Wednesday, October 18, 2017

2 Sentence Terrors, Season 4


Day the Seventeenth. #2sentencehorrorstories #mbop #amwriting #horror #halloween #october #scary #fright #frighnight

2 Sentence Terrors, Season 4


Day the Sixteenth. #2sentencehorrorstories #mbop #amwriting #horror #halloween #october #scary #fright #frighnight

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

2 Sentence Terrors, Season 4


Day the Fifteenth. #2sentencehorrorstories #mbop #amwriting #horror #halloween #october #scary #fright #frighnight

2 Sentence Terrors, Season 4


Day the Fourteenth. #2sentencehorrorstories #mbop #amwriting #horror #halloween #october #scary #fright #frighnight

Monday, October 16, 2017

2 Sentence Terrors, Season 4


I know...I know... I'm 3 days behind. Stay tuned! #2sentencehorrorstories #mbop #amwriting #horror #halloween #october #scary #fright #frighnight

Saturday, October 14, 2017

2 Sentence Terrors, Season 4


Day the Thirteenth. #2sentencehorrorstories #mbop #amwriting #horror #halloween #october #scary #fright #frighnight

2 Sentence Terrors, Season 4


Day the Twelfth. #2sentencehorrorstories #mbop #amwriting #horror #halloween #october #scary #fright #frighnight

2 Sentence Terrors, Season 4


Day the Eleventh. #2sentencehorrorstories #mbop #amwriting #horror #halloween #october #scary #fright #frighnight

2 Sentence Terrors, Season 4


I hope Jason, nor his mother, came to visit you today. #2sentencehorrorstories #mbop #amwriting #horror #halloween #october #scary #fright #frighnight #fridaythe13th

Friday, October 13, 2017

2 Sentence Terrors, Season 4


Day the Tenth. #2sentencehorrorstories #mbop #amwriting #horror #halloween #october #scary #fright #frighnight

2 Sentence Terrors, Season 4


Are you just DYING for more? Fear not...or, in this case, fear a lot! More are on their way. #2sentencehorrorstories #mbop #amwriting #horror #halloween #october #scary #fright #frighnight

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

2 Sentence Terrors, Season 4


Day the Ninth. #2sentencehorrorstories #mbop #amwriting #horror #halloween #october #scary #fright #frighnight

Monday, October 09, 2017

2 Sentence Terrors, Season 4


Day the Eighth. #2sentencehorrorstories #mbop #amwriting #horror #halloween #october #scary #fright #frighnight

2 Sentence Terrors, Season 4


Day the Seventh. #2sentencehorrorstories #mbop #amwriting #horror #halloween #october #scary #fright #frighnight

2 Sentence Terrors, Season 4


I know I'm behind in terrifying you, but I was being held captive. I'd rather not talk about it. #2sentencehorrorstories #mbop #amwriting #horror #halloween #october #scary #fright #frighnight

Saturday, October 07, 2017

2 Sentence Terrors, Season 4


Day the Sixth. #2sentencehorrorstories #mbop #amwriting #horror #halloween #october #scary #fright #frighnight

Friday, October 06, 2017

2 Sentence Terrors, Season 4


Day the Fifth. #2sentencehorrorstories #mbop #amwriting #horror #halloween #october #scary #fright #frighnight

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

2 Sentence Terrors, Season 4


Day the Fourth. #2sentencehorrorstories #mbop #amwriting #horror #halloween #october #scary #fright #frighnight

2 Sentence Terrors, Season 4


#2sentencehorrorstories #mbop #amwriting #horror #halloween #october #scary #fright #frighnight #picmonkey

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

2 Sentence Terrors, Season 4


Day the Third. #2sentencehorrorstories #mbop #amwriting #horror #halloween #october #scary #fright #frighnight

Monday, October 02, 2017

2 Sentence Terrors, Season 4


Day the Second. #2sentencehorrorstories #mbop #amwriting #horror #halloween #october #scary #fright #frighnight

Sunday, October 01, 2017

2 Sentence Terrors, Season 4


Day the First. #2sentencehorrorstories #mbop #amwriting #horror #halloween #october

2 Sentence Terrors, Volume 3


I'm waiting until it's dark out to post the first story. #2sentencehorrorstories #mbop #amwriting #horror #halloween #october

2-Sentence Terrors, Season 4


Welcome to the fourth season of 2-Sentence Terrors! By the end of the month, you'll have 31 more flavors of putrid to add to your collection. For the past week, I've been hinting at what's to come, but even don't know what the future holds. 

