Stay-Cation Ideas

So. The end of the year is nigh, and I’ve got a few vacation days left to schedule. We’ve already taken our trip for the year (Atlanta to see the Braves play against the Phillies in the last series of the regular season; also, the zoo!), so any remaining vacation days will likely just be days OFF, unless we decide to do a day trip somewhere. And of late, I’ve been feeling like my free time is taken up with chores and obligations. Laundry is endless, and now that I’ve established a walking routine, that takes a good chunk out of my free time too. I’m THISCLOSE to finishing my Hellblazer read and I’m getting ready to dig into House of Leaves in earnest, both items that belong on the “Stuff My Husband Makes Me Read.”

In short, I find myself lacking the time and liberty to do stuff for me. Stuff that’s not necessarily productive, but refreshing and enjoyable all the same. So while I may not be able to do the following on my remaining vacation days, I’m going to keep them in the back of my mind for future days off. I really wish I’d had this list in 2010, because not only was I recovering from gallbladder surgery, but I had a ton of vacation to use up before the end of the year (it was the last year I had more vacation time than my husband, who’d just changed jobs).

Anyway, if I had a week off to myself with no other obligations, here are some things I’d try to do:

1) Turn Mount TBR into a Slush Pile

For those of you not familiar with industry jargon, a slush pile is what magazines and editors get: unsolicited manuscripts from writers hoping to get published. Slush readers review your cover letter, read your sample, and either pass your work up the line for the higher-ups to read or send you a rejection.

What I’d like to do is take my TBR pile (books I’ve bought because I thought they were interesting) and turn it into a slush pile. First, I’d divide the TBR into two piles: stuff I know I’m gonna read because it’s a sequel of something I love or its by an author I love will go in one pile to go straight back to the shelf, and the second pile will be the stuff up for slush. Then I’d take that slush pile and read the first thirty pages. Or the first chapter. Or just enough to give me an idea whether or not I’m still interested in reading the book and whether or not the writing and all that entails holds my interest. If so, yay! I’ll put the book back into Mount TBR for later consumption. If not, boo! Book goes into the rejection pile to be placed on Paperback Swap or go to a used book store at a later date.

And I’m pretty sure I’d need a full week to do this. To date, I have 267 books in the TBR pile, not including the 37 books in my Star Wars TBR pile, and that doesn’t include all the books I didn’t add to Mount TBR because they’re collector’s items or classics or nonfiction I want to have but just not read right now. And the TBR pile is hungry, and it is always growing.

BTW: TBR = To-Be-Read

2) Disney Movie Marathon!

Let’s be real: I’m a Disney fangirl. Not of all things Disney, just mostly the Princess stuff. And Oliver and Company. And The Lion King. And, well, okay, I just love Disney animated features. When Disney first started re-leasing their animated movies on DVD in the Platinum Editions (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, I started collecting DVD sets. Sure, I was in college, and no, I didn’t have kids, but I was going to have those DVDs!

What would I watch? Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Robin Hood, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Beauty and the Beast, Oliver & Company, The Little Mermaid, The Little Mermaid II, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning, and The Lion King. Then I’d find a way to get my hands on Aladdin, Bambi, Cinderella, Peter Pan, The Lady & The Tramp, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, The Fox and the Hound, The Aristocats, Pocahontas, and Mulan. THEN, if I still had time, I’d just hit the Pixar collection hard, and people would probably never see or hear from me again.

Is it any wonder I’m such a fan of Once Upon a Time?

3) Favorite Movie Marathon!

Sometimes, I just want to curl up on the sofa and watch a favorite movie. It rejuvenates me, invigorates me, inspires me. Reminds me why I want to be a writer. OR sometimes those favorite movies that are just plain fun that I enjoy the hell out of. But, we’ve got so many NEW things on Netflix and Hulu and iTunes to watch that it’s hard to justify a re-watch, and even if my husband and I agree to watch something we’ve already seen, it’s rare that we’re in the mood to re-watch the same thing.

