Monday, December 14, 2015

A Night of Artistic Experimentation

So I finally have some time to myself, tonight, and I've wanted to mess with this bag of mold-making plaster in the garage that's been there for quite some time now. I acquired it at a garage sale where I got a steal on a jewelry-making kiln ($40) and some molds to go with it. The lady who sold it to me, also gave me this box of mold-making plaster, and said that it all used to belong to her grandfather. I know ceramics used to be more of a popular hobby. What happened? Did the price of energy go up too high? Did people gain interest in other hobbies instead?

At any rate, a ceramic artist friend of mine said that plaster actually has a shelf life, and only typically lasts about 3 to 6 months. She mentioned that I might take some and test it out, before trying to do anything else with it. So tonight, I decided to gather some supplies and give it a go. I filled a cruet (the closest thing on hand) with some water, and also grabbed up a metal chopstick (for mixing) and an Altoids tin. If you're intending to duplicate this, grab whatever suitable items are close enough.

This is the box of mold-making plaster.

I checked for spiders and eggs, and then grabbed the box and ripped it open.

There was the bag of plaster, and a piece of paper. The paper talks about the brand Vigor-Vest. Turns out, this mold-making plaster is particularly of use for jewelry. Neat.

I put some of the material into the Altoids tin.

And added some water, and then mixed until it had a pancake mix-like consistency.

At the time of writing, I am letting it set, and harden a bit.

I let it set for about ten minutes or so, and by that time, it seemed fairly solid. So I took the shell I had, and pressed it into the material.

I took another ten minutes and did some dishes while I waited. Progress! Then, I checked the mold. The shell did take a little prying, but I was able to get it out, and I was left with a beautiful shell mold.

So it looks like the plaster's still good - and now I know how to make a mold out of an Altoid's tin - and so do you!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Wreck This Journal

I was intrigued as I looked through Barnes & Noble, when I found this little black book called Wreck This Journal. The journal prompts you to act crazy and create art at the same time. In short, it's genius, and it's been amazing, looking up on Pinterest what people have done with the various prompts/pages, and the different ways they've dealt with the same challenges.

I've been working on a page a day or so, and it's been like art therapy, as I work out my life's frustrations.

Check out my Wreck This Journal, here:

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Work Continues On Retribution


punishment inflicted on someone as vengeance for a wrong or criminal act.
"employees asked not to be named, saying they feared retribution"
synonyms: punishment, penalty, one's just deserts; More

So I'm continuing my work on Retribution - not so much looking at the actual wording, itself, so much as just giving the work and overall sense of synthesis. I have 65 pages, technically, and 45 of it is fairly cohesive storyline material. The other 20 pages, I will admit, is jumbled garbage.

Of course, I wrote it as a NaNoWriMo novel that I completed in the course of a month, so it is to be expected that the manuscript is not pristine and will need a lot of work.

My solution is to take things 5 pages at a time, and to stuff those 5 pages into my purse and just work on them - deleting, editing, adding sentences and smooshing them together. It's been a really successful process thus far. The good part of all this is that I've already got 37,000 words or so (60k is standard novel length) and the story's all just skin and bones. It'll be easy-peasy to add in the extra, needed 20k in word count and then some - most likely well over what is technically needed. After all, this is the final book in the series. It's my epic, where the battle of good and evil will rage, between my beaten-down main character Ash Kensington, and the mysterious dark lord Malegaunt.

And because I've seen so many fantasy stories where this doesn't happen, I have my main character actually go to the dark lord's tower, up through it, and challenge him one-on-one, sword in hard and try to kick his @$$ directly, and for no greater reason (though she puts on airs) than her own personal need for revenge.

At any rate, things are coming along, and I feel like my life is running parallel to the story at the moment, with things coming together in kind of a confusing synthesis. :)

Also, this is post #100 on this blog!!!! Hooray!!!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Teaching Myself Excel

The nature of interviews, at least for the state of California, seems to be changing.

I've been to several interviews now, and due to the self-testing process offered for many of the state lists, there is a new component that many departments are adding to their interview process - a test. Typically, this test includes some knowledge of a program called Excel.

I remember when the state was going by a different standard. That standard, required by nearly every interview I'd gone to, was 10-key typing. Well, I have a little finger on my right hand that is abnormally shaped, due to an old injury. But sure enough, I signed up for 10-key, and, by some miracle, got my 10-key typing certificate. I believe that this certificate did help me to land my first job with the state.

But now the standard has changed to Excel, and computer courses are costly and (I imagine) hard to come by if you have little free time, like myself.

