About Me

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J is an unpublished author, represented by Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency. J's first novel is a YA fantasy horror, regarding a siren who must choose between the haunting life and humanity. J draws on occasion, reads quite often, and is a founding member of the critique group 'Thoughtical Verbosity.'

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Berry Melated Christmas!

Hello all! I suppose as a responsible blogger I should have got some brief message up on one of my internet hubs and hollered my holiday greetings at you hooligans. Alas and alackaday, that did not happen. I was busy celebrating the holidays.

And yet, here I am, wishing you the very best of end-of-year celebrations! New Year's is coming up soon, and I am delighted to say that I have the weekend off from work. Huzzah! That means I'll actually be around when friend Amber and her lovely children come over, and I can finally give them their Christmas gifts. Yay!

I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas. I know I did. Knowing that a return to school is (hopefully) in my future, I went all out this year with my gift-giving with the unofficial understanding that the pickin's will be rather more slim in 2011. My philosophy on money is rather simple: It's just money. At a certain age, you can and will be making more. Should you squirrel away some for the future? Yes. And increasingly 'yes' as time marches on. But when you're at a certain whimsical age and you have little better to do than travel to exotic places and spoil nieces, nephews and siblings...don't be a Scrooge!

Unless you're in school, in which case the Scrooging will happen for you.

And the time spent with family was a lot of fun. Between work and just plain not living together, I don't see most of my other siblings all that much. This year I even got to see them all at once for a few brief moments; something that generally only occurs at weddings and funerals.

A few days after Christmas, I went out and bought myself something rather exciting: a new Flip camera. I've named it Jeffries. And with our power combined, soon you'll have my mug and melodious voice to accompany the blog. Yeehaw! Be prepared.

Well, until I see (in this case having the unique definition of 'blindly write to') you again!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Level 23

Hello friends/people I've never met but might get along with!

Today is a momentous day in my life. It is the first and last time I shall ever turn 23. Unless, of course, I turn into one of those anal old ladies who can't look my own wrinkly self in the face and I decide to lie about my age. I mean, 9.5 times out of 9 this year, I've given someone a random number when they ask how old I'll be. Once or twice I've happily explained how my grandchildren will be coming to the jubilee. So I guess you just never can tell.

Anywho, I am now 23 years old! Huzzah! I think I'll make puppy-eyes and whine at Big Sis until she makes me birthday cupcakes or something.

With each passing year, however, I am made to think of my writing goals. The big one is to have Ze Book published before my 25th birthday. Or at least to have Ze Book being published by my 25th year. That means I've got exactly two years left. I figure if I keep up a good pace, I can have Ze Book written and ready for the presses halfway into 2011. From there, however, it's a mad dash trying to get someone to read and become obsessed with it to the point that they make the investment of publication.

It's a long path ahead of me, but I'm thrilled. I love what I do with the words and the pages and the stories and all that stuff. It's the most frustrating and invigorating thing I've ever done. Unless we're counting that thing with the Rubiks Cube and the crocodiles. But that's a whole different birthday story.

Well, I hope you all have a lovely day, because I sure as heck will :)



Friday, December 3, 2010

Inspired by Raging and Quickly Forgotten Fight

Since moving in with the Hendersons (composed of XX-year old Sandi, XX-year old Dustin, 6 year-old Eliza and 5-year-old Ethan) my horizons have expanded. Nay, blossomed. Belay that ‘nay,’ expanded. I’ve eaten things that have previously disturbed me, made leaps and bounds in my toddler-level writing career, and participated in various heathen rituals that I shan’t go into at this time due to various contracts.

I’ve also learned things about myself as a person which I simply hadn’t cared to know before. How much money am I really willing to spend to allow myself some freedom? (At least enough to cover rent). Why do I really want to graduate from college? (Because I can). Where did I leave my keys? (My nephew hid them in his shoes as a joke). Exactly how much of a nerd am I? (Judging by the fact that I can have lucid conversation with my Broinlaw* about Star Wars and when people will make it to Mars, a pretty big one).

I’m also learning how to DO new things. Like cooking. Sort of. Slowly. Sandi and Dustin are both very good cooks; living with them has resulted in my palatial boundaries broadening and my waistline slowly shrinking (yay!). The fact that I used to consider Fuddruckers to be borderline gourmet apparently bothered them, and in hopes of having a Broinlaw of their own someday, have made the staggering decision to try and teach me their ways. Working full time and trying to get Ze Book finished has made the process slow, but I’ve picked up a few tips already. Like steak being seared, or whatever.

What inspired all of this semi-philosophizing? The other night, Sandi and I had what may well be our second real argument. The fact that it was pretty much forgotten five minutes later says great things about our relationship, but the way it got started and the way it was carried out was very informative about how different we are as people. Belay that; how different we are as…actually, no, ‘people’ works fine.

The argument was about a piece of writing by our friend, Amber. We had completely different views on it, though we agreed it was well written and could have a huge market. Any pretense and mature debate went out the window pretty fast, and the really steamy part of the discussion went something like this:

(the red-head that pops in is probably Dustin)
“You don’t know what you’re talking about!”
“I do, you just don’t like that I disagree with you and-“
“No, you’re just interpreting it wrong!”
“Shut up!”
“You can’t say stuff like that and not expect to be interrupt-“

It’s funny looking back at it, and really we were laughing most of the way through anyway. That’s one of the wonderful things about being snarky, even a bitter feud over a friend’s short story is humorous.

But later, it got me thinking about how different Sandi and I are (and how good of a thing it is that we agree on almost everything, considering how ugly it is when we don’t).

You see, Sandi and I both have creative aspirations (okay, okay, SHE has a creative career, whilst I have creative aspirations). But they manifest in very different ways. Sandi is like the ship's captain, military-clean, ornately simple and absolutely sure of her own style. She rules a ship of stiff upper lips and unyielding perfection; it is a beautiful ship and, obviously, very successful.
I, on the other hand, am the lacksadaisical beach bum who watches the ship sail off to uncharted regions. I've got my jungle behind me, and have created my tree fort and monkey lounge area which can be taken apart and wiggled around for other purposes with the same function of a swiss army knife. I know what I want to create, and a big part of that is leaving some elbow-room for others to take from it what they will.

Perhaps that's why I'm into the writing thing, and Sandi's into the fabric designing thing. Or perhaps I've got it all wrong.
Either way, I'm glad for the influence the Henderson Clan has had on me. And I'm glad that I did eventually find my keys.

*Broinlaw: Brother-in-Law, one who is considered an inseperable part of one’s family, rather than the sort one secretly hopes will choke on their wedding toast drink and quickly be replaced.

Friday, November 5, 2010


As those of you who follow my sister over at Portabello Pixie undoubtedly know, there is a great deal of moving-type stuff going on. This is mostly because we are, in fact moving. Into an amazing house which I am incredibly excited for. Said sister is going to be redesigning my room; I am intrigued, excited, and a tad anxious...not because I doubt her taste, of course, but because I am exactly the sort of antsy my-way-is-the-highway person who would go hungry before asking someone else to order for them at the cafe.

I'm sure it will be a delight, however, and knowing her will be ten times more stylish than anything I could come up with. Huzzah!

Supposedly I'm packing up the rest of my junk right now. But being the procrastinator that I am, I....meh, I'll finish that thought later.

Since the last report, the writer's group thing has met once again, and I received some great feedback that I am eager to implement. The writing process is going fairly smoothly for me, which is great since I'd like to become fabulously wealthy and quit my day-job as soon as possibly. The goal is before I turn twenty-five. I'll let you know how that goes in a couple of years, shall I?

In regards to the Phil Innis stuff, I am sad to say I have not had much time at all to prod at that particular pet in the last couple of weeks. It's not forgotten; I'm still thrilled that I was able to include hookers in the fourth episode without making it obvious that they were hookers to anyone who wouldn't know what a hooker was :) Family-friendly hookers! Truly a milestone in my writing career.

In other news, a couple of weeks ago the family brought in a puppy :) She's an adorable fluffy-wuffy English lab named Penelope. I at first voted we name her Calamity (I mean, who would you rather walk your kids to school...Calamity Jane, or Sweet Mary Roseweather?) but Lucky Penny fits her a bit better.

Well, I'll try to get a new more funny-bone assaulting post up soon. In the meantime, I really ought to get back to packing!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dionycles, P.I.

Dionycles, P.I., being one of the contenders for official mascot of my new writing group.

On Friday, the first official as-of-yet-unnamed writers group involving myself, big sis, big sis' husband, and family friend met and exchanged our first products to be reviewed. (Members by name: Sandi and Dustin Henderson and Amber Johnson. And me. MEEE.)

Sandi provided her beautiful new Cloche hat that I'm going to steal when she's sleeping, Dustin showed the amazing full-size easel, including a carving of a paintbrush on the back, that he created for Sandi, and Amber and I both whipped out the first bites of our respective novels.

New title of Ze Book, by the way, is Clover Leaf Investigations: Book One: First Time's a Charm. In order to save time and webspace, it shall from hereon out be referred to simply as 'Ze Book.'

