Saturday, November 30, 2013

Inner Demons - Chapter 1

Hi, all!

Trying to start promoting this sucker as it will be released before I know it. lol. Working on getting the three sample chapters and other info at the website. Figured I'd go ahead an give you a taste though. :)

Inner Demons (Urban Fantasy)

Chapter One

"Getting a little excited, are we?" I couldn't keep the grin out of my voice as I kicked off my shoes and dug my toes into the carpet and stretched. Getting home in the evenings was one of the best perks of the day. Switching the phone to my other hand, I picked up the low heeled pumps and stepped into the bedroom.
"Yes. No? Mostly I'm totally stressing out! Richie is useless at this stuff. He's got no idea that Peach, Taffeta Peach, and Candy Peach aren't in any way the same color." Debbie sighed from the other end of the line. "Honestly, he could try a little harder. We'll only get married once."
I didn't have any idea what the differences of those colors were either, but figured it wasn't the time to say so. I tucked the shoes away in the closet and grabbed a pair of gray sweat pants and old Beatles t-shirt, feeling the day slide off my shoulders as I changed. "You've known he's been color impaired for years, love won't change that. Or have you forgotten his color choices for the college mixer two years ago?" Drifting to the kitchen, I pulled down my favorite cup, chipped handle and all, and filled it with water and stuck it in the microwave to heat.
A stifled giggle came from the other end of the line. "What a disaster! That won't ever be happening again on my watch."
"I should hope not." Grinning, I brought out my tea colander and opened the cabinet to pick the flavor of the evening. Blueberry Cheesecake Tea seemed just the thing.
"We're still on for this weekend, right?" A slight note of insecurity bled through.
I worked hard not to smile. Though I normally wasn't much into fashion or agonizing over what cake flavoring would please most people, I'd do almost anything for Debbie. "Of course. Looking forward to it."
"I love you, Tam."
"I love you, too. But don't tell Richie, he'll get jealous."
Debbie laughed. "It's a secret. Pick you up at nine."
I hung up just as the microwave dinged. Pulling out the mug, I put it on a tray with everything else needed, and went to the living room, looking forward to stretching out on my gray couch and sipping my tea.
I'd just set the tray down when I noticed an odd smell…like rotten eggs. I half turned, then…
A pair of headlights was coming right for me.
I froze, my breath catching at my throat, my brain refusing to accept the impossible change.
The car swerved at the last moment, and time slowed around me as a flush of adrenaline hit my system. The blare of a pressed horn crashed into my ears. The dark blue Oldsmobile missed me by mere inches, the glow of streetlights reflecting from its sides. Humid wind whipped over me, trying to drag me along in the car's wake. The stench from the exhaust coiled about me, and I spun around to watch the trailing red tail lights.
“Lunatic!” An arm shot out the window, the middle finger held up as extra commentary on the near miss.
The car never even slowed.
This was real.
Other pairs of headlights bore down my way. Fear spiked through me, yelling at me to get the hell out of there. I tripped when I took my first panicked step, the shoes on my feet feeling strange and awkward. I glanced down and saw I was wearing white boots with six inch heels. Worse, I was also wearing a dark sequined dress that only covered a small part of my upper thighs.
I wasn't a prude, but I had taste, dammit, and this get up just wasn't me. I stumbled toward the sidewalk to my right, only too aware of the traffic heading toward me.
I almost collapsed once I made it, the high heels messing with my center of gravity. A Shell gas station and a combination KFC/Taco Bell sat in front of me. The location didn't look familiar, though at the moment, nothing did. How did I get here?
Panic nibbled at the back of my mind, confusion clouding everything.
I slowly turned where I stood and spotted a freeway with an overpass on my right. Across the blacktop street were a bank and several grassy lots set back from the curb. The street sign said Beechnut Street. That rang a bell – could I still be in Houston? Just thinking it gave me hope. At the moment, though, it wouldn't have surprised me to find out I was on another planet entirely.
Chilled, I rubbed my arms, even as a bead of sweat ran down my neck. A small purse on a long chain loop smacked against my thigh. I brought it close, never having seen it before, and opened it. Wads of loose cash lay inside, as well as a tube of lipstick and a set of keys hanging off a skull keychain. There was no driver's license or other type of ID. No cell phone, either. I couldn't tell if the purse was even actually mine. Yet the shape of one of the keys looked familiar. I was pretty sure it belonged to my apartment. I had cash, I had what I hoped was my key, and I thought I was in my city. It meant I could get back home to things I knew.
Home—yes, getting home sounded very good right now.
Taking a deep breath, I felt slightly more in control. Yes, home, get myself home. That was a plan, something to aim for. I half walked, half waddled toward the KFC/Taco Bell, hoping to find a pay phone or beg to borrow someone's cell. I'd never worn such tall heels and they tried to sink into the grass as I cut across the strip to the parking lot. As I neared the bank of glass windows advertising value meals and combo platters, I spotted my reflection and came to a complete stop.
The image that mirrored my movements was and wasn't me. I had screaming platinum blonde hair. Straight and startling in its color, it dropped down to my shoulders. It couldn't be real. No matter how many straighteners I used on my hair, it'd never been that cooperative. A shaking hand with platinum, luminescent nail polish rose up to touch the hair. After a quick inspection, I realized it was a wig. My own hair lay underneath it. I assumed the same could be said for the rest of me as well. Though I wasn't considered that dark-skinned, especially when compared to the rest of my family, out here, my face and eyes seemed to suck out the light, especially with my face being framed by the platinum wig, my eyes shaded with glittering eye shadow and lips with matching lipstick. The black and way too short sequined dress showed stripes of startling white and matched the tall-heeled white boots that rose up to my knees. I wasn't sure if I looked more like a hooker out of a cheap 60's cop show, an extra out of an old Soul Train rerun, or some exotic alien in a B-movie showing on the Syfy Channel. Either way, it wasn't me.
I swayed where I stood, the surreal feeling of it all making me dizzy. I leaned against the glass door, no longer trusting my legs. How did I come to be dressed like this or be at this place? I liked to have fun as much as anyone, but I wasn't a raving party girl. Some might even call me boring, since my idea of a good time normally consisted of staying at home dressed in my sweats, curled up on the couch with a good book. So why?
Darkness prickled at the edges of my vision, so I scrunched down and placed my head between my knees while trying to force my breathing to slow, sure I was close to hyperventilating. The accountant in me whispered that all numbers added up, even if you didn't have every bit of data. All you had to do was find them. What came in always had to balance what came out, even though it might not look like it. I just needed to hold it together long enough to find all the pieces – then everything would make sense. Everything.
But to do that, I needed to keep it together—I needed to stick to my plan of getting home. My breathing slowed, and that in turn brought down the hammering in my heart.
Feeling slightly calmer, I gingerly stood up.
The night air pressed in around me, hot and sticky with humidity, not the usual norm for April. But with Texas, you just never knew. The odd thought, however, helped ground me.

