Back to the Future and Ghostbusters

Over the past two nights we showed my daughters Back to the Future, and Back to the backtothefutureFuture Part II. I was a HUGE fan when I was a kid. I wanted a Delorean. I thought Michael J Fox was a dreamboat. I practically worshipped Doc Brown. I wasn’t really surprised when my girls liked the films because they were a huge part of my childhood, but I was surprised when the girls LOVED them. My younger daughter can’t keep interest in a feature-length film if there are no muppets or cartoons, but she watched the ENTIRE movie BOTH nights.

Then I put on the Documentary “Back in Time” to watch with my husband and I was a little shocked. It’s a total SAUSAGE FEST. They interviewed TWO women, both actresses in the films. The rest of the interviews were ALL MEN. All male fans, all male current industry professionals with opinions, all male industry professionals who worked on the series.

The only other woman who appeared was there with her husband.

I had to turn it off. I was disgusted. Do women not have opinions? Do women not count? The documentary was made in 2015. Aren’t we in the twenty-first century? How is this STILL an all-boys club???

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Thank GOD for Ghostbusters (2016). After watching Back in Time and thinking about how male-centric so much of Hollywood is/was, I’m glad that my daughters have women like Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler to look up to. Strong, confident women who are leading the way for others in their field.

I dropped off my older daughter at Drama Camp this morning and left with my head held high. Here’s to the next generation of strong, funny, smart women who will take this world by storm.

First and Only Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Read-Through

I’m slogging my way through Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Most of my reading is done via Audible, and this is no exception. I have the book on Audio. I’m four hours in out of an 11 hour, unabridged reading of the title. Jane Austen’s classic has been enhanced by Seth Grahame-Smith, and is read by Katherine Kellgren. I wanted to read the book before .

Confession: I hate zombies. I hate everything to do with zombies. I could barely sit through Shaun of the Dead. I had to turn off the first episode of The Walking Dead after the first minute or so. (I even tried fast-forwarding through the… bad stuff.) So this is sort of a big thing for me–forcing myself to read this book. And then I don’t know how I’ll react to the movie.

It makes me wonder, though… am I having a hard time getting through this text because I’ve never read the original? Is it the Jane Austen that bores the snot out of me, or am I having trouble because of my loathing of all things zombie? I think it’s the former. I find myself waiting for the zombie scenes and snoring through the other.

I suppose I’ll write more on the subject when I’ve finished the book. Happy reading, everybody.

Date Night: CASNightlife and Sketchfest make science funny!

giraffe missy kirtley and hubs at sketchfest casnightlife 2016My darling husband and I had a wonderful time last night at the California Academy of Science in San Francisco. Their Nightlife program, combined with SF Sketchfest meant that science was funny last night–for grown-ups only. The 21+ event was held at the California Academy of Science from 6 to 10pm, and included some pretty awesome guest speakers and comedians.

(We took this picture outside of the “Africa Hall” because my younger daughter has a slight obsession with Giraffes.  More on Georgie Giraffe’s adventures later.)

 

After a quick tour of the California Academy of Science, and a stop at a few bars to check the signature cocktails, we decided to go to the “Probably Science” Podcast with Adam Savage and Paul and Storm.  It was a wonderful podcast, deliciously funny, and an opportunity to hear Adam Savage talk.  I never give up an opportunity to hear him when I can! probably science podcast with adam savage and paul and storm 2

It also introduced me to Paul and Storm–a comedy and music duo who sound like they’re right up my alley.  I will definitely be following what they’re up to after the Podcast.  Speaking of, I’ve never heard of “Probably Science” before, but I’ll be looking into that, too.  Highlights included giving up Pomegranates, coming up with random album names (Love Tenure) and band names (Lens Funk), and laughing so hard and long my face hurt.

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After the recording of the podcast, in the same room (Africa Hall), we were delighted to be in the audience for a few “Fake Ted Talks.”  The first two were on how big the cosmos is, (spoiler alert: very big), and how long humans have been telling stories, (spoiler alert: very long).

