Thursday, December 27, 2007

Present Me, Future Me

After a much longer blogging hiatus than I'd expected, I've brought back two activities to those starved for a taste of time travel. At a season when our thoughts naturally turn to the new year and the goals and accomplishments we anticipate will burst the seams of the coming year(s), why not set in motion communication with your future self? offers you the opportunity to send yourself an email at a future date you specify. Imagine sending a letter to remind your future self where you are at this exciting moment in time, or injecting your goals as a kind of cosmic post-it note to keep going. You can keep your email private or post it to the community anonymously and read other's cyber-dips into time travel.

Over the break, I also researched the best method to make a time capsule. According to the International Time Capsule Society, outdoor (in-ground) capsules are the least desirable. Many city and town municipalities have tried 100 year ones only to discover someone forgot the location. If you do attempt to bury a time capsule, consider marking its location using a GPS device. The Minnesota Historical Society has great tips on the best materials and procedures for preserving specific items such as photos and important documents. Barring high-tech capsules, the contents are often subjected to the destructive elements of water, humidity, heat, etc., so make sure you don't put anything in there you can't bear to see ruined.

In addition to ideas on how to secure the contents and mark the celebration of a time capsule, the ITCS will add your capsule to their database, ensuring someone at a future date can find it again. While you're there, check out the nine most wanted time capsules in history yet to be found, including the story of one the M*A*S*H cast and crew buried in the 1980s.

What I'm reading: This is my Best : Great Writers Share Their Favorite Works

Friday, December 14, 2007

Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day

Kudos to Maureen McGowan for letting me know I missed "Pretend to be a Time Traveler" day on December 8th. Have no fear, though. As unconventional holidays go, this one is slated to return in April. Not unlike a ripple in time where centuries can pass in a week.

The idea is to spend the entire day in costume, immerse yourself in the role, and most importantly, not tell anyone you are a time traveler. According to Dresden Codak, who first declared the holiday, there are three possible options:

1) Utopian/cliché Future

- "If the Future did a documentary of the last fifty years, this is how badly the reenactors would dress." Think Star Trek: TNG or the Time Travelers from Hob. Ever see how the society in Futurama sees the 20th century? Run with it. Your job is to dress with moderately anachronistic clothing and speak in slang from varying decades. Here are some good starters:

- Greet people by referring to things that don't yet exist or haven't existed for a long time. Example: "Have you penetrated the atmosphere lately?" "What spectrum will today's broadcast be in?" and "Your king must be a kindly soul!"

- Show extreme ignorance in operating regular technology. Pay phones should be a complete mystery (try placing the receiver in odd places). Chuckle knowingly at cell phones.

2) Dystopian Future

- This one offers a little more flexibility. It can be any kind of future from Terminator to Freejack. The important thing to remember is dress like a crazy person with armor. Black spray painted football pads, high tech visors, torn up trenchcoats and maybe even some dirt here or there. Remember, dystopian future travelers are very startled that they've gone back in time. Some starters:

- If you go the "prisoner who's escaped the future" try shaving your head and putting a barcode on the back of your neck. Then stagger around and stare at the sky, as if you've never seen it before.

- Walk up to random people and say "WHAT YEAR IS THIS?" and when they tell you, get quiet and then say "Then there's still time!" and run off.

- Stand in front of a statue (any statue, really), fall to your knees, and yell "NOOOOOOOOO"

- Stare at newspaper headlines and look astonished. - Take some trinket with you (it can be anything really), hand it to some stranger, along with a phone number and say "In thirty years dial this number. You'll know what to do after that." Then slip away.

2) The Past

- This one is more for beginners. Basically dress in period clothing (preferably Victorian era) and stagger around amazed at everything. Since the culture's set in place already, you have more of a template to work off of. Some pointers:

- Airplanes are terrifying. Also, carry on conversations with televisions for a while. - Discover and become obsessed with one trivial aspect of technology, like automatic grocery doors. Stay there for hours playing with it.

- Be generally terrified of people who are dressed immodestly compared to your era. Tattoos and shorts on women are especially scary.

Now that NBC passed on ordering Journeyman's back nine, I have to amuse myself somehow :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Writer's Palm

Recently, another author made me aware of the unique features writers carry in the lines of their hands. Of course, this opens up an entire discussion about whether the ancient mysteries of palm reading hold any truths about our inner selves and the path we're meant to follow in this life. How is it possible that even in utero, before the movement of the hands have created patterns of folds, these lines are visible?

Each February when I was young, I'd go to the annual Psychic Fair with my sister. We'd spend the entire day in the realm of the supernatural. Palm readings, tea leaves--you name it, we did it. I remember being fifteen, laying my hands on the black velvet in front of me and screaming inside, hoping she would say the man I would marry looked exactly like my high school crush. I can't remember much about the reading, we lost the sheet of notes my sister furiously scribbled as she spoke, but I do remember Carson Bell wasn't in my future.

In sixth grade, I made a project of studying palmistry, complete with a hokey demonstration--crystal ball and all--of me reading my teacher's palm. He'd Xeroxed his hand several weeks earlier for me to study, and the reading came out remarkably accurate. What happened after put an end to my curiosity.

