Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pin to the E to the Rest

As a few of you may be somewhat aware of I make a lot of pictures.

If I'm not photographing things, I'm photoshopping them, and if I'm not photographing or photoshopping them I'm painting them and then photographing and photoshopping them. Then I stop for a light lunch, maybe have a pickle.

But the point is there are a lot of pixels I've manipulated into some form and shared across this wide vast net of tubes and clogged drains.

So, despite my misanthropic tendencies, I decided to finally join Pineterest.

The first thing you notice upon signing up is a noticeable lack of Pine, there isn't even a spruce propped up in the corner. Then you finally look hard at the scrawled title and realize "Oh, it's a pin! Pin te Rest. Is that latin for food and fashion porn or something?"

And what is the point of Pin te Rest? To pin things, naturally.

The first Pin ne Rest didn't have much luck in the late 80's when the innovator looked upon his world and thought, I want to remember this moment forever. So, naturally, he pulled out a giant set of hat pins and tried to adhere everything in place.

After getting savagely kicked by a seagull PenneRest was put on the back burner until someone else had hired out all those internet/social media/mad seagull kinks.

If you sign up for an invite (and get one after a few days), you're given a little button for your browsers task bar so now you're free to frolic across the internet dredging up long forgotten lore, ancient rituals, and cupcake recipes no one in their right mind would make.

Those various images you then pin onto boards, to display to the wide world of your handful of friends and that one spam bot that follows everyone. Typical social media jump off point really, you start off with 5 maybe 10 people listening to your mad ramblings, and then, with time and effort, suddenly you've got over 1000 people following you around asking for directions and if they can go the bathroom.

But then I made my adorable baby animals board:
It was something I wanted for when the day has been not so kind and I simply want to stare at little animals sleeping, eating, or plotting world domination. You know, typical baby things.

It was all rather quiet until I posted this tiny Koala picture and then suddenly my inbox exploded in pinbone e-mails!
I've had a few of my nerdy images get 10 or so repins, a painting here or there, but nothing like the baby animals.

So, my advice for someone trying to get into the PinonSteering is to have fun, be polite, and share a shit ton of baby pictures of little marsupials clutched in someones hand.

And if you want to friend/follow/thumbs up/hug/adhere a remora fish to, here's my profile.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Look Out Above!

Spring is doing its damndest to try to sprung no matter how many times Jack Frost grabs it by the coil and jams it back into the cooler.

This has caused a rather large amount of consternation as my dog seems to absorb her energy from nice weather which leads to a guarantee loss of about 2-3 hours each weekend at the dog park followed by my hiding from her in the closet once we are home.

One other trick to get her to stop begging with ball in mouth is to paint. For whatever reason she's accepted that if I am painting or cooking she can't bother me, anything else I do is fair game, however.

So this weekend I made this:
And then I listed it for sale.

I'm also in the middle of my first 18X24 painting since the alien invasion. It still needs lots of branches and a moon and that juggling clown I put in all my paintings.
I'm trying to channel my creative energy into something good instead of letting it flap about like a dying fish on land. We'll see how long that lasts before I'm off on some other wacky project to recreate Atlantis or something.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mozzarella Sandwich

It is a rare day that I find a recipe off of the various 5,000 or so cooking shows I watch in the background since Discovery became the Blow Shit up Channel, TLC the Let's all Watch Little People Marry Cake Bakers with Toddlers in Tiaras Channel and History the Alien Hitler Channel.

About the only thing I seem to walk away with are ideas on how to prepare food, little techniques such as Alton Browns wrapped crab legs in saran wrap and wet paper towels, microwave for 2-3 minutes, and boom done.

This one comes courtesy of a strange Italian cooking show that seems to never take place in the same kitchen. One day the host is out traipsing through the woods in search of truffles the next he's accosting his neighbors and demanding free olive oil samples.

I'd link to a recipe on a website but I have no bloody idea how to navigate the cooking channel one so it's from the Italian guy who sometimes brings out two twins as props.

Anyway, the mozzarella sandwich. This is something to make if you have fresh mozzarella sitting around gathering up dust.

First step is to slice up some bread, he originally used white but we don't have any of that. Next slice off a good chunk of the mozzarella.
Now in a separate bowl mix together an egg with about 1/8 a cup of milk or so. It's more of an eyeball game really.
That's right we're making savory french toast of a sorts.

To the egg I added some italian spices and a dash of salt.
Now you just dip the sandwiches in the egg solution and into a pan with a little bit of oil or butter.
Cook for a few minutes on medium heat on both sides and voila a mozzarella sandwich.