Well, I took internet courses for my M.A. degree, and having had the self-discipline to finish these and make it through the program with my degree in-hand, I thought to myself, "You know, this might all be a lot easier if I can teach myself Excel, somehow."

Only, I had no guideline to work from. Well, I went down to the thrift store and bought a book on 97 Excel. Having been through so many college courses, I know that texts tend to change very little from one edition to the next. I have found that to be the case with Excel as well. A few things have changed slightly with the program, but mostly all for the aesthetics of it. The bulk of the program remains the same as it was in 97.

And so I am tackling one section at a time, and this old book has given me a guideline for how to go about teaching myself the program. I hope to be finished soon, and able to show others my new-found knowledge.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Ophelia - The World That Kills Innocence

The image above is a painting of Shakespeare's character Ophelia, from the play Hamlet. She drowns herself, out of lovesickness and because of the crazyness around her that results in the bloodlust in her lover Hamlet, the death of her father Polonius, and the bloodlust of her brother Laertes. Ophelia is symbolic of the death of innocence at the hands of a cruel and uncaring, deranged world.

Well I happened to watch Paramore's music video, "Monster" and couldn't help but see the similarities between it and the traditional images of Ophelia. Video:

Ophelia goes crazy just before her death, handing out flowers that are symbolic of ideas she holds dear and wants to preserve, but that the world no longer has a use for.

Ophelia: There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray,
Love, remember: and there is pansies. that's for thoughts.

A document in madness, thoughts and remembrance fitted.

There's fennel for you, and columbines: there's rue
For you; and here's some for me: we may call it
Herb-grace o' Sundays: O you must wear your rue with
A difference. There's a daisy: I would give you
Some violets, but they withered all when my father
Died: they say he made a good end,--

See the dead flowers in the Paramore video? They're like Ophelia's flowers that she hands out, but they've "withered all", along with her hope.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Adorn Your Desk With Flowers

Today, I went to the local florist shop and, although I have no beau to buy flowers for me, I purchased some for myself, for my desk at work.

I've always had people say to me, "How are cut flowers lovely/romantic? After all, you've just killed the thing..."

But I rather think these people miss the point. If my aim was to surround myself with dead things, I'd decorate my desk with taxidermy. Flowers lighten the mood of the office, and they give you something beautiful to look at. Most importantly, they are a constant reminder that there is beauty in the world, no matter how rough your work environment is, how callous your bosses are, or what your particular situation might be.

The bouquet was $10, and I consider it money well spent.

Friday, September 25, 2015

My Old Saturn, & The New World Order

This year's been hard for me. I had to get rid of an old friend - my Saturn, Harley. You see, she was a faithful girl, but she was old - real old. Like 20 years old. Which in people years would be a billion.

The poor girl started choking out white smoke. I could have replaced the engine, but it would only be a matter of time before something else went out. I could see that it was time. Cars don't last forever. They're like people, in that way.

Which brings me to my next point. I dunno how I feel about the idea of a New World Order. But I got a pack of playing cards about it anyway, showing the supposed culprits of the conspiracy to turn our sovereign nation into a former-nation and whatnot. And you know what I noticed? Most of these guys are, for all their wealth, really really old. They're like my Harley. They keep replacing their internal organs, getting transplants and whatnot - but you can only do that for so long. Eventually everything in the body will break down. Nothing lasts forever, no matter how you try and stave off the cold hand of death. Better to live a happy, charmed life and to die knowing that you lived well. Nothing wrong with that. No one could fault you. It would be the most human thing in the world.

Well I learned my lesson only after pouring a bucketload of money into Harley, which did the trick...for a little while (a couple weeks), and left me with a large bill to pay.

So anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is, All Things Must Pass.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Difficult Times

I have to keep telling myself this. These are difficult times for me. Nothing I've tried, to switch out of a job I hate, has worked. With my writing, I have little time and don't seem to be really getting anywhere. And every time I have an idea to start working on something, I run up against a brick wall, whether it be in my professional or private life.

And so I know how Ash feels in the middle of my novel, Retribution. She's hunting down the five crystals that she has to destroy to weaken Malegaunt's power, and she faces huge obstacles, time and time again. Victory is anything but certain.

So what do I do, to break the seemingly never-ending cycle of failure??? Hell if I know, but I (and my character, Ash) had better figure it the f*** out.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Why Fallenwood?

