Friday, October 3, 2014

Fire Frozen

“You can never have enough of a good thing” is something that goes without saying. If you are a fairy tale enthusiast, as am I—no, that’s incorrect; I’m more of a fanatic—you will be happy to know that Once Upon a Time has returned to our TV screens on Sunday nights. So there’s some good news for ya. On the other hand, there can be no good without bad—you know, to keep the balance flowing through the Universe and all. And so to balance out the wonderful storyline, brilliant writing, and even more awesome acting of my favorite character, Regina, in Once Upon a Time, the producers (or whoever the gods of nighttime television are) have decided to bring in the cast of Frozen. Ouch! I will not lie to you. I was in physical pain last Sunday, watching and waiting and then waiting some more for some indication of how the writers would connect the brand-spanking-new tale with beloved fairy tales that have been seeded into our hearts and the hearts of our ancestors, first as oral retellings of folk tales then as printed magic in those rectangular prism thingies filled with paper, ink, and pictures that smell oh so good, don’t require any batteries, electricity, or wifi. No such indication came. The story of Frozen characters seemed to be going in its own direction, as if someone had draw a line representing Once Upon a Time and another line parallel to it, representing Frozen. Yeah, yeah, I know you will say that Elsa found a necklace she had given to Anna at Mr. Gold’s shop, but dudes! That is a freaking set up to make something, anything connect.

Truth be told, Frozen cannot connect to our favorite classic tales because it is just too new. It has swept the nation and won the Oscar just this year, and there isn’t a day that goes by during which I don’t question: How the hell could that happen? To all you Frozen lovers, go ahead, throw stones at me, I don’t care! Frozen sucks!!! Yes, with three exclamation points. The story feels like it has been patched up from various people’s ideas just tossed at the wall, like, “hey, let’s stick a snowman in halfway through for some comedic relief,” or “hey, Rolling Stones is playing on the radio; let’s put some rolling stones in the story and they could be like parents and they will like have magic and they will like sing and dance and they will like have green moss on them, ohmygodI’msostoned, did we just put stones in the story?” or “let’s trick everyone and not have a villain/antihero, and then we’ll just pull him out at the end of the movie and say he was there all along!” Hello! This is not a crimi series where misleading the audience is the sole purpose. This is a fairy tale in which the elements of fantastic narrative must be followed for the best outcome. Oh, yeah, and like the majority of Disney’s stories, let’s kill the parents the first chance we get, but we won’t worry about who will rule the kingdom, or why Elsa couldn’t wear the gloves that prevented her from freezing everything in the first place when she was little. So yeah, I’m rambling because I really, really think this movie just shows that if you promote the heck out of something crappy, people will eventually fall into the frenzy and will buy it or go see it to say that they have, without giving second thought to its quality. If you truly want a quality movie, go see Brother Bear.

I don’t even think the makers of Once Upon a Time take Frozen seriously. Did you not see the ridiculous-puppet-reindeer Sven and the retarded cousin of Kristoff? Oh wait, it was Kristoff. I got mislead by the hair painted on his head and the orange California tan you can only get in Northern Europe. Jeez, I hope the producers realize that Frozen is targeted at the three-year-old preschool princesses who are in bed by the time Once Upon a Time comes on our TV screens and will soon pull it off the show. Because, frankly, adults are only interested in something frozen when it is shaped like a cube, swirling in their glass, chilling a well-deserved drink at the end of the day. 
For now, I leave you with this: Everything Wrong with Frozen <--click

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Coachella Fest 2014

Nope, I’m not talking about Where the Wild Things Are, although if you asked me, I’d have to say they’re right behind my wall. I’m talking about the first of two Coachella Fests 2014.

 While the traffic around my neighborhood hasn’t been that bad—jeez, let me go knock on some wood real quick—the weather has been quite unpleasant. Friday’s sun and 100F temps seem to have melted the clothes off the festers, for I found bras hanging on the chain-link fence that surrounds the water canal running nearby, shoes with stripped off soles were tied to a tree next to my neighborhood entrance, and what I can only assume used to be shorts were thrown near my garbage cans. Luckily, it was trash day.

