Pages

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Being Flexible

One of the trending topics on Twitter this morning is "My Life in 5 Words." I put "Not Quite What I Planned."

You see, I had my life all planned out in high school. I knew I was going to get a degree in either Theatre or English, and I was going to land a starring role in a movie or write a huge best-selling novel before I graduated. Well, neither happened. I stuck with English, and I did write, but nothing sold, and I wound up in a teaching position (technically Plan B).

I thought, Okay, I can be a teacher and change lives. Well, turns out, the public school system isn't exactly what it used to be. I spent more time playing what felt like Juvenile Hall Prison Warden than actually getting to teach anything. I was miserably stressed and disappointed, and when I got married, I moved away from my home town and found myself in a series of Plan C, D, and E kinds of jobs, which is where I am today.

Right now we are looking to buy a house. Yesterday we looked at one that I absolutely loved, and as it turns out, someone else has already all but bought it. Bummer!

Anyway, it's these kinds of things that can make you incredibly depressed and not want to get up in the morning...or you can do what I've heard many old people advise as a way to live longer, and that is to Stay Flexible.

I don't care who you are; you can't possibly plan every aspect of your life. Sometimes it goes in directions you don't want it to go. Sometimes it goes in that dreaded other direction a lot!

But you know what?

That's life.

And you have to stay flexible and go with the flow or else you'll lose your mind. And maybe, just maybe, you'll realize you're in a spot that's been right for you all along, even though you would have planned it differently. (For instance, I'm now working a job that allows me more time to write.)

So here's an instrumental song with a title that goes with my musing today: "Respect The Wind" by Van Halen. I think of the Wind as that thing that changes our course and knocks us off our original map. We can either scream at it and throw a fit, or we can respect it. I try to respect it, even though it isn't easy.



Monday, January 21, 2013

A Thought (or two) on MLK Day, 2013

I couldn't have timed going to see Lincoln any better. I got up this morning, somehow oblivious to the fact that it's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, so when I sat down in the back of the movie theater, I couldn't figure out why it was so packed on a Monday morning. After the movie was over and I left, I realized what day it was.

A few thoughts on the movie: I can see why it's up for, what, 12 Academy Awards? Yes, it's true it's got a slow pace. It's a gentle, cerebral movie, something our fast-paced society might find "boring." But it's worth a sit-through if you can calm yourself down long enough to go back in time and think about what the message is. Daniel Day Lewis astounded me yet again, and I might have to go watch There Will Be Blood later to see him portray someone the polar opposite of Lincoln. Tommy Lee Jones was also fantastic. The sets were wonderful, and the music was subtle yet effective. Overall, it was a very good movie.

And seeing this movie, and realizing what day it is, and processing some things that have happened recently to me in my personal life, has made me come to a firm conclusion on something, and that is this:

When people start thinking they are better than others, that is when we lose our goodness.

Whether it's a white man thinking he's better than his black neighbor because of color and long-held, pointless prejudice...

Whether it's an intelligent woman who thinks she is better than her classmates because she studies harder or has an easier time learning the material...

Whether it's a rich man thinking he's better than his poor lawn workers because he has more money...

Whether it's an artist thinking she's better than her contemporaries because of her level of skill...

No matter what the reason, thinking you are better than any of your fellow men or women puts you on a false throne of superiority, which can do nothing but divide you from your human brothers and sisters, and ultimately put you at risk for an ugly, hateful seed to start growing in your breast.

Yes, it's true, there are some people who are richer than others. There are people with differently colored skin. There are people with a higher capacity for learning. There are people who have mastered certain skills in all areas.

But no man, not a single one of them, is better than the other one.

We are all human beings.

We all come into this world, naked and crying, and we all leave it alone on the day of our (guaranteed) death. If we're lucky enough, we all grow old, our hair and teeth fall out, and we become helpless just like the day we were born. We all laugh, cry, and most of us have loved at least one person dearly.

Why don't we focus more on our similarities than our differences? Why do we strive to be seen as better than others, when all it does in the long run is damage us and the people around us? Why do we need to try so hard to be better than someone? Why can't we all just...be?

