Friday, October 31, 2014

How Pringles Almost Became the End of the World


I hope everyone enjoys celebrating the best holiday of the year! Still need a costume idea? How about dressing up like this dashing fellow to the right?

In some positive book news, "Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor" did make it to the top of Goodreads' "Chick Lit for the Misfit Girl" list!

So a couple weeks back I was sick.

How sick was I? I had a fever that made me delusional enough to think I was talking to both Agatha Christie and Hugh Jackman over tea (the tea was non-existent as well, mind you).

I spent an entire week in bed unable to move because every time I tried to stand for more than about thirty seconds I had a chance of blacking out and waking up an hour later hugging my coffee table. (I don't know what my coffee table thinks our relationship status is now. I'm just not bringing it up and hoping that it doesn't bring it up either.)

I couldn't eat, could barely drink and spent most of my time sounding like a pug with sleep apnea. 

After three days of a water and two-whole-Saltine-crackers diet, I finally had my first craving for food and it was more powerful than the Death Star's tractor beam. I wanted... No, I NEEDED sour cream and onion flavored Pringles.

 Now keep in mind, this is really a strange craving. I rarely eat potato chips and never buy them for my own consumption. But that day I would have mugged a granny for a can of preservative laden potato crisps.

I couldn't drive. Heck, I could barely walk.

Of course, I had friends who probably would have happily dropped my food craving by, but they were all at work. I was finally hungry for something, and that, in my fevered and exhausted brain, needed to be solved now.

My rather addled mind somehow remembered that there was a convenience store on the first floor of my apartment complex. You know the type of place, they sell random items at a two-hundred percent markup? 

This was day five of my illness, and I had managed to shower twice, change my shirt three times and I had given up entirely on the concept of pants. I did not even have enough energy to try to beat my hair into submission long enough to get it into a ponytail. 

Yet I decided that I was going to get to that convenience store come Hell or high body temperature. Like Hercules tackling his twelve labors I began the task of putting on enough clothing that I wouldn't get arrested for indecent exposure.

First, I put on a shirt that lacked a giant red Gatorade stain from the times I had fallen asleep while trying to drink in the previous days. This took ten minutes as the many holes of the shirt continued to confound me more than German Existentialism confuses a duck.

Then came the pants. I got one leg in all right, but then found I had absolutely no energy left to put my other leg in. I sat there on the edge of my bed staring down at the half on pants, willing myself to just move in the correct order of motions to complete the task at hand.

It was only the thought of sour cream and onion Pringles that made the task doable. After another ten minutes, I had pants on.

I fought my way into a jacket and grabbed my keys and a five dollar bill. Giving up on socks entirely I opted for the commando approach to my skater shoes.

Finally, wearing legally enough clothing, I made it out the door of my apartment.

Technically, I made it out the door and made immediate friends, face first, with the wall across from my apartment door.

That wall and I stayed close buddies as I basically leaned on the wall and walked/slid my way towards my next obstacle; the stairs.

I stood at the edge of the great precipice, looking down the one flight of stairs that on that day seemed about as easy as a trek down the side of Mt. Everest on roller skates. It's really good that the railings in my building were apparently made for gymnastics routines, as I half walked, half lowered myself down one stair at a time.

The convenience store was out the door and around the corner. By the time I entered the small shop, I already felt like I had just fought off the minotaur using nothing more than a box of Cracker Jacks and a Monopoly board.

 Squinting around the small shop I saw a spot that seemed to be the 'salty snacky things' section, and launched myself in a staggering trajectory towards it.

I stood there, swaying like the palm trees in a Jimmy Buffet song, blinking at the chips shelf. There were canisters of Pringles lined up; original, barbeque, cheddar-cheese... No sour cream and onion.

There was a gap on the shelf in between a couple of the flavors, the tag below identifying that this was the spot where once the Holy Grail had rested.

I had faced the struggle of getting clothed and making the journey with the kind of bravery and determination of an Olympic athlete, and now here I was bereft of my gold medal.

My fever had again climbed to a triple-digit number and all four of my remaining brain cells could not comprehend the unfairness of the situation. My eyes began to tear up.

That is when the poor store owner found me, the most pathetic version of Cousin It he had probably ever seen, about to lose my composure and what was left of my mind over a missing can of chips.

"Can I help you find something?"

