Monthly Archives: January 2009

Plotting: A Tarot card device?

tarot-cardsAre you a plotter or a pantster?  I’ve always thought myself a pantster, unable to plot.  I try and I freeze up.  Recently I’ve decided to try and plot in slow doses.  I’ve tried the index card method of writing out major points, and rearranging them but my problem with that is that I often don’t know what those key points are.  I write as things come to me… as those voices that all writers hear deems me worthy of knowing the next scene.    It’d be easy to put random points together and say that’s it, but it’s another to write true to the story and true to the characters.

I will admit I’ve tried the whiteboard method and although that has worked somewhat in the past for brainstorming, it’s not a preferred method.  Often times, ideas will come to me out of the blue, whether I’m on the bus or just drifting off in thought.  I don’t have a method and I often wonder if I ought to try and figure one out because it can get frustrating at times waiting for characters to be comfortable enough to unveil a scene of events.  And when you have characters who suddenly go shy on you, you’ll often spend days on end in silence… with writer’s block right on its heels.

A bit ago, I thought about tarot cards and how they could help a writer by the flip of a card… to tell the story’s path.  I’ve often wondered if this would be feasible, if it would even be possible.  Surely not everything would fall into place at the simple spread of the cards, but I must admit I am curious.  Almost curious to try but just haven’t gotten around to it yet.  In this article, it talks about setting up the card spread to either describe the character (which I’m a bit eh about.  I like the chars to speak to me themselves about who they are and what they look like, etc) or using the cards to define plot hooks which I’m much more interested in.

Each card you place here represents at least one plot hook the game master (GM) can make use of (in an RPG) or that can be turned into a side plot or complication (in fiction). In the former case, make sure that you leave enough wiggle-room that the GM can use the plot hooks when and where he sees fit, adapting them to suit his material. Keep them short and flexible. In the latter case, make sure you adapt them to mesh seamlessly with your primary plot material so the added complication or plot doesn’t look tacked on.

But I was wondering, what do you find useful?  Would you or have you tried plotting with the help of tarot cards?

Thursday Thirteen: 13 Facts about the brain

untitled1. It is estimated that on an average day, the human brain produces 70,000 thoughts.
2. An Aspirin tablet is 40 percent more effective if taken with a cup of hot chocolate rather than a glass of water.
3. Do you ever talk to yourself while you think? Research suggests that many people do and that it’s a good indicator of intelligence. When you talk to yourself out loud, you actually teach yourself things.
4. Everyone’s brain starts out as female. The brain of a male becomes masculinized by testosterone.
5. More electrical impulses are generated in one day by a single human brain than by all the telephones in the world.
6. The ant has the largest brain in proportion to its size. Humans aren’t even close.
7. Salami contains three times as much PEA (the mood-lifting chemical produced by the brain when you fall in love) as chocolate.
8. A cooked potato can jump-start your brain when you’re feeling foggy.
9. It is thought that a yawn works to send more oxygen to the brain, therefore working to cool it down and wake it up.
10. Anomia is the technical word for tip-of-the-tongue syndrome when you can almost remember a word, but it just won’t quite come to you.
11. A world champion memorizer, Ben Pridmore memorized 96 historical events in 5 minutes and memorized a single, shuffled deck of cards in 26.28 seconds.
12. Aristotle mistakenly thought that the functions of the brain actually took place in the heart.
13. It has been estimated that thinking for an hour burns about one fifteenth of a gram of fat.

  “The brain is a wonderful organ.  It starts working the moment you get up in the morning and doesn’t stop until you get to the office.”– Robert Frost

Diva Release!

“Oh Goddess ” by Gwen Hayes

Read An Excerpt Online
Genre:

ISBN: 978-1-60504-367-8
Length: Short Story
Price: 2.50
Publication Date: January 27, 2009
Cover art by Tuesday Dube

Born to protect women’s hearts, her own beats longingly for a mortal. Oops…

Ondina, one thousand years a goddess, doesn’t think much of mortal men. Probably because her sole purpose in life is to protect the hearts of women who don’t want to fall in love. And now one of those blasted men—Jack—has shattered her sacred chalice, trapping her in a mortal body.

Jackson Nichols, on the partner track at his law firm, is the first to admit he always follows his head. Never his heart. Dina is infuriating, messy, condescending, sexy, beautiful and…well, just about everything that doesn’t fit into his meticulously planned life.

Neither expects to find many redeeming qualities in the other. But when push comes to love, which will Dina choose? Her newly human heart…or one thousand years of duty?

*All author and editor proceeds from the sale of Oh Goddess will be donated to the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis. You can find out more about the foundation at www.coalitionforpf.org.

Warning: Recent studies show that consuming beverages while reading this story can cause damage to computer monitors, clothing, and sometimes nearby walls. Reader agrees to hold both Samhain Publishing Ltd. and Gwen Hayes harmless in case of accidental spewing caused by laughter.

Read An Excerpt Online

S’more cookies

Also found at bakingbites.com.  These were a big hit when I brought them for the work potluck.  They are especially good when still warm and the chocolate is all melted.  It’s just yum… the classic s’more without having to be around a bonfire to achieve it.  Although, it’s not as fun to make, I mean, who wouldn’t want to sit around a huge fire, melting marshmallows on a stick while telling tales and sharing laughter?  No matter what, great recipe.

S’More Cookie Bars
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs*
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 king-sized milk chocolate bars (e.g. Hershey’s)
1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme/fluff (not melted marshmallows)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and vanilla.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined. Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan.
Place chocolate bars over dough. 2 king-sized Hershey’s bars should fit perfectly side by side, but break the chocolate (if necessary) to get it to fit in a single layer no more than 1/4 inch thick.
Spread chocolate with marshmallow creme or fluff.
Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff (most easily achieved by flattening the dough into small shingles and laying them together).
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned.
Cool completely before cutting into bars

Makes 16 cookie bars.

*Note: 3/4 cup crumbs is approx 7 full-sized graham cracker sheets, whizzed in the food processor until fine.

Thursday Thirteen: 13 weird ice cream flavours

In the fifth century BC, ancient Greeks sold snow cones mixed with honey and fruit in the markets of Athens. Persians, having mastered the storage of ice, ate ice cream well into summer. Roman emperor Nero had ice brought from the mountains and combined with fruit toppings.   Ever since then,  ice cream has become a favourite to many.  There are many combinations I’d try… but these… are some that I would never touch. *shudder*

1.  Cactus

2. Raw Horseflesh

3.  Garlic

4.   Pit Viper

5.  Charcoal

6. Cypress tree

7.  Squid gut

8.  Squid ink

9. Ox Tongue

10.  Eel

11. Shark Fin Noodle

12. Seaweed

13. Lettuce and Potato

These were found here.  I think I’ll stick with my cookie dough ice cream.

Dival Release!

div align=”center”>Gypsy Afterglow is out now!!

GYPSY AFTERGLOW by Jennah Sharpe
Genre: Torrid Romance Contemporary
EBook formats ISBN: 978-1-60313-490-3
Trade paperback ISBN: 978-1-60313-491-0
Rating: Sensual Romance – Sensual

Brynn Parker was warned to stay away from the gypsies from her first summer in Spain. Ever since then, her curiosity has piqued her interest in a certain young Gitano. As she grows into a woman, her illicit involvement with Marco Kaldera becomes more intimate until she must return to her home country. Years later, through a mutual friend, a funeral and Marco’s fame, Brynn works to earn his forgiveness and convince him to love her once again. But…he belongs with the gypsies. Can the sacrifices they must endure to be together bond them forever?

Thursday Thirteen: 13 Worst Slogan Translations

I happened to find moronland.net the other day and come across the Top 13 Worst Slogan Translations Ever and thought that for this Thursday 13 I’d share because some of them are quite funny actually.

13. When Parket Pen marketed a ball-point pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to have read, “It won’t lead in your pocket and embarrass you.” The company thought that the word “embarazar” (to impregnante) meant to to embarrass, so the ad read: “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”

12. Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the following in in an American campaign: “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.”

11. Clairol introduced the “Mist Stick,” a curling iron, into Germany only to find out that “mist” is slang for manure.  Not too many people had use for the “Manure Stick”.

10. Coors put its slogan, “Turn it loose,” into Spanish, where it was read as “Suffer from Diarrhea”.

9. Pepsi’s “Come Alive with the Pepsi Generation” translated into “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave” in Chinese.

8. When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they used the same packaging as in the US, with the smiling baby on the label.  Later they learned that in Africa, companies routinely put pictures on the labels of what’s inside, since many people can’t read.

7. Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue, the name of a notorious porno magazine.

6. Frank Perdue’s chicken slogan, “It takes a strong man to make a tender chicken,” was translated into Spanish as “it takes an aroused man to make a chicken affectionate.”

5. When American Airlines wanted to advertise its new leather first class seats in the Mexcian market, it translated its “Fly in Leather” campaign literally, which meant “Fly Naked” (vuela en cuero) in Spanish.

4. An American T-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for the Spanish market which promoted the Pope’s visit.  Instead of “I saw the Pope” (el Papa), the shirts read “I saw the Potato” (la papa).

3. The Dairy Association’s huge success with the campaign “Got Milk?” prompted them to expand advertising to Mexico.  It soon was brought to their attention the Spanish translation, which read, “Are you lactating?”