Anyway, thanks, Lincoln, for the inspiration. Those are my thoughts for today.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Art Arrival in the Mail :)

As my husband and I were diligently trying to catch up on the PBS show Downton Abbey (we just finished season 1), we heard the doorbell ring. Thinking it solicitors, as is usually the case, we ignored it, while Kaiser barked maniacally at what he always thinks is an intruder.

A little bit later, after finishing up the show, I had Drew check to make sure it wasn't a package that had arrived, and sure enough, it was! I wasn't expecting it so soon, but look what lovely bit of art arrived in the mail:






Isn't it cool?? I can't wait to find a frame for it and hang it in the perfect place.

It's called The Violinist. I met the artist, Amanda Beck Mauck, on Twitter. If you Tweet, you can find her -->here<--. Please also check out her website -->here<-- to see more of her work and learn more about her.

Speaking of art, today I went to the Dallas Museum of Art for the first time, and as I marveled at the different pieces, from different eras and from all around the world, it dawned on me that animals have played a huge part in art from the very beginning. They're everywhere. They're in sculptures, on weapons, in furniture--it was really interesting to think about the important symbolic role the beasts of the earth have played throughout time...

And with that thought, I'll leave you to enjoy the rest of your day! TTFN.

Monday, January 14, 2013

My Love for Violins (Featuring an exclusive excerpt from 'Wings of the Divided')

I have loved the sound of the violin for as long as I can remember. My mother informed me of a time I had forgotten: I told her, when I was a little girl, that I thought the instrument's music was quite special and stood apart from all other instruments.

When I was 15 years old, I saw the movie The Red Violin with my cousin and absolutely had to have the soundtrack. Over the years, I've collected violin memorabilia, especially after writing Wings of the Divided, Book 1 in my angel fantasy, in which the violin plays an important part.

I was feeling in a particularly violin-loving mood today and thought I'd post some pictures of my little collection, share some of my favorite violin music, and offer an excerpt from my book (the violin part, of course).

Here's a violin clock on my guest bedroom wall. The clock part is broken now, but I keep it because it's pretty.





Here's my "violin corner," which has a violin lamp on top, some violin art on the second shelf, and an actual violin on the bottom.




Perhaps one of the reasons why I love Anne Rice's work so much is her incorporation of the violin in many of her stories.





Here's a little glass violin box, as well as a miniature violin, case, and bow I got in New Orleans during my first visit with my dad a decade ago.





Here's the theme song of the movie The Red Violin:






And finally, here is an exclusive excerpt from Wings of the Divided, where my character the Fallen angel Laphelle hears the violin for (what he thinks is) the first time, after which he will never be the same. Enjoy.


***

Out of pure rebellion, Laphelle took the cloak off his wings. Fantasies of murder dashed through his ancient mind, the sword in his imagination slicing through fool after fool who challenged him—they all happened to have Malynko's face.  

He hated, hated, hated being labeled a flimsy rotten First Rank. And he knew that the only reason he hadn't been promoted to Elite status those thousands of years ago was because he didn't have the "patience" to be taught. Whatever. He didn't need teaching; that's what they didn't realize. But the Elitists were proud students of the ways of Lucifer, a special group of dark angels who were allowed to converse with him any time they liked. And what made Lucifer so special? It wasn't like he ever showed his face on the battlefield. It was all up to angels like Laphelle. He hissed a sigh through clenched teeth. The system made him weary. 

He craved respect for being the unstoppable warrior that he was. 

He desired to be looked up to, not down upon by those of higher status, those who were jealous of his ruthless power. 

He wanted to be calling the shots.  

He wanted it—because he rightfully deserved it.

But he knew such thoughts were in vain. The system had never been broken. And it would remain the same until the war ended. If it ended.

He abandoned the party district, searching for Mannsway, ignoring anyone who made any sort of comment about his wings or his bare feet or his dashing good looks. The farther away from downtown he went, the quieter it was, and soon he was cleared of all human company. Hair whipping back in the wind of his walk, he found the road he was looking for.