So I find myself at last writing/editing book 4, the final book in my Fallenwood Chronicles. I certainly never expected it to be four books long, and I find myself repeating some of the same themes that surrounded me when I wrote the original - uncertainty about where my life is going, feeling stuck and/or lost, thinking about the things and people I've lost over the years, who have come into my life only to wander out of it again.

When I wrote the original, I wrote it to remember, and to have some place I could always go back to.

I based the character of Ash on myself, and her experiences and my feelings were one and the same. Now, like her, I've probably never wanted anything so bad as to break the cycle of entropy that I feel like I've found myself in, and I don't know how.

I feel like my journey has been one I've had to take alone. Ash will go alone to face Malegaunt in his dark tower on the sea, no matter how many friends she started out with, no matter how resourceful she is, or what the odds are. She knows she might die.

And on a separate note, I find myself back at the beginning, in many ways. I've got the same retail job I started with when I wrote the original Fallenwood book, although it's a weekend job and not my main one I was using to pay my way through my B.A. college program back then.

The Fallenwood Chronicles span a 10-year time period, through Ash's life, from the age of 19 when the story begins, to 29, right before the ripe old age of thirty. I had hoped to finish up the writing by the time I turned thirty, myself, but it's taken a bit longer than I expected. With any luck, I'll finish up by the time I'm 32. Oh well. Close enough.

But anyway, Fallenwood is, for me, a chronicle of the things I've loved and lost. The characters are based on people I remember - often, amalgamations of several different people. I've known Terces, Will, Greymalkin, Edward - just not as they are in the books, exactly. Terces is sweet, Will is strong and inspiring, Greymalkin was a constant companion, and Edward was a handsome mystery. Akaji and Draeon were both charming, and wicked.

Where will this last story take me? How will it unravel itself? And will this aggravating cycle of entropy turn itself right around? Can the "center hold" or will I break it, somehow?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Follow-up Blog Post: Paintbrush Revival

The stuff I used is amazing. I was able to save literally every single brush from going into the trash can. This is impressive, considering I've been using both oils and acrylics, and that some of the brushes were hard as bricks.

I soaked the brushes overnight after scrubbing them each across the brush cleaner. Then, I ran the water and worked out the caked-on paint, pulling off what I could and then making circles on my hand like one of my art teachers told me to do once, working the stuff into a lather.

I didn't think I'd be able to save all of them. I'm just in awe. I'm not using this blog for a commercial-type thing. I'm just impressed.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Bringing Old Brushes Back To Life

A while back, I'd gotten pretty lazy with my art. After I was done using a brush, I'd throw it into a little plastic cup, not even bothering to wash the paint off of it. Next time I'd work on something, I'd just grab a clean brush, and repeat.

Well eventually it got to the point where I'd ended up with a cup full of dirty brushes. I remembered I'd had this brush cleaning kit I bought ages ago, so I pulled it out and decided to test it. It's called "The Masters" Brush Cleaner & Preserver

The main part of the kit is this little round lip-balm-lookin' thingy, and you're supposed to dip the brush in water, and then swirl it around on the cake thing, and repeat as needed.

So far, some of the brushes appear salvage-able, and some not so much. But we'll see how many I'm able to save. Right now, it looks like I've got about twenty or so brushes going in there.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Review: Echoes At Dawn by Kathleen Ann Gallagher

Five Stars! *****

I just finished reading Echoes At Dawn, by Kathleen Ann Gallagher. Although Romance is admittedly not my favorite genre, I really did enjoy this one. My review is below!

We are introduced to the main character, Madeline Young, as she dines with her friends. Kathleen Ann Gallagher really does a good job of setting up the scenes in her novel, and giving the reader a sense of atmosphere and ambiance.

The tone of her writing is very straight-forward. Mine tends to be that way as well. And you know who also wrote that way? Hemingway.

Anyway, Madeline likes to enjoy the company of her friends, Anne, Mara, and Maggie. They're all getting older, although they still hang out just the same as when they were back in high school. The sense of camaraderie is refreshing.

Like the title character of The Aeneid (Aeneas, who Paris encounters, fleeing the burning Troy), Madeline is struggling to care for both the older and younger generations all at once as she, too, flees from life's catastrophes.

She meets Nat Griffin, a lecturer at the alcohol addiction facility she's decided to volunteer at, to further support and assist her son. The two have a mutual attraction to one another that blossoms into a beautiful romance.

There were some grammatical errors, but overall, they don't detract from the story.

I really found myself rooting for these characters to be together despite the odds against them.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Hunting Dragons & Making Plans

So I've gotten my latest novel, Betrayer, all polished up and prettied, only to find that through editing, I've lost 4,330 words that I need in order to make it "standard" novel length of 60,000 words.

