“Madness? This is Black Fridaaaaaaay!”

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The title pretty much sums up yesterday. Especially if you happen to work in retail. I felt like one of the 300 Spartans facing the thousands of Persians with little more than a shield (the register) and a spear (the phone). Let me tell you, that 30-minute lunch break was MUCH needed. As was the gesture of kindness from the store manager who ordered pizzas for everyone. I still wasn’t prepared for the madness, or the rush, or whatever you call the frenzy of people running to get to “that item” they just can’t live without for “that price”.

I’m also smarting–which is the only word I can think of to describe the general ache and exhaustion that has encompassed me this (the following) morning. But on the whole it was a good day, and being a writer, I had to bring my characters into the madness with me. The only ones who fit this time would have been my Scion of Truth characters: Cody Wesson and Sarah Johnson.

Cody would be in the madness, using the flurry of activity as a disguise for his otherwise “devious” plans; taking advantage of the fact that cops and government officials would be too busy with the chaos to pay one man any mind. Sarah would have preferred to just sit on the sidelines and watch the chaos–not wanting to participate in any of it. Though doubtless there would come a point when she would be dragged needlessly into the fray.

Myself, I would have preferred not to participate, but there is something that takes hold when you’re surrounded by hundreds of people all eager to spend their money at the same time on (nearly) the same product. One man made off with pretty much the entire shelf of ProPlan, given the sale price. Honestly–if people would think more about others instead of loading up only for themselves, there wouldn’t be this issue of running out of stock. But perhaps being thankful for what one can get is more appropriate than being thankful for getting only what one needs.

I’m grateful I survived the chaos of yesterday so that I can gear up for another skirmish today–in keeping with the battle metaphors. Lord, help me.

So that being said: Which of YOUR characters would participate in the Black Friday madness? Would they buy out the store? Just what they need? Or would they save young children from being trampled? (Arien would buy out the Tabasco sauces; Nathan would stock up on arrows and bowstrings; Kate would take shelter in a quiet corridor unless someone needed help.)

Feel free to let me know in the comments! And thank you to all those cashiers, managers, and employees who worked yesterday–I feel your pain–and whether you feel like it was a victory or a loss, your fellow co-workers and the customers (even the ungrateful ones) were thankful that you showed up. Because we’re all in this together. And may today be less crazy.

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Thanksgiving: Grateful for What and To Whom?

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So I see on facebook several amusing and hilarious pictures–memes if you will–floating around. Everything from shoving Santa and his merry Elves back into December where they should stay (and not encroach in November), to being thankful one day a year and then being greedy the following day on Black Friday, when people trample each other to get that thing they could not wait another minute for.

What have we as a society become?

The origins of Thanksgiving began when two groups, the Pilgrims and the Saints, crossed the Atlantic Ocean, forging their way to the New World, that is, America. The two groups were separated by religion, faith, and beliefs. However, upon reaching the New World, they knew that they would have to come together, to unite their forces in order to survive the challenges that lay ahead. This led to a treaty between them.

Once they landed they were confronted by an Indian tribe: the Wampanoag’s. They were quick to establish a friendship and a treaty of peace with the pilgrims, sharing their knowledge in how to plant crops, among other things, such as:

Giving thanks for the Creator’s gifts had always been a part of Wampanoag daily life. From ancient times, Native People of North America have held ceremonies to give thanks for successful harvests, for the hope of a good growing season in the early spring, and for other good fortune such as the birth of a child. Giving thanks was, and still is, the primary reason for ceremonies or celebrations.

 

As with Native traditions in America, celebrations – complete with merrymaking and feasting – in England and throughout Europe after a successful crop are as ancient as the harvest-time itself. In 1621, when their labors were rewarded with a bountiful harvest after a year of sickness and scarcity, the Pilgrims gave thanks to God and celebrated His bounty in the Harvest Home tradition with feasting and sport (recreation). To these people of strong Christian faith, this was not merely a revel; it was also a joyous outpouring of gratitude. 

 

Therefore when all the turkey and pre-Black-Friday sales begin to weigh heavily on your mind, don’t forget the real reason behind being thankful–not just for the sake of being thankful, but to whom you’re thankful. Whatever your beliefs, it never hurts to be thankful for what you have.

 

(Citation taken from: http://www.plimoth.org/learn/MRL/read/thanksgiving-history 2003-2013, Plimoth Plantation. November 28, 2013)

Zombie Apocalypse: An Epiphany About (un)Dead Languages

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What if the zombie apocalypse isn’t about people coming back to life, but about dead languages coming back into use?