It was then that Laphelle heard the sound of the violin.

He stopped, the soles of his bare white feet pressed against the cool stones of Mannsway. An odd sensation crept through his toes and up his legs and further until his entire body surged with the most intense feeling of déjà vu. Without truly comprehending what it meant, deep inside his soul, he knew that it could only be explained by one word:

…Destiny…

Carried by the traveling night air, the violin's melody touched his ears and gently caressed away the tension of his body. The sudden sound was a light kiss to his senses, and he slowly closed his eyes, the beast in him tenderly tamed by the invisible delight. 

He concentrated on the sound and it grew louder.

A bright happiness, long suppressed, immediately lit up in his soul, and strong, sparkling sunrays of peace pierced through the shield of clouds hovering around his heart. He could not recall ever having heard such a blessed sound; yet it was still familiar—that unmistakable entrancement that engulfs the listener when bow and strings come together in a union so beautiful and so magical that no one, not even he, as stubborn and cold as he was, could turn away his ear. 

Letting the sound sweep him to a dream—no, a memory—of beauty, and bliss, and brilliant light, he desperately searched within his mind for the meaning of this feeling. The origin of that sound. The memory itself. 

But it was impossible to dwell on anything less than the divine music that called to his soul so intensely. 
He had to find the instrument making that sound. 

The song was a simple one, happy and plain, but Laphelle thought it was the most beautiful, intoxicating thing he'd ever heard, pulling at him harder than any desire he had ever felt before. It took his spirit on a journey, lifting him higher with the notes, swooping through the skies in a vibrant vibrato. Without thinking about where the music was coming from (it could have been miles away with his excellent hearing) he followed it. 

The tall antique lampposts alongside Mannsway lit his way, and he cracked a side smile, lost in his beautiful dream. He crossed the empty bridge over the quiet starlit waters of the river.

…Destiny...

The sound was getting clearer. He felt a cold chill down his spine and warm cuddling comfort around his heart. The music evoked both complete joy and sheer terror within him. As the volume increased with each nearing step, his heart beat faster and all sense left him. 

He could hear only the music. 

It taunted his mind, pleading with him to remember. He tried, oh he tried, but he could not remember. He walked, past the back gate enclosing the grand gardens of Max's mansion to his left, following the road and the music. The adjacent path leading to Remington Auditorium was a step away to his right, and an electric charge went through him as he passed it by. But he ignored the feeling and kept his eyes forward.

What was making that music? His mission's importance grew with each passing second and soon he was no longer smiling but in a state of panic. He had to find it, had to. 

While any human would have been completely exhausted after walking so briskly across the entire city, Laphelle's strength actually grew with each blessed note of the violin. He passed Country Club houses to his left and right, his bare feet numbed from the music. Looking everywhere for the origin of the sound, he noticed that the farther he went, the poorer the houses became. He turned left, walked a street, and turned right on another. Without the sun to soften their harsh appearances, the shabby houses around him looked as if they stood in a shadow of the apocalypse. Roofs were torn, yards unkempt. Dirty. 

Then he reached the humble, little home at the farthest end of Edenton. It sat proudly atop the hill, looking outcast from the other houses that seemed to hug the valley. 

It's coming from that house. 



***




Want to read more? You can get your copy of the book, currently available in Kindle and Nook e-book format. *It will also be available in paperback form soon. (Also, the sequel's releasing in February!)*

Thanks for reading.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fedora Friday

My little sister Natalie told me this hat looked the best on me, out of all the hats we tried on today. (I took her shopping for her birthday. She got a sparkly fedora.) My adorable nephew is the guy in the basket. I think he's more interested in my shiny earrings than my hat.

I've always loved fedoras and am glad someone convinced me to finally get one. My fetish, if you will, for these hats started with Michael Jackson. He made them *awesome.*







Don't you agree?


By the way, on the road this afternoon, I heard a remake of this song by Alien Ant Farm, and I'm sorry, but it just doesn't hold a candle to the original. My humble opinion!