 

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There was a Ted Talk from the future, fifty years from now–after the Earth was scorched, and the only humans who survived were from a Ted Talk.  Apparently, we elected Doug to be our Supreme leader and were working to put together what life was like back in the good old days.  (Food?)  Thanks, Emperor Doug!

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The next talk was about how to be a psychic.  Very enlightening.  I had no idea how to pronounce ‘tarot,’ or that ghosts really enjoy victorian designed parlour rooms.  Now I just need to figure out how to develop psychic skills.

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Adam Savage took the stage again to end the Fake Ted Talks.  While he seemed to love his own jokes as much as the rest of us did, I was distracted by his Einstein-like hair.  (Glorious.  Positively glorious.)

 

All in all, it was a delightful evening.  I hope we’ll have the chance to do it again, though I’m not sure we’d enjoy it as much if it wasn’t for the Sketchfest aspect.  I fell asleep on the BART ride back to the East Bay, showing just how old I really am.  (We got home around 11.)

hubs and me on the BART

cervantes statue in golden gate park

I took this pretty groovy picture of a statue in Golden Gate Park.  I thought it would look cool in the darkness, and had to put on my flash to get the look I wanted.  Thankfully, it came out pretty groovy.  I don’t know much about it, though, and it was too cold and rainy to hang around and google it on our phones.  I’ll have to go back another time (because I need an excuse to go back to the museums there) and check it out. 😉

Book Review #1 of 2016: What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman

9780758278456_p0_v1_s192x300What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman

I was recommended this book by my cousin’s wife. And though I love her dearly, I’m not sure I was a big fan of the novel.

A story split in two times, What She Left Behind follows 17-year-old Izzy in the 1990s, and 18-year-old Clara in the 1930s. Izzy’s foster parents work for a museum and bring Izzy along with them on an exploration of a state-run insane asylum that has been closed for decades. Clara, in the 1930’s, is institutionalized and tortured because she fell in love with the wrong man. A series of twists and turns follows, and the stories become twined.

As I read the first few chapters of Izzy’s story, I found it to be cliched. New Girl receives hate from Popular Girl, makes friends with an Outsider. Popular Girl’s Boyfriend is interested in New Girl. Haven’t we read this story over and over a thousand times? The fact that Izzy, the New Girl, is a foster child with a dark past doesn’t do much to bring light to a tired story.

On the contrary, the first few chapters of Clara’s story were much more interesting. A look into 1920’s New York from a bright-eyed teenager was engaging and exciting. I wanted to know more about Clara’s relationship with the taboo foreigner Bruno. The conflict between her and her parents is an age-old one, but in a setting that’s fresh. Problems arise for Clara when she’s sent off to the state-run asylum.

I found myself rolling my eyes at Izzy’s trite situations, simply riding my way through it to get to the chapters about Clara, but Clara’s story kept taking downward turns without any hope. And then, when it felt like Clara’s situation couldn’t get any worse, and Izzy’s situation, too, was at its darkest, I waited for an epiphany moment–a ray of sunshine. It was very, very disappointing when there wasn’t one. It felt like things just got more and more horrible, and then I was given a brief, unsatisfying conclusion to an otherwise torturous story.

I am glad that I read the novel though I’m not sure I would recommend it. I learned a lot as a reader and a writer from this story and these characters: I imagined how I would twist things to make the situations less cliche, I was frustrated with the lack of dimensions of the antagonist forces (as I often am), and I was given a glimpse into the world I’d never experienced. But the chapter-after-chapter torture without much relent was too much for me. And the lack of epiphany made the denouement of the book a little flat.

Looking forward to my Facebook Book Club’s first book of the year! And I’ll likely be reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies as well.

Paper Christmas

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My in-laws are so talented and creative! My Father-in-law loves paper crafting, my Mother-in-law is a textile design artist, and my Sister-in-law (and soon-to-be Brother-in-law) is an illustrator. I feel completely inadequate when it comes to everything visual art related in their company. (I can’t even draw stick figures right! They always come out crooked.)

