A Day in the Life

Homeschooling and Medieval Living

Males Order Brides

Hello everyone!

I know it has been forever since I have posted and I do apologize. Life has just gotten in the way. I am working part time and I have taken up a new hobby – drama. Well, it isn’t new and it is much more than a hobby. It all started with my daughter…

My daughter will be 17 in June. This means a couple of things. Firstly, it is her last year in our homeschool curriculum. Secondly, it means that she must now look at what will come next in her life. These two things have kept the both of us very busy lately. I asked her what she wanted to do with her life. She said she likes to write and build/design things. But she is definitely old school. She would rather work with her hands than on the computer. Now this shocked me to death. This comes from a girl who spends hours on Skype/Minecraft/Mass Effect/Skyrim/etc. She plays with her friends online constantly. At one time, she wanted to work  for Bethesda. She still wants to do that. But, more than that, she wants to build sets for plays/movies/etc. We have been on a “Behind the Scenes Look at…” kick lately. We watched the one for Game of Thrones (even though we both hate the show) the other week. She said “I really want to do that.” OK. So, being the VERY supportive mother that I am, I began to look for local theatres where she could hone that talent and passion.

Through my searching, I found a local theatre that seemed perfect – Azle Arts Popcorn Players. They were holding auditions for their upcoming melodrama. They were in desperate need of technical and backstage crews. When I told Meaghan about it, she said she would do it if I auditioned for a part as well. I love drama and have wanted to be on the stage for as long as I can remember. But, some excuse always kept me from it. So, I said I would.

We showed up at the theatre early. I had arrived with knowledge about the play (“Males Order Brides…or Big Harry Deal’s Scandalous Scheme“) and the part I wished to play (Starr Billings). I auditioned and she volunteered. Turns out our passion was recognized. I got the lead villain and she is now THE tech crew. She will be running the lights and sound. Yay!

There is only one bad part to this – I have to provide my own costumes. The play takes place in 1870. The female villain is an actress/con artist who plays five other roles – a schoolmarm, saloon hostess, grieving aunt, society matron, and a prospector. Meaghan has been helping me with my costumes. Pinterest and Google have become our best friends. We now have a bustle and it looks great. I will be posting our project here soon. So, it looks like the both of us will be very busy. But it is a good kind of busy.

Leave a comment »

Mosh’s Take on Sir Terry Pratchett

The following is from a friend’s blog. This is that friend I mentioned in an earlier post. He introduced me to Terry Pratchett back in 1995. Thanks Mosh for all that you did for me.  You can visit his blog at http://www.moshblog.me.uk/

BINKY? PRATCHETT’S HOURGLASS IS EMPTY… BUGGER

Terry Pratchett enjoying a Guinness at honorar...

Terry Pratchett enjoying a Guinness at honorary degree ceremony at Trinity College Dublin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A man with a big scythe and mounted on an impossibly white steed arrived to pick up the soul of one Sir Terry Pratchett, aged 66 today. Pratchett, for those who’ve lived in a literary black hole for the last thirty years or so, was the genius behind the Discworld novels and all the history, back story and associated paraphernalia with the fantasy land he’d created.

I was introduced to Discworld by a handful of friends at school who latched on to them a little earlier than I did – Indy and Richard were the main guilty parties if I remember correctly. From reading The Colour of Magic I was hooked.

Annoyingly Terry Pratchett was a hugely prodigious author, chucking out a couple of books a year which made collecting his works quite pricey. On the other hand, they were almost without exception work paying for. Some of my favourite reads of all time flowed from his wonderfully creative mind, including Good Omens which he co-wrote with Neil Gaiman.

What made his work stand out, to me, was the way he wrote rather than what he wrote. The fantasy world he created was as good as any other which flowed from the pens and keyboards of many an author but his humorous style was second to none. With a bevy of pop culture references in his novels (annotated guides appeared on the internet many years ago which I downloaded, printed and promptly lost while at university), there was an extra layer to the stories which gave them an extra level of re-readability.

