Sunday, August 25, 2013

On The Naming Of Fictional High Schools....

The name of your junior high is okay, they said.  But your high schools' names are boring.
Really, they said.  Central High and North High?  Come on.  How lame.

But I named it North High because Salt Lake City has East High and West High and once had a South High, but there never was a North High, I said.  That way I'm sure it's not a real school.

It's still boring, they said.  Name a high school after some famous Utahn.

Fine.  So, the most famous Utahn of all time is Brigham Young.  But nobody in their right mind would name a public high school after such a religious (and rather controversial) figure.
Then there's Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of television.  But there are already elementary schools named after him.
Really, I wanted an original name, a name that hasn't really ever been used.
And finally I hit upon the perfect one!  Thus, the school where Pepper's father teaches in Becoming Brigid is Robert L. Parker High School, named in honor of Robert Leroy Parker, who is arguably the most famous Utahn ever -- after Brigham Young.

What do you mean you've never heard of him?  I bet you have.
And I can guarantee there are no real schools named after him in the state.

There.  I hope they're happy now.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Squeezing Out The Last Few Drops Of Summer Freedom

School has begun.
By next week, I'll have stacks and stacks of papers to grade for every single weekend from now until Memorial Day.  So, today, Max and I went on one last celebratory outing -- to the Oktoberfest at Snowbird, Utah.
Snowbird is a ski resort up a canyon leading out of the Salt Lake Valley.  And since the mid-1970s, it has held an Oktoberfest, founded by a group of German immigrants.  I first began folkdancing there as a performer when I was 12  years old.  Thus, I have "done" Oktoberfest many, many times.
Today, my old friend Rick Schwemmer was the MC again, something he used to do a lot but hasn't always in the last few years.  I had a chance to chat with him again while Max tested out the stronger drinks offered at Oktoberfest. ;)  (Ever the teetotaler, I was more interested in the German chocolate cake.)
Later, however, Max and I rode the Snowbird Tram (designed by a Swiss engineer in the 1970s for the skiers but used in summer for hikers and bikers) up to the top of Hidden Peak.
A few weeks ago, I blogged about how the 1100-foot "mountain" I'd driven over in Ireland was nothing compared to Hidden Peak's 11,000-foot summit, but I realized then that it had been a long time indeed since I'd gone to the top, so the idea was born that Max and I should go and take pics.
Now, Max has a "real" camera with a telephoto lens, and I have a dinky little point-and-shoot, so his pictures will far exceed mine in awesomeness, but I thought I'd share a couple of shots anyway.
(Remember to click on a photo to enlarge it.)

I don't know this child.  Her parents paid zero attention to her for the entire 20 minutes Max and I sat and chatted with another camera freak at this spot, so I figure the parents aren't going to care that I posted a photo of their kid.
At any rate, I like this photo of a little girl gazing out from the top of the world.

This is the view mostly northeast-ish from Hidden Peak.  I love how the clouds look so "low"  -- because I was standing thousands of feet closer to them than normal.
One of the nicest things about Hidden Peak was how pleasant the temperature was.  The large, outdoor thermometer at the Tram landing showed 55 F, and there was a light breeze with plenty of sunshine.  Heaven after weeks of cooking heat!
Fortunately, not long after Max and I returned to the valley, a great summer thunderstorm hit, and we had something of a deluge for about 15 minutes -- garbage cans were washed over and the power got knocked out in a couple of areas.  This means the temperature will stay pleasant overnight now, which makes for better sleeping.  :D
All in all, it has been a very good day, and not a bad end to summer.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

We Have A Winner!

Congrats to Carrie, who won the Back-to-School giveaway!

You know what's kind of sad, though?  I had 147 entries into the contest, but by the time I deleted the bogus ones, I was down to just 87.  It seems that adults are just as likely to cheat as students are.

Anyway, Carrie's entries were all valid, so I'm pleased to announce that she won.  :D

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Every Once In A While.... Reality Checks In

Every once in a while, I laugh at the Pinterest boards of some of my former students.  They pin photos of completely non-accessible guys, like members of One Direction.