So what would I pop in? The Lord of the Rings trilogy, extended editions. Top that with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: The Extended Edition. Then I’d slap Star Wars in there, ALL SIX MOVIES, but in machete order (maybe). After those genre-defining classics, I’d pull out Moulin Rouge, Shakespeare in Love, The Princess Bride, Fight Club, The Fountain, Big Fish, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick, Love Actually, Jurassic Park, King Arthur, The Last Samurai, The Last Unicorn, Newsies, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, Spaceballs, The Sound of Music, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, The Truman Show, Titanic, The Three Musketeers (Disney version), Casino Royale (Daniel Craig version), 500 Days of Summer, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, The Matrix, Moon, The Orphanage, Star Trek (yes, the Abrams version), Stargate, V for Vendetta and Wall*E.

And this is just the stuff I’ve got a hard copy of. I’m probably blanking on some movies that I loved but don’t own (for the most part, we’ve stopped buying things on DVD/BluRay). Also, I’m sure this list calls into question my tastes, but at least there’s some variety to the list, right? And there are some classics here that if you don’t like, well, you might be an alien. 😉

Pretty sure this plan would take, like, a month to get through. 🙂

4) One-Season Wonder Marathon!

Then there’s television. There are shows that I absolutely love but were canceled way too soon. My husband really isn’t interesting in re-watching any of these because they didn’t end “properly,” but I say screw that: the shows were captivating in their own way, and I want to remember why I loved them so. So via Netflix or Hulu or whatever method I could get my hands on, I’d marathon Defying Gravity, Awake, Pushing Daisies, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Better Off Ted. And let’s just throw in Deadwood for good measure.

Again, that’s just the stuff I can remember.

So there are my stay-cation plans, should the stars ever align for me to take advantage of at least one of them. Which one do you like best, or at the very least, which one do you see yourself doing? What are YOUR stay-cation ideas?

The Dolls I Never Had, and Those I Did

So yesterday’s post about all the dolls I found online that I wanted to add to my collection got me thinking. Most people would assume that due to my interest and due to my being a girl, that I grew up playing with dolls.

They would be wrong.

I was never into dolls as a child. Never cared for babydolls, nor Cabbage Patch dolls, and unless you count my She-Ra action figures as dolls, they weren’t really my go-to toy. I was a My Little Pony kind of girl, and that’s what my childhood centered around.

However, I remember wanting one, very specific Barbie.

I saw a commercial for it on television. I was in pre-school. I just Googled the specific Barbie, and bam, there she is: Magic Moves Barbie. She was a total glamor girl, and she had a beautiful blue dress, and she MOVED. So that year, for my birthday, I told my family I wanted THAT Barbie.

I got a Barbie all right. But not that one. I got this one instead.

I hated her.

I also decided Barbie was NOT for me and stuck with my Ponies until the day in second grade when my best friend introduced me to Jem and the Holograms. I was hooked. My first doll was Aja, and then my first actual Jem doll was Flash’n Sizzle Jem (her earring lit up!!!) and then later I got Rock’n Curl Jem. I loved those dolls, and those dolls gradually got me into more, and I ended up with a Cheerleader Maxie Doll (does anyone remember that franchise?) and a few Barbies in the end (school girl Skipper and a tennis-playing Midge, who was one of Barbie’s friends and had the most unfortunate name ever).

It’s weird, because I really didn’t get into the stuff until I’d reached the age it was kind of too late to be playing with them, but I’d made friends who had fun collections, and we had a grand old time.

So I guess I did play with dolls as a girl. Just not when I was super-young. And I always felt (and maybe all kids feel like this, even when getting what they want), that I never had exactly the dolls I wanted. There was always a Jem doll that I’d covet at the store but couldn’t get. A particular Barbie. Or, of course, an Ariel doll from The Little Mermaid (who, looking back on it, was particular atrocious, but at the time, I would’ve adored her!). I’m not sure what this says about me, but I think it goes a long way to explaining why it’s dolls I gravitate towards now for collecting, not My Little Ponies. I had all of those I could want and more (and some I didn’t, but I learned to be choosy), so I don’t feel the need to revisit that, you know?

