Monthly Archives: March 2013

Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai

Standard

Alica Mckenna Johnson, Hara-Kiri Death of a Samuri

So this is another Japanese period piece my hubby made me watch. It was beautifully done and well acted. It made me cry, and reaffirmed my belief that the Samurai were a bunch of weirdos. I mean really the whole honor above all else, even to the point of killing yourself is a bit much.

However, we get to see the true meaning of honor and being a true Samurai as our hero fights to protect those he loves. If you like historical movies, Japanese movies, and/or sad movies, then this is a movie you should watch. There was nothing I didn’t like about the movie, except that it made me cry and I wanted to slap people for being stupid, even though it is accurate to the time period.

Description on IMDB: A tale of revenge, honor and disgrace, centering on a poverty-stricken samurai who discovers the fate of his ronin son-in-law, setting in motion a tense showdown of vengeance against the house of a feudal lord.

Confession: A Childhood of Evil

Standard

angel, Alica Mckenna Johnson

Photo by Blondeeo2


Once upon a time, my loving and brilliant parents, fooled into thinking I was a good child, made a rule. You see my sister and I had been fighting a lot which had become hitting a lot. So the new rule stated that if one of us hit the other, the injured party got to pick any one of our attacker’s tapes or records (this would be CD’s for you young folks) and could keep it.

Normally this would be enough to stay our hands as we loved our music, but my sister had something I wanted. It was an Air Supply tape. So I waited until we began to fight, and I pushed past where I normally would have gone. I egged my poor little sister on, knowing she would eventually lose her temper. Yes, she hit me.

Triumphant, I gathered up my prize. Let us all enjoy the awesomeness of my prize:

I was young, stop judging me!

After that my parents’ rule worked perfectly!

Did you ever egg anyone on into breaking a rule so you could reap the benefits?

Do writers make good cult members?

Standard

Kevin Bacon, Alica McKenna-Johnson

Kevin Bacon by Sagindie


I watched The Following with hubby, okay I peeked at it while doing other things like hiding behind pillows, and hubby. This is a seriously scary show, very good, but I’m thinking too scary for me.

Anyway one of the followers gets a text saying “do it now.” She strips revealing words written all over her body then stabs herself in the eye with an ice pick.

While wondering how the serial killer could control other people so easily via the internet, the answer came to me.

They are all writers! The killer is a Lit Professor, he has obviously promised to help them craft the perfect novel.

Kristen Lamb, Alica Mckenna Johnson

Photo by Kristen Lamb, an author pushed to the limit?

The woman, poor, poor creature, obviously went insane after being told to revise her book for the fourth time. The text was telling her to get to work, the words on her body her finest, most beautiful, and poetic lines which he has told her to remove from her novel, and the ice pick to the eye? Well hasn’t every writer felt like that when they’ve been told to revise?

Yes, this graphic, violent, bloody, scary show is all about the writer’s process, and our willingness to ‘kill our darlings’ or possibly other people to get a book deal.

The IT Crowd

Standard

Alica Mckenna-Johnson, The IT Crowd
I have done something bad, I have signed up for Netflix streaming and spent an hour adding movies and shows to my queue. In order to justify this new time suck I will bring back my Foreign Film Friday blog. So the first show we watched is The IT Crowd. It is a funny British Comedy.

Description from IMDB:The comedic adventures of a ragtag group of tech support workers at a large corporation.

So this doesn’t say much but is very accurate. Jen, who only knows how to check her email, is put in charge of Roy and Moss, the two IT specialists at a large corporation. They cause trouble by convincing a group of people they broke the internet and the world will end, hanging out with a Cannibal, and even hiding a Goth in one of the back rooms.
Both hubby and I enjoyed The IT Crowd a lot, and there are four seasons available on Netflix.

Training my Husband

Standard
Alica McKenna-Johnson

My hubby 🙂

I adore my hubby. Rod is a wonderful partner, and we have been married for many years. Wait, let’s see, girl child is 13 so for 14 years we’ve been married 🙂 And while he is almost perfect, I do have a few things I want to vent about, because, really, a woman can only take so much.

1. Some days Rod works late, or he’s extra tired from hauling boulders, or gets wrapped up in the internet, and he makes my dinner and brings it down to me late. It’s very frustrating and really our normal schedule is completely reasonable.

