Friday, December 27, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things-December 27, 2013

It's Friday, which means it's time once again to Celebrate the Small Things with VikLit!

My husband has vacation until after New Year's, so that's throwing off my whole schedule, hence why I'm posting so late today.  Still, the quality family time is nice, so I'm not complaining!

Overall, we had a great Christmas.  We spent Christmas Eve with my in-laws, Christmas morning at home with our super excited kids, and the rest of Christmas Day with my dad.  There were lots of great gifts, good food, and interesting times all around.  That's something worth celebrating.

Also, something amazing happened.  I'm sure at least a few of you heard about the meteor spotted in Iowa and a few surrounding states on Thursday.  Well, guess what.  We saw it!  We were driving north on our way home from shopping when something bright caught my eye.  This meteor was one of the best I've ever seen, and it glowed a bright green.  Seeing it streak through the sky, and then break up right before my eyes, was so cool!  I wish I'd had a camera handy, but those things happen so quickly you don't have time to react.  All you can do is sit back and enjoy the splendor.

So, overall, it's been a pretty great week.  What would you like to celebrate?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Express Yourself: Books Unread

The Express Yourself Weekly Meme is hosted by Jackie @ Bouquet of Books and Dani @ Entertaining Interests.

The prompt for this week is: List the book(s) you wanted to read this year but never got around to.

So many books, so little time.  I managed to read quite a few wonderful books this year, so I'm happy about that.  Still, there are so many books out there, you're bound to struggle with reading all of them that capture your attention.

Here are a few of the books that I didn't get around to this year.  Perhaps I'll squeeze them in for 2014!  (Note: There's a mixture of fiction and science listed here, because I tend to read a healthy mixture of both.  I'm just a fan of science.)

S by J.J. Abrams
"A young woman picks up a book left behind by a stranger. Inside it are his margin notes, which reveal a reader entranced by the story and by its mysterious author. She responds with notes of her own, leaving the book for the stranger, and so begins an unlikely conversation that plunges them both into the unknown."

Redshirts by John Scalzi
"Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, with the chance to serve on "Away Missions" alongside the starship’s famous senior officers.
"Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to realize that 1) every Away Mission involves a lethal confrontation with alien forces, 2) the ship’s senior officers always survive these confrontations, and 3) sadly, at least one low-ranking crew member is invariably killed. Unsurprisingly, the savvier crew members belowdecks avoid Away Missions at all costs. 

"Then Andrew stumbles on information that transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives."

The Ancestor's Tale by Richard Dawkins
"With unparalleled wit, clarity, and intelligence, Richard Dawkins, one of the world's most renowned evolutionary biologists, has introduced countless readers to the wonders of science in works such as The Selfish Gene. Now, in The Ancestor's Tale, Dawkins offers a masterwork: an exhilarating reverse tour through evolution, from present-day humans back to the microbial beginnings of life four billion years ago. Throughout the journey Dawkins spins entertaining, insightful stories and sheds light on topics such as speciation, sexual selection, and extinction. The Ancestor's Tale is at once an essential education in evolutionary theory and a riveting read."

Five Billion Years of Solitude by Lee Billings
"For 4.6 billion years our living planet has been alone in a vast and silent universe. But soon, Earth’s isolation could come to an end. Over the past two decades, astronomers have discovered thousands of planets orbiting other stars. Some of these exoplanets may be mirror images of our own world. And more are being found all the time.

"Yet as the pace of discovery quickens, an answer to the universe’s greatest riddle still remains just out of reach: Is the great silence and emptiness of the cosmos a sign that we and our world are somehow singular, special, and profoundly alone, or does it just mean that we’re looking for life in all the wrong places? As star-gazing scientists come closer to learning the truth, their insights are proving ever more crucial to understanding life’s intricate mysteries and possibilities right here on Earth."

Brilliant Blunders by Mario Livio
"Charles Darwin, William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), Linus Pauling, Fred Hoyle, and Albert Einstein were all brilliant scientists. Each made groundbreaking contributions to his field—but each also stumbled badly. Darwin’s theory of natural selection shouldn’t have worked, according to the prevailing beliefs of his time. Not until Gregor Mendel’s work was known would there be a mechanism to explain natural selection. How could Darwin be both wrong and right? Lord Kelvin, Britain’s leading scientific intellect at the time, gravely miscalculated the age of the earth. Linus Pauling, the world’s premier chemist (who would win the Nobel Prize in chemistry) constructed an erroneous model for DNA in his haste to beat the competition to publication. Astrophysicist Fred Hoyle dismissed the idea of a “Big Bang” origin to the universe (ironically, the caustic name he gave to this event endured long after his erroneous objections were disproven). And Albert Einstein, whose name is synonymous with genius, speculated incorrectly about the forces that hold the universe in equilibrium—and that speculation opened the door to brilliant conceptual leaps. These five scientists expanded our knowledge of life on earth, the evolution of the earth itself, and the evolution of the universe, despite and because of their errors. As Mario Livio luminously explains, the scientific process advances through error. Mistakes are essential to progress. "

What books did you not get around to reading this year?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things-December 20, 2013

It's Friday!  That means it's also time to Celebrate the Small Things with VikLit!

As I head into the weekend, I have a cold, but I'm definitely grateful that it's nothing more than that.  A cold is something I can cope with.  The fact that a cold is the worst health concern I have right now is something worth celebrating, because so many people aren't that fortunate.

Earlier this week, I successfully made biscuits without either shortening or baking powder.  I used butter in place of the shortening, and a combination of baking soda and vinegar replaced the baking powder.  The end result was actually really good.

I also got some good writing done this week.  My fellow writers can surely appreciate how celebration worthy that is!

What would you like to celebrate?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

FSF: Those Infernal Silver Bells

It's time once again for Five Sentence Fiction.  The word for this week is SILVER.

I wanted to do something fun this time around.  Here's the result.  I hope you enjoy it!

Those Infernal Silver Bells

This time of year is difficult for people like me, though I hardly think anyone takes that into consideration when selecting their holiday adornments.  And no, this has nothing to do with religion, because while I am not religious myself, I take no issue with people expressing their beliefs.

I must concede that yes, silver bells are pretty (there’s an entire song about them for crying out loud), but every time I see them hanging from a door or a hat, my muscles go so rigid with fright that people might assume I’d been literally frozen by the cold.

Lycanthropes have feelings too, and while most of those bells are in fact made of cheap plastic with only the thinnest layer of coating that’s probably never been anywhere near a piece of real silver, one can hardly blame me for being jumpy.  Still, my medical condition is my own burden to bear, so if I see you in the street with those infernal silver bells sewn into your ugly Christmas sweater, I won’t bite your head off (unless of course there happens to be a full moon, in which case I apologize in advance).

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

FSF: Alone in the Deep

Here is my latest piece of Five Sentence Fiction.  The prompt for this week was ALONE.

Alone in the Deep

Image courtesy of
The sound of my own labored breathing is the only accompaniment to my frantic thoughts.  My mind keeps cycling through the same disturbing mantra, threatening to drive me to madness before I can reach my own end: “They’re all dead, and it’s my fault.”

The black depths of space mirror my state of mind perfectly as I think about how I brought this upon us all, and that if I had listened to the captain when she argued that it wasn’t safe to bring a stranger on board her ship, none of this would have happened.

I meant well, striving as always to help others, but that brings me no comfort now as my own death draws near.  As the low oxygen warning flares to life, the alarm mingles with my ragged breaths, and it will continue to fill my spacesuit until it is the only sound that remains.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Express Yourself: Dishes to Share

The Express Yourself Weekly Meme is brought to you by Jackie @ Bouquet of Books and Dani @ Entertaining Interests.

The question for this week is: When you attend a get-together, what are you likely to bring as a dish to share?

One thing I can never get enough of is chili cheese dip.  It turns ordinary tortilla chips into something amazing.  I usually make it by first preparing an ordinary batch of chili.  I use chili beans, ground beef, green peppers, onions, and chopped tomatoes.  I also sometimes use corn (though my husband doesn't like it that way).  As for seasoning, I use a secret weapon.  My dad discovered an amazing chili powder for sale at a local Indian restaurant.  That stuff sure packs a punch.  Once the chili is made, all you need to do is melt some Velveeta into it. Voila.  At the end, I have something so good I might accidentally overstuff myself on it before I notice any of the other dishes.

Another thing I like to make is homemade cookies.  Chocolate chip cookies are always a safe bet, but I also like to make peanut butter and oatmeal raisin cookies.

I might also bring deviled eggs.  I've experimented with some different ways of making them, and I've come up with some pretty good garlic deviled eggs, onion deviled eggs, and bacon deviled eggs.

Dang.  Now I'm hungry.

What dishes do you like to share?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things-December 13, 2013

It's Friday once again, which means it's time to Celebrate the Small Things with VikLit.

This post is coming a little late today.  My son Jude was sick today, and sick kids throw a wrench into the works as far as plans go.

This week I would like to celebrate the fact that I just announced a blogfest to celebrate my upcoming blogging anniversary.  Click HERE to learn more about the event and to sign up if you should feel inclined to do so.

Today is Friday the 13th, which is cause for celebration in our house.  As I've mentioned in the past, my husband and I met on a Friday the 13th, so it's like our own little sporadic romantic holiday. We're weird that way, but it's fun.

And seriously, how is Christmas less than two weeks away already?  I'm looking forward to that, because nothing makes me happier than seeing my kids on Christmas morning!

What would you like to celebrate?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Announcing the Endings Blogfest

My second blogging anniversary is fast approaching.  It's crazy to think that it's been nearly two years since the day I sat down and said to myself, "Hey, why don't I start a blog?"

Last year I hosted The Beginnings Blogfest to celebrate my blogging anniversary.  This year, I wanted to do something along the same lines, but a little bit different.  Instead of focusing on beginnings, I wanted to focus on endings.

My blogging journey is nowhere near and end, nor is my writing journey.  Yet there are always endings in life.  Even as life goes on, some chapters come to a close.  Sometimes we change jobs, or we move.  With that in mind, I came up with The Endings Blogfest.

The Rules

The rules for this blogfest are simple enough.  

