First Review of The Silver Sickle

Lookee here! The first review of The Silver Sickle is up over at Life is Story, a cool review site. Many thanks to the awesome Jeremy McNabb for writing such a great review for it. He’s a fellow steampunk writer, you should check out his short stories, Snowball’s Chance, Gravesight, Joy & Carnage, and others.

He says, “Ann gives her audience a depth of emotion and intrigue that the Western world tends to miss in ancient stories from the East.

Ellie Ann rips up your expectations and hands you back characters who possess such single-minded ambition that you’ll be afraid to stop reading lest they come after you, too.”

Click here to check out the review….

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Sherlock Holmes: Bending the Canon

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I have the honor of getting speaking at Sherlock Holmes: Past and Present conference at the Institute of English Studies in the University of London.

Now, one of the only things better than gabbing about Sherlock, is gabbing about Sherlock while in London. I swear, Sherlock Holmes fans are the smartest and most attractive of any kinds of fans. Since I don’t have the joy of getting to be there, I’ve put up my notes from my presentation here in hopes that you’ll give me an opinion or two regarding them.

I’m speaking on Bending the Canon.

Which led me to meditate night after night, as I sat on pillows and smoked an ounce of shag, “What makes Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes?”

First of all, I must demand that no judgements be made. Judgements separate souls, and judgements are haughty (as we learn from Sherlock), and since Sherlock Holmes is not our intellectual property, we don’t have the right to say which adaption is right and which adaption is wrong.
You can’t say with your nose in the air, “Oh, I think that adaption is rubbish and you’re cracked for thinking it’s a good, has your  mind been melted?”
You may, however, say, “Oh, I think that adaption is rubbish,” because you are entitled to your opinion. You just shouldn’t call anyone names if they disagree with you.
Got it? Okay. Good. No judgements, unless Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ghost presents itself and announces which characteristics MUST be thrown out…we’ll refrain from doing it ourselves
So, what makes Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes? We’ll break his characteristics down into three catagories:

