Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Invaded by Sparkly Vamps

What have I done? My kids now like the Twilight movie.

I checked out the DVD from the library. Why? Well, because I never could finish the book (but you know that), and I wanted to be fair, to see the story to the end, and see the other aspect of this (ridiculous) phenomenon. I read nonfiction books by people with opposing viewpoints so I can be educated on both sides of a debate, and I consider this something along those lines. In other words, I can't justifiably say the movie is stupid if I've never seen it. (And, I thought it'd be fun to heckle.)

Now I've seen it. Now I'm justified. I am also horrified because my kids do not share my disdain.

I will admit, the movie wasn't *quite* as awful as I expected. There were even a few scenes I enjoyed. The one in the ballet studio was pretty cool, and the very end in the gazebo at the prom. Those were the only places in the whole movie, though, where I bought the characters. The rest of the time I kept thinking that the vamps looked like pretty mimes, and Edward in particular looked like a tortured James Dean wanna be. And the expressions Bella kept making--what is with all the erratic blinking and facial twitches? Yes, I found her just as annoying in the movie as I did in the book.

Also, the whole scene where Bella wakes up with Edward in her bedroom--can you say stalker? That scene made me want to scream out to every girl on the planet. You see, it looks all romantic I guess on screen like that--I personally found it creepy--but in real life if a guy were to do that he's probably a psycho.

The only thing that truly surprised me was the Cullen family. I didn't get far enough into the book to realize the "parents" and "siblings" were actually nice. (Well, except for the one blond, who seemed to have a serious attitude problem.) I knew from the book that they only ate animal blood, but I had no idea that the father was such a genuine guy, and that the whole family accepted Bella and even risked their "lives" to save her. (Well, blondie was a little resistant :P.) That bit did soften my heart just a tad.

It did not, however, make me want to run out and get the other movies. My kids, on the other hand...I guess I'll just have to hope they forget. At least they only asked to "rent" the next movie--they know better than to think I'd consider buying it!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Sand is Always Whiter on the Other Side

Yeah, I know--the saying is technically "The grass is always greener on the other side." But I live in Florida. And for the last week I was camping with my family at Fort Desoto, which is right on the water. We also spent a good amount of time at St. Pete beach and Clearwater beach. I had fun, but I'm not really a beach person. I thought today, while I'm completely wiped out from the trip, I'd share why:

Sunscreen. It is sticky and greasy. Yes, some is less so, but none is completely not so. It's expensive, too. And no matter how you slice it, it's chock-full of chemicals. And it burns when it drips into your eyes. Which brings me to...

Sweat. Yep, you go to the beach in Florida any time other than February and you will sweat. And it just coats your skin because Florida is so humid. So, now you're sticky and sweaty...time for....

Sand. It's so white and pretty to look at. But when it's stuck to your sticky, sweaty skin it's not so pretty. When it's worming its way into every crack and crevice it's no fun either. And when the sun beats down on it, it gets hot. Burn the bottom of your feet hot. And so does....

Pavement. However hot the sand is, the pavement is at least twice as hot. And in Florida, it's everywhere. If there's room, someone will come along and pave every bit of land they can. Yet there is an extreme....

Lack of parking. I think there must be a law on the books somewhere that says no shop or restaurant is allowed more than two parking spaces in St. Pete, and in Clearwater they're allowed none. Everything is metered, so you get to walk for miles on that hot pavement, sticky and sweaty and covered in sand, in order to get to your car. And while you're walking, watch out for....

Tourists who have no clue where they're going. Seriously, it sometimes seems that every state in the US is determined to send their worst drivers to Florida. Although, in their defense, we have to consider.....

Florida roads, and thereby their planners, which make it impossible for anyone, including native Floridians, to find their way around. Can you say no common sense? How about pointless round-abouts? And speaking of pointless....

Palm trees. They provide no shade. They provide no food (not here, anyway). They are not, technically, even trees. Yep, they are in the grass family. They are really overgrown weeds. Which brings me to the wildlife....

Jellyfish and sharks. They scare the life out of me. The beach is pretty safe when it comes to sharks, although I have seen them myself right there by the water--watched a friend of mine dash into the waves to snatch his five-year-old son out of the way of one. And jellyfish are just creepy. Not quite as creepy as...

Speedos. Why is it that those suits are only ever worn by the people who have the farthest thing in the world from a swimmer's body? This is not a matter for political correctness--it's simple math: the more surface area you have, the more material you need to cover the same percentage of skin.

OK....I guess that's probably enough, eh? I could list a few more things, like dirty beach restrooms with no soap, overpriced shops filled with obscene t-shirts, and the fact that high-rise condos and hotels are taking over so you can no longer even see the beach unless you pay $200 a night to do so.


What makes up for all of the above:

Eating grouper sandwiches and gator nuggets, and sipping a pina colada, on an outside deck, while listening to cover bands who play eighties music and Jimmy Buffet as the sun sets.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Weird, Writerly, Winterly Week

This week has been kinda weird. The days have both drifted and zipped by at the same time. I got *some* writing done, but have focused more of my writerly energy on copy-editing a manuscript for someone else.

Oh, no. Hand-slap, Kat. This is not a "manuscript." It has earned the status of full-fledged BOOK, and will be released on June 1st through Splashdown Books' new imprint Darkwater.

"What book is it?" you ask. It's called Winter, and the author is Keven Newsome, founder of New Authors' Fellowship (you know, that group blog of which I'm a member--and if you are not, you *should* be following!).

I read the manuscript--back when that's what it was, before Grace Bridges from Splashdown got her hands on it. I knew--let me repeat--I knew--she'd fall in love with it. It took all my restraint to not rave and insist she publish it--she needed to make her own decision, of course, and I wanted no accusations of trying to influence. Instead, I kept my mouth shut and simply told her I had a feeling I knew what she'd think.

I was right, of course!

I've had to keep my mouth shut about the contract, the book cover design (amazing work by Holly Heisey!)...all of it, because Keven wanted a big reveal. He had plans...including an awesome trailer. Which you can view at the end of this post.

What I want to say really quickly before that, though, is how excited I am about this. The book rocks. It is close to home for me because the main character is Goth. I was never full-fledged Goth, but I teetered on the edge for some time. I can really relate to her. And the story itself is good. Dark, suspenseful. Perfect for a premier release at Darkwater.

Also, props to the editor who is combing through Winter before me--Kristen Stieffel, who is not leaving much for me to actually edit :P. She's doing an amazing job! I'm just more brutal when it comes to "chop, chop, kill your darlings." I've had another crit partner dub me "The Hacker." What I say to that--MY writing wouldn't be what it is if I hadn't had a "hacker" of my own go after it. I chop-chop out of love, because I have full faith in Winter.

OK, the time has come. We are at the end of my post, and I leave you with the trailer for Winter, by Keven Newsome:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I Tried....but It's Still a Rant

I've done this before--tried over and over to write a blog and had it turn into a rant with each attempt. It's happened again today. I'm not apologizing, though. If ya don't wanna read it, ya don't gotta.

So, I've noticed that in the publishing world "like attracts like." Writers of the same genre seem to find each other and congregate. This is a good thing. It allows for the development of critique groups. It gives writers a support system. It surrounds us with people who "get" us--people who write the same kind of stuff, and who understand our genre and style.

Another kind of writer grouping seems to occur naturally, too. That of talent/experience level. Writers who have traveled about the same distance tend to find each other and form friendships. Newbies, nearly-published, first-time published, multi-published. You don't see authors with a dozen books under their belt buddying up with writers who have just started the journey. Sometimes more experienced writers offer to guide those several steps behind, but they don't send newbies their manuscripts for critique.

I remember as a new author being irritated by this fact. I saw it as a "social club" almost. I'd read published books that I thought weren't any better than my manuscript. I'd see pictures online of authors hanging out together and think to myself, "See, it IS who you know." But I've come to realize it's more like the graduating class in high school. They're the seniors and they've known each other since freshman year. And someday, I'll be in my own senior class.

Oh, wait--you're wondering what happened to the rant, aren't you?

Here it is:

Graduation isn't automatic. You may all turn a year older at about the same time, but you won't move into the next grade unless you pass your classes. You have to show up for class, do the homework, and take tests. You have to work.

There are exceptions of course. The quarterback who is given passing grades so there's no chance he'll get cut from the team. The class schmoozer who talks the teacher into giving him an extension for almost every assignment. The girl who plays victim so the teachers will feel sorry for her and be more lenient. We've all seen it. And it happens in the writing world, too.

There are writers who seem to think they can stand on others' shoulders. They think that if they can make the right "connections" they'll be guaranteed a spot with a publisher. They figure name-dropping and elbow-rubbing will get them in. They want that graduation cap and robe, they want that diploma, but they don't want to do the work everyone else has to do. Like learning craft. Like getting critique. Like learning how to take advice from the experts. Like actually writing and submitting.

Sure, there are writers who get published through luck or circumstance. Sometimes, it is who you know. Sometimes you can schmooze your way to success. Sometimes, but rarely. Besides--what does it gain you? What difference does it make to be called a writer if you're not called so because of your actual writing?

There are days when I feel I've run a 1,000-mile marathon in order to take one baby step toward publishing. It's frustrating. What is more frustrating, though, is when I see writers trying to jump ahead, looking for the easy way. Maybe that works for them. But I'd rather live in obscurity and know that I've done all that I can to make my writing the best it can be than gain notoriety I didn't earn.

OK, there. My rant. I'm done now.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

An Ode to Kat's Hair

So...this week I got my hair colored. I've never colored my hair before, and after this experience I never will again. I'm not going to go into it--suffice it to say, chemicals don't like me. No, I didn't have an allergic reaction, but I have a constant metallic taste that is driving me nuts! The color is not horrible or anything, just too dark, and it's making me nostalgic.

Therefore, I'm taking you on a trip back in time, through the many styles of Kat Heckenbach's hair.

Let's start in high school. Here's me with a couple of buds. I'm the one on the left, with the t-shirt I painted myself :). Ripped jeans were a must. Below the jeans, unseen in the pic, were my ever-present faded and written/drawn on black Converse hi-tops.

My head is tilted back in the above pic. Normally my bangs hung in my face the way they do in this next pic, taken at my high school graduation. Notice the red. That was my natural color! Oh, and that's my dad with me:

Next, we have me at about eighteen. The bangs are gone in this one, but then so is pretty much all of my hair. From the back I looked like a guy in the military--full-blown clipper cut. Sportin' a Ramones t-shirt. They so rock.

My hair still looked pretty much like that when I took a job at Sports Authority. I met my husband, Jeff, there, although I'd started growing it out before we started dating. By the time we got married--three years later--it looked like this:

A few years go by, and I graduate college. Here are a couple more--the first is my official graduation pic, and the second is from my grad party. Notice--still red. Still natural, too.

Sigh...if my hair still looked like that, it'd be long right now. But alas, time and age have changed it. I had kids. The new look became "Kat in a pony tail" every day, all day. Notice that even in the sun here the red has darkened to brown:

Look at that little peanut in my lap. He's five feet tall and 100 pounds now. Anyway, next is a Mother's Day picture I love. It was taken a few months after I finished chemotherapy. Obviously, chemo didn't make my hair fall out. But it did change the texture. Before long, the smooth waves started tightening. You can't tell here, unless you look closely at the curly wisps around my face.

Not long after that, I tried cutting it a bit. Better, but still too thick!

Since then, I've grown it out, cut it, grown it out, cut it...and it's just gotten darker and curlier. A couple years ago, I hit the breaking point. This is what it had started looking like (bad resolution, sorry, but you get the idea). Me and my bro:

You may be thinking, "That's not so bad." Well, it's not just poofy, it's thick--which means what it feels like is this:

Which brings us to now. About two years ago, I chopped my hair to above my shoulders, but it would never do what I wanted--still too thick and the curls aren't true curls. So about a year ago I cut my hair the way it is today:

And then the coloring from the other day...Imagine that same cut, but dark-dark-dark-dark-dark-purplish-brown-which-was-supposed-to-be-red. Sigh...

There you have it, folks. More than you ever wanted to know about Kat's hair. Hope you enjoyed the trip. I guess I'll update later when my new color has grown out and/or faded and I've decided what to do with it!

Until then....

(PS--I noticed going through here there are no pics of my mom with me...not leaving you out, Mom, I promise! I guess I just didn't have any "hair" pics with you in them.)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bratty Little Writer's Block

My dear friend Robynn Tolbert, aka the Ranunculus Turtle, posted on her blog today about writer's block. I'm totally poaching her topic, so when you're done reading my post, please hop over HERE and read hers. Or read hers first. I'll wait on ya.

Robynn mentions that she mocked Anne Lamott for having three years of writers block, and is now feeling like she's getting payback for her insensitivity. Robynn, no fear, you are not alone. In writers block and in the mocking. I think they both come with the territory. It's sort of like parenting--when you haven't had kids yet, or you are a new parent, it's easy to judge. We've all seen a bratty little kid and said, out loud or not, "MY kid will never behave like that because I'll..."

And what happens? Your kid does exactly that bratty thing you said you'd never allow, and you find yourself powerless to stop it.

Writer's block is that bratty little kid. It comes along to make your life miserable at the most inopportune times.

But what causes it?

Sometimes kids act up because they need attention. Sometimes what they need is less attention--a nice little time out. I think writing is the same.

Writer's block can come along because you're going about your writing the wrong way. You're not really giving it the attention it needs. You go through the motions of sitting in front of the computer, but your heart's not really in it. In these cases, you need to refocus. You need to let go of the things cluttering your mind and put everything into your writing.

Other times your writing needs a time out. You do have a life, remember? Other things need you, too, and if you're trying to focus too hard on writing, those things sort of clog your creativity. So step aside from writing and take care of you, your family, your house, that stinky litter box. Or take some time to relax, go on a vacation. Read. (Remember reading? The thing that got you on this crazy ride in the first place! Get back to it, and it can push you right back onto the ride.)

Of course, the real problem is knowing WHICH reason is causing the block. On that, I can't help you. It's as difficult as figuring out the trigger of a toddler's temper tantrum, sorry to say.

The biggest thing to remember is to not let it stress you out. You are not Anne Lamott. Your livelihood is not dependent on your writing at this time. When you get to her level, when writing pays enough for you to quit your day job and it becomes your main source of income, then you can freak about it like she does.

(Yep, I'm laughing at that last paragraph, too....as I bang my head against the desk, unable to control my own bratty little writer's block.)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Beastly Review

I don't normally review movies on here. Actually, I may have never reviewed a single movie on here...not entirely sure, too many posts to keep track quite honestly. So why am I doing so now? Well, I remember the first time I saw the preview for Beastly. My immediate thought was, "Wicked!" A modern day twist on Beauty and the Beast, one of my favorite fairy tales. It just looked too cool.

And then I read some reviews.

"Less than glowing" would be an understatement. Everything was bashed, from the acting to the plot to the dialog. I was so disappointed. I'd really wanted to see the movie, but now....

Oh, wait! What am I saying? Since when do I listen to the critics? I mean, yeah, one of the reviews was actually done by a teen on a teen blog, which in this case I'd give more merit than a "real critic," but I make my own decisions.

So, off to the movies I went today. And guess what? I liked it!

I saw no issue with the acting. Actually, I thought it was pretty good. Especially Will, the tutor, played by Neil Patrick Harris. I thought his character was great. And Kendra...played by Mary-Kate Olson...she was too cool.

The plot worked for me, too. The dialog had hokey moments--just a couple, and only mildly. Seriously didn't bother me at all. Was this Oscar material? Doubt it. Was it a great way to spend an afternoon? You bet.

The ONLY issue I had was the overuse of cussing, mostly in the beginning. I thought that was totally unnecessary. I mean, I've got no problem with cussing in movies, but I've seen plenty of R-rated flicks with way fewer curse words. I honestly think it was all thrown in to bring the rating up from PG to PG-13 because otherwise the movie was quite clean. It's just that Hollywood thinks teens won't see anything below a PG-13. Makes me mad, actually, but I don't blame the movie for that!

Anyway, I guess I'm the odd man out when it comes to Beastly. I'd totally watch it again.