Monday, November 19, 2007

First Class Trip Ever... well sort of

Took a class trip last Friday and it was interesting. Saw a lecture, nothing spectacular there. The big thing was that it was the first time I had taken a class trip as the one in charge rather than a happy spectator.

All in all, things went well. A few minor things like stress of not finding things made me slightly crazy, but I'd count it a success.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sometimes I Find My Heart Heavy

I wrote this poem/ song a few days ago, but after hearing a sermon on margins found here I think it has new meaning that never even occurred to me. I was picturing this as the person doing the helping, but if I place myself in the opposite role, I find I still fit - all too well.

Sometimes I Find My Heart Heavy


Sometimes I find my heart heavy

For I don’t know how to reach you,

If you don’t reach out to me,

Then I don’t know what you need from me.

I can take no steps

If I don’t know where to find you.

It’s like shouting into dark and hearing nothing.

Only to find out sometime later

You were there the whole time

Bound and gagged by helplessness.

Close enough to touch by hand

But far away in mind and spirit

Therefore, far beyond my reach.

Tell me, how can I reach you?

Is there some middle ground we can safely tread

To cross the distance that lies between us?

Sometimes I find my heart heavy

For I don’t know how to reach you,

If you don’t reach out to me,

Then I don’t know what you need from me.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Review of Inferno: Five Irksome Points, Five Saving Graces

I’m going with three of five stars because, although I enjoyed the book, many things about it irk me to no end. Mild spoilers ahead, so beware.

This could have been the end of the series, yet the we-want-to-sell-3-more-books idea prevails.

Irksome point 1: Jacen’s characterization throughout the series. The authors have thus far tried to lead him slowly to the dark side. I even half-buy a third of their crappy rationalization. Several plot points leave me stunned by the sheer stupidity. Jacen Solo was a freaking awesome character by the end of the NJO, he even had sense through that flipping awful Swarm War series, then all of a sudden in LOTF he’s Mr. I’m-a-man-I-can-take-on-the-galaxy by sacrificing all about me, I’ll preserve peace.

Saving Grace 1: Jaina seems fully back to her senses, thank the force. She even gets one whole nice long scene to show she really is a Jedi.

Irksome point 2: Alema Rar. Ever since the force-forsaken Swarm War series I’ve disliked her character. She’s just painful to read. “We” this, “balance” that, “kill Leia” the other. Aaaarrrrggghhh. Sorry, I’m usually more articulate than that, but she’s like a rash that won’t go away in any TD book.

Saving Grace 2: Troy Denning’s descriptions are at times brilliant.

Irksome point 3: Tahiri Veila. How many years have passed since Anakin’s death? Yes, she loved deeply, but one would think her Jedi training would have given her a better measure of peace than this book implies. It’s hard to believe that her only option of finding peace is to turn to Jacen and force-flowing to find Anakin again. She knew Anakin like she knew herself, or so we’re lead to believe. Yet she’s willing to do many things Anakin wouldn’t have condoned. Sure.

Saving Grace 3: Tenel Ka. Wahoo, some characters stay true to themselves. Yes, she’s reminiscent of Padme, but unlike Padme, she’s willing to fight. Thank the force someone didn’t turn the authors loose against her character.

Irksome point 4: we-want-to-sell-3-more-books – Jacen’s beaten and Luke walks away b/c it’s the right thing to do. Incidentally, they make a half-hearted attempt to explain this away in the next book. Benny boy might walk the dark path, so we must let Mr. I-am-sith-god live. Worst part – it will WORK! Yes, I’ll buy the others to complete the series. Yes, I’ll probably have mixed feelings about them. Yes, I may regret spending the money later.

Saving Grace 4: Ben Skywalker. He reacts normally, thank goodness.

Irksome point 5: The miraculous escape in the end is so far beyond ridiculous it’s painful. The cause of said miraculous escape is also painful because the poorly named thing just all of a sudden remembers its powers… yeah right.