1. Essential Sherlock Holmes
2. Recommended Sherlock Holmes
3. Bending Sherlock Holmes
So let’s begin. What traits must he absolutely possess? Here’s the essential Sherlock Holmes:
- Male
I don’t think you can change his gender without changing an innate part of who he is. Change anyone else’s gender in the canon, but don’t change his.
- Ideal Reasoner
He must be able to deduce a chain of events from a single fact.
He must be “the most perfect and observing machine that the world has seen.” (A Scandal in Bohemia)
- He needs a location
I don’t care if it’s London, LA, or Latvia, I think he must have a location that he knows far better than any other. He studies it. He knows the streets, knows the mud on the streets, has memorized the shops and shop owners, he knows its culture and myths, its news and criminals. Sure, he can travel and take cases in other towns, but he absolutely must have a turf.
- Softer Passions
 “As a lover, he would have placed himself in a false position. He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer.” (A Scandal in Bohemia)
I don’t think he can fall in love with a woman or a man.
For the ideal reasoner, love is grit in a sensitive instrument, a crack in a lens. Let’s not bend him away from that.
Instead (and here is where so many adaptions drop it), let his passions run free through music…
-Violin
Enthusiastic musician, partial to German rather than Italian or French.
Capable Performer.
Composer of no ordinary merit.
That’s where he found true happiness.
Red-Headed League: “We’ve done our work, so it’s time we had some play. A sandwich and a cup of coffee, and then off to violin-land, where all is sweetness and delicacy and harmony.”
- Information
“My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people don’t know.” (Blue Carbuncle)
Sherlock is a gatherer of information, a collector of data. You cannot lose this without losing him.
In the Five Orange Pips he claims to possess all knowledge which is useful for him in his work.
Watson defined his limits in the Five Orange Pips. Here are his main points of analysis: “Philosophy, astronomy, and politics were marked at zero. Botany variable, geology profound as regards the mud-stains from any region within fifty miles of town, chemistry eccentric, anatomy unsystematic, sensational literature and crime records unique, violin-player, boxer, swordsman, lawyer, and self-poisoner by cocaine and tobacco.”
- ABSOLUTELY NO COMMONPLACE CASES
I don’t care if it was a hat accidentally dropped in the street or a King in trouble, Sherlock only takes strange cases.
“He refused to associate himself with any investigation which did not tend towards the unusual, and even the fantastic.” (The Speckled Band)
Suggested Sherlock Holmes:
- Watson
Although important, Watson is not essential to Sherlock’s character. It’s possible to create an adaption without Watson, without breaking Sherlock’s character.
Though of course, Watson is very important. After all, he and Holmes are two halves of the same broken soul.
“It makes a considerable difference to me, having someone with me on whom I can thoroughly rely.” (The Boscombe Valley Mystery)
“Oh, a trusty comrade is always of use; and a chronicler still more so.” (The Man With a Twisted Lip)
- Smoking and meditating.
Sherlock is a thinking man, so he must take time to think.
Smoking can be bent, however. Adaptions can replace it with something else (exercising, throwing a ball, cooking, eating, painting a wall, etc.) but this pattern of meditating on a problem is important to include.
“It is quite a three pipe problem, and I beg that you won’t speak to me for fifty minutes.” (Red-Headed League)
 “I reached this one by sitting upon five pillows and consuming an ounce of shag.” (The Man with the Twisted Lip)
- Humor
Watson and Holmes are glib speakers, and the canon is witty and sharp. Even during the darkest cases, they exchange jests. You can’t take away humor from them without taking away one of their most endearing and sympathetic qualities.
-Proof
Sherlock needs proof before deciding anything.
“Explanations founded rather upon conjecture and surmise than on that absolute logical proof which was so dear to him.” (The Five Orange Pips)
 “Circumstantial Evidence is a very tricky thing, it may seem to point very straight to one thing, but if you shift…you mind find it pointing to something entirely different.” (The Boscombe Valley Mystery)
Bending Sherlock Holmes:
These are some traits that can and should be bent:
- Race
Sherlock doesn’t have to be white. He can be another color without it ruining his character.
- Time
Sir Doyle wrote the canon with a tone of immediacy. Anyone reading it during that time could believe that Sherlock was just around the corner, solving crimes. I think the best adaptions keep that tone of immediacy, as if you could hire Sherlock Holmes yourself if you really needed him.
Adaptions don’t have to keep Victorian England in order to keep Sherlock. In fact, I think it’s closer to the canon if they stay current, just as Sir Doyle wrote it.
- Action/Mastery
Sherlock loves to be a part of the action. He wants to be at the scene. He smells, hears, tastes, touches, and sees details.
However, this is not necessary. Sherlock would still be Sherlock even if he were solving cases as an invalid. It would be neat to see adaptions bend this part of him.
“Holmes was transformed when he was hot upon such a scene as this…his nostrils seemed to dilate with a purely animal lust for the chase, and his mind was so absolutely concentrated upon the matter before him that a question or remark fell unheeded upon his ears.” (The Boscome Valley Mystery)
-Solitude
Sherlock does not encourage visitors, and has only one friend. I think you could bend this character trait, and give him more people he associates with.
-Success
Sherlock is a raging success. People on the street know his name, he’s sought after, and he’s only been beaten four times. He is very successful.
Could you take that away from him? Could there be an adaption in which he is a failure, derided, and disrespected as a detective? I believe you could.
Some other traits that can be bent and changed:
-Ability to Read People
-Penchant for Disguises
- Compassion. (some adaption should turn him into a villain)
“I suppose that I am commuting a felony, but it is just possible that I am saving a soul.”
- No care for money
How has Sherlock Holmes been bent in the major three adaptions that have come out lately? They each did so many things right. Each adaption is creative and innovative. However, they have also bent his character…
Guy Ritchie’s Holmes
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In a sentence, the trait that Ritchie broke in Sherlock Holmes was that he relied on action rather than dialogue.
Elementary
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Two charges against Elementary, in which I believe they bent his character near the breaking point:
1. Their cases are commonplace
2. Sherlock Holmes is in love with Irene Adler
BBC’s Sherlock
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They did so many things right, but I believe they bent Sherlock too far when they made him such a rude bastard to almost everyone he met. In the canon, he was respectful.
What traits do you think are essential to Sherlock Holmes?
What traits are suggested?
What traits can and should be bent?