2. There have been a few mornings when Rod is home when I get out of the shower, and he has forgotten to take my towels and put them in the dryer so my towels are hot and fluffy. Its days like this when I really worry about the quality of our relationship.

3. There have also been several months when I start my period and Rod doesn’t have a stash of chocolate waiting for me. I do worry that his thoughts are straying from me and our marriage when he isn’t totally focused on, well, me.

4. When Rod finishes the laundry and hangs up my tee shirt he doesn’t always make sure the designs on the front all face the same direction and he mixes my black and navy blue tee shirts.

It’s the little things that make or break a marriage. If I didn’t love him so much I’m just not sure if our marriage could handle the strain.

So what about all of you? Please use the space here to freely vent out your spouse, partner, significant other, or pet.

Take it slow and make it hot.

Standard

I like to snack, but I also am hoping to lose weight, and the two don’t always go well together. Of course I do try to eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies, but sometimes I just want something else. So I snack hot.

You see, I have a delicate tongue. I like spicy, but I honestly can’t handle very hot and spicy foods, which means I eat them slower. You are beginning to see the mad brilliance of my plan, aren’t you? When I snack on spicy foods, I can’t eat them as fast, nor can I eat as much. If I do, my tummy will be very unhappy, and in all honesty, my butt the next morning. Ouch.

My favorite slow and spicy snacks:

Dried mango covered in chili: This is sweet and spicy and reminds me of the Mexican tamarind candy. Trader Joe’s has it, and all I can eat is one piece instead of the whole bag of plain dried mango.

Wasabi peas: Not only do I get the crunchy/ salty combo, which is important for any balanced diet, but sometimes a pea will have a lot of wasabi on it and I get a ‘fun’ rush of heat which clears my sinuses and makes my body shudder. So really this is a whole body food.

waasbai peas, Alica Mckenna-Johnson, Isa Costa, spicy snacks

Wasabi Peas by Isa Costa

Hot Cheetos or now as I react badly to MSG, Barbara’s Jalapeño Cheese Puffs : Now these are an extra treat because the nutritional value is much lower, but again I can’t eat as quickly or as many so they get put on the list.

Spicy Chocolate: There are many different brands to choose from, but dark chocolate with chili in it is something to be savored slowly. Make sure to get one with a good kick, or you’ll eat it too fast.

So what is your favorite slow and spicy snack???

Betrayed by Junk Food

Standard
Alica Mckenna-Johnson, Chocolate

Chocolate Understands

So it’s one of those mornings and the adult part of my brain that was trying to get me to work out, lost. Which means it is now time for junk food. So I am pondering what to eat when I realize that I no longer have my junk food favorites. Sure I can order Chinese, but I want something now and the restaurant isn’t open yet.

Deep sigh.

So I head to the store but what can I get?

I’m vegetarian gluten and dairy free- by allergy not choice. What in hell can I eat???

Junk food is supposed to mask my emotions not make unhappy ones. Is junk food now betraying me??

I slog through the aisle trying not to cry because explaining why I’m sobbing in front of the display of macaroni and cheese is not something I want in my police records.

Then I see them, the one food that is obviously a gift from the gods because it spans the healthy food junk food yummy barrier, AVOCADOS. Carefully I fondle select two perfect avocados and head to the chips. Picking a bag of organic blue corn chips, that were on sale, I scurry to the froze food section where I grab a box of vegan, gluten free taquitos and coconut based caramel ‘ice cream’.

I have succeeded! The Universe loves me. I can now go home and medicate my sorrow in junk food that won’t make me pray for the grim reaper to come for me the next day.

As I prepare my feast I will listen to this lovely, happy making teaser from the BBC radio 4 production of Neil Gaimin’s Neverwhere. Benedict Cumberbatch is singing.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0169jdc

Lady Pens

Standard

I didn’t understand how important Bic’s new Pens for Her are, but Ellen has shown me the true power behind these pens. Thank you Kilian for passing this important video onto me 🙂

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCyw3prIWhc

Sorry I don’t know why it won’t post nicely 😦 But go and check it out!

