My Weekend: Pt. 2

To read part one, see here.

So, I’d gotten my books signed from Darynda and my friend’s girlfriend asked me to get a signed book for her from J.R. Ward. Okay, I said. I can do that, no problem. I’m leaving my Darynda line when J.R. Ward and company show up and it’s a big squealing girl fest because J.R. Ward, Darynda and Karen Marie Moning are apparently really good friends. So I look over at the line and we start to try to find the end of it. It went out the area they were in, around the corner, and down a long hallway….

The things you do for friends right?

My husband, the awesome man that he is, grabs a chair out of conference room for me to sit in and then he takes all the signed books out to the car. This line is legit, intimidating. I kid you not, there were fans with suitcases of books! Like, I’m going on a trip, please check my bag type of suitcases for this woman!

We settled in for a long wait. Every time we moved a little bit, my husband would drag the chair with us. This lady behind us thought he was on to something and went and grabbed her own chair. At one point her friend asked her, “are you going to drag the chair the whole way?” And she was like, “I’m not giving up my chair til he does”, pointing at my husband.

About halfway through waiting was when I met Melanie Jayne. Besides picking her brain about being an author, I informed her about how I was standing in this ridiculous line for a friend.. Turns out, she was doing the same thing! I told her how I wasn’t a huge J.R. Ward fan and she she explained to me about the direction of the books and the spin off series. It sounded like Grey’s Anatomy to me (because I can’t not make Grey’s connections in my regular life) where you have the residents with interns and then the interns become residents and get new interns and next thing you know you’re in season 14.

Because I’m a pretty forward person, I decided to ask her if she knew why J.R. Ward had bodyguards. She looks left and right and steps a little closer to whisper the scoop to us. She said word on the street was, in years past, two fans tried to kill her. I do not make this stuff up. Why would people want to kill an author?? I mean the characters aren’t even real. Don’t get me wrong, I get attached to my characters but not to that extent. I guess the content of her stories are so dark and sometimes devastating that it upsets people or their favorites got killed off? I really don’t know. Can you imagine someone wanting to kill you because of your creative mind?

I tried to Google it to no avail. The only thing that kept popping up was #peegate because apparently at RT (Romantic Times convention), when J.R. went to go pee she went in alone and had her bodyguards prevent any other ladies from entering to pee themselves. It was big deal cause it’s a hotel and the restrooms are for everyone. But when you’re a big deal it’s only natural to create a bigger deal right?

Anyway, the book signings were only until 5 pm but J.R. Ward said she would stay until the last person. Volunteers ended up going around with sticky notes so they could write the name you wanted signed and streamlined the process. When we finally got up there, it was quite funny when J.R. Ward looked at us and goes, “Didn’t we see you in Rally’s?” I was like yep. Her bodyguard thought it was quite hilarious.

After that we drove all the way back home, dropped the rental car off, had some late night Wendy’s and went to bed. Woke up early the next morning and decided to see Wonder Woman. I think Robin Wright makes the best Amazon ever! I’m so used to seeing her in her serious role on House of Cards but she needs to act in fantasy much more often. Also, I don’t know if I was extra emotional that morning or what but by the end of the movie, I was literally trying to conceal my sobs. I’m such an easy crier. I’m thinking of creating a tag called “romances that rip your soul to pieces” and we can all list movies, TV shows and books that yank the heart strings.

Have you ever encountered a strange experience trying to do something for a friend? Have you seen Wonder Woman yet? What do you think of my tag idea? Let me know in the comments!

Resurrection Fern

Is it just me or are there two word prompts? Since I don’t know how to use paragon in a thoughtful, maybe funny post, I’m going to go with total.

WANT TO SEE SOMETHING THAT’S TOTAL SORCERY?!?!

Well I’m glad you follow this blog because I’m about to introduce you to one of the craziest, coolest things I’ve ever seen.