2. General Motors had a very famous fiasco in trying to market the Nova car in Centra and South America. “No va.” in Spanish means, “it doesn’t go”.

1. The Coca-Cola name in China was first read as “Kekoukela”, meaning “Bite the Wax Tadpole” or “Female Horse stuffed with wax”, depending on the dialect.  Coke then researched 40,000 characters to find a phonetic equivalent “kokoukole”, translating into “Happiness in the Mouth”.

Recipes: Homemade Thin Mints

I love baking and because I was craving mint and chocolate, I decided to go searching on one of my favourite baking sites called the Baking Bites and found a recipe that boasts of tasting like the thin mints you buy from the Girl Guides so I decided to try them out.  I found them simple to make.  I did leave them in the freezer a bit too long, I think, as they were a bit hard to cut, but it wasn’t all that difficult to cut them.  I tried a piece, and did decide however that I think there needs to be more mint to it, unless it’s just me, but I will see when they are completely finished and what others think about them at work (because after all, they are my test subjects… LOL). So here is the recipe below.  Check it out:

Homemade Thin Mints
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup milk (any kind)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp peppermint extract

In a small bowl, mix flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder together (I left out the salt, but that’s up to you.  I don’t really find a difference with it in).  In a larger bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, adding the milk and extracts.  According to the recipe, the mixture should look curdled (mine didn’t really).  Add in the flour and mix.

Next, you will be shaping the dough into two logs (about 1 1/2 inches) in diameter and then wrap it in plastic wrap and free for at least 1-2 hours until the dough is firm.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Slice dough into rounds not more than 1/4 inch thick  (I think mine were a bit too thick, but this has all been a trial so I’ll see)- if they are too thick, they will not be as crisp – and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cookies will not spread very much, so you can put them quite close together.  Bake for 13-15 minutes. Cool cookies completely on a wire rack before dipping in chocolate.

Dark Chocolate Coating
10-oz dark or semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips make the coating melt if left out for a bit)
1/2 cup butter, room temperature

Dip each cookie in melted chocolate, turn with a fork to coat, then transfer to a piece of parchment paper or wax paper to set up for at least 30 minutes, or until chocolate is cool and firm.

Makes 3 1/2-4 dozen cookies.

(EDITED TO ADD: I found personally for me that there wasn’t enough mint so I added some of the extract in the chocolate coating and it made them tasty.)

A new resolution…

dscn1852I’ve always been a dabbler.  From painting to baking and yes… even in writing at times, dabbling here and there to see what works best.  This weekend will be no exception.  There is something about painting that I enjoy.  I am not one of those who can sit and paint for hours.  No, I’m a dabbler in the sense that I do 30-1 hr sessions, either on the floor painting or on the couch.  I’m not fancy, but I do feel that there is more of a creative pull than there would be if I were sitting at a table.  It isn’t something I can explain. I haven’t always painted.  I really began only in highschool in grade 13 art class when we were allowed to do whatever we wanted and even after, I stopped doing much painting.  At xmas, however, I took it up again and realized just how much I had missed it when I painted my mom this picture (she’d been after me for years to paint her something).

I decided that this year, I would set time to paint more.  Now I just need to figure out what exactly.  Any suggestions?  I do better with scenery… hmm… I’m thinking a mountainous scene this time but I guess I’ll figure it out!

Thursday Thirteen: 13 Most Popular Resolutions

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It’s that time again, the passing of an old year and the beginnings of a new one.   And with the beginning of a new year comes new year’s resolutions, a commitment an individual intends to make and keep.  This tradition goes all the way back to 153 B.C. when a mythical God of early Rome by the name of Janus (God of gates, doors, beginnings and endings) became the ancient symbol for resolutions.  According to myth, Janus had two faces, allowing him to look back on both past events and forward to the future.

January 1st became the beginning of the new year in 46 B.C., when Julius Caesar developed a calendar to reflect the seasons more than previous calendars in use.  The Romans named the first month of the year after Janus.  On New Year’s Eve, the Romans began a tradition of exchanging gifts of branches from sacred trees thought to be for good fortune.

Throughout the years, New Years has changed to December 25 in the Middle Ages by the Christians, then changed it to March 25.  It wasn’t until the sixteenth century that Pope Gregory XIII revised the Julian calendar, returning New Years to January 1.

13 Top Resolutions:

  • Lose weight
  • Get out of debt
  • Save money
  • Get a better job
  • Get fit/ exercise more
  • Eat right
  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce stress
  • Take a trip
  • Be more independent
  • Watch less tv
  • Learn something new
  • Get a better education

What about you?  What are your new years resolutions?