Monday, April 26, 2010

Titor, Schmitor...This Guy's Got Fashion Game

Before we get to all things Monday, we have some sweeping up from last week to do. The winning phrase in the Snarky Baby Contest came from Paula R., who submitted the "I'll have a venti mocha frappuccino with a double shot of breast milk." Sadly, upon further research, the term frappuccino is a registered trademark of the Starbucks Corporation; thus, cannot legally be put onto a shirt. Who knew? Have no fear, Paula. Whatever your favorite over-the-top coffee order, we'll make sure to incorporate it. Email me at to claim your prize. Another t-shirt phrase of your choice is headed Ella H.'s way, randomly selected from those who chose to send in ideas. Congrats to the winners!I was going to wait to put this most exciting find at the end of today's post, but I can hardly contain myself, so here you go. It's like getting dessert first. We all need a little of that sometimes, right?
This photograph entitled Reopening of the South Fork Bridge after flood in Nov. 1940. 1941(?)comes from an online exhibit from the Baralorne Museum, British Columbia, Canada (about halfway down the scroll bar). Take a closer look. Think Where's Waldo and H.G. Wells. Do you see him? The guy could pass for my laundry-phobe neighbor in college, complete with midterm exam hair and hangover glasses. Internet trollers noticed it when the photograph popped up as a feature on the museum's front page. Since then, theories about how a modern-looking man could be caught up in a 1940's (according to an Error Level Analysis) untampered photo abound, not the least of which is Swiss cheese proof of time travel. Forgetomori takes an in-depth look at the man's clothes, glasses, camera and the position of the crowd-goers around this mystery man to debunk the far-fetched, yet ends in a place somewhere between near-authenticity and WTF. Trollers have also discovered another photo of the mystery man at the same bridge ceremony. I ask: who doesn't love a good time travel hoax? It'll be hard to follow up that fattening indulgence, but I shall try. I love this definition of steampunk: the intersection of technology and romance. This blend of science fiction, Victorian and steam engineering has recently spawned a huge increase in steampunk-oriented body art. I counted five clocks! Squee!

And finally, a golden Wellsy award goes to Entertainment Weekly columnist Abby West, who not only owns her love of romance novels, but spreads that love about Gwyn Creedy's latest time travel romance, Flirting With Forever.

Have a super Monday, everyone!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Rock the Baby Vote

The whole A.W.O.L. thing happened this week. The usual suspects: work, overcommitments, creepy, gorilla-scented guy walking out of the zoo restroom. But I digress. The blatant lack of Vortex feed this week had virtually no impact on Wicked Cool Baby's Snarky Baby Contest! Are you ready to exercise your freedom to vote? In keeping this vote all Switzerland, I will not reveal the identities of those who submitted. Seriously, a huge thanks to everyone who put on their humor caps for the week. Drum roll, please...

Team Suri-toddler shirt

If at first you don't succeed, cry, cry again-toddler shirt

I'll have a venti mocha frappuccino with a double shot of breast milk-baby onesie w/coffee shop cup image

Please tell me that gomer is not my daddy-onesie or toddler shirt

I am acting my shoe size!-toddler shirt

How many fingers old are you?-toddler shirt

If I poop, will you go away?-baby onesie

Date Night Killer-baby onesie

Pick your favorite (or two or three) in the sidebar. Poll closes midnight Sunday.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Get Your Snark On

Picture me today in my white painting overalls, fresh smears of lavender/eggplant on my face. I am one with Behr. No, not that Bear, but that would be infinitely more adventurous. While I'm painting, I'm thinking snark. Why? Because it's day one of Wicked Cool Baby's Snarky Baby Contest!

Remember back to the awesome connections we all made during March's Time Carnival? Wicked Cool Baby had such an amazing stream of traffic checking out their funny shirts for the wee set, they wanted to team up with the creative minds that are Vortex visitors to come up with their newest snark. Here's the 4-1-1:

Submit your snarkiest baby one-liner via email to by Thursday, April 22. Please include "toddler" or "infant" with your idea (as some ideas are more appropriate for one stage than the other). If you have a shirt color preference for your idea, include that, too.

Visit here Friday, April 23rd through Sunday, April 25th to vote on your favorite submitted phrase.

The winner will receive (1) a free onesie or shirt(up to 4T size) displaying the winning phrase (2) inclusion of the winning phrase in Wicked Cool Baby's catalog.

Wicked Cool Baby tips:

-Remember, these will be embroidered on tiny clothes, so an economy of words is best

-If your snarky phrase would go great with a visual (ie-a golf ball for Tiger Woods humor), include it in your submission

-No trademarked names. Celebrity names accepted.

To sweeten the pot, everyone who submits baby phrase ideas will receive 15% off a WCB purchase AND be placed in a drawing to receive a free shirt (adult or child) with the phrase of your choice embroidered on it courtesy of Wicked Cool Baby's parent company, NeedleUp. As always, if you subscribe to my newsletter loop, you are automatically entered twice in all contests headed up by yours truly.

Questions? Leave them in the comment section or email me. Have fun!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ferris Wheel Love Has Nothing on The Gube

I will love you no matter how dissimilar our tax brackets are
For those Vortex-ers in The States, Happy Tax Day! For those outside the U.S., Happy Roy Clark Birthday. Hee-haw!

As promised, we're still all about the Ferris wheel today. I thought Ferris wheels were like puppies-no one could resist, right? So imagine my shock when several of you expressed distaste or the lack of substantive memories associated with them. Maybe today's post can make you a fan again. And, yeah, I have a wussy stomach and they make me a little nauseous, too. That's why my heroine has an iron stomach. She kicks some serious Ferris wheel arse.

Not snarky enough to make a Vortex 10 list, I offer up eight trivial bits about the much-romanticized Ferris wheel that will make you the royalty of small talk (or useless babble) at your next soiree:

1. The Napkin Story
A bridge builder from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania named George W. Ferris overheard architect Daniel Burnham complain at an engineer's banquet in 1891 that there were no projects slated for the upcoming Chicago World's Fair that "met the expectations of the people." Three years prior, France had erected the Eiffel Tower at their World's Fair to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution; and, in typical American spirit, Burnham did not wish to be outdone. Ferris, who was the owner of a business that tested iron and steel, found inspiration at the dinner table that night, sketching the design for what would become the first modern-day Ferris wheel on his napkin. The design never wavered from that initial inspiration.

2. "Lady Lindy"
In 1904, at the St. Louis Fair, a seven year old girl rode the Ferris wheel with her father and a passion for heights took hold. Twenty-four years later, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean.

3. Hazard Pay, Anyone?
Think all Ferris wheels must have steam-powered engines (old-school) or solar panels (new-school) to run? Check out these man-powered rides in India and Nepal.

4. Inflated Fun
A turn on that first Ferris wheel at Chicago's World Fair in 1893 would set you back $.50. That's a dozen Eastman camera plates, one man's fine felt Alpine hat or a stable lantern. In today's dollars, it converts to $12.30.

5. V.I.P. list
Special guests who took a turn on the first Ferris wheel during its six-month run at the Chicago World Fair include: Thomas Edison, Fredrick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, "Buffalo Bill" Cody, Elias Disney (Walt's father), and L. Frank Baum, author of The Wizard of Oz, whose "Emerald City" was inspired by the fair's "White City" look from the top of the wheel.

6. Elvis Has Left the Wheel
Sadly, Roustabout, one of my favorite movies featuring a Ferris wheel (give the girl some leg room, Mr. Pelvis!), did not make this list of famous Ferris wheel movies. I'm guessing to hold a spot here, the wheel had to have played a more dominant role or included a more memorable scene, ala Grease or The Notebook.

7. An Unfitting End
The first Ferris wheel was sold at auction in 1903 for $1800 and ran from 1904-1906 at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis (Amelia Earhart's turn) before it was destroyed with three hundred pounds of dynamite. The wheel, once built to rival the Eiffel Tower, had become an eyesore and white elephant on the skyline and most watched its demolition with satisfaction.

8. You Lost Me at the Ap-bomb-looking-thing
I couldn't resist trying to tackle the complex physics behind the wheel's motion. Unfortunately, my eyes crossed halfway down the page. Maybe the idea of centripetal acceleration is making my Gube-love all hang out. Nerd glasses all around!

Chime in with your take on the Ferris wheel. Any memorable Ferris wheel movie scenes that didn't make the list? Would you have paid $.50 for that first ride in 1893 or take the human-powered job?

I'm working on hosting a fun writing contest. Deets next week. Until then, may your week be filled with all manner of fantastic.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Here's Your Sign

Bragging rights are on the line for the Vortex-er who correctly guesses The Mystery Guy (first three clues). Robin requested more hints, so look for them at the end of today's post and sprinkled in throughout the week.

During a recent twenty-four hour period of crippling self-doubt I'm told is intrinsic to all writers mid-novel, the universe spoke to me. Not once or twice-that might be coincidence. Three times? Here's your sign.

Frankly, the luster is gone. The bloom is off the rose. Whatever cliche fits that gruesome stretch when I'm courting my manuscript, and I realize it scratches itself in polite company and has the annoying habit of repeating itself to make a point. Other ideas flirt with me across the crowded rave going on in my brain. I wonder if I've made a long-term commitment to the wrong story.

