Thursday, March 31, 2011

Nintendo 3DS

I got a Nintendo 3DS and I have to say I'm impressed. I was a little skeptical but well done hope they keep it up and not let PlayStation and Xbox walk all over the system like they did with the Wii. I'm not technical and I have plenty of room to grow as a gamer so if you want a more in-depth review check out IGN and CNET Reviews.

3DS is not perfect but as the first of it's kind, I didn't expect it to be. The first time I used it, I got a headache that lasted awhile, like I got on the train later and didn't want to read, which is unusual for me. But, I'm happy to say, I can play for ages now and not get any headaches. The 3DS graphic reminds me of those 3D cards that used to come with toys and are now covers for Blu-Ray 3D except it moves. 

But that being said, I was totally geekin' out when I turned it out and now I'm caring it around with me. I don't even turn it off. Big plus, it comes with a 2G SD card. It has Face Raiders and AR Games already on it. I enjoy Face Raiders. You take pictures of people's faces and they become superimposed on things like helmets, cubes or wall eating bugs. You shoot balls at them. If you win the stage by defeating the boss you collect that face. What's great about Face Raiders is that the background is your room and you have to move the 3DS around in order to find and hit the faces.

I started by using by own face until I saw the note saying you could use faces from pictures. It was hilarious taking pictures of people's face's I'm not a fan of like Stephenie Meyers and Rush Limbaugh shooting balls at their faces. The more faces you collect the more stages you can play. 

You play AR Games with cards, included in the box. You aim the camera at one of the cards and a small square box appears. It opens to a game of target practice that, like Face Raiders, uses your room as background. Also like Face Raiders, you'll have to get up and move around in order to hit all the targets. Other cards are of famous Nintendo characters like Mario. With these cards you can have Mario standing and posing on any surface (awesome). 

If you create a Mii, enable the feature StreetPass and pass someone on the street with StreetPass enabled, you exchange Miis. Through this, you can collect dozens of Miis.  I've gotten two by walking into Best Buy in Union Square. 

I also bought Samurai Warriors: Chronicles 3D. (Like I'm going to buy a 3D gaming system without a 3D game). I'm not familiar with other versions but I love this one. I had problems at first navigating with the circle pad. After awhile my thumb would cramp up but that's probably just me. When I got into it, I couldn't stop. I was blown away by the intro video in 3D.  Now I'm waiting with bated breath for Zelda and Mario Kart.

Apparently, in an upcoming update, I'll be ale to open an internet browser and download games but at this point, I've been unable to do either. Hopefully Nintendo will get on that soon.

 3DS is the coolest thing ever!

Monday, March 28, 2011

...Really?

Why is there are Top 25 Most Influential Black Fiction Writers on Twitter list? Can you image the backlash if someone came up with the Top 25 Most Influential White Fiction Writers on Twitter? I am trying to understand but why in the world do people put so much emphasis on skin color.

Maybe, by posting a list focusing on black people, they are bring to the forefront  good writers who are overshadowed because they aren't white and male.  I know quite a bit about writing but know only what I've read regarding the publishing industry. Maybe black writers have to categorize themselves as their race to be seen, which is unfortunate. I am more annoyed with people's preoccupation with skin color and these lists and bookstores simply feed into that. I mean a person's skin color tells you absolutely nothing about them and even less about the type of books they write. 

And what in the world does it mean " to be a successful black writer in the 21st Century." It can be... distressing being a person of color in this world. We may never be able to compete on equal footing with a white person. You've heard it all before- we have to work twice as hard to get half as much. Does that mean, until the world changes, which is unlikely, the only way black writers will get any recognitions is through publication and awards specifically for black writers? Your thoughts. 


Bernice L. McFadden's article Black writers in a ghetto of the publishing industry's making and
"Seg-Book-Gation" and The Plight of the African American Fiction Writer: A discussion with Author Bernice McFadden are interesting articles on the subject of African Americans and publishing. Another interesting article is Why book industry sees the world split still by race


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Enjoy- No Vacancy

His nerves-itched- not like a feral rash but just as consuming.  His shoes had a distinct beat. The sound made his subordinates cringe like an injured squirrel caught between a wall and an angry dog. Those shoes, his feet were unmovable, powerful and precise. The shine and the untarnished surface were eyes into who and what he was. They were his throne made for him, special because they were on his feet.

Those feet stopped on the bottom step of his basement. His face was plain but he made up for it with an inordinate sense of self-importance and charm so profuse it didn't need to mask the bile- it made people forgive its existence. His barren gray eyes searched the hovel. Pipes leaked, mold crawled up walls, the floor threatened to devour all passengers but his money would not be spent to make it livable. 