It tastes a bit like french toast did it with a grilled cheese sandwich, but in a good way.
I assume just about any cheese would work provided it was thick enough. It's best to keep the bread slices small though, lest the whole thing flop apart during turning.

Frankly, I'm rather surprised Americans haven't embraced something like this. It's simple, it's fast and it makes a typical kiddie food taste that much better.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken*
by Robert Frost (with a few surprises added by me).

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where a zombie stood in the undergrowth; 5

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Imposing over stood trolls twice a pair;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same, 10

And both that morning equally lay
Tempting with treasures of the pick.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
And knowing just what would allay,
I unsheathed my boom stick. 15

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I shot the zombies in the eye,
And that has made all the difference.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How To Write A Novel

Now you've gone and done it. After blabbing and threatening for years to finally sit down and put words to computer screen/paper/stone tablet/shaved cat someone has called your bluff and you have no choice but to finally write that novel.

But where to start? Luckily I am here to navigate you through the trials and tribulations more trials of getting your brain goo out of your head, into something approaching a publishable form, and then sharing it with the entire three people who have nothing better to do; all without needing a Pensieve.
  1. Here we come to the beginning of the checklist. This is the best place to begin, unless you're traveling backwards in time, in which case Look out for Hitler and Crystal Pepsi. To begin the novelization of your brain you must craft for yourself some kind of plot and a cast of characters to ram through said plot.

    If you don't have a plot, try running your well crafted characters through a few scenarios and see if anything jumps out at you.

    If you have a plot but characters so thin they couldn't stop alpha particles, congratulations you have a best selling airport novel on your hands.

    If you have neither plot nor characters but still think you can write a novel you must be a Reality Show star, which means you'll become a bestselling author without having a clue what a semi-colon is. We all hate you, not that you care much rolling around on your STD infested pile   of cash.                                
  2. You have your one eyed pirate with a heart of gold who just opened a burger stand in the middle of the apocalypse and a wise cracking dog with a spleen of silver who intends to guide him along the way. Now what?

    The second most arduous and maddening task of writing, the actual extracting part. You're going to want to carve out entire months for the task of pounding the boards. Declare your social, work, and physical life dead as you find yourself entering into a disturbing writing coma where only your eyes and fingers can move clicking slowly through 100,000 words.

    A soul crushing fear will come upon you that, if you ever dare leave your keyboard for a moment, the threads weaving through your mind will unravel the second you dare shift away from your growing tale. This is perfectly normal and is merely your bodies way of telling you that YOU SHALL NEVER MOVE UNTIL THAT THING IS DONE!

    Even if you finally snap and start hitting your keyboard with a sponge soaked in vinegar singing "I'm Henry the Eight I am!" keep going. I love reading about other people's madness.                         
  3. So you cleaned the vinegar out of your keys, got onto some really interesting drugs with a happy pair of bunny slippers for a mascot and somehow have a finished rough draft sitting forlornly on your harddrive. Walk away.

    Just walk away. Go back out into the sunshine. Remember what fresh air smells like. Cower when some strange two legged land beast tries to greet you. Become suspicious of this outside world and retire back to your safe den strewn with shredded newspaper and tea bags.

    This is the time to let your novel age. Like a good cheese, meat or casserole dish from, you suspect, the Carter era, your little novel needs some time to stew away in its own juices figuring out if it really wants to go through this soul crushing next steps and be embraced or ridiculed by the wide world.

    You, meanwhile, will begin to get giddy whenever anyone mentions your writing extravaganza and seriously question if that ever actually happened or if it was all a fevered dream. You may also being to wear a lobster on your head.                                                                                        
  4. It's been a couple months/years/decades/queeglegons, and you think it's finally time to unearth that manuscript and begin the first most arduous task of writing: editing. It's not just for term papers and people who sleep with the MLA format on their nightstand.

    Physicists have tried to study the exact time frame a book will go through first, second, thirtieth, infinite rough drafts but have been unable to reach any conclusions as the process is a mobius strip of adding things, finding something wrong with something else, patching in more, then looking for missing periods, commas, or where you typed "form" instead of "from" in the new sections.

    Plus authors have an annoying habit of dying just before they can collect any conclusive data.      
  5. Let's jump into that time machine of assumptions; now that you've run your manuscript past a copy-editor, a few friends, a beta reader, your eyeballs, a gamma reader, those same friends, your eyes again, a gamma particle, and your eyeballs for that final rinse you have finally decided you want to publish. Well, it's your funeral.

    I'd offer sage and thymely advice on how one goes about finding a publisher but short of sacrificing a copy editor to Ba'al I've got nothing, but I do know a bit about that whole self publishing stuff.

