Monday, September 14, 2015

Ten Minute Freewrites - Prompt #5 Autobiography

Hello friends and welcome to another edition of...

Ten Minute Freewrites

This one isn't quite a prompt driven freewrite, at least not based off of an image prompt. Instead, this is a freewrite based off of a writing assignment my students will be doing very soon. Autobiography! I make my students do a more story based autobiography, so I like to have examples from my own life for them to see what I'm looking for. Today I'll be sharing the latest of those examples. Enjoy!

Snakes on a Porch

"Yup. That's a rattlesnake all right."
My husband and I stood at the door of my mother's house, staring at the tiny coiled animal guarding the front door. The evening stars and crescent moon bathed the dark street in a little light, though the patio light outshone them all, and had likely attracted our new friend.
Mom was out of town and she had asked us to come house sit for her and care for the Blackmon Zoo, as it was often called. Seven cats, three dogs, a fish, and the myriad of hummingbirds and seed-eating birds she attracted every year to her back yard. It was almost a full time job, and it wasn't going to take care of itself. But before we could begin our new jobs as zookeepers, we had to brave the obstacle before us.
Summertime in Calimesa attracted all kinds of critters. Tarantulas, killdeer birds, nighttime frogs, humongous houseflies. . . anything imaginable. But one of the more dangerous creatures were rattlesnakes. Baby rattlers were the most deadly.
And as luck would have it, a baby rattler had taken up residence on Mom's front porch.
"What do we do?" I asked my husband, Joe.
Joe shook his head. "I don't know. Is it even alive?"
We retrieved the shovel from the backyard and poked the brand new Welcome mat garnishing the concrete patio. The rattlesnake wasn't happy and gave the spade a nice, friendly warning strike.
"Yup. It's alive," Joe quipped.
We called Animal Control. All we got was a recorded message kindly letting us know that Animal Control closed for business over an hour ago.
"Now what?" I asked.
Joe pondered a moment, then looked up the number for Calimesa Police and gave it a ring. The receptionist was very kind and she promised to send a patrol car our way within the hour. We sat on the curb and waited.
Twenty minutes later our patrol car arrived. . . with two more patrol cars in tow. Apparently Thursday nights are slow nights in Calimesa.
The lead police car pulled up next to the house and the sheriff got out. He shook Joe's hand and led his small patrol to the front porch. One policemen pulled out his gun and for a brief, terrifying moment, I thought he was going to shoot the snake. Instead, he activated the flashlight mount on the pistol and flashed it around the porch.
"Yup, that's a rattler all right," he said. "Do you folks have a shovel? We'll take his head off nice and clean."
I shivered. "Uh, yeah, I'll go grab it."
"Wait a minute, James," another policeman said. He pulled out something from his belt. "We get a lot of rattlers this time of year. Let's see if there's other methods of getting rid of the little buggers." He pulled his partner back a ways and moved forward with the device in his hand. I craned my neck for a glance at the object.
He held a can of pepper spray. It took all my will power not to burst out laughing.
The officer got as close as he dared to the snake and unloaded the pepper spray. The snake rolled around on the patio, hissing and rattling, desperate to escape the onslaught. It coiled around and tried snapping a few times at the can, but our brave officer courageously leapt back any time the snake opened its mouth.
Payload delivered, we stood back and watched the results. Five minutes later and the snake hadn't moved or changed, though to say it was angry would be the understatement of the century. The rattle hadn't stopped moving since.
"Damn," the officer said. "No dice."
"Get a shovel," the first officer said. "And let's not waste any more resources on useless experiments, shall we Bob?"
Joe picked up the discarded shovel and passed it to the officer. One well aimed attack later and the snake was neatly beheaded. Well, when I say "neatly," I mean "guts spewed out all over Mom's patio in a colorful display of barbarianism." Joe walked around the side of the house to get the hose.
"Hey, James, check this out." Officer Bob pulled out his phone, tilted it high above his head, and took a selfie of him with the headless snake. "Like a prize hunter, huh?"
"Bob, put that damn phone away and toss that snake into the trash for these fine folks," Officer James said. He turned to me. "Sorry, ma'am. It's been a slow night."
As if that wasn't obvious.
The policemen kindly dropped the snake's remains in the bin on the side of the house. Officer James shook Joe's hand again and the patrol left in a silent parade. Joe hosed the snake guts off the patio, washing away the only evidence of our escapade with our funny snake friend.
I watched Joe wash the patio clean with a frown. "There's got to be a moral to this story," I muttered.
"Yeah," Joe concurred. "When you find a snake on your front porch and Animal Services isn't available, call the fire department."

