Monday, November 21, 2011

The Shop and the Book

So it's the week before Thanksgiving, and I've heard about a little something called Small Business Saturday. Apparently, it's the day after Black Friday, and I do suppose Etsy shops count. So here's a shameless plug for mine.

The shop recently underwent a name change and a bit of a makeover. So, I present to you a few snapshots from Edna's Discount Space Freight.

This is one of my favorite pairs of earrings that I made. Check out the geek-tastic description underneath.

Another similar pair, but with a bit of a different color scheme.

A knit wire bracelet that I'm working on having some optional charms for, but it's beautiful alone.

This necklace has been in my shop for a while, and I'd like to find someone to enjoy it.

I loved putting these earrings together and watching the way the different pearls play off each other.

And through Sunday, this week only, enter the coupon code SPACEGIVING at checkout to receive 30% off your purchase! And I'd be flattered if you'd follow me on Twitter and like the shop's Facebook page.

Also, I'd like to announce the title of my novel. I don't have a definite release date yet, but I will very soon. It's called Trenavell, and while it is technically a YA novel, I think it will appeal to people outside the range. I hope, anyway. I've joked that it's a mix of Red Dawn and Twilight (without communism and vampires), with a dash of colonial America thrown into a nightmare version of Narnia. So if you liked The Hunger Games, this book may be for you. Keep a lookout, 'cause I plan to have it available on Kindle, in paperback, and in hardcover.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

'Bout to Get Real Here

Mildly Insightful's post from yesterday was truthful, concise, and intelligent. Just what I like in a blog post. It also concerned the controversial appointment of Chuck Phelps to the board of trustees at Bob Jones University. I went to that college. I invite you to visit Mildly Insightful to read it the post. I am not sure I could summarize it well enough. I can tell you, however, that the university used a chapel service to communicate that they are refusing to back down from their conviction that Mr. Phelps is the right man for the job, apparently.

After reading the post, I linked to it on my Facebook wall, commenting that this action does not surprise me in the least bit. Within a short time, a friend of mine posted a long counter-argument in a comment. People are only trying to criticize conservative Christians, he said, among other things. I've read this same argument in other places, so whatever. But the thing that caught my eye was the very beginning of the comment, where it was said that the university should have stayed away from Chuck Phelps, because they don't need anymore controversy.


Because this is how I would look at it. Whatever you believe, personally, about Chuck Phelps, Ernie Willis, and Tina Anderson, is irrelevant to others who don't know as much as you about the case. All an unbeliever or a new believer sees is that the university that claims to stand so firmly for the truth has a man, a pastor, on the board who didn't do all that he could when faced with the rape of a child by an adult.

At Bob Jones University, we as students were often reminded that what we do should not cause other believers to stumble in their faith. Far too often, this was applied to music or skirts or something.

If Bob Jones University proclaims that they stand for the truth, without apology, then what will people see when they realize who is now on the board of trustees? Many of the people criticizing the university aren't "liberal" Christians, or folks from seeker-sensitive fluff churches, or anyone else usually derided by the supporters of Phelps. The ones bringing criticism haven't left the faith. At this point I'm wondering if they didn't appoint Phelps to the board on purpose, to invite controversy, so that they can show how they're standing so strong against the attacks of the devil.

So, Bob Jones University. Is it worth it to cause a new believer to wander from the faith just so you can stand without apology for a faith that places the power of God in the hands of men? Is it worth it to drive unbelievers away from Christ so you can prove a point?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fried Slice: Unparalleled Levels of Awkward

My brother mentioned recently that out of all the stories I told about my years at Bob Jones University, not one ever began with "hey, I once knew this one person who was completely normal." I realized that this is completely true. Granted, the average, every day person rarely ever makes a good character in a story, but it's absolutely amazing how many downright awkward people there are at Bob Jones University.

Now, I managed find and befriend some very normal, very awesome people, but for ever one regular individual, there are probably three who instantly make a room feel extremely uncomfortable. That's what this post's about: those wonderful folks who add a little awkward flavor to all of our lives.