Have you bought the new Pens for Her? Did they fit your hand better? Did the colors make you happy as you wrote your list of errands for the day? Am I the only one who thought something dirty when you first heard about them????

The Darkening

Standard

images

My friend the amazingly talented Myndi Shafer has just released her second book in the two in her Shrilugh Saga. So today I have a short interview with her, come and meet Myndi!

Myndi Shafer is author of the best-selling book, Shrilugh. Currently she makes her home in Kansas with her husband and four children. Her second book, The Darkening, releases in February 2013.

I hang out on Facebook here: Myndi Shafer Stories

I chat on Twitter using the handle @MyndiShafer

And my website/blog is www.myndishafer.wordpress.com Her blog is really funny you should check it out 🙂

What was the inspiration behind The Darkening?

When I first wrote this story, Shrilugh and The Darkening were all one book, told solely from Aydan’s POV. When I changed the POV, the story really exploded, and needed to be divided into more than one book. Which is why the first book of the Saga ended rather abruptly, and why, if you read these two back-to-back, they’ll feel a bit like one piece of work.
So, really, the inspiration for The Darkening came from the same place as my inspiration for Shrilugh: an old silo on the farm where I was raised. There’s a ladder that extends up past the top of it that looks kind-of like a door, and I’ve always, always wondered where that door would lead. When I began writing Shrilugh that was my goal – to find out what kind of world was beyond that door.


How long did it take to write the book? What was the most challenging thing?

Since I basically wrote Shrilugh and The Darkening (and the two books that follow) all in one fell swoop, it took…um…years. Nearly four.
The hardest part of writing them is the editing process. I’m still learning so much about what makes a book tick that when it comes time to edit, I literally struggle over every word. It’s gotten easier and easier to cut what needs cut, and sharpen the dull parts, but the thing about the editing process is that you have to look at everything with a critical eye…and when I do that, all my trusty doubts come flying to the surface, ready to pounce on any insecurities I may have. It’s a tough battle – getting to a place where I’m confident in my abilities, but willing to see what my flaws are without getting all worked up over it.

How did you decide to write fantasy?

It wasn’t ever a conscious decision. In fact, when I began writing, I didn’t know I was writing fantasy. I didn’t know there were genres like that. I mean, I liked reading (okay, loved reading), but I never paid attention to genres. I’d just read whatever I could get my hands on. I began writing with that same attitude, and the story just kind-of went where the story went.
I don’t think I’ll ever be a writer that sticks to a strict genre. I’ve got a couple new stories brewing in my head – one that’s a little dystopian (hmmm, is there such thing as a little dystopian?), and one that’s a sort-of rom-com with weird fantastical elements (the world around the protag shifts randomly into a pirate’s world). Mostly I think I’ll just write whatever sounds like fun at the time.

You have four kids. How do you find time to write?

Well, the time is there, I just have to plan for it. I keep a pretty tight rein on how I spend my time. If the baby is sleeping, I’m working. If I have a spare minute, I work. Any time that isn’t spoken for with family or cooking or cleaning, it’s pretty much given to writing. But it never feels like a chore – I love what I do, and it’s always been worth the sacrifice of my free time.

What’s coming next?

Couple different things. I’ll be working on the third book in the Shrilugh Saga. Right now its working title is FRUITION, and I’m expecting to see its release in a year or so. I’m also working on a new series whose working title is called SALT MINE. It’s about a girl who has chosen to be mute, a government that’s after her secret, a dog that’s been ‘progammed’ to protect her, and a guy hell-bent on keeping his promise to her dead brother.

The Darkening, Myndi Shafer
THE DARKENING (Book Two of the Shrilugh Saga)

As Aydan Fulbert settles into her new life in a new world, she realizes a few things. She’s healing from losing Brig. She’s coming to terms with her new home. And she’s lonely.

Rein Torvald’s return from his long absence helps alleviate her loneliness, but a darkness comes with him. Unsettling news about her father and the Sovereign has the potential to make her a fugitive all over again – from his world and hers.

Will Aydan allow her heart to be taken places she’s never been brave enough to go? Or will the threat of danger – of the Sovereign’s rage, and her father’s vengeful grudge, send her running?

You can find the Darkening at Amazon or Smashwords.