One day a friend of mine took me to this store in Akron called Land of Plenty. I don’t know why it has this name but it is definitely the land of random things. There are gemstones and coins and clothing and even furniture in this store. They also have a lot of plants.

So I know what succulents are but I had never heard of an air plant before. One of the workers there told me that air plants are literally what they sound like. They’re desert loving plants that survive on air though you do have to mist them every once in a while. There’s also another plant she explained to me about, and I ended up buying one, but I’ll go into that in another post.

I’m looking at all these air plant terrariums when I come across these tumbleweed looking things just sitting in a bowl. They were labelled as “resurrection ferns”. I’m sitting here like yeah.. it looks like it needs some kind of rejuvenation cause it’s looking pretty dead. The lady comes up to me, because she probably saw my look of confusion, and goes, “they’re alive”.

I’m scratching my head on this one people. I thought maybe she was a little bit high off all the incense that was burning in the place because I know what a dead plant looks like. She proceeds to tell me that it doesn’t come alive until you put it in water.

Excuse me, what?!? How is something that’s clearly dead, come back alive off water alone?! She assured me that if I bought this, put in in water, it would turn green.

For $4 dollars I had to see if she as telling the truth. So I bought one determined to prove that this can’t possibly be true. I don’t have a green thumb at all so I know what a dead plant looks like.

Man, I wasn’t ready!!!

The following are pictures of the different stages of a resurrection fern in about a 1-7 hour period:

She was telling the absolute truth!! MAGIC IS REAL!! This plant has no roots! It defies regular logic! At least my regular logic and YET! The proof is in the pudding and I don’t even like pudding that much.

Once the water evaporates, it curls back into itself and that’s it! Every time one of my best friends comes over, he puts it in water to see if it’ll open back up and so far it hasn’t failed.

Have any of you ever seen real life sorcery?? Let me know in the comments below!

Black Footed Ferret

These faces! How can something so cute be endangered?? And yet, sadly, they are.

Meet the black-footed ferret; one of the most endangered animals in North America. They are also native to the Great Plains region of the continent when most ferret species are not. For once, it’s not entirely human fault that these little guys mortality rate is so high. You see, black footed ferrets main source of prey are prairie dogs. Not only that, black footed ferrets take over the prairie dog burrows after eating them. They aren’t nicknamed the masked bandits for nothing! No prairie dogs, no black footed ferrets.

Humans have been wiping out grassland habitats to farm but besides habitat loss, the main killer is apex predators and disease. Owls, coyotes, and eagles love to eat prairie dogs. Again, no prairie dogs, no black footed ferrets. The prairie dogs and ferrets are also susceptible to disease. Sylvatic plague is the main culprit. This disease is transmitted by fleas and can wipe out an entire prairie dog colony which in turns wipes out the black footed ferrets when they eat them.

Currently there are about 370 individuals in the wild. There are numerous efforts to save these little guys. The people over at WWF have been trying to get vaccines out to prairie dogs by dropping peanut butter treats into their burrows via drones. They also vaccinate any black footed ferret in captivity before releasing them back into the wild. Other organizations making serious conservation efforts include: the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Defenders of Wildlife, zoos and even Native American tribes; helping to replenish their habitat and population.

As always, if you’re interested in contributing to saving this species, you can adopt a black footed ferret here.

Romance Fails in Fiction Tag

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The Rules:

  • Please PINGBACK to her at Kate @ Melting Pots and Other Calamities. Or just Kate. And PINGBACK TO A SPECIFIC POST.  She won’t see the post otherwise, and she’d like to see it.
  • At the very top of this post is the post I did the pingback for – other can copy that to make it easier if you’d like!
  • You can choose ten romance fails from ANY media you like: books, movies, anime, manga, T.V shows, or Webtoons. You can even mix them up if you want.
  • You can choose funny fails or serious ones; for the serious ones, phrase it humorously. Remember, this is a fun tag! It’s not meant to be serious.
  • Mention who’s who in the fails. (I.E, who fails and who is the recipient of the failure). If there isn’t  recipient, per se, just state the couple (or non-couple).
  • Optional: Rank the failures from least extreme to most extreme.
  • 5 failures at LEAST.
  • Tag as many people as you want, but at least one person.