I looked up at him, the sweat from the fever matting hair to my face, my face pale and gaunt and my bottom lip trembling. I lacked the energy, or in fact the working brain matter, to ask for what I was looking for, I simply pointed.

The store owner looked at me for a second and asking, "You sick?"

I nodded, still pointing.

"Ah," then he looked down at the shelf, "Oh, are you looking for some sour cream and onion Pringles? I might be out. How about one of these other flavors?"

My bottom lip quivers got bigger and he quickly finished with, "You know what, never mind. I might have some in back!"

He dashed off, obviously worried that I was going to die in his shop and he would have to explain to my friends and relatives that it was all because he had failed to produce chips fast enough.

I heard the sounds of boxes being ripped open, things being shifted and even a few thuds. After a few minutes, a dust and sweat covered store owner came out panting, "I found one!"

 I mustered a muttered, "Thank you," as I paid for the last can of Pringles.

The store owner just looked down at me, as I stood there, swaying and holding the chips close to my myself like Linus and his security blanket, "Well... umm... don't die?"

Nodding, I slowly turned, resetting my next trajectory in the general direction of the door.

I hugged the can of Pringles close to my chest the entire return journey, apparently afraid that in my feeble state some hooligan might come and steal them in the ten yards back to my apartment.

I gave up attempting to walk up the stairs, instead half crawling, clutching the can in one hand and using the other to help propel myself upwards.

I don't entirely remember how I made it down the hall back to my apartment. I'm sure walking was involved at some level, but judging by the bruises I found later, it was a safe bet that the wall had to help me at certain points via solid reinforcement.

By the time I got my apartment door open I was way past feeling woozy. I felt like someone had drugged me with chloroform prior to hitting me on the noggin with a sledgehammer. 

I walked out of my shoes, my jacket dropping to the floor behind me in a little trail of victory to my bedroom.

Still fully clothed, I plopped face-first into bed, my arm still holding my precious Pringles out beside me. My epic journey was complete, I had succeeded in my quest.

Lying there on my bed, my tiny feet dangling over the edge of the mattress, I fell asleep.

I woke up some seven hours later, the unopened can of Pringles still clutched in my hand. I slowly turned my head, popped the top of the can, and proceeded to kind of half shovel some of the chips into my mouth.

Indignity never tasted so good.

So what lessons can be wiped from the brow of experience?

1. If you're so sick that pants become too difficult of a puzzle for you, it's probably not a good idea to attempt to leave your home.

2. If you want excellent customer service, make your hair look like you spend much of your time sticking forks into light sockets and start to cry over very small issues like a missing chip flavor. Boy howdy will you get some awesome help then!

3. Sometimes we don't make the greatest decisions when we're sick. It's unfortunate that another side effect of being ill is that we can't judge when we are making those terrible decisions.

If you want to see the kinds of things I do when I'm not sick, come find me on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads

Friday, October 24, 2014

Bigotry Is Hard To Sweep Under a Rug

Hello everyone, I hope your weeks have been more spectacular than the thought of a troupe of Zumba dancing hippos!

Well, I realize I'm kind of the last one to the GamerGate examination wagon, that's what you get when you're incomprehensibly sick for over a week.

For those of you who don't know, GamerGate started out as an outcry over breaches in gaming (as in video games) journalism integrity. What it quickly descended into was a group of very loud misogynistic trolls screaming that women should stop complaining about how women in video games are portrayed.

How bad are these trolls who enjoy attacking women?

Well, two female game developers, Zoe Quinn and Brianna Wu, left their homes because they were being threatened with violence and rape (including posts on Twitter that included their home addresses).

On top of that, noted gaming social examiner Anita Sarkeesian had to cancel her speaking engagement at Utah State University because angry male gamers threatened a massive school massacre if she spoke.

The Apparently Villainous Anita Sarkeesian
 In response, there have been quite a few supporters of GamerGate who have basically said, "Well, it's a loud minority that are being the issue! It's not all of us!"

So, today, I'm not here to talk about the original intentions that GamerGate may or may not have had. I'm not even going to address the trolls, because I think that their gritty little minds have received quite enough attention already.

No, instead I wish to address anyone who finds themselves clinging to a movement, like GamerGate, and saying, "But it's not all of us!"

In fact, I want to address the people involved in any religion, activist group, political party or social movement who find them using the phrase, "But it's not all of us!" GamerGate is just a recent example so it is the one I will use.