Think about it.

A zombie is generally an undead something-or-other. We tend to think of it as people, or bodies, coming back from the dead and eating, what else, brains. Well, guess what else uses the brain? Yep. Learning a new language. (Rosetta Stone, anyone?)

So in that case, all those people bent on bringing back the notoriously dead language of Latin (of which I’ve studied for 8 years in high school and college) into use, would be promoting the zombie apocalypse. Learn a dead language, become a zombie, because your brain is feeding a dead language. Or perhaps it’s undead…since languages aren’t alive and thus cannot be killed…and thus are not truly “dead”. (You could also substitute in Ancient Egyptian, Sanskrit, and others in place of Latin for a[n] [un]dead language.)

I’ll bet I’ve blown your mind. (Don’t worry, I’m still picking mine up off the floor.)

I suppose now would be a terrible time to mention that all this came about when a friend posted a link to Cracked.com, blaming ME for the discrepancies in English spelling and pronunciation. Like it’s my fault English is all twisted to begin with. Or that it doesn’t just “borrow from other languages, but follows them down dark alleys, knocks them over the head and goes through their pockets for loose grammar“. That’s an old quote I first heard from my (awesome) HS Latin teacher. No idea who to give credit to, but it’s an awesome quote nonetheless.

It’s right up there with: “Latin is a language, dead as it can be. First it killed the Romans, now it’s killing me. All are dead who spoke it. All are dead who wrote it. All will die who learn it. Blessed death they earn it.” …unless of course the zombie apocalypse happens when Latin is brought back into being a spoken language again.

Let me blow your mind one more time. Latin isn’t truly dead. The Vatican City still proclaims it as its National Language. Also, there is a workshop/convention center in West Virginia that holds a Latin Immersion event for about two or three weeks during the summer (and there’s one in the winter)–where you can ONLY speak in Latin. I know–fascinating. (My HS Latin teacher went one year and came back talking fluently in Latin. I was envious, to say the least.)

So, are you still ready for the Zombie Apocalypse? Now might be a good time to check your bookcases for that English-Latin Dictionary you thought you’d never need ever again.

…And you thought you’d need that stockpile of ammo hidden in your basement/walk-in closet/attic. Which leads me to conjugating verbs: Ammo, Ammas, Ammat… (Yeah, yeah, I know, it should be “amo, amas, amat…”.)

Simply Irresistable: Daily Prompt

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So the daily prompt from:http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/11/26/daily-prompt-irresistible/ asks: What is the one food that I cannot pass up? Tricky question.

Breakfast would have to be pancakes. I love pancakes. And bacon.

For meals, I’d have to say it’s a toss up between Indian food (I love me some curry!) and Chinese food (beef and chicken and snowpeas–yum).

Desert would be a toughie, but it’d have to be Chocolate Pie in a graham cracker crust or Chocolate Chip Chiffon Cake with homemade frosting. Those are really my downfalls.

Now, for my characters, that’s a whole OTHER ball park.

Let’s see, Arien Chase, my snarky medieval swordsman from a series I’m in the process of writing, is addicted to Tabasco Sauce. Obsessed more like. He puts it on everything, smothering his dishes with it. To his companions’ disgust. And the pet wolf he has, has learned to associate the name of the sauce with him–so anytime Tabasco is mentioned, she tackles Arien.

Hassan Issa, my Arabian Knight (yes literally), really likes curry, for all that he’s Saudi Arabian. He jokes sometimes that grilled camel would make for a great treat–but that’s usually when he and his steed are at odds with each other. (Yes, he rides an honest-to-God camel–what else would he ride in the desert?)

And Clutch, my Artificially Intelligent car character, prefers the Supreme line of gasoline and the top of the line premium oil.

Most of the rest of my characters will eat whatever, without complaint. But these three stood out most to me amongst my dozens of characters for having specific wants and likes.

If you want to know more about my characters, feel free to visit them at http://www.rprepository.com/p/PenGryphon2007/ getting into trouble I couldn’t imagine on my own.

Also: A huge thank you to those who have begun following me. I look forward to returning the favor!

NaNoWriMo: Validation Begins!