Thank you James for tagging me in this LOVEly (ha) tag. I’m going to go based off James’ interpretation of the tag and do book, movie, anime, TV show romance fails.

10. Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley from the Harry Potter series

Don’t kill me Potterheads! I’m sorry but that romance just did not work for me. It came out of nowhere and it was just awkward the whole way through. I love Harry but these two just didn’t fit.

9. Inuyasha and Kagome (anime)

Okay, so you have Kagome who accidentally falls into this well and gets transported back to like feudal Japan. She meets Inuyasha who’s half demon dog boy and they end up encountering this monster that pulls this magical jewel from her and shatters it into a million pieces. The whole premise of the show is them going around fighting creatures who have been enhanced by the jewel shards and getting them back together into one jewel. Kagome likes Inuyasha and Inuyasha was in love with his dead gf chick Kiyoko who Kagome takes after thusly, he sort of falls for Kagome but not really cause she always plays hard to get except when Kiyoko spirit comes around then all of sudden she’s jealous. By the end, they kiss maybe once in 170 episodes and then it just kind of ends unresolved.

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Have I mentioned I hate love triangles? Well, I still have three more where that came from.

8. Kelsey, Ren and Kishan from the Tiger’s Curse series by Colleen Houck

You can look this book up if you want to. I don’t want to explain it. The only reason I read it was because an ex-friend begged me too and let me just say, this love triangle never, ever makes sense. Essentially Kelsey ends up being in love with both men but seemed to sometimes change her mind depending on the moment? But both need to involved in order to break this ancient curse. I always rooted for her and Ren cause she met him first, but that’s just me.

7. Elena, Stephan, and Damon from the Vampire Diaries

AAAAAAAH! Okay I was completely in love with Elena and Stephan at first but Damon was just 1000x more swoony so I always secretly voted for him. I felt he brought out her true nature more. When they finally got together I felt bad for Stephan and thought about changing my mind but Damon is just so hot! Ultimately she failed with both guys because I don’t know how a girl can fail with TWO hot guys but Elena pulled it off dramatically. (disclaimer, I haven’t finished the whole series yet so don’t spoil it for me cause I know she comes back in the last one!)

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6. Tamlin and Feyre from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Man this romance failed hard. It was laid out like a dream but ultimately Tamlin turned out to be a big ole passive coward and Feyre fell for someone else.

5. Romeo X Juliet (anime)

This is such a beautiful anime. It’s sort of like the regular story but different. They still die at the end which is a fail but.. well.. I won’t spoil it for you. Just watch it someday.

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4. Jane True and Ryu from the Jane True series by Nicole Peeler

Another couple that seemed like the perfect match. Jane is a part selkie and Ryu is a vampire. You can imagine, it’s a pretty odd relationship. It seemed to work for a while but it ultimately failed because shifters should just be shifters just saying!

3. Olivia Pope and Jake from Scandal

It will always be about Olivia and Fitz. ALWAYS! I admit, I had my Jolivia moments because Jake is so hot but the relationship failed. Jake will never get his island in the sun 😦

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2. and 1. Cristina/Burke and Cristina/Owen from Grey’s Anatomy

THE MOST EPIC ROMANCES AND THEY BOTH FAILED!!! Burke was so freaking perfect for Cristina. ABSOLUTELY PERFECT! But no, the actor had to go and run his mouth in real life so Shonda wrote him in to get booted off. GUYS! HE LEFT HER AT THE ALTAR! It doesn’t get more fail than that!!! Then later on Owen was such a great, if sometimes crazy (he had PTSD moments) fit for her but she just decided to be this fluttery free butterfly. DAMMIT Cristina!!

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I’m only going to tag one person this time because I know she’s a romance junky as much, if not more than me: cwhiteweb

If anyone else would like to participate, feel free to do so! I would love to watch and read more romance fails!