I am going to give you all the benefit of the doubt; your intentions were to improve the quality and integrity of journalism surrounding video games. You honestly want a fair shake in the gaming industry that you love. That is valid.

However, where any claim ceases to be valid is when the extremely offensive "vocal minority" almost completely drowns out the claimed "quiet majority."

Really, if you want to protect the integrity of your movement, claim or idea, then you have to have enough people in your movement willing to stand up against those that don't demonstrate your interests.

Thanks XKCD For Showing What Not To Do Here
 If all you do is whine, "They are misrepresenting us," but you don't offer any form of condemnation of their actual actions or a voice for redefining the image of your movement, then how are people supposed to hear your original point?

I hate to break it to you, but if your movement becomes rampant with people doing terrible things, but you don't speak against them, you just kind of ignore them, then you might as well agree with them.

Imagine I walked up to you on the street and said, "I'm a member of Movement X! We're all about peace and harmony!" then ten seconds later Mr. T walks up to you and screams, "I pity the fool who doesn't join Movement X!" and punches you in the face.

Now instead of me saying, "Oh, he's not related Movement X, we don't have anything to do with him!" I instead say, "Oh, yeah, he's part of our movement too, we needed the extra support. I mean, he has some wacky ideas that don't support our original image, but whatcha gonna do?"

Is your image of Movement X that you should join right away because it will lead you to a happy utopia full of rainbows and unicorns, or would you prefer to just go get some ice for your face?

Back to our example of GamerGate: The same thing happens when you have members claiming to be a part of your movement threatening acts of violence so severe that women are scared out of their homes or cancel lectures. If your response is not to say, "They aren't part of GamerGate" and instead saying, "But that's not what GamerGate originally stood for! That's not all of us!" you are missing the point.

Remember, the phrase, "It's not all of us!" means by admission that it is "some of you." And if you don't stand against their behavior, then that "some of you" will be what everyone sees. 

So, to all those crying that the intentions of GamerGate are being misconstrued, might I add this one little piece of advice: Either distance yourself from them and become louder than those spewing vile threats and vitriol around or realize that your movement has been overrun with vile trolls and abandon ship.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sick and Twisted

Hello all! I hope your weeks have been more fantastic than the thought of a tornado made of marshmallow fluff.

So this past week, thanks to basically working in a giant petri dish, I ended up with a lovely combination of illnesses.

I will spare you all the grisly details, let's just say that I have a much more accurate count of how many tiles are on my bathroom floor than I did a few days ago.

Me For Four Days
 It was, while suffering with an over 100 degree fever, that I tried the first time to brainstorm a list of topics for a blog post.

What resulted was the most ADHD and delusional group of non-sequitur ideas I think I have ever produced.

Here are some of the blog post ideas I actually wrote down:

"Write about feminism and stuff."

"How does cheese exist? - Answer: Because it's amazing!"

"Write about why the 'Fantastic Four' isn't that fantastic."

"Do gerbils dream?"

"If I can't do the Can-Can, does it become the Can't-Can't?"

"Why bedsheets that get all twisty are evil."

"Cheese" (Nothing else, I just wrote the word "cheese" off on the side of my notebook.)

"Why Pringles are superior chips for single people."

Needless to say, I think it's a good thing I didn't write "Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus" and "Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor" while suffering from a fever of 100 plus degrees.

So, here's your writing tip of the week: If you are really, really, delusion and sick, writing is a bad idea (unless you write surrealist literature, then go right on ahead!).

What have been some of your best/worst ideas thought up while sick moments?

As always I can be found on Facebook, Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and Goodreads.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sucked In

Hello all, I hope you all had weeks that were more fantastic than the thought of Conan the Barbarian singing "Let It Go!"

So this week I have two excitingly rad things for you all.

First, "Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor" was given a five star rating and review by Gary Stout of Readers' Favorite!

"I highly recommend Life is a Pirate Ship to anyone who can read. Seriously, whether you need an emotional lift, have nothing better to do, have something better to do but want to put it off, or you're just wondering if you're the only person in the world that seems to be a magnet for the bizarre, then you have to read this book."

For the full review go here

The second is that my good friend, Charissa Dufour, has released her first book, "Sucked In!"

For anyone who loves fantasy, vampires, humor and not taking things too seriously, you should grab a copy of this book! Of course, don't take just my word for it. Take it from Charissa herself who I snagged for a quick interview!