Remember guys that this is a piece of CREATIVE NONFICTION. I don't actually remember the names of all the officers, though most of the events that I wrote about did take place.

I hope you enjoyed the story! What important autobiographical story can you share?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Liebster Award - Author Life

And the Liebster Award goes to... Me! And apparently all those awesome bloggers out there that I get to tag. =D YAY!

Okay, lemmie explain a little about what's going on here. The wonderful and talented Bethany A. Jennings put together a wonderful blog this week (while in LABOR of all things) about the Liebster Award...

“A Liebster is a ‘pay it forward’ sort of blogging chain mail. Liebster is German for some lovely traits such as endearing, welcoming, and valued. Those are kind compliments to pay via this nomination! It is also to encourage readers to discover new blogs.”
So thank you for those kind thoughts about my blog, Bethany! Bethany frequently comments on my blog, and she blogs about similar things sometimes, with an amazing faith twist. =) Make sure you check out her blog!

So I've got some rules to post about this...

– Answer the 11 interview questions
– In that post, link back to the person who awarded you.
– Choose 11 other bloggers to award, focusing on those with 200 followers or below.
– Link to those bloggers in your post, then go and leave them comments to share the good news!
– Be sure to ask them 11 original questions.

And here are Bethany's 11 original questions!

What is your favorite blog post you’ve ever written?

Hmm... That's a hard one honestly. I like a lot of my posts. But probably it's a toss up between The Emperor is Naked, a blog post about Naked Emperor books in the academic world (don't forget to check out its follow up post, Crossing Worlds), and my series of posts about My Writing Process, My Editing Process, and My Reading Process in animated Top Gear memes. XD I just love how much can be said with a simple image instead of words. It's fun! 

What makes your heart sing about your current WIP or creative endeavor?

Ha ha, WHICH work in progress? I've got tons. XD I'm actually working on a short story, a novel, and several outlines all at once, and I think the thing that will always make me sing about these is the characters. Characters are SO key to a story, and I love all my characters. 

Right now my short story follows one of my fav characters, Matt Azure, when he's a teenager. I've never written him as a teenager before, so it's an odd refreshing task. He's a total brat as a teenager, a stark contrast to his adult self, so it's been fun working through his teenage angst. 


If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Oh man, the obligatory superpower question. Honestly... I'd love shapeshifting powers. I'd love to be able to transform into any animal and just run around in animal form. I think that's why I write so many animal characters.  

Where’s your favorite place you’ve traveled to, and why?

Honestly, I love traveling anywhere where there's a bunch of gorgeous nature. I feel very in tune with God around nature and it just makes me happy. I love anything where I can pull up under a tree or sit on a rock and just stare at the beauty of creation. 
One great place to do that is the Palm Springs Aerial Tram. 

Not a great picture, but still gorgeous.

Speaking of travel, what’s your favorite mode of transportation?

As weird as it might be, I prefer cars. Specifically manual gearbox cars with a throaty engine. I love cars, and I love driving, so I'll stick with them as much as possible. =) 
Though a cool alternative is the boat. I also love boats. XD 

What is your ideal dinner/supper?

Anything my amazing, wonderful, talented husband makes for me. =) He's a great cook and he really throws his heart and soul into everything he cooks. On the plus side, if he cooks something for me, that means I get to eat with him, which makes it that much more enjoyable. 

Joe teaching my best friend Karen how to make sloppy Joes from scratch. =)
What was the first story you ever wrote?

Ha ha, that's a good question. I've been writing so long, I don't know. Two old stories spring to mind though. One was a short story I wrote for an English class in high school. It was a stupid story about a girl who goes into a closet, finds herself on the moon with a lizard named Lugia, and has to defeat some sort of evil thing in order to get back to Earth. It was a nice stolen mix of The Chronicles of Narnia, The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, and Pokemon.

The second was my first "novel" - a hundred pages of flashy magic with elements stolen borrowed from the Lord of the Rings and the His Dark Materials stories. I wrote it in my creative writing class in high school and even printed and bound what I had of the story. 

