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The Night the Lights Went Out: Romanticizing the Blackout

13 Jan

During the recent cold snap, I heard from a number of my social media friends who found themselves snowed in and dealing with first-world deprivations of all kinds. No cable. Dodgy internet coverage. Insufficient liquor supplies. I don’t mean to make light of the first-world deprivations – I certainly wouldn’t want to be snowed in with too many houseguests and not enough Pinnacle cake vodka. The winter weather really knows how to hit below the belt.

But when it comes to serious consequences, few things matter like losing the power.

We had an epic ice storm here years ago that left some of my friends without power for two weeks. (I was out of town with too many other houseguests and not enough cake vodka.) My buddies still tell stories of the long days they spent without electronic distractions and modern conveniences, and they all seem to be emotionally undamaged by the experience now. Still, I wonder if the 21st century blackout is … well … gentler than its predecessors.

Once, in the winter blackouts of yore, you could count on candlelight and maybe a nice warm fire on the hearth. Maybe you’d have a nice glass of brandy – suitable for sharing – and then perhaps an early trip to bed – also suitable for sharing. For some of us, the old-school blackout was a wonderful excuse for getting unplugged. In my former life, when I had Job From Hell, I often quietly wished for a blackout to enforce the boundaries I couldn’t quite enforce for myself.

Today’s power outage is a little different. LEDs have replaced candles with the least sexy lighting available (although you won’t have to squint at that book you’ve been meaning to read). If you’ve got a full charge on your various portables – you know, the ones they won’t let you use on the plane – you might not even notice the power’s out. Except that it’s a little chilly.

I’ll admit that my perspective is a little skewed. I’ve gotten spoiled by years of living near a hospital. I don’t remember the last time any power outage lasted longer than eight hours at my house. It’s easy for me to long for a nice, relaxing power outage when it doesn’t have time to get all that uncomfortable. After two weeks with no power, I can promise you that I’m not going to be nostalgic about the candlelight anymore; I’m going to want a nice long shower before a good night’s sleep with all the lights on. I would probably be a little freaked out by a long-term power outage – did anyone else see American Blackout on the National Geographic Channel?

Hmm. Maybe the modern power outage is more of a menace than I remember. Even so, I can still see the benefit of an unplugged evening or two every so often.

In the summertime.

**Alexa Day is enjoying electricity just fine, thank you very much. Look for her here once a month, or check her out on Facebook.

Gone is Gone, and That’s a Good Thing

9 Dec

The song “Wonderwall” reminds me of someone I will likely never see again.

The song “One Headlight” is the same way. I’ll probably never see that person again, either.

With the help of a little technology, chances are I could be in touch with both of these people in seconds. They should both be fairly easy to find. I haven’t done that because I’m pretty comfortable with the idea of not seeing them again, even though I didn’t necessarily want either of them out of my life when circumstances separated us.

A romance writer’s world is filled with possibilities, and stories have certainly been written about the return of the Man Who Got Away. It’s easy to see the allure of those people. Why did he leave? More importantly, why did he come back? More importantly than that, is he even the same person as the Man Who Got Away? And is this new person as intriguing as the one we thought we knew?

I think it’s actually more interesting to freeze the Man Who Got Away in that moment in time just before he got away. Those two places in the past are full of promise. Those really were good times. The details there are still pretty sharp; disappointment and loss were still shadows on the horizon. Those memories in their imperfect form are great places to visit, and they’ve contributed to my present life in ways so subtle I can’t see them all from here.

But as the new year rises up to meet us, I’m happy to keep the past and its citizens where they need to be. Every so often, I’ll hear “Wonderwall” or “One Headlight” and smile to myself, and that’s comfortable for a few minutes, but that’s good enough for me. I don’t even have them on my iPod.

If I’m looking over my shoulder, I won’t see the next Man Who Got Away. And isn’t it more interesting to wonder how he’ll compare to the last few?

Make merry now, and get ready for the new year, everyone! I’ll see you in 2014.