What I truly appreciated about him, though, was his eagerness to engage with his readers. Along with Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett took to the internet with aplomb in its earlier days as a publicly accessible network and regularly posted on alt.fan.pratchett, a newsgroup on the old usenet system. I remember him asking questions about the physics surrounding someone randomly teleporting from one place to another, and the input from respondents was used in (I think) The Last Continent.

He regularly did signing tours and would sign anything and everything he was given… with a different quote in each. I attended two signings in one day in Leeds many years ago, between which I think he signed about 15 books I had. Each one annotated “Best Wishes”, “More Best Wishes”, “Son of Best Wishes” and so on. He added drawings and stamps to his repertoire as the years went on.

And then he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

One of the most active and creative literary minds of our generation was being eaten away from within. A more cruel punishment for a person I cannot imagine. Yet, despite this, he ploughed on. He still had stories to tell and no damn debilitating mental condition was going to stop him.

Utilising copious notes and voice recognition software to allow him to keep track of the plots while writing as quickly as possible, and with the aid of friends and family, his output slowed but did not stop. Did he need to write more to pay the mortgage? No. He wrote because he was good at it, enjoyed it an – most importantly – other people got happiness from something he did. And also to piss off the Alzheimer’s, a condition he called an “embuggerance”.

And now that creative mind has ceased to function. News was released some months ago that his daughter Rhianna would take over the Discworld when her father passed, and on her capable (trust me, I’ve read some of her stuff) shoulders that responsibility now lies.

Thank you, PTerry (sic). Thank you for seventy-plus novels of laughs. Thank you for being one of many people who engendered in me a genuine love for the written word and how beautifully it can be crafted.

Enjoy that final ride on Binky. Such a brilliant moniker that we named our last dog after him. I just wish your hourglass had been that bit bigger.

A Just Giving page donating to the Research Institute for the Care of Older People (RICE) has been set up in his memory: https://www.justgiving.com/Terry-Pratchett/

Leave a comment »

RIP Sir Terry Pratchett 1948-2015

Sir Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett on an archive picture. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe/Eamonn McCabe

There are two authors who made a great difference in my life and now they are both gone: Douglas Adams and Sir Terry Pratchett. Both of them introduced me to England and a wonderful man who is still a great friend. That same friend took me to see Terry Pratchett in 1995. We went to a book signing at a small local bookstore in England. Mr. Pratchett not only signed my book but he also spoke with me at great length. He asked me how I was getting on in the new Discworld game. He also asked me what my favorite book was. Even after the book signing, he stayed around and chatted with everyone there at the store. I remember him signing everything he could. He signed books, computer CPUs, even people. That is one of the greatest memories I have of him. I really felt like he was an old friend. Every time I read one of his books, I can hear his voice speaking those words to me. I will truly miss him. I will spend today re-reading my favorites and sharing fond memories of him with my family. I will miss you greatly PTerry!

Here is the official announcement as posted on PJSM Prints:

“It is with immeasurable sadness that we announce that author Sir Terry Pratchett has died at the age of 66.”

Larry Finlay, MD at Transworld Publishers:

“I was deeply saddened to learn that Sir Terry Pratchett has died. The world has lost one of its brightest, sharpest minds. In over 70 books, Terry enriched the planet like few before him. As all who read him know, Discworld was his vehicle to satirize this world: he did so brilliantly, with great skill, enormous humour and constant invention. Terry faced his Alzheimer’s disease (an ’embuggerance’, as he called it) publicly and bravely. Over that last few years, it was his writing that sustained him. His legacy will endure for decades to come. My sympathies go out to Terry’s wife Lyn, their daughter Rhianna, to his close friend Rob Wilkins, and to all closest to him.

“Terry passed away in his home, with his cat sleeping on his bed surrounded by his family on 12 March 2015. Diagnosed with PCA1 in 2007, he battled the progressive disease with his trademark determination and creativity, and continued to write. He completed his last book, a new Discworld novel, in the summer of 2014, before succumbing to the final stages of the disease.

“We ask that the family are left undisturbed at this distressing time.”

To read this message on the web, go to http://www.pjsmprints.com.

There are times in life when people must know when not to let go. Balloons are designed to teach small children this.