After I'd nailed almost everything about my first "subject", the remainder of the class would ask me over and over to read their palms. I'd learned a little, enough to be freaky dangerous with the knowledge, and enough to know when not to say anything at all. One day a boy named Kevin asked me to read his palm while we were waiting in the milk line at lunch. Standing there, the pungent smell of corn chips smothered in chili wafting through the narrow hall, I saw the life line on both his hands were cut short. Judging from my sparse experience, in his twenties. The inevitable question most people ask when offering their hands is, "How long am I going to live?"

Kevin asked. It was the first life line I'd seen that didn't wrap around the thumb's mount, the completion of a long life stretched to the wrist. I didn't know what to say, so I replied, "I can't tell you." For six more years, through the halls of jr. high and high school, I'd encounter him from time to time and he'd hollar across a crowded throng of students, "How long?" with a smile on his face. It had become a running joke to him. To me, not so funny.

Today, I'll look at my own. I consider it a project in self-discovery, but I won't look at the palms of others. Maybe the metaphysical types are more highly evolved than I am at looking into the future and holding secrets I'm not sure we have a right to know, but when I hold my children's hands, I never look. Some things are better left unknown.

And Kevin? Sadly, I don't know what happened to him. I'm hoping when my twentieth reunion comes around, I'll find him, alive and well. If not--if by some cosmic mapping I still don't understand his life was cut short--I'll know I gave him nothing more than the knowledge most of us carry. Not knowing. How differently he might have led his life if I'd blurted out in eleven year old ignorance that he wouldn't make it to adulthood. Would he have embraced life or lived in fear? A small stone dropped into his pond in sixth grade could have changed everything.

So I stay with the safe in this post. The pursuit of self-awareness. If you're a writer, here's what to look for:

~Mercury and Jupiter fingers with rounded tips signify creativity.

~The Apollo (artistry), Mercury (communication) and Luna (dreams, creativity) mounts should be pronounced.

~The "writer's fork" is found at the end of a drooping Head line indicates literary talent. Usually medium-sized.

~A small cross (X) on the Mercury mount is also known as a "writer's cross"

The dominant hand reflects those abilities that are closer and more prounounced in your nature.

Check out the comments section for which of these I have and post your own...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Love, Texas Style

Cover art is complete for Love, Texas Style, the Wild Rose Press anthology due out Spring 2008. Amongst the other highly creative and talented shorts on Southern-bred heroes and their Texas ways, you'll find a taste of the paranormal and the nostalgic in mine, The Lost Highway.

Back Cover:

Rugged men. Spirited women. Romance as breathtaking as the Texas landscape.

From the Boot Scootin’ Bliss and Roadside Grill to the slick Dallas skyscrapers and all the highways and ranches in between, this heartwarming collection of love stories by debut and award-winning authors celebrates the heroism and passion found only in the Lone Star State.

What do you think? Did the artist capture Texas?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Letter to Me - c. 1998

Dear L,

On the cusp of ten years down this writing path, I'd almost forgotten the joy you find yourself in. A tiny diner in an even smaller town. Tentative forays into the written word, sitting amongst other beginning writers. Experimenting and creating, blissfully ignorant of the "wrongs", everything sounding right. Creating each day for an audience who hangs on your every word, your daily installment as addictive as any true high shared in the spirit of friendship.

The days of an audience held rapt by your stories won't last. Hold on to the intoxication of creation. Ration it for the days and months where you alone live with the words, not knowing if they resonate with truth and vitality or lay mediocre, unworthy of the space in which they occupy.

The greatest asset you'll acquire on the journey is the company you'll meet along the way. Nurture their ideas and words, as they have done yours. No one quite understands the pastimes of your mind like other writers. Don't lose touch. Regret can be a bitter pill.

Value truth. Forget the judgements of a few and strive to find realism and rawness in the human condition. Don't think about your great Aunt sitting down one day to read it. She has much richer text to draw from at the convent than your words. Honesty is the only real path to good writing.

Don't let your page count become a casualty of your commitment to writerly pursuits. Engaging in the business of behaving like a writer does not certify you as one. The only litmus for being a writer is writing.

Just as I now struggle to add "author" to my vernacular, don't hesitate to add writer to yours. The mere pursuit of capturing language and translating thoughts to words for others to feel and see is the only criteria needed.

The harsh criticisms--in particular, the one hemorrhaging red ink you'll encounter on a frigid night in Memphis--are necessary. More than that, they were right. Be angry, then accept it as the gift you're given. One day that bloodshed will become award-winning.

Forget the young adult novel. It'll be covered with more intensity and on a grander scale than you can possibly imagine; after which, the world will be over saturated on the idea. Cut your losses and move on.

When someone you believe to be an expert says, "Greater talent could not pull this idea off," don't listen. Write it anyway.

Above all, don't give up. You won't find what you're striving for in the time that separates us, but without your road ahead, there would be no success in tomorrow for me.