So I've divided up that 4k or so into sections that I want to expand upon, and will be tackling 500 words or so per day in order to make this happen. Estimated time of completion = July 16th. Since I'm just now creating these sections, they aren't as polished and neat as they'll be in the final version. The idea is just to get the concept down on paper, however it comes out. There's time for neatness later, and I've even carved out a day for cleaning up the manuscript.

So here's what I've gotten in for today: *SPOILER ALERT*

Draeon held a blazing torch in one hand and a sword in the other. Ash would have had to use both hands to wield that sword, but Draeon easily hefted it with one. The cave was dark as pitch and Ash peered into it and saw nothing, the light of the torch eaten by the all-consuming darkness.

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” she asked, shivering. She wasn’t entirely sure that the cold was to blame. “Of course,” said Draeon. “Don’t you trust me?”

Ash felt a pang of guilt. Does he think I don’t trust him?

“Yes,” Ash replied. “You know I do. It’s not that. It’s just…”

Draeon sheathed his sword and bent down to pick up a gold coin. He peered at it in the torch light. “Here,” he said. “This is for you.”

Ash grasped the coin and examined it briefly. It was old, with strange markings on it that she couldn’t decipher. She stuck the coin in her pocket, where it clinked against the other one – the one that Will had given her long ago. Draeon and Ash continued on, the gold becoming more abundant as they went. The cavern glittered with gold, and jewels. And then the light of the torch fell upon a corpse. Ash gasped. “This is no place for the living.” The words spilled forth from her mouth, and she was unable to stop them. She looked up at Draeon, his handsome face illuminated by the torch fire. He threw back his head and laughed.

“Draeon, listen to me,” said Ash, shaking. “We’re going to die here. We’ve got to get out of here.”

His eyes sparkled with a strange light. “Shhh.” He bent down and kissed her – a kiss that tasted like sacrilege. Ash held back the urge to spit. “We’re not going to die. I’ve been in this cave before. There’s a fork up ahead. The dragon lives deep in the belly of the right fork. We’re going to take the left fork, that opens into an sky-vaulted stone pit that we can scale and get out of here. Ash felt her intense fear begin to subside. Maybe he knows what he’s talking about, and my fears have just been getting the best of me. For all we know, we might not even see any trace of this dragon.

So she continued on, following after Draeon, trying to quiet her footfalls as they hit the dirt. Thankfully, Draeon didn’t stop for more gold, which would make noise. There’s no reason to wake the dragon. And so ten minutes in, the fork was visible, the light of the stone pit coming in from the left fork, and the intense darkness focused to the right. And just as Draeon said, they turned and followed the left fork, which opened onto the light of a fading sunset. There was nothing to worry about. Ash was going to be fine. She took the coin from her pocket and looked at it. It was kind of neat, really, with markings that looked like runes, and the image of someone that looked kind of familiar and kind of not, and…oof! Her foot hit a rock and she stumbled, quickly regaining her balance. But the coin went tumbling from her hand, clinking onto the ground. She halted for a moment. Did anyone hear that? She waited for a moment, hearing nothing. Thank goodness. Then all at once, a rumble came from the depths of the right fork. No no no. This can’t be happening. The dragon was waking from its slumber.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

"9 to 5" - The Original "Horrible Bosses"

The premise of both movies - "9 to 5" and "Horrible Bosses" is pretty much the same.

"There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt." ~Audre Lorde

Here's how the plot goes: A "Three Musketeers" group of disgruntled employees team up to form a plan and kill their boss (or bosses), and a Comedy of Errors ensues.

"9 to 5" stars Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton - and - working in a fast-paced office environment myself, it's fun to see Jane Fonda struggling with the office's super-old-tech equipment.

I definitely enjoyed this one - and, it's currently on Netflix. Yay!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Book Memes

So there's this new fad amongst my fellow authors, to create memes with quotes from their books. Here's one, from book 3 of my Fallenwood Chronicles, which I'm still working on. More to come!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Poem - "Slow Down"

"Slow Down"

The dregs of a latte' and
crumbs of a scone
wait for me downtown as all around, life rushes by -
the music blaring in a not-quite-old-school rock sound
The barefoot lady with dirt on her heels
left minutes ago
Slow down, they said on the internet Pinterest boards,
when life goes too fast
and you find yourself running in place - getting nowhere
So I looked for the tea shops
but they were too far away
and I settled for Temple Coffee
You slow down in a temple
like in India
and you take off your shoes
as a sign of respect
and you
greet the keepers with Namaste'
The divine in me sees and honors
the divine in you.
And memory takes me back to the carnival-lit statuary,
to the sense of ease,
to the divine lightness of being.
And all too soon, my lunchtime is over and I must leave.
and put on my shoes. and rush.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Statue of Liberty's Pedestal - An Experiment in Crowdfunding