    So let's say you go that way, which means everyone will view you the same as the guy who wrote a Semen Cookbook and probably have decapitated rabbits in your sewing room.

    I've self published through Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords. The first thing you should know is that every single avenue you take will demand a completely different formatting that you'll tear your beard out trying to comply with, oh and a golden fleece because it gets a bit cold in the server.

    Any luck I've had actually convincing people to read my shit has been on Amazon, that seems to have become the haven for fellow self publishers begging for a scrap of audience.                         
  6. All right, you picked a place to go about peddling your wares. You signed all the thousand page agreements, gave a stool sample, and promise to marry the Lady Amazon once you come back from war.  The first thing your "publisher" will need to know is the title of your novel.

    If you don't have a title, don't slip back into your vinegar phase. Try googling a few puns, work in some horrible cliche that has nothing to do with your story, or try to capitalize on another popular piece of work. "Like a Bat Out of Twilight" it is.

    Now that that's settled time to move onto box number two and, oh, it wants a description. PANIC! No no, you can do this, after all you were the one who created "All The Eggs Men."

    The synopsis should be brief but hilarious, eye catching but not ALL IN CAPS, a summary of the entire scope of your novel without giving away a single spoiler. This is when I suggest you try that Ba'al thing.
  7. You have an edited manuscript and a synopsis for "Skip To My Death," now there is simply one tiny piece of the puzzle missing; a cover.
    You can pay people to make you a cover, you can try to cobble one together yourself with a few random scraps of stock photo images or you can capture a leprechaun and make him get you a genie to do it.

    Either way it must be that eye catching thing again, fairly legible, and have absolutely nothing to do with the story within. That's an industry standard there. Also, if you can, try to find a way to work a few disembodied breasts and butts into it; got to go for some sex appeal to pull in the fact that 80% of the readers are women.

    In retrospect, maybe have your pirate in some fishnets.
  8. And now all you have to do is upload everything, hit submit and wait for those dollar menu royalties to come rolling in. What? You think I'm going to share with you secrets to market that thing. Ha!
There you have it, eight easy steps to create and publish your own novel. Granted, you'll come out the end despising your fellow men, a kitchen full of leprechaun carcasses, and a fear of the light that rivals the Morlocks, but you'll finally be searchable on and that makes it all worth it.

    Monday, February 20, 2012

    Crow's never saw it coming

    There is little in the traditional Halloween that really freaks me out. Skeletons are just pre-marimbas. Vampires tend to leave a bit of glitter everywhere and clutter up your doorstep. Jack O'lanterns only require a few days and a warm October day. And ghosts, well, there are probably more ghost hunting teams than pizza places in any location anymore.

    But there is one that gets under my skin and jumps up and down on my psyche in the quiet moments of darkest night. The scarecrow: the mostly unhuman straw man stuffed and hung up to die for our food out in the midst of a forest of corn.

    Perhaps it comes from growing up in the land of corn and cows but for me you can only do scarecrows one of two ways, either they're the cutesy floppy hatted, painted smile grandmothers hang up once the autumn chill whispers through the leaves. Or they're a walking, lurching horror stuffed full of straw and nightmares.

    You can guess which I prefer. And, because most of the typical Halloween decorator doesn't have such a strange proclivity with scarecrows I decided this was the year I'd finally make my own.

    My first step was making a head. Luckily if there's one thing that's easy to find in this house it's skulls.

    I chopped off a section of PVC for a neck, bored a hole into the skull and glued them together. Then my scarecrow's head got stuck onto a wine bottle to act as a holder for the next messy part or because my scarecrow is also a raging alcoholic.

    Now for the fun part, remove all rings, watches, clothes and any skin you don't want to get damaged; we're latexing.

    I used paper towels and that ooey gooey stuff that makes everything from goblins to zombies to mage staffs.

    A bit less friendly looking now. The nice part about latex is you can easily go in stages, letting one level dry before coming back and tackling another with fresher eyes.
    Now for the painting!

    Normally stain would be used but I wanted to go for something really dark to contrast against the eventual burlap so out came my black paint, a lot of patient dribbling of watered down acrylic and repainting.
    Because a single color can get a bit dull to the eyes, and I can be an insane perfectionist about things no one will ever see, I went back over with a bit of brown for some depth/because I pulled my brown out.
    Now to scarecrow that bad boy up.

    I had no plans for where burlap would go, I simply cut and frayed it up and glued it in place haphazardly. The hat still needs more aging (but someone, I won't name names here, went and ran out of black paint) and some resizing to fit the tiny skull head but here is my unsettling scarecrow head.
    The next step is to build up the body, which I put in my husbands hands. As he's already made Doug the gravedigger, I figure this has to be a zombie walk.