The Silver Sickle as Multi Media

Multi media and interactive stories have always tickled my fancy. Art is inspiring, so how can I rely on just one art form (writing) to tell a story? I really prefer to team up with other storytellers to complete a rich and evocative experience.

I wasn’t planning on making The Silver Sickle into multi media. The text can stand on its own. But there were two pieces of art that I saw that completely inspired me and enhanced The Silver Sickle’s story.

4949893203_48244ab524Ben Cooper of Radical Face

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“Explosion” by Troy Aaron Ratliff

 

The Silver Sickle is going to be a multi-media story. And for the first time in history, we have the hardware (Kindles and iPads and Nooks) to put all the media in one place!

The brilliant Ben Cooper has kindly given me permission to give out his song, “Always Gold,” in every e-book copy of The Silver Sickle. Don’t know Ben Cooper? Well, he’s pretty much the best thing ever. I interviewed him awhile back here on my blog go check it out.

I had been having trouble defining the romance in The Silver Sickle, until I listened to “Always Gold.” Interestingly, the song defines the relationship between two brothers who are as different as they come–but when I listened to it I suddenly knew EXACTLY how to write Zel and Farissa’s relationship. So now when I listen to it all I hear is their romance, and I wanted my readers to hear it too, and connect to the song.

But no book is complete without illustrations, and I really wanted mosaic tiles at ever chapter heading, to go along with the book’s Persian setting. But I didn’t come across anything that really struck me. Until I saw the artwork of Troy Aaron Ratliff, and I KNEW.

Troy Aaron Ratliff is the super talented writer of Just Past The Trees, a literary mystery short story. He’s been an absolute joy to work with, and has created perfect mosaic tiles for each chapter. I’m thrilled that I get to feature his work, and I think it really captures the essence of The Silver Sickle.

It’s a really exciting time to be an author. There’s no better time to team up with other artists and create a story together. I think the hardware will continue to improve and will soon be able to do anything we dream up.

So let’s start dreaming big.

Check out all of Ben Cooper’s music. This is Ben Cooper’s song, “Pound of Flesh.” As you can see, he’s an awesome storyteller.

Breaking Steele as pulp fiction…

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Aaron Patterson and I want our thriller, Breaking Steele, to be more like a movie-going experience than a deep novel experience. You sit down, enjoy the mystery and suspense, and it only takes up about the time it would to watch a few TV shows. It’s short. It’s fast-paced. And it doesn’t answer every question or give backstories on everyone. We plan on writing 7 Sarah Steele thrillers. Twisting Steele will be coming out around March and we hope to have two more out by the end of the year.

One reviewer, the awesome Glenn Gordon, captured a lot of what we wanted readers to feel in his recent review:

“So, a friend I’ve never met writes a blog that consistently busts my gut and amuses me to no end, and when I learned she’d collaborated with a popular thriller writer on a new pulp crime series featuring a reluctant Assistant D. A. heroine named Sarah Steele, I simply had to bite and Amazoned it in paperback, then read it on a return flight from Chicago just before Christmas. Took me four hours to power through it. Couldn’t put it down. Buckle your seat belts for take off — READ — Buckle your seat belts for landing. Done. Wow. What just happened?

Oh, Ellie Ann, this girl can write! I have no way of knowing which parts and pieces of Breaking Steele were her contribution and which poured from the pen of collaborator Aaron Patterson, but I heard her voice woven throughout the narrative. She’s a funny gal and there’s a subtle wry humor that springs up on occasion that’s clearly hers. Bottom line, though, it doesn’t really matter. Ellie and Aaron, Aaron and Ellie — it just flat out works.

But I’ve got to warn you, this is pulp crime. As in pulp fiction. As in raw and wicked and in your face and without a lot of poetry. James Lee Burke they ain’t. Characters die big and wrong and bloody and at times your stomach will turn and your skin might crawl. But in oh such a please-no-but-give-me-more kind of way. And you’re in the midst of it from paragraph one. Innocent young woman kidnapped, bound with duct tape in a crate reeking of rotten corn, rat droppings, and urine, then abused offstage in
every manner possible and electrocuted in a bathtub. But there’s a witness and an arrest and tons of evidence and an open-and-shut case. ADA Sarah Steele is riding high and sensibly confident in conviction and justice served. Then everything goes to hell.

