Tuesday, April 16, 2013


And so, with a little thought and a sigh, I am announcing that this blog is moving to Wordpress.com. I like the network on Wordpress. I have friends on Wordpress who have blogs. Why not?

I'll still keep all this here, but you'll still be able to find me at Southern Fried Thinker, just on Wordpress.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sidewalk Pennies

I slacked off really hard since Friday. Work closed early due to some nasty ice and freezing rain that hit a little after noon. (It did start out as very pretty snow, though.) I intended to use the extra five hours of free time to edit. I ended up watching TV and napping with Pippa. So much for that. Saturday I had a birthday party to go to. Sunday after church was busy with me playing Temple Run 2 and cleaning out my beastly old dresser so I could replace it with a smaller, lighter storage cube organizer. During all of this, I was still shaking off a cold. I was off Monday, so I slept in very late because I didn't feel good. I walked the dog, then took a very long nap. Needless to say, I didnt get to the gym or editing. About the only thing I did do was read. I was also off yesterday and felt better, but also got nothing done.

So here I am, woefully behind on editing and everything else. I did edit five pages today. I also got $50.00 from some old ChaCha.com work I did, then went to Amazon Mechanical Turk to take a peek at past earnings from there.

I realized that in the past, I've made some nice pocket change that I can put towards loan payments. I may be a little too ambitious, but anything that can reduce the amount coming directly from my checks every month is welcome. I mean, $50.00 I wasn't expecting is a really awesome blessing. I also found a penny on the sidewalk this morning.

I'm feeling not quite so overwhelmed. I have all my payment stuff planned out. If I can bring in some extra cash from different places, I'd like to slowly pay off this one private loan that has a 10% interest rate. It's not (comparably) a huge loan, but I'd like to get rid of that monster once and for all. My goal is by October.

My car's actually feeling a lot better, too. And my fiance is helping with wedding stuff, because he's awesome.

Maybe I can get some more editing done. It's a little harder now that I've decided to change the perspective, but necessary. I'd like to have the book finished and out by summer, and hopefully before.

Back to work again.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Book Review: The Toadhouse Trilogy Book 1, by Jess Lourey

I love clever books. This week's reviewed book just keeps unfolding the cleverness the more I think about it.

The Toadhouse Trilogy Book 1, by Jess Lourey, was one I found in the reviews on IndieReader.com, with a big stamp of approval on the review page. I bought it along with The Secret of Spruce Knoll and just finished it the other day. It's not a slow read, it just took me that long to get back to it. I loved it, though.

It tells the story of Aine and her brother Spenser (pay attention to the spelling) who live with their Grandma Glori in Alabama, in the 1930s. At 16, Aine is planning on moving away from the house once she is old enough, and taking Spenser with her to strike out on their own, away from the strictness of their home life. We first meet Aine when she's chasing what she sees as a miniature man through the woods, and the story turns to her and Spenser saving the life of a little boy named Tru. The possible identity of Tru made me smile a little, and you'll have to do some searching. Here's a clue: Harper Lee. This first clever turn in this book just shows how thoroughly it was written.
It all changes one day when their home is attacked by a nasty individual named Biblos. He kills Glori and Aine and Spenser flee in the toadhouse with a young man named Gilgamesh. The toadhouse is a device that travels between stories, shrinking the passengers to a tiny size and taking them to another world.

Aine and Spenser live in a book, and they have to find a clue that will lead them to their actual home, Tir Na Nog.

They journey to other books, starting with The Time Machine. (That part actually made me dream about small squads of midget ninjas dressed like the kid in Terminator 2. No, it didn't do anything weird to the original story. Eloi grunge-ninjas are exclusive to my brain.)

The only memory Aine has of her previous life in the land of fairies is of her mother, whose name is Helen. Along the way, she struggles with her decisions, slowly comes to trust the mysterious, sad Gilgamesh, and watches her little brother begin to grow up. After the last confrontation of the book, the story wrapped up very quickly and made me eager for the sequel.