Saturday presented spectacular views of the great nothing, as gusts of wind picked up every possible grain of sand and turned the Coachella Fest into one giant dirt bowl. If you didn’t cover your face, you had a literal sandwich for dinner.  

Today, we have clear skies, a nice breeze, the smell of freshness in the air, and above all—silence, which is quite eerie and reminds me that shitty things come in threes. So let’s see what surprises today holds.

This has been a weather report for the Coachella Fest 2014  #1. 

P.S. My weather reports are 100% accurate because I report as they happen. If you’d like weather predictions that are not only unbelievable but also false, please tune in to those idiots on the news channel.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

My Writing Process

Happy spring everyone! I love this season, don’t you? It is the season of rebirth, and I like to watch the nature wipe the sleepy-dust out of its eyes and wake up with a yawn. That yawn has happened several days ago, when we had a number of earthquakes. Not big ones, although the 5.1 one can seem like it. Everyone is all right. The birds are singing in the trees of my backyard. Poe (my dog) is barking at the squirrels. And my husband finally planted grass. It looks like it’s going to be a good year. And so I’m sitting here with my coffee, ready to spill. No, not my coffee. The answers to the four questions that have been circulating the blogs of wonderful authors. I’ve been tagged by the talented Anna Katmore whose Grove Beach Series is a read you don’t want to miss. It’s available HERE. She tagged me in this blog hop to elaborate a little on my writing process and allow you the peek into my head. So, here I go.

What am I working on?

At the moment, I’m finishing up the first draft of a memoir for which I haven’t yet chosen the title. It is a series of short stories and vignettes between the years 1987 to 1997 that depict Communist Czechoslovakia, the Velvet Revolution, the collapse of the regime, and the influence the Western culture had on the countries of the Eastern Bloc. It’ll either be called Behind the Iron Curtain or Children of the Iron Curtain. What do you think? Wanna take a vote?

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

This particular genre differs for every writer not only because everyone’s memories are a subjective matter but also because in retrospective, they are tainted with knowledge of adulthood. I approached writing this memoir from a child’s perspective. It has a quality that is innocent, and the slow revelation that educates the child about the status quo of the country and its falling apart makes for a touching, humorous, and ever wondering narrator whose understanding of her surroundings goes only as far as the purity of her experiences.

Why do I write what I do?

There are three genres I love to write.

  A.    Fairytales

  B.     Paranormal Fiction

  C.     New Adult novels – also with some form of mythology or supernatural

I grew up on fire breathing dragons, monsters, ghosts, and hellions. How can that not translate into my adult life? I love to explore beyond the limits of what I’ve read as a child, and each story that plays out in my head makes me question how far the characters would go to achieve what they truly desire?  I like to test the human nature, the human will, and discover what makes us who we are. And here I have another question for you. Do you think I should come up with a pen name for each genre I write? Or should I keep true to myself and pen each story, each genre as Aneta Cruz?

How does my writing process work?

Quite honestly, I haven’t got a clue! I would love to take credit for everything I write, but I can’t. I don’t even choose the story; it chooses me. I feel like I’m merely a vessel, a medium that uses its inner eye and fingertips to let the world that plays out within me come to life on the pages. Usually, within a split second, an entire story, with its characters, settings, dialogue, and ending, manifests itself in my mind, and I have to quickly scribble the jest of it down, lest I forget a single detail. That is when the story is conceived. But I don’t start writing yet. I wait, think, sleep, dream, imagine myself standing in the scenes just so I can hear, feel the emotions, and see the facial expressions of the characters. I let the story take its form, solidify in my mind like an embryo in the uterus, and when I can no longer stand the pressure in my head, the labor begins. Word by word, page by page, I give birth to the story that has chosen me to be its keeper.

 For the next blog, I tag PAULA STINSON, a wonderful playwright and spiritualist who always knows how to lift me up. KELLEY BYRD, a genius in children’s tales, who has been my friend and critique partner for many, many years and whom I love to death. And finally, JEFFREY JOHNSTON, my MFA co-graduate and author of brilliant short stories.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Targeted Parking

A belated happy new year to everyone.
I’m going to get straight to the point with my rant which is two requests for today’s conundrum.

1.   If you see my truck parked at a store, you will notice that I chose a spot far away from the entrance and always in an area that is sort of isolated, meaning that there are no cars parked nearby. I do this for a reason. My truck (really my husband’s truck I’m stuck driving) is a freaking Titanic, and when I park it, I feel like I’m docking a boat. There is no way I can squeeze next to or between other cars. I need a LOT of room. So, when I get out of the store and see that you’ve parked your car right next to my truck (when there are dozens of empty parking spots available), barely allowing me to open my doors because your vehicle’s tires are grazing the white line that should separate us, you’ve basically signed your death wish.

 2. Dear Target, now that you’ve allowed some hackers to steal my credit card information and who knows what else, do you really think that you can butter me up with useless coupons? Really, if I go buy Windex, why do I receive a coupon for Pampers? My kids are 13 and 8 years old! If I go buy toothpaste, why do you give me a coupon for coconut cookies? I hate coconut! And if I go buy Always menstrual pads, don’t you think I need a coupon for something like Midol and not First Response pregnancy test? Just sayin’. Get your act together.

Okay, that’s all for today. Sorry for not being more cheerful, but I do have a migraine (second day today), so I’ll just go back into my dark cave and think of a way to brighten up your day the next time!

Oh, and don’t forget to check out Marissa Bauder, whose praise of my book, THE MYSTERIOUS MANDOLIN, touched me so deeply I actually cried.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Last Words

I have a confession to make. I’m one of those people who have a weird habit and don’t want anyone to know about it. But today I’m going to let you in on my strange ritual, so next time, when you see me at the bookstore, you’ll think twice before shooting me a nasty glare, which I got from someone at Barnes and Noble yesterday (it wasn’t the first and probably not the last, either).

So, this is what I do before I buy/read a book. I leaf through it and read the last sentence. Yup, it’s one of those “Bruce Willis is a ghost” moments. Don’t get it? Let me explain. Some years ago, my husband and I were just about to leave for the movie theater to see The Sixth Sense, when his friend, Alfredo Melendez, pulled up in our driveway, asked where we were headed, and when he received the answer, he said, “Oh, yeah, I saw that movie. Bruce Willis is a ghost.” So much for our movie-going that day. You get the picture. So, from that day on, anytime someone spoils the ending of anything, we say “Bruce Willis is a ghost.” Thank you, Fredo!

You must wonder why I would do it to myself; why would I have a “Bruce Willis is a ghost” moment each time I open a new book. Shouldn’t the hook be the first sentence, not the last? The first sentence of any book may hook you, but will it reel you in? You have to read on to see whether the story is worth your time. And pretty soon you’re through with the first paragraph, the first page, the first chapter, and you’re still not sure whether you’re interested enough to continue. Then you realize that the book is pretty thick, say three, four hundred pages, and so far you’re iffy with continuing to read. You sigh, close it, and put it back on the shelf. You’ve just wasted your precious time and energy.

I have very little of both, so I try to conserve as much as I can. I start at the end. I read the last sentence first. If I find it intriguing, I read the sentence before it. And then I wonder, jeez what could have possibly happened that the book ended this way? I have a bazillion antecedent scenarios playing out in my head, and yes, you’ve guessed it—I’m hooked, reeled in, and hanging on the line like a fish out of water.

Here are some great last words. And let’s play a game. Can you guess to which book they belong?

1.   They said that of all the kings upon earth he was the man most gracious and fair-minded, kindest to his people and keenest to win fame.
2.   Big words are always punished, and proud men in old age learn to be wise.
3.   With man gone, will there be hope for gorilla? With gorilla gone, will there be hope for man?
4.   Honi soit qui mal y pense. “Evil to him who thinks evil.”
5.   The creatures outside look from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.
6.   And no one can help me. Not even you.
7.   He was soon borne away by the waves, and lost in the darkness and distance.
8.   Very few castaways can claim to have survived so long at sea as Mr. Patel, and none in the company of an adult Bengal tiger.
9.   So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
10.  I ran with the wind blowing in my face, and a smile as wide as the Valley of Panjsher on my lips. I ran.