Saving Grace 5: Luke’s still powerful. Yes, he’s a lot over-done, which would have made him an irritant, had I been not so ready for him to DO something besides dither.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Comments on Lorien's cd: Waterline

This relatively short cd combines Lorien's amazingly beautiful voice with her haunting lyrics that tell many tales.
For the life of me I can't make heads or tails of Well of Swords. It's probably my 2nd-3rd favorite on the cd. I can't decide whether I like it better than the title track or not. Waterline may edge it out for the small reason of I can hear every word clearly, whereas Well of Swords, I had to look up the lyrics. You can actually hear both of these songs at Lorien's myspace music site. I highly recommend getting the whole cd though, it's reasonably priced and very relaxing music.
My personal favorite is perhaps the shortest song on there: For Love and Beauty. I think it takes all of a minute to play.
Part of this cd's appeal is how beautiful the presentations of death sound as they gently brush one's ears. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Internet - Curse and Blessing

I wonder how much work I would get done if I didn't spend so much time on the internet. On the other hand, if I didn't have the internet, how would I do my work. Google images are like my lifeline to semi-interesting powerpoints. No matter which way I look at this stuff certain parts of biology have the potential to be deadly boring. Yet those are the parts I need to understand better if I'm to get to the cool stuff like Genetics.

Monday, August 13, 2007

When You're Sick of Biology

Do what I do, avoid work like the plague and play on the internet. Er, not during my class though, got it?
Some fun things to read to help you maintain sanity:
The Shamer Chronicles Book 1: The Shamer's Daughter by Lene Kaaberbol. I had the large print version, very sweet. Made me feel like I could read the thing clear across the room. Excellent book, a bit odd for being from a 10 yr old's perspective but decently described.

The Icemark Chronicles Book 1: The Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hill. Probably one of my favorite fantasy books. Hill writes just enough description and action to keep the story flowing. The princess is more of a distressing damsel than a damsel in distress, though at times she sort of has that role too.

The Icemark Chronicles Book 2: Blade of Fire by Stuart Hill. Not quite as good as the first in the series but still wonderful. Stuart Hill's sense of pacing is lovely. This book focuses on Thirrin's son and his journey. If Hill didn't do pacing so nicely it would have been a drag, but as is, it flows rather well.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Pyroglyph's a singer - cool

See, there's only so much you can learn about someone online. I had no idea that this nice lady I've sort of met through the Legends of Mernac sings... and really beautifully at that. Hmm, there's got to be a way to fix that...we need a shameless plug thread. Be right back.
Okay, we're good to go.

Nice pretty music.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Technical Difficulties

Overall, Mernac's a wonderful forum and very reliable source of fun. Occasionally, like today, there's a spectacular site crash wherein the site throws a hissy fit and doesn't let anyone on for any reason. I assure you these times are rare. Oh well, guess that means I get to write tonight.

Maybe I'll actually get a chapter or two done. T'would be an amazing thing. Of late, NWN2 has been sucking up time like a hungry little monkey.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

julie and book

julie and book
Originally uploaded by julie20201
Me learning how this flickr thing works.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Commentary on God and being a god

So far so good.
Now approaching the first full week of being Terees, Mother of Wisdom and Harmony, for the Legends of Mernac, I find myself facing the first daunting tasks. I've yet to step into the administration parts of the job, but the character parts are quite an interesting study.
I think I'll start a fictional prayer answering thing, just for the practice.
How does this reconcile with the RW and a relationship with the true Most High?
As a writer, trying to place oneself in the position of "god" is dangerously power-trippy. It makes one think though. Been reading a book on Prayer (er I think by Phillip Yancy, tells you how much attn I pay to who the author is:-) The normal questions that arise... Why doesn't God do this? Why doesn't God do that? Doesn't He care at all?... are most interesting to attempt answering, especially from the pov of a goddess of wisdom.
I imagine in this fictional world, it'll be really easy to blame my character for "not doing enough" to save the world from war, pain, etc. The author of the prayer book I'm reading talks about prayer in stages...not hierarchical stages, just different stages. I find myself mostly in the childlike prayer stage. Or as the pastor today said: the Gimme stage.