1. What inspired you to write this story? 

My husband and I were sitting on our back porch, making fun of Twilight, and one of us said “what would happen if Stephenie Meyer was suddenly turned into a vampire only to learn that vampires don’t sparkle.” A half hour later we had the bare bones of the plot. Many years later I had a finished book.

2. What sets your vampire story apart from other vampire stories? 

I think the main thing that sets my vampires apart from others is that they don’t take themselves very seriously. In many books, vampires are high drama, life-or-death sort of creatures, and while my characters find themselves in life-or-death situations, they generally laugh at their foes and smack them with car parts. This will be even more prevalent in Sucked Away, the second installment in the series.

Another key contrast between my story and others vampire stories, is that it’s not all about sex with these guys. They even talk about it. In fact, in Sucked In, there is not a single sex scene. This is a big change from most urban fantasy novels out there today. In our generation, sex sells. The saying is cliché because it’s true. I wanted to see if I could break that trend. But enough time has been spent on my soapbox.

3. How much of your character’s personalities are modeled after living people, and how much of them was fiction? 

I wish I could say something like “fifty-fifty” but that would be a lie. Pretty much any character worth mentioning is based after someone in real life. There are a few exception, but I leave that to the reader to figure out which ones are real and which are total figments of my imagination.

Even Ashley is a mix of me and our lovely Allison Hawn (hence the last name being shared).

Perhaps one of my favorite characters who is based off a real life person is Jordan. Jordan was my best friend in high school and supported my writing since the very beginning. I remember in high school, he would ignore the teacher so that he could read the latest chapter of whatever novel I was reading at the time. *shshsh, don’t tell my teachers* There was no question that he would appear in my book. Though the character Jordan doesn’t look anything like the real-life Jordan, there are some very key character traits taken directly from the amazing man I’ve had the honor of knowing.

4. You write a fiction-based blog. Can you tell readers a bit about that?  

So the wonderful Allison Hawn pushed and pushed me to start a blog. She can be a bit naggy. I tried a tradition look-into-my-life-and-opinions blog and hated every minute of it. I didn’t find my blog posts interesting, so why would anyone else? Much sooner than I’d like to admit, I gave up.

Insert more nagging.

Finally I took a plot line that had been simmering in the back of my mind ever since I took it out of an old draft of a book and turned it into a series of journal entries. Sometimes it is tough to write these journal entries in a way that bridges normal, descriptive fiction and how people actually write in journals—all feelings and emotions and whatnot—but I think it is working. Sometimes I struggle with holding myself back. I want to just spill all the plot out at once, because it is such a great story. Someday, I may turn it back into a book. We’ll see how things go.

5. If you had to pair your book to a song, what song would you choose? 

I know it’s lame to say “I don’t know,” but I really don’t. I even broke down and asked readers what they thought. Didn’t get many responses. So how about a song that I associate with myself, which sorta works since this book is a lot of me!

"Dirty Minds" by Here Comes the Mummies:

6. If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?  

Anytime I asked for advice, everyone just said “write what you know,” which I think is a bunch of baloney. Obviously, being a human who lives in the real world, I don’t know any actually vampires or werewolves or medieval knights or kidnapped women being sold into marriage with foreign princes (that’s my blog!).

So here’s my advice: write what you want to read! A book I hope to have out this summer started because I didn’t like how another author finished their plot. Through many rewrites and much hair pulling, I ended up with a creative, original plot. This coming book is now one of my favorite, best written pieces of fiction. It didn’t start with a very noble beginning, but beginnings seldom are. 

7. How does it feel to have your first book out and available? 

Unlike most authors, I didn’t have a build up to it, I didn’t do the week of “it’s almost here” or “coming soon.” I went to poke around the Amazon self-publishing options and the next thing I knew I was hitting the “publish” button. It was kind of a shock for me and everyone else, and therefore I think I’m still in shock.

It just hasn’t set in that people are actually out their paying to read my words, fabulous as they are!

8. If you had to choose between fighting a rabid wolverine using only a block of cheese or being stuck in a room listening to nothing but the sound of iced tea being stirred for thirty-six hours straight; which would you choose and why? 

While fighting a wolverine with a block of cheese would make a better story after the fact, I think I’d choose the iced tea. The clinking of ice isn’t that annoying. It is survivable, even if it would give me a headache. Fighting a wolverine could be dangerous. What if it chewed off my fingers and I couldn’t write anymