Thursday, April 28, 2011

2011 NY International Auto Show

So I went to the Auto Show on Saturday with the intention of learning more about cars. I can, most of the time, tell the make and model of cars by looking at it but that's about it. I didn't expect to become an expert just by walking through the Auto Show but I had intended on learning something new. 

You know what they say about the best laid plans.

I was really good at first. Not just reading but examining the information about the cars and comparing it to others. Collecting brochures from each booth intending to read them later and then, I met the Dodges and the beautiful black Charger from the Fast Five and all that went out the window.  Actually, it wasn't the black Charger that made me loose my focus though it played a part. It was the green Dodge Challenger. That was all she wrote. I stopped caring about learning and started climbing into the cars to explore the features. It was fun because SUVs and vans now have like, secret hideaways you have to find. In my defense, I went home and studied the brochures which I'd never done before.

When I was reading the features at the auto show, I was so (I want to say stunned but I wasn't that stunned) let's say, geekin' out because these cars are like computerized mobile homes. It's awesome. I don't know why I would need a USB jack but how cool would it be to have one. The Chrysler Town and Country has an auxiliary jack by the back seat and an outlet. The doors only need the slightest push and they open and close pretty much on their own. You close the trunk with a button. You get behind the wheel of one of these cars and just enjoy because they do everything but drive themselves.

The Lotus, Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce, Porsche, Aston Martin and Spyker were spectacular.  They're all in a league of their own with prices that'll make your eyes water. That Chrysler 300 SRT8 and the 300C Executive put Chrysler up there but they couldn't compete with the Dodge Charger, the Challenger and the Audio R8 GT, Spyder and TT RS but I have to say I loved the Concepts- Saab Phoenix, the Scion FR-S, and Lexus LF Gh. Although, that Nissan GTR was a hottie.

I had a great time exploring the features of the Town and Country and the Chrysler 200. Ford pulled out those Mustangs! That Boss 302 was a thing of beauty but so was that Honda CR-Z. On a massive screen behind the Chrysler 300 was that great commercial with Eminem that I hadn't seen since the Super Bowl- awesome.  As you can see, I can't really decided who was the best - this was how I was at the show- just all over the place. I'm going on looks because, like I said, after awhile I got so distracted by the hotties, I paid little attention to anything else.

I knew about some of the features beforehand but I never had the chance to use them. It's a good thing I'm not buying a car anytime soon. And either I'm getting shorter, which is unlikely, or the tires are getting bigger or maybe it's I've never stood beside a car with 17-20-inch alloy wheels.  I was looking at some of the sedans stunned at how massive their wheels are.

Everywhere I turned were these gorgeous, shinny cars and I just wanted to stand beside them, soak in the awesomeness and take hundred of pictures, which, in some cases, was difficult. It's NY, so tons of people were there which meant it was almost impossible to get a good picture of a hot car without someone standing in the shot. After awhile, I had to stop being nice and start, nearly, running over people. When one person moved, four more people took their place. 

The Auto Show was exhausting but I got a nice surprise at the end, which is in the video but you have to watch to the end to find out what the surprise was. I took so many picture it's ridiculous. Don't worry they're not all in the video.  I did learn new things just not the way I intended.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Best Laid Plans

So I intended this post to be about the NY International Auto Show but life and some minor technical difficulties means I'm going to have to hold that off until the next post on Thursday. I'm creating a video of all my pictures and it's taking longer than it did last time. At one point, my computer said my SD card was blank. I went into a mini panic because all my photos from the auto show were on there. I restarted my computer and everything's fine now.  Then, either programs wouldn't open or they opened and stopped responding. I couldn't figure out why it was happening but I fixed that too.

It's annoying how pretty much nothing goes according to plan. You have something set up in your mind of how it's going to go and it never turns out that way- sometimes it's better, sometimes it's worse. What's the point in making plans? Okay, I know the point. You can't just wander aimlessly because you won't go anywhere and some things do go according to plan.

Sometimes it's fun to see how entertaining life can get when plans go awry but other times, it's frustrating because it means you end up staying awake most of the night because for some reason, your computer decided to no longer connect with your wireless router. You know there are wireless connections in the area but the computer's not finding any of them and you spend hours trying to figure out if it's the computer or the router. I fixed it but I still don't know what happened. As you've noticed, I've been having a lot of fun with my laptop. Love it to death but my goodness!

I don't make plans often but when I do, it would be nice, for once, if everything went smoothly. Oh well. C'est la vie.  

Thursday, April 21, 2011

One at a Time

Set priorities for your goals. A major part of successful living lies in the ability to put first things first. Indeed, the reason most major goals are not achieved is that we spend our time doing second things first.

