blogging site Vimeo, I watched this stunning and poignant mini-documentary entitled "Last of the Conductors" by Martin Hampton of London, England. It stole my breath. The cinematography. The setting. But most importantly, the story of friendly and dedicated Brendon O'Hara and his final days as a conductor on the old Routemaster buses in London touched my heart.

After twenty-two years (1982-2004), his position is no longer "of use," as the new buses are driver only. But as this short film shows, the relationship between the riders and the conductors will be sorely missed.

I have to tell you: Every time I watch this, I want to wrap my arms around Brendon O'Hara as he stands in the new bus and says, "I'm the invisible man." It's heart-wrenching.

Unfortunately, this is the downside, the price, of progress and budget cuts. The cost is human interaction, relationships, characters, and traditions...It happens in this country, too.

If you have a few minutes, I encourage you to please take a moment to watch this film. And thank you to Mr. Martin Hampton, who kindly gave me his permission to post his documentary here. Thank you, sir!

Take Care,


LAST OF THE CONDUCTORS from Martin Hampton on Vimeo.