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For anyone who is participating in NaNoWriMo, validation begins today. What this means: copy your entire novel and paste it into the NaNoWriMo word counter, hit save. The word counter will automatically count how many words; and if you made it to 50k or beyond, you will gain your purple bar and be forwarded to the Winner’s Page. (If you hand-wrote your novel, you can still validate by going to one of those websites that does the fake Latin filler things and just type in however many words you wrote. I tend to count the number of words on about two or three pages, averaging the word count, before multiplying by the number of pages: (avg # of words per page) x (# of pages) = word count.)

To everyone else who is still plugging along–you’ve got a week left–don’t give up! You can totally do it. If you need good word-padding scenes, throw in some banter and witty lines, which can be adopted in the Adoptables forum in the NaNoWriMo website. “Adopt a Sarcastic/Witty Line” is full of gold. You could probably make a novel in and of itself from stringing those lines together.

Back to validating: I actually watched the Winner’s video and it was really cute. I tend to downplay everything excitement-wise, so having everyone yell “Congratulations!” got me all excited and nearly brought tears to my eyes! Now I’m pumped to get to work editing my novel. Which will be happening shortly. I did print out the certificate, and am going to hang that up on my wall somewhere. Also, a friend of mine found a picture that’s relatively close to my FMC’s (female main character) description, so I’ll have to upload it eventually.

In other news: my poor longhaired mini dachshund, Roo (short for Roosevelt), is having a conniption because I just gave him a pig’s ear and he has nowhere to bury it. XD I think he’s going to bury it under his bed…but if I watch him, he’ll run all over the apartment to find another spot to bury it. He cracks me up; he’s whining all pathetic-like because he doesn’t know what to do with it. I should post a picture of him soon. Maybe tomorrow. He’s super cute and I’m looking to breed him at some point. He almost never barks (I can count on one hand the times he has) and he is good with people, adults and children, and other dogs.

…and is it too soon to be excited for Christmas? I don’t know what I’m more excited for–the Christmas carols or the festive decorations going up everywhere. Barnes & Nobles is already playing Christmas music–real Christmas music too; and I’m looking forward to when Petsmart begins to cache in on the market. So what are you looking forward to this Holiday season? The Music? The Gifts? Seeing family and friends?

(And I totally just caught Roo trying to bury his pig’s ear in my couch cushions.) -_- Oh good, it looks like he’s burying it in his crate underneath a ton of blankets instead…

Genres: How Do I Decide?

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Fantasy. Romance. Action-Adventure. Science Fiction. Mystery. Western…

The list goes on and on. And let’s not even mention sub-genres. This is easily the most confusing subject for me, in terms of figuring out the novel’s genre I’m writing. How much of an element makes a book that genre? Say my setting and characters are fantasy, but there’s romance strewn throughout? Does that make it fantasy? Romance? Both? Or is it fantasy with a sub-genre of romance–or vice versa?

Honestly, I’ve written a little bit of everything. I think everyone should try to write a different genre now and again to experiment with how story structure differentiates. But I also know that we’re all at different phases in our writing development. My earliest writings were probably what you would call Modern Fantasy–fiction regarding humans and animals coexisting, though not so fantastical as to have talking animals. Until, of course, I started my short story series around unicorns. But these weren’t your happy-go-lucky, frolic-in-the-meadow-and-eat-grass kind of unicorns. The king of the herd, Wintergreen, used his horn for status as well as protection–from another herd of black unicorns who were trying to attack them and take over. Shall we say the fight scenes were not what you’d expect from a young girl; ironically, just writing this makes me smile fondly. I had to be about 10-12 years old when I wrote these–again, most of them were saved on a 3.5″ inch floppy disk.

So that leads me to ask: What genre do you most prefer to write in? Why? And have you tried other genres? Did you find one surprisingly more easy or difficult?

For myself, I thought I preferred writing fantasy–but not the high fantasy with elves and the like. I like trying my hand at creating new creatures that haven’t been seen in literature yet. And as a Biology Major, I have many animals, plants, and organisms at my fingertips to choose from. With a wild imagination, I can go crazy with changing things up and giving a sense of “realism” or at least introduce a realistic explanation for causing something to happen.

One genre I found surprisingly easy to write, was romance. And another–mystery. When I actually take time to plot things out, I can cover a lot more ground, throw in a lot more details earlier on, than if I just start hitting keys and put words into sentences. In fact, as I write this now, I’m starting yet another novel–outlining it at least. It’s been an idea I’ve had for a few years now and it goes hand-in-trunk with my senior thesis that I wrote about African Elephants. I’m excited to see where it goes.