Anyway, going back and finding pictures of these various dolls has been something of a mind trip. Anybody got any favorites to share from when they were growing up?

Doll Hunting on the Internet

It started innocently enough. I was browsing through Entertainment Weekly’s site and came upon an article about the new dolls for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. It caught my interest because I pretty well liked the doll Mattel came up with for Katniss for The Hunger Games (a doll I wish I’d picked up), and I wanted to see what they did for the second movie (an aside: I love that Mattel has, thus far, resisted putting Katniss in her Capitol Dresses and focused instead on what she actually wears for realz, you know?), and I wanted to see how the Catching Fire doll would compare.

Which led me directly to Mattel’s site, which got me browsing through their collectable dolls catalog. I’ve always been somewhat in awe of their actual collector dolls. You know, the stuff that’s not actually meant to be taken out of the box, but if you do, you better damn well display it somewhere? So I was, of course, in awe, by the various dolls for sale and came upon one that knocked my socks off. It’s called The Queen of Constellations and it’s Amidala-Awesome.

While reading the description, I learned this doll was the third and final in a series of three “futuristic space goddess series,” so of course, I had to Google the other two dolls. Those were cool too, but no where near as fabulous as “The Queen of Constellations.”

All of this drooling reminded me of one of my first doll-collecting sprees, that of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. See, I was about eight when the movie originally premiered in theaters, and I. Fracking. Loved. That. Movie. I wanted everything Little Mermaid I could get my hands on, but one thing I never got was an actual Ariel doll. Some of my friends had them, and I was wildly jealous. But I never had my own. Until college, when I discovered that Disney still made Disney Princess dolls and sometimes, they’d release an awesome Ariel doll that was meant for me, the COLLECTOR, and not for little girls to take out and play with.

I don’t remember how many dolls I ended up with. A handful, maybe, and now that my memory’s all shoddy I need to go to my grandmother’s and do some digging. But I remembered seeing, last year, a Disney Holiday Princess Cinderella, and after doing research last year, I learned that they released one Disney Princess per year in this collection. So I filed that knowledge away so I could look for Ariel one day. I Googled it, and wouldn’t you know, 2013’s edition just so happens to be Ariel!

It’s a little disappointing to me. She looks too bright-eyed and girly, and that’s saying something, because bright-eyed and girly is what Ariel does you know?

You know where this is leading, right? I started Googling for other collectable Ariel dolls, stuff I’ve missed since college.

I found this beauty, and given the fact it was just re-released earlier this month means I might actually be able to find the beauty. I see a trip to the Disney store in my future!).

I found this designer rendition, which came out in 2011 and is part of the designer princess collection and pre-dates the fascinating designer villains collection last year, which included this unfortunately (see what I did there?) skinny Ursula Doll, which looks fabulous in person and I really wish I’d gotten it last year when I saw it in the store, but alas… money.

This set comes out later this month, and I have to admit, I’m really curious to see it in person: It’s Eric and Ariel both!

And lastly, on The Little Mermaid front, these are two dolls that I think I may have gotten ONE of while I was in college, but I’m not sure. I really need to sort through my stuff at my grandmother’s. Aqua Fantasy Ariel and Summer Seas Ariel.

By time I got through these, and poked around the online Disney Store for other goodies (Ariel coffee mugs!), I decided to take one more peek at the truly outrageous new Jem and the Holograms dolls: Original gallery here at The Mary and even MORE dolls featured at The Mary Sue.

In conclusion, I need more money. And some epic display cases/devoted rooms to the fandoms of my childhood.

Beautiful Lie

When I finally finished the very first draft of Telepathic Soulmates in 2007, I was in trouble and lots of it. The sucker needed WORK, and in order to graduate, it required an extensive rewrite. The good thing is, sometimes you don’t really understand how to write a book until you’re already finished with it, so I knew what I needed to do.

One of my biggest weaknesses was (and still is, generally speaking) setting. I had a vague, generic setting for the first draft, and I needed something to fix that. Honestly, I don’t remember if I was leaning towards what I settled on before I saw the below video, but I do know that once I saw this video, I knew my setting couldn’t be anything different.

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