The Origins of the Stickfigure Blog Drawings

There are two reasons I draw stickfigures on my blog:

1.  I like to have something visual on my blog posts, and I can pull up Microsoft paint and do a drawing with my mouse in 30 secs flat!

2. My only other alternative to "drawing" something is to use an actual picture.  Which means I would either have to take one (I am not a photographer or a model), or find a random google image that may or may not be copywrited and stick it on my post. The problem is that even if I do find the perfect Google image and paste the url into the picture link, it could change.  Then when I print out my blog and look through it I may realize that in place of an American flag on my July post there are two random guys, wearing stocking caps under a street light, doing who knows what.  And now when my kids grow up and look through my family blog album they will forever ask why I have a picture of two shady dudes smoking a doobie. Hence the need for stickfigures (even though I'm clearly not an artist either).

I thought this drawing stickfigures thing was something new I created just for my blog, but then I was looking through my old college stuff and came across a few things that told a different story.

At first, these may just look like pictures of my extremely messy dorm room (Mom, look away).

But upon closer inspection you will find the poster my roommate had of a hot guy with his shirt off .  I was young and overzelously idealist (as college kids are prone to be) and against the objectification of women, which meant that I was there for equally against the objectification of men (because I was no sexist!),  so I decided to modify the poster to meet my standards.

 In case you're wondering what that lovely cursive writing says, I'll decipher it for you.  "& He has to have sexy nostrils."  What can I say.  I had high standards for my perfect guy.

So it appears I've had a penchant for random, skilless drawing much of my life.  If I were to look through my other memory boxes I would bet money that the stick figure phenomenon dates all the way back to my early toddler days.

*Here's the real poster.  Just in case you were wondering what lies under the stick figures. Clearly I'm not as idealistic as I once was.  Though I still do object to objectification (most of the time). ;)

Buss-a-me Mucho (or Conversations with my Husband)

Fellow blogger friend Chantele likes to find obscure and fun words and post them on her blog for "Weird Word Wednesday".  Then she challenges people to make up a sentence with them.  Well yesterday the word was, buss.  She posted the definition which in essence said, to kiss, especially with a smacking sound (at least that's how I remember it).  I thought it was a cool word and left this sentence in the comments, "If Buster bussed a bus full of babes, how many babes on a bus did Buster buss?"

Later that night as I was getting ready for bed I thought I would ask my husband if he knew what the word meant since he's the kind who always remembers random trivia (as in the man has only ever lost Trivial Pursuit twice in his entire life.  Before we go married I made him play me every night for several weeks straight, but that's another story for another day.).  Anyway, the conversation went a little something like this.

Me: "My blogger friend Chantele (proceeds to explain blog)... So do you know what the word buss means?"

Husband: (thinks for several seconds...) "Is it some kind of stick?"

Me: (overly pleased that I've stumped him for once and still ticked about losing Trivial Pursuit hundreds of times)  "Nope!! You're wrong. You're wrong. Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah." (Okay, I didn't actually say that, but my eyes did. I then told him the definition and my sentence.)"Wasn't my sentence a clever tongue twister? Are you sad that yoooouuuu didn't know the word?"

Husband: "Buss my Butt!" 

Me: (Feigning shock and indignation and then laughing)

Husband: "or better yet, buss off."

Me: "Hey!"

Husband: "I'm sorry, was that the buss of death?"

Me: (Laughing, again)

Husband:  "Here let me make it up to you." (Begins to sing) "Buss-a-me, buss-a-me muuuuuuuchooooooo..."

Me: (Yep, still laughing while pushing him and his smack-kissing lips away)

Husband: "Oh man, now I've got a song stuck in my head...(silence)...a song by BUSS!"

Me: "You are now officially the topic of my blog post tomorrow weather you like it or not."

Husband:  "Won't that be stealing Chatele's blog post?"

Me: (climbing into bed) "Not really, because I will link back to her blog and give her all the credit for finding the word and make sure everyone knows how much fun we had with it and it will all come back to Chantele."