He examined a woman who had neither physical beauty or charm. She didn't have a face. Her long knot of dark hair covered the holes where ears should've been. The only was she consumed sustenance was the plastic hose in her stomach, attached to a funnel. The process disgusted him. His hands were gold and she was cheap department store jewelry but she was useful.

When the container was empty and all the contents were in her stomach, she nodded her thanks. A mixture of irritation and fear dried his mouth. That creature seemed dependent on him but glided up stairs and around furniture as though that unadorned head could see. She had powers he didn't. She turned to the steaming cauldron and stirred. 

The smell was acid to his senses. He didn't know what she did but the end result to his liking so he didn't care. She wasn't brave enough to delude him. He pulled a picture from his pocket and handed it to her. She took it and nodded. The man walked upstairs.
It was a plan that drove him. The plan brought on by years of boredom. The female in the picture was inadequate, to low for him to dirty his own hands with her blood but her mother and guardian...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Adventures to be had


I could continue with Europe and Italy but going in order is no fun so we're leaving Italy for awhile and venturing closer to home. Hilton Head Island in South Carolina is a splendid place to get away from the noise. If you want to relax on a nice quiet beach or take a stroll and see nature unspoiled visit Hilton Head Island. My mother and I went in 2009 as mother-daughter trip. She drove which I don't recommend unless you love driving. We left DC for a 9-10 hour trip. It wasn't even a scenic trip, just rows of trees and the same cars for miles.

But even so, it was worth the drive because Hilton Head Island has tons of thrift stores and consignment shops. Since I was moving in a couple of months, we raided those stores and found some great items. Among other things, I bought a nice wooden chair for $10 and a set of matching plates and bowls for $7. It was a pity we didn't have more room because we found a writing desk for about $30.

Not only does Hilton Head Island have some great shopping but it's beautiful. We stayed in The Village at Palmetto Dunes which was walking distance from the gorgeous and calming sandy beach. Even though we traveled in the summer, the beach wasn't packed.


At the Sea Pines Resort, you can spend the day walking around the Forest Preserve, hike or bike through their gorgeous landscape or just shop. You don't have to stay at the resort to partake of the nature preserve and the shopping. For a reasonable fee, you can get a day pass that you leave on the dashboard of your car and stay all day in the resort. It is massive. You can spend hours walking around and just discovering new places. Some places though, are just too far to walk. (I did say the place was massive). Bikes were like cars and there were lanes for people with people-sized stop signs. It was hilarious. A bit closer to where we were staying was the Jazz Corner. We listened to some bands I'd never heard of but were fantastic and got our picture taken for their newsletter.

This video contains the last pictures my camera from England ever took. I took it to the beach, got some awesome pictures then dropped it in the sand. It was never the same after that. Pity.

Friday, March 18, 2011

To be Afraid

"There was an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart- an unredeemed dreariness of thought which no goading of the imagination could torture into aught of the sublime." Poe- The Fall of the House of Usher


I was reading reviews on Goodreads for Tananarive Due's The Good House and Brandon Massey's  Dark Corner. People called them scary which bothered me a lot. Both stories are interesting, well written and put a unique spin on a theme that's been done to death but there's nothing scary about them. It got me thinking. Recently, far too often, I browse the horror section looking for truly creepy books, find a winner and end up disappointed by the lack of fear it invoked in me.

The last movies that delightfully made my skin shudder was Devil and I wasn't even going to see it because M. Night Shyamalan had so thoroughly mutilated  The Last Airbender. But before Devil, I can't remember a movie that had me sleeping with the lights on. What happened to movies like The Ring, The Grudge, Dead Silence, Darkness, Quarantine and The Descent? Far too often people are mistaking gore for horror. Gore is not scary, it's just gross and often unnecessary. It's a tool to enhance horror not replace it.


I tried out Peter Straub's Shadowland as well as his novel Black House written with Stephen King, Sarah Langan's The Missing, and Jonathan Maberry's Bad Moon Rising because reader reviews said they were frightening tales. I didn't find any of them scary and couldn't get into Bad Moon Rising. Richard Laymon's Darkness, Tell Us was like a bad teen slasher flick with an extraordinarily pointless ending. I also tried John Saul's House of Reckoning and wasn't the least bit disturbed.

I do enjoy Bentley Little's novels. He holds nothing back and the endings are never predicable. With his books, I often cheat and read the last page because you never know who's going to die. The atmosphere and the scenes ensnare you so even though you are afraid of what happens next, you're compelled to turn the page. My favorite is The Ignored. Although the protagonist is often unlikable and whinny, the story is brilliant and the ending is satisfying even though he never answers why those things were happening to the characters.Though, I do like the writing style and the worlds created by Kim Harrison, Laurell K. Hamilton and L.A. Banks, I don't consider them when discussing frightening tales because I don't think the authors intend the books to be scary.