**Alexa Day is hard at work on her second book, but you can score her first novel, ILLICIT IMPULSE, wherever e-books are sold. Keep up with her here on the second Monday of the month or on Facebook.

I Don’t Like Romance ….Movies

15 Jun

Confession time: I loathe most romance movies. It’s not because I have a cold, tiny heart (no matter what my exes might say), but rather the things that Hollywood wants to tell me are romantic….well aren’t.

I find nothing romantic about the hero/heroine dying in the first ten minutes of the movie and then slogging through 120 mins more of the Agony of the One Left Behind. I require explosions or epic stories in my dramas.

Likewise, most rom coms leave me feeling stabbity. Most lack chemistry, the jokes feel contrived and they are always about 90 mins tooooo long.

But before I get ousted from RomanceLandia (Where Romance Lives!) I can admit to loving a token few romance movies:

1. Ladyhawke (1985): Cursed, unfilled love at it’s best. I love this movie. It’s *gasp* a drama and *double gasp* a period piece with Rutger Hauer as the hero and Michelle Pfeiffer as the heroine. It’s got shapeshifting! Magic! And a villain you just want to junk punch.

2. Zach and Miri Make a Porno (2008): The title is so suggestive that it scared people off — and I won’t lie, there’s nudity and lots of foul language — but this movie is amazing. It’s a friends to lovers romp that’s sweet and funny in ways I can’t even describe. And while they do indeed set out to make a porno, they fall in love along the way.

3. Love Actually (2003): Big ensemble cast of British people following in love at Christmas time. This movie is beautiful, funny, sweet, sexy and taught me why women continue to fangirl over Colin Firth (good grief his shoulders). This movie is so amazeballs that Hollywood continues to try to remake it (Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve) and fails to recapture the magic. I don’t care that it’s a Xmas movie, I will watch it any day, all day long.

Truthfully, I’d love to love more Romance Movies and I’m open to suggestions….if you have any?

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Sasha

Who loves love….but hates stupid movies ! If you want to hear more of Sasha’s ramblings, visit her at http://www.sashadevlin.com or follow her on Twitter @SashaDevlin. You can also peep her pins on Pinterest here

Summer Staycation

1 Jun

Though I’ve been out of school more years than I’d like to count, I can’t give up the idea of summer break. Nothing spells freedom and potential like the three months of fun, sun and relaxation.

Now I know longer work in an industry that affords me 3 months of down time at the best part of the year — truthfully my current job is more a 364 days a year type gig — but try telling that to my brain.

Friday was the last day of school for most schools up here and I’m just as bad as the kids trying to plan my list of activities. I don’t have unlimited free time, but th

 

1. Go to a concert. Actually have tickets to see Maroon5 later this summer and unlike the last time I had tickets, I’m determined to go.

2. Attend a summer festival. It’s Chicago in the summer! You can’t swing a cat without hitting a festival….or five.

3. Go to the beach. Lived here 7 years, still have never been to the beach.

4. Get into the city at least once. It’s riiiiiiight there waiting for me and the fountains — including the ones you can run through — will be on.

5. Attend a baseball game. Go White Sox!

6. Eat funnel cake!!!!!

7. Write more books. 🙂

 

What’s on your agenda this summer?

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Sasha

Who is ready for fun in the sun….and mojitos! If you want to hear more of Sasha’s ramblings, visit her at http://www.sashadevlin.com or follow her on Twitter @SashaDevlin. You can also peep her pins on Pinterest here

Write Like No One Is Reading…

20 Apr

I fully remember when I became self-conscious about my writing. In my sixth grade language arts class, I had penned a murder mystery short. My heroine’s pet bunny was murdered and left for dead…in a bloody heap on her doorstep.

There was mayhem! A rival with a motive! A quasi-love interest who was just as distraught about the dog as the heroine! In the end, the culprit was the neighbor’s rabid dog who was later put down and the story ended with her getting a new pet….a puppy.

Now 11 year old me didn’t think about things like logic — I went with a puppy because I liked dogs more than cats. Upon reading this story, my teacher praised it and encouraged me to layer in more details and string out the tension.