I mean, not only is this boy super-famous and surrounded every day by women who want him, he also lives in a foreign country and has a girlfriend to whom he's so ostensibly devoted he had her face (foolishly) tattooed on his arm.
Uh, yeah.  Like these girls even have a chance with him.

Then I remember the pics I tend to pin of good-looking men:

Gene Kelly

John Lennon

Errol Flynn.

They're all dead.

This tends to change my perspective somewhat.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

There's Definitely A Story Possibility In This Article

Authors have been at it for centuries: stealing the news and making it into fiction.
One of the earliest novels written in  the USA was Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown.  It was based on a lurid newspaper account of an overly-religious man who believed he heard God telling him to axe-murder his own children (sort of an 18th century Andrea Yates).  But in Brown's novel, Wieland isn't the only person hearing voices that tell him what to do.  Then Robert Louis Stevenson took the stories of Deacon Brodie and twisted them into the famous fiction of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde.
Well, now we have this article about Marc Gilbert of Houston, Texas.  It seems a hacker decided to get into the baby monitor of Marc's daughter Allyson and whisper creepy messages to her.  (Can we say "nightmares for life"?  I think we can.)  However, in an even more bizarre twist, it turns out that Allyson is deaf and never heard a thing.
There's a story here.  Someone's just got to use this somewhere.  Only, maybe the monitor should be in the shape of a clown. *evil laughter*
Creepy novel alert!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Writing Update 8/12/13

Naturally, Confessions of an Average Half-Vampire and All in the Half-Vampire Family are still for sale.  (Have you entered my Back-To-School Giveaway?)  Here's more about the rest of my writing:

Becoming Brigid:
1) I'm about to start my umpteenth edit on the book.  It's very nearly there.
2) I hope to be requesting hosts for my cover reveal (not the WIP cover seen elsewhere on this blog) and the book trailer very soon.
3) Besides editing the book, I've been making/gathering cool swag for giveaways.  So far, I've put together two swag bags filled with themed items -- and some that just have lots of girl appeal -- and I've been working on two Brigid-themed altered books.  And, yes, of course, I plan to give away copies of the book itself.
4) If all goes well, the book should be released on (fingers crossed) Sept. 13.

The (Dis)Appearance of Nerissa MacKay:

(Work-in-Process cover only.)

1) This book has been on hold all summer, as I've been so busy with the other books.
2) It needs more beta readers, as most of my 7th graders were unable to finish it last year, due to standardized testing getting in the way.  Thus, only one 9th-grader and one high school junior have beta read.  However, I've got a whole new crop of guinea pigs potential beta readers with FIVE classes of seventh-graders starting up all too soon.  (Seventh-graders begin school this Friday.  No kidding.)  I will not lack for volunteers, so I'm not the least bit worried about this.
3) I still continue my Pinterest board for Nerissa, as the book may have sequels someday.

The Chocolate Smuggler's Notebook:

(WIP cover, but I really like this, so the final cover may be very, very similar.)

1) I finished writing the first draft of chapter 3 last night, and I'm at just over 7000 words.  The rest of the book is in a rough outline stage, and I'm ready to write up a summary of chapter four -- just as soon as I finish this next edit of Brigid.  I hope to be able to finish the first draft of this book by January of 2014.
2) The set of short stories, called The Chocolate Chronicles: Scenes From New Penzance, has been outlined and tied into The Chocolate Smuggler's Notebook.  The plan is still to release the stories in e-book form running up to the release of the novel.  The titles of the short stories (in order) are as follows:
a) "The Tale of London Sunday"
b) "The Tale of Agnes Braithweight"
c) "The Tale of Ellen Andersson"
d) "The Tale of Camilla and Oscar"
e) "The Tale of Captain Annie Lovelark"
3) I have no covers designed yet for the short stories, but I believe I will just use variations on the novel's cover, so as to have a visual tie-in to the main story.  After all, I took a couple of dozen different shots of that cover photo, with the pens and gears and ink all laid out in different ways.  It shouldn't be too hard to construct a few different covers.

So, that's the update.  Now, someone PLEASE help me not to get any more brilliant ideas for books until I can get caught up a bit on these!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

My Sleepless Weekends Just Aren't What They Used To Be

I've never been a drinker, but for years and years I was a folk dancer (to a limited extent, I still am, but the herniated disc curbs much of it).
There were weekends at festivals where I had almost no sleep: 5-mile parade in the mid-morning, 3 short performances in the afternoon, full show that night followed by dancing with the other groups until 3:00 AM, bus ride back to the dorm.  It was awesome. :D
In contrast, over the last four days, I've had a TOTAL of roughly 8 hours sleep (altogether, not per night).  That's just like the old days, true.  But, if I add that I'm to the point now where I'm REALLY looking forward to my root canal on Monday, I think you'll get a better picture of my current sleepless nights.
*stares dazedly at computer screen*  *tries to ignore throbbing sensation on right side of face*

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Back-To-School Half-Vampire Giveaway!

Guess what, folks!  A new school year starts (for us, anyway) in about a fortnight!   And I will have five -- count them, FIVE!! -- full classes of seventh-graders!  (And one class of 9th graders and one that's still a mystery at this point.)  So let's do something fun to numb the pain celebrate!
A couple of weeks ago, I found some extra printed copies of Confessions of an Average Half-Vampire and All in the Half-Vampire Family.  Now, it's true that I'm gearing up for the release of Becoming Brigid (AND editing The (Dis)Appearance of Nerissa MacKay AND writing The Chocolate Smuggler's Notebook), but I see no reason why I can't giveaway some copies of the Half-Vampire books at the same time.

Lurking in the nuclei of a few rare human cells is an as-yet unstudied gene. It is a gene that makes the inheritor crave mammal blood and faint in bright sunlight. It is a gene that prevents the bearer from appearing normally in digital or mirror images.
It’s a gene that makes your life heck if you’re in junior high and trying to fit in.

Eric Wright is a half-vampire with a problem. Several problems, actually. He can’t tell his bloodlust from his rollercoaster adolescent hormones. The cutest girl in first period English wants him to become a vegetarian. And the assistant principal suspends him when he refuses to explain why his skin appears translucent in a school security video.

Then Eric’s non-vampire mom, who’s definitely not telling everything she knows, takes him with her on a business trip. To Scotland, where it never stays sunny for very long. The perfect hang out for a vampire. Or several. If only Eric can find one to talk to before he makes any more stupid mistakes....

Think you’ve got a weird family?

Eric’s mother is clearly in love with Patrick, who just happens to be Eric's first cousin once removed.  And a vampire.  Eric thinks Patrick would be the world’s coolest step-dad, but Mom’s in no mood for matrimony.
Worse than that, Mom's side of the family hasn’t spoken with her in Eric’s entire lifetime -- at least not until Eric and his way-too-attractive cousin Ari both win a piano competition that takes them to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  And into the path of Eric’s biological father, a vampire who’s recently begun attacking the locals at night.
But things get really creepy when Eric's dad finds Ari to be... tasty.
Can an accidental family reunion get any stranger than this?  Eric doesn’t think so.  And neither does the self-proclaimed vampire hunter staying right next door to him in the dorm.

It’s going to be one heck of a summer vacation.

Both Half-Vampire books are geared toward young YA, ages 12-15-ish.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

There you go.  You have until school starts (here) to enter.  (And, if you don't win, you can always buy the books on Amazon.  The e-book prices are very low.)
Spread the news and enter the contest.
(PS  No, I won't share you contact details with anyone.  Really.  I hate it when people do that; I'd never do that to you.)
(PPS. Make sure you really do follow, post, pin, or whatever.  I do go through and check, and I will remove all fake entries when it's time to pick a winner.)