And maybe that's a good thing, because sometimes when people can see into the future, they witness their own death. 



Friday, September 15, 2017

Dorothy Must Die Series by Danielle Paige


I'm an Oz connoisseur.

For many years, I have enjoyed each libation from the yellow brick road.

L. Frank Baum's work has enjoyed renaissance after renaissance.

Some of it lauded, like the creation of Elphaba in Gregory Maguire's (and the broadway show) "Wicked," while others are wet sneezes -- much like this entire series.

The most recent awakening in the land of Munchkins, Winkies and the Emerald City by Danielle Paige had major potential, and since recreating stories and fairy tales with modern twists is such a thing right now, Paige made the good guys bad and the bad guys good.

I decided, I think I can get behind this..but...

As I read I realized: this lady is winded. 

Like, tornado winded.

The "Dorothy Must Die" series is two books too long.

The plot had potential...Dorothy evil? OK, I'll buy it.

For now.

Until Paige goes into detail about how Dorothy wears everything blue gingham.

Then she lost me.

Why I kept reading, I'm not entirely sure.

There's bodices, and cleavage, and pony tails, and glitter, and by the time she's done describing the once and not-so-future heroine, Dorothy is drawn like that of a Anime character.

Giant eyes. Little nose. Tiny mouth. Long legs. Brown pigtails for miles.

And then Dorothy starts to speak, and it's that of a spoiled brat.

You can say it was her cravings and addiction to the magic of Oz that did all this, but I'm not buying it. A girl from the early twentieth century is not going to talk like some Millennial hating her hand-me-down iPhone.

Danielle Paige went overboard. It was so overboard that I would rather have watched "Overboard" with Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn.

Some of her ideas deserve merit, but the purity of the idea is bogged down by her voice.

Her style must appeal to junior and high school girls (and possibly boys) who live in a constant state of everything is so much more important than the last thing that was so much more important ohmygodI'mgoingtodie and I can't stop checking my Snapchat.

For me, it was irritating, like I was breaking in a pair of good-lookin' ruby slippers, but they kept chaffing my heals.

That's exactly what this series was: it looked nice, but after a while, it just. Wasn't. Comfortable.

I have total buy-in of all her allusions to the first three books written by L. Frank Baum.

But what am I not buying?

The few scenes with the Goth Munchkin girl with a filthy f-bomb-dropping mouth and tattoo sleeves.

The silver slippers (there were no ruby slippers in the original books) that morphed into combat boots the minute the main character put them on.

The fact that Glinda was evil and she had a twin sister named Glamora -- and at some point by the third novel, they share a body.

The Yellow Brick Road moved like an escalator and the people movers at the airport.

The former flying monkey that wore lipstick.

Then there was the ridiculous love story -- do young adult series like this have to have a relationship attached to it?

"Hi, my name is Amy. I'm the other girl from Kansas. And the character Nox is my first boyfriend ever and will be my boyfriend for life."

I did keep reading because I enjoyed the twist that wicked was needed to win. The first book had the main character, Amy, in disguise working at the Emerald City trying to learn Dorothy's every move. I enjoyed how the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Lion were the bad guys, and not just bad...they were down-right deranged. And gruesome.

I can't deny the horror-lover in me didn't appreciate that.

And while I wasn't a fan of the main character, Amy, the other girl from Kansas, Paige did a nice job keeping the Wizard a mystery.

Actually, I enjoyed every other character in the book but the main character. It was too bad the book was in first person, and I was stuck in her head.

That is, until book four -- then Paige decided to do something I loathe. While some may see it as a creative spike in the literary volleyball game, I find it a cheap excuse to make the fourth book LONGER -- otherwise there wouldn't have been a fourth book at all.

She introduced Dorothy as a narrator.

For three books and about 900 pages, I've been in the head of Amy. Then, in the fourth book, we switch back and forth between chapters.

It was unnecessary, and it made me loath both narrators.

The series was fascinating enough to keep me reading, but the bad taste that some of it left in my mouth continues to permeate, making me forget the positive, and only remember the cringy.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Let's review a few books at once, shall we


"Gwendy's Button Box" by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar

There's nothing like a novella.