So as you may know, there's no Brenda Novak Auction For Diabetes Research this year. Instead, I've decided to use any available funds that I would have donated, to back projects on the crowdfunding site, Kickstarter (and also a project for a fun run that my sis is doing for the kids of her afterschool program), but anyway, I think I've become a bit addicted to Kickstarter. I've been finding projects that are beautiful, inspirational, and brilliant.

And I found a book at the little break room library, about New York. Although my stepfather once lived for a while in Manhattan, I've never been there and rarely even consider traveling to the East coast. As I heard once, "West Coast, Best Coast". Lol.

So anyway, I picked up this book and started reading through it, and I was surprised to learn that the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty was pretty much crowdfunded, and before there was a Kickstarter to speak of. In 1885, publisher Joseph Pulitzer collected donations, offering to publish the names of all contributors to the project (sound familiar?). According to the Wikipedia page, he " started a drive for donations to complete the project that attracted more than 120,000 contributors, most of whom gave less than a dollar." (Sounding even more familiar?)

So books show us that as much as things have changed, some (good) things (like the idea of crowdfunding) stay the same.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Leaving soda behind for Lent

So first, let's start with some background info. about me, that you might not know. I was baptized Catholic when I was a child, and went to Sunday school. Somewhere around my teenage years, I felt rebellious and toyed with Wicca/Paganism. Around the age of twenty-one, I went to India and got a first-hand look at the Hindu religion. My stepfather was Buddhist, and I was influenced by him. Later in my twenties, I returned to Catholicism/Christianity, but with a unique perspective on it.

So I've never really practiced giving up anything for Lent, but I always sort of had this lingering feeling that I ought to. This year, I decided to give up soda. I've done this for extended periods of time throughout my life, but never really kept track of the way that soda made me think or feel (although before I took Judo, I did drink a lot of it and always felt a bit pudgy).

So starting February 18th (Ash Wednesday), I gave up soda. And I successfully made it to Easter, soda-free, only slipping up once, the day after Ash Wednesday because I honestly forgot. In place of soda, I drank beer, iced teas, Perrier, those Starbucks Refresher thingies, etc. Close enough to soda, but not soda exactly.

Here's what I've discovered: Soda makes you perky, and it's that feeling of perky-ness that can get you addicted as much as the caffeine. It ups your alertness level, which people are always needing in this go-go-go world we live in. At the same time, it can help you to relax, as it becomes a sort of comfort food in this insane, often hostile world we find ourselves in. I've been insanely in need of soda, I FEEL like, because we live increasingly stressful lives nowadays. Stress is not good for your body. Soda is not good for your body. But if you have to choose the lesser of two evils, choose soda, if it'll keep the stress demon away. That's what I say.

At any rate, I think it's been good for me to test my self-control like this. Self-control is something that not many people have nowadays. It's the thing that makes me a good martial artist - the ability to control a kick and land it exactly where I want it to go, every time. It's what gives me an edge over the competition, in this world.

Do YOU have self-control?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

I am NOT a Feminist

Wait a minute - how can that be right? I'm a woman, right?

And I'm anti-feminism?
Also correct.

How can this be?

Well, I'm tired of the lack of chivalry in men, the bitchyness of my fellow women, and I'm tired of seeing things like how Kamala Harris was called "beautiful" by the president and got all pissed off about it.

Hey Obama, you can call me beautiful any time you want. I'm just saying. I won't complain or anything. In fact, I'll feel...dun dun dun...COMPLIMENTED!

I feel like I am as far removed from modern-day feminists as they themselves are from figures like Susan B. Anthony and Mary Wollstonecraft. We're from two different planets. And while I don't always agree 100% with what men do, I LOVE them, on the whole.
It just seems to me that modern-day feminists don't have much to bitch about. We've got it pretty good here in America, even if things aren't 100% perfect. We're doing the same jobs as men, working just as hard, and yet those who cry "feminism" are the ones keeping ME down, because men are scared to death of giving compliments, even. Any hint at interest, and the feminists will yell "SEXUAL HARRASSMENT!", so they're destroying the natural interplay of the sexes.
I'm tired of these harpies who make the dicks of men everywhere shrivel in sheer terror. I'm tired of that stupid song I saw on Buzzfeed saying that if you're a woman, you're a feminist. Just because I'm a woman, doesn't mean I have to join the horde. Of course I'm on my own side, but Feminism as it is today, is a beast that will not swallow me up just because of my gender.