I reached out for the handle on the glass door and then went inside to try to borrow a phone and get to things I knew. 


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Movie Review - The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Willow Shields, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Sam Claflin, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Philip Seymor Hoffman, Lynn Cohen, Jeffrey Wright, Amanda Plummer, and more.

Directed by: Francis Lawrence Screenplay by: Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt Based on the Novel by: Suzanne Collins Cinematography by: Jo Willems Music by: James Newton Howard

Premise: Close to a year after the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen is still trying to deal with the horror of those death filled days. And President Snow doesn't like how the districts have taken her defiance during the games to heart and have hope again. Under threats to her family and friends, Katniss picks up her fake romance with Peeta to please the president. But every move she makes only displeases him all the more. He wants her removed permanently. Yet it is the new head of the games who comes up with the plan on how she could best meet her end - by using a little known clause of the games and make the 75th Hunger Games one which picks its contestants only from previous winners of the games. And Katniss is the sole, living female winner from District 12, so she has no way out. (Rated PG-13)


1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: For "Catching Fire" there were several returning characters as well as a bunch of new ones. Jennifer Lawrence totally sold the PTSD's, grief, and other whirlwind emotions flowing through Katniss Everdeen. Josh Hutcherson's Peetah Mellark was earnest, even while battling the bitterness at Katniss's lack of affection for him. Donald Sutherland was delightfully evil as President Snow. Elizabeth Banks was great at showing how Effie Trinket finally realizes that the system they live under might be flawed.

I thought Lynn Cohen gave an amazing performance as Mags - and she never uttered one word. Sam Claflin was also very entertaining, as he kept the audience guessing throughout on just what kind of person he was.

2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" is full of lovely, visual special effects. The 3D map in the game control and the shield dome were but two of many. Others special effect efforts were even more impressive because they didn't even seem like special effects - the crawling fog, the lightning, the waves, and even the baboons all seemed like natural, integral parts of the environment rather than an added element for our entertainment.

