Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Surviving Sandy

One of my co-workers finally gets a hurricane named after her, and it's a frankenstorm that shuts down the east coast. We lost power for almost ten days. Yet despite those really cold nights, we never lost sight of how fortunate we really were. Our house survived fairly unscathed, and we've only had to clean up a stray branch or two from the yard. I've been out of work for two weeks, but the office finally opened back up yesterday. Normalcy is slowly creeping back into our lives, and I am beyond grateful for that.

My temporary new commute route into New York yesterday was dreadful, though: Yesterday's Commute. Luckily, I was not involved in any of those accidents, but I was caught in the "after shock" of them. I didn't make it into work until 10am. >suckage< ~ >major suckage< Today's commute, was thankfully uneventful... a normal day... in a normal life.

Now to get some coffee...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

I was tagged by fellow artist, author and Cuban, Narcisse Navarre, to participate in "The Next Big Thing Blog Hop". One of my previous blog posts, The Lady Navarre, talks about Narcisse and her first two novels. Be sure to check it out!

Once upon a time, there was a wicked witch who wasn't. One could say that was simply because her green just wasn't exactly the same shade as all the others in her family. It seemed to be just a little bolder, and a little brighter. She decided one day, for whatever the reason, to change her story and rewrite its ending to her own liking. Her world, however, would never ever be quite the same again when the full telling of it was done...

1. What is the title of your work in progress?
Book One of The Mhandrake Chronicles:
The Perfectly Mundane Life of Mhagdhalia Mhandrake (facebook page)

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
I have always been an enormous fan of the fantasy and gothic horror genres, so I really wanted to write a story from the other side of the looking glass, where princesses aren't always cookie-cutter pretty damsels dressed in pink with sparkling tiaras adorning their heads. I love the idea of taking familiar fairy tales and completely turning them upside down.

3. What genre does your book fall under?
Dark Urban Fantasy

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Initially, I had envisioned Miranda Cosgrove playing the role of Mhagdhalia, but Chloë Grace Moretz would be able to channel the main character's slightly roughened edge to perfection. Michelle Forbes must be Maeve, the divalicious villainous matron of the family, and Sofia Vergara as the fairy godmother, Carmen would be nothing short of divine. The perfect choice to fill the role of Michael, however, Mhag's gay best friend and comrade-in-arms has, as of yet, eluded me.

5. What is a one-sentence synopsis of the book?
The Perfectly Mundane Life of Mhagdhalia Mhandrake is a journey of self-discovery for a young and magical green-skinned girl whose truth has been twisted up and locked away by a family desperate to keep her in the dark.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Self-publishing is an option. In fact, I have just recently (re)self-published Starlight Starbright, a full-color horoscope book showcasing my original Zodiac designs, but I would like to try a more traditional route for The Mhandrake Chronicles.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I'm not sure how to answer that. The full manuscript is still in my head. I have a point A and a point Z, but I write as I go, allowing the story to remain organic. The characters tell me what they need where and when to have their stories told properly. I'm about two chapters and another round of editing away from the end of the first book, though. It's taken me about three years to get to this point, mostly due to a full time job in the way and quite a bit of miscellaneous personal chaos.

8. What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?
The Child Thief by Brom, The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, the Harry Potter book series by J.K. Rowling, and Wicked by Gregory Maguire

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
A little bit of this. A little bit of that. The Brother's Grimm. Poe. Anne Rice. Rice & Beans. Harry Potter. The Wizard of Oz. And Vodka. Definitely Vodka.

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
The Mhandrake Chronicles is the fairytale survival guidebook for misfits. Despite being full of heart, and a fair dose of my sarcasm, it's a dark world and the perils faced by the main characters both physically and emotionally are very real.

Be sure to check out Narcisse Navarre's The Next Big Thing Blop Hop over at Khajj.com, and Rick Gualtieri over at the Poptart Manifesto. Also be sure to hit S. Conde's Idols of the Tribe and pick up The Red Speck!

The Mhandrake Chronicles on Facebook

There's An App For That: City Planning Games

Perhaps it's due to my over-compulsive need to organize the things in my surroundings (and in my head), but city / village planning games get me hooked pretty quickly. I remember spending many an hour watching the little mob riots take to the streets, or the giant robot from space come down and destroy my town in the original SimCity back when I was a kid.

As a homage to those early pre-gamer days of mine, here's the quick and dirty on some of my favorite city builder apps currently out there:

Cosmic Colony
Next to Fantasy TownCosmic Colony has got some of the best designed buildings and town decor around. A lot of creative thinking went into the look of some of the available shops, homes and alien relics. There's a space exploration mini-game available about once a day that rewards a random little somethin' to help spruce up the colony. Space pirates can be a problem, though...