Husband:  (turning off lights and getting into bed) "You're such a buss-up." *

*No actual marriage was hurt during this conversation.  In fact  it was probably strengthened due to the extreme silliness and craziness of both participating spouses.

Since we're on the topic of superheroes...

I actually fancied myself one yesterday.  You see, snow had been falling all weekend long, but yesterday was beautiful and sunny and a holiday, so we decided to take our son sledding with some friends.  Because kids love sledding.  And since we will only live in South Dakota for a few years I thought we should take advantage of all there is to offer. At least that was my reasoning when I planed the outing.

Then I really thought about what we were taking our little child to do, and suddenly I saw less fun and more stitches, concussions, and broken bones on the hills that were once covered in feet of soft fluffy snow, but after much use had turned into steep tracks of solid ice.  I realized if I was going to let my son do this (because I can't hold his childhood hostage to my neurotic ability to see the worst possible conclusion to any given situation),  I was going to have to bring my A-game to the slopes.  Just in case.  Nevermind the fact that we were going with friends from my husband's work which meant there were no less than four military doctors and pilots present.  Clearly none of them would have the right kind of training for an emergency.  So I donned my old Marvel T-shirt, the one with Ironman, Thor, Captain America, the Hulk and Wolverine (yes I really do own this shirt and I really did wear it), and I stuck my first aid kit in the car (just in case one of the doctor bags was missing something), along with fruit snacks and juiceboxes for those hunger/whining emergencies.    I then found my sweetest pair of sunglasses for surveying the slopes with my super-tuned, paranoid mommy vision.  I was ready!

The slopes were crowded, very crowded.  Good thing I'd come prepared.  I was vigilant! Rarely taking my eyes off the scene, only allowing myself to be mildly distracted by the other women there and --"Oh what's that you say?  You're throwing a baby shower? Ooo, can I help?!"  CRASH !! Yep, it was a big one, but by the time I noticed it there was already a doctor on scene checking for concussions and stanching the bleeding.  Fortunately the only resulting injuries were a bruises and scrapes.  I am happy to report that I did save the day later on when I warmed up my sons little hands.  They were freezing, and he was crying.  That is until I sacrificed my own warm hands  to cover his little popsicle ones.  Then I gave him a juice box and patted his head, pretty much saving the day and the entire trip.  Ah the life of a superhero.

When we got home my son, or Spidybatwalker, as I like to call him (because he likes to mix and match his superhero dressups), asked me to draw a superhero for him.  This is a common request, and I usually just draw some generic muscled man and let him color and fill in the details.  Earlier in the day he had completed an orange Batman.  But this time I was feeling a little heroic, so I decided to draw a woman which may or may not have had similar coloring and features as me, though I did take a little license with the flat stomach and toned arms.   I also added a Tinkerbell tutu (because I would not be caught dead in only spandex) and colored in the picture for him.  I was curious to see what he would think. He made a few additions to the drawing and told me he loved it.  So I present to you Vry ("Varee" he says).  She is twenty years old (woohoo) and has purple powers (not powers that are purple, but the power of purple! I hear it's a great one.).

Cover Design

I decided to design a cover for the last novel I wrote, JADED.  I thought I would post it just for fun! Happy Monday!!