 

Cellphone Cameras

Sometimes your cellphone camera can surprise you. It’s amazing how far technology has come along and it’s only getting better and better! Both pictures were taken with the Google Nexus 6P. For the second one, I tried to take the picture without grabbing the flower but the wind was blowing too erratically and I love sunflowers too much not to take a picture!

Focus

Anything But Books Tag

I was tagged in this tag by Patty at MoohnshinesCorner. She has an awesome blog full of book reviews and her life’s experiences. I’ve gotten to know her very well through our love of Darynda Jones. She’s a pretty awesome individual and you should definitely check out and follow her blog.

Note: The image used for the Feature Image is not my creation! It belongs to another blogger; The Girl Who Read Too Much book blog.

One: Name a cartoon that you love 

I would have to take it back in time to the Magic School Bus if we’re talking American cartoons but Cowboy Bebop if we’re talking Japanese cartoons. I always loved Magic School Bus. Ms. Frizzle was the best TV science teacher I’ve ever had! Cowboy Bebop is a jazzy, fun-featuring-a corgi anime! Also, Howl’s Moving Castle is a FANTASTIC anime movie. Watch it. You won’t regret it.

Two: What is your favorite song right now? 

What’s trending on my radar is Sia’s newest release. Has a great message and it’s Sia. I love her.

Three: What could you do for hours that isn’t reading?

Sleep. And if I’m not sleeping, I’m binge watching Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime, etc

Four: What is something that you love to do that your followers would be surprised by?

I love buying socks and receiving them as gifts. I couldn’t tell you how many pairs of socks I have and I like wearing them mix matched.

Five: What is your favorite unnecessarily specific thing to learn about?

I like learning about dog and cat breeds. I worked a lot of animal related jobs and it was and still is fun to learn about new breeds especially with so many mixed breeds out there.

Six: What is something unusual that you know how to do?

I know how to bend the tips of my pointer fingers. Not sure how the skill came about but there you have it, haha.

Seven: Name something you made in the last year and show us if you can.

I made pho for the first time by myself yesterday. My best friend showed me how to make it when she was here and I’m very proud. Pho is a thai noodle soup that has a nice, long process. Took 2 and a half hours for the completed product. And yes, they require tupperware bowls cause I don’t have regular bowls big enough for the portion sizes we eat. 😀

Eight: What is your most recent personal project?

I don’t really have one. I want to tackle refinishing my cabinets one day but I need an extended weekend and more motivation to stop reading a book for more than an hour to make that happen.

Nine: Tell us something that you think about often?

Food. I love eating, like all the time. Every time I leave work, I call my husband and ask him what’s for dinner. It might be breakfast for dinner tonight because I really want to attempt making Millionaire’s bacon.

Ten: Give us something that is your favorite.

This is such a vague question. I have a lot of favorites. My favorite color is purple. My favorite dog breed is pit bull. My favorite food is usually of the noodle variety with the addition of sushi and Chinese/Thai food in general. My favorite month is May because my birthday is during that month and april showers bring may flowers. I can go on forever.

Eleven: Say the first thing that pops into your head.

My work day is almost over. What’s for dinner? hahaha

 

Tag! You’re it! Thanks for reading. Feel free to participate in this tag if you’d like.

So you want to be an author

Good morning! Well at least here on the east coast of the US.

In my previous post, I discussed part of my weekend at RAGT (Reader Author Get Together). I will get to part two of my weekend but I wanted to talk about the things I learned from an author I spontaneously met who let me pick her brain for two hours while we were waiting in line to see J.R. Ward. It started out as normal conversation because I had no idea she was an established author. When she told me, I was like woah! and thinking of all you lovely writers out there, I proceeded to ask her a million and one questions about how she got to where she is now. I want to share her journey with you all in the hopes that if you ever decide to write a book or already have a book and want to know what she considered was the best approach to putting yourself out there.