– Sir Terry Pratchett

Leave a comment »

20 Books I Want to Read

  1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  4. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  5. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  6. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  7. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  8. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  9. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  10. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  11. The Stand by Stephen King
  12. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  13. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  14. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  15. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  16. The Timetraveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  17. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  18. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  19. The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
  20. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
2 Comments »

My Top 10 Books of All Time

Photo Credit: stevehuang7 via Compfight

Photo Credit: stevehuang7 via Compfight

I have just started reading a new book. It is called Building Fiction: How to Develop Plot and Structure by Jesse Lee Kercheval. So far, it is pretty good. It is full of great writing exercises. I was putting all of my answers to them in a notebook. Then I figured I could just put them here to share with all my fellow writers out there. So here they are. Exercise number one is: “[Make a list of] your favorite books. Explore why you remember each one. Was it a particular scene? A character? A memorable phrase or insight into life?”

1. Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

I really like this story because the main character, Harry Dresden, is dead. He died in the last book. He spends the entire book (in ghost form) trying to figure out who killed him. This is very unique and wonderfully written. The entire series really changed how I saw fantasy and magic. Jim Butcher gave me the inspiration to write my own fantasy novel.

2. The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah by Stephen King

His characters spend a portion of the book looking for their creator – a writer by the name of Stephen King. It adds just enough surrealism to make it interesting. King appears several times in this book. It is both comical and thought-provoking. This showed me that the fourth wall can be broken successfully.

3. On Writing by Stephen King

This is both a memoir and a how-to book. It gives great insight into the man himself. The first third of the book is about his life before the accident that nearly took it . The second third is full of wonderful advice and writing gems. He tells the best way to find an agent and how to sell your work. He even includes some great book recommendations. The last third of the book concerns the accident and his recovery. He explains how writing, along with his wife Tabitha, saved his life. This is by far the best writing book I have read.

4. Thud! by Terry Pratchett

The main plot of this novel concerns the ongoing strife between the trolls and dwarfs and the Battle of Koom Valley. There is a small subplot that I enjoyed even more. The main character is Sam Vimes, Commander of the City Watch of Ankh-Morpork. Sam makes it a point to be at home by six every night so that he can read Where’s My Cow to his 16-month-old son. His love for his son carries him through the entire book. He even uses quotes from Where’s My Cow as zingers to the bad guys. The final scene will stay with me forever. I don’t want to spoil this for anyone so I won’t go into detail. I will say that it was so popular that Terry Pratchett actually wrote and published Where’s My Cow afterwards.

5. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

This book was the inspiration for the movie Apocalypse Now. It details the differences between barbarians and civilized society. Which side is actually more “civilized” – the British who colonized Africa or the tribesmen who where dominated and mistreated? I love how Conrad shows the fall of Mr. Kurtz through Marlow’s eyes. Marlow actually reveres Mr. Kurtz even through scenes of severe violence and domination. It is an eerie book and a must-read.

6. The Stranger by Albert Camus

I love the opening paragraph from this novel. “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. I got a telegram from the home: ‘Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.’ That doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday.” During the climax of the book, the main character (Meursault) fights with and kills a man. Meursault is then put on trial. The trial does not concern the incident so much as Meursault’s apathy throughout life. He was judged for not crying at this mother’s funeral. How sad it is to have a life not lived – to merely exist.

7. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams was my introduction to science fiction. I was most fortunate to have listened to a lecture he gave at the University of Texas at Austin. He also signed a book for me. The man was very brilliant speaker and writer. Arthur Dent is one of my favorite characters in science fiction. He is a mild-mannered ordinary man who falls into adventure and chaos from time to time. And he never can get the hang of Thursdays. Douglas Adams is sorely missed.

8. Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice

I love the vampire Lestat. Rice wrote great vampire fiction before vampires were “cool”. Lestat is not cool or loving. He certainly does not sparkle. Vampires in this novel are blood-sucking monsters – and you can’t help but love them. The entire series is full of vampires portrayed the way they should be.

9. The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien

The work Tolkien put into this entire series is just amazing. He created an entire world – complete with it’s own languages and writing. It took him years to put it all together. He was a brilliant and very creative writer.

10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

I like the last book the best. I love all the torment and angst of it. Teens are my favorite characters sometimes. I love how Rowling can start with a boy in dire straights and end with him as an adult in a normal tube station. The twists and turns are phenomenal.

Well, there you have it. Those are my top ten favorite books of all time. I read and re-read them. I give copies of them to friends. I spout their greatness to the world. Feel free to comment below and let me know what your favorites are. I would love to hear about them. Or if you put them in a blog post, give me a ping back. I will definitely check it out.

Leave a comment »

Writing Prompt #1

Softball pitcher

Photo Credit: 2stanley via Compfight

I just finished reading a book called What to Talk About by Chris Colin and Rob Baedeker. This book has many ideas for conversation starters. It had a really great thing on page 126 – conversation prompts. I took these and made writing prompts out of them. After all, what is writing but one long conversation between the author and the reader? So here is one of them. “I never saw it coming until…”

I never saw it coming until it hit me in the arm. It hurt like hell, even though it was a softball. The thirteen-year-old pitcher held an expression like she hated the world – or wanted to rule it. She reminded me of a James Bond villain, only younger (and way cuter). She smiled as I heard the umpire say “Strike three. You’re out!”

It’s just one scene but I kinda like it. I may have to put it in a longer story somewhere. What can you come up with? If you try it, feel free to give me a ping back and I will check it out. Happy writing!

Leave a comment »

Rush Week

I apologize for my brief absence. Several things have happened. First there was holiday recovery. Then,  my whole family had the flu (thanks to the holiday gatherings). And finally, there was (or rather is) Rush Week.

My husband works for a local college bookstore. He does this for one week every semester. This week is called Rush Week. It is the first week of classes when the main bulk of the student body comes into the one bookstore on campus to purchase books. Last week, I asked the manager if she needed more help this semester. She said that they did. So, here I am working 9-10 hour days at the bookstore. Classes began on Monday. It wasn’t so bad. Then, yesterday hit. It was the second day of class. As I looked at the long line of students, I came to some very thoughtful conclusions.

First of all, parents are way ruder than youth. Every young person of college age who came through my checkout line was very polite and patient. They were full of “Thank you” and “yes, ma’am”. They waited patiently when the register froze. They had forms already filled out and knew (for the most part) their student ID. The parents were completely different. Not one of them said thank you. They did not have forms filled out (for ordering/renting books) and they had no patience. I even had one particular customer who talked on her cell phone through the entire transaction. I was very tempted to overcharge her (or confiscate her phone). Other parents yelled when a certain textbook was not in.They cursed when they were told that it takes 48 hours for financial aid to post to their bookstore account. “My son just registered an hour ago. What do you mean you have no record of his financial aid yet?”

Secondly, students come in all ages. I had so many students come through the line who were over thirty. In fact, one student even asked if we offered AARP/Senior Citizen discounts. He was auditing a Spanish class. One woman said she was a single mom with two children at home. She was entering our nursing program. I am so proud of her. I wished her lots of luck this term.

Lastly, misery loves company. At first, I thought that it would be difficult working with my husband. It hasn’t been. He usually works the register next to me. Whenever I start having a bad day, he looks at me and says “Just a couple more hours. You can do it.” Even though he is not a people person, he is very polite to everyone. He even took the flirty college girl in stride. (Even though I teased him afterwards. She was kinda cute.) Because of him, I have been able to laugh and smile all day (even when my feet ache and my back just can’t take it any more). He offered quite a bit of bantering. At times, he would lean over and finish my return policy spiel for me. I have loved working with him. In fact I only have one complaint. I am tired of vacuuming. Today, he will be the one to vacuum the whole store. I would much rather stock.

Rush Week ends on Friday – our last day. So you should see more of me on the blogosphere. I have some articles that I really need to edit and post. I hope to get that done this weekend. So, you should see some homeschool/education posts next week. I also have a writer’s group meeting next week. So I should have some stuff ready from that. There is always so much to do these days. Which is a good thing. I love to stay busy. 🙂

2 Comments »

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 660 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 11 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Leave a comment »

Eddie Izzard’s Force Majeure Tour: Win Star World Casino (Review)

Eddie Izzard

Eddie Izzard on his Force Majeure World Tour

“Let’s start with human sacrifice,” Eddie Izzard said as he strode on stage. He was decked out in a gray suit, high heeled boots and painted fingernails. He calls himself an “action transvestite.” He is also a comedian. He performed to a sold out crowd last night at the Win Star World Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
Izzard mentioned at the beginning of his act that he had just flown in from England that day. He said his act sometimes has intermissions but this one would not. He would just plow through. “So if you have to go to the loo, just go. Or if you want to move around a bit, you can do that too,” he said. This brought a series of cheers from the audience. His energy and enthusiasm lasted well throughout the two-hour show. He was never still, bouncing and dancing his way through much of the act. He gleefully acted out bits that should have been included in the London Olympics: namely the Dressage and Burgle event.
The high point of his act was when he retold the saga of Mr. Stevens from Catering. Some call it the Canteen Sketch. He has done versions of this sketch in other tours, with additions and minor changes. It is a well-loved piece. He ended with an Ode to Mr. Stevens. He sung the final stanza to the tune of “America the Beautiful”. This brought on a spontaneous sing-along from the crowd.
Most of his material was new from gold-digging moles to jibes at various languages and accents. He injected his older bits with some new jests and observations. The crowd still roared with laughter at each familiar bit. He then performed bits of his act in both German and French. He was very surprised when the crowd understood and laughed at the appropriate parts. “The Oklahoma-Texas border gets German.” He worked the crowd rather well. He even stopped at one point during his performance to ask the audience “Now where was I?” He then waited until he received the appropriate answer. He is like a hyped-up man with ADHD. He would go off-tangent much of the time. But he always came back around to the subject at hand.
He ended his show with a “happy holidays” sign-off. When the crowd gave him a standing ovation, he returned to the stage as if he never left (almost in mid-sentence). He continued on to talk about The Lord of the Rings for a bit. Then, he signed off for good. All in all, he gave as only Eddie Izzard can – frantic comedy done right. Bravo.

Eddie Izzard will finish his Force Majeure Tour in Australia. His complete touring schedule and other information can be found at eddieizzard.com.

Leave a comment »

Meeting Demand

Hi there!

I have been thinking about you guys lately. I have become obsessed with stats. I look to see what is popular and what isn’t. But then I thought the best way to get in touch with my readership would be to put the question to you in a poll. So here it is. Let me know what you would like me to write more about. Any comments can be sent to me privately through a feedback form on my About Page. You can also add it in the “other” section if you aren’t concerned about privacy. 🙂

Please vote soon, polling ends December 26, 2014

Leave a comment »

diaryofablondie

Simply writing about things that make my world go round

Thoughts of the Fallen

A collection of nonsensical words thrown together

Serenity's Ashrama

"Our inner hankering is for satisfaction, happiness, sweetness, love, beauty and mercy." Swami B.R.Sridhar maharaja.

Gotta Find a Home

Conversations with Street People

PowerHouse Homeschooling

A Resource Site for Texas Homeschoolers

The Person Next to You

... we're not alone in the journey of life!

365 Days of (Almost) Unschooling

Or: I read your book, Peter Gray

A Homeschool Mom

Inspiration For Learning and Life.

Storyshucker

A blog full of humorous and poignant observations.

Storytime with John

Pull up and listen...I've got a funny one for ya...

Infinitefreetime.com

The website of Luther M. Siler, Author/Editor/Curmudgeon

I Would Walk 1000 Miles

Just another WordPress.com weblog

FanFiction.Net: TheDoctor'sDaughters

Homeschooling and Medieval Living

Mosher'sUnimaginativelyEntitledBlog

--**-- The Blog Without A Bloody Annoying Tagline --**--

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

Creativity is Defiance

"When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty, because they didn't really do it. They just saw something." - Steve Jobs

TED Blog

The TED Blog shares interesting news about TED, TED Talks video, the TED Prize and more.

The Jiggly Bits

...because life is funny.

// Internet Duct Tape

blogging / programming / technology / lifehacks

%d bloggers like this: