Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thursday Thirteen 12/31

It's New Year's Eve, but I find that I'm not quite ready yet to shift my focus to the new year. This day is going to fly by and I'll be thrust into 2010, ready or not, before I know it. But for now, today is just Thursday.

What I was actually thinking about this morning was movies. My new year's celebration will most likely involve a movie fest, and I was remembering all my favorite movie scenes. You know, the one scene that can make even a terrible movie bearable, the scenes that stick with you.

So, here are my 13 of my favorite movie scenes.

1. When Aragorn pushes opens the doors to the throne room at Helms Deep in The Two Towers.

2. Near the end of the most recent Pride and Prejudice when Matthew McFadyen's Darcy struggles to say "I love you" to Elizabeth.

3. When Jason Bourne drives the car off the roof of the parking garage in Bourne Ultimatum.

4. In the newer version, when Edmund comes to take Fanny back to Mansfield Park. I love that carriage ride, where they both acknowledge and avoid their feelings for each other.

5. The first scene with Methos in Highlander End Game. Blah blah Duncan, broody broody blah blah, then ..... METHOS!

6. In P.S. I Love You, when they're reading the letters in Ireland. "Hey, Big Mama" has me bawling every time.

7. The dance party in steerage in Titanic.

8. Any scene with Jeremy Northam in Emma.

9. In 27 Dresses when Jane tells Tess, "Today you're just some b**ch who cut up my mother's wedding dress." Also love "Benny and the Jets."

10. I realize he's like twelve, but the scene with Jacob and Bella on the stairs at the movie theater in New Moon gets me, too. Something about the long hair pulled back in front, and the way he's into her is just yummy.

11. The scene where Jet Li pretends to be the takeout delivery guy at Aaliyah's apartment in Romeo Must Die.

12. In the new Star Trek when Spock tells the council to "Live long, and prosper" after they diss his mom. Love that.

13. In Serenity when they're discussing whether or not Inara's call is a trap. "Did you see us fight?.....No.....Trap."

Have a wonderful, safe celebration tonight. May the new year bring you all good things.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Writer's Retreat Blog 12/20

Here is my latest post to the Writer's Retreat Blog:

To Drabble or Not to Drabble?


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Friday Flash Fiction Dec 11

I was really trying to write something new, and apparently it was just not going to happen tonight. Jason had this major attack of potty mouth, and that was about all I got, lol.

So I'm going to post this little snippet I wrote before Thanksgiving instead. I begged for a prompt on RD chat, and Inez told me to blow something up. This is what came out.

The fuse had been lit. Licks of amber flame circled black pools of darkness, spreading slowly outward until a wide ring of fire blazed.

Lord Jeran smiled at his handiwork. Prince Ming would be pleased.

“Don’t worry, Lord Rogon, I won’t tell a soul,” Jeran assured the man beside him. He hurried to cover his smirk with sympathetic concern as the laser focus of Rogon’s attention returned to him. Heat shimmered in the air, searing Jeran’s skin, and the acrid stench of smoke burned his nostrils and clogged his throat.

A trill of feminine laughter drew Rogon’s eye to the back of the room, and suddenly Jeran could breathe again. The sight of a willowy blonde standing close to a tall, dark-haired man, her arm resting lightly against the emerald velvet of the man’s jacket as she laughed up at him nearly drew an answering giggle from Jeran.

How wonderful! Jeran knew he couldn’t have choreographed the scene more perfectly than the two unwitting participants in this little play had just done. Now all he had to do was stand back and wait for the inevitable explosion.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thursday Thirteen Dec 10

This last weekend was my Christmas tree decorating party, and in the absence of of any other inspiration this week, I thought I would show you all my thirteen favorite Christmas ornaments. They are, in no particular order:

1. Shelly's ornament

This is a pretty simple ornament, but my friend Shelly painted it for me, and it's had a special place on the tree for close to 20 years now.

2. Red Angel

This angel is part of the set of ornaments I bought for the very first Christmas tree I had on my own. I collect angels in a small way, especially at Christmas.

3.Red and White from Nightmare Bazaar

For some reason I just love this ornament. The colors remind me of the tree at my dad's parents' house. They only ever had a white flocked tree with red balls. Period. I guess this ornament takes me back there without actually having to have a tree like that myself.

4. Pier 1 Snowflake

A couple years ago I added snowflakes to my list of things I collect at Christmas. For some reason not a lot of them made it on the tree this year, but this one from Pier 1 is one of my favorites.

5. Marshalls Pear

This is just one of a set of sparkly pear ornaments we got at Marshalls. They aren't anything fancy, but I love them.

6. Balsa Angel from Nightmare Bazaar

This is a balsa wood angel ornament from the Every Husband's Nightmare Bazaar. Mom and I go every year the weekend before Thanksgiving and always come away with something. This one is from the first year we ever went.

7. New Orleans Ornament

This is a sort of Mardi Gras themed ornament from our trip to New Orleans. My mom had always wanted to go there, and she and my two aunts and I went the Memorial Day before Hurricane Katrina. If I ever needed a reminder not to put off the things that are really important, this is it.

8. Jo Bunch Bell

This is a bell hand painted by our church minister's wife when I was in elementary school. We haven't seen her in years, but every time we put the ornaments on the tree we say, "It's a Jo Bunch bell." They're simple and beautiful and still some of my favorites.

9. Great Grandma Houseley Ornament

LOL - this is one of those ornaments that I both love and hate. It was made by a great grandmother that I don't have a lot of other memories of, so the big purple....rabbit? mouse? ...finds a home on the tree every year.

10. Horn Ornament

No one hear wants to actually hear me play the french horn anymore, but I used to. This was a present from a fellow horn player in college. I still love them and always find myself looking for a new horn ornament.

11. Danish Bell

This bell is part of a set my uncle's mom would send him from Denmark. My uncle was a chef who was usually working on Christmas Eve during our family celebration, and he's passed on now, but I'm glad to have these bells so he's with us still.

12. Cloisonne Bell

It's a bell, it's sparkly - pretty much a perfect Nikki Christmas ornament.

13. Belle Bell

This is another one of the ornaments from the tree in my first apartment. I love it because it's actually a bell (her feet dangle in the middle for the chime). It's a heavy ornament so it always has to go at the top, but it's still one of my favorites.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Time for the Tree!

Christmas Tree 2009

The Tree Party is over, and we have a beautiful tree to show for it again this year. If there's only going to be one Christmas tree in the family, it should be a good one, and everyone contributed to this year's effort. What a great start to the Christmas season!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Flash Friday December 4

I feel like the Flash Friday is supposed to be for original fiction, but that's just not where I'm at today. The only writing of mine that I really wanted to read tonight was an old Highlander story. It's called Public Displays, Private Affections. and it's my favorite Richie/Methos story.

It is m/m slash, so I'm only going to post the link here. In my own Richie/Methos-verse, Richie and Methos got set up on a date for a gay and lesbian edition of the WB show Blind Date. This story is the one year anniversary of that date.

Thank you to Emma, who is still kind enough to host my HL stories for me. Public Displays, Private Affections can be found at:


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Nikki's Thanksgiving Thursday Thirteen

For a variety of reasons, none of them particularly onerous or challenging on their own, it's been a rough last couple of weeks. I haven't been feeling especially thankful lately, so it really is the perfect time to count my blessings.

Here are 13 things I'm thankful for this year:

1. My family. I am so lucky to have them close, and to have close, loving relationships with so many of them! I'm also going to get to see a little more of them than usual this holiday season, and I'm really looking forward to that.

2. My job. I feel very fortunate to still be working despite store closures nationwide, and to have a crew of people I can enjoy and respect.

3. The Pomme de Sang Forum and Fanfic Archive, the Fiction Writer's Workshop, and Romance Divas. I have met so many wonderful people since I joined them! I have been able to get back into writing again and found a great community to share the experience with. Not to mention just having a ton of great stuff to read and talk about! Thank you everyone.

4. Fluffy the cat. I'm sorry for the unfortunate circumstances that brought him into my home temporarily, but it's been great to see him come out of his shell and find his voice. He's definitely getting the hang of lazy weekend mornings sleeping in, and that's a great thing :)

5. Good friends. I've thoroughly enjoyed meeting new people, but there's nothing like the friendship of women I've grown up with. I'm glad you're still in my life.

6. My apartment. The housing market being what it is, I feel very lucky to have my apartment stay at a rate I can live with so I didn't have to move this year. I hate moving, and am very cozy in my little apartment. (Across the street from work - woohoo!)

7. My muse. I'm so glad it came back! Shame on me for letting it get away. Thank heavens it was willing to come back around once I decided to get off my butt and write again.

8. The new Star Trek Movie. I love movies, and it's been ages since a movie came out that I just had to see over and over again. Hurray for spending a summer at the movies again!.

9. iTunes. I feel sort of ridiculous saying this, but I'm really glad to have been forced to get used to iTunes. I finally feel free to just download the songs I want instead of the whole cd, and I've been able to find a bunch of new music I would never have risked in a store. I need new music almost as much as I need new books to read, and it's great to have a place to get a new bite if I need to.

10. My Blackberry. Hurray for getting email on my phone, and for Pandora radio and an ebook reader on my phone when I get to restaurant before my friends do, or just want to read in bed!

11. Studded tires. I would not have been able to buy Christmas presents for my family in time for the holiday last year, or even made it to Christmas breakfast at my mom's if I hadn't had studded tires on my car. Two solid weeks of snow and ice is more than I ever thought I'd see in the NW. I wasn't sure I'd ever use them again once I moved across the street from work, but got my money's worth out of them again last December.

12. Line dancing. Finally, something that'll get me out of the house on Friday night! I don't even know the names of all the dances I've learned, but I'm having a great time and learning more every week.

13. Elliptical machines in the workout room. They're my favorite cardio to do, and now that they're in the fitness room in my apartment complex I actually visit the place once in a while :)

Happy Thanksgiving and best wishes to all!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Writing is Like Pasta Pizza

I actually cooked dinner on Sunday. I try to do that, so I have leftovers for the week, however I am not always very successful. This Sunday, while I was hunting down my lasagna recipe, I came across my pasta pizza recipe and made that instead.

As I was going through my cooking adventure it occurred to me that there are some parallels between the writing process and the cooking process.

1. The recipe.

Most cooking begins with a recipe, however informal, and most stories start with at least a general outline. When I am preparing a receipe for the first time, I usually try to follow it exactly, on the theory that it'll give me a sense of what it's supposed to taste like. After the first time, I'll play around with it some - adding zucchini to my vegitarian lasagna recipe, for example.

When it comes to writing I am much more go-with-the-flow. I usually start with some kind of strong mental image and then build a story around it, but nothing so concrete that I can't change it up if the muse strikes. Where as with cooking the end product is a direct result of the recipe, I find that writing can be almost the opposite - the recipe, or outline - is a product of the story itself (I hope that makes sense.)

2. The ingredients.

With pasta pizza and with writing, you have to have all of the ingredients. In the case of this Sunday's endeavors, I was going to end up with more than enough mushrooms and hamburger, so I decided to make two pies. Then I got home and realized I did not have double the amount of stewed tomatoes or mozzarella. The solution - substitution! A half a can of tomato sauce and some cheddar and parmesan cheese saved the day, and I was able to make two pies.

In writing, being flexible is very important, but you also have to be careful. You often need more than a dash of plot or a splash of dialog to hold a story together and make it come out as a tasty finished product. If the story you started out writing ends up not being the story that needs to be told, that's one thing. Sometimes, though, I find I'm deviating from the path I originally set just because it's harder than I thought and I don't want to wrestle with it. Sometimes that's a sign I need to change direction, and sometimes that's being lazy.

3. The tools.

Another minor panic moment came when I realized that I did not in fact have two pizza pans any longer, but only one. I'd never made pasta pizza in a baking pan before, but since the pasta had already been cooked I was kind of committed to at least making the attempt. There were stages to the recipe - the pasta "crust" first, and then toppings - so I was able to see that the crust came out well before I added the toppings and cheese, and it was a reasonable substitution to make, but still nothing I would have wanted to attempt if I'd actually been going to serve the food to other people.

I'm finding out that writing takes more than a laptop and some time, too. It takes notebooks and forums and feedback and a support system, among other things, to really do it well. No writer is an island and I realize a little more every day that published writers who prepare and make sure they have all the tools ahead of time, and use a wide variety of them, rather than opening the oven drawer and finding out they're short a pan.

4. Soup's on!

Sometimes, despite starting out with a half-assed plan and missing ingredients and pans, everything comes out right. Fortunately for me, the baking pan version and the pizza pan version came out very well. The cheddar cheese I added didn't make it too greasy, and the parmesan I tried crisped nicely on the top. The mushrooms I added a step too early didn't get too soft and the green pepper wasn't too firm. It's really good, actually, as it almost always is.

For writing I think this means to trust your instincts. They're usually sound. As long as you start with a solid foundation, like a recipe or an outline, and make sensible changes instead of plowing ahead willy-nilly, your inner voice will almost always steer you in the right direection.

5. You have a freezer - use it.

While I suppose it's possible for me to eat two entire pasta pizzas by myself before they either went bad or I completely sick of it, it just didn't seem like a good idea. About half of one pie ended up in the freezer as soon as it cooled, so I'll have something to look forward to someday when the cupboards are bare or I want hot food without cooking something new.

One of the hardest things for me to learn was to write ideas down - just ideas not the whole darn story - so I could have them later when I was ready to actually focus on them. Honestly, I don't often have trouble coming up with ideas, it's the execution of them that seems to trip me up. I'm trying really hard not to take that for granted, though, since I'm almost certain the day will come when I don't have the luxury of an easy inspiration.

I'm also sick to death of not finishing things because a new story idea has hijacked me and then I can't get back into the original story once I've exorcised the new plot bunny. Drives me crazy, but I don't want to lose the new idea, either.

Hence the institution of at least outlining a new idea - like tupperware for stories, lol. I get enough of the bunny down to make sure I won't lose it, and even the little bit of writing on it keeps me from getting overwhelmed by the need to write the whole thing down. Still, I stay on track with what I'm really working on.

Now that I've analyzed the process to death, I suppose I'd better get to work and actually write something. Have a great day everyone!

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