Does RW (real world) prayer really work? Heck yeah. Is it worth it? Heck yeah. Is it hard work? Heck yeah? So why do we do it? Can't answer for everyone, but for me, repetition of a poem - song or even my stints of complaining at God are prayer. The results may not be tangible, but they're there in a sense of peace and purpose.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Neverwinter Nights Obsession - mild spoilers

I should probably sell this game, even though I got it max 3 weeks ago. It's the diamond edition, so it's got the original campaign, Shadows of Undrentide, Hordes of the Underdark, Kingmaker, Witches' Wake, and Shadow Guard.

Bit of a cheat: If you want to start the NWN normal campaign at level 15 with a lot of money and stuff... Well, you could pick one of the premade peoples, but I'm always partial to my names, selfish I know. Anyway, start Hordes of the Underdark as whatever character you want to design. It'll have you level up to 15. Then, you simply play until you get some equipment from the inn's armor a little longer if you want a few more weapons and such.

Kingmaker is my favorite module so far. I love that it can be replayed in a different way, as there are four choices of henchman and you pick two in the beginning. That's not really a learn it about 2 minutes into the game. Okay, sorry, mild spoiler.

The female voice for Shadow Guard is absolutely lovely. It's soothing. I just like listening to the beginning story. It's a good 3 minute story or something along those lines. The male voice is nice too but I dunno, I think I sort of like the girl's voice better for this tale.

Witches Wake was just annoying...That's MHO. At least in Shadow Guard they gave you a decent weapon... this one... you start out weak as a kitten, armed with rags, will, and a spear plucked off some dead guy. The rats can beat the heck out of you the entire module through. That is so very not fun...rather humiliating to have the rats kick your tail from tunnel to tunnel.

The normal campaign has a decent story. There are plenty of nice walkthroughs out there for those of us who want to do a lot of the side quests but are far too lazy to sit there and figure them all out. Some of those puzzles, esp in the exp pack called Hordes of the Underdark, are irksome at their best points.

I think I'm addicted to leveling up. Yes, that's it.... I love that sprightly sound and the little happy, shooting star type version of the PC. I love picking new powers and such, even though I predictably choose the same thing over and over: Concentration, Parry, and Spellcraft...occasionally heal or something. Concentration so I can beat on baddies with spells, Parry so they can't hit me and Spellcraft b/c it sounded like it would be useful. With that level up cheatingness it might not be necessary to beef up spellcraft quite so high.

If I ever want to get writing done this summer...and lesson plans...this obsession needs to be halted. That's why I'll probably never ever ever get into the NWN online stuff... though I'm pretty sure there are lots of modules I'm missing. *sigh* The sacrifices that are made for an art form.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Memories of The Little Mermaid

I honestly haven't watched The Little Mermaid in ages. In my humble opinion, Mulan was Disney's last animated triumph. Aladin, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and Sleeping Beauty, liberally sprinkled my childhood, and I've fond memories of them all. As I strive to write my own stories, be they fantasy, sci-fi, or real world, the simple lessons, good humor, and dose of magic inherent in the classic Disney tales give me excuses to test creative wings.

Ariel made a choice to sacrifice her voice for a time because she wanted something with every fiber of her being. She wanted the unknown, the elusive forbidden world beyond the sea. Evil, of course, had to make a showing or it wouldn't be a good story:-)

There are several types of love demonstrated in the story. Prince Erik has his servant friends, and Ariel has that bumbling bird and the lucky crab. They eventually find they love each other, though the realism, even fairy-talish, is stretched by the whole love on first sight bunk. There's a father's love which is both sacrificial in nature and scarily overprotective at other points.

I'm a sucker for details. So I find myself asking a bunch of questions, such as, where are the prince's parents? What kingdom do they rule? Does he have any siblings? What are Ariel's sisters doing during all her adventures? Part of me always wonders what happened to the "little guys" of a story.

In many ways, everyone is a "little guy" in life. Riches flow over the backs of the ordinary, and many a good story tells the tale of the ordinary in extraordinary circumstances. Well, with a thousand tales to tell and so little time I'm off to dream the dreams of high adventure and ways to bring good old stories back in business.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Review of Karen Traviss' LOTF Sacrifice

Mild spoilers ahead...and I do mean minor.
Like or dislike Boba Fett, Karen Traviss has a mild obsession with the character so he's here to stay. Still, she weaves his story in very nicely, and I see the Mandalorians becoming more that that third cog in this war wheel.

I agree that much of the series, and this book is no exception, ignores key characters - namely Jaina Solo. Court-martialed or not, I just don't see her doing "nothing" about any of the events.

The Ben and Mara moments, specifically surrounding Ben's reaction to certain book events, are touching and pretty realistic for Skywalker family dynamics.

Allana's an unknown at this point; so, for all practical intents and purposes, is Tenel Ka. I've made no secret in any of my reviews that I've disliked what they've done with her character. She had such potential to be so much more, but they shuffled her away to the plushy prison called Hapes to be queen, while the galaxy spins out of control. BTW, where's Tahiri, Zekk, Lowie, etc.? Yeah, yeah, they've got lame excuses to be doing this and that, but honestly, it's like all the Jedi are gone again.

I've got my own wild speculations about what's going to happen in the future books, but I'm happy that - spoilers aside - Karen Traviss throws in some nice plot twists. One comment about the name picked for Mr. newly patented Sith: it really ought to have been better explained. I'll be naively hopeful here and assume they're going to explain it later, but the ending was just plain "cheesy" - dumb - silly - whatever - blah- ish. One thing I tend to like about Star Wars EU books is their penchant for giving just enough backstory. I know the name was chosen in a contest, and I've got nothing against that. There should, however, be some explanation for Mr. Sith choosing that particular name. Some piece of lore, history, whatever to make it make sense.

Negativity aside, Sacrifice is definitely a well-worth-it read.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Why I write Poetry, Fantasy, and Science Fiction

For the good of mankind (a.k.a. World peace:-)? Nope, I'm not that high-minded.
Entrepreneurship? Perhaps, but only in my wild, uncharted dreams. You can't start a business if you've no drive to see it through, especially with something so tricky and misunderstood a skill as writing.
Entertainment ? Closer to the truth, but not the whole of the answer.
Excellence? Closer still, but again, too high and lofty.

In truth, elements of all four and one more small factor send my fingers pounding my poor, much abused, way overused keyboard. Fact and factor: I can't not write. Not to be melodramatic or anything, but the stories, poems, phrases, dialogue, scenes, scenarios, climaxes, and characters haunt me. You might call it obsessive; I call it sanity preservation.

Good: I've no delusions of grandly changing the course of history, but I am also well aware of the daunting power words hold over people. With this new technology-dominated age letter writing has fallen by the wayside, it is my secret wish to one day use my poems to reach people in need of encouragement. Here's the kicker - I want to write real letter with hand-written poems. Logistics might be difficult, but I'm working on that. While not unduly hard, my life has been full of both blessings and growth-inducing experiences. Poetry has preserved these moments. Now, I wish to turn them into something good, for one smile is worth a hundred long nights and bouts of hand cramps.

Money: Eh, money ain't everything. It certainly makes things easier, but if money were my first goal in writing, I'd have quit long ago. I'm still learning and growing as a writer and as a person. This addiction to an underestimated art form has already cost me hours of my life, and I wouldn't trade the world to take a moment back.

Entertainment: The big reason, the core, the foundation, whatever analogy you wish to use. I write fantasy and science fiction mostly because it entertains me, but hopefully, it entertains those who read it.

Excellence: Ah, there might be a slight bit of control freak in me that comes out when I write. One of the most entertaining bits about fiction writing in general is the ability to take a jumble of concepts and characters and make them beautiful. Does it surprise you that sometimes the characters write themselves? Sometimes it's painful to write an ending because for all the world you wish it could be different, but the series of events leave only sad logical endings. Is this a study of life? Perhaps. From childhood, I was taught to strive for excellence in all things. So I will write, and write some more, and if no other good but a more sensitive, intelligent me comes of it than such is the way and will of things. All glory to God anyhow.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Rules, Rationale, and Rantings

Respect everyone - I recently had a young male student say, "that a girl" to me, after I gave him points back on a quiz answer he technically got right but misspelled badly (with a word bank I might add). Besides being rude in general, that's no way to treat any teacher, young or not. I don't give two figs if I look young enough to be your sister; I'm not so don't treat me like I am. (Don't treat your sister like that either, unless you want to be smacked.) I've lost count of the times students have put each other down, albeit sometimes "deservedly."