What I love about The Toadhouse Trilogy is that it feels like a puzzle. There are little clever turns, and twists, and nods to other books, and only hints as to the true identity of the villain, Biblos (I just figured it out this morning.) This clever puzzle of a book kept me thinking of it after I finished it, and I want to know what happens. I care what happens. It's very obvious that Jess Lourey took a lot of care when writing this book.

The next one's out in June.

I will be splurging.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Deodorant and Bugatti

This blog inspired me quite a bit for this post. I've been reading some personal finance blogs, and this one really stuck to me. She also has a similar post, and it had me thinking of how I've had to trim things down.

I hate school loans. I like that I was able to go to college and finish in 4.5 years. I'm glad I'm not still in school. There is an upside to school loans.

I still hate them.

I'm really good at saving money. While yes, I did live in a dorm in college and did use the campus cafeteria, I still bought food for the weekends and other things I needed. My goal was to not pay more than $2.00 each for most things. Obviously things like facial cleanser cost a little more, and I did make exceptions for things like these sweet chili potstickers that I loved (and that are no longer made. Sad.) I did well, mostly.

Mentally, it made me consider needs vs. wants, like the author of My Alternate Life.

Deoderant is necessary. What isn't is the $4.00 tube that really doesn't do anything other than supposedly make your armpits beautiful or something.

That's the easy part.

I need a new car. It's not urgent right now, but my car is a 21-year-old minivan, which I have driven since high school. It was given to me when my parents bought a newer van later, and because my dad all about maintenance, it still runs pretty well. It's no Bugatti, but my commute to work is short and my van (affectionately known as Bessie, and referred to as "she" most of the time) does well.

But the old girl will not last forever. Machines don't. Soon I will need a new car. I want a Jeep Wrangler. If I had a lot of money, I'd get this gorgeous tangerine colored 2013 model I saw at a dealer outside town. If I had enough to buy an older one in cash (which I'd prefer), I'd settle for a late 90s Wrangler. They were still really good, and they hold their value. The reality is, I don't have quite enough to do that without depleting my savings, and I don't want to deal with another payment. The sad reality is, I probably have enough to pay cash an older model of something sensible.


But I still have to make those school loan payments and live on what's left of my paycheck after the damage is done. There are many times I wish I hadn't taken out school loans. I'm getting married at some point. I want a nice wedding.

I think I can afford myself that want, because I have been saving up for that since I got my current job. I'm determined to not default on my loans. My dream is to pay them off in huge chunks, because that would be the best revenge on high interest rates.

Right now, I'm happy. I refuse to let myself stress out anymore over my loans. I still hate them, but with the measured coldness of an assassin. Those loans are going down.

And when they fall, it will be a really good day.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Oh No Not Another One

I had one of those dreams again last night, as happens every few months or so. Suddenly, it's my wedding day, and I'm all dressed up, not at all how I want to be, and nothing is right and everything is ruined and there's country music playing and there are guests with jeans on.

In this dream, to my annoyance, I wasn't wearing the awesome dream dress that I had, in the dream world and in real life, already bought and paid completely for.

The ceremony looked like it was taking place in a Ruritan Club building in Dundas, Virginia (you've probably never heard of it; if you have, we might be cousins), where my mom's family has their annual family reunion. After the ceremony, when I was standing around, in the dream I said to my fiance "This isn't what I wanted. We'll have a real one later."

It's the first time in these types of dreams that I've done anything like that.

And I know why that particular dream occurred last night. Right before I went to bed, I was talking with him about our wedding, and having a little stressed moment because basically the only thing I've decided is that I want a chocolate wedding cake and also Doctor Who.

I've finally gotten him to agree to make some input. It's his wedding too. I don't think this is out of generosity on my part; I just think that the wedding needs to have elements of both of us. I need to start work on the cake topper soon. I at least know where I'm going to get the cake. I have my dress and my shoes and I need to get a good calligraphy pen so I can work at the invitations (once we set a date...) but even those are already designed. (By me.)

I don't even want to begin to think about the food right now.

Now we just need to figure out a venue for everything.

Ideally, the TARDIS would be nice because then we could just have everyone get to the church, load up, and have a nice, no fuss destination wedding (and also make a room for me and my friends to get ready on board.)

One can only wish.

The good thing is, I've now gotten my fiance into the planning process.

I was also skinny in my dream.

So at least that's something.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Book Review: Pinelight by Jillian Peery

I very literally bought Pinelight by accident, while looking for free Kindle books on Amazon's website. For some reason, I had one-click ordering turned on and one wayward click purchased the book. It was only 99 cents, but I was a little bummed at first. Now I felt like I had to read it. So I poked around to find out about it.

The beginning takes place in Louisiana, and that caught my interest. Then I clicked through the first couple of pages, and there, before the opening chapter, was a Bible verse, Ephesians 6:12. A YA book with faith-based themes, a battle between good and evil, and, it seemed, adventure. For some reason, after realizing that, it didn't seem like a typical YA paranormal romance (and it's not.) I felt a little more enthusiastic about Pinelight, and finally read it a couple of weeks ago.

Yes. This is a good book.

It starts with the main character, Clara, riding in a truck with her now former friend Erik. Because it begins in the middle of a scene, the conflict between them is slowly revealed, and I liked that. Erik has betrayed Clara's trust by finding and reading her diary. Clara's life is already complicated, because of a missing chunk of memory and the absence of her parents (she lives with her aunt.) She has one friend at school, who I hope to see more of if there are more than three books, and a nemesis in a popular girl who is just plain mean.

When Clara comes home one day to find her aunt missing and Erik prowling the house with another woman, she flees to a family friend who is much more to her than she thought he would be. After their arrival across the pond, Clara stumbles into another world. There's a touch of romance, but with a darker undertone that leads up to the end conflict.

What this Christian-themed novel lacks is exactly what makes it refreshing. Clara has absent parents, but the author doesn't crutch on making the main character a tragic orphan. Also gone is the innocent lamb sacrifice that so frustrated me in several of Ted Dekker's books. There are no perfectly beautiful and always so nice and sweet characters, like Bryan Davis. Clara is gifted, but with a much heavier burden than being nice. She and her family are bound for battle, and that is kept important.

It's not without the romance aspect, but it appears that the series (as I'm gathering from the sequel, Tigerlily) while indulging in the romantic aspect, is more taking the "sacrificial love" path. I like that. Yes, the characters are young. Yes, they are probably in love. But that's not the only part of the book; it's a much more complex story.

Okay, I'll stop gushing now.

Pinelight, by Jillian Perey, was probably the best book I've ever accidentally bought. Okay, yes, it's the only book I've ever accidentally bought, but I really enjoyed it. Highly recommended.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Gut Feelings

I feel marvelously ahead on reading. I chalk it up to my tablet allowing me to read books a little more inexpensively than would otherwise be.

Right now, I'm close to the end of Lab Rat One, the second book in the Touchstone Trilogy, and I've paused for now to savor it. It's so fun! I will likely re-read this series more than once. I also started Tigerlily, the sequel to Pinelight (which I will be reviewing here tomorrow) and I really like it as well. To cap it all off, I'm about halfway through a clever little novel, book one in The Toadhouse Trilogy.

Back in the day, I used to do stuff like that, read three books at a time. I'd let my mind get comfortable in one, and later, when I picked up another one, it was always a little jarring to transition between worlds like that. Jarring, but fun. Lately, I've even been getting that same sort of feeling while editing or writing. Sometimes the characters or scenes linger long after I've shut my notebook. It's encouraging, and with 31 pages of editing to go in the draft of Book 1, it's nice to feel like I'm doing something right.

I pressed on with book 2 last night, and from this point forward will be writing in first person perspective. It's getting easier and doesn't sound as stiff. I feel like I've really found the voice of my main character, and that is a wonderful thing. Now that I've gotten all comfy with that, it does mean more editing than I anticipated, but I do feel like I've suddenly found the right direction after getting turned around in a maze. I was getting pretty frustrated before. I haven't done a test page yet, but changing the perspective feels right for me.

Don't be afraid to make changes when you really feel like you need to. When it comes to a story you really care about, gut feelings can be right a lot of the time. Of course, don't rush to change things too drastically unless you want to have more frustration later. Test the waters, try things out, and play with your story a little. You'll know if the change is right.

And now I better get to work.