I've been fortunate, or sometimes unfortunate, to have never had a problem with writers block. I say unfortunate because there are always several stories in my head battling for my attention. I'd be working on one novel and another would pop into my head so I'd start working on that one too. At one point, I had maybe 5 good starts to a novel but wasn't finishing any of them.  So I decided to work on one novel at a time and so far, that has worked for me. 

It's a pity I can't apply that to life.  I open my gmail intending to clean it up but I find, in an email, an article I like and want to Tweet but once on Twitter, I start reading tweets which sometimes lead to me other websites. Then, since I'm on one of my social networks, I decide to check the others and by that time I have four of five windows open and completely forgotten what I'd at first intended to do. I'm pretty much dabbing into one thing before moving on to another which means, I'm not getting anything done.

Even now, I had set in my mind I would focus on one task but I ended up checking my email which got me checking Writers Digest Community which lead me to writing this blog. The thing is, I'm great at multitasking but maybe for this type of work, multitasking is not the way to go. I need to set in my mind that I will not do anything else until I've finished this project. Easier said then done.

I know it's all about organization and time management but I've tried it before several times. I'm great at organizing other people's things. When I'm at work, I can finish all that needs to be done in the allotted time. I can finish a novel or a short story- focusing on one before I move to the next but I'm having a mental road block when it comes to organizing everything else. I just need to keep repeating in my mind-one at a time. I need to say "do not move on until you've reached a good stopping point." 
The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. Stephen R. Covey

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Yes! World Building Again

I just realized I could use the same world in all my stories because my stories basically deal with same theme. I started mapping out the evolution of the creatures and ended up creating a really detailed history of most of my characters. I hadn't set out to do it but it just happened. Each evolutionary stage became its own story. What's really great is by doing this, I'm answering some questions I'd been struggling with. 

For example, in one of my novels, very powerful creatures get their children taken from them by extremely intelligent weaker creatures. The stronger creatures were prevented from getting their children back because the weaker ones had drained them of their power so thoroughly it took them years to regain even a fraction of their strength. The problem was I hadn't figured out how the weaker creatures were able to do this.  Now I know. 

I actually ran out two pens writing it. I have one left and when that runs out I'm going to have to buy more because, like I said in a previous post, if the pen doesn't speak to me, it's difficult for me to write. I can write effectively with a pen I don't like but I write better with a pen I love.

Creating the world is also helping me learn more about my characters. Not just how their powers work but what makes them tick- why they are the way they are. It gets me into their mind. You writers know, when you create a character they don't stay on the page. If you wrote them well, they become living breathing people. They start to develop on their own. After awhile, the writer isn't creating, we become a medium through which the character tells the world about their experiences. 

If you haven't noticed, I'm going off on little tangents. Bear with me, I'm just so excited about all the things I'm learning just by delving into their world and things are tying in together so nicely. Going off an a tangent was how this started, like I said, when I started this step in world building, I didn't intend to go the route it did but when a story takes you somewhere, as a writer, you follow and worry about editing later. I've learned that with stories that want to be told. They will pester and pester you until you commit to them and release only when their place in your heart and mind are sealed.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Last Watch

Just finished reading Last Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko. I found this series by accident. I didn't usually look at the fantasy section but stuck to horror. I picked up the book because I liked the cover and the blurb on the back intrigued me. It sounded more like something I would write.  Actually, this series may be what got me visiting the fantasy section.  

The series is set in Russia and is centered around two Watches- Day Watch run by Dark Others and the Night Watch run by Light Others.  Others are beings who use Power they draw from another world called Twilight. I guess you could call them supernatural police except they police each other and leave humans to their own devices. When a human becomes a Other, they are drawn to either the Dark or the Light so the series, at its basis, is about the battle between good and evil.

Last Watch is the last book in the series and I'm blown away by the amount of detail Lukyanenko put into it. It felt like this man knew everything- the ins and out of different countries, technology and people. I can't imagine the amount of research he had to do to write this story. Sometimes, though, it was easy to get lost in the details and possibly miss something important. Using popular songs to drive in a concept is an interesting device but for me, the song lyrics just took away from the story so I usually skipped them. I was pleased, though, this device wasn't used as often in this story.

The story follows the same structure as the first three- being split into three sections but this time, the sections flow like one story and is told entirely from Anton's point-of-view. In the previous novels, the three sections were told from different perspective following different stories that were all brought together at the end. The common point-of-view in all the novels is Anton Gorodetsky. 

The narrative-voice was brilliant. Anton is probably one of my favorite characters in a series. You can't help but like and respect him. Not many characters dislike Anton and because of the way Lukyanenko writes him, it doesn't seem far-fetched. I like that Anton is now a Higher Light One and it was impressive how he seemed to fall so smoothly in that role. The story said, at the beginning, that he was struggling with his new power, which is understandable, but I saw no evidence of him struggling with it throughout the story.

It's such a pity this is the last book but I guess, at this point, Anton has done all the growing he needs to do. If there is another story it would probably be in another perspective, say his daughter, which might be interesting. I may have to go back and reread the series to fully understand this one though. I had to reread the last chapter and even now, the ending still isn't clear but that doesn't take away from the story. I like an ending that leaves you hanging just a little and makes you think.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Harry Potter: The Exhibition

Harry Potter: The Exhibition was awesome. I'm not normally a fan of walking through exhibits but I enjoyed myself. It wasn't packed either. I bought my ticket online but the line at Discovery Times Square wasn't even long and I got to amble through the exhibit without anyone getting in my way.  The build up to the exhibit was amazing, some people even got sorted. The Exhibition was well thought out. Harry Potter fans would be very satisfied. I was.

I'm not one to get star struck but seeing clothing that the characters wore in the movies, not replicas, the actual clothing was awe-inspiring. More then that was the fact that one of my favorite stories was no longer out of reach exiting only on the pages of a book or on a movie screen. It was within my grasp. We couldn't touch the exhibits but I was in reaching distance of the Triwizard Cup and the pieces of parchment with the constants' names on them. I saw the wands each character used, the parchment with the names of Dumbledore's Army and the book The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore. My brother called me a nerd and I would agree. I'm totally geekin' out right now. It was a pity I couldn't take pictures. They don't allow photography. 

They also had the massive jack-in-the box clown from the third movie and while passing that extremely creep thing, I was thinking how hilarious it would be if it leapt out at people. I would've died. They had the tea cup with the Grim inside too! It looked just like it did in the movie.  Though they had the Nimbus 2000 and 2001, I don't recall seeing the Firebolt maybe I missed it, pity. People... I saw the Hogwarts letter and the envelop addressed to the The Cupboard under the Stairs!

I got some great souvenirs. I walked into the gift shop looked around and knew I was in trouble. I had read a comment before hand about someone who spent about $40 dollars on a Gryffindor scarf so I was expecting to spend some money but I spent more than I intended to. I'm going to have to cut back even more but they were so worth it. You could buy wands- like collectable- looking just like the wands from the movie. I was debating on getting Sirius' wand. Everybody wanted Harry's and Dumbledore's and no matter how good Snape was I don't want his wand. Sirius' wand was gorgeous but I decided not to get one. At $44, I would only be able to get that so I decided to wait. Despite the last Harry Potter movie being released in July, the franchise won't be dying anytime soon. This won't be the last time I get the opportunity to purchase a wand. I am very happy with what I got.

If you are a Harry Potter fan and in the New York area, you need to see this. It's so worth it and once The Exhibition leaves NY you'll have to travel to another country to see it. Now excuse me, I'm going to watch HBP.

Friday, April 8, 2011

World Building

I follow Rebecca Russell's blog, The Elliott Review. Her post about World Building got me thinking about my own stories. I love horror but I I also love fantasy because it gives me more room to stretch my imagination so I tend to blend the two. I create my own world then have the horror happen in that world.

Up until I read that post, I figured out my world and the characters' race as I wrote the story but her post got me thinking about all the aspects I hadn't fully fleshed out. As an author, you should know everything about the world and the characters even if some information doesn't appear in the book. I knew this but I guess I was being lazy. I'm inspired now. 

I went to Barnes and Nobles and bought a spiral notebook to be used only for fleshing my world- the type of terrain, how the characters power works, their culture, history, the structure of their society and so on.  I have to say, I am really enjoying this and kicking myself for not doing it sooner. I love working my mind and my imagination and  love doing research. World building lets me do both extensively. I want to write a book that's chilling and filled with supernatural elements. Jotting down the specifics of the world is helping me do that. 

I realized the town I created in one of my novels wasn't very realistic for its location so I need to fix that. This is also helping me get organized. In the past, I had notes for different stories spread throughout several journals. For a scene from a story or specifics on one character, I'd have to consult two or three journals.  With this, all my notes on the world will be in one place! It's a spiral notebook which is important to me. You find inspiration for the worlds you create everywhere. A notebook I can fold back makes for easier on-the-go note taking.  It took me awhile to choose the right journal. It has to speak to me. If it doesn't, then I don't feel inspired when I write in it. It's the same thing with my pens. It is better for me to use laptops, pens and journals that I have an emotional connection with. I get better results that way. 