The only spot that seemed to have difficulty was not one you'd expect. Katniss is at the top of a tree, looking out at her surroundings. And though she really is in a tree, the forest around her was not. Yet when the images were merged, they didn't blend well at all, and failed in their purpose. It was quite surprising.

3) Plot/Story - Total Thumbs Up: Since I'd not read "Catching Fire" before seeing the film, I'd wondered how they were going to deal with matters as left in "The Hunger Games." I couldn't have been more pleased. Though almost a full year had passed, Katniss is actually shown still trying to deal with what she'd done in the previous games. Suffering from PTSD's, trying desperately to cling to the life she'd hoped to make with Gale, cowed by the enormity of what she is being told is her fault just for trying to survive and save those around her - realistic reactions to the events thrust upon her, and one which most films would not have ventured to show.

The escalation of events, the 'games' Katniss is not aware of which are happening all around her and beyond. The horrible sense of guilt and helplessness as things are given meaning beyond anything she'd imagined and unable to do anything about any of it.

There wasn't much rehashing of things which had gone before, so no slowing of events for those who watched the first film. I think enough is glimpsed in the beginning to at least give new viewers a general idea of what's going on, so they'd be able to enjoy it.

Even the film's title operates on several levels, which was delicious fun. There are even several surprises in store.

4) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: In "Catching Fire" we get a glimpse of several of the other districts, each with their own look and feel. The location of O'ahu, Hawaii allowed for a totally different arena than the one used for the first film and looked great. The cinematography took full advantage of the new venue, giving us some really spectacular shots at various points.

5) Costuming/Makeup - Total Thumbs Up: As with the first film, strange clothes and makeup abound. Effie Trinket has more costume changes than lines. Her butterfly dress was utterly amazing. Taking the concept to extremes, even to butterfly eyelashes. I loved the contrast between people like her, and other normal citizens of the Capital vs. the more restrained tastes of those more confident of their status or power.

Conclusion: "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" outdoes "The Hunger Games" with regards to story, intensity, and logic. Lots of power plays and plenty of great visuals to kept us thoroughly enthralled. Sadly, no previews or extra bits in the credits for the next one.

Rating: 4.5 out 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Paying Full Price to See Again) (Been a great season for good movies!)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Picture Kaleidoscope 11/27/13

Thanksgiving Eve!
Having dreams of the food yet? Heh heh.

Won't torment you with my stuff this week so you'll have at least one thing to be thankful for. :P

Village Chief by David Lazar at 
Love the colors and composition, but utterly love his expression. :)
David's site is pretty cool. He's got photographs from all over.

The Matron by Alex Chamberlain at 
There's something incredibly relaxing about this shot. 

Looks like Alex is part of Blue Desert Digital. They do 3D visualization as well as Multimedia Production. Pretty cool!

I thought the promo pic for the time lapsed video associated with this work pretty cool! If you have time, go check out the video. From PetaPixel - Hyperlapse Captures Four Graffiti Artists Covering An Entire Warehouse.

These are just too cool! They have a bunch more at Un Petit Monde

May you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Mind Sieve 11/25/13

Thanksgiving is almost here!

Fan Fun

Offline Trailer - ROFL. It truly is the apocalypse! Heh heh

Sabotage Trailer - action, action, and then more action

Personal Tailor Trailer - wish they had a longer one! Saw a poster at the theater and had to find out more. :P 

Social Media/Author Platform

Linked In Introduces Show Case Pages: This Week in Social Media by Cindy King. I'm pumped about the FB scheduled posts for Pages! Ooooo!

26 Ways to Engage Your Fans on Facebook from Social Media Examiner. Some of these are quite clever~!

Writing Advice

Write What You Love or Write What Sells? answers by Chuck (NSFW) Wendig. Good stuff!

Gene Lempp's awesome list of writing resources and more! For 16 November 2013.

Stay warm!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Virtual Tourist - Star Wars The Old Republic 11/24/13

Morning everyone! It's bloody cold outside today! Brrrrrrr

Star Wars The Old Republic
Jedi Consular

Back of a shuttle. Looks more like some evil robot from this angle. Heh

Maquesh's sky.

New pet! Ugly little thing. But, new pet! (From one of the random packs)

New pet! Little robot dude on the left. As a subscriber we hit an anniversary and they sent us this little guy. He's too cute!

Why no, this doesn't look like a dangerous place at all!