Step One: Write. 

She, like many, didn’t think she could write a book at first. Her friends encouraged her a lot because they thought she had some stellar ideas. One day she decided to sit down and start writing. The key is to keep writing no matter what. Some days you may not feel like writing but push through and do it anyway.

Step Two: Beta readers and assistants.

Once you have a written product, you want to get some feedback. You want to start to build a relationship with people who will be your first book point of contact. Those people will read your stories, judge them, point out any errors they find, critique your ideas and just be the brutally honest people that you are going to need. They also help you to find the events that you need to put yourself on the map. They are usually are your closest friends (who will work for free because they love you and want you to succeed).The more help you have, the more time you can spend on writing.

Step Three: Networking, networking and more networking.

Book conventions, expos, cons, workshops; the list goes on. She went to a few expos and ingratiated herself with authors that are already established. She constantly shared her story ideas while learning the book trends. Romance is HOT right now. Urban Fantasy is super HOT right now. Author Lora Leigh saw something in her and took her under her wing which, alone, changed the course of her career. She gave her tips, told her tricks and introduced her to other authors and editors.

Step Four: Find a proofreader and an editor.

Finding an editor is the first thing you need to do before you find an agent or a publisher. Why? Because your work needs to be spotless. She said enough grammatical errors in your work won’t even get a decent look. And then it goes back to networking. These editors know what they’re doing. It’s highly likely they have ties to agents and publishers and can open the door for you.

Step Five: Independent publishing vs. Traditional publishing

Once you’ve built your literary team, it’s time to decide how you want to proceed. There is nothing wrong with independent publishing. In fact, a lot of authors are migrating towards it because they can set their own rules. Traditional publishing is great but it can take time to be offered a contract. In the meantime, you could be indie publishing. Amazon is the number one hot spot to make that happen. You can start to gain royalties for the product you already have which allows you more time to focus on improving your writing skills or another book while playing the waiting game with traditional publishers. This author put it this way, “If a publisher knocked on my door and offered me a $200,000 contract, I wouldn’t say no but until then I’m living my dream job.”

Step Six: Do not stress over your first bad review. It won’t be your last.

In this age of the internet, it’s hard to tell who’s a true reviewer and who’s a troll. You can read them and stress yourself out or you can be like this author who leaves it to her beta readers and assistant to read them for her and give her quality feedback.


I’m not an expert and I’m sure everyone has their own ways of doing things. However whatever route you decide to take, I hope I’ve shared some useful information I received from this wonderful lady. It’s a long, slow process but in the end it can offer great rewards and if you have enough confidence in yourself and your work, you can, one day, live the dream.

Edit: Patty made me realized I never actually said the author’s name. Her name is Melanie Jayne. She writes contemporary romance with characters age 35 and up. Quite a niche area. She also plans to write urban fantasy under a pen name next. Check out her site here.

My Weekend: Part 1

Let me start by saying I missed you all! I had post ideas in my head but no time to post them. Since I can’t remember them now I’ll tell you about my weekend instead.

Friday night after work, I went to Books A Million to purchase bookish tote bags for the event Saturday. The event was called Reader Author Get Together. It was sponsored my author Lori Fostors and was featuring a ton of my favorite authors, mainly Darynda Jones.

Nobody comes to Ohio. I mean we get a couple famous musicians here and there but never authors. So I made it a point to go. I asked my husband to go with me because 2 of my friends who are also fans couldn’t go.

Cincinnati, technically Kentucky, is 4 hours away. I prepaid for a rental car because I did not want 500 miles on my car. Saturday morning comes and I make breakfast for us and I’m bouncing around because I’m excited to hit the road. We get to Avis to pick up our car, which was supposed to be a subcompact, only to find out they didn’t have any. So the lady says, “hey! free upgrade!” And I’m like cool! Except it wasn’t cool. Subcompact is like a Ford sedan. My upgrade choices were a minivan or a giant Dodge pickup truck… Not happening. It would cost more to fill up those up with gas than the rental itself!