So there.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Can't Win 'Em All...

So I applied for the Sacramento library's Local Author Book Festival, application was denied.

Writers face a ton of rejection. Welcome to life.

Here's a bit of what they wrote to me though - the silver lining to it:

Your title will be added to our Local Author collection at the Central Library. It will be included in the online catalog so that library patrons can request your book and a local author sticker will be attached to the book’s cover.

And I'm not sad. My brother-in-law is graduating that day, so I have other things to attend to.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Stop 2 On The Fallenwood Blog Tour!

Stop By the Fallenwood Blog Tour, where you can catch my blog post today - "Top Ten Things About Being An Author" post! (Click the link below)

Top Ten Things

Monday, March 9, 2015

Ursula Le Guin's Speech

I've heard of Ursula Le Guin, as she is a fellow fantasy/sci-fi writer woman. She also wrote a book called Steering The Craft, which was used in the creative writing class that provided the basis for my original rewrite of the main Fallenwood book.

Well, I just saw this video that someone had posted on Facebook, and what she says is deep, and rebellious, and shows how important the concept of intellectual freedom and not being censored is to the art of writing.

It's kinda the whole point, really. It's why we do what we do.

And here are a couple quotes from the video that I really liked:

"We need writers who know the difference between production of a commodity and the creation of art."

And - "The name of our beautiful reward is not Profit. Its name is Freedom."

Or as I like to say it, when dealing with the censoring prudes of the world, I can say whatever the fuck I want. I am like the black unicorn of Fallenwood. I will not be tamed. I will not be captured. Death to the Crown.

Watch the video yourself (Click the link below). It's amazing, and Ursula Le Guin is a classic - a legend in her own right.

Ursula Le Guin's Video

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Fallenwood Blog Tour Has Begun!

The first stop is Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews:

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Pros and Cons of Juggling Two Jobs

So tomorrow, the blog tour begins, and I probably won't have time for actual blogging, because keeping up with questions on the blog tour and such is like another job altogether, albeit one I highly enjoy.

I work two jobs, currently. One is my main job, working for the state. It's my bread and butter. The other is working retail. Since acquiring job #2, I've had many people ask me why I would want to be doing what I'm doing.

Well, the short answer is money. Having only one job meant that I was barely scraping by. Having two means that I actually have the means to try and get ahead (pay off credit cards, student loans, etc.) Like many other Millenials, debt has kept me from acquiring the steam I need to get things rolling in life. And it's been nigh-impossible to move up in state service, even with my M.A. and seven years of state experience. I can only imagine what those without such experience are facing right now.

Of course, the lack of upward mobility doesn't mean things are any less stressful. If anything, the opposite is true. So I found myself barely scraping by, stressed out, depressed, and unsure what to do with myself. I had too much time on the weekends to sit around and be sad about how things played out with my emotionally abusive ex-boyfriend. What I needed was an escape - to be in a different environment for a while. But I didn't have the money to go anywhere. So I decided to go for job #2 because it was an idea. It was something that actually worked out for me, after so many other ideas and attempts of mine had failed. And it worked. I met a bunch of really nice people. I got extra money to pay for bills and debts. And I didn't have time to be depressed.

Thus, do I work a lot? Yes. Do I regret it? No.

Having job #2 also means that neither job gets to adopt that "I control your life" dictator mentality that places and people can sometimes fall into. They can never be quite sure of themselves, and that, my friends, is priceless.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Another Inconvenient Truth...

So Al Gore has his documentary about global warming, titled An Inconvenient Truth. Whether or not you believe in global warming, the film is important because it attempts to drive home the fact that this world is the only one we've got, and that we should all cherish/support/take care of it.

But I'm here today to tell you something you might not want to hear. I've got another Inconvenient Truth for ya - and this is for all the aspiring authors out there. And there are a lot of you. I know. The market is saturated with talent, and writers seem to be a dime a dozen these days.

When I was little, all I wanted was to be published. If I got published, I'd know I "made it" and I'd instantly be famous and have a million dollars. Sadly, it seems that this mindset wasn't mine alone. That being said, if you have a dream, go for it, with everything you have. Get published.

