Monday, June 27, 2011

Timecasters, Tempests and Ziggy

Remember when I was looking for useful apps for writers?  Holy Overlook-the-Obvious, Batman. Why didn't I think to type "time travel" into the search box?  Named after, I assume, the all-knowing computer on Quantum Leap, Ziggy's Emergency Time Travel Reference gives you historical and reference documents to ensure your time travel experience is free of embarrassing historical disasters and loaded with enough information to pad your bank account in a way only a person from the future can.

Right now, I'm reading Timecaster by Joe Kimball a.k.a J.A.Konrath.  It's published by Ace, so firmly on the sci-fi side of time travel.  It actually feels good to hold a book again.  Does that mean I'm Nook-dependent? So far, so good. I'll dish more after I finish it at the beach.  Who else do you know would consider tachyon emission visualizers good beach content? Joe has a great blog, by the way, for those of us trying to navigate the rapidly-evolving publishing climate.

I'm also hearing a buzz about debut author Julie Cross's Tempest, the first in what will be a young-adult time travel thriller trilogy. LOVE the cover.  Loooove it. This book does not release until 2012, but already has Summit Entertainment (think Twilight) gobbling up movie rights. Here's the scoop from Amazon:

The year is 2009. Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun.

That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.

Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.

But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler. Recruit… or kill him.

Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world

My prediction? Jackson will be the new Edward.

Lastly, if you haven't heard, USA Today and NYT bestselling thriller and romance author L.A. Banks is battling serious illness and mounting medical bills. A donation and auction site has been set up to help. 

What does it say about me when I'm watching Through the Wormhole and all I can think of is this contest?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Here Kitty, Kitty

Get your buttered popcorn.  It's slide show time. 

The Center for Animal Research and Education in Bridgeport, Texas is home to some amazing large cats and the dedicated people who love them.  Some are the product of misguided humans who purchased these felines through illegal channels and realized, as they grew, they were ill-equipped to raise a wild cat.  Really?  Ya think?  Some came from bankrupt zoos across the nation.  Some were left behind due to injury or blindness or other in-bred deformities by traveling circuses.  These highly-trained veterinarians and caregivers ask for nothing more than donations to walk you around their sanctuary and get you closer than you've ever been to these majestic animals.  What an amazing way to spend a morning. 

Now that you've had a chance to enjoy the kitties and the popcorn, I feel compelled to tell you that tiger piss smells like buttered popcorn.  Only worse.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Do You Smell Buttered Popcorn?

Some of you know my latest novel revolves around a New Jersey boardwalk amusement park that is ground zero for a time grid that temporal agents use as a kind of super-highway.  This grid surfaces in pockets of high, naturally-occurring electromagnetic energy, but also in places where humans have contributed to that energy.  I've long thought about residual emotions that abound in places of extreme terror or joy or sadness. I envision a century-old carnival as that kind of place.  It is a place where people go seeking escape, hungry for that charge that will pull them from their reality into another one.  A place where time is suspended and we reconnect with that innocence we've all but left behind.

A few nights ago, the Sundance channel ran a documentary called Carny. Filmmaker Alison Murray followed a traveling carnival for a season and recorded candid interviews, life-changing events, the good, the bad and the ugly of living life as a gypsy for the sole purpose of entertaining others.  The work is hard, physical labor at below minimum wage.  Some join up because they're running away from the law, from their problems, from addictions.  Some are carnies because there were no other options.  Some missed out on their childhood and spend their lifetime filling in the void. Most come because they are different and stay because they realize they're not as different as someone else.

I've attended these carnivals, clutched my purse a little closer, held on a little more because I worried the guy who put the rides together did a half-arse job. I've thought the carnies were fringe and kept them at a distance.  I'm guilty, but I'm not the only one.  Otherwise, the impetus wouldn't have been there to document the truth. 

This knowledge came at an important time in the writing of this story. I need to dig deeper, write my hero from a place of enlightenment, not misconception. 

If you walked off your job today and joined a traveling carnival, what kind of carny would you be? Now's the time to cough up any bizarre talents or preoccupations. I'll start.  I used to be able to contort so that both ankles would rest behind my neck. I know.  As attractive as you can imagine that was, I'd give all that up to run the-you guessed it-Ferris wheel.

Friday, look for pictures from my adventure to a Big Cat Sanctuary.  Trust me, carnies aren't the only ones that smell like buttered popcorn.

Friday, June 17, 2011

On Roman Orgies and Bath Bombs

Can you imagine a restaurant in my city called The Magic Time Machine that has flown under my radar for nine years?  If anyone has been there, I. Must. Have. Every. Detail.  Do you smell that?  It is the fine aroma of their succulent Roman Orgy plate when mixed with a critique group field trip.

If you are into, well, I'm not sure how to even classify this music, but you can get your near-four-minute fill along with a lone time traveler storyline and a video director's own time-lapse time travel.  The comments float around Radiohead and The National, so if you love some time travel sauce with your melancholy, plucky, philosophical, chill-out, tavern-band tuneage, Cold Mailman's Time is of the Essence might be for you.

Lest you think the Vortex veered highbrow on that last link, I give you Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder: Time Travel Bath Bomb by Jo Nesbo.  Sequel to Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder, the tale of a magic powder capable of propulsing  unsuspecting people into outer space, minus the smell, the Time Travel Bath Bomb tackles Joan of Arc and someone named Claude Cliche.  Claude and I are acquainted.  Extra applause to Jo Nesbo who kept the same nom de plume for her Doctor Proctor series as she did for her Norwegian thrillers.  Now that's some cross-readership pollination. 

A huge thanks to Robin for suggesting Midnight in Paris.  What could be better than time travel at midnight?  I can't think of a thing.  It will be my next solo-theater flight. At least my nom de plume is associated with stories breaking conventional time travel theories and not breaking wind. Thanks to everyone who sees something Vortex-ish and sends it this way...

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bestseller? There's an App For That?

It's taken me a good two weeks to get settled in enough with my iphone to be comfortable.  Of course, when I went app shopping, I searched "writing" first.  I wanted something that would be to me, as a fiction writer, what GasBuddy is to the Chevy Suburban gas-guzzling soccer mom.  So far, here's what I've discovered:

free WriteChain is a productivity tracker that is simplicity at its best.  Enter your daily word count goal, then log in each day to record your progress and add a link to the chain.  Somehow it's become a matter of national security for me not to break the chain. There's even a notepad for each session where you can record special notes for that day like, "Today kicked my badonkadonk.  Caffeine around 2 pm might help."

free Writing Tip of the Day is a daily lesson in grammar from those junior high years you were staring at the moody guy with the nice lips instead of the leprechaun teacher with the high-waisted pants.  Okay, wait.  That was probably just me.  Anyway, if you have any inkling to write fiction, you will already know more than these elementary tips. Skip this one.

If I find apps that can help me keep plot threads in order and at hand with a searchable feature OR track submissions OR play a rejection game where you blast "Dear Author" letters with a fountain pen OR listen to Fabio tell me how whannnnderful I did on my writing goals that day, I will have found my virtual heaven.

I'll update more as I find them.  Until then, I'll pass along this gem: 100 Free and Useful Web Apps for Writers

What are your favorite apps?

Friday, June 3, 2011

An Excuse Faulkner Would Admire

Yeah, it's been awhile.  My blog ideas file would fill a VW bug were they not digital, but before we jump head-first into summer on Thriller Island (which I've heard is spectacular in a Sawyer-reading-Are-You-There-God?-It's-Me,Margaret-on-the-beach kind of way )and a more regular blogging schedule (shooting for the MWF trifecta) I have a compulsion to confess what occupied my brainspace in May that kept me so very non-Vortex oriented:

I reprogrammed my right thumb not to space twice after ending punctuation in my manuscripts, pitched a tent, downloaded WriteChain to my iphone (Holy Production Accountability, Batman!), watched some really craptastic movies-including, but not limited to-Sex in the City 2 and I Love You, Beth Cooper, entered three writing contests, found the Starbucks that's willing to break rules for my favorite drink, got a haircut sans the kerfuffle-and likewise, the post-haircut too-short tears, found a song for my novel's playlist during my spin class I never would have discovered otherwise, turned a year older closer to publication with major distribution, stopped working to pursue my dream, confessed for real, caught up on all the 24 hour restaurant battle shows archived on the DVR and laughed at New Yorkers' take on Texas in the barbecue eppy, discovered Bradley Cooper's awesomeness (even before the whole French thing!), lost faith in humanity when my car was smashed with no note left, regained my faith in humanity when a good Samaritan who could have been victimized wasn't, watched the Mavs-Go Mavs!! read The Energy Bus and wondered how Joy could have done all she did while driving a bus, nurtured a few new friendships, consulted the magic 8 ball on a few things, bought tickets to a high school reunion, lost all my memory sticks and found them again, won a five-colors-in-one highlighter, threw a party, and edited portions of two manuscripts.  Whew!
I'll be back Monday with a writer's fashion citation.  No pictures.  I promise.