Our Pages

Friday, June 28, 2013

Return of the SUPER Super Hero



I wasn't really sure how to start this blog post, mainly because I didn't want to do a review of Man of Steel (SUPERMAN MOVIE!!!). But I wanted to convey my enjoyment, surprise and thankfulness for the directors and producers who decided to make this version of Superman, well, pretty darn SUPER. He did the right thing, no matter what. You could count on him, even in his Clark Kent persona.

 Don't get me wrong. I LOVE the anti-heroes: Spider-Man and Iron Man to name a few. How they struggle, they debate, they despair and stop fighting the good fight, until they come to their senses. BUT it seemed as if every Super Hero Movie (since the Avengers--totally rocked, by the way) has had their main character like that, and I was growing weary of it.

Should I find the culprit who let the dogs out?


So for me, and my family, Man of Steel, delivered just want I'd been craving: an honest-to-goodness Superhero who saved the day and got the girl. Speaking of girls, MoS's version of Lois Lane is my favorite EVER. Usually, Lois is snarky and biting, and for me, I didn't understand what the heck CK or SM saw in her. This time she was relatable, sweet, brave and got to fight with her man. Or as much as she was physically able. I mean, we are dealing with Aliens here. Aliens with superhuman strength.



Now I want to read a book with a truly good guy in it. No grey hero or redeemed bad boy. Just a truly good guy from the start (and also in his past) to the end. Anyone have any recommendations?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Man in Uniform


When our lovely Samantha Grace asked the question in our critique group about what color would a military soldier wear during the regency era, I knew I’d found my next blog. Whether you’re reading or writing regency this blog will be very beneficial for you. Or at least I hope it is.
Military subjects are complicated at best so I’ll try to keep this as simple as I possibly can. Instead of delving too deeply into the ranks I’m going to focus on two separate subjects: the difference between the branch uniforms of the British armed forces and ship ranks. If you’d like for me to write a more in depth blog on a similar subject please write to me at Suzie Grant Author at gmail dot com. I’ll be glad to write more blogs on regency military since these are my passions. Guns, cannons, and men in uniform…what’s not to love?
So let’s get started. All too often we hear the term “redcoats” and believe that all British uniforms are red. However, the Royal Navy is the oldest service branch of the armed forces, tracing its origins back to the sixteenth century. It has a fascinating history and much of its beginnings are still obscure. Well into the twentieth century the British Royal navy was the most powerful force in the world. It was able to maintain its superiority through good finances, superior technology, tactics, training, dockyard facilities and logistical support. Americans modeled much of our own navy on these very subjects.
Prior to 1748 there was no standardized uniform. The first uniform regulations were issued by Lord Anson in 1748, “to overcome the inconveniences arising from the want of an establishment of rank and precedence between His Majesty’s Sea and Land Officers as well as from the want of a due distinction among the Sea Officers themselves.” There were two types of uniforms created. “Best uniform” and “working rig.” The “working rig” was considered the everyday uniform and was a simpler design. By 1795 epaulettes were created as an ornamental shoulder piece to reveal rank. They wore navy blue frock coats with white breeches.
Ranks aboard ship in the Royal Navy: Captain, Lieutenants, Midshipmen were essentially the lowest officer rank. Others included, Petty officers, Warrant officers, leading seaman, Seaman, Boatswain’s mates, Sailmakers, Cooks, Armourers, Surgeons mates, Carpenter’s mates, Clerks, Chaplain and Schoolmasters.
The title of captain was universal to the most senior officer whatever his actual rank. His duties included keeping reports, recruiting, keep inventories, preparing the ship for sailing and was overall responsible for everything aboard ship: discipline, feeding, health, maintaining the log, delegating authority and directing the ship’s activities during battle. In other words, on board ship he was God and you had entered his universe. Whatever he says goes, even if a higher ranking officer were aboard ship as a passenger. His word was law.
Here is the Naval hierarchy explained in great detail. I love this site.
Surgeons were in their own rights, lords of their domain. The rank didn’t actually come about until the nineteenth century but they were masters of their trade. They answered to no one save the captain. And even then, there was leeway with what he could and could not order. In the movie Master and Commander (which is as historically accurate a movie as you can get imho) the captain and the surgeon were friends, commandants, as was often the case.
The Royal Marines were formed in 1775 as marine infantry for the royal navy. The Royal Marines, unlike the Royal Navy which was a permanent service, were raised at the beginning of wars and disbanded afterward. Regiments of Marines existed since the 17th century, however, it was not until 1755 that the Marines were established as their own corps.
And their uniforms are red, hence the term “redcoats.” Whereas the Royal navy uniforms are blue. Here is an example. Marines had dual functions during the Napoleon era. They ensured the security of the ship’s officers and supported the discipline of the ship’s crew. And in battle, they engaged the enemy’s crew and fought in boarding parties. On board ship, the marines were under the command of the naval officers. Off ship, they were under the command of their marine officers. Even Marine officers were under the captain’s command. There was no higher rank on board ship. The farthest a Marine officer could advance was to Lieutenant Colonel until 1771 when the first Marine was promoted to Colonel. Do note: During the Napoleonic war the Royal Navy suffered from a lack of men so regular infantry units from the Army were supplemented on board ships.
Key notes about the marine uniforms: Before 1802 the Marines had a uniform very much like the Army’s red coat with white trousers. After 1802, the jacket was faced with blue as befitted a corps with a Royal title. Note the blue collar and cuffs here. The royal Marine jacket consisted of eight loops of lace matched in pairs.
The origins of the British Army and their uniforms. The British army originated with the merger of the Scottish Army and the English Army following the Acts of Union 1707 and the uniforms for the most part were red with a few exceptions through history.  At the beginning of the French Revolutionary war the Army was still relatively small with only 40,000 men. By its peak in 1813 it had grown to a force of 250,000 men. Here is an interesting little link that provides us with a count of the men and where they were stationed during this era. This could come in handy for those of you who write regency.
Key notes on the Royal Army uniform: The basic uniform consisted of a red long-tailed coat with white collar and cuffs. Buttonholes were decorated with gold or silver lace and they wore white breeches, though sometimes blue pantaloons.
The very handsome Prince Harry is a captain in the Royal British Army. So there you have it, some quick ways to know the differences between the uniforms and what branch they’re from. Now what are some of the most memorable books you've read with British Soldiers? And tell me what made them so memorable. 






Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Like a Boss


I’ve been in the workforce quite a few years, so I’ve had my share of bosses. Some good. Some bad.

A good boss can make the workplace tolerable. A bad one can make life miserable. The worst boss I ever had drove me to writing.

You thought I was going to say drinking, didn't you?
I needed a world where I had some control, even if it was make believe. (I guess I should thank her for pushing me to follow my dream, but that would involve talking to her. *shudder*)  

Have you ever noticed when you have a horrible boss, Boss’s Day is the most ridiculous day of the year? Happy Boss's Day! Here's a plant. Try not to kill it like you've killed my spirit. JK! 

I ignored Boss's Day when I had the Worst Boss on Earth. (Now there's a t-shirt that would sell, I bet.) One of my friends wasn’t so subtle about her feelings for her boss. She gave her boss a coffee mug that said, “A boss is like a diaper: Always on you’re ^$$ and full of $#!+.”

She did what?!?
Yeah, she lost her job not long after that one. LOL. But she was a hairdresser, so she landed on her feet.

Here are just a few memorable bosses I've had:

The "I only like ideas if they are mine" Boss - It didn't take me long to figure her out. If I had an idea, I'd casually mention it in conversation. Then a week or two later, I'd say something like, "What do you think we should do about blah, blah, blah?" She'd almost always repeat what I'd said in conversation and I'd say, "That's a great idea!" It worked and we were both happy.

The Catch Phrase Boss - Overall, I really liked her, because she wasn't afraid of hard work. She pitched in with what she could do when we were short-staffed. Plus, I love a rags to riches story. She went from lowest person on the totem pole and worked her way up to the upper echelons. You go, girl! But if I had a dollar for every time I heard "Think outside the box", I could buy a private island in the Caribbean. It was so noticeable, one of my co-workers found a birthday card with three cats in suits standing around a table pointing to a litter box in the middle. One of the cats says, "Okay. Who's been thinking outside the box again?" How appropriate!

The "Where's Waldo?" Boss - She would wander in late, leave early, or not show up at all. Probably my best job EVER, because it was like having no boss.

Par-tay!!!
And the award for most memorable boss goes to...

The "I shoot from the hip" Boss - That's cowgirl talk for "I make impulsive decisions without thinking and someone might die because of it." She was meaner than a bobcat, slippery than a sidewinder, and as trigger happy as the Wyatt brothers at the OK Corral.
Whadda ya mean, the copier's outta bleeping toner?!?
What about you? Any memorable bosses in your past? One lucky commenter will win this...



So you can read like a boss!

US and Canada only

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

First Stop: London

                I was recently lucky enough to take a 10 day trip to Europe.  I had been planning this for over a year and couldn’t wait to visit places I had not been to before and have only read about.  The one thing I did learn is that ten days is not nearly enough time to see everything on my agenda (but I knew that at before I left the States). However, I did accomplish my London goals.
                We arrived on a late Tuesday afternoon and after settling into our room, my husband and I didn’t have much time to explore. At least not like I wished. So we walked around the area where our hotel was located in Chelsea.  I was more comfortable in London but I think it has more to do with understanding the language.  