They're the length of a children's book, with the content of adult life. You don't have time to swan dive into Gone With the Wind, but you still want to settle into a book? Pick up a novella.

As a constant visitor to Stephen King's website, I'm always curious with what he has waiting in the in the wings. He often publishes with independent publisher Cemetery Dance -- and usually they're special editions of his already-published books, so I don't pay much mind.

"Gwendy's Button Box" was featured, co-written with Richard Chizmar of Cemetery Dance, and packing in 175 pages, a copy was instantly available at the library, so I picked it up and read it in one sitting.

It's the blissful coming of age tale of Gwendy, a once slightly chubby girl, trying to lose a little wait. She meets a man at the top of the stairs of the park she's been working out at, and he gives her a button box. Push this button and you can do this. Pull this level and it will do that. Here's a piece of candy that you can have once a day, and you'll realize some changes.

And changes she notices. She starts to get more popular at school. She becomes super athletic. She sheds the rest of her baby fat, and as she continues to grow, she begins to learn, sort of, the powers of this mysterious button box. She pushes one button, and there's an explosion on another continent. Did she cause that? She's not entirely sure. She's sick to her stomach. She doesn't want the candies anymore, but she's in charge of the button box -- and she doesn't know when the stranger will come back to claim it.

This shortened tale from King and Chizmar tiptoes around the fantastic and asks the question: Can you be responsible with absolute power?

"Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes" by Neil Gaiman


Years ago I became a sucker for graphic novels because I learned that it's a television series in book form. There are drawings? I love drawings. It's mostly dialogue? That's my favorite part of any book. There's limited exposition? Sign me up.

I also enjoy a good graphic novel because it takes me an hour to read it. I follow a few people on social media that breeze through books. They are constantly posting what they've read, and, I swear, with their reading powers combined, it's like 50 books a week -- total.

I am not over-exaggerating.

This is why social media sucks -- I feel completely inadequate because I'm not blasting through book after book after book. I mean, if I really considered myself a writer, well, I should be reading like it was my job.

So, as I felt inadequate, I picked up a ton of graphic novels this summer.

See? I can read a lot of books, too.

And, yes, it is a competition.

I'm just losing.

Neil Gaiman isn't losing. His 90's phantasmagorical escapes into graphic novel-dom is still considered one of the best.

Here we've got the god of sleep, but the poor guy was captured by a small cult hell-bent on using magic for their own evil.  They were actually trying to kidnap Death, Dream's sister, but whoops. That didn't happen. So Dream, or Morpheus, bides his time before he escapes. It takes him 70-plus years, but when he does, all of his magical tools have been scattered to the wind. The rest of the first volume is mostly about his solitary journey in gaining those tools back.

This is the first graphic novel Gaiman ever worked on. He claims it was awkward, but the story doesn't feel awkward.

Instead, it feels timeless.

This is the second time I've read the book, but a review never came about the first time.

The first story arc is spooky, gory, funny, speculative, sad, melancholy, and insightful. I'm not surprised all of that can be stuffed into a story about the god of sleep, I mean, it is Gaiman we're talking about. His ability to weave a story is under-rated.

He doesn't get the pomp and circumstance that he deserves.

"Everafter: From the pages of Fables" 


The "Fables" series from Vertigo comics is the reason I became a fan of graphic novels. I read them for summers -- and luckily, my library had all the copies.

If you're not familiar with the basic concept of the graphic novel, some are stand alone books that a writer/artist will put together to tell one story. Others are actually comic books. The comic books come once a month, but once a story arc is told, all of those issues are published in one volume.

I waited until all the comics were published in one longer volume.

It's like waiting for an entire season of my favorite TV series to be put on Netflix. While waiting for another "season" to come out in print, I go after other graphic novel series to pass the time.

The "Fables" series met its end last summer -- and it was time for it to go. It had lost steam, but there was still a hole in my heart. The idea behind the "Fables" story line was how the fairy tale characters we know and love are real. They had to escape their home land because of a terrible evil. They escaped to our world.

After various story lines, the series ended with magic making its way into our mundane world.

"Everafter" picks up where "Fables" left off. Some of the fairy tale characters decided to stay behind to help people in the mundane world figure out what all this magic stuff is, and these regular people are going to find themselves in so much trouble.