I actually found the book while cleaning the other day and took the time to read through it. The craft if laughable and the story has no direction, but it wasn't a total waste. There are a few character names and world concepts that I've kept for the Zyearth Chronicles and my main character in this book, Jamaih, has several similar character traits to Matt... I suspect Matt is Jamaih reincarnated.

The one good thing this book did for me is give me confidence as a writer. It's horrible now, but back then it was the longest thing I had ever written and my teacher had so many good things to say about it. She was an amazing teacher, and I feel like I'm a better, more confident writer because of her.

Do you like poetry? If so, what kind?

Eh... I'm kind of jaded by poetry. Since I was an English major, most poetry I read was agenda driven and frustrating. It was so easy to recognize annoying tropes and copy them. Like one of the more prominent ones... the poem written in English by someone who's native language isn't English. I've read dozens where they throw in random words in their home language, with little or no context, so I can't understand the word. That gets very annoying to me and it makes it hard to connect with what the poem is saying.
Writing poetry has similar problems. Structured poems, like sonnets, are really hard to write, but to me, free verse poems are SUPER easy to write and there's no challenge. Boring. 

The only kind of poetry I really enjoy are the kinds with tons of gorgeous, vivid imagery. William Carlos Williams, for example, has tons of amazing poetry like this. The Red Wheelbarrow is a good example. 

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white
Simple, vivid imagery that just speaks to me because of how vivid it is. Very nice. But that's about as far as my love for poetry goes. In fact, I have a habit of skipping poetry in books because it generally annoys me. =P

Tell me about a treasured childhood memory.

Ha ha, I always have the same answer for this one. 
Back when I was I think 8 years old, we lived near a park with a huge hill on it. Sometimes my father would ride down the huge hill with one of us kids (I have two siblings) in a red wagon, kind of like Calvin and Hobbes. 

Problem was, at eight years old, I was a bit too big. But I wanted to go down that hill anyways. Mom tried to get us to stop, but Dad wouldn't hear it. 

So we piled into the wagon and flew down the hill. But since the two of us were so big, we picked up much more speed than my siblings did and went way too fast and too far... and ended up crashing into a tree and turning sideways. Neither of us were hurt, but I remember Mom rushing down the hill, screaming and asking if we were okay. Dad and I just laughed. 

My father passed away four years later just before my 13th birthday. He had a heart attack. I do know that my life would be SO different if Dad was still in it, but I still miss him. This is a pleasant memory to remember him by.

Now tell me about a moment in your life that changed you forever.

Insert obligatory wedding day reference here. XD Though honestly my wedding day was a day to remember and we DID change our lives that day.

But I think a really important day besides that one is moving into our own place for the first time. When Joe and I first got married, we couldn't afford our own place, so we lived in my mom's house. Getting our own place was a taste of freedom that I'll never forget. 

It's been a wild ride living here, but a really happy one. I love it so much.

If you could become an expert in anything overnight, what would you choose?

Ooo, probably drawing. I'd love to be able to draw my own covers and characters for my books and website, but right now my skills aren't really up to par so I have to pay others to do that. Give me the art skills! D=
And those are the rest of the answers!

I don't really have much in the way of people who I can tag... Most of the people I could tag have already BEEN tagged... But I will tag a few.

Andrea Fingerson

Linda Rhoades

Heather Dubois

Jess E. Owen

Mark Malcolm

Becky Minor

Kindra Sowder

Amanda Cate

And anyone else interested. =D If you have a blog (which I know not all of you do) link it here and I'll add a link to your name. =)

Here are your questions!

1. What was your favorite book growing up? 
2. Do you watch sports at all? If you do, what kind and who's your team? 
3. What was the first and last convention you visited? 
4. What was your favorite subject in school, and how much does that subject affect your life now? 
5. What's your favorite snack food? 
6. What's your favorite hobby? If writing is your favorite hobby, tell me your second favorite hobby.
7. What is your least favorite music genre and why? 
8. Vampires, werewolves, ninjas, or pirates? 
9. When was the last thing you sent something through snail mail that wasn't bill related? 
10. Cars - Should they be practical or fast? 
11. What is your favorite part of the Etch-A-Sketch experience? 

Have fun guys! Make sure you post your blogs in the comments when you finish! =D

Friday, May 29, 2015

The World of Five Nights At Freddy's - Story Psychology

Hey everyone! Welcome to a new blog topic - Story Psychology. Stories are a huge part of our lives and they come in all shapes and sizes - movies, TV shows, books, role playing, video games, comics, and even day to day conversations. But there's a psychology to stories. We're attracted to them because of the way they make us feel.

Five Nights At Freddy's
But sometimes, the way they make us feel isn't the EXPECTED way. Genre should dictate our feelings - horror should make us feel scared, humor should make us feel happy, and romance should make us feel loving.

Good stories, however, don't let genre define them, and when fans are in love with a story, their love for the story may change their feelings for it.

For example, let's look at Five Nights at Freddy's.

For anyone who doesn't know Five Nights at Freddy's (all of you that have been hiding under a ROCK since August of 2014) Five Nights is an indie horror game created by Scott Cawthon. The game takes place at a Chuck E. Cheese style pizzeria. You play a night guard, and your goal is to watch a set of security cameras and keep an eye on the animatronic characters.

Oh yeah, and don't die.

The animatronics apparently have a flaw in their systems where they mistake you, the night guard, for an animatronic endoskeleton without its costume on. So if they catch you, they'll try to stuff you inside one of the animatronic suits... which is full of crossbeams, wires, and animatronic devices. As the Phone Guy says, the only parts of you that'll see the light of day again will be your eyes and teeth.


If you want to get a feel for how the game plays, watch Markiplier's play through of the first game. It's definitely got a jump scare value.

The games themselves are huge, and its got a massive following. Scott blasted through development for the games and came out with three games in about nine months or so. It's so huge that Warner Bros. recently picked up movie rights for it.

The world of Five Nights is huge too. Since the story behind the games (and yes, there is a story) is so vague, the games have spawned hundreds of theories.

The Game Theorists have come up with some of the most compelling theories surrounding the games.

The basic story involves a horrible series of murders by a mysterious "purple guy." According to newspaper clippings found in the game, a man used an empty character suit and lured five children into a backroom, murdered them, and stuffed them into the animatronic suits. Canonically, the five spirits of the dead children possessed the character suits and are out for revenge.

And this, dear readers, is where everything stems from. This is where the genre stopped defining our relationship to the characters.

This, as I previously mentioned, is a horror story. But fans of the story are in love with the characters.


Because of the murders.

Image by Mittenpatty
Few things are more tragic than the death of a child, especially when it's a murder at a place that should be happy. We relate to the sadness. We feel connected to those dead children.

More importantly, we recognize that those spirits are not trying to be malicious. After all, they're just children.

So, even though the robots are trying to kill us, when things go bad for them, we sympathize.

Image via
(Please do not use without the artist's express permission)
YouTuber Markiplier famously played all three Five Nights at Freddy's games and decimated all of them. But in game three, when Markiplier sees the characters being torn up by the Purple Guy, he feels real remorse. We're ATTACHED to them.

Image via
I highly doubt Scott Cawthon set out to create beloved characters in these creatures. He intended for us to fear them in only the worst way. He wanted us to run, screaming from their sights. He wanted us to hate them and ENJOY it when they got torn up or when the restaurants were shut down.

Image via
But instead we feel REMORSE for these characters. We LOVE them. We CRY when they're injured.

And it's all because of those dead children.

It's funny how emotion works.

What we want, more than anything as a player, is not to live through the night at this stupid, scary job. What we want is for these children to be able to escape their nightmares. We want them to be free. We want their trapped souls to finally find rest.

And Scott Cawthon gives us that ending.

In the third installment of Five Nights at Freddy's, after a series of complex minigames involving bring cake to the crying souls of the murdered children, all six children have had their souls calmed. They leave behind the masks of the suits that housed them. They no longer seek revenge. Instead, they float away on colored balloons, hopefully on some peaceful journey where they can rest.

They're free. And the player, knowing they did some good, can rest easy as well.

So it's not fear that drives our love of these games. Not really. It's something so much deeper than that. It's love. It's sympathy. It's a desire to HELP not DESTROY the souls of the creatures that are trying to murder us for just doing our jobs.

This is what makes Five Nights at Freddy's such a compelling game and such a powerful story.

What do you think of Five Nights at Freddy's? Do you agree with my analysis? Do you know any other stories that defy their genre and create different emotions in our minds? Let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

California Rain - Meenanful Life

It rained in California recently. OMG.  This is a very good thing, since we are currently in a horrible drought.

Californians have a love/hate relationship with rain. On the one hand, it's rare to even get rain, many of us long for it. On the other hand, we live in California for a REASON and that reason is the many guaranteed bright sunny days throughout the year.

Last year's big rainstorm

Since we live our daily lives based on that reason, we generally don't know how to handle rain very well.

The first thing that always happens in the rain is everyone suddenly forgets how to drive.

A rainstorm in So Cal is usually followed by sirens. Lots and lots of sirens. Your commute to work will suddenly take three times as long because all the freeways are littered with accidents. Drivers either drive too fast, or too slow, they swerve in an out of lanes, and they have no idea how to deal with hydroplaning.

To be fair to drivers though, part of this is because of good ol' Caltrans. Our bridges can withstand earthquakes that would level cities anywhere else in the country, but when it rains, you're better off taking a boat to work, there's so many puddles.

Parks and storm drains aren't safe either. Here's what our last storm did to the BRAND NEW PARK down the street from my house.

Storm Drain damage
Sidewalk damage
 It's not just drivers either. It's the average person.

If you're from So Cal, you fall into one of two categories when it rains - The Uber Prepared or The Under Prepared.

The Uber Prepared is the person who has rainboots and umbrellas hanging out by the front door 365 days a year. They also have six different rain coats and keep spare umbrellas in their cars. They also keep secret stashes of hot cocoa and tomato soup in their closet. If there is even a WHIFF of rain on the horizon, they are immediately decked out and they proudly show off their undoubtedly colorful novelty umbrella once the water does start to fall.

Sometimes The Uber Prepared can be the kindest person ever. They have an umbrella that can house eight people and will invite any poor, sopping wet soul that can fit to share with them. But sometimes, they're cruel. They have one tiny umbrella that they refuse to share with anyone, lest they get a shoulder wet. However, they will always say something to the tone of "How 'bout this rain?" just so the sopping wet person next to them realizes what a wonderful person they are for being prepared. 

Oh, one side note too. Rain in California never falls straight down. There's always some kind of HECTIC WIND that comes with it, meaning you need to turn your umbrella sideways in order to actually STOP IT.

Which means you usually look like this.

And even The Uber Prepared person may find that their year old, unused umbrella has suddenly developed a catastrophic flaw that makes it completely useless. During this last rainstorm, my umbrella decided it didn't want to stay open, so I had to hold it open... while carrying a computer bag, purse, and lunchbox. FUN. 

The Under Prepared Californian is the kind of person who lives life thinking it'll never rain. These are the guys that you see walking around in shorts or short skirts, flip flops, and tank tops, even when it's pouring buckets over their heads. They looked at the forecast, saw it said 80% chance of rain and said decided that 20% chance of NOT rain was a good enough excuse to show off their new beachwear. They may own an umbrella, but it's probably six years old and its never been used because its owner forgets it every single time it rains, forcing them to buy a new one while they're out and about.

This is why grocery stores and pharmacies make a killing on rainy days. Fifteen bucks for an umbrella that would normally cost five.

More often than not, Californians fall under the Under Prepared category.

I tend to fall in the Uber Prepared category.

I love rain. I'm one of those people who like to curl up with a good book and a hot cup of cocoa when it rains. I don't have rainboots, but I do have three rain jackets. I like to share my umbrella with people who need it.

But I think I like rain because I don't get it very often. Sometimes when something is uncommon, we appreciate it more. Those amazing moments of perfect love you feel for your significant other. That nostalgic cake flavor you always get for your birthday. A day with the friend you rarely get to see. We treasure those moments.

So despite the problems of California rain, I will always love it, because I never know when it's going to come back.

What special uncommon moments do you like? Are you an Uber Prepared or an Under Prepared? What's your favorite rain memory? Share in the comments below!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Ten Minute Freewrites - Prompt #4 Last Meeting Place

Hey everyone! Welcome to another edition of Ten Minute Freewrites. Today I'm going bonkers and doing a freewrite using a yet-to-be-revealed character from the Zyearth world. This one won't show up for many novels to come.

It's gonna be a blast. =D

Today's freewrite comes from, yet again, and all her awesome prompts. Enjoy.

Ronan stood outside the burning forest.

This was it. The last place he said he'd meet his dad if something bad happened. Too bad something bad had already happened to Dad. He died last year. But Ronan's brother would be there. He knew the meeting place. He'd have Mom with him. They'd know what to do.

If only the soot would stop sticking to his white quills and fur. If only he could breathe properly.

Ronan entered the woods.

Inside, the burning slowed down and there were plenty of places for him to move around. The floor was black with ash which stuck to his short legs, but he didn't care. Mom always said a little dirt never hurt anyone.

He held a small Gem in his hand. It had been completely clear just three days ago, but now it was white and green, like Ronan's fur and eyes. His mother had been shocked. After all, Ronan was only four. Bindings weren't supposed to happen for another sixteen years. Also, Ronan wasn't supposed to get the Gem. Angus was.

Ronan furrowed his brow and wrinkled his snout. Well, he didn't deserve it anyway. He didn't even care when Dad died, and he didn't care about Dad's Gem. Ronan did. He deserved it.

Besides, the lady in the Gem would never have talked to Angus.

Ronan frowned. But the lady in the Gem took Ronan's mother. She DID something to her, but Ronan didn't know what. All he knew was that mom suddenly looked funny and then creatures fell from the sky. They hurt a bunch of people, but Mom didn't seem to care, so Ronan didn't either. He just stuck close to her while it happened.

Then the bad people came. Someone in white with a golden pendant. Someone who wanted to hurt Mom. Ronan got lost after that.

But Mom would be there. With Angus. He knew that much to be true.


Well, that one didn't go very far. But it was fun to write. Stay tuned for more about Ronan and Angus.

Give me prompt suggestions! Pick anything. =D I will happily link a website, Facebook page, or blog to anyone willing to give me a prompt idea.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Learning To Deal With Change... In Formula One - Meenanful Life

Let's start with Formula One.

For those who have never heard of this strange, mystical thing called Formula One, let me clear some stuff up. Formula One is the pinnacle of motorsport racing. It's the largest series, the most expensive series, the most international series, and one of the most watched spectator sports on the planet, coming in just below soccer and NASCAR.

It's open wheel racing, and these cars are horrendously difficult to use. They're also extremely fragile. A team will go through anywhere from six to ten engines, gear boxes, wings, and other components throughout a season... and two to five sets of tires a RACE.

Imagine doing that to YOUR car. Can you imagine an entire engine replacement every few weeks? Can you fathom the sheer amount of money and time you'd loose if you had to replace your tires three times every time you commuted to work?

And then there's the money.

Richard Hammond can explain that even better than me. He drives for a living, but when he drove a Formula car, it was completely beyond his experience.

And I'm in love with the sport. 

I don't like most sports. I do occasionally visit the Angels and pray to the gods of baseball that they might actually hit something, but other than that my sport of F1.

My husband got me into the sport. I still remember the first race I ever watched, way back in 2010. Lewis Hamilton, my husband's favorite driver, was waaaay ahead of the rest of the pack. So far ahead, that there was almost a MINUTE between him and the racer in second place. In Formula One, where most race laps are less than two minutes, that's HUGE.

My husband and I have been watching ever since. My mother in law is always telling me how wonderful she thinks it is that we can have such a fun common interest. =)

Everyone has their team, and I'm a Red Bull fan girl.

Fancy (and expensive) Official Team Wear
I fell in love with the team back when Sebastian Vettel, my fav driver, won his first World Championship. The first of FOUR back to back championships.

Everything was happy in my world. Until this year.

This year, everything changed.

This year, Sebastian, frustrated with his continued losses at Red Bull for the past two years, jumped ship and ran for the biggest name in the business - Ferrari.

I hate Ferrari. Sure, their street cars are nice, but the F1 team is BRUTAL. They play favorites between their drivers and heartlessly fire anyone that doesn't meet up to their expectations. All teams have two drivers, but Ferrari sees their second driver as a way to protect their first driver, even if that means telling them to slow down and let the first driver go past. They are known for being rude, cruel, and endlessly frustrating.

Oh, if only Seb had gone to any other team. WHY FERARRI? Ugh.

To make matters worse, all my other favorite drivers are being shuffled around. Red Bull is talking about leaving the racing series. Mercedes, a team that has been in the rest of the teams' shadows for years, is suddenly winning EVERY SINGLE RACE.

UGH. Everything is CHANGING. And I hate change. 

But I can't stop it. I can't make the drivers stay in their normal spots. I can't stop teams from dropping slow drivers and keeping dangerous ones because of good sponsors.

But, that's why we have the Serenity Prayer.

My father made this. It took him years to perfect his skill in inked calligraphy. It took hours of tedious work to get the words just right on this paper. It took time and patience to burn the edges of the paper just right and to get the glue just perfect on the wood. Dad lived patience for this piece.

Whenever I think of change going on in my life that I'm not happy about, I think of this prayer. Specifically, I think of Dad's work on this piece.

I remember that dealing with change can be an exercise in patience.

Yes, Formula One change is not a huge change. It doesn't affect my day to day life. It doesn't change anything socially, psychologically, or financially about my life or my family. The only thing it REALLY does is give my husband an excuse to make fun of my choice in drivers.

This is one of those "Accept the things I cannot change" things.

But I can change my attitude about it. I can realize how much Formula One means to me. I can see that the sport is a great way for my husband and I to connect. I can use our common interest to get closer to him and reach a part of him that would otherwise be impossible to reach. I can benefit from enjoying my sport even when it's changing in ways I'm not happy about.

And if I can change my attitude about Formula One, I can change my attitude about anything.

I can choose to be less frustrated and more concerned for my students.

I can choose to spend less time whining and more time writing for my books and short stories.

I can choose not to let things I can't change bother me.

So yes, I can't change Formula One. But I can change a lot in my life and make things work out for the best.

What do you guys think about change? Have you ever had to make a big change in your life? Do you have any sports that you really enjoy that have changed dramatically in the past? How did you react to that change? Share in the comments below!

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Wendigo - Creature Research

I write animal fiction. Occasionally, I use mythological or legendary creatures that don't exist in the real world. Understanding these creatures requires research.

And so, today, I present you some of the results of my research.

Long time readers of my blog might remember me introducing the character Darvin Wendigo, an anthropomorphic stag and an important side character in The Stolen Defender.

Darvin, along with his brother Roscoe, get their last name from the legendary creature the Wendigo.

The Wendigo is a Native American, specifically Algonquian, legend about a half beast demon creature with an insatiable lust for human flesh. While the Wendigo has lots of different physical forms in legend, the most popular modern interpretation is a stag... and not a pretty stag at at that.

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They're usually depicted with grotesquely long arms and legs, ribs showing, and blood everywhere. Their skulls and bones show through too, as Wendigos will often eat their own lips or fingertips trying to satiate their bloodlust. They are also soulless. And ironic twist in my stories, since I have soulless characters. XD

Basically, according to legend, anyone who eats human flesh, in other words, cannibals, becomes a Wendigo. Wendigos were evil spirits that possessed cannibals.

Most of the native American tribes that had Wendigo legends were in cold, wintery areas in Canada and North America, so some speculate that the legend was created to reinforce the taboo of cannibalism even in times when it was difficult to find food. These tribes taught that there is NO excuse for cannibalism, even to survive. Instead, if you're starving and can't stand it anymore, you should resign yourself to your fate or kill yourself.

Wendigos were supposed to embody death as well. To be a Wendigo is not a pretty thing.

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If a Wendigo decides to victimize you, you literally cannot escape. Apparently, some legends say it can cross space and time to find its victims. So don't eat people. Srsly.

The Wendigo legend still exists in modern society and some people have reported on Reddit that they grew up with legends of the Wendigo. According to Reddit posters, you could hear a Wendigo's heartbeat far away, and they're super strong.

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Wendigos have a lot of modern interpretations. There are several movies and TV shows depicting Wendigos in all forms. Grimm, Supernatural, The X-Files and Teen Wolf have all had episodes with Wendigos. A horror film from 2001 called "Wendigo" used Wendigos as the primary monster. Even My Little Pony used a form of Wendigos called "Windigos" that thrived on conflict and anger and created huge storms.

Marvel Comics even has a form of Wendigo in their X-Men mutant character by the same name.

But Wendigos have other modern interpretations as well. There is a psychological disorder known as "Wendigo Psychosis." Sufferers of this condition lust for human flesh even when other sources of food are available. Some people speculate that it's a form of "cabin fever" and paranoia that occurs when there is a small group of people in close quarters with one another for too long.

Wendigo Psychosis is not common anymore, but in some extreme cases, such as cannibalism as a survival method, it can still happen.

What does this have to do with the beloved Wendigo brothers of The Stolen Defender? Nothing really, other than the fact that I like the name and associate with stags, so I took it. XD Don't worry though. They don't become crazy soulless monsters thirsting for flesh. . .

Or do they?

What do you guys think of the Wendigo? What other creatures would you like me to research? Comment below!