 Our first meal was in a quaint restaurant and I found I am not a fan of Bangers and Mash. (My husband loved the meal however and ate mine).
 The next day we set off on a bus to hit the highlights. By that, we drove by Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square with Nelson’s column, with only one stop for a photo op at Westminster Abbey.  The one surprise on the drive was how huge the Houses of Parliament were.  I assumed it was big, just not that big.

 The tour ended with the Changing of the Guard and then we were on our own for the afternoon.



               After a quick hop on the subway we ended up at The Tower of London. Some shopping was done and pictures were taken. I would have loved to have gone inside but the line was long and if we would have done this I would not have had a chance to see anything else.  











We then headed back to from where we had come and began the walk through London. Okay, not all of London, but the area I wanted to see above all else.  This included a stop in Hyde Park then into Apsley House. Not only was it cool to be in Wellington’s home but equally cool to be inside a structure similar to what my characters may have lived in. Much of it was closed off and if I understood correctly, the upper rooms are still used by the family at times.  We were able to tour the basement, entry floor and first floor containing the drawing rooms and the State Dining Room. The main level houses a museum with china, weapons and all manner of items from Wellington's life.



                The walk continued down Piccadilly with detours onto St. James and into St. James Square and back out until we were at Piccadilly Circus.
                We did rush this walk because I wanted to make sure we were back in time to meet the rest of the group and it turns out, we had extra time so we visited shops, had a pastry and enjoyed a cup of coffee.  I should have had tea! It was the afternoon but I wasn’t thinking.  Hubby did enjoy a pot of tea, however, and enjoyed it very much.
                Others in our group visited Fleet Street and ate at the restaurant associated with Sweeny Todd. Personally, I am not sure I would have wanted to eat there – lol.  
























That evening we dined on Fish and Chips (I really can’t get enough of that combination) and our visit to London was done.
                
There is so much more that I wanted to see and tour and now that I’ve had a taste, hubby and I will be planning a trip just for the UK to see all it has to offer.

Have you ever been to England? What are some must sees so I can add them to my future itinerary.




Monday, June 24, 2013

Unified...

Did you know that June 23rd marks national Olympics Day? It's mainly interesting to me, because of the nature of what I intended to blog about for my scheduled blogging day, June 24th. But bear with me...as I go back a bit.

When you meet families of children with special needs, oftentimes one of the questions that is invariably asked is when and how you found out about your child’s diagnosis.

I wasn’t a mother who had a prenatal diagnosis, largely because we’d worked so hard to try and have my son that we’d already resolved that we would never do anything but bring him into this world.

Interestingly, I never needed prenatal testing to know more than the medical professionals. I knew, somewhere deep inside with only a mother’s intuition that my son was going to be born with Down syndrome. I knew it before he’d been conceived, I knew it when he was moving in my womb, and I’d tried to stifle those musings, stuff them into a safer corner of my mind, chalk them up to a pregnant woman’s worries.

When he was born, words took on new meanings. One of them being the word ‘special’. I remember the first night I was holding him, looking down at him. The pediatrician had already raised the ‘flag’ of Down syndrome. I was just singing to him and cuddling him. I stopped singing and said to my husband, “he is so special”. My husband reacted instinctively. “You can’t call him that. It has a different meaning.”

That moment gave me pause and still lingers. Here was my special miracle, a gift I’d tried for years to achieve. He was special in every way, and yet somehow in this new journey we'd embarked upon, ‘special’ has a different meaning. It conjures things like special needs and Special Olympics…and though there is nothing but beauty in both of those, when you have a child with special needs, you find you don’t want your child to be special; you want your child to be typical, just like any other child. You no longer dream of Super Man or a Gold medal Michael-Phelps-esque-child…you long for your child to be just like every other child.
"MY"Superman at 10 months old! 

Somewhere over the years, Special Olympics has begun ushering in an era of unification and togetherness. What was once ‘special’ is now ‘unified’. The wonderful town we’ve moved to, offers a Unified Sports program; comprised of children with special needs and typically developing children. Gone are the days of ‘special’ where only children with special needs compete. Now in its place is a sports program that more resembles the world I’d dreamed of for my son—a world where he had friends of all abilities and strengths, a program that is about more than winning or coming in first, but strength, courage, and honor.

Before his birth, I used to imagine that someday my son would be a gold medal Olympic recipient. I hadn’t ever really thought about what sport he’d medal in…it had just been part of the dream.

