Category Archives: life

Haunting Borders

Yesterday, all I did for the entire day was haunt Borders.

Borders is an excellent place to haunt. They have ready-made spaces for haunters–though admittedly, those spaces have become few and far between since they moved all the chairs back to the café section. They used to have chairs all over the place, but I think someone wised up to the fact that dedicated readers sitting in the café are more likely to purchase something than dedicated readers sitting out of range of the food smells.

So. My friend Lell and I haunted the cafe for nigh on to five hours. (Borders’ plan worked, by the way; we both bought food). During those five hours, I rediscovered the joy of working in large chunks of time. It ensures that you get more done. By the end of the day, I couldn’t believe how far I’d moved along in FLYNN’s editing process.

The best situation, of course, is if you can work for a long chunk of time with a friend. It makes the time go faster if you have another human to take short breaks with. Especially if that other human is receiving periodic updates from her sister who is stranded at the Dallas airport. It’s like getting little segments of a “to-be-continued” story as you are writing your own story.

We saw another of my friends there, by completely random coincidence, and that creepy guy I’ve seen before who I’m halfway convinced is a stalker. Only stalkers wear baseball caps over their eyebrows and peer at you from over the rim of impossibly tiny glasses, right?

All in all, it was a great day of haunting, and I highly recommend a bookstore haunt to any author wishing to get serious edits done. I think I will do it again next Wednesday. Hopefully minus creepy guy and plus Lell again.




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A Busy Week

Pub Board discussions are going on this week at Written World Communications. It’s quite an exciting time as we look at a selection of submitted work and decide which items to pick for publication this year. We’re hoping to start the year off with a bang, and also to be diverse in the fiction we publish. We have discussed genres from romance to historical to paranormal thriller. Just have to wait and see how things shake out as far as what will be published, and when.

Aside from that, I have taken a delightful stroll with FLYNN through the first chapters of her adventures these last two days. I love the final stages of editing–when you don’t have to change much, but you get to focus on making the wording ever-more delicious and stare anxiously at your word count as you find unnecessary “that”s and “then”s and “had”s that really shouldn’t have been there anyway because, let’s face it, you cheated a little bit and used those words you weren’t supposed to use in your prose!

I’ve also been reminiscing about my time working at a small newspaper in northern Illinois. I loved all the strange quirkiness of being at a newspaper. The man we called “Captain Underpants” because he came into the office in boxers and a wife beater. The suspicious pile of dead hogs that my boss happened upon on a farm and tried to do an exposé on. The automated phone message that would always call the office and begin “Hi. This is not a joke.” Ah, good times. I never thought I would miss anything about living up north, but Ogle County Newspapers is it.

Back to work for the day. I received a message from an agent, letting me know she’ll be looking over my query soon, so stay tuned for any news!


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9 Shocking Moments of 2009

As 2009 draws to a close, most of us look back on the year’s events with fondness. Or grimaces, depending on which event you’re thinking of. This was a year of “shocker” moments–every couple of months, it seemed, we were blindsided by some unexpected news story. Some made us sniffle, some made us angry. Some were so strange that we simply blinked at our televisions for a few seconds, then turned to the people around us to make sure that we really did just see that.

The Nine Shocking Moments of 2009 is an attempt to pay tribute to this year of shockers. It sticks mostly to pop-culture, with a couple of exceptions. A few political and economic concerns were so big and so shocking that they made it into the awareness of even the most tuned-out tabloid-reading pop culture junkies.

#9: Jon & Kate Plus Eight Minus Jon = Tabloids.

Jon and Kate Gosselin’s failed marriage shocked many fans of the show–not because their breakup was sudden, but because we couldn’t believe it would happen to them. Jon and Kate embodied for many the ideal of making your family dynamics work, no matter how difficult.

#8: Blaggo on the Radio.

Wait a second! I thought we finally got rid of Rod Blagojevich. Wasn’t he removed from office? Isn’t he kind of — in the doghouse — with most of the country? How on earth did he weasel his way into hosting a talk show? Did everyone in the Chicago radio industry get collective amnesia and forget that most of Illinois doesn’t want to listen to Blaggo anymore?

#7: AIG Bonu — er, *cough*, —  I Mean BAILOUTS.

An economy in crisis. People losing homes right and left. Companies filing for bankruptcy. And the people at AIG really think it’s okay to use their portion of bailout money to make life super comfortable for their elite members? The shock factor here comes from the fact that they’re either horrendously stupid or gutsier than most of us could ever hope to be.