Sign up!

Display the badge on your blog!

Sometime during the day of January 9th, post about some kind of ending.  [Note: If you want to participate but can't post on that day, just let me know what day you plan to post in the comments.  I'm pretty flexible!]  Please include the badge in your post as well.

What kind of endings can you post about?  Any kind you can think of!  For example:
-You can talk about the ending of a book, movie, or TV series that impacted you in a significant way (whether good or bad).  
-If you're a writer, you can talk about how you deal with endings in your stories.  Do you know how a story will end when you sit down to write it?  What kind of endings do you prefer (happy, sad, open-ended, etc.)?
-If you'd prefer to deal with real life, you can talk about a graduation, the ending of a relationship, or anything else that you feel deals with a significant ending of some kind.
-Or, if you'd prefer, you could write some flash fiction or poetry about endings.

You can also include the linky list in your post with the following code: <script type="text/javascript" src="" ></script>

Basically, if you know me, you know I'm pretty relaxed about what people choose to post for my blogfests.  I don't want to hamper your creativity too much!  Just sign up and have fun with it!

Also, if you have a Twitter account, you can help me out by tweeting about this blogfest with the hashtag #EndingsBlogfest.  I'd really appreciate it!

If you have any questions, just ask!

Express Yourself: Things I Look Forward To

The Express Yourself Weekly Meme is hosted by Jackie @ Bouquet of Books and Dani @ Entertaining Interests.

The question for this week is: List something(s) you always look forward to this time of year.

I absolutely love drinking hot chocolate and hot cider this time of year.  It's a good way to warm up after a trek through the snow.  I also love eating some of my favorite winter foods, such as homemade chili and vegetable soup.

Another thing I look forward to is Christmas morning when I get to watch my kids open their gifts.  Their absolute excitement is contagious, and it makes me feel like a kid again.

I enjoy spending time with family and friends.  It can be stressful at times, but in the end, it's worth it.

And last, I look forward to New Years Eve.  I grew up with a family tradition of playing board games and eating snacks on New Years Eve.  Then at midnight, we'd watch the ball drop.  In my opinion, this is one of the best traditions ever! It's also neat to think of the promise of a new year.  It's a good time to reflect on what we want to pursue or change to make our lives more fulfilling.

Plus, champagne.  Or wine.  There is always some kind of alcohol consumed after the ball drops, and that's part of the fun.

What do you look forward to this time of year?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Express Yourself: Holiday Films

The Express Yourself Weekly Meme is hosted by Jackie @ Bouquet of Books and Dani @ Entertaining Interests.

The question for this week is: What holiday film(s) do you plan on viewing this season?

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation-I have to see this every year. It's a classic.

The Nightmare Before Christmas-A must for the kids.

Die Hard-Some people might question this choice, but it takes place on Christmas.  That means it counts.  It's also a movie my husband will gladly watch.

What holiday films do you plan to watch?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things-December 6, 2013

It's Friday!  That means it's also time to Celebrate the Small Things with VikLit!

First of all, I reached 300 followers this week!  Thanks to all of you who take the time to read my blog.  You keep me going in my writing journey, even when I get frustrated by the occasional roadblock.

I had a good Saturday.  I spent the day with my dad while my wonderful husband watched the kids all day.  We went out to eat at an Indian restaurant, went to some cool small businesses to do a little shopping, and had some coffee. I also, as a result of our shopping, know what my Christmas gift from my dad is going to be, but that's okay, because it's awesome!  I still have to wait until Christmas to open it though.  Oh well.

My family is, in general, happy and healthy, so that's something else worth celebrating.

What would you like to celebrate?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Insecure Writer's Support Group: December 2013

Wow.  Is it really the first Wednesday of the month already?  Time sure is slippery that way.

Anyway, it's time once again for the monthly meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group.  Our esteemed leader is none other than Alex J. Cavanaugh.  His minions for this month are Julie Flanders, Heather Gardner, Kim Van Sickler, and Elsie is Writing.

Also, feel free to swing by the IWSG website!

A quick note: The IWSG posting for January 2014 will be on January 8th.  Yes, that's the second Wednesday of next month, but since the first Wednesday is New Years Day, we may all be too busy recovering from our celebrations to post and visit one another.  Besides, ninjas need days off too.  Being stealthy isn't as easy as it appears.

Anyway, my insecurity this month has to do with goals.  Specifically, with such a busy month in which I will be celebrating Christmas and New Years (and shopping for these festive occasions), how should I set goals for myself?  If I set a daily goal, I may feel bad when I have a day where I simply can't get any writing done.  And let's face it, December is a month where that's bound to happen.  A weekly goal may be more doable.  Or perhaps a goal for the month as a whole will work best.  Then again, I may not feel motivated enough if I have a whole month to get it done, and by the time Christmas rolls around, I'll be kicking myself for not being more demanding of myself.

Or perhaps I shouldn't worry about it at all.  Maybe I should do what I can with my writing and not be too hard on myself this month.  After all, there's already going to be plenty of holiday stress as it is.

What do you think?  What are your writing  goals for this month?  How are they impacted by this busy time of year?  Do I sound crazy in my insecure ramblings?