And yet…at the end of the day, as my son marched around in his opening ceremonies, when his name was called, and he walked up, tipped his head forward to graciously receive his Unified Sports medal, they might as well have awarded him that gold, I’d always dreamed of. It was just one more reminder on this long, ‘special’ journey, of how little I knew about excellence and greatness—until my son had been born.



Question:

So how about you…what has been that magical moment of greatness that you’ve been witness to?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Friday, June 21, 2013

Welcome Leigh Ann Kopans!



 
Hello, Readers! Today we have a guest interview with Leigh Ann Kopans, the author of the super hero Young Adult novel One. I've read her debut novel and really loved it. It's very different from many of the YA novels out there at the moment, and if you are a comic book lover (and even if you aren't) this is the book you've been waiting for. 


Here's our little chat, below:

O: Hi Leigh Ann! We're so excited to have you here today at Lady Scribes, to talk about your debut One. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

L: Thank you so much! I'm so excited to be here, and honored that you invited me. 

About myself? Well, I've always loved reading sci-fi and romance - those have been my two favorite genres since I was a little kid. But I never really started trying to write anything until I found myself suddenly out of work and home with three very small children every day. I needed something to do that would make me  feel useful and stimulated, so I tried my hand at my first novel.

Also, I'm equally addicted to tech, coffee, and ice cream. I like it.

O: It amazes me that you managed to write such a fantastic book, or any book at all, with young children at home. I know it's something I struggle with. For our readers who are work-at-home moms, do you have any tips for staying sane and productive?


L: My number one tip is to figure out ways to work in any setting. I always - ALWAYS - have my phone and my Kindle in arm's reach. I use a mobile note taking program and tap stuff in there in the grocery checkout or while packing lunches. If I'm at the park with my kids or they are sick and want to cuddle on the couch, or if I'm on the elliptical working out, I read. I'm never not working.  

O: I've read One, and absolutely loved it. I thought it was very unique, and yet, very easy to relate to. Can you tell our readers what your novel is about?

L: Oh, thank you so much! That means a lot to me. One is about Merrin, who only has half a superpower - she can float, but not fly. She wants to fly more than anything, and when she meets Elias, another One, she discovers that when she touches him, their powers combine to make her fly. It's about her struggles with that, and also the Biotech organization that may pose a large threat to them. 

O: I love Merrin and her intense code of honor, and her unbending loyalty to those she loves. What was the best part of writing One, and the worst?

L: Oh, thank you! I like to think Merrin is pretty fierce. ;) The best part was the scenery descriptions. Since Merrin's always wanted to fly, she's obsessed with the sky. The worst was figuring out some good pacing for the novel - since it's a combination romance and sci-fi, it was really tough to balance those elements in a way that kept readers turning the pages. 

O: The rumor on Twitter is that the second book for Elias and Merrin is in the offing, called Two. Can you tell us when that will be ready, and is there anything you can tell us about it without spoiling One for your new readers?

L: Yes! Two is coming out on October 8th, and I'm so excited! It's from Elias's point of view. It tells the story of Elias and Merrin's escape from the Biotech Hub, their journey to two other Hubs, and their discovery that the horrible things they learned back home were only just the beginning of Biotech's threat to Ones and Supers alike.

O: What are some of the books that have influenced you, in life and in your writing? Can you share some of your favorites with us? Are there any in particular that you feel are absolute MUST READS?

L: In terms of children's sci-fi, my biggest influence was, hands down, A WRINKLE IN TIME. L'Engle weaves together science, fantasy, budding romance, and the bigger questions of life together so seamlessly that reading it still leaves me breathless. 

Thank you so much! Now, here is the section where I shoot rapid-fire questions at you and you have to answer with whatever pops into your head...
 
O: Favorite color? 
L: Green, at least today.

O: Favorite food? 
L: Cake.

O: Beach or Mountains? 
L: Mountains (Solitude!)

O: Water or Land? 
L: Land.

O: Orange or Green? 
L: Green! :) 

O: Trip to Paris or trip to rural Thailand? 
L: Paris. I need buildings and running water.

O: Sweet or salty? 
L: Sweet AND salty. (Salty caramel! Chocolate covered pretzels! Caramel corn!)

O: Pencil or pen? 
L: Neither. I hate handwriting.


O: Notebook or computer? 
L: Computer.

O: Nerd or geek? 
L: Geek!