But here's where the inconvenient truth comes in - getting published is only the first mountain you'll have to climb on your journey. Rather than being the end of a journey, you're still at the beginning. The next hurdle to challenge, is getting anyone to notice that you've been published - getting reviews scheduled and promotional opportunities set up, and blogging, and making videos, and going to events, and doing public speaking, and talking about the art to anyone who will listen.

These days, getting an agent is nigh-impossible. So here's the inconvenient truth - you want to be a writer, not a salesperson. But you have to be both. No one is going to do it for you. And getting published, is just half the battle.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Jesters Keep The Balance Of The Force

Jesters keep the balance of the force. Before I explain though, I wanted to talk a bit about this pic, 'cuz I think it's badass. I don't know who the artist is, but this is what I envision it to look like when Terces enters Malegaunt's tower (in book 4, still in progress). That's right. He goes in like a BOSS - but does he come out?

So in a monarchy, or any other hierarchical system, really, there are people at the top and people at the bottom. The jester sits comfortably somewhere in-between, in touch with the common man, but familiar enough with the ways of those at the top to point out their flaws.

In modern society, those at the top are the people with the power - Senators, Assemblymen, the President, Presidential appointees, and heads of our secretive paramilitary organizations. The jesters are people like Jon Stewart and John Oliver. Now typically jesters don't have much power, and their words are, as George R.R. Martin would say, "wind". But we've seen with the Net Neutrality issue, how powerful these public figures can actually be, when they rally the people to political causes. This keeps the balance of things, showing the powerful that they cannot just do whatever they want, because there will be backlash, whether it is rotten tomatoes thrown by the people, or a joke at the king's expense around the dinner table.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Canary In The Coal Mine

I think it's a mark of excellent writing when you think about a story when you're not reading it, and long after you've turned the last page.

I was thinking about the story of the canary in the coal mine, and how in The Hunger Games, this is Katniss's father. He's the canary, the victim of a strange and tragic life. He sings, and teaches Katniss to sing, but after he dies in the mine accident, she doesn't sing anymore.

In a way, we are all canaries in the coal mine of life. Some of us sing. Others, like me, seldom have the heart for it. For as J.M. Coetzee writes, "What bird has the heart to sing in a thicket of thorns?"

80s Reboot

So first, I want to start out by explaining why I blog. Maybe it's that the coffee hasn't kicked in yet, to run power to my personal filters and censors. But here's why I do it - because it is incredibly liberating. In a world that is oppressing us on all sides, do you know what I get to write about? That's right - Whatever.The.Hell.I.Want.

So let's get to it. Why the neon? Well, I was born in the 80s, and up until the early 90s, we still had lingering effects of this, including neon and good music, before things gave way to grunge and goth and whatever else. Well, fashion trends apparently come and go in cycles. I was not aware of this right away, but a couple years ago, my sis down in SoCal told me that the 80s were making a comeback.

"Are you serious?" I said, chuckling at the idea of neon leg warmers being the height of fashion. But now the neon is everywhere. The neon is taking over!!!! No, but seriously, I remember creating an elementary school project with neon poster paint. Don't you? Of course, you don't. You're just a young'n.

Anyway, the coffee is beginning to kick in now. So buy some Lisa Frank stuff if you can find it, throw on those neon leg warmers and headbands, and listen to Elton John's song "In Neon" which never gets any radio play, and enjoy this 80s reboot. 'Cuz like the 80s, it'll be gone all too soon.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Old Letter, New Post

I wrote this open letter to a historical figure, long ago. Here, I post it for your enjoyment.


Dear Peter Ramus,

Or rather, let’s call you by your real, non- “Latinized” name, Pierre de la Rameé, Pre-Age of Enlightenment thinker who denounced the ideas of Socrates, Aristotle, and Quintilian. History recalls you as Peter Ramus in a direct attempt at deception. The mask of “Peter Ramus” keeps us from seeing you as the silly, blabbering Frenchman that you really were, mocking your betters because you could never live up to them.

There is someone in our popular cinema who reminds me of you – the character Vezzini from The Princess Bride:

You attack Quintilian’s Institutio Oratoria as though it were a scientific manual rather than a philosophical treatise and then congratulate yourself on an easy victory against an opponent no longer alive to defend himself or his work. Let’s not let history deceive us.

Yours truly,

Leslie D. Soule

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Last Dragon 30th Anniversary!

Can you believe that it's been 30 years since The Last Dragon came out? This is the movie that inspired me to be a martial artist.

I'd heard about the 30th Anniversary celebration Race For The Glow, in which the city that pre-sells the most tickets gets the celebration. So I bought my ticket for L.A. but it seems pretty quiet on social media these days, so it's hard to say whether this thing will happen or not.