But in that funny way life has of sending us what we need, when we need it, the central, defining image of my story slammed into my awareness like a trinity of reassurance. Three times in that twenty-four hour period, I happened upon Ferris wheels: a yearly carnival parked and assembled on a street I drive each day; a random History Channel International show on the world's biggest machines featuring the London Eye; a full-color ad in a waiting room magazine. Random on any other day, at best, it was precisely what I needed to turn back to my manuscript and remember that spark that made me fall in love with it.

The longer I occupy this Earth, the more convinced I become that God or karma or whatever you attribute to things far beyond our understanding sails us into pockets of awareness we often miss. We have only to listen and plug in to details and things we take for granted each day to find our bearings and seek out our true North.

For now, my true North is to stay the course, man the ship and never lose hope that the journey will be far richer than the destination. What answer is the universe sending your way this week?

Could it be The Mystery Guy? He's now on my radar enough to warrant a change of color and font. This must be serious. Three more clues coming at you:

4. He was once a Tommy Hilfiger model
5. He wears mismatched socks, both in real life and as part of his character's wardrobe because his grandmother believed it to mean good luck
6. BAU

Guesses? Leave them in the comment section. Mid-week, look for little-known facts about the Ferris wheel I uncovered during research for my current novel. Until then, today's question:

What is your favorite Ferris wheel memory?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Six Links and a Mystery Guy

Of late, I'm a gypsy writer. It seems the creative neurons aren't firing unless I'm simultaneously running away from the volcanic eruption of Mount Darks outside the laundry room and a pantry that would put Mother Hubbard to shame. So I'm off like yesterday's sock, but I can at least feel good about clearing out the bookmarks I saved for everyone. Tigger would call it a linker-ific Friday post. I call it holy-cow-there's-some-good-opportunities:

The Friends of the Dr. Eugine Clark Library in Lockhart, Texas, self-proclaimed BBQ capital of Texas, is sponsoring a Scare the Dickens Out of Us short story contest. Top prize is a whopping $1,000. Wow, way to go I've-stopped-to-use-the-restroom-there-once town! Works must be previously unpublished and no more than 5,000 words. Any genre, any tone, as long as it's a ghost story. Might want to mention BBQ, too. FMI.

I'm probably the last to know about this handy submission calendar over at Poets & Writers, but it's a great way to hear about contests and publishing opportunities outside the writing circles we tend to get stuck in.

Kensington is looking for a hot, new unpublished writer to become a Brava author in 2012, groomed and nurtured to publication perfection by existing Brava authors. If you've written a sensual, full-length romance, check it out.

Samhain sent out an open submission call for steampunk romance novellas and red-hot winter-themed novellas.

To mark Sourcebook's release of Stephen Markley's Publish This Book, a much-discussed memoir chronicling how hard it is to get a book published, Sourcebooks is offering writers who show proof of purchase a critique of their unpublished manuscript. Genius promotion, really.

And, lest you think I cannot let a post escape without the mention of time travel, six-pack abs or the sweet triumvirate that is MacGyver-Josh Hollaway-Jake Gyllenhaal, I give you this clip of Jake answering questions about his upcoming role as a time traveler in the upcoming Disney film Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, revealing what time period he would travel back to if it were possible and blushing when a fan-girl calls him pretty.

As yet unsubstantial enough to penetrate the above triumvirate, I do have a new hottie preoccupation. Remember the whole David Duchovny thing? I'm pretty sure it's along those lines. Just as potent, but not so easily understood. I'll give you three hints. Can you guess?

1. CBS
2. Dr., but not the kind you think
3. hair

Random Friday Question:
If you talked in your sleep, what would you say?

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Dear Joe

To the contractor today in Starbucks who was pitching his job quote to a potential client: I'm sorry. I couldn't help eavesdropping. It really had nothing to do with your decidedly non-local dialect or that sprawling sun tattoo on your forearm or the fact that my characters had left me iced and unfocused for several days. Mostly, it was your gender.

See, I took this class not long ago on how to write male characters in a romance novel so they're believable. Authentic. And I'm not one for absolutes, but certain things stuck in my brain. Like the fact that men rarely end a statement with a question. So when my hero, in the course of a heated conversation, committed this dialogue foul three times, I was concerned he'd have to check his man card at the door.

Exhibit A:

"That's what happened to my father, isn't it?"

I'm told men don't speak like this. I saw you there in your print screened concrete manufacturing shirt, and I looked to you for authority. You're everyday Joe. I was listening for something definitive. Permission for my hero to ask that question about his father. Yes, he could phrase it differently, but that would mean giving into absolutes. I wanted you to ask something like, "We could take down the wall there, don't you think?" or "You can stay the night somewhere else, can't you?" But you never did, Joe. Not once did you end on a question because that would be playing your I'm-not-sure-about-this card, and it would have lacked confidence. Confidence is the number one prerequisite for a contractor. And a romance novel hero. But you probably already knew that.

It's a fine line, Joe. Striking a balance between the authentic male and the one we women fantasize about that doesn't belch the alphabet or scratch himself in public. You, sir, were my hero today for just being you. I hope you got the job.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Internal Geiger

Remember that whole wanting to know the future thing? I'm afraid I haven't always been entirely honest with you. It didn't end with the lines on my palm or the John Titor post or even the visit to the psychic fair. Those are just quirky phases that brought out my wicked, irreverent side. The truth is my relationship with the future is different. And I'm willing to bet yours is, too.

Tell me this happens to you: You're walking down the soda aisle in the grocery store. The wheel on your cart clicks and drags like the bag boy just used it to transport an elephant to the far end of the parking lot. All the cans look red to you. You stop to reach for a d.p. (Dr. Pepper for those of you north of the Red River) and in that instant, you're not reaching for a d.p. at all. Your hand is wrapped around a shrink-wrapped steak and you're picking it up off the floor. With absolute clarity, like a half-second movie reel named Mundania clicking through your mind, you are holding that steak, until the d.p. returns and you hear the cart wheel clicking again. Flash forward twenty minutes: an overly-ambitious shopper bumps your elbow in the meat department and you're there with your hands around a shrink-wrapped steak, picking it up off the floor. The precise half-second reel you saw twenty minutes earlier.

At which point I yell, "Why can't it be lotto numbers!"

Just kidding. Sort of.

Is this coincidence? Maybe. A suggestion of the mind I subconsciously summoned into fruition? Perhaps, but for me this goes far beyond the whole I-just-thought-of-Aunt-Edna-and-Aunt- Edna-called phenomenon. Until recently, I had no idea others didn't experience these mini-reels ten, sometimes twenty, times a day. To me, they seemed like educated outcomes of a multi-tasking mind seeking its way through the world each day. It never occurred to me to pay attention to how accurate they were.

Last Summer I met a psychic who recommended a book written by Pete Sanders Jr., an MIT-trained scientist who theorizes that everyone has these abilities. In You Are Psychic, Sanders's free soul method teaches how to expand these inborn tendencies and harness them into things far more useful than steak at the Piggly Wiggly.

I bought the book and studied it until I had, quite literally, freaked myself out using it. I would know the color of cars that approached from around blind curves. I would see what people were wearing hours before I bumped into them. I became worried I wouldn't be able to censor these reels out of my life when I didn't want them, so I put the book away. I allowed life to fill back in the spaces of my awareness until I could breathe again and I'd forgotten all but a few mundane flashes each day I rarely stopped to consider. My normal.

Until moments of uncertainty. Moments when a sure-thing would be just this side of heaven. Moments when a heightened sense could save me a hassle or a heartache. Would my timeline somehow collapse on itself and allow me a moment of clarity to help me make that decision? Could I trust it if it did? Would I always wonder if I was moving toward that seen moment or away from it?

Sometimes these mini-reels feel like an internal Geiger, a steady reading that lets me know I am where I'm supposed to be, even if it is in the meat department of a grocery store that day. Sometimes they are a blip that goes undetected. My normal. Always, they challenge my understanding of time.

If you had the opportunity to glimpse your future, would you?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Post-Carnival Giveaways

Apologies for the late start to today's post. I'm on the victorious side of a wicked nasty bout of strep. Barely. First, let's talk Time Carnival (whoot!)

Stats on Wednesday more than doubled The Vortex's all-time high. More people subscribe to the Vortex feed now than probably showed up at Gabe Kaplan's birthday party. I dipped my toes into the wading pool and came up with Just Me (hi Me!), and the unique takes on the time theme made me want to do the Snoopy dance. The best part, however? New blogging friends. I've added them to my blogroll so Vortex-ers can find them again. You can bet I'll be stopping by their blogs regularly. A huge thanks to everyone who made this fun event such a success.

And now, for the prizes. In the I-told-everyone-and-their-grandmother category, the winner of a $15 Amazon gift card is Todd Wheeler. In the what-the-hell-I'll-give-it-a-shot category, the winner of the other $15 Amazon gift card is Subby. Congratulations, gentlemen. Drop me an email at and let me know which email address to send your gift.

As for me, I'm back to my chicken noodle soup and Criminal Minds couch marathon. With luck, I shall be back to my snarky self by Monday's post. Have a fantastic Easter weekend, everyone!