Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Sound of Pen on Paper

Or, more accurately, the sound of the keys on my old keyboard.

While there's been a lot of keyboard clicks lately, there have not, however, been words added to any piece of fiction for over 2 months now. I'm kind of embarrassed to admit it, especially since I've always been a big proponent of writing regularly, even if it's only a little bit.

I have reasons and excuses. Some are physical-- such the time-sucking adventure that is known as homeownership. Some are mental-- such as a crippling wave of low self-confidence.

I miss writing. I miss Bo Fexler. I am continually hoping to get more writing in, one way or the other. I know I need to improve my habits, get into a better routine, and make progress, even if it's only little bits. Next semester I have a different schedule, which I'm hoping will afford me just a little more time-- the time needed, I hope, to return to writing as a habit.

I have some new ideas for improving the novel I'm in the middle of. Things that will straighten out a few niggling problems.

But more than hope is needed-- I must make that push, that change and begin to write again. It's the only way that Bo Fexler will see print.

The mystery book section needs some shaking up-- some one modern and appealing to younger readers. Something new and different. Maybe I'm concieted, but I think the mystery book section needs some young, hot women running around. And I've got one just waiting for her chance. As soon as I finish an acceptable first novel.

Novels don't write themselves, though, anymore than dishes wash themselves or clothes hang themselves in the closet.

Monday, January 18, 2010

My Town Monday: Pokemon City Championships in Brighton

Every winter, there are city championships for players of the Pokemon Trading Card Game. (If you don't know what it is, ask your kids. They'll know.) This year, Brighton was able to hold a city championship tournament-- one of 9 in the Michigan/ Indiana area.

As a Pokemon Trading Card Game player, I travel-- with the Hubby-- to as many of the Michigan/ Indiana Tournaments as I can manage. And I have to say, the five minute commute around the "block" to the Brighton City Championships was my favorite commute yet. Beats even the 45 minute drive to Okemos and certainly better than the 2 hour drive to Angola, Indiana (just south of the Indiana/ Michigan border off I-69).

The local paper almost covered the event in a sad little paragraph.

One might notice how crowded the room was. And it was packed. There were about 34 "big kids" as I call us... you know, the kids who are over 16 or so and still play Pokemon. I'm one of those. (I don't even have the excuse of "my kids play" like some of the other players who figured they'd play while the little ones battle it out.) And 16 of the medium sized kids. And about 12 of the little kids. That adds up to 62. We'll kind of overlook the fact that the room capacity was 62-- after all the half-pint kids only count as half a person, right? No? Well... um. Turn out was good at least, meaning there's a good chance there will be another tournament or so held in Brighton.

Oh, how did I fare in the competition? I made Top Cut-- meaning I was in the Top 8 players at the end of battling cards all day. (Though it was some uncanny luck and the fact that another player dropped at the last minute that put me in that spot.)

Yeah, that's me in the black sweater. Nice pic...

Since the library closed, we scooted over to Mancino's Pizza and Grinders. (OMG, Yum!) There, the Top Cut finished battling out. And this is where I lost. Badly. As I expected since I have played my opponent before and nothing changed in our games since the last time this player whooped me.

Brighton Library is a nice place to play, I must admit. Though, apparently, whoever designed the building is a dumbass. The room we are in is connected by ventilation directly to the quiet study carrols. (Yeah-- 62 players in a small space, it's gonna be noisy. Plus, word is one could have yoga in that room and it would seem loud to the other end of the ventilation.) And the hallway outside our room ends in a coupula by the door, which echoes all sounds, such as those spilling from the room and the players who head out in the hall after ending their current round. I'm surprised the lady who organized it isn't banned from the library for life.

Good fun, though. Next tournament-- Michigan State Tournament in Okemos. (And one of the nicethings about the Pokemon game is that you can go to every tournament even if you didn't place or even play at all in the previous one. For some of us, we just go to play for fun, even if we don't do well. (Well, I prefer to win more than I lose, but will take a spot on Team 50/50.)

Pics compliments of Missy (and her husband), one of the Poke-judges and a Poke-mom.

Join us for My Town Monday!

Monday, January 11, 2010

My Town Monday: Mr. B's Rustic Tavern and the Story of the Missing Awning

In Downtown Howell, there is a restaurant called Mr. B's Rustic Tavern. Nice enough place (though rather loud for me-- one of those places that plays music and sports and stuff. And I think I went there on a Friday night, which is usually my restaurant-avoidance-time.)