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Here’s hoping that my daughters inherit their artistic skills from that side of the family!

To complete their paper craft holiday scene, my Father-in-law invited us over to help him decorate Christmas Trees. He used a paper craft pattern created by another person and shared free online, but adjusted the pattern to make it work without having to be glued. You can find the pattern here.

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I wanted to share some pictures from yesterday’s craft. Though the glitter glue took a bit too long to dry to have the trees finished today, I think they’ll be beautiful when they dry enough to be folded. Some of the other decorations worked really well! My in-laws put together stickers, jewels, and both opaque and regular gel pens for everyone to use to decorate.

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I think the little trees came out beautifully! I think it’ll be wonderful for the girls to put their new, little, paper Christmas trees in with our Lego Christmas Village (currently in progress). More on that later.

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Wikia Holiday Party 2015

For those of you who don’t know, my husband works at Wikia. (OMG how many times have I used Wikia in my RP/Fanfiction days?) I was invited to come along to the Wikia Holiday Party, which was Game of Thrones themed. Thankfully, hubs and I just caught up on GoT, so we weren’t spoiled by anything at the party.

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This was a chance for me to go out and have fun without kids underfoot, and also to see some of my husband’s coworkers that I haven’t seen in a while. So, of course, I jumped at the opportunity.

20151210_213846Of course, I had to go and buy a new outfit at Target for the party. I think it came out pretty well! And I’ll have the cute dress and leggings for other winter-ish parties. I was in need of a new pair of shoes, and I love these new boots! They make my feet look narrow which is practically impossible. I have the world’s second or third widest feet. (Probably not first. I can’t be that unlucky.)

 

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It was a really unique venue: Venue 550 in San Francisco. The shape of the bar was interesting. It was multi-levels; there was the main floor, elevated seating on either side, and a balcony above. It was quite dark, though, which meant most of my pictures didn’t come out very well.

A group from Healing Henna were providing the entertainment for the evening. I went and had my hand decorated… the whole time I was thinking how much my daughters would LOVE to get henna tattoos. (This combined with the fact that my husband and I left before the last call means we’re getting old, right?)

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So far so good on the henna tattoo. I’ve used coconut oil and waited as long as I could before washing it off, so the henna stain came out really dark. So far I’ve had two conversations with Indian women about the traditions of henna in their culture and had many compliments on the design. (I wish I could take credit for it, but it was the talented artist’s work! I was just the canvas!)

20151210_183230I was pretty excited about the drink menu, which included themed drinks. I had to snap a picture not only because I knew I was going to write a little bit about my experience, but because Jamie Lannister’s hand was there. There were a lot of little touches that made people familiar with the series snicker, but people who didn’t know about it were completely in the dark. (See: Theon’s Meatballs below.)

I tried “The Red Priestess” and it was all right. I prefer hard ciders to mixed drinks and probably could have stuck with wine. The rest of the night I had a diet coke. (Is this one of those other hints that tell people I’m old and boring?)

 

Actually, now that I think about it, I ordered a Shirley Temple after I had my Red Mistress.

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There were chocolate coins littered on tables around the venue, along the bar and on end tables. They were good coins, and my husband and I snacked on them off and on. We noticed that other people were doing the same. The number of coins shrank more and more as the night went on, and after I commented on how it was diminishing, my husband said, “It must be Lannister gold.”

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20151210_191359The food was quite good. I was very impressed with the meatballs (har har) and with the “Winterfell Smoked Wheat Berry Salad”… though my husband didn’t like that as much. His favorite was the chicken. Unfortunately, the “wolf bread” wasn’t shaped like a wolf. I kind of had my hopes up for that when I read the menu.

I made friends with the fiance of one of my husband’s coworkers. She and I got on really well, and the four of us spent the latter half of the evening together. I had to explain what “Theon’s Meatballs” meant because she hadn’t seen the show or read the books. We all got a good laugh about it.