 It's become so hard to find new books where I reach the end breathless and amazed at how beautifully macabre the story was. Not only were the scenes and situation frightening but the atmosphere had me feeling like rough finger were scrapping my spine. I don't often want to do the mental gymnastics required to read authors like Edgar Allen Poe and Henry James but I also don't want a storyline that doesn't give my brain a little exercise.Frightening situation are great but a terrifying atmosphere is gold. 

  "Never did tombs look so ghastly white. Never did cypress, or yew, or juniper so seem the embodiment of funeral gloom. Never did trees wave or rustle so ominously. Never did bough creak so mysteriously, and never did the far-away howling of dogs send such a woeful presage though the night." Stoker- Dracula

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Harry Potter

I'm a huge Harry Potter fan. I've read all the books several times and seen and own all the movies. I've had problems with the movies and could go on and on about what they left out and how they change the characters (if we didn't like the way the characters were written in the book then we wouldn't have read the series) but that's not what this post is about. I was skeptical but excited going to see Part 1 of the 7th year. Some things they left out, some things they included weren't in the book but for the most part, they stuck pretty well to the book. I was pleased. I really enjoyed it.

There's a great fan art video on YouTube that I love. It got me emotional and I don't get emotional. Check it out.

Can't wait for July- warm weather and Harry Potter!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Possessed

  
Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

For some reason, I woke up with this poem and the idea of posting it stuck in my mind. I don't know why or where is came from but the idea won't go away. For me, when I become possessed by something, an idea or an action, I need to do it. It happens all the time with my stories. 

I had no intention of writing the novel I'm working on now. It started, years ago, as a short story  but recently, the idea to continue took over my thoughts. Every day I was thinking of scenes, of character names, of conflict, relationships and the world. The characters came alive. They railed together and laid siege on my mind. No mater how I fought, how much I ignored them, how hard I shoved them down, they wouldn't die. So I started writing and find, even though it's a draft, I really like it.  
 
Hope you enjoyed the poem. (Like the poem, like the novel, these photos spoke to me, I had to include them.)
 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Enjoy-One Day

The office, this gray asylum Peace Caterin chose to be a part of, was an abomination. She watched and despised the normals who worked here day after day, year after year, never shooting for anything greater-accepting this hollow eyed world and rejecting those who didn't. She'd been here three years and everyday was a fight against her nature. But she had set herself on this mission; she'd put herself in this cell of boundless phantoms.

Normals and weak minded non-normals convinced themselves this thing they called a cubicle wasn't a prison. Peace's eyes exposed what these normals tried to deny. She leaned away from the computer and looked around. This place trapped them when it allowed them to put pictures on the walls, it gave them business cards with some made up title, it bestowed upon them shiny golden name plates bearing those mile long titles. Peace looked at her own gifts and her full lips stretched into a smile that made even the Darkness and the Silence shiver.

The music from her radio was a somber drawl that disturbed memories of slim knotty finger opening her head and digging into her brain. The song ended but the Communicator's voice was just as stagnant.

For my brothers, sisters, and friends replenishes are available from EPT's breeders but it's not at the usual place. One day...

Peace's mouth formed a much warmer smile as she changed the station. There were never two more glorious words.

"One Day."

The next Communicator tried to fight the Silence but their barren tone gave the verminous beast fuel. Peace understood their anguish being trapped in an apartment for years, forging a hatred for any sound- even their own voices- but they had chosen their path so their loved ones would never be without noise. They couldn't falter not. 

The Silence remained. 

That noxious, oppressing creature took another one. Peace hadn't recognized the voice but something familiar in the dry tone made her bow her head.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Section

I've always had a love-hate relationship with the African American Literature section at the bookstore. On the one hand, I can see how beneficial it is but on the other, I see it as a way to hide books. How often do people who aren't black browse that section?  Most of the books there could be placed under a genre.

Say, for instance, writers Brandon Massey and Tananarive Due.Works by both authors can be classified as horror, fantasy or speculative, but both authors are shelved only in the African American Literature section. To some bookstore's credit, I discovered Tananarive Due in the horror section but since then, I've seen her only in the African American section. Stories by both writers scream horror or fantasy so why aren't they in those section? Do the authors elect to be categorized as an African American writer instead of a Horror or Fantasy writer? Why would they do that? Already, there are far too little minority protagonist in horror and fantasy.

I would prefer not going out of my way to read stories with a black protagonist in the genre I like. I've read stories in other genres but prefer Horror and Fantasy so I don't venture into other sections unless I'm looking for something specific- which is rarely the case. I go straight for the Horror then the Scifi/Fantasy, then maybe Reference to check out books on writing and getting published and sometime even browse a graphic novel or two.

