"Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe" ~ Neil Gaiman (A Game of You)


It's A Wonderful Year

Let's end the year with a look back at some of the best moments of 2010:

Best book I read: Hands down, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The characters, the imagery, Death as narrator -- everything about this book delighted me and inspired me as a writer. It haunted me for days after I read it. I hold it up as the holy grail of writing, a greatness that I can only hope to achieve someday.

Best writer's retreat: OK, I only went on one, but it was wonderful. I think I'm going to have to make it a yearly tradition.

Best new writing friends: I've had a great time getting to know Cathryn Grant at Suburban Noir and Carrie Dair at Come On...I Dair You. Wonderful, encouraging, fun people to get to know. I can't wait to get my hands on Cathryn's soon-to-be-released book, The Demise of the Soccer Moms.

Best online writing tool: Write or Die by Dr. Wicked. Perfect for writing rough drafts, it is just what I need to break through the panic of perfectionism and just write.

Best book on writing: The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. Although not intended just for writers, it introduced me to my muse and helped me see the joy in creativity.

Best gift for a writer: My new Kindle! Bah! I love it, and I love having access to all those classics FOR FREE! I'm currently reading The Phantom of the Opera, and I'll be reading The Island of Dr. Moreau next, and after that, I've got The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and then... well, you get the picture.

Best scientific breakthrough: The Whittemore Peterson Institute found a link between a new retrovirus, XMRV, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Say what? It's not all in my head?

Best health breakthrough: Finding out that I am, indeed, XMRV positive, and that new treatment options are now available to me. The New Year is suddenly looking a lot brighter!

I hope your 2010 was a wonderful year, and that 2011 promises to be even better!


A Woman's Job Is Never Done

The members of the Justice League gathered around the commissioner's old walnut desk. They looked at each other, curious to know why they had been called in for duty the night before Christmas.

"Thank you all for coming," the commissioner said. "I know you'd all rather be spending time with your families right now. But this is an emergency."

He paused to give weight to his announcement.

"Santa Claus has been kidnapped."

Several groans rifled through the crowd of super heroes. Wonder Woman rolled her eyes. Of course. Some nut job always targeted Santa this time of year. She remembered slapping the cuffs on a middle-aged man who was apprehended before he could do any damage last year.

"Legos," he had spat at a flustered Santa. "I asked you for Legos."

The red splotches on the jolly old elf's cheeks were not exactly rosy.

"Look, it was a typo. And you can still build with Lincoln Logs."

She had led the man away, still muttering. Sheesh.

Batman took her arm, startling her out of her memory. He led her out of ear shot of the rest.

"You know we're going to need someone to cover Christmas, don't you?"

"No way, not me." She shook her head. "Why do I always get stuck with this kind of crap?"

"You're the only one here with any real super powers, besides Superman. And you know his ego isn't going to let him skip out on all the good fighting stuff."

She glanced over at Superman where he stood with his arms folded, his hands underneath his biceps pushing against them to make them look bigger. Why did he do that? Everyone already knew he was the strongest man in the world.

"Besides, you've already got transportation. Nice and roomy. You won't even need to figure out how to drive the sleigh."

"And what about sliding down the chimney? You don't think that being an Amazon might make that difficult?" She squinted and a sly smile lifted her lips. "Don't you think Robin would be a better choice?"

"Nice try. You forgot about the elves. We'll throw in a couple to help you out. Whatta ya say? Will you do it?" He smiled at her with all his Bruce Wayne charm. She sighed and dropped her head.

"All right, all right. But you owe me one."

"I know." He winked at her, then walked over to the commissioner to whisper the good news.


This week's prompt:

Santa Claus has been kidnapped only hours before he is set to start his Christmas deliveries. Whilst the other superheros rescue and punish the offenders, it is up to one Superhero to undertake Santa's role this Christmas. Who will it be? How will they go?

Want to play along? Visit Write Anything's [Fiction] Friday here.


The Waterfall Concept: A blueprint for addiction recovery

I was given the opportunity to read and review this book, and I am so glad I accepted it. This is an excellent book, filled with information and suggestions to help someone as they struggle with addiction recovery.

Roger Stark is not only an addiction counselor, but a recovering addict himself. He approaches this book with the same attitude required of anyone attempting recovery -- humility. He offers so many tools in this book and covers all the bases: spiritual, emotional, physical. His suggestions progress from the easiest to follow early recovery techniques to more challenging techniques in later stages and the maintenance phase.

Stark clearly defines what an addict is and describes how they got to their place of addiction. I found it to be a good book for any parent who may have a child that is beginning to use drugs or alcohol as a coping technique for their feelings. I think many of the suggestions could be used as preventative tools, not only as recovery tools.

Stark is positive and encouraging throughout the book. He helps put relapses into perspective so they can become learning experiences rather than stumbling blocks.

What I loved most about his book is that many of his techniques are helpful overall life skills. Anyone can benefit from learning and incorporating the suggestions for coping, self-care, and expressing feelings.

The book had a lot of grammar and punctuation mistakes that made the reader have to work a little too hard. But it was well worth the effort. I strongly recommend this book to anyone, those who are currently in addiction recovery, parents, or anyone looking to become healthier emotionally.


Creating the NYT Bestseller List

Ever wanted to know how the New York Times comes up with its Best Sellers list?  It's not what you think.


Love Interest

I've just introduced a new love interest for my MC, Ice.  She's an operative that has just arrived on the island.  Think she can thaw him before the big extinction event?


Stand for the Family

I was given a copy of Stand for the Family to review.  Thank you, Cecily, for giving me the opportunity to discover this fascinating and eye-opening book.

Sharon Slater makes the case that the traditional family is under attack.  She unveils the attackers and shows us the methods that they use to undermine the family.  She then gives us suggestions on what we can do to fight against the onslaught.  The book is very well-researched, and she cites study after study backing up the information she includes.

The two groups she identifies as being the biggest threats to the family are radical feminists and homosexual activists.  Slater does a good job differentiating between individuals and lobbying groups; she's not saying that every homosexual and every feminist are against the family, but she exposes those groups who have declared that their intent is to dismantle the institution of the family.

Some of these groups' methods are obvious, such as bypassing public opinion and legislatures to take their issues to the courts.  Others are more surprising, like lobbying the United Nations to include anti-family language in the resolutions that are passed.  Slater shows how although you wouldn't think that such resolutions carry much weight, governments and courts around the world use them in their decision making.

Slater's book is a call to vigilance, a call to civic action.  Our greatest weapons against these attacks are speaking out and using our vote to elect individuals who are willing to fight against these groups.

I would have liked to see a chapter devoted to the topic of divorce, which is as big a threat to the family as the other groups she mentions.  It is something that most people have more control over than what is happening in governments or the UN.  I also think she should have cited some of the evidence that is out there showing how important fathers are to the development of their children.  It would have strengthened an already strong case for the traditional family structure.

I thought that the organization of the book was sloppy.  Slater begins the book by discussing battles at the UN over a cause she has yet to convince us to believe in.  It isn't until the third chapter that she talks about the importance and benefits of the traditional family.  Also, the suggestions at the end of each chapter tend to ramble and overlap.  I would have preferred to see just one final chapter with suggestions of how to fight back. 

I would highly recommend this book.   It is a wake-up call to what is going on around us.  Buy it and then pass it along to your friends and family.  We need more people to stand for the family or suffer the consequences when these groups succeed.