My mother and my sister….both laughed. Not the ha-ha-ha, I love this laughter of joy, but a OMG-cant-stop-chuckle of derision. With a single read through they had both pinpointed the issue with the puppy and brought it to light.

Neither of them knew at the time that they had made a huge impact on my creative works. I no longer had the same freedom, the same confidence in my words.

Though they enjoyed subsequent works, though I later earned a writing recognition in front of the entire school, though I continued to write fiction in secret, I could never recapture that same level of I Am Awesome.

Now it’s something I re-learn every time I write a book. I give myself permission to just write, and let myself know that it’s okay if I don’t get it right the first time — that’s what CPs are for and edits. By the same token, I can admit that some of what I write has merit as is.

It’s a delicate balance and one I wish I didn’t have to navigate. But it’s the only way to get the job done: Write Like No One is Reading.

 

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Sasha

Who wants you to be freeeeeee! If you want to hear more of Sasha’s ramblings, visit her at http://www.sashadevlin.com or follow her on Twitter @SashaDevlin. You can also peep her pins on Pinterest here

Who’s My Creampuff?

26 Jan

Confession time: I love endearments and nicknames. I’ve always gone by a shortened version of my real name and I give endearments/nicknames to friends, family and enemies alike. I very rarely have a character that doesn’t end up with one.

But you have to be careful. While  I can get away with calling a friend Bunnymuffins (yes, you read that right) in real life, put it in a story and it’ll throw the reader out every time.  Sugar, baby, honey and sweetheart are all fine. Sugar Lips, not so much. And don’t even get me started on Candy Yams.

My brain conspires against me. It twitches and sprinkles in the endearments while my back is turned. Generally I have to edit most of these out, but I recently had a project where I could go nuts.

And I abused it with glee! Honeypie! Angelfritter! Pumpkin-puss!  There was no endearment too over the top to use and it felt so good. Of course, the whole story is over the top, so it works.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to the next time I could do it again, Honeybritches. *sigh* But since the rest of my books are not humorous in nature, I’ve got to know, what’s your favorite endearment?

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Sasha

Who wants you to be her Babycakes. If you want to hear more of Sasha’s ramblings, visit her at http://www.sashadevlin.com or follow her on Twitter @SashaDevlin. You can also peep her pins on Pinterest here

New Year, Same Old Me

12 Jan

For the first time in my life, I didn’t make any New Year’s Resolutions. Part of me is still insisting it’s not too late, but I’m trying a different approach this year.

Every year, I start the year with at least five — sometimes as many as fifteen resolutions and usually by March they’ve all fallen by the wayside. Doesn’t matter if it was getting to the gym three times a week , learning a new Spanish word every day or reading one non-fiction book a week. Crash and burn.

And then would come the mountains of guilt. Surrounded by the tundra of shame. All set on the plateau of Why-Do-I-Even-Bother.  It’s as ugly and as unproductive as it sounds.

I know that the biggest part of my failure was expecting a zero to six turn around with no more preparation than the turning of a calendar page. So after the lackluster year of 2012, I’m trying something different for 2013.

I’ll be working towards goals, instead of demanding instantaneous results. For the moment this is what I’m aiming for:

1. Eat More Vegetables. Fries are not veggies. Nuff said.

2. Sub at least four stories this year. One of which will be for a call (I love these but have never managed to finish a story in time).

3. Attempt to crack another publisher.

4. Get Beauty — the book that has owned half my soul for the last 3 years — out to readers. Even if it’s only beta readers.

5. Learn to say no to other writers. I know that writing is a solitary endeavor so I would commit to things when I had no desire or not enough time and then end up stressed.

And keep it pink and glittery…..because it is still me after all.

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Sasha

Who is pretty sure 2013 is gonna kick 2012’s ass. If you want to hear more of Sasha’s ramblings, visit her at http://www.sashadevlin.com or follow her on Twitter @SashaDevlin. You can also peep her pins on Pinterest here

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