I'll be sticking around for more of this storytelling.

It's better than TV.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Blogpostathon 2017 comes to a close


I think there may be a future where I will finish 40 posts -- but the real deal is 40 posts in 40 days. I tried to stretch it out and just say "40 posts," and I've gotten a few likes and retweets from fellow writers on the Twittersphere because 40 posts in a few months is a lot. I mean, there are bloggers out there that just post once a week.

That's only 52 posts.

If you is a person that only posts 52 a year...that be sad. 

Like, c'mon. Be a content whore. If you've got readers...give them what they want.

More of you.

I may have only written over 30, but that's a half-year's worth of posts. 

But the truth is...it's not 40 posts in a few months, it's 40 posts in 40 days.

A chance to blast open and write.

I'm guilty of not letting myself follow those rules. I want to blast open and pour forth, but like any writer, I don't want it to be badness.

In forty days, some of the posts are going to be winners, and others are going to be loathsome -- at least from my point of view -- and the point of my blogpostathon is to just write.

Take no prisoners.

Do not look back.

I borrowed the ideology from the creators of National Novel Writing Month. The goal in mind is to write 50,000 words in November. A novel. Don't look back and don't worry about errors. It's all about fleshing out characters and plots and scenes while running and screaming.

Write like your hair is on fire. 

It's brilliant. I've finished two novels through the gut-wrenching process. My teaching takes a back-seat. I lose sleep. It's absolutely amazing. I feel like a small dachshund with his head out the car window, the wind blowing his ears.

There could be some howling, too.

I'm currently working on editing and querying one of the novels I finished a couple years back. I'm trying to make the book real. Not just for me, but for others.

I've even written thousands of words while succumbed to pneumonia because of National Novel Writing Month.

I mean, if I can write while healing from a bout of pneumonia...then, a healthy me can easily pound out 40 posts in 40 days.

But just like any writer, I got in my own way.

This summer has been no different. I've looked at a blank screen and got in my own way with some Ronald McDonald shoes, tripped, and then curled up on the floor and decided to do yard work instead.

What's wrong with me?

I actually have done yard work instead of write.

I'm avoiding writing. Hard. And I don't even know why.

As a teacher, these are my months off with vapid amounts of time.

What do I do with it?

I look writing in the face and say, "Nope, I'm going to work in the yard instead."

Here's the thing about yard work -- I dislike it. Vehemently. It's one of the necessary evils in my life, just like getting the oil changed, and cleaning out the gutters.

My grandma once said, "Oh, you'll like it once you own a house."

No, grandma. I won't.

She tried to be all, "I'm old and wise and know what I'm talking about."

And even though I was young, and the only grandchild that raked up the leaves in their giant yard, I don't run through my backyard like Julie Andrew.

What I want to tell my grandma now is, "I do yard work because it's a necessary evil."

And here I do it instead of write.

You would think that I hate writing.


Sunday, April 02, 2017

"Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz" by L. Frank Baum


Wait just a &%$# minute, Mr. Baum!

You lied to me.

It's been brought to my attention, having read the first four books of the Oz series by L. Frank Baum, that there is an inconsistency about the Wizard. I don't know if he's a slightly wicked man or a derpy, good guy.

In "The Marvelous Land of Oz" (Book 2 of the series), the Wizard conquered Oz by overthrowing King Pastoria (Ozma's dad), snatching up Baby Ozma and handing her over to the evil witch Mombi.

Like, why you gotta go taking babies out of cribs and handing them over to witches?

That's wicked behavior, Mr. Wizard.

But, then wait! The Wizard isn't really a bad dude. The Wizard and Ozma are friends? Apparently they meet each other toward the end of "Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz" (Book 4). She asks him about his adventures as the Wizard of Oz, before she gained control of the throne. He fought off witches to seize control of Oz, and by doing so, he united the four countries of Oz, becoming a hero of the people. No babies were harmed in the making of "Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz."

So, what is it Ozma and Wizard? Are you friends or are you enemies?

What Real Housewives sorcery is this?

Is Dorothy going to have to choose sides? Like, who is she going to go shopping with at the new Emerald City Downtown Mall?

These books, though.

You know I'm going to keep reading them. Just when I thought Baum stepped out of hot-mess territory, I step right in a new pile of steaming crazy.