 

There were plenty of people in costume at the party. I was fully prepared to go and count Daenerys’es, but I was a little sad to find only a handful. I *think* someone was dressed as Hodor, but that’s not the sort of thing I felt comfortable going up and asking. I’m sure the theme for next year’s Holiday Party will be Star Wars, and I’ll definitely put together a costume for that one. It was really strange to be around cosplayers who weren’t dressed as Harry Potter characters. 😉 I’m so sheltered!

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I had a wonderful time. Lots of good food, excellent music (I was told that the music was chosen by the employees ahead of time), and good company. I took the BART out to the city, grabbed an Uber from the station to the Venue, and then took the shuttle back to BART when the party was over.

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Kinda makes me feel grown-up when I go on these little, mini-adventures. Even though my husband takes mass transit every day to work, I get a kick out of it.

I hope I’ll be invited back again next year. I’ll have to start working on my Star Wars cosplay now.

NaNoWriMo 2015 – Winner!

I very nearly gave up writing this month.

Well, not entirely. I very nearly gave up wanting to publish my writing this month. I received a “this novel will never sell” blow from someone who “knows the business.” At that point I had to decide if I was writing for me, or if I was writing for a career–for other people–to get published–to become a traditionally published author.

And then I decided I was writing for me. I will still seek an agent and traditional publication, but I have to write because it’s my passion, not because “it will sell.”

The trouble was, I’d already started this project for NaNoWriMo. It’s tentatively titled Duobus Sedilibus (horrible title, I know): a Young Adult fantasy novel. Meaning; I spent too much time reading George RR Martin and wrote 50,013 words in the same vein as his Song of Ice and Fire series. It’s total crap, and I’m not sure there’s any way to fix it. I’m putting it away in the figurative deep, long drawer, and may come back to it eventually.

When I got back from a writer’s conference, I was convinced that I should be working on my more commercial works–the one I pitched at SFWC 2015 and the one whose pitch I polished at the Write to Market 2015 Conference in Corte Madera. I stopped working on Duobus Sedilibus (again, HORRIBLE title) and turned my attention to my other work.

I figured the person who writes any words for NaNoWriMo is a winner, because it’s more words than were written on October 31. Right? So, anyone who writes during the month of November is a winner. (This justifies my $16.97 spent on the “NaNoWriMo 2015 Winner” t-shirt, pre-ordered at the beginning of the month.) I was still a winner, even if I didn’t hit 50,000 words.

But then I got an email from the Write to Market organizer saying “don’t rush into things, don’t query agents before you’re ready, it’s okay to take your time…” (paraphrased, obviously.)

So I turned my attention back to Duobus Sedilibus, and finished 50,000 words.

I WON AT NANOWRIMO. (Like, officially.)

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Of course, I’m nowhere near the end of that plot line. I’m not even sure where that novel is going. I didn’t even get to the mermaids.

Now that I’ve finished NaNo2015, I am turning my attention back to projects I was working on before November made me write 50,000 words in 30 days. I’ll be working on The Danger of Under, a Fantasy Novel, and Three Tiers, a Young Adult Science Fiction.

Oh, and I’ve got another story simmering in my head. Maybe I’ll start outlining for next November. 🙂

Algonkian Write To Market Conference

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I was at the Algonkian Write to Market Conference from November 12-15, 2015, in Corte Madera, California.  The conference was held in Corte Madera, California, and I have to say, I’m super glad that I went.  I will be writing a more comprehensive review, covering every aspect of the Conference I can think of… but I won’t bore you with the details.  Here I’ll just post a few pictures and tell you guys what an amazing experience I had.

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You know me, I’m always bright-eyed and bushy tailed at these things. I learned a ton about the publishing business (yes, it’s absolutely a business, and needs to be treated as such) and the things I’ll likely have to do to find an agent and get my career started. I’m looking forward to doing those things (killing my babies, re-structuring my pitch, incorporating more commercial aspects into my work) and reconnecting with some of the Agents I met yesterday during our pitch session.

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Did I mention that I like taking selfies in hotel rooms? It’s a thing. #stopjudging.

Oh, all right, one more:

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I brought Three Tiers to the table, and was told that “romantic sci fi isn’t selling.” Okay, back-burnered. I will return to you, Three Tiers, I swear it. But I also brought Under to the table. It was re-christened “The Danger of Under” and the pitch I workshopped came out pretty darn amazing.

After three gruelling days of workshopping our pitches, sometimes developmentally editing our novels/novel ideas (with Happy Hour becoming a nightly thing… writers like drinks, I guess?), we were ready to meet with Agents. I had my pitch typed out, ready to read aloud to the agents I sat down across from. I was nervous, but excited. This is my career, my job, and a business, but it should also be fun. Right? That’s why we do this thing, because God knows so few writers actually make enough money writing and publishing to support themselves.

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I met some amazing new writing friends while I was working on my own pitch, and I hope that my input was valuable to my new friends. Each and every one of them was creative, intelligent, and invested, and I respect that. We may have competition in this industry, but I sincerely do wish them all the best. After all, we’re not each other’s competition (for the most part). I feel lucky to be able to have support and give support from such an amazing group of talented people.

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Come for the pitching, stay for the snacks. 😉

I was able to meet with five amazing agents, get some really wonderful, positive and thoughtful feedback, and am looking forward to revising, editing, and getting my work out there to the agents who said they wanted to read it.

All in all, I learned several important things from this conference:
1.) Never start your novel in a car.
2.) Make sure to EAT, not just drink coffee all day.
3.) The pitch (and, related, query) needs to be SHORT, compelling, and leave the listener (agent) wanting more.
4.) I have a TON of work to do.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get back to it! 😉

Missy

NaNoWriMo 2015 and Writer’s Conference

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This post is to serve as an apology to my readers, and as a notice of hiatus for the month of November.  I am participating in NaNoWriMo 2015, which is a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, and I am attending the Write to Market conference by Algonkian Writer Conferences in Corte Madera.

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I will, of course, be writing about my experiences with both, but for now I need to focus on getting my NaNoWriMo word count in each day, and completing my pre-event homework for WTM. Not to mention leading my daughter’s Girl Scout Troop, hosting Thanksgiving, and preparing both daughters for The Nutcracker the first weekend in December.

Oh, and if you want to sponsor me for NaNoWriMo, here’s my link… I would appreciate any support you can give me!

Hopefully I won’t drown. Fingers crossed. 😉 I’ll catch you all on the flip side!

Missy

Happy Hour with Cameron Stiehl

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cameronI have the pleasure of being a close friend with Michelle Gould, who works as a freelance video editor. She’s incredibly talented, incredibly friendly, and incredibly kind. One of her jobs is editing “Happy Hour with Cameron Stiehl,” a YouTube channel dedicated to making the world a more open-minded and understanding place “one cocktail at a time.” Cameron does interviews with celebrities who are in the LGBTQ community and around San Francisco, where the interviews take place. It was an honor to be invited to a recent series launch party and fundraiser.
I love stepping out of my comfort zone–as a relatively shy person, being at a crowded, happy, loud, gay bar in the Castro was definitely out of my element–and meeting people I otherwise may never have met. I find joy in speaking with new people and getting to people watch. The writer in me takes mental notes about character traits, physical traits, and finds inspiration in these strangers. My curiosity runsshot glasses wild.

The event was a huge success in my mind. People had a wonderful time, we watched a teaser of Season 3 Episode 1, and saw a world premiere of a music video made by the very talented artist who does the soundtrack for Happy Hour. I had a jello shot, bought raffle tickets, and made new friends. While none of my tickets came out in the raffle drawing, I still consider myself a winner. Cheesy cliches aside, I’m so glad I went. And I hope to be invited back again.

Missy