I admit, I was a little frustrated because I don’t see how I was able to make the reservation in the first place if they didn’t have any cars. So the woman offered to transfer my reservation to the Akron-Canton airport. I was agreeable to this since we were headed south anyway except she couldn’t. I had to call an 800number and get it transferred that way. You know what? No big deal; as long as I get my good mileage economy car, nothing was going to ruin my mood.

We get to the airport, get the car, and we’re on our way. It was an hour behind schedule but we still had plenty of time. Leaving at around 10ish, we arrived around 1:40ish, starving. The event is hosted in a hotel so we go across the street to Rally’s also known as Checkers in other parts of the nation.

We order our food and then we go to step away and this big man behinds us orders food. While we’re waiting, this woman comes in and asks the Rally’s worker if he had seen a big man with a gun.

Woah. WHAT?!? (More on that story in Part 2)

I look over and it turns out it’s author J.R. Ward, in the flesh, at Rally’s. I’m not much of a fan of hers. I read a couple of her Black Dagger Brotherhood books and they just did not have enough substance and too repetitive for me. So no, I didn’t fan-girl. I just thought it was cool. My first celebrity sighting!

The booksignings started at 3 so after eating we went in the hotel. It was packed!!! Authors and readers everywhere! Each author had their own table and volunteers were pointing you in the right direction. I got to meet Darynda Jones!!! She’s so cool. I had like 20 books for her to sign (my ten and then requests from friends who couldn’t go).

The funniest thing to happen was she opened one of my books and it was already signed to someone else! She looked up at me and goes, “this is already signed. Where did you get this?” I was like seriously?? Sometimes I buy the books after reading the ebooks and never look in them or I flip past the title page to get to chapter one. So I told her I bought it from half price books. She was like, “DMarcus sold my book!” And burst out laughing. I seriously love this woman. I told her to cross his name out and put mine! His loss is my gain! She just laughed some more and told me that now I have a cool story to tell!

After that she gave me a hug and my husband took a picture of us.

Part 2 coming soon!

My Feels

These types of videos always pluck at my tender emotions. I watched this video the other day and then made my friend watch the video and she made a great point. In comparison to what this girl has gone through and what she’s accomplished since, makes all my perceived problems pale in comparison. It also gives you this huge sense of strength. With enough determination and passion, anything can be achieved.

FEEL FREE TO CRY UGLY TEARS! I sure did! But it was worth it for my smile at the end.

Orangutan

Meet the Orangutan. It’s listed as critically endangered due to, you guessed it, humans.

There are two species of Orangutan; The Bornean and Sumatran. The literal translation of orangutan is “man of the forest” because these species are keystone forest dwellers. One hundred years ago the population of orangutans was 230,000 individuals. Now there are only about 107,000 Borneans left and a staggering 7,500 Sumatrans.This sounds like a lot in comparison to other endangered species but over 100,000 individuals decimated in the span of 100 years is a big deal.

The number one reason for their rapid decline is, you guessed it, humans. Like I said before, orangutans are forest dwellers. They are living seed dispersal machines! Researchers have recorded upwards of 500 plant species in the orangutan’s diet. As humans invaded the forests and cut down trees for timber and agriculture operations, they push the orangutans to find other habitats. It’s estimated that roughly 300 million trees have been cut down or lost in forest fires (natural and deliberate) due to human activity. Another reason orangutan populations are so threatened is because humans, specifically in Indonesia, have decided that orangutans make great pets and poach them from the wild to sell.

Orangutans have a very low reproduction rate. It takes a while for an orangutan to reach sexual maturity and when they do they only bear one infant every 3-5 years. This means the more humans destroy the territory or steal them from their homes, the longer it will take to repopulate the species assuming we don’t wait too long and push them into extinction before then.

As usual, if you’re interested in more information you can check out WWF for a full page on the dangers and what they’re doing to help. If you want to contribute directly, they have an adopt an orangutan program here.