In the fourth rendezvous in Oz, we find Dorothy and some kid Zeb on their way to a farm. Zeb's just there to pick Dorothy up from the train station. Dorothy's on her way to Uncle Henry, except there's an earthquake and Zeb, Dorothy, along with Jim the horse, Eureka the cat, and their carriage, fall down a fissure in the earth.

And keep falling. It's a pleasant fall, actually. Dorothy and Zeb make comments about how slow they seem to be going down.

It's all very "Alice Adventures in Wonderland."

Seriously. Lewis Carroll published his children's acid trip in 1865. Baum's fourth acid trip wasn't published until 1908.

There's definitely some influence.

Or should we call it peer pressure?

Once they hit land, Jim, the horse, can talk, as can the small kitten, Eureka.

This shocks Zeb, but Dorothy finds talking animals so pedestrian.

What they don't find pedestrian is the land they have, well, landed in. It's full of vegetable people. They are handed over to the vegetable king by a bunch of potatoes, essentially, and a vegetable sorcerer threatens Dorothy and her latest Squad. The Wizard has since joined them. As usual, he's traveling by balloon, but instead of landing on earth, he got sucked down the fissure created by the earthquake.

The vegetable king sentences them to death because apparently it's their fault the earthquakes happened.

The Wizard doesn't like this, so using his "humbug" magic (tricks), he assembles a sword out of pieces he's hiding, and cuts the vegetable sorcerer in half, killing him.

This is when we find that the insides of the people are mere potato.

These people are evil because they're a bunch of carbs.

And so begins the journey of Dorothy and her Squad as they go through a few lands in order to get back home. This isn't Kansas, or Oz, or anywhere we've ever been, Toto -- I mean, Eureka.

That's my next big question. What ever happened to Toto? He hasn't made an appearance since the first book.

He must've asked for a raise.

More money per book!

To keep costs down, Dorothy keeps bringing new animals with her to Oz.

I'd rather have Toto. This cat, this Eureka, is a bit of a diva. She constantly complains about how hungry she is and how she's going to eat the tiny piglets the Wizard keeps in his pocket. She has nothing nice to say. She's a total mean girl.

And Dorothy keeps threatening the cat. "We'll leave you here if you can't behave."

The cat knows Dorothy is fibbing, but she still plays along.

"Meow, fine. Meow," Eureka says, rolling her blue kitten eyes. "You're being such a meowtch, Dorothy."

In this book, we visit the Land of Voe, a lovely, green, hilly kingdom. It's filled with invisible people. Invisible because they eat magic fruit. They do this to hide from the bears.

The bears are also invisible.

But, the invisible people are very nice and give Dorothy and her Squad some nummy goodness for their tum tums. Then, they go off again on their journey.

Next they climb Pyramid Mountain. Here we meet a crazy old man covered in braids. Then, they seek refuge from the land of wooden gargoyles.

The scenes of escape from the gargoyles is actually pretty action-packed. It definitely would've made ladies pee their pinafores in 1908.

After climbing through a tunnel filled with dragons (whose tails are tied up because the momma dragon doesn't trust her baby dragons), Dorothy realizes that Ozma checks in on her with a magical mirror at 4 p.m. every day. By making some obscene hand gesture, Ozma knows to whisk Dorothy away.

And then, after sticking her middle finger up in the air, Dorothy disappears.

Then, Dorothy comes back with a magical belt and takes her Squad back with her to Ozma's palace.

In Oz.

We're finally in Oz, people.

This is when Baum lays out his inconsistencies about the Wizard and Ozma. Apparently, in this book, Ozma and the Wizard are cronies.

Until I read later books, we'll just have to assume Ozma and the Wizard are frenimies.

What "Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz" did, though, was provide some history about the land. It spoke of the four different countries of Oz: Gillikan, Quadling, Winkie, and Munchkin. It spoke how witches took over Oz, but the Wizard kicked them out unifying the entire land of Oz. The Wizard was responsible for building the Emerald City. Then, all the characters from past books -- the ones that matter, anyway -- came to visit.

The book felt like it was supposed to be the last Oz book. It re-introduced all the characters. The Wizard and Ozma are friends. It gave us a short history of Oz. Baum pretty much gave everyone a happy ending, wrapped up any loose ends, patted our bottoms and told us to be on our way.

Eleven more Oz books spilled out of Baum, however, so either he wasn't finished yet, or his publisher told him that he better add more to "The Real Housewives of Oz" or else.

Probably over dinner, where the publisher tried to flip the table on Baum, spilling wine instead, and then stormed out.

Then Baum probably called out after him, "Stop being such a meowtch!"




Saturday, April 01, 2017

"The Circle" by Dave Eggers


I got to see Dave Eggers speak about 13 years ago at Butler University. He was riding the tidal wave of success with the Pulitzer-prize nominated "A Heart-breaking Work of Staggering Genius," and as a young writer, I expected to see a pompous ass that I was going to hate.

It was utterly the opposite.

Instead, he was pleasant and humbled. He spoke about writing, but more so, he introduced me to a nonprofit organization he had started: a place in San Francisco called 826 Valencia -- a place that helped kids in the community with tutoring, writing and publishing.

Each of the seven 826's have a store front that sells quirky knick-knacks. The one in San Fran has the front of a pirate store. There's a Time Travel Mart, a Superhero Store, a Secret Agent Supply Co. and more.

Then, behind a curtain or bookcase is the actual workshop where tables, books, computers, etc. are set up to aid in creation.

It's pure magic. If one were local, it is where I would be spending my time -- I would love to volunteer in a place such as this.

What does this have to do with "The Circle"?

Well, the man knows what he's doing.

This novel is the type of science fiction a science fiction hater could read. Along the river of literary genres, this book merely sticks its fingertips into the sci-fi genre.

And it may be one of the more important books of our time.

It's all kinds of caveat.

It's Google and Facebook beware.

It's the people giving into a tech company so large it could eat up the government without the government even realizing it's been eaten up.

And Eggers isn't tiptoeing around the topic either. The reader is smacked in the face with all the what-ifs and could-bes, while treading water in different scenarios that deal with technological morality.

For a book that's 500 pages long, it's detailed and compulsively readable. 

The Circle is a company that is Google-esque. It's a monster tech company that has merged all the different online tech and social media into one: Yelp, Facebook, Google, Amazon.

And Mae Holland just acquired a job there because she knows Annie -- a friend from college that works at The Circle.

Mae left a crap job at home, moved to San Francisco and starts work in Customer Experience, where she and her other CE workers must keep a median of 98 to 100 for customer feedback for the products provided by The Cirlce. Annie is a fast-talking hot-shot of the company that everyone likes. Her dialogue is quick-witted, filled with snark, and very jarring. She's there for Mae to get used to the job in fits and starts, but is often out of Mae's reach because she's somewhat of a honcho.

Mae is inundated with screens at her workspace. She stumbles through the mindframe that is the Circle worker, offending many in her early days at the company. She finds out that The Circle's campus houses many different buildings, cafeterias, concerts, speakers, parties, games, and dorms. A person who works at The Circle has access to the world without ever leaving the campus.

It's a beautiful juxtaposition. 

Eggers also inundates the reader with detailed description of all the cutting-edge technologies that Mae is introduced to, and instead of losing the reader with the boring ins and outs, Eggers' imagery is so detailed, it's magnetic. 

Does all this technology actually exist?

If it doesn't yet, it could. This is where good science fiction gets scary.

The writer's imagination becomes reality later down the road, for better or for worse.

Let's hope some of Eggers' visions are for the better.

Mae has amazing health coverage, and so she wears a band that navigates all her health data. It's a metal band, a Fitbit on steroids. It would take the Apple Watch down in the WWE arena.

One of her co-workers creates a special chip for children, and once embedded in their skin, the kids become traceable. Kidnappings become a thing of the past.

Mae interacts with touch screens and tablets, but one of the major pieces of technology to show its face in the novel is the SeeChange camera. Its a small camera that can be placed anywhere. The SeeChange cameras will showcase society's actions. By showcasing society's actions, nothing bad will happen because it will be easy to catch.

Crime will go down because who would want to commit an act that's supposed to be a secret?

Secrets are knowledge not being shared.

Shouldn't civilization have access to all knowledge?

Secrets are, therefore, bad.

Eventually, these SeeChange cameras are used to make politicians "go transparent" by wearing them during work. By the end of the novel, more than 90% of politicians have "gone transparent" to showcase that there are no secrets in the work they are doing for the people.

Mae wrestles with the above when its found out that she likes to kayak on her own. This is her chance to be alone with nature, with her thoughts, and to experience life. She doesn't post pictures. She doesn't take video. She doesn't join any groups within the online Circle community that deal with kayaking. When its found out that she kayaks, co-workers are hurt that she wouldn't share this information.

Secrets are selfish. 

Then, one night after an emotional evening with her family and a past boyfriend, she visits the kayaking place she goes to. It's closed, but a kayak is outside the fence. So she takes it for a spin.

And her small crime is caught by a SeeChange camera.

She wrestles with her action by talking to one of the Three Wise Men, and with his help, she realizes that secrets are lies, that privacy is theft. That sharing is caring.

It's like "Sesame Street" gone "1984."

And instead of losing her job, she volunteers to "go transparent" herself.

Mae starts out as a likable character, but the deeper she gets into The Circle, the more I wanted to shake her and tell her to snap out of it, to slap her because of her behavior. But before I could hate her any more, I realized she was just being used as a cautionary tale.

I stopped disliking her and started to feel sorry for her. 

While Mae couldn't escape from what could come of nasty tech empires, of privacy becoming public knowledge, we can learn from her mistakes.

And also hope that a huge tech company, just like SkyNet, doesn't take over the world.


Friday, March 31, 2017

I'm having an identity crisis, Part III

A looong time ago, I made cards. It was this little thing I made into a side business. It was not overly successful. In fact, I still have a lot of the cards that I created.

They come in handy when none of the cards from Meijer or CVS will cut it.

And lately, they really don't cut it.

Card-buying is the worst.

But, really, it's not like my cards closed the gap.

Hence, I still have most of them.

The name of the business is what stuck, though.

This is also my third and final identity.

This one is much easier to process because it's not so much about me, but the service. It's not what I want, but what the client wants. My goal is to make them happy, while also making a little money on the side providing a service.

See: www.fridgeart.net
I know the word refridgerator is spelled wrong
That's not the part that concerns me the most. It's that my little side business has been with me for over 10 years, and that's exactly what it is.

Little.

But I've tried to do a couple of different things with it. First, came the cards. I set up booth space at a few craft fairs, bought a card holder -- one that spins around -- and hoped to sell any card I could.

And while I sold a few, I merely made enough money to buy more supplies and make more cards.


Since the cards weren't always so successful, I widened my reach with photography in general. Portraits to be exact. Since, I've been able to take pictures of families, seniors, and events. I've recently added professional head shots to my portfolio. It's not necessarily my goal to make this into an entire side-career.

For example, I won't do weddings.

I know that's where the money is, but that's also where the stress lives. I would hate to get those pictures wrong. It's not that I couldn't do it. I just don't want to.

Nor would I be happy about giving up an entire Saturday.

And then give up another entire Saturday just to go through the thousands of photos and edit them.

And then give up yet another Saturday to meet up with the happy couple and show them all the photos.

I'm sorry, but I don't feel like reliving your happy day over and over again.

I'd rather just watch the movie "Groundhog Day" and photograph your family.

Then I started sewing
It was one of those things where I wanted to learn how to sew because HGTV brainwashed me into thinking it a valuable skill.

Then, because it's genetic (great grandfather was a tailor, my mom worked at Singer and sewed her own clothes), I realized I wasn't too bad at it, especially for being self-taught.

So, I ventured forth with another leg of the Refridgerator Art brand and created bags.

But not just any bags. No. They had to fit under the umbrella of Refridgerator Art, so I called them Freezer Bags. I opened an Etsy store, I put them in a local store in the neighboring city, and I waited for people to buy what I created.

I reused t-shirts and materials I found at Goodwill or antique shops, and I gave them catchy names. I priced them so they weren't too outrageous. I spent afternoons creating them. I bartered with a friend to have my labels embroidered on white fabric -- and they were amazing because they were stitched versions of my handwriting. Of my logo!

This is great! My cards didn't sell, but these could!

But, no. They didn't

I still have them all.

So far, the only true success has been the photography aspect, and while there are things I could be doing differently to build up my brand and presence, this identity causes the least anxiety out of the three. It's also the one that has made me money.

I continue to rethink how Refridgerator Art can grow, and I believe the future of my little endeavor is where it started designing digital cards and invitations and selling them on Etsy. Since it's considered Refridgerator Art: Design and Photography, it could become a combination of cards, bags, photography, etc.