The first semester of my senior year, I took a class for my creative writing minor called Writing for Children. The nice thing about a small university is that your classes also tend to be small, so our little band was able to be a little more casual and candid during the hour and fifteen minute sessions. In between workshops, projects, and lectures, we'd sometimes get to peruse and discuss children's literature. One morning, the teacher read Love that Dog by Sharon Creech, and we discussed it.

Now, I am personally convinced that many children's authors actually hate their intended audience, and Love that Dog pretty much confirmed this, because the much beloved dog dies in the book, and dies hard via a car. It made me feel sad for the little boy in the book. That's what good books do, however cruel they are: they make you relate to the character and feel some compassion for their hurts.

But not this one girl.

When the teacher read the part in the book where the dog dies, this one very nice but very awkward girl said, "BAHAHAHAHA!!! OH MY GOODNESS THAT WAS HILARIOUS!!! WASN'T THAT FUNNY GUYS?!"

If not in so many words.

As you can guess, no one else laughed. We sat there, looking around, all...awkward now. I mean, it's pretty well known that Old Yeller's death in his self-titled novel is not exactly a great moment of comedy.

I'm not sure where it comes from, but there is just something about a few of the students at Bob Jones University. Hand them a tragic story, and all of a sudden they turn into Michael Scott making a Chris Rock joke in front of Darryl and Stanley, and all of a sudden they feel it necessary to assure everyone that their friends are, indeed, ethnically diverse.

True story.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book Review: Shattered, by Sophia Sharp

Say what you will about the Twilight series, but it must always be conceded that the books have been successful in the six years that they've been out. With the rising popularity of self-publishing and the ready availability of resources for such, lots of sad, sad clones of Twilight have appeared on the digital bookshelves of the Kindle store.

Shattered, by Sophia Sharp, popped up as a "YOU MIGHT LIKE THIS" sort of thing in my Amazon account, while I was poking through author pages. It was 99 cents, so I thought "heck, why not" and downloaded it to my Kindle app. (The app was free. Awesome.*)

The book started out okay, but it felt a little first draftish, and the wording tended to be a little juvenile. The male lead (Logan) brooded and mystified the girl (Laura) in an all too familiar way.

And then people begin to disappear.

No, really. Entire sets of characters disappear, including all of Laura's friends. Though the dialogue among them could be stiff and unconvincing most of the time, the characters didn't deserve the horrific fate of being erased from reality altogether. As far as her family, though they are mentioned, you never meet them. Even the dog is a faceless entity that exists, apparently, to underscore the All-American main character.

An unlikely situation involving Laura's soon to be former crush which could totally get the jerk arrested is lifted straight off the pages of Twilight and solved by Logan and mixed martial arts. Very little is described in the book, except for a detailed view of a river-powered mill somewhere in the boonies and Logan's distinctive pale and emo look. The conversations between Laura and Logan aren't badly done, but like the rest of the book, they do need some work.

It's a clone of Twilight, so the SUPRISE I'MA VAMPIRE moment is pretty obvious before it comes, though the "visit the dream world" concept that Sharp includes is interesting and not something I was expecting, though it does make the vampire element seem a little more intrusive and contrived. Logan goes to high school, and Laura first meets him when he transfers to hers. However, he is a 400 year old vampire and travels alone, and there's never given any reason for him to keep up appearances as a high school student. Maybe he fears arrest by a truant officer even though he's totally old enough to drop out and get his GED.

On the bright side, Shattered only cost 99 cents, and the grammar and spelling were clean, something not seen much in a self published novel. It's also refreshingly free of that dreaded pair, Mary Sue and Gary Stu. Sophia Sharp is a 19 year old college student, so writing this novel, however flawed it is, is a commendable effort. I won't be reading the rest of the series, but feel free to check them out yourself in the Amazon Kindle Store.

*Seriously, get it. The app is free for all devices that it's available on. Your iPad could be that much more awesome, my friend.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Edward Cullen, Man-Child

Upon a mental analysis of the Twilight novels, it has become apparent to me that Edward Cullen, one of the male leads, is an 80 year old man-child.*

I have a few facts to back up this observation.

1. Edward has no job, only hobbies. He spends most of his time playing piano and hunting. Now, true, his adopted father is a doctor, which in any family is a well-paying occupation that sometimes does allow one's offspring to live a life of comparable leisure. But, uh, Ed? You still don't have a job 'cause your dad's rich. That's just as bad.