Spelling Counts if you have a word bank - If I'm going to bother to make up a word bank, at least have the decency to use it. If I misspell something, then that's my mistake and you copying that mistake won't be counted against you. Typos do occasionally happen, but not usually when you're writing things by hand.

No cell phones or ipods or ipod nanos or anything else distracting - Students do not need to text message each other in the middle of my class.

No talking during a quiz or test - There are plenty of other opportunities to talk and add your two cents to classroom discussions. If you talk during my test or quiz and I feel in a really really really good mood you get a verbal warning, but otherwise and if it happens consistently you fail the quiz or test. I can only assume you're cheating. If you need a pencil (which you shouldn't), you raise your hand and address your concern to me.

Throw things away in the beginning or end of class - There should be no reason to get up in the middle of class to throw something away.

Prepared for class - means having notebook, book, working pens or pencils, and being IN your seat.

Blogging Contests

Sweet. More ops for money. Write away sweet-ums.
Maybe you shall win the blogging contests.

Read the whole post, but here's the low-down on the words.
May 07 – “Fantasy”
June 07 - “Fairy”
July 07 - “Mermaid”
Aug 07 - “Dragon”
Sept 07 - “Sexy”
Oct 07 - “Dark”
Nov 07 – “Humor”
Dec 07 – “Politics”
Jan 08 – “Girl”
Feb 08 – “Magic”
March 08 – “Sports”
April 08 – “War”

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Liquid Prayers (4.25.07)

As promised, I let the whole tragedy at Virginia Tech seep into me for a solid's the usual it is a song:

Liquid Prayers (4/25/2007)

One week slipped by, then almost two.
Each moment made the pain recede,
But I wanted to cry....
I wanted to cry for the angry man
Who stole so many lives.
I wanted to cry for the people
Who would never see home again.
Wanted to cry for the strangers
Mourning a loved one lost.
Wanted to pour out liquid prayers

For everyone
wounded in body, spirit, and soul.

Imagine my dismay when I discovered,
Something deep within holds my tears at bay.
Have I seen too much to cry?
Or is there too much to cry for?

Though no tears may come,
My heart will weep.
I will weep for the angry man,
For those who fell that day,
For everyone beyond our help.
I will weep for the strangers
Whose pain may not recede.
I will pour our liquid prayers

To bind w
ounds of body, spirit and soul.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Reflections, One Week Post VT Shootings

Nearly everyone remembers which elementary school, high school, college, and other school they've ever attended. But the world only remember the tragedies. Why? Columbine, Virginia Tech, and any other place with a shooting, bomb scare, or other threat become lodged in our minds, our hearts, our souls. But why?

After watching a bit of news coverage Tuesday, I forgot all about Virginia Tech for the rest of last week. Is that a good, bad, or normal thing? Part of me feels every day should have opened with a prayer for the families of the fallen and everyone else touched in a deep way. The other part of me, the cynical one, just shrugs helplessly and says, "Well, it's just one more sign of sin in the world." There's even a small bit of an even more selfish me who says, "Well, thank God it wasn't me."

I go about my business as usual, barely sparing a stray thought for the victims. How did I become so callus? What sort of self-preservation trickery of the mind deadens my emotions so? I'm sure if I wanted to I could make myself cry over the incident, but what would these tears mean? Certainly nothing to those around me; we're all tucked safe in our emotional bubbles.