So...let's bring Taimak, star of The Last Dragon, to L.A.!!!!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Fallenwood Business Cards

I came up with a design for some new Fallenwood business cards:

I rather like how they've turned out!

Kicking Off Spring Cleaning A Bit Early...

So today I've decided that I'm going to dedicate the day to getting my author website all cleaned up, as much as humanly possible. This is something I've neglected for a good long while. But now, with internet all hooked up again, it should prove to be a much easier task. I've got my coffee all brewed up and ready to go.

Of course, that's no guarantee of progress, particularly with so many distractions. We shall see!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Fallenwood Re-Release Blog Tour!!!

I am proud to announce that there will be a Blog Tour coming up, for the Re-Release of Fallenwood! I'd love to have as many people participate as possible, whether you're reading the blogs, commenting about the book, or just asking general questions regarding writing or getting published. I love answering questions, so fire away!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Sad Beauty

So one of the ideas that my uncle introduced me to, long ago, in regards to art, is the idea of a sad, fleeting beauty. We can see this reflected in images of flowers, in the light-filled garden dance scenes of Renoir, and in many other examples of art. It is the idea that life is fleeting. It's also what makes certain works of art so incredibly alluring.

One of my favorite actors is Benedict Cumberbatch. You usually see images of him smiling, looking up at the camera. But I found an image on Pinterest of him that expresses this sad beauty I speak of.

Notice how he's looking down as though he's melancholy, or reminiscing. He's also quite handsome still in this photo, even though there's a vague sadness to him, so he fits this "sad beauty" idea here. I feel like it makes the image so much more alluring than the other photographs I've seen of him. It makes you wonder what's made him so sad, or what he's remembering or feeling. It's like you want to add more to the image than what you see, to create the "text" to go with the "work", to borrow the terms of Roland Barthes, from his classic article "From Work to Text".

Friday, January 30, 2015

Cultivating Patience, Gathering Strength When No Progress Is Possible

So there is a popular book, titled Who Moved My Cheese(?), and in it, we are to imagine ourselves as mice, continually on the lookout for cheese, which represents happiness. In the maze of life, we must keep searching and searching. If we stay in one spot, we will never find the cheese we look for.

I excel at running - not literally. Literally, I hate running and I feel like I'm bad at it. But my modus operandi consists of running continually away and away. I will always "live to fight another day". Through the years, I have become good at fighting, literally. But I hate to fight, and will only fight when my back is against the wall, and I have no other choice.

So I've found myself running through the maze of life at a breakneck pace, trying to will things to happen. But they won't. It's as though I've reached a cosmic blockage in the road. Or, more likely, a wall came up in the maze, and I find myself surrounded by walls.

The mouse in this picture could easily chew through a wall. We must pretend they are made of stone. What then?

Lately, I have had to cultivate patience, to withdraw inside of my small world and gather strength. Due to the cyclical nature of things, if I do not learn this, the world will force me to confront it until I do.

You must not call it slacking. I can run no more in any direction. This is difficult for me. I do not want to learn patience, but I must.

At night, I have been meditating. 10 breaths in, through the nostrils, 3 breaths out, all the way to 1, and then back up. One step at a time. I can master this thing called patience, too.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Citizens' Rule Book - Small, Yet Mighty!

So I got this little book as a freebie from InfoWars, and it is small and has small print, but it has empowered me and informed me of things that even with all my years of schooling, college, getting my M.A., I did not realize. This is a book to have multiples of, to carry around with you, to give to others. In this country, where our most basic freedoms are constantly being called into question, constantly under attack, you must do yourself a favor and KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. This will give you the information, and the citations to back it up.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Themed Gardens

I always think it's interesting when I come across ideas for themed gardens.

For example, there's this post I did a while back about creating a Shakespeare garden, with plants from the Bard's works:

Also, I work sometimes on weekends in the garden center at a store that references the Western Garden Book for plant information. On page 115 (it might be different for more recent versions), it mentions a thing called a Moon Garden, with plants that show up best under the light of the moon, like white flowers. The image above shows one such Moon Garden.

Then of course, there's my little Hunger Games garden, which only contains Rue and white roses, thus far.

At any rate, I adore the idea of themed gardens, and I look forward to trying them, come spring.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Melange New Year's Extravaganza!

Start the New Year off right, with some new ebooks! Enter Melange's contest to win prizes (and yeah, Fallenwood and Forgetting Fallenwood - books 1 and 2, are in there)!!!!