     And this is just another one of the many many reasons that no one will ever talk to me.

    Friday, February 17, 2012

    Runs in Good Condition

    I recently finished Monica Marier's second novel "Runs in Good Condition" that takes place six months or so after the finish of "Must Love Dragons."

    Linus is back from his travels with money to burn and a grateful family. Only now he finds himself swept up in a danger worse than dragons and kobolds: Politics. Nominated for Union President Linus goes toe to toe with crooked leaders, a tank of water, dancing slippers, pop singers, corsets, and even a werewolf or two. That is if he even passes the qualifying rounds… and if he can avoid planting his foot in his mouth every two seconds.

    Whether you’re liberal, conservative, or nihilist, there’s nothing as impolitic as Linus Weedwhacker: Candidate at Large. 

    I really enjoyed Must Love Dragons, there was a nice current of wit and humor that flowed through the action of the story and sucked a reader in rather quickly for a comforting ride.

    "Runs in Good Condition" starts out a little slow for me as Linus and his daughter Irene run into a pop sensation trying to flee hordes of teenage girls who are always trying to sacrifice wispy haired boys to their gods or whatever it is teenage girls do.

    From there we learn about Linus' intended plans to run for President, a goal he seems to find himself trapped in and not so certain if he really wants it even as others help/force him to limp along the way.

    The story picked up a bit for me when Linus finds himself outside the city and forced to fend for himself out in the forest in nothing more than a pair of boots and his knickers. It really got into a good tempo about halfway through when Linus and Irene leave the ball on the carriage and find themselves running for their lives.

    What follows is a tooth and nail fight to figure out who is trying to snuff out Linus before he can get on that podium and give his acceptance speech for president.

    I was worried at first, with the climate of the election year out here in real land now that reading about more political stuff would make me want to stick my head inside an oven, but Marier can turn some of the absurdities of the process on its head and come out with a tale that makes me forget that there are even more terrifying baddies out in the real world waving babies and kissing flags.

    Reagan, the elf stumping and hosting for Linus' rise to power is an interesting character, as he fights against himself and his hatred of old Linus to put what he believes is the right candidate on the throne. Wendel, a halfling with an even better reason to hate Linus than most others, really caught my mind and made me want to know more about him, as well as what really happened to his wife.

    Dierdre, Linus' wife who was born a dragon but became human to marry him, is a fascinating character who always feels like she's on the verge of breaking out for a moment but then holds the family back. The spine of the giant brood as it were. I'm curious as to how she feels these many years being human, if she ever regrets giving up the power of being a dragon.

    It was the B love story that worked the least for me. Some of it is due to the fact that I never got over the hurdle of the age difference between Morfindel and Irene. I forget how old Morf is (somewhere in his late teens/early twenties, I believe) but Irene's fourteen just kept striking me as so young to have marriage being bandied around.

    Also, never really going much into her head, I never got why she cared for either Morf of Miles. It just felt like she had two men pursuing her so might as well choose one and one night she flipped a coin and it came up elf.

    Poor Morf, getting relegated to the office of clerk/driver and love interest it felt like he really wanted to get out there, do something more exciting and dangerous but never had the chance. There was a moment after his break down when I really thought he'd leave for good and that would be a source of contention but it seemed to pass like water under a troll.

    The ending felt hurried, I would have liked a bit more time to watch the contention against Linus instead of simply being told with the obvious set up for a third book. (I'm being annoyingly obtuse because of spoilers so let's say a chicken is really upset that he stole some corn.)

    But despite these nitpicks I still enjoyed "Runs In Good Condition" and if you really want to know what happened to Linus after "Must Love Dragons" I suggest you check it out.

    I'm waiting for more from Marier to see what follows with Linus, Morf, Wendel and the rest.

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    Adventure ho!

    If there's some popular meme I will find it and play. Consider yourself warned I suppose.

    Tuesday, February 14, 2012

    Nerdy Valentines II:Revenge of the Love

    Happy "Consumption of mass quantities of hi-fructose corn syrup in the pursuit of Eros" Day.

    I got you some chocolates to celebrate, note there might still be some twitching but that's only involuntary movement I swear.
    Now to proclaim my love in as many nerdy ways as possible. Here we go:

    I even combed the archives for my old ones from last year:
    These first two come from Doctor Who:

    An MST3K valentine for those that like to mock things (I can't imagine what that would be like):
    A valentine featuring everyone's favorite loveable robot - Bender! for Futurama fans:

    One for the Lovecraftian fan:
     And the last one for those who would prefer if every holiday was more blood and bones than love and boneing:

    Happy Polarizing Holiday of Amorous Affections!