Jade spent enough time around Superheroes to know there was nothing super or heroic about them.  The Supers she knew were more like super-egotistical jerks.  Sure a lot of what they did saved lives, and on occasion, one had been known to save the world, but they were all about the glory.  There was no higher cause motivating them to great deeds, only an insatiable desire to feed their already inflated egos—one more notch on their utility belt or one more feather in their bullet-proof, metallurgic cap.  She knew the truth; their noble deeds were more about self-promotion than self-sacrifice. 
As she drove up the windy, mountain road to the designated meeting place, a refurbished castle, of course, she couldn’t help but dread the forthcoming weeks.  When she agreed to take her position with the International Bureau of Remarkable Genetic Assets, or IBRAG as she preferred to call it (though her boss always chided her for using the unbecoming, unofficial, acronym around the office), she had expected to be working behind the scenes, not directly with the Assets. 
Her fingers tightened on the wheel as the road narrowed.  She rounded the final curve and let up off the gas until the car slowed to a near stop, which afforded her the opportunity to take a good look at the castle. 
The main structure had a single, high tower on the west end, and spread out on the east side into a long rectangular row, three stories high.  There were several outbuildings that had been converted into garages, and a high, modern wall encircled the entire property that sat amidst the rocky green landscape of Ireland.  Though it was at least ten feet high, she knew it was merely cosmetic, since an invisible force field covered the property like a dome. 
She pressed the gas again and pulled up in front of a wrought iron gate, the only opening in the field. 
“Here we go,” she muttered to herself when a tall muscled man in black pants, high boots and a long overcoat stepped out from the guard house to greet her.  She rolled down her window.
“Hey green eyes, are you lost?” The man leaned down to rest his elbows on the window.
You knew it would be like this.  Keep your cool.  Jade grabbed her badge and did her best not to look like she was shoving it in the man’s face.
“My name is Agent Jade Markston. I’m with
He raised his eyebrows in a look that plainly showed he wasn’t impressed. Then he focused his eyes on the I.D. card.  She saw his pupils flicker as he scanned her credentials with his X-ray vision. 
“You must be Rex,” she said when he finished.
He nodded.  “It’s always nice to meet a fan.”
It took all of Jade’s self-control to suppress the sarcastic retort on her lips, but offending the first Super she’d met on her team was hardly the best way to start off a mission.
“A bit of overkill don’t you think,” she said, changing the subject and gesturing to him and the guard station.  “Where’s the regular security?” 
“I volunteered to use my skills to man the guard station.  You can never be too careful at a gathering like this. But now that we’re all here, I’ll hand the job back over to security.”  He stood up and squared his shoulders as he spoke.  She saw his eyes flicker again as he gave her entire body a quick once over.  This time she made no attempt to hide her scowl.
“Is that really necessary?” she snapped.
“Just doing my job.  We can’t have anyone smuggling in weapons.” He smirked, and pushed the button to open the gate.
“Jerk,” she mumbled under her breath.  Her foot hit the gas like a lead brick, and she heard Rex chuckle behind her. 
Sports cars of every make and model covered the long drive and parking lot in front of the castle.  Most of them were customized and painted to match the colors of their owner.  There were emblems and logos on them, many which she easily recognized, and a few she didn’t.  She should have felt right at home, after all, her father had been the president of the largest advertising firm in the world.  She’d spent her life surrounded by Supers since every hot shot champion in tights had walked through his office doors at one time or another to sign a lucrative sponsorship contract.  Jade had been up close and personal with the world’s “best,” and she was not impressed.  Her prolonged exposure to the elite race had steadily eroded any respect she might have felt for their heroic feats. 
She pulled her rental car alongside a black and gold Aston Martin with a lightning bolt pin stripe, and rolled her eyes as she stepped out of the car.  Volt was among the guests.  She had known he would be there for weeks, but that didn’t stop the unmistakable knot from forming in her gut.  This was going to be interesting, she thought.
The crunching of gravel drew her attention away from the expensive car and toward a golf cart coming down the drive.  Rex was behind the wheel.  She hurried toward the entry at the front of the castle before he caught up to her. 
A double wood door, large enough to drive a delivery truck through, stood before her.  It looked too heavy to open.  She reached for the antique iron knocker, but before she could grab it, the door swung open without a sound. 
A short, thick man with black, curly hair and small brown eyes stood before her, grinning.  From his physique, Jade surmised his powers were mental.  The tight, silver unitard with a brain emblem across his chest reaffirmed her conclusion.  There was no mask on his face.  She wasn’t surprised, the trend of late seemed to be to dispense with secret identities. She supposed that some Supers still considered them a necessity—the smart ones, in her opinion—but an SI didn’t get you a lot of day to day attention, and so the majority of Supers had forgone their double life, even the ones that still wore masks.  And she had a suspicion many of them only continued to wear them to cover the fact that their faces were the least of their sensational attributes.  Perhaps the man standing in front of her had once worn a silver mask to match the rest of his shiny costume. 
She stretched out her hand toward him.  “I’m Agent-”
“Agent Jade Markston.  I know.  I’m Deja View,” he took the outstretched hand and pumped it up and down with his own small, sweaty one.  “You can call me DJ or D-man if you’d like.”
She realized she was looking at the future-teller of the bunch and the owner of the castle.  She supposed making a fortune wouldn’t be difficult if you always knew what was about to happen.
 He smiled and tapped his head with his forefinger.  “I saw you coming.”
“So I gathered,” she said dryly, taking back her hand and resisting the urge to wipe it on her suit.
“The meeting’s this way.”  He gestured to their left.  She stepped inside and followed him.  His short, stout legs moved quickly, creating a swishing sound as the taut fabric of his suit rubbed between his thighs.  He’s going to start a fire with that kind of friction, she thought as they passed through the opulent entry.  
To her right, two large staircases descended from the upper levels.  They joined together and formed one grand staircase at the bottom.  Above the marble-covered steps an immense, crystal chandelier was suspended from the top of the third floor.  It illuminated every niche and corner of the room, all which held replicas of Greek and Roman statues.  Her eyes wandered to the area behind the staircase, near a row of French doors leading out to the back patio, she could see a fountain.  In the center was a larger than life sculpture of Atlas, bent under the weight of the world he carried on his shoulders.  The water emerged from a hole in the top of the globe and then cascaded down the chiseled shoulders and abs of the burdened Greek god.  Jade groaned inwardly and continued toward the door that D-man now held open. 
“You choose to sit in the red seat over there,” he said, obviously pleased that he could give her a preview of the future with his powers.   Jade looked across the room, where a dozen of the world’s elite Supers had gathered and stood conversing, to the red velvet chair. 
The future was about to change. 