Maybe one day I'll write a poem or song to mark the occasion, but for now, these wandering thoughts will have to do.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Each Poem, A Song

I've tried to explain this process before, but yesterday, I got frustrated with that darn old Blogger program, so I decided to start over. About 99.9% of the poems I write are actually songs. The process takes about 30-45 minutes from start to finish once I actually start writing. Basically, the first step is to think of a tune to nonsensical words. For example, with Journey of Discovery, I started with words sort of like: "Eh ah ma say hey,
ona mon ee eh
Eh ah ma see eh
com ma ee eh
ah mat tea eh a mat tea eh"

The first step, however, the tune one, can last for days, weeks, or even months. Then, depending on which words I chose, the tune may change slightly. Taking that tune, the words became: "Always thought I knew (Eh ah ma say hey)
All I needed to about plants. (Eh a ma see eh ah monee eh)
But I was wrong, so very wrong (eh ah moh say, see ah moh see)
So many things I did not know (Soh ah ma tay, ah see monee)
Suddenly came to life for me (so ma tee eh a ma tea eh)
when I began to study. (Too ah moh nee ah sooee)

Each bit and piece of that original tune is like a puzzle piece. While writing the poem, I mentally pick it apart and paste the pieces together in a different order. Words, in any language I suppose, though I only know English well, have a natural rhythm to them. They take themselves higher or lower as they please.

Journey of Discovery

Yes, I'm somewhat of a teaching dork:-)

Journey of Discovery (4/6/07)

Always thought I knew

All I needed to about plants,

But I was wrong, so very wrong.

So many things I did not know

Suddenly came to life for me

When I began to study.

Even as the parts and phyla blur

Their importance is becoming clear.

So, come with me on a journey.

Oh, the air I breathe is sweeter now.

The clothes I wear are nicer;

The food I eat is richer,

Just to know the source.

So, come with me on a journey of discovery.

Maybe we’ll find bits and pieces

Of a past we did not know.

Maybe we’ll come across some truths

To keep the future safe and bright.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Current Projects

I've never shared this much about my writing before, but I guess it's all gotta come out sometime. Like I said in my other blog, most of my fantasy writing is done for the Legends of Mernac, an online writing and art community with the potential to be much more. I've been haunting that place for about six months or so, and I know I've grown as a writer just by virtue of sheer practice. I'd never tried fantasy before, but since joining Mernac, I've written about Merfolk, rangers, horses, potion makers, a bug race, and lots more.

Outside Mernac, I have several science fiction novels in the works. I think the series will be 5 books long, and being 2 books into the process, I guess I'm somewhere around 35% done. A small publisher is currently looking at the sample chapters for the first novel *cross fingers*. Without going into specifics, that series is about a planet whose political climate changes more times than I change undies, which I assure you is frequent.

I'm also a part of My Writing Friend, which is another online writing critique community. In this one, the head lady will give three topics each month and ask all members to write a story concerning one of those three.

The 10-yr-old from Georgia, is Jillian. She's a blast to write. I might even post her stories here. I haven't quite figured out what to do with her, since she doesn't really fit into children's literature, nor does she fit adults or YA exactly. She's just: Jillian, the southern gal with an all-knowing Nana.

Musings on Writing and Self-Publishing

I'm a self-published author. Some swear that's the death of a writing career, and perhaps it is. The question of whether self-publishing is a good thing or not truly depends on what you expect to get out of it. For me, it worked out rather neutrally. I can't say it completely killed a writing career because I never had one to kill, nor can I say it launched me to the highest peaks of success. I can say, however, that the experience was invaluable.

The major downfall with self-publishing is, of course, that anyone with a bit of money can do it. Literally hundreds of publishers are ready to "make you a star". Most of those are flat-out crooks, too, but let's put that point aside for now. Even the legitimate companies, who tell you what they're all about, are first out there for themselves, then out there for you. You must understand this if you wish to pursue self-publishing with your "eyes open".

The second downfall of self-publishing is that unless you pay someone to edit your work, the editor is you. This is how 10-12 grammatical mistakes made it through to publishing. Most of those are small comma errors, but a few are more "doh!" worthy.

Write because you love it sounds so cliche, but it's true. Very few gain great financial success, but there's something sweet about the craft of writing itself.

The greatest boon for self-publishing is the opportunity to learn while you play. Writing allows one to ask questions and explore life through someone else. My poor characters go through a lot, but sometimes they ask for it. Getting into the mind of a psycho bent on controlling a planet and a spunky ten-year-old from GA are two completely different things, yet both types of character have something to teach us about their world, which by extension also teaches us about our world.