Have a great weekend, everybody ;)

(Oh, and stay tuned for updates on the paperback version of Wings of the Divided that is currently in the works!)



Wednesday, January 9, 2013

RIP, Frederick

Picture taken Fall 2012
You all have seen my dog, Kaiser, but I don't know if many of you have seen his dad, Frederick. Well, Frederick passed away during the night. He had a bad heart, and he was going on 12 years old.  My mom had him from the time I started college.

The old guy was so sweet, especially in his last years. He was always a neurotic soul, one that passed on his "special" quirks to my little guy--quirks like tail-chasing. I remember one time I watched him spin so many circles that he ran into the side of the house. Silly old dog!

I would like to think that dogs have souls. They become a part of us. They know when we're happy and share that joy, and they know when we're upset and try to comfort us. And most of all, they know they can trust us. I think they even love us for it.

I didn't see Frederick but once every few months, but he always knew who I was, and he was always happy to wag his tail as I held him in my arms.

So RIP, Frederick. You will be missed, little buddy! :(

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

So Many Worlds!

As soon as I saw this news story pop up on my Twitter feed, I had to click on it -->planets story<--.

Basically, astronomers are predicting that there is a strong likelihood of billions of Earth-like planets in our galaxy alone. I find this particularly cool because in my upcoming book, Blade of the Divided: The Divided Book 2, my angel characters travel to different Earth-like worlds.

I got really creative with my worlds, making some more medieval and primitive and others more advanced and futuristic. But if what the news story implies is true, there really could be other worlds like ours in different states of growth. And I think that's pretty darn cool.





Saturday, January 5, 2013

Second Six Sunday from 'Wings of the Divided'

I have chosen to do a new Six Sentence Sunday from Wings of the Divided because the sequel comes out next month, and I want you all to read Book 1 so you can be ready for Book 2! In this scene, we find angel of light Noam patrolling the city of Edenton, New York. Noam, a "Thanatakran" warrior, has stopped talking. (I'll let you read the book to find out why he isn't speaking anymore.) Anyway, in this moment, he is deep in thought, silently searching for the angels of darkness, hoping to stop them before they start hurting people...

***


"His memories overflowed with hundreds of bloody battles, all of which he would have loved to forget, but the gory details would never leave him. They were a part of him as much as his very wings. The people of Earth would never truly understand the horrific experiences of real angels. Noam was definitely not the stereotypical cherub found in sculptures and paintings, winged and chubby and playing a harp. No. He was a deadly weapon."


***





If you'd like to catch up and be ready for Book 2 (Blade of the Divided) next month, you can click the links below to get Book 1 (Wings of the Divided) in either Kindle format or Nook:

Kindle (Amazon)

Nook (Barnes & Noble)


(Reminder! You don't have to have an e-reader to get these books. You can download both of the apps to your computer or phone for free.)


Have a great Sunday, all!


Friday, January 4, 2013

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2013: New Calendars, New Journal & New Goals

One of my favorite things about starting the new year is acquiring new calendars! So far I have a couple of them. Here's the one in my writing room/library:


A hodgepodge of spiritual images/quotes


Neat, huh?


And this one's in the "movie room":


 
Cute little Bilbo! (By the way, happy B-day, Tolkien!)



My husband got me a new leather-bound journal, which I am going to use this year for new story ideas:







I love the smell of leather. It's tempting me to write a Western...with some sort of weird twist, of course. We'll see.



And now for my 2013 GOALS! Note: these are simply written because I jotted them down on a piece of paper on New Year's Day when I was completely exhausted. But they pretty much cover the gist of what I'd like to accomplish. So here they are, word-for-word, copied down from my paper.



1) Go more with my gut feeling in situations (trust my intuition and let it help me make choices).

2) Get the angel books all published and complete.

3) Start writing a new book or novella or short story collection.

4) Find a house to buy.

5) Get my car paid off.

6) Let go of relationships that didn't work. Forgive and move forward and leave them in the past.

7) Give more energy to those relationships that are reciprocal and healthy.



That about wraps things up for today. Hope everyone's having a good one.






Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Tuesday, January 1, 2013