     A.   Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
     B.   The Oedipus Cycle by Sophocles
     C.   Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 
     D.  Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
     E.   Animal Farm by George Orwell
     F.   The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
     G.  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
     H.  Beowulf
      I.   Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
     J.   Life of Pi by Yann Martel


 1H. 2B. 3A. 4C. 5E. 6D. 7I. 8J. 9G. 10F.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

No NaNo

I owe you a huge apology for my absence. Perhaps you’re one of those people who try to look for excuses and make up scenarios for why I haven’t been contributing to the Conundrum Corner lately.

You may think I’ve been too busy reading, or writing, or working, or cooking, or rearing children, or imagining. You are correct. I’ve been doing all of the above and more. The one thing I have not done, and meant to, was join NaNoWriMo. For those of you who don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, here’s the low-down. It’s a month long frenzy in which you write like mad a minimum of 50K words—I’m keeping the explanation as short as possible. There are many perks and other details that go with it, but they are not as important as starting and finishing a literary masterpiece in one month. Well, something to that effect. So I had meant to join the writing craze and then decided against it. 

Writing 50K in a month and creating something cohesive is a LOT of work. And I’m the Queen of Procrastination! I would probably be up all night on the last day of NaNoWriMo, pounding on the keys of my laptop, writing what would surely be a disaster. So no. I’m not going to write something that’s going to take the rest of my life to revise. I think I’ll stick to my moments of clarity, escapism, and musings. They are rare, unfortunately, but when I have them, I feel like my fingers move across the keyboard at the speed of light; my spirit is completely detached from my body; and my eyes see the beyond into which I’ve submerged my ethereal self.
Those are the moments I cherish the most because they have allowed me to be a vessel for words and sentences at which I can only stare with my mouth open, thinking...

And then comes the hard part. Spreading the word. Yup, authors have to be marketers as well. This is the part of book publishing in which we generally suck. I know I do, so please, if you have any ideas on how to get my books into as many hands as possible, don’t be shy. Spill! 

                  Talk to you soon. I promise!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Teaching Miley Cyrus an Astronomical Lesson

How does this                                                                         

and this

                                                                go together, you ask?

It so doesn’t. Therefore, I’m glad to announce that the engagement of Liam Hemsworth and Miley Cyrus has been called off. Whew. The possible future children of “Lialey” have been spared the embarrassment of having a wicked weirdo for a mother! Also, does anyone else think that her tongue is just abnormally long and large? If Miley licked a frozen pole, she’d probably be able to turn around, get into her car, and drive to Starbucks to get a hot tea/coffee to defrost her slug-like tongue on steroids.

Yeah, yeah, I know some people have to put in their two cents and defend her by saying: “She’s not doing anything new. Just look at Madonna and Lady Gaga!” To those people I say, Puh-leeease. You cannot put Miley Cyrus in the same category as Madonna and Lady Gaga. It would be an astronomical mistake. And since we’re on astronomy, let’s do an astronomical comparison. Pretend Madonna is the Sun, Lady Gaga is Jupiter, and Miley Cyrus is Pluto. You see the difference there? Pluto is not even considered a planet anymore. It’s only a dwarf planet. Why? Because in order to be a planet, you need 3 things: 

1. Orbit around the Sun in an elliptical path—Miley doesn’t orbit around Madonna. She trails behind her. Far, far behind her. 
      2. Possess enough gravity to maintain its body—Miley seems to be high on some sort of a “make me an idiot look-alike” drug; therefore she possesses no “common sense” gravity and she keeps changing her body image. She went from a blond Hannah Montana wig, to dark hair and chubby curves, to short, bleached blond hair, half shaven skull, and lanky limbs. Who is this constantly morphing person? I sense some serious identity issues. 
       3. Have cleared its orbit of the majority of space “debree”—Miley still has a lot of clearing to do. From her image to her videos, and I’m not even talking about personal life, family, and relationships.

So why would anyone go to these obnoxious lengths to gain momentum and attention? The only reasonable answer is this. Your music, Miley Cyrus, sucks. It’s not nearly as good as the music of the giants you are trying to emulate (Madonna, Lady Gaga) and so to pull attention away from your mediocre art you must draw focus somewhere else—your dirty performance. Now, go take a shower and clean up your act!