O: Captain America or The Human Torch? (One last chance here, Leigh Ann. Heehee!) 
L: THE HUMAN TORCH FOREVER.
(Interviewer's Side Note: I still think you should all give her book a chance even if she isn't a Captain America fan. I mean, no one's perfect, right?) ;D
O: Thank you so much for dropping by Lady Scribes and sharing One with us, Leigh Ann. I really enjoyed the novel and hope our readers will too!


L: Thank YOU so much for having me! It's been an absolute pleasure. <3 

You can find Leigh Ann at her website or on her blog, and also all over the web in places like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!


Because Leigh Ann's novel is about super heroes, I want to know what YOUR super power would be, if you could have one? 

(I'll randomly draw a winner to receive a e-copy of One, and you only need to leave a comment to qualify for the drawing. The winner will be announced Monday, here on the blog! Good luck...)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

80s Flashback with Reader Guest Blogger Misty Helm


The Lady Scribes are pleased to welcome back reader guest blogger Misty Helm! 

This morning I was watching Pawn Stars and saw an ad for Hot Huez, latest and greatest innovation for adding colorful stripes to your hair. Do you want that brilliant blue? They have it! Colored chalk that is kept in a compact where all you need to do is stroke it through a lock of hair and you can have trendy hair just like today’s celebrities. The show then moved into pricing an album full of Garbage Pail Kids. This got me to thinking about the 80’s.

It was the fun-loving decade between activism and grunge. When there were the two Coreys, Debbie Gibson, John Hughes and Kirk Cameron.  Back then music and movies were fun! I couldn’t get enough of the two Coreys and I was a mega fan of Sixteen Candles and the Breakfast Club.  My walkman was easily filled with the sounds of Debbie Gibson mixed with a little Poison.

When it came to style…who didn’t own a set of hot rollers or that light up magnifying mirror?  Come to think of it, I still have both buried somewhere under the bathroom sink.  What about the blue eye shadow to go along with the day-glow mascaras?  I wore fingerless gloves, parachute pants, and brightly colored polo shirts back then. I could rat my hair sky high with the best of them and finish it off with Aqua Net spray.

It can easily be forgotten that many of our favorite technological toys of today actually had their early beginnings in the 1980’s. From the Nintendo Wii to the iPod, all one needs to do is think back to what gadgets they owned during this decade. Where would we be today had we never had a Sony Walkman or a Nintendo NES? The Walkman was the first portable music gadget, and boy did it ever get mileage. The Nintendo was the forerunner of gaming consoles. It gave us some of the most recognizable characters names that still exist today (Mario, Zelda and Sonic).

All in all the 1980’s was one of the most enjoyable decades of my lifetime. We were on the cutting edge of so many trends of today. When I look back at my childhood and early teens, there is so much nostalgia attached to it. The thing I loved best about that decade was remembering how carefree life felt. It was fun and it felt like that sky was the limit.  

This had me wondering, what are your favorite 80’s memories? Or if you were a child of another decade, what are some of your favorite memories from that time? 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Food For Thought

In 1988, an episode of Alvin and the Chipmunks premiered called Food for Thought. I was 9 going on 10, yet I remember that episode, clear as day. Well, maybe not totally clear. I was a little fuzzy on some of the details, so I went back and watched it. You can too, if you want!


Food For Thought (56) by Jackthechipmunk

But I digress. The reason this episode has stuck in my mind all these 25 years is because I think of it almost daily. I know, ridiculous, right? But you see, I love food. I've always had a special bond with Theodore because of this love. I totally get him. He's completely distracted by food. Alvin can't even say, "This'll be a piece of cake," without Theodore thinking in the more literal sense that he needs a piece of cake. I can totally relate. Just ask my husband.

I was once again struck by thoughts of this episode the other day when I was trying to work, and all I could think about was lunch!! Clear Noodles, to be exact.

You see, we have this new Asian restaurant nearby and they serve the most amazing clear noodles ever. If you're unfamiliar, clear noodles (or cellophane noodles) are a thin rice noodle, and they're prepared almost like fried rice, with veggies and whatever meat you want (I'm a shrimp girl, myself), and they are heavenly. This dish is kind of a Japanese/Thai take on Japchae (Korean clear noodle dish.) It's not the most appetizing looking dish ever, but it's up there amongst the tastiest.

Anyhoo, the point of this blog is not the clear noodles, but rather my obsession with them. Knowing we were having them for lunch, I couldn't think of anything else. I lost an entire morning of work because I was so distracted by the idea of my lunch. So I've told Eric that we can't plan it anymore. We have to work, and at noon, we'll discuss where we're going for lunch. I just can't know if those clear noodles are in my future.

What about you? Do you have a food that is so amazingly yummy to your tongue that you can't think of anything else until it's in your belly?? I'd love to hear what dish knocks you off your game!