I'm really looking forward to this new take on world building and how it will affect my stories. I'm now working through the history of my characters' race and how their powers works as well as strengths and limits.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Enjoy- Embrace Me

She had eyes only for the moon as she traveled the city.  Shade settled in the middle of the dark, narrow street and leaned against the brick wall with her eyes closed reveling in the darkness around but nearly dead to her.

 For year Shade had been rejecting the darkness to maintain a form she hated. She felt its hurt feeling at first but was cold to it. She felt the hurt turn to anger and now disdain. But beneath all that love still existed.  
The spring wind blew Old Spice into her nose.  Sharp and determined heels followed soon after.  She opened her eyes to the moon then directed them to the streets on either side.  No one passed for more than ten minutes. No one paid her any attention.

It was safe.  

Shade concentrated on trying to find a speck of darkness in her mind or in the humans around her.  Her head pounded when she found nothing. Ample darkness existed in both places, she just needed to feel it.  Shade cracked her neck to appease the irritation.  She just did this not four hours ago.  This human form was useless.  

She moved into the moon's immense arms.  It took pity on her lost soul. Its touch brought on the darkness. Her head stopped pounding.  

Humans- their rules, their food, their lives were knives sawing into her neck. A tingle started at her head and stimulated the rest of her body.  She moved back into the shadows.  Darkness embraced her insides with delicious arms. The moan refused to submit to her will.  She suppressed a shiver as the darkness's benign fingers coaxed her organs, muscles and bones into transforming.  Its gentle fingers weaved its body into her skin. Shade almost cried out. For five years, she had to keep the darkness within down to a pitiful level to look human. If felt like she'd been slowly chewing off her own arm. Now the pain was gone.

Her legs weakened as her sceadu mated with the human within. The darkness forced her hair out of its solid form into the thousands of long wild black shadow strings.  She knew the gray of her eyes became wispy black clouds.

Urine mauled her now sensitive nose.  Shade smelled everything in the green garbage container nearby.  She was blinded by rotten milk, molded boxes and the dozens of humans the items once belonged to. Thousands of sounds assaulted her ears at once.   
The night’s rays tried to slide beneath the skin but noise and humans chocked her concentration.  It could only hover.  Shade regained enough control to block out horns, the sound the tires made riding over the pavement and humans with their mundane conversations.  She inhaled lights death and closed her eyes to hone her overactive senses.  

Now came the hardest part. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Harry Potter: The Exhibition

For Harry Potter fans, like me, who live in or will be in New York- Harry Potter: The Exhibition opens April 5 at Discovery Times Square. You'll be able to see costumes and props from the movies. I've already got my ticket. So excited! It cost me $30 but it's so worth it. Check out the video below about the exhibition when it was in Chicago. 

Pity it's in Times Square. Hopefully it won't be like the Auto Show- lots of nice things to see but can't enjoy them because everyone camps out at one exhibit- so many people there you can't even get a descent view. How horrible it would be to pay $30 for a ticket and be unable to really enjoy the exhibition. I don't have any children. I love them to death but I do not want to be tripping over them while I'm having my Harry Potter Moments.

Speaking of which, I had so many Harry Potter Moments while I was in Europe, it was amazing. The first- when I was traveling to Scotland. We left from Kings Cross. I held my composure and not scream into the station "That's the bridge from the movies!" even though I was thinking it. I visited platform 9 3/4 which was turned into a tourist trap. They have the sign saying platform 9 3/4 and under it is a trolley that looks like its going through the wall. It was entertaining but I would've preferred walking between platform 9 and 10 and tapping on the walls. When I went there three years ago we couldn't get to platform 9 and 10.

Can you imagine how many people, in the past, were tapping on walls or how many times the conductor heard "Where can I find platform nine and three-quarters?" Don't get all high and mighty Harry Potter fans. You know you would've done it. I would've done it and it would've been hil-ar-ious.  

Second was when I was in Paris for the weekend. We were walking from our hotel to the Eiffel Tower and I saw this:

It's even spelled the same. I had to get a picture.

Then, when were were traveling by train from Rome to Florance we were in those compartment like the ones on Hogwarts Express. Again, I held my calm and decided not to snap fifty pictures. I got to close the compartment door. How cool is that! It's the little things that can make you happy. 

While touring Oxford in England, I visited Christ Church and saw the stairs from the first movie, you know when the first years were just entering the castle, before they got sorted, and McGonagall was tapping her fingers at the top of the steps waiting for them.

I went off on a little tangent. Thanks for bearing with me. I'll definitely tell you about my experience at Harry Potter: The Exhibition.
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