And for Sarah Steele, it becomes personal. Especially when the profession she’s committed her life and soul to is compromised and she begins to question if justice truly can be served without crossing into that dark place where vigilantes accomplish what the legal system can’t. The co-authors do such a fine job delving into her struggle, but without slowing the story’s breakneck pace, and by five chapters in you’ll be totally hooked on both the story AND on Sarah Steele. (Who’s also a bit of a hottie, IMHO. Which never really hurts.)

Back in the day, pulp crime writers would pump out these bare bones magazine serials with fresh chapters on newsstands each week; short and sweet episodes with enough visceral grab to keep your attention until next Tuesday. Pack a few dozen of those together, slap a cover on, and you’d have a pulp novel. Then it’d start all over again with the next one. Consider some of the film work of Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriquez and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about: they do pulp crime on the big screen.

I love this stuff. And Breaking Steele does the genres justice: pulp, crime, thriller, page-turner, recommended read. I know I have to wait until late June (and not next Tuesday), but I’m squirming in my seat for Twisting Steele, the next Sarah Steele Thriller.”

Thanks so much, Glenn, for that review! I can’t wait to give you more Sarah Steele.

Slice of Life Introduction

I have a HUGE announcement to make, which I’ve been waiting for YEARS AND YEARS to tell you. Well, okay, not years and years but at least months and months. Drumroll, please…

Thank you, monkey, for that drumroll.

I have the huge pleasure of announcing a transmedia story called Slice of Life. Once upon a time I wrote a gritty, tongue-in-cheek fairy tale about a girl who must team up with her unfaithful lover in order to stop the Queen from destroying the earth’s life force. It has quirky characters, last-minute escapes from executions, Purgatory, colosseum battles, and many losses of limbs. But best of all, the story isn’t told with just words. A troupe of digital artists has teamed up to create an immersive experience for the viewer.

Noble Beast Transmedia Publishing Company will be publishing the digital story around the middle of February. I’d like to shout a huge THANK YOU to Richard Monson-Haefel for signing with our team. Their first transmedia app will be coming out soon, Steampunk Holmes. If you’re a fan of steampunk or a fan of Sherlock Holmes be sure to check it out, it’s amazing quality and is an inspiration to me.

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Now, without further adieu, I’ll introduce the top-notch troupe of digital artists for Slice of Life:

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 <  Ellie Ann, Writer

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  <Gary Morgan, comic artist

++                                                     Aura, by Gary

Hezekiah Book Promo Shot.


  <Raphael Cutrufello with Hezekiah Jones – composer

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  Lancelot Schaubert – poet >

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  <  Emma Lang – Illustrator (side note: this chick is 13. SO talented.)

Hour 1 until the end

Border, by Emma

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   <  Biaka Zaidarhzauva, Graphic Artist (Side note: please don’t ask me to spell his last name from memory)

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Pirate’s Symbol, by Biaka

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<  Theo Love, Audio Director

 

 

Around May, our story will be ready.

Side note: if anyone is interested in helping promote our story around that date please email me ( ellieannwrites @ gmail.com ) and I’ll not only give you a BIG, CYBER CHOCOLATE BAR but I’ll give you an advanced copy of the story. Let me know.

For starters, you can go ‘like’ our page on Facebook. If you want to stay updated on twitter than follow our personal accounts: @noblebeastbooks @elliesoderstrom @biakaz @joshrandall @lanceschaubert @hezekiah_jones

Stay cool, pirates.

The Next Big Thing

I’ve been nominated as the next big thing by August McLaughlin. I think she probably comes from a small town or something if she’s calling me the next big thing, but I’ll take what I can get…especially from the gorgeous August.

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This is actually more wide spread than just me–and there will be no red carpet or awards ceremony, no matter how much I begged (so that I could finally put my hair in a chignon) (wait, what’s a chignon anyway?)

This is a blog hop put on by the super great Donna Galanti. What is a blog hop? Basically, it’s a way that readers can discover new authors, because with bookstores closing and publishers not promoting new authors as much, we need to find a way to introduce readers to authors they may not see in their local bookstore. And I guess it doesn’t officially include chignons, whatever those are (I think they’re some type of dog).