    Monday, February 13, 2012

    Busy busy weekend

    With the book in the second simmering stages before I give it a good sear, sprinkle with parsley then toss it to the hounds, my creativity has been flapping about in the wind as of late.

    It is forever dangerous to not channel that stream of whatever keeps trying to escape out of my skull, so - while my husband was engrossed in killing kobolds and fae who are like immortal elves if the elves were even more annoying - I pulled out dusty brushes and got to work.

    The first one was from Saturday as a bone chilling 15 rattled upon the windows and asked to come inside because it was a touch cold out.
    My second was born from the idea of wanting to do something with the Will o' the wisp. Those little haunting balls of light get no love, what with their leading people to doom and all.

    It was a lot of layers, playing with paint and texture, and dirtying up about every brush I owned.
    That was my creative weekend, and with fresh snow on the ground and even more predicted to join it I fear many of my weekends shall become that way.

    Friday, February 10, 2012

    Rory Valentine

    I don't think this needs any explanation.


    I've finally come to accept this whole Authorship idea stuff. I'm not ready to run off and get a beret or anything but okay, with a few of those manuscript things under the old belt notches, I suppose I best start doing some of those writing things people with permanent ink smudges do.

    While I wait for my pipe to fill with bubbles, I decided to claim my first novel on Goodreads and make an Author page.

    It was rather easy, all I had to do was send a message, admit that no one else on this rock has my strange mix of ethnicity name and provide about a liter of blood for DNA tests. At least they told me it was for DNA tests.

    So, if you're on Goodreads and would like to Fan/Follow/Like/Egg me here is my page.

    I also uploaded Tin Hero to Goodreads so it can be purchased from there which I hid under the page cut because the elves told me to, they're always saying things.

    Perhaps one day I'll finally compile all the few things I've learned about self-publishing from deciding one day to rip the band-aid off and see what happens. First step, get a bushel of carrots...

    Thursday, February 9, 2012

    And I'm still stuck

    Instead of finally making a choice, I took the feedback from all of you and tried to help along both of my cover options. Then I filled in the back stuff, put in a placeholder tagline and add some sparkle (which you can only see by the moonlight off a field of fresh fallen snow).

    So now which would you prefer for a book cover? Which of the two still grabs you?


    Or #2?
    This is going to end with me making a proof book with both covers and finally letting a chicken decide, I just know it.

    Wednesday, February 8, 2012

    Dragon Age II Valentines

    Someone asked me if I was going to do some valentines for Dragon Age 2 this year.

    My response was "Try and stop me. No really, I fear for my sanity."

    Alas no one thought to stop me so here are seven companion, free to print off for all valentines.

    Use them sparingly lest you accidentally unleash the Old Gods.

    I could have made about thirty different Isabela ones if I had time.
    Oh Anders, always such a romantic.
    I spent way too much time trying to get the "tattoos" to look like they were glowing and of course you can barely tell.
    I couldn't find any copper reliefs of marigolds so I made my own.
    A Varric one simply isn't the same without Bianca.
    And finally Sebastians, I fear you can still tell how little I care for him. Shut up, Sebastian!
    But if you still want some of the Originals - including old Anders - beneath the cut are all of the ones from last year. You can practically canvas a neighborhood with love and nerdiness with all the Valentine's I've made.

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012


    Another short story tale as I take one of my characters through a gauntlet of the mind.

    Saturday, February 4, 2012

    Oh Hai Snow!

    I never put much stock in the prognostications of ground dwelling rodents in relation to their shadow casting, but I have been proven oh so very wrong.

    After having 60 degree weather at the start of the week last night Mr. Phil took it upon himself to thunder over a foot of the white stuff all across the midwest/heartland/middle o' nowhere/Narnia over night.

    As you can about guess the dog is ecstatic, acting like a puppy who is driving us all mad as we fight to the death through this mentally offsetting cabin fever.
    Hitting her baby stride the first winter that trapped us all in for four days around Christmas she turns into a mad happy machine whenever the snow gets past her knees. And in the process drives us to the brink of snow madness.

    Which can be evidenced in the two pictures I proceeded to take with my props to keep myself from strangling Jack Nicholson in the basement.

    So far we've been pretty lucky, no downed branches, no loss of power, and the roads are thawing quickly thanks to the temps hoovering around freezing.

    But there's a threat of more snow coming so I don't know if we'll all make it out alive *hefts up axe*

    Friday, February 3, 2012

    A Harry Potter Valentine

    For the nerd that wants something a bit different than the typical punch card fare.

    Expect many more as that day of death and roses comes knocking.