#6.: Quinto vs. Nimoy.

The new “Star Trek” movie is the strongest proof yet that human cloning is possible. Audiences sat stunned in the midnight showings, unable to comprehend the sight of a living, breathing, 40-years-younger version of the original Spock. If Zachary Quinto is not a clone of Leonard Nimoy, then I am a yellow-bellied marmot.

#5: Balloon Boy.

Imagine listening to your friend’s half of the phone conversation when she hears this story for the first time. “A kid floated away in what? But he really didn’t? They think who was behind it?”   ‘Nuff said.

#4: White House Party Crashers.

Sure, I was surprised when I heard that Tareq and Michaele Salahi managed to sneak past White House security. But the really surprising part? The centuries-long stretch of media coverage that followed the ordeal. Please notify the online news sources that we never again want to hear anything about this story.

#3: And the Nobel Prize Winner Is…Obama.

Wow. Didn’t see that coming. Whether you agree that President Obama should get the Nobel Peace Prize or not, you have to admit, it was one of the biggest surprises of the year. Come on, admit it. You shook your head and cleaned out your ears to make sure you heard right, just like the rest of us did.

#2. Gimme That Mike!

Oh Kanye. Kanye, Kanye, Kanye, Kanye. Kanye. What were you thinking?

And the number one shocker moment of 2009:

#1. WHO died?!?!

What? Michael Jackson died? But–but he’s like a permanent part of my world. He’s always been there. Like the moon or the rocky mountains or plastic. What will the tabloids talk about now that he’s gone? Who will I make fun of as being the ultimate in child-man creepy? More importantly, does this mean the 80s are officially over?? (Oh by the way, we miss you too Farrah!)

What about you? Any shocker moments you think I missed? How about this; do you remember where you were when you heard these stories? I’ll start: I was driving home from the gym when I heard about Michael Jackson.

This post was brought to you by Up and Writing as part of Daniel Scocco’s latest group writing project. Check his Daily Blog Tips for links to other bloggers reviewing the best and worst of 2009!



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Another silly rat obit–rest in peace, Ziggy

by Rachel Heston Davis

Ziggy Rat
Ziggy the Rat (aka Ziggurat), two-and-a-half, of Edwardsville, IL, died Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009 at Hawthorne Animal Hospital from complications of mammary cancer and old age.

Born in early 2007, Ziggy spent the first part of his life in Petco of Rockford, IL before being purchased by the Davis family and taken to Oregon, IL.

Ziggy was a quiet, unassuming rat. He served as second in command under his cagemate Krycek, and bore many months of being turned on his back and groomed against his will on Krycek’s whims. Later in life, Ziggy became co-dictator of the cage when Krycek’s aging body put them on equal footing, and the brother rats lived out their retirement as friends.

Ziggy’s favorite hobbies were eating; jumping from the chair to the couch; hopping; weaving his head at sharp noises; begging for Yogies; and climbing up his owners to reach whatever food they were eating.

Ziggy is survived by a mamma rat Rachel; a dadda rat Jaron; four grandparent rats; aunt rats Holly and Christy; many friends; his favorite plastic igloo; and a bucket of Yogies. He was preceded in death by his cagemate Krycek.

A private ceremony was held late Sept. 29 at The Pasture cemetary, Heston Residence, IL.  The family has requested that all memorials be made in the form of spreading the word about the evils of feeding live rodents to snakes.


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The “Best Of” Book to Movie List

A recent flurry of blogging on the subject  “Books vs. movies: which is better?” got me thinking about the whole book-t0-movie phenomenon. I even got in on the debate in a guest-blog over at Cinema Three (movie connaisseur Silver Autumn’s witty blog about films and pop-culture).

My thoughts on this subject are many. On the one hand, books and movies are such different media that I feel odd comparing them. Apples to oranges. On the other hand, I believe any director who makes a movie from a preexisting story is obligated to respect both the original plotline and the original characters. This doesn’t mean they can’t make changes; it means any changes made should respect the integrity and message of the original work.

With that in mind, here are my Top Five best book-to-movie renditions of all time.

1. Lord of the Rings Trilogy–Peter Jackson took a sweeping epic, set in a world which took one man’s entire life to create, and condensed it into three movies. He included all of the major conflicts, did not change any major elements of the ending, stayed about 95% true to the characters, and made the world feel as authentic as it did in the book. My one complaint is the sadly misconstrued portrayal of Frodo as a bumbling fool in parts of the second and third movies, but other than that, this trilogy is golden.

2. To Kill A Mockingbird–Though huge chunks of the original story had to be cut out for time constraints (think Aunt Alexandra and, oh yeah, wasn’t there a whole other year in the middle of the novel?), this movie still ranks #2 on my list. The characters are spot on, even in appearance. The accents are real. The all-important courtroom scenes pack tons of verbatim dialogue. The message of the book remains intact in all its real-life complexity. No wonder this is considered a classic movie.

3.  The Ruby In the Smoke–First in the Sally Lockhart series by Phillip Pullman (books recommended, but with a caution about sexual content), The Ruby in the Smoke was made into a Masterpiece Theater episode in Britain starring the ever-lovely Billie Piper (Billie, why did you leave Dr. Who? WHY??!!) It follows the plot of the book in every detail. No deviation whatsoever. The only reason it didn’t make my #1 is because it feels kind of flat. I don’t get an emotional reaction from watching it.

4. Harry Potter Series–Okay, okay, I know many of you catch plot changes in every single HP movie. But let’s think about this; the world Rowling created gets transferred pretty well onscreen in all its originality and awesomeness. They cast superb actors for each character (though I do miss the old Dumbledore, may he rest in peace). And we must give those movie-makers some credit, even when they leave things out. Rowling’s books have many details and plot twists. How could they all fit into each movie?

5. The Butcher Boy–I’ll bet you didn’t know they made a movie of this book, did you? The story of BUTCHER BOY strays a bit darker than what I usually read, but read it I did, and then saw the movie in a college class. Eamonn Owens plays a spectacular Francie Brady, an eccentric boy who descends into mental illness. The feel of the film fits the feel of the book, complete with even the most bizarre and disturbing of the book’s plot highlights. And something about the kids digging up the bodies while looking for Flash Bars sent me into hysterics, right there in Professor Hart’s senior year English seminar. (I promise I’m not usually so black in my humor. It was funny,dangit!)

This list represents only those book-to-movies that I have seen. Have you seen other greats that I have not? Are there some movies that you would love to enjoy, but can’t because of glaring flaws from the original story? Please share.



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The Obits

by Rachel Heston Davis

Krycek Rat
Krycek the Rat, two-and-a-half, of Edwardsville, IL, died Friday, Aug. 14, 2009 at Hawthorne Animal Hospital after a courageous battle with neurological problems, encroaching senility, and an ornery cagemate.

Born in early 2007, Krycek spent the first part of his life in Petco of Rockford, IL before being purchased by the Davis family and taken to Oregon, IL.

Krycek held many job titles in his day, first as a wannabe-feral rat, during which he ran from and pooped on his owners a lot and refused to be tamed. After that, he settled down and distinguished himself as dominant rat in his family, a position which included pushing other rats onto their backs and aggressively grooming them.

Other hobbies included escaping his cage, exploring the floor of his owners’ office, eating Yogies, jumping from the chair to the couch, launching expeditions to burrow under things he wasn’t supposed to, and grooming bald spots on his cagemate’s head.

Krycek is survived by his cagemate Ziggy; a mamma rat Rachel; a dadda rat Jaron; four grandparent rats; aunt rats Holly and Christy; many friends; his favorite plastic igloo; and a bucket of Yogies.

Services will be held Saturday, Aug. 15, 2009 at The Pasture cemetary, Heston Residence, IL, with a short burial to follow.  The family has requested that all memorials be made in the form of spreading the word about the evils of feeding live rodents to snake.


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A short despair, if you’ll indulge me

If you’ve time, perhaps you’d like to hear about my moment of despair.

Right now I’m unemployed and have no guarantee that anyone in the publishing world is ever going to print what I’ve just spent the last 13 months of my life working on every weekday. I may not have anything to show for this endeavor, except to be even further behind those of my peers who are already showing promising careers.


All right. Enough. It’s healthy to allow yourself a little groan about these things once in awhile, just to air the feelings out in the sunshine. But really, it’s only helpful if you pull yourself out of it afterwards.

On another note, I will try hard to post tomorrow so as not to break the NaBloPoMo, but I don’t know if I’m going to have the Internet. We will have to see if I manage it.

On Sunday, I’ll have my first guest blog at


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