Fantasy Town
Fantasy Town has some of the best art direction I've seen yet, giving the game a really unique, and very beautiful look. It's worth checking out despite the fact that earning money in the game for the land expansions can take a really long time. That, coupled with the unfortunate need to occasionally spend gems (which cost real world money to acquire) just to complete quests eventually turned me off altogether.

Another absolutely beautiful game, Forestville's charm resides not just in its buildings, but in its citizens as well. The village is full of adorable little foxes, bears, birds, rabbits, frogs, beavers, hedgehogs, and deer (and the list keeps going). It's Furry Fandom Heaven! Each species has special, unique characters and rare versions such as the occasional crow, polar bear or blue frog that will randomly pop up and add even more variety to the mix! I'm all for diversity! ~wink~

Kingdoms & Lords
Kingdoms & Lords
, ironically, suffers from the reverse issue effecting Fantasy Town. It's pretty easy to earn enough money early in the game to buy a great amount of land, but... you have nothing to put on it until much much later. Even then, most of the buildings you can add (which are exquisite, by the way) do nothing unless you log into a social network with the game (something most people might not feel comfortable doing). Kingdoms & Lords has a great deal of potential, however. It just needs to be fleshed out a bit more in its earlier levels.

Oregon Settler
Oregon Settler
 is a very fun, frontier-flavored city game full of covered wagons, head-bobbing farm animals, and malaria. Not kidding.  

Pyramid Valley
In Pyramid Valley, you get to choose between being either Ramses or Cleopatra (either avatar is decenlty customizable) and begin building your very own dynasty. Egyptian, Nubian, and Greek-styled architecture, and a complex trade route system make this particular city builder a very unique gem well worth playing.

Smurf Village
Filled with almost every memorable character in Smurfdom, Smurf Village delivers a very addictive gaming experience whether you grew up watching these little blue guys or not. The mushroom homes are very customizable (balconies, chimneys, etc.), and there's even a tropical island and mountainside to explore and build on now too. It's unquestionably Smurfberry Crack!

The Simpsons: Tapped Out
After an explosion at the power plant, Sprinfield gets turned completely inside out, and rebuilding it, as well as locating all of its lost citizens becomes a brilliantly scripted adventure! Each character you rediscover has their own unique jobs (quests) to fulfill, and the new Springfield is completely yours to redesign. This became an instant favorite for me! As a big fan of the show, the fun-factor is insanely high!

Tiny Village
The prehistoric-themed Tiny Village is frequently updated with tons of new content, as well as holiday events and quests. You can harvest resources, build houses and shops, or raise a multitude of dinosaurs. Unfortunately, many of the really great items require gems (which are purchased with real world money), and they're costly. My only other critique is that I wish there was a little more variation with the games' citizenry, or at the least a few unique ones walking about. As you can tell from the screenshot below... they all look alike.

Friday, November 9, 2012

LEGO: Zombies

If you're a horror fan and haven't checked out the LEGO Monster Fighters series yet, what are you waiting for? Though it's been ages since I've played with LEGOs, the Ghost Train (set 9467) was an instant "must-have" on my wish list once I saw it! Amazing! I've seen it fully assembled at a local toy store, and, honestly, the pictures over on LEGO's official site do not do it justice.

Zombie Bride
Anyway, in keeping with the theme of my previous post... I thought I might as well give a little shout out to LEGO's Zombie Bride. The Zombie Bride and her gruesomely handsome husband are available in LEGO Set# 9465 Monster Fighters: The Zombies.

There's An App For That: Zombie Café

There's a lot more than just brains on the menu over at beeline's Zombie Café. In fact, many items on that menu are fabulously grossified versions of popular dishes. Yes, "grossified" is a word. Your café starts out rather humble, but you soon have the opportunity to grow, remodel and hire up some more waiters. There's quite a selection of available themes for your café's look too, so you can pretty much put together anything from a roach-infested hole that should have been shut down ages ago by the Health Department to a classy, high-end five star restaurant... staffed by zombies. My only negative critique is that you're allowed a maximum staff of 10, and depending on the size of your restaurant that may or may not be enough.

Zombie Café is not your typical diner game. In fact, where it really shines is in its ability to eliminate the competition... literally. You can send your zombified staff out into the neighborhood and into other restaurants to make minced meat out of whatever and whoever they find within. If victorious, your zombies return with some cash, some extra food and hopefully a new recipe. Brilliant!

Anyone that walks through your door is fair game! Zombify them and make them
a permanent part of your staff, or serve them up as tomorrow's lunch special!