Heck, I may even re-post the bags for sale.

So, if this one makes the most sense, why is it a part of your anxiety chronicles?
Well, it's the third identity.

Something that's creative, a part of me, and something I'm not willing to part with -- yet still requires time to build.

I've got three identities that require time to build. Each one fights for attention.

I'm a parent, and I need to schedule one-on-one time with each of my three children.

The only thing I've thought of that would help ease my anxiety over all three children is to devote certain days to each.

On Mondays, focus only on anything My Bucket of Parts. On Thursdays, post as The Vade Mecum, both on Twitter and on my website. On Tuesdays, create one thing that I could sell through Refridgerator Art, especially if I'm not taking photographs for people, and build up my little digital card store.

On any other day, when I'm none of those identities, I should focus on the author I want to become, and if that falls under My Bucket of Parts, so be it.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

I'm having an identity crisis, Part II

In struggling with finding a "niche" with My Bucket of Parts, I've had conversations with a fellow blogger that has a strong niche.

He's a daddy blogger. There's a crazy market out there for mommy and daddy bloggers. I even follow a daddy blogger on Facebook -- not for parenting advice, though. His niche is super-specific: He's a single dad. I'm sure his parenting advice and stories are on fleek, but I just use him for his memes.

So, wallowing in my self pity one day about not having readers, my daddy-blogger-friend told me that I already had a niche, that I'm a teacher -- there's my built in audience! I'm a journalism adviser that works with writing and design and photography and the First Amendment. And while this is all nice and true, that's not my only outlet.

I was a writer long before I stepped foot in the classroom. That's where my identity goes to first.

But he made a good point and the seed was planted.

I do have a niche!

While battling with finding readers for My Bucket of Parts, I've been saying to Wifefriend that I want to become the Middle School Journalism Guru!

There are plenty of high school journalism advisers out there that do crazy-amazing things, but, when I look for resources, they're all aimed at high school. Nothing is really out there for junior high or middle school journalism programs.

The reason is: those programs don't really exist.

If anything, they are after school clubs that create the yearbook and work on broadcast projects.

So, if I need anything aimed at middle school, I have to create it myself -- or take high-school oriented content and adapt it.

To take the "I create it myself" one step further, one summer, I sat down and created an entire workbook/textbook that I had printed and handed out to my students. I looked up and down for the best name I could find for it. It needed to be something special, something other.

"The Journalism Manual" wasn't going to cut it.

Somehow I stumbled upon the Latin phrase: vade mecum. It's pronounced vade-y mee-come. It means "a book of ready reference" or "a handbook or guide constantly kept around for consultation."

YES!

And so The Vade Mecum was born, and I've used the book in my classroom for four years now.

Then, it mutated. I started to work in professional development on my own. I started to experiment more in my classroom. I removed the desks and chairs from my room. I started to speak at more conferences.

I realized that the Vade Mecum didn't just have to be the manual I printed.

The Vade Mecum was, for lack of better words, me.

But that sounds amazing! Why should that cause you anxiety?
It's another feather in my identity hat.

I'm not just My Bucket of Parts. I'm also The Vade Mecum, and they can't be combined. One is my teaching personality that can be followed by my school district. The other is my author side.

Some day they may be combined, but not right now.

And so I continue with two identities. This should be fun, right? This should be a place for me to jump back and forth, to switch it up!

But alas, most days I think about both identities and get a bit panicked.

As The Vade Mecum, I could sell some of what I create online for Teachers Pay Teachers. I should be blogging more about teaching, and not just teaching in general, but teaching journalism to middle school students. I should create an Instagram account that's only for my teaching persona and try to show off and be amazing!

The Vade Mecum, like My Bucket of Parts, has accidentally become a brand.

So, I bought a web address for it: www.vademecum.pw.

What's a .pw?

Originally, it was the web address country code for the Pacific island nation of Palau, but for some reason, it was taken away and rebranded to "the professional web."

For $9 a year, I thought it was a cheaper and unique ending to my Vade Mecum experiment.

Now that some money has been put toward it -- like the cost of two Frappuccinos -- I want it to become something.

My daddy blogger friends was right, I do have a niche, and I could do much with it.

It's just...well, how much do I do with it?