I can't say I'm thrilled with what I passed out to the rest of the troupe, but we'll see how it goes. If nothing else I'm eager to get the crap critiqued out of me. It's always a great way to crank the old gear back into motion. And having meetings once a week will be great motivation to keep up my aforementioned goal of writing a lot all of the time.

Excellent (finger tap).

In other news, my god-daughter, River, is gorgeous. And now a strong member of the cast over at Fragmented Poe, the family's website.

Also, previously mentioned big sis totally made me get teary today by plagiarizing me. But in a good way. I love you too, Pixie :)

Friday, October 1, 2010

New Goals and...Gasp! Twitter!

Hey gang who I've been ignoring for a while; much has happened!

I've moved in with my very patient sister, brother-in-law, and adorable niece and nephew. Really, I'm impressed that my bro-in-law is apparently cool with it. I'm sure having a leach-in-law move into your home is at least in the top ten list of things you dread when you get hitched. So thanks for not vetoing the invasion, buddy!

A few weeks ago, I had the kind of day at work that makes you sit back and go "Man, life as a customer service person makes me want to shave off all of my hair, move to Alaska, and become a fish monger who only deals with herself." You know. The days that drag on forever and are filled with nothing but customers who whine, complain, and mumble. Ooooooh...the mumbling.

Anyway, it made me realize that I've been dragging my feet horribly in regards to the whole 'become a rich and famous author' dream. I'd like to get that train moving. So I at first wanted to set the goal of having a complete, readable copy of Ze Book (which now has an official series title and imaginary city name) by my next birthday. I set up a schedule and everything. Then realized that, with as many hours as I've been scheduled with the last few weeks, I simply would not be able to meet it which would result in a very sad birthday indeed.

So now the goal is this: Each week, I will have completed EITHER a new chapter in Ze Book OR a new Phil Innis Adventures episode. This will keep me working, but will mean less depression when I don't slam my forehead against The Bar I set.

Also, I'm now on Twitter. Tremble in phear, internets!

Monday, August 16, 2010

New Name, New Direction, Here We Go!

Hello, all! Those who are with me may have noticed that the web page of this fine establishment has been altered somewhat. This is in preparation for the transforming of Skeleton Keys and Mysteries into an actual blog kept up for the sake of the series of mystery podcasts which I am in the process of writing. First and foremost, as I may have mentioned before, shall be 'The Phil Innis Adventures,' starring...well, me and whoever I can emotionally blackmail into voice acting for me :)

The new computer (Portia) is running smoothly and beautifully and some other well-meaning-fully. I have recently bit the bullet and ordered a new Wacom Bamboo Pen tablet, which will probably arrive...eventually, soon, and then we'll see whether or not the art-life picks up again. As much as I had to sink in to the bill, I surely do hope that it's worth my hard-earned pennies! Equal effort and cashola has gone into microphones and editing equipment for the podcasts. Therefore the time has basically come and past for me to be able to let the goal pass without a fight. I would very much like to have The Phil Innis Adventures up and available by the end of the year.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sweet, Sweet Independence

Happy Independence Day, everyone!

One of the beauties of this country, the great U.S. of A., is the great number of freedoms that we have been gifted. That includes the freedom to complain about the way it's run, the freedom to be ignorant of its history, and the freedom to waste your life staring vacantly through over-sized sunglasses and carrying weird little dogs around in your purse.

While that may sound rather negative, let's also take a look at the other things people have fought, argued and died to give us the right to: The right to vote (all of us!), the right to speak out minds, the right to be silly or weird or unique in any way. In this country, any woman can go out for any man's job, there are no legal race boundaries, and so long as you're not trodding on anyone else's toes, you can pursue any dream and practice any creed and preach any ideal.

It's amazing, what we've managed to come up with in a few centuries! The USA is the culmination of all of the best traditions and beliefs of the entire world; we are the melting pot!

Are we perfect? About as perfect as a country song sung by a rapper. But I believe a certain amount of optimism has to be invoked when looking over generations worth of effort. And the 4th of July, as it is celebrated here, is a time for celebrating the successes. Perhaps it's also a time for considering failures and flaws; a time to consider possible solutions.

So for those of you Yanks out there, Happy Fourth! For those of you who belong to another crowd, thanks for playing! Turn on the old television and watch some fireworks, courtesy of your gum-chewing, baseball cap-wearing cousins.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hope for the Species

Working in customer service, it can be very easy to find yourself having a crisis of faith when it comes to humanity. People behave like very immature, spoiled children when they don't get their way; they throw tantrums, call names, and run whining to whoever will listen over the simplest things. Like a certain bakery running out of their favorite donut. Or the fact that said bakery closes at the same time every night, or--gasp!--charges each customer the same amount for the same product.

Sometimes I feel as if I understand why the smelly guys in their great-grandfather's overcoats wander on the streets, sporting signs that explain to the rest of us crazy mortals that the world is at its end. Perhaps it's about time for another flood, the way some people behave!

But then something magical happens, most often involving my niece and nephew. For example: the two little imps are outside, playing on the trampoline. Suddenly, those inside hear the end of an altercation: My nephew storms off of the trampoline, his four-year-old brow furrowed with young anger, and hollers back at his equally upset six-year-old sister that she is "Kinda bumpy!"

One assumes, as he marches in and furiously crosses his arms and pouts, that she has made him bounce when he did not want to. The two have shouted at one another that their friendship is over; it is a done deal.

I try to explain to my nephew that all is not lost. I finally tell him that perhaps if he and his sister merely give one another a big hug, they may once again play and the Cold War may come to an end. With a final huff, he gives in and marches back outside. The two glower at one another (one on the trampoline, one on the grass) for about three seconds. Then my nephew makes a single spazzy jerk and a funny sound, and all of the sudden their giggling again, she helps him back onto the trampoline, and once more they are best friends.

I hope that ability to forgive, forget and spazz out a little never fades. And I would truly love it if we 'big kids' had the same method for solving out issues.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Phil Innis Adventures

Hello lovely people! And even those less lovely! But not the beautiful ones...you don't need any greeting.

Life has been a whirlwind of limited but greatly occupysational activities as of late. Other than work at the bakery (it's so nice to be making money again, and seeing my pals on the workforce. The crotchety customers I could work without, though) I've been spending a lot of time writing, working on my big project.

Other than the first 'Lady Luck' (title now changed to something I haven't decided on yet) book continuing to roll around in the mill, I've been typing my little fingers to the nub working on, as you might have guessed, the Phil Innis Adventures.

I've made a lot of progress as far as actually getting the new baby on a roll. Plenty of writing, some editing, and an overall actual plan as to how it's going to work. I'll be releasing short stories and podcasts; the short stories probably at about $1 a pop for download and the podcasts for free. The plan at the moment is to have the short stories reflecting the time period before Phil becomes rooted in the city she lives in during the podcasts.

I've got synopses done for everything, so far. Now the actual writing of it all needs to happen.

Well, that's basically it. I've got the Phil Innis Adventures in the works, and if I can just discipline myself a little better it won't be five years from now that you hear about it again :)

Take care, folks!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Getting Acquainted with the Grindstone

Hello, readers!

It has been a while since I posted, which perhaps left some of you wondering whether I'd died happy in Europe.

I didn't.

Despite the best efforts of Mother Nature and mechanical errors, I made it back to Missoula in one piece and in a somewhat timely manner. I could perhaps go back and give you a few more journal entries from the trip, but I think for now I'll simply give you a summary:

(A) Paranoid people exist everywhere, so be careful about taking pictures into crowds.
(B) There are few things as fascinating as the unknown, and no better way to exercise your imagination than coming up with your own solutions to real-world mysteries.
(3) Lamb stew is yummy.
(IV) Everything has a story; if you're passionate enough about it, you can even make it interesting to others.
(Echo) I'm a lot more chill about being lost in foreign countries and not knowing entirely where I am or what I'm doing than I would have ever thought. Also, I'm a lot more brash than is perhaps conducive to a long life.
(F) Speaking a foreign language is fabulous! It means that when you're in the middle of the other side's camp, you never run out of people who want to hang out with you! Until you get sick and completely lose your voice.
(Lucky#) There's nothing better to inspire you than to literally see the world that the past masters saw; as close to seeing through their eyes as you can get.

And that's what I've come away from the trip with! And a new host of magnets. I've got some really cool ones; buildings and sites, a pirate ship, a magnetic cook book...Now all I need is a fridge to put them on!

So, now I'm back in Missoula. I start working back at the bakery soon (or so I've been told), and need to get my final assignments in before July. I've got more work done on the first Phil Innis adventure, and have started work on a second. I want to get back to getting solid work done on 'First Time's a Charm,' too. As far as writing goes, I'm chomping at the bit.

Which means, as far as you lovely half-handful of folks goes, that I shall be here far more often.

Thank you, and goodnight!