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Is this a chignon?

August McLaughlin is coming out with her psychological thriller, IN HER SHADOW. Award-winning author M.G. Miller calls it, “Compulsive.  Terrifying.  Diabolical,” and “an immensely satisfying thriller, infused it with a jolt of pure adrenaline.”

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Click the links below to find out about August’s novel.

Website: http://www.augustmclaughlin.com

Blog: This is her post answering ten questions about her novel.

So go! Go check her out.

And she’s asked me a few questions about my new book, Breaking Steele, out to pre-order on paperback or ready to buy TODAY for your Kindle.

Breaking Steele

1: What is the title of your book?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. 

Oh wait…erm, oops….I mean, Breaking Steele.

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?

From Aaron Patterson. He’s brilliant with plot.

3: What genre does your book come under?

Thriller.

Just like Little Women.

Oh, wait…maybe I’m getting genres confused?

It’s a thriller.

Like Jaws. Except instead of an evil shark there’s an evil man. But they both like blood.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I’d choose August McLaughlin for Sarah Steele. I think she looks just like her. And I choose Jorge Garcia as her intern. And Amy Adams for her best friend, Mandy. And Liev Schreiber as her firearms and love interest–Solomon. And to make it interesting, I’d choose Stanley Tucci to play the villain, Hank Williams.

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Diabolical Serial Killer Type?

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When her trial goes wrong and a killer goes free, successful ADA Sarah Steele must do everything she can to protect herself and those she loves before he breaks apart her life.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

It’s published by the awesome Stonehouse Ink. I’ve loved working with them!

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Around 21 days.

8: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Aaron’s awesome vision for this story is what inspired me to write it with him, and to do the absolute best I could.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s like Dexter–except without the sex and swearing and instead of a hot guy in the police department you get a hot lady in the DA office.

Also, I feel it my duty to recommend these absolutely amazing authors. They’re the next big thing. Below you’ll find links to their websites and a book they’ve recently come out with. Click away my friends, click away.

1. Larry Enright

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2. Erin Keyser Horn

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3. Jen Kirchner

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4. Leanne Shirtliffe

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5. Albert Berg

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Have you read any good books lately that you think are the next big thing? Share them here!

Tall Tale Tuesday: This Will Date You…

When Gene Lempp watched the ships take off from San Sebastián de la Gomera, he knew what havoc they would wreck in the next native population they “colonized,” so he turned all their ships into great, sea-faring butterflies. But where did the ships come from that landed on the Bahamas on October 12, 1492? Who knows.

(painting by Angel Villaneuva)

On April 24,1884 a star (whom the astronomers called A.M.S.) exploded, and its death sent shocks waves and radiation throughout the universe. A little piece of stardust travelled all the way to earth, and landed itself on a little baby girl’s tongue. The baby grew up to be a very special friend to the stars.

Larry Enright was elected general of the post apocalyptic northern states, his first order of business was to round up every instrument that still existed and put together a band. He said, “without music, the soul of my soldiers will die.”

Every August 25th, since 1985, at precisely 6:04 AM, Renee Shuls-Jacobson takes a bath in honey, marmoset milk, and crushed and powdered orchid petals. We’re still not sure if that’s what gives her such beautiful skin, or if it’s the one thing that keeps her reptilian alien enemies away?

The last time Tori Nelson and The Doctor went to the zoo, an ape with green eyes signed to her: “October 31, 1970.” They jumped into the tardis and stopped Will Rodman from creating the virus that would destroy humanity. Then they travelled back to the zoo, bought the ape that saved humanity, and set him free, (and then rigged the Oscars so that Andy Serkis could win Best Actor.) It was a busy day for them.

Remember the hype about the apocalypse coming in 2012? Yeah, you have Eden Baylee to blame for that. Never heard of Eden Baylee? She’s the one that lives in a fortress built into the Amalfi Coast, plans media frenzies over apocalypses, and carves out crop circles in her spare time.

Susie Lindau found the following photo in her desk, with a date on the back: Jan. 1, 2032. It’s a perfect likeness of her daughter, but she has no idea where it came from. So she can only assume that her daughter will one day be a time-travelling galaxy-travelling bounty hunter. Which is why she pulled her out of space camp this year.

On April 14, 1995, Stacy Green had a picnic in a field of wildflowers, and when she saw a black-eyed susan’s upturned face she sprinkled some of her Sunny Delight on its leaves. To her surprise, they sang her happy birthday in flowerspeak and she goes back every year on her birthday to try to learn more of their language, but they’ve never spoken again.

Tiffany A. White, the famous CSI detective, was called to a homicide crime scene in which it looked like the only plausible explanation was that the dog had shot its owner and then shot itself. Using evidence from archived files dating back to February 16, 1998, she proved that this was another case of an abusive dog owner that just went too far.

Emilie G., the famous historian and sociologist and psychologist and archeologist, was the first to discover that Jesus Christ was not actually born around Jan 1, 1AD, he was born around 4-6 B.C. It has not been concluded if the Freemasons, the Illuminati, or the Hermetic Order of The Golden Dawn have something to do with the mix-up, but Emilie G. is currently under witness protection.

It was K.B. Owen who invented the 3-D virtual reality video game console that every school girl and boy were given the Christmas of 2525. The graphics were so good that children soon forgot to eat, sleep, walk, pee, and breath. By New Years Eve, there was a ban on all of KB Owen’s products for being “too incredibly lifelike.”

Lynn Kelley beat the world record for biggest squash ever carved into an upright bass, beating the previous record that had been held since March 17, 1920.

David N. Walker is an arachnologist who trains his spiders to survive the rigors of space travel. I’m not sure if it’s because he wants to rid our planet of them or not.

Piper Bayard, the famous thespian, is responsible for sharing the wonders of Star Wars to a man eating tribe in the southern seas. Through the power of her tales, they soon changed their ways …and put together an incredible one act play for her based on the characters she told them about…

Prophecies tell of two girls born on two continents on August 12, 1997, one girl full of pure grace and the other full of pure truth. Yet they would understand each other and become best friends. Eden Rebekah, one of the girls of the prophecy, still has not met her match.

February 3. 1959. It started out like any other day. That is, until the DINOSAURS BURST OUT OF THEIR UNDERWATER CAVES AND ATTACKED THE WORLD! Historians say that if JRD Skinner hadn’t banded with the creatures, humanity would’ve had a chance. But he did, and became ruler of San Francisco in the age of dino utopia.

That was fun! Do you want to star in your own tall tale? Just comment below. I hope you do. Yes, you! You there in the back. I hope you comment.

If you want a tall tale written about you in two weeks time, just leave a comment below with a random character’s name.

Friday Favorites: Heroine

A couple weeks ago I vented about bad heroine in this post. But today, I want to tell you some things I like about heroine.

First of all, there’s nothing that I like about the illicit, powdered kind of heroine. It’s very bad for your health and flattens your dreams flat like a sloth crossing an interstate.

But there is an awful lot of good heroine out there. Of the female variety. The kind of heroine that kicks booty, or creates breathtaking art, or does yoga on the top of Mount Everest, or heals people with her words, or makes a decision and stands by it even when she doesn’t feel like it anymore. The type of heroine that makes you dream.

I have a heap of favorite heroines, but I’m going to share four of my favorites.

Jane Eyre

She’s my all-time favorite literary gal. She had a rotten childhood, but it didn’t rot her heart. Though friends were taken away and family betrayed her she was still willing to love, and be loved. She had a open heart to the world — she soaked up beauty around her. She could handle the sight of blood, and didn’t freak out if someone yelled at her. But most of all, she wouldn’t give up who she was for love. She knew who she was and she wasn’t willing to give that up for a man, even though she loved that man. Her’s is the story of a girl being swept off her feet, and when she is dropped, she doesn’t hold her arms up to be swept up again, rather … she stands up by herself. I LOVE that. That’s good heroine.

Charlie’s Angels

This is my guilty pleasure. I like how over the top the action is. I like their silly dialogue. I like how there’s a dancing dream sequence at the beginning. I like their clothes and makeup and hair. *giggle* I know it’s a dumb movie, but whenever I put it on I always think, “It’s so fun to be a girl!” And to me, that’s good heroine.

Gwen from Jackaroo

This is the book that I read under the covers with a flashlight, long after Mom and Dad had kissed me goodnight. Gwen, the innkeeper’s daughter, has the perfect blend of good qualities (like loyalty, wit, and bravery), and things that drive you crazy (vengeful, stubbornness, prejudice, and the inability to WAKE UP AND SEE THAT BURL REALLY LOVES HER!) She pretends to be the legendary Jackaroo, and when her adventures land her in some serious trouble, she decides to do what it right over what is easy.That’s good heroine.

The Girls in Firefly

Zoe is a rough, tough, loyal, warrior woman with a sense of humor. River is an innocent, brilliant mystery who always does something unexpected and goes crazy at inopportune times. Inara has a gentle and quiet spirit, yet she protects her heart with fierceness. And Kaylee (my favorite), is an adorable, naive, lovable mechanic who is the princess of the bunch. They all have such personality and their characters ring true. Each of them is a really good heroine!

These are only a few of my favorite heroines, and I’ve left out some important ones such as: Hermione, Jo March, Anne Shirley, Sarah Connor, Elinor Dashwood, Veronica Mars, Lizzie & Jane Bennett, and of course, Bianca from The Rescuers.

What about you? Have you come across any good heroine lately?

Thilly Thursday: Grocery Store Hyde and His Shopping List

My shopping list always reads something like this:

-Milk

-Eggs

-Flour

-Sugar

-Toilet Paper

-Rice

-Fruit

-Frozen chicken breast

-Coffee

-Beans

-Lightbulbs

-With a few other ingredients mixed into the list.

I arrive at the store feeling confident that this time, THIS TIME I’ll go in, grab the groceries on my list, and come out. Ah, the naivety. Because once I go through the doors and smell the peaches and fresh sushi and have to stare down a Captain Crunch cardboard cut-out, I feel the familiar twitch in my spine and know that Grocery Shopping Hyde is about to take over.

I look at my list mournfully. “Lists are soooo dumb,” I tell my girls. “And they aren’t actually set in stone. They’re more like guidelines.”

I grab the essentials – coffee, milk, eggs first. But I have to do this while closing my eyes and plugging my nose – just to be sure that no advertisements or sales or samples will hypnotize me and my cart will suddenly be filled with wheels of cheese and chocolate & peanut butter ice cream.

But after bumping into dozens of people, upsetting a champagne pyramid and the cardboard cut-out of Captain Crunch, I have to open my eyes. And usually, this is when I snap. I buy the first package of processed food I see — on a lucky day, it’s OREOS. On an unlucky day, it’s oatmeal cream pies.

And then my girls will say in a very controlled and polite voice “Mama, can I have a toy?” (they’ve learned whining will get them nowhere good.)

“No,” I instantly respond. That was easy. But their wiles are deeper than I ever expect, and soon comes the second question.

“Mama, can we have some cookies?”

“Uh, I already have some OREOS in the cart.” I look down. Darn! Now that I’ve introduced my girls to the OREOS in the cart I can’t leave them with the cashier (buying the food is usually when I repent of my spontaneous purchases.)

“Can we have some chips?”

“No, we are going to get some flour and sugar.” I weave through the aisles, determined to get there before another boxed cookie makes my mouth water uncontrollably.

“Then can we have some gum?”

“Uh, sure,” I say, putting flour and sugar in my cart and crossing those items off my list.

Crossing off items is the best part of writing lists. It means however humble the to-do was that I checked off — I have proof that I got something done that day.

Then I go to the produce, and get lost in the jungle there. I snag strawberries and blueberries off their cardboard bushes, smell a few cantaloupe before I choose the “best” one (though I have no clue what a bad one smells like), knock on a few watermelon (though I have no clue what a bad watermelon sounds like), and pick several bags of romaine to last us through the week (we have a hopeless addiction to Caesar salad).

This is when I look in my cart and feel mighty proud of myself. And, as James Bond says, “Pride comes before the fall.” Or … was that God? I’m not sure. NEways, after I grab chicken, beans, and rice, I head on to get the lightbulbs and toilet paper before I hit the check out line.

And that’s when I see it.

JALAPENO CHEETOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A huge, orange, mountain of Jalapeno Cheetos sitting so passive aggressively there on its display. So spicy. So CHEESY! Tempting me. Toying with me. Oh. Man. I. Want. Them.

But I’m on a strict grocery budget and I’ve already splurged on the cookies and watermelon but I get to thinking — how vital is toilet paper anyway?

I mean, it’s not like there’s not a few rolls hidden somewhere in the bathroom cupboards (I’m sure), and it’s not like I need it RIGHT NOW (that would’ve been awkward), and it’s not like it’s going to be half as awesome as eating Cheetos on the couch after the kids go to bed.

I scan my list, seeing if there’s anything else I can cross off. Nope. Need flour for bread and sugar for coffee and milk for oatmeal and chicken fettuccine. I have to get lightbulbs so  I can read at night. But toilet paper? I brighten, suddenly remembering the seven boxes of Kleenex I bought the last time the kids had colds. Kleenex can totally be used for toilet paper-ish purposes!

I grab the Cheetos.

What’s grocery shopping like for you?

What do you splurge on?

Tall Tale Tuesday: Under the Sea

Let me tell you, earthlings, about a few fables I’ve come up with about my friends:

Gene Lempp is the only human who can instantly tell the difference between a male and female sea horse, he says it’s because all females have a perturbed look on their face, which has something to do with the fact that their husbands are pregnant.

When Anne Mhairi, the famous treasure hunter, was asked to find a dead man’s chest she said, “No thank you!! I don’t like the dead. And bringing back only the chest sounds a bit messy.”

Larry Enright finally beat Flipper in a backflip competition, but only because Larry cried out, “Oh no! Sandy and Bud are in trouble!!” and thus successfully distracted the dolphin.

Amber’s such an amazing teacher that she taught an entire school of herring to bring big ships to harbor, thus putting all tug-boats out of business.

When JRD Skinner heard that an Anglerfish was terrorizing one of the norther colonies of Atlantis, he took his vorpal trident in hand (long time the manxome foe he sought) and finally, in the glow of bioluminescent rays, JRD Skinner sliced the beast’s spines and teeth off – thus making it as harmless as a goldfish.

Piper Bayard was drugged and kidnapped by a merciless band of Somalian pirates, but they greatly underestimated what can be stored in mini-skirt pockets, and were “blown away” by the AK-47 she kept in her back pocket. After jumping ship and swimming to shore, she realized her wallet fell out in the ocean, and greatly mourned the loss of her signed picture of Johnny Depp she kept in there. Luckily Nemo found the wallet and promptly returned it. Moral of the story: don’t underestimate mini skirts.

Ryne Douglas Pearson was on a deep sea fishing expedition with Annie when they were attacked by a coven of Sirens! But, as good fortune would have it, they’d just read The Complete Book of Survival: Deep Sea Edition, and knew exactly what to do: Annie covered Ryne’s ears while he sang “Monday Morning” by Fleetwood Mac – the Sirens swam away as fast as they could. Unfortunately, no one was there to cover Annie’s ears.

After thousands of years of research, Owen Fuller finally discovered a way to appease the Cracken without sacrificing a virgin every 7 years: poppyseed crackers, it seems, satisfies the Cracken just as well as a virgin blood. And every girl in the land gave a sigh of relief and learned how to make poppyseed crackers.

David Walker is best friends with a 55 yr old Bowhead Whale, and will give you a nice whale ride if you ask him politely.

When Poseidon heard about Sonia G. Medeiros’ strikingly beautiful brown eyes, he hired a water nymph to paint her portrait, which he put up in his Great Hall and it’s hanging there to this day.

The Good Greatsby recently got fired from his job on the Paradise Cruise Liners for causing a ship-wide panic when he was overheard saying, “Captain’s been eaten by the octopus who lives in the toilets, which wouldn’t be so bad if the Octopus didn’t decide to TAKE OVER AS THE SHIP’S NEW CAPTAIN!” Moral: Don’t believe everything you hear, especially if it involves a toilet-dwelling octopus.

Do you want a tall tale written about you, earthling?

Simply leave a comment with an object you would want if you were stuck on a deserted island, and you’ll get your own tall tale next Tuesday!

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