L.A. Banks, I am pleased to see, is always in the Horror section and if the bookstore doesn't have that section, then she's under Scifi/Fantasy. Octavia Butler is another who is found in the Scifi/Fantasy section. What makes them different from Brandon Massey and Tananarive Due? Do black writers have to first be categorized not by their work but by their race and then, when they become household names, graduate to the genre they'd been writing in for years?

I am a writer and I am an African American but I am not an African American writer. In terms of genre fiction, I believe race is irrelevant. If a white writer wants to have a minority protagonist let them, if a minority wants to have a white protagonist so be it. If the author relays on stereotypes instead facts then they will have to deal with that decision and the backlash.

I leave you with this. What makes a story African American Literature? Is it merely the fact that the author as well as most of the characters are black? Since we're on the topic, should black people have to read books or watch movies they don't like simply because it was written by and is about black people? Your thoughts.

Friday, March 4, 2011

3DS

I would not call myself a hardcore gamer. I don't do the whole duel screen thing and the only system I own is a DS but I do love playing video games and can spend hours in front of a computer or a gaming console which is why I try to avoid them.  

I play video games- I don't do anything else like... study. 

 I lived on my brother's PS3 Move when I spent Christmas with my family and was geeking out when I saw Castlevania was available for the PS3.  So, I am totally geeking out about the Nintendo 3DS which is being released March 27, well- not totally because although I like Nintendo, they do have a tenancy to produce these innovate gaming systems and stack them with a bunch of unpleasing games.

Even still, I am excited about the 3DS and nearly freaked when I saw Resident Evil and Zelda were some of the planned 3D games. I was all set to preorder the system until I say that although the3DS is being released on March 27, Resident Evil in 3D won't be until July and Zelda doesn't even have a release date. Now I'm not sure I want to preorder it.

The only games being released on or around March 27 are ones I have no interest in except for Ridge Racer, Asphalt, Rayman and Steel Driver also Tom Clancy's: Shadow War and Samurai Warriors: Chronicles. I just thought of something. If I preorder, this would be the first time I bought a game without user reviews. Spending $40 on a game without knowing whether or not its good, hmmm. I supplemented user reviews by watching videos of the games on YouTube. 

I know I just defeated my own argument by listing 6 games that look interesting but seriously, I had my heart set on Zelda and Resident Evil. Can you imagine these games in 3D?! Still debating on buying it though. Don't want to buy a 3DS and it turns into another Wii. But, I think writing this post has made up my mind. Check out the video below for more about the 3DS.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Magic

I find I'm much better at pointing out what I don't like about works than what I do. It's why I never liked to do workshops. I like the feedback but when it comes to giving others feedback, all I can think of is the story is really good. As a writer, it's nice to hear your story is good but when you're seeking another writers' opinion, you want more than good. You want what works, what doesn't, what needs to be expanded, what should be taken away and, above all, does the story work; do they buy it. But when the story is brilliant I leave dazed, stunned and inspired but never full of exactly what I loved about it. 

This is opposite to stories I don't like. Take the Twilight series. I could go on and on about what I don't like about the series. I could sound like an expert, use all the right words and phrases, you know, sound like I know what I'm talking about (which I do). I was thinking of dedicating a post to how disappointed I was in it, like there aren't a million of those already.  

With exquisite stories like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Twilight Watch, the Black Jewel Series, The Legend of Drizzt series and Harry Potter series, I resist taking them apart. I've tried explicating H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe's stories; making notes in the margins, looking up and writing down words I don't know, indicating plot points and making note of lines, scenes and descriptions I like but it was all so mechanic and didn't allow me to see the big picture. I didn't enjoy the story. 

In my mind, I guess, brilliantly told stories are magic and delving into why they are brilliant takes away from the magic. I do understand how diving into a story I like will help in my own writing. I understand writers need to read for more than the sheer joy of it.  

But when I read, I get a feel for the story, I love language, and take away any pointers about world building. I still jot down lines I like because Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft and Robert Louis Stevenson are great at using words I know in ways I never thought of. But for me, asking why takes away from the magic. Even in my own stories, I like to leave questions unanswered.  It may seem strange but I never said I was normal. Normal's no fun.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

If It's Meant To Be

"Change means that what was before wasn't perfect. People want things to be better." Esther Dyson 

Through years of fiction writing, I've learned if you are willing to change something in a story then it needs to be changed. Take character names. If you're willing, without hesitation, to change a character's name than the name isn't a right fit. But if you reach a point where you can't change the name without possibly changing the character or even the story then that might be the right name. The name and the character should speak to each other.

I'm currently rereading one of my novels, unpublished. I'd left it in first person for some time now but recently, I've been toying with the idea of changing it to third. I hesitated simply because of the amount of extra work involved. But now that I'm changing it, I'm finding the story reads much better.
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