2. If the book and the movie are to be believed, at the time of his marriage to Bella, Edward has lived an honorable life and kept his virtue intact. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make him the 80 year old virgin. Steve Carell will be playing him in the sequel to Breaking Dawn, which I understand has a working title of The Cullens Take Manhattan.

3. Edward stares. And I don't mean that he stares at Bella while's she's sleeping. (The horse is dead. Put the whip down, step away, and go on with your life.) I mean he stares at people in general. Now, he is a vampire, but you sorta get the feeling that he did this as a human. Since he was 17 at the time of his transformation, this plants Edward firmly in the realm of awkward guy. If he had lived to head over to Europe with the rest of the dough-boys (because his "death" was during the first World War, and from Spanish flu), he probably would have been "that guy."

4. He demands to be taken seriously, at all times. No joking. It's mean. Stop it now. (Sorta like how little kids react when you laugh at their indignation.)

One consolation is that, given his love of hunting things that involve blood, he'd probably be fun to play Halo with. Or maybe Left 4 Dead.**

*This is not a Twi-hate post, and if you don't get in touch with the real world and realize that the Twilight series is not going to result in severe damage to the world as we know it, then I'll have to accuse you of being a secret fan.

**Hurr hurr. Get it?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Rare Sunday Post!

So yeah, it's Sunday. I don't often have time on the weekends to post, usually because I end up chillin' in our living room, looking in the general direction of the television and snarking about whatever the heck I feel like. But I feel a little inspired. I think.

And really, I'm thinking it to myself "Okay, Amanda, it's Sunday. You're not working today. You've got a novel to finish, maybe some other posts to do ahead of time because of your weird work schedule and superhero-compromised attention span. How about some productive stuff, okay?"


Really, I don't know where it comes from. My body works backwards or something. Friday night, I got 8 hours of sleep. I usually average about 6-7, and function. Heck, I functioned through most of college on 5 hours of sleep a night. But 8 hours should make me feel like...okay, I'm out of analogies since I don't know many un-stupid female Marvel characters and most DC characters bother me. Bottom line is, I should feel ready to run a freaking marathon, but all I felt Saturday was sorta tired. Like "oh, that 8 hours...that was nice. Let's do that again." If I get a normal amount of sleep, I have this weird hangoverish feeling (and I don't drink, so...yeah) and I just end up sleeping more. So basically I've wired my body to actually run better on less sleep.

Case in point. I had to open last weekend. I work at a museum, and my only full days are Fridays and every other Saturday. I have to leave my house about 8:20 to get downtown. I usually get up at 7:15 to give myself enough time. So last Thursday night, I was winding down, about to prepare for bed, when my brother, innocently enough, said "Let's watch Ironman 2."

I had not seen this movie yet, and I wanted to, but I had to get up early. So my brain took half a second to be all "Eh, I better no-YES WE WILL WATCH IRONMAN 2."

I rolled into bed at 2 AM and got up at 7 ish.

Now most people would feel sorta gross and just not good after 5 hours of sleep. Me? All I could think of was seeing how high in the air I would be if I stood on the lobby desk at work to clean off the mysterious smudge 12 feet up. Actually, the smudge was a bonus, I just wanted to feel really tall. Then the thought entered my brain that "I wonder what would happen if I jumped off the counter onto the floor." This continued for quite some time.*

Last night, I got to bed sometime after three and got up at like 9:35 to get ready for church. I don't want a nap. I want to be awesome. I should be writing away, but I am far too ADD to not want to be doing something like knitting upside down above lava. And this is how I normally am, mentally anyway, because most nights I go on and get into the "open seven tabs at once" trap.

When I'm in a really really really really really really really good mood, and I'm feeling all "OMG I WOULD BE AMAZING CREW MEMBER ON A SPACE FREIGHTER" then I don't get much done. Seriously, when I'm feeling that awesome, I have weird daydreams. The apocalypse version of me is an engineer that fixes stuff UPSIDE DOWN and saves the day.

And then I usually end up tripping up the stairs.

*Pesky customers never let me get time to do it. Dang.