Guest Post

Since I don't get to hang out with my friends this weekend, I spent my blogging energy writing a guest post for one of them.  I was fortunate to be able to post an installment of "Happy Writers Society" for the awesome Natalie Whipple.  You can read it here.

The Week of Woe Continued: How to Shake That Pesky, Happy Feeling

1.Read the first three quarters of a Charles Dickens' novel, but make sure not to finish it.

2.Make three dozen heart-shaped, Valentine's Day cookies for a fund raiser; frost them all with red and pink and write happy sayings on them; eat one dozen of them alone in your kitchen; go stand on the scale and see how easy it is to gain 2lbs in an afternoon.

3.When there are three consecutive days of sixty-degree weather and beautiful sunshine, stay inside and remind yourself that it's still winter and you still live in South Dakota (I didn't say these would all be universally applicable).

4.  Read Beatnik poetry, or better yet, write it. For example:

Little girl
With your face pressed against the candy-store window
We have no lollipops for you today
Only death
*raise arms overhead, snap, snap, snap, snap*

5. Watch Evil Knievel attempt to jump the fountains at Ceasar's Palace and crush his pelvis,femur, hip, wrist and both ankles. Don't think how lucky you are to have no broken bones.  Just focus on how painful it must have been for him.

6. If all else fails, remind yourself that you will be ALL ALONE over the weekend with only your family, local friends, neighbors and dog to comfort you. (See first "Week of Woe" post for clarification of this item.)

What do you do to when you're feeling just a little too chipper?

We interrupt this higly depressing week of woe for a special anouncement...

My dear and amazing friend, Kasie, just tied the knot with the fabulous Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary Agency!! You can read all about it here. Kasie is AWESOME and so are her books!  She is one of the funniest and most delightful people I have ever known, and her wit and personality show through in all her writing. I am lucky to know her.  So head on over to her blog and congratulate her!

I tell you, my friends are dropping like flies, signing agent contracts right and left.  I am so blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful writers...who I won't get to see this weekend... Now back to our regularly scheduled programming of woe and surliness...

The Week of Woe

In honor of Valentine's Day, I'm dubbing this "The Week of Woe."  Just kidding, it's not in honor of Valentine's Day, but I am dubbing it The Week of Woe.  Why?  Well because this week, these people, are going here without me.  And I am very sad to miss the fun.  Granted, I was invited, and it was my choice not to go due to a crazy month, but don't let the unimportant details confuse the facts, which are:

1)Fun, lots and lots of fun, will be happening with out me. 
2)Writer gab, lots and lots of writer gab, will be happening without me.
3)Networking, lots and lots of cool people will be met without me.
4)Books, lots and lots of books, will be purchased and signed without me!

And if that isn't enough to send me into a complete tailspin of woe is me,  I also will miss out on giving Natalie her annual hug, drinking all of Jenn's Diet Coke and using her possessed toaster, seeing my fabulous twin Renee (She has an actual real twin, Diana, who is more twinny and cooler, but I started calling her my twin for other reasons.  Long story.), and laughing until my side hurts with my awesome bff, Kasie (who people do think is my twin). 

So basically, I'm sad and mopey and pitiful.  Therefore, I plan on being melodramatic and surly, very, very surly all week long.  Feel free to check in anytime you need a break from the ishy, squishy love-fest of Valentine's Day-week.


Yesterday you all supplied me with a fantastic list of book recommendations.  You gave me your top picks to help me overcome my E-book phobia.  Thank you, thank you! I will tell you what book I chose, but first, since you were all kind enough to take the time and give me your recommendations, I thought I would compile a list for anyone who might be looking for their next page turner. 

  • The Hunger Games' Series got several mentions.  I'm glad to say I've already read them. Their shiny hardback covers sit on my shelf at home.  Now I ask you, can an E-book double as home decor? Okay, okay, enough railing against the E-book.  Moving on.
  •  Life, Liberty, and Pursuit by the highly educated and multi-talented Susan Kaye Quinn (Isn't it Dr. Quinn, Susan? Like the medicine woman only with a PhD ;) )
  • Across the Universe got more than one mention. 
  • Speaker for the Dead (2nd book in Enders game.  Also read this. Great Book.  Better than the first in my opinion.)
  • Anna and the French Kiss, by the talented Stephanie Perkins got more than one mention as well.
  • The Help got three votes. People said they couldn't put it down.
  • Heist Society by Ally Carter
  • Still Alice by Lisa Genova
  • The Thirteenth Tale
  • Little Bee
  • Vampire Academy (which is available in ePub from some libraries)
  • One Day by David Nicholls.
  • The Books of Bayern by Shannon Hale.
  • Paranormalcy by the funny and talented Kirsten White got more than one mention. (Yep, most definitely read that one!!)
  • The Season.
  • The Maze Runner (Read it. Loved it. James Dashner is the man!)
  • Shipbreaker
  • the Lost Hero
  • The Adoration of Jenna Fox
  • Graceling and its sequel, Fire (Definitely read those)
  • Books that had not been read by the recommender, but she wanted to read were: Jonathoan Strange and Echo in the Bone.
  • Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
  • A Great and Terrible Beauty (I own this one, but haven't read it yet)
  • Ella Minnow Pea was recommended by (A book review site.  Check it out!).
  • Tess Oliver's book (title not mentioned, because it was Jessie recommending it--just sayin' Jessie :)
In the end I chose to download the awesome Stephanie Perkin's book, Anna and the French Kiss.  I've been following her blog and career and though I don't know her, we have a few friends in common.  I've also heard her book is funny and full of personality, so I can't wait!!  Thanks for all your wise and educated suggestions.  I plan on reading many of these books on me E-reader in the near future.  And probably a few in book form as well.

E-readers, not as E-Z as I thought.

For the love of all that is modern and convenient, why can't I buy an E-book?  I own an E-reader (a lovely, shiny Nook).  I've owned it for almost a year.  And in that time I have not purchase one single E-book.  Not one!!! As of right now, my Nook contains free books from the Gutenberg project and Google books. I have the entire works of Plato (my husband read them, not me), selected works of Mark Twain, my own novels, about 10 E-books that my husband purchased on our Barnes and Noble account to read on his droid (but have I read them?  Nooooo), The Bible, and The Book of Mormon (yes, I'm one of those Mormons; no, I don't smoke; yes, I drink [just not acohol]; no, my husband does not have any other wives [I know you didn't actually think he did]; and yes, I am allowed to dance [but probably shouldn't]).  

Anyway, back to the subject.  What is my problem?  I've been trying to figure it out.  I mean it's not like I write my manuscripts on typewriters, or drive a horse and carriage to the market, or heaven forbid, wash my dishes by hand. Yet here I am, like a sucker, still turning my own paper book pages.  I need help.  So here is my request.  Please tell me the very best book you've read recently, a real page turner that you absolutely couldn't put down.  Make your case and I will buy my first E-book or e-book or ebook (maybe if someone could finally decide the correct spelling I would've bought one by now). I NEED your help, you beautiful, literate people.

Super Pale and Other Heroic Feats

As I was getting ready to take my son to school this morning, I looked in the mirror and said to myself, "I wonder if being pale gives you super powers, because I am super pale." I then thought, Super Pale, perfect hero name.  I don't particularly like being as sun deprived as I am up here in tropical South Dakota, but thanks to Twilight, being pale is now in vogue in some circles.  I'm beginning to think that theVampire name, "the cold ones" refers to the climate where they live as much as the temperature of their blood, since both likely play an equal part in the paleness of their skin.  But enough deep thoughts.

In happier news, I decided to exchange my night stand for a desk.  So now my husband has two night stands, and I have a massive wood and glass desk next to my side of the bed. A desk, which I might add, I dragged up three flights of stairs from the storage basement to my bedroom by. my.self.  Apparently being pale does do something for my super strength.  But the point is, if I only had someone to take my son to school and a stocked mini fridge, I would never have to leave my bedroom again.  Can you imagine!?  Am I revealing too much about my reclusive writerly nature?

Finally, I am working on my writing goals.  I would like to finish my current WIP in the next four weeks.  To do that I am participating in #writegoal with Margo Berendsen, otherwise know as writerWyoming on Twitter.  Feel free to join us! Happy writing.

Dance, Monkey, Dance!

I heard my son talking to my husband in the kitchen the other day.  Out of the blue he said, "Daddy, say something funny!" I understand why he said this, my husband is one of the funniest people I know.  He's a complete jokester and makes us all laugh all the time, but at that moment, when the command was given, he was at a total loss.  After a several second pause he made a face and said something like, "Boogety boogety boo!"  This sent my son into peals of laughter.  It did the trick, but was definitely not up to par with his usual jokes and humor.

This story illustrates how I feel about my blog.  I love to communicate with all of you.  Sometimes I actually feel like I have something to say.  Sometimes I even think it might be entertaining.   But when I sit down to actually write it, the blinking cursor stares back at me and says, "Dance, monkey, dance."  "Be witty!" "Be insightful." "Be brilliant." "No pressure, but your future writing career depends on the success of your blog."  I know somewhere in the recesses of my mind that's not entirely true, but sometimes it feels that way.

Like my husband telling jokes because he's a funny guy, the blog should be a natural extension of who I am.  I am a writer. I love writing.  Blog posts are written...maybe it's just that they're about my life.  I love writing fiction, not creative non-fiction. 

In the end, when I blog,  I just strive to be me.  If there is something I find entertaining, even if it's pure silliness, (which, if you read my blog, you know it often is) I share it.  If there's something touching or serious, I share that too (sometimes).  If there's something insightful, especially as it relates to writing, I generally figure somebody else has already written a great post on it, (ahem, Natalie) and I don't bother. 

I guess I just need to lose my inhibitions, come what may, so all you awesome bloggers (yes, I'm talking to you), tell me, what is your personal blog philosophy.