This restaurant is located in a historic building on the corner of the two main cross roads in town. Mr. B's sits on the Southwest corner of the intersection. A person (or semi-truck) heading to I-96 would make a left turn from westbound Grand River onto Southbound Michigan Ave.

It's important to note that the downtown area is kind of small, and cramped. Michigan Ave is barely three lanes, with no on street parking at the intersection. This is important. This is also part of the reason why semi-trucks are not supposed to travel through the downtown. (I believe the exception is actual deliveries in the downtown.)

There is a green awning above the windows of Mr. B's Rustic Tavern. It goes along Grand River and... huh, it doesn't go around the corner onto Michigan Ave.

Actually, it used to. I never did get a shot of the scene any of times it happened... but the story goes something like this. Repeatedly, the awning would get nailed by, presumably, a large semi-truck and be crinkled up. The street light on the corner also suffered in these cases. I never saw it, but it's hard not to surmise the scenario when one sees a mowed down street light, a crumpled awning, and tire marks on the curb. Plus the fact that it's a dreadful tight corner that would be hard-- if not impossible-- for a semi truck to mange.

You can still see where the awning used to be. Eventually, the street light was no longer replaced and the awning was truncated. I imagine there are still too-big-semi-trucks that think they got the mad skillz to make that corner and still ride over the curve.

Every time I go by, I still curse the fact that I never got a "before" shot of the damage.

Join us for My Town Monday! Read other posts and join us with your own!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Baby Shark Book

In all the craziness of the fall, I haven't gotten around to pimping my favorite female sleuth. Baby Shark-- Kristin Van Dijk-- has a new book out. Baby Shark's Jugglers at the Borders. I don't have my hands on a copy yet. (Hubby learned an important lesson this Christmas-- the books Clair wants are not regularly stocked in bookstores, unfortunately) but I've loved the previous three.

Also, as he tends to do with the new release, author Robert Fate is giving away PDFs of a previous book, in this case, the second book in the series, Baby Shark's Beaumont Blues.

If you like Bo Fexler, chances are good you'll enjoy Baby Shark. She's as tough as Bo, though she doesn't quite use her feminine charms the way Bo does. Then again, what good-guy female EVER does in mystery fiction, anyway? (But that's a separate rant.)

Anyway, I gotta pimp this chick. Gotta make sure she stays in print and gets out there.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

My Town Monday: Dark and Cold

Short post since I'm mired in grading.

It's about this time of year that people start turning off and taking down their Christmas lights. It's "too late" to leave them up.

But I wish they would.

Fine, fine, take down Santa and the creepy reindeer skeletons. But leave up the little lights. At least in places like Livingston County, Michigan.

See, it's January here. The sun rises about 8am and sets by 5pm. Yeah. The sun only works a 9 hour day this time of year.

So, seeing those little twinkles of white or colored lights is rather nice in the middle of the afternoon when it's already dark out. It provides a little bit of cheery light to contrast the cold, gray/white snow and the bare trees and the gray cloudy skies.

Who decided, anyway, that Christmas ends so early? It's okay to start Christmas festivities a month before the actual event, but less than two weeks afterward, one can be hated by the neighbors for continuing to have their lights on?

It's cold and dark. We really should be hibernating. Since we can't, how about leaving some cheery little lights on, to ward off the winter blues.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

List of Goals

Yeah, I'm not one of those resolution type people. (Big surprise.) I am, however, a goal-setting. And a list maker. Goodness, do I make lists. I like making lists just to cross things off...

Anyway, I have a couple goals for 2010.

1. Finish at least one Bo Fexler novel (I'd love to get two written, but I have my doubts-- see below)

2. Secure the Tech Specialist position at school, which comes with a few extra $$.

3. Have a healthy baby sometime around June 14. (Preferably between May 28 and June 8th. We'll see how well the kid listens to the first mandate from Mom.)

4. Retain the few remaining shreds of my sanity. (Ha! *giggle*)

5. Write and submit more short stories.

I don't know if I'll achieve these. I'll try. If not, there's always next year. Well, except #3. I think that's pretty solidly on this year's list.

I'll have to revisit this list in December and see if I can cross anything off. Ooo--now there's an incentive for a list-maker like me. ;-)