Friday, May 7, 2010

More Journal Entries

Hello again! I'm in Stratford upon Avon at the moment, and connection to the world outside has been spotty since Barnacles. I'll just put up portions of the ongoing journal, and skip a few of the more boring days. Be warned, however, that this is a large entry!

April 30th 2010
Last day in Dublin!! We went and saw the book of Kells. Astounding detail, I could practically smell the candles burning dangerously close to the page as the artists bent over the pages to finish their noble task. I wonder what they had seen to inspire them so.
And then!
Oho, and then.
The Long Room.
Ireland’s library of libraries, located at Trinity College. Every book worth or capable of being treasured is cared for at The Long Room. Two floors of unbelievably beautiful works of literature turned to art. Busts and belongings of the greatest minds known to man, all gathered in one glorious room. It was, once again, breath taking.
I wonder if any of those men (and women), when they were struggling to make their livings , could have imagined or fathomed the impact they would have on the future.
Then came the Dublin Writer’s Museum. It was fairly cool, but not as full as I anticipated. I confess myself disappointed.
Then, a few other girls and I went to see Iron Man 2. I know, I know…going to see and American film when you’re in Dublin? On your last day, in fact? We figured that the different theatre and different crowds would be different and interesting enough to qualify seeing the show a week before it was available in the states. The movie was fantastic and the experience was fun.
Then, we set out on a hunt. I still hadn’t found a book store (I’d gone through five) that had the new Skullduggery Pleasant book! Could I have purchased it in another town? Yes. Could I have been happy just having it a bit earlier, or even waiting to buy it in the states? Sure, the story inside would have been the same. But to purchase it in the city where the author LIVES!!
My group agreed to hunt for one last store with me, following with me, following the directions of the previous book store owner.
It’s in my bag now. The best souvenir ever.
Then more walking around. An absurdly late trip on a ferry that turned out to basically be a cruise ship. Awesome.
Now we’re in Wales!

May 1st 2010
May 1st 2010
Visited a Cathedral that had sidewalks paved in old headstones. There was a wedding going on so we couldn’t go in, but there was plenty to see outside. It was masterfully crafted; an amazing ode to the Lord that men brought out from their own souls. The Roman wall in Chester was cool, too, and had these neat little windows shaped liked thermometers , and not large enough to stick your hand through.
The scenery in Snowdonia was by far the most lovely I have yet seen. The mountains were lofty but green all the way to the top. The trees were lush and looked soft to the touch. The colors were unbelievably vivid.
Ireland was gorgeous, too. But I believe the difference is that Ireland’s beauty is wild, whereas Snowdonia’s beauty is just lovely.

May 3rd 2010
Dove Cottage, Hawkshead and Grasmere.
Seeing where William Wordsworth lived was interesting, but not amazing like most everything else thus far. I didn't know much about him before, and there wasn't as much information lined up for us visitors as in the Bronte home.
What I loved was the massive garden at his long-time home.
I could just imagine with envy how wonderful it was for the Wordsworth children to wake up each day and see that and think of it as 'home.' What a splendid gift to give to a child.
I could definitely see where he gathered his inspiration in all of that outdoorsy glory.

May 4th 2010
In my journal right now, there is a monument made up of leaves, twigs and flowers taped to the page from Sherwood Forest. As you might have guessed by this, I was not let down by my visit.
I have dreamed of visiting Sherwood Forest since I was knee-tall to a grasshopper. I've been a Robin Hood fan...forever, and hearing that we were going there played a (large) part in convincing me to try and get signed up for the tour.
Robin Hood to me is more than an (extremely) entertaining story. To me, it's always been the story of a man who saw something that was wrong, and went beyond social custom and expectation to do what he knew to be right.
And also, archery is hot.
The forest itself was everything I'd ever dreamed. Walking into it felt like waking up from a dream and finding myself at home, at peace, and ready for adventure :)
There was an archery post, long bows, 5 arrows for 2 pounds. I shot a distant 'knight' straight through the heart on the first try, and then narrowly missed everything beyond that :)
The Major Oak was great. Massive and still going strong.
A fallen tree proved the perfect spot for a classic bridge battle. I challenged another girl with a small stick. She grabbed a giant staff and agreed. Photos and silliness ensued.
A forking tree was another ideal place for photos.
Then off to the store, where among other things I bought a paperback copy of the old, if not classic, collection of stories by Henry Gilbert. Thus far it's as brilliant as I remember.

May 4th 2010
Stratford upon Avon!
If anything could make leaving Robin Hood's abode bearable, it's entering the home of the Bard.
His birthplace, straddling the River Avon, where he met his wife, where he died.
We started out our 4-day stay here by seeing King Lear performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company (heretofore referred to as the RSC).
I'm not a big fan of tragedies as a general rule. I think they're stupid; everything that can go wrong does so as best (or badly) as it can, to the point of ridiculous...ness.
But Shakespearean tragedies always serve a double role as cautionary tales, and therefore are bearable and even enjoyable to me. I'm also not so much into King Lear, but the RSC did a fabulous job.

May 7th 2010

Castles and castles today! But the story here is about something different.
A lot of girls on the tour have been raging about these snacks called "Happy Hippo"s. Saw some in a Pound (ha) store and figured I'd give them a shot.
They're pretty good; hazelnut cream is pretty hard to screw up.
Figured I'd share one with Sara (roomie), as good as it was. Held the noseless (bitten off) beast out, and she grabbed the remnants of its head. Twist, Pull, Twist, Pull, SMASH!!!
Spontaneous Hippo Combustion.
Giggles and licking pieces of Happy Hippo off our fingers concluded the moment.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Hello, hello, hello! It is I, the one and only (since I destroyed the Good Twin) Jenni Brown. Reporting in from a hostel called Barnacles in Dublin, Ireland.

You read that right, my friends.

I'm in Dublin! We came here today from Galway, a smaller town a fair distance away. Tomorrow the group is headed to Trinity College and the Dublin Writer's Museum. No sign yet of the book I want to get by the author who lives here which is not yet available in the States (Skulduggery Pleasant 4, Derek Landy). But the experience so far has already been worth the months of work and saving and scrimping and thiev-er-jet lag.

Which is the answer we (the pilgrims) have decided to use for any wrong doing. Jet lag.

Now, prepare for an onslaught, beginning from day 1 in Ireland:

April 27th, 2010

Lacking a solid and constant availability of internet powerz, I have decided that I shall simply type up my experiences as they occur, and then post them all up in a heap on SKaM when I have the opportunity. There was a very anxious moment where the over-priced universal-mabob for the crazy outlets here on the other side of the pond wasn’t doing exactly what I wanted it to; I realized after a bit of trial and anxious error that my netbook of awesomeness has a converter built in, which means that A) netbook and iPod shall live throughout the tour and B) I wasted thirty-five bucks at RadioShack on a fancy converter.
But enough games!
Today, thirty-nine other students and myself traveled up to the Cliffs of Moher (pronounced closer to ‘more’ than ‘mow-her’ in the slinky dialect of the locals). The rabble (my peeps) may better recognize these by the name of The Cliffs of Insanity!
The Cliffs were gorgeous; phenomenal, breathtaking, I took many photos and will do my best to share them with as many people as I can. Standing so close to these green-ribbed behemoths, with their white-capped toes hundreds of feet below, I was caught up with thinking of who else had seen this wonder, who had been inspired by it, and how. The wind howled and cold little blips of rain flecked all over; the wind was so strong that it practically pushed you in through the door of the little castle/watch tower that you’ll see several photos of.
I had intended on risking my foolhardy neck by edging as close as I could on my belly and taking a photo straight down for an incredible aerial shot of the cliffs and the water below, possibly later photo-shopping myself into the shot with a black mask, climbing up with my bare hands. However, I was stopped by a small garden dedicated to those who have previously died by the Cliffs; furthermore, a sign which plainly asked that visitors honor the garden by not crossing the wall.

April 28th, 2010
Across a ferry where the definition of sea legs was discussed (I have mine, others didn't) we made it to the island of Inismore. Beautiful place, long bike ride which my group stupidly took up the longer, higher side, thinking we'd find seals but finding out we went the wrong route (and eventually learning that YES, it is possible to go uphill both ways!) we eventually made it to Dun Anges (forgive me if I'm spelling it wrong), an ancient fortress. The fortress itself is amazing, old enough that its ownership is uncertain, and giving one chills of ghostly imagination. But once you enter, then travel up a small door, then traipse along to your left...there is a sheer drop off of a cliff. No sign prohibits you from inching along on your belly and then staring down, down, down several hundred feet to the crashing, impossibly blue surf below.
The wind whips your hair and you can't stop a grin from plastering across your face. You don't know the meaning of 'breathtaking' until the very ocean is challenging you.
Later that night, a few of us slipped into a pub. There was a soccer game on so we didn't get to hear the live music, but we had black currants all around (I shocked the bartender by giving him a ten cent tip ((the "T'anks a lot!" was well worth it))) and the atmosphere was great. No tattoos--this time.

April 29th 2010
Up early and only slightly conscious today. Showering at night is a good idea, so I don't have to worry about just stumbling into my dirty clothes and having the combined bad odors offending my classmates. We got our awesome bus driver, Bart, again today. He has a PHD, a Doctorate, and a second PHD. He's the most knowledgeable bus driver any of us have ever seen, and we've learned more from his commentary than we have from any books.
We went to W.B. Yeats' grave today, which nearly satisfied our combined morbid fascination with cemeteries as well as deep poetry. Being in the place where Yeats was so inspired, I felt strangely close to him. I wonder where I'll find my great inspiration; it seems as if every great author has one.
From Yeats' grave to the Yeats museum. I felt rather bad because I was exhausted, and kept nodding off during the lady's wonderful, informative lecture. I still managed to learn a lot, and half the group was in a similar state, so I assume it's alright.
On the way out, I and a few others were casually snapping pictures; of the museum, of the bridge nearby (everything's green in Ireland apparently applies to the water, too) and of the statue of Yeats. All of the sudden a wiry Irishman slips up in front of us with one arm twisted around his back and the other clenching his elbow. He hissed something at us about being members of some organization none of us had heard about before. I thought he was joking at first, but the tension didn't leave his stature and he snapped at one girl who tried to respond to "be quiet, let me talk and then you can talk!"
He proceeded to ramble quite heatedly about how taking pictures of him was 'psychological assault,' and that if we didn't desist he would 'reciprocate.' He paused to let this sink in (we three responded with "Uh...") then continued in the same heated tones that he would take pictures of all of us if we continued, and make them available to such and such group so that we would all be recognized globally. He said something about how some sort of rules applied to daughters, wives and girlfriends of members of such and such secret police. At one point, when saying how we all knew these rules, he stared firmly at me and snapped, "In particular, you!"
I'm still not entirely sure what he was on about. When he stopped, we blinked a few times. Then there was this exchange:
Me: "Sir, I'm sorry if-"
He: "My name isn't 'Sir,' it's Paul!"
Me: "Paul, then. I'm sorry if we offended you with taking our pictures. We were just taking pictures of the Yeats Museum."
He: -gestures angrily- "The Yeats Museum is over THERE!"
Me: "The Museum, the river, the bridge, the statue. We're just students from Brigham Young University, in Idaho. We're just tourists."
He: "Yes, well, I'm sorry if I caused you duress, but you-" some word I can't remember right now that means 'started it' "-it by taking those pictures."
Me: "Well...again, I'm sorry, but we didn't mean to offend you. We're just here for school. We're just taking souvenir photos of places."
Then he huffed a bit, made a hand gesture, and stalked off across the street.

The bus ride away from Sligo was mostly spent dozing. Then we arrived in Dublin, and I paired up with my delightful buds Gabby, Tempe and Sara and wandered the city a bit.

And now you're all caught up!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Driggs, Driggs, Driggs, Diddley Driggs...

Has it been a while since my last post? Yes.

Do I have an adequate excuse? Sort of.

But that's neither here nor there! I am currently located at my Dad's house near Driggs, which is about a forty-five minutes drive from my school, which I am currently attending from around nine in the morning to either four or eight in the afternoon (depending on if we do film clips).

That's right: school is in session for those on the European Adventure Express :D

That means a TON (literally, I measured) of reading and an ACRE (estimate) of writing to try and get done in this next week before we take off(!). We're allowed to turn things in after the trip, but motivation is greater before and they'd rather us be looking out the window at Stonehenge than having our noses tucked into our books reading about it.

That means spending time with my very cool younger step-brother and MUCH younger, also very cool half-sister, Sam and Rudi. That has been immensely fun; living so far away means seeing very little of them, so I greatly enjoy these opportunities.

That means I'm going to miss my niece, nephew, sisters, brothers and friends in Missoula until probably the start of June. But I'll bring you all (or at least the ones I like a lot) something exceedingly neat from the UK.

That means sweating a bucket and half while I read this news about the volcano in Iceland that erupted and has grounded billions of dollars worth of flights in and around Europe. I hope as hard as I dare that the situation eases in time for our schedule to stay in tact.

For those of you who knew about it: Yes, I managed to make my goal of finishing my first draft before I left. YAY!

Also: Clash of the Titans was an enjoyable enough movie, but see my previous post. How to Train Your Dragon was wonderful all around. I've become hooked on The Hunger Games series in a big way. And my fellow Pilgrims seem all around delightful.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Movies of Books

Hello, readers, and welcome to SKaM's (oh dear, I just realized what that spells out...) very first rant!

Recently, a movie came out called 'Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief' (or something very similar). I went and viewed said movie with two of my younger sisters. I have had the remnants of it stewing in my cauldron of a brain until it has finally bubbled over in a fuming mist of irritation at it and all its ilk.

For those of you who don't know, the Percy Jackson series is a quintet (that means fivesome) book series by author Rick Riordan. Good things seem to come from guys named Rick. Or maybe I'm just thinking about Rick O'Connell, the mummy-stomping hotty hot hotty from The Mummy series, played by Brendan Fraser. Anyway, it's a fun, action-packed, Greek-Mythology based younger people series that I devoured in about two weeks, which I owe to my awesome brother-in-law owning the five books and letting me steal them.

The books are good. The main driving force in them is a prophecy regarding children of 'The Big Three' (that Poseidon, Hades and Zeus, for those of you non-Greek Mythos...knowers) and the end of the world. It also deals a lot with who you are versus what's in your blood, the true meaning of a hero, the true meaning of strength, there's some gender-boundary things in there, and all sorts of other fun stuff including monster slaying and chariot races. All taking place in the modern day, of course.

The movie, however...chops out the bit with the prophecy, guaranteeing that if they want to make the rest of the books into films they're going to have to do some real out-of-the-air work to make it fit in at all; changes the villain and the reason for the theft of the titular lightning bolt; smooshes my favorite character in with the lead female character for no apparent reason at all, changes the overall behavior, characteristics, and attitude of at least half the cast, removes major characters 'because'...

I could go on, but instead I'll get to the major point of the rant.

I hate. Hate. Hate...no, loathe movies that are incorrectly labeled. So many times, a preview comes on with the subtext of 'based on the best selling novel by such and such a person that you've all read and/or heard about!' when it should instead say 'with vague similarities to a book that millions of people have read religiously but one dude in a director's cap decided he'd change around because he thinks he knows what they all want better than the author did!'

Really, now, Hollywood. When I see the name of my recent book obsession in a trailer, I don't squeal and clap and freak out the people next to me because I'm interested in how someone in a multi-decked mansion that never has to do their own shopping thinks that the novel should have gone down. No.

I want to see my favorite characters in the flesh (or digital flesh, whatever), I want to see the magic crystals activate and incinerate the dragon in vivid CGI, I want to see the villain unmasked and hear the surprise of my friends who I somehow couldn't bully into reading the book. I want to see the epic battle in Hogwarts as the students fight off the school's invaders while Harry chases down Dumbledore's murderer. I want to see the Phantom hideously disfigured to the point where he'd actually have to wear the mask and it makes sense that he hides himself away from the world.

I'll admit that not all changes in the adaptation process are bad. I can't even get through a full page of the yuck that makes up Twilight in 'novel' form, after all, but I quite enjoyed the film.

And Uma Thurman's Medusa was way cool.

Alright, that's all I've got for now. Good night, folks!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

To Create and to Discover

Which is my vow for 2010.

Welcome to the new year, readers! I hope 2009 was nice (or at least tolerable) for you. For me, it had great highs and great lows, and quite a lot in the middle. I had one semester of phenomenal grades (3.947 GPA) and another of more wormy origins (GPA unnecessary to list). I made some fantastic new friends (apparently I'm not the only big nerd in the world!) and added a few more people to my "When I become a serial killer these shall be my firsts" list.

But now we're here, in 2010. It sounds so strange and space-agey.

Things I'm looking forward to:

My sister's new book coming out! I am so very proud of and happy for my sister. She has worked incredibly hard, and is remarkably talented. She has released several lines of fabric designs, quite a few adorable patterns for boutique clothing, and her next big success is going to be a craft book. Hooray for Sandi!

My younger sister entering highschool. I remember a time when my three younger siblings were called 'the babies.' Now we call them 'the kids.' But they're all teenagers. Oy vey. And just think, in a few years my youngest sister will be starting preschool...

The British Literary Tour! Late April through late May, I shall be terrorizing Europe, seeing the table where Jane Austen wrote her books (and touching it when no one's looking), standing inside the Globe Theatre, sticking a leaf from Sherwood Forest inside a book...I'm too excited for words. Which is really saying something, for me.

Getting the rough draft of my book finished. I'm determined to have a complete and working rough draft of Lady Luck: First Time's a Charm done before I go on my trip. If I fail...then shame on me, and fifty lashes with a wet noodle.

Skulduggery Pleasant 4. Which comes out in March. Excuse me while I jump up and down and postulate on what amazing Irish author Derek Landy has planned next.