Really cool looking reactor. We have to get some isotope 5 as we've come to find out the arc won't run without it. 

Oh yeah! Tesla would be so proud!

New city in Makeb. The Hutts are attacking the people trying to strong arm us into giving back the arc. But if we give it back, everybody dies. No stress here. Heh

Funky statue

One of the original parts of the ship that brought colonists to the planet. 

Loved the nice look of these stairs.

Stay warm today!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Movie Review - Free Birds

Free Birds

Starring: Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler, George Takei, Colm Meany, Keith David, Dan Fogler, Jimmy Hayward, Kaitlyn Maher, Carlos Alazraqui, Jeff Biancalana, Danny Carey, Carlos Ponce, and more.

Directed by: Jimmy Hayward Screenplay by: Jimmy Hayward and Scott Mosier Story by: David I. Stern and John J. Strauss Art Direction by: Kevin R. Adams Music by: Dominic Lewis

Premise: Reggie had found the perfect life after being chosen by the President's daughter as that years pardoned turkey and got taken to Camp David . That is until a fated evening when he's kidnapped by one of his own, a muscle bound turkey named Jake. And according to Jake, it's Reggie's destiny to come with him and help him use a top secret time machine to go back in time and stop turkey from becoming a holiday meal tradition. The Great Turkey told him so. (Rated PG)


1) Voice Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson are a lot of fun as Jake and Reggie. But 'hands down', it is George Takei who steals the spotlight as S.T.E.V.E. He was a total riot! Amy Poehler was cute as the chief's daughter Jenny. Kaitlyn Maher as the President's hyperactive daughter was utterly adorable.

2) Artwork/Animation - Total Thumbs Up: Reel FX Creative Studios did a great job with the animation. They brought in a lot of little touches to the film that made some of the visuals unique. I especially enjoyed the inventiveness with how the tukey use their wings. The time machine take off and travel scenes were quite spectacular and also very funny.

I thought it a neat touch, too, that the turkey from the past showed a lot of the same visual qualities as their indian neighbors. The animated jokes for Jake and Jenny's brother testing each other's manliness were both hilarious and disturbing.

3) Plot/Story - Total Thumbs Up: Reel FX did the 'most fun thing ever' just as the film began. First they freely admit to taking some liberties with the historical facts in the making of the film. Then they reassure us that talking turkey, however, are real! This seemingly small bit does wonders in setting the whole tone for the audience right from the start. And the fun only grows from there.

Several themes are explored and are interwoven through the film and characters - belonging, perceived happiness, loyalty, faith, guilt, acceptance. They do touch a few times on rather sobering items, but they don't linger on them and they actually add depth to the tale being told.

Kudos for how they decided to do the character of Jenny. Her lazy eye problem, while originally something which would be off putting, becomes a rather endearing trait by the end of the film. It also shows that one need not be perfect on the outside to be loved or appreciated by those around them.

No unexpected or innovative plot surprises, but plenty of time travel foolery - which made for a lot of fun. S.T.E.V.E. was the best idea ever. Though I have to say he seemed to quickly evolve into more than was originally intended. He even appeared to have a universal translator - a nice SF in-joke.) Plenty of SF and regular jokes, visual and not, for the parents and the kids.

Conclusion: "Free Birds" was quite enjoyable, especially with all the usual hijinks one can expect from a time travel movie. George Takei was a blast. Make sure to sit through at least part of the credits as there is an extra scene.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Picture Kaleidoscope 11/20/13

Oh this week has been such a suuuuuuuucky week so far.
But there's always tomorrow. Wheeeee!
And I also found my missing pics!

The clouds seemed angry.

On the way back from Octopodicon, we passed by Winstar Casino.

It's rather cool how they made their buildings resemble landmarks from other countries



The pagoda looked neat too!

Then the following week work sent us to a users meeting with our main software vendor. They held the meeting/lunch at Great Wold Lodge.

Just look at the size of the wolves!

You can see them all the way back to US 26.

Doors were cool.

First view after you enter. A really neat place.

Story time area for the kiddos.

A little blurry. but this was a treehouse like platform from the second floor.

And just behind a giant wall of glass/plastic is their water park.

Watch the bucket at the top. It fills then pours out a ton of water. The last iphone upgrade seems to have sped the picture taking speed because I was able to do...this....


Some of the decor upstairs

One of the ladies at work was getting married. This is what she came to the day before the wedding. 

I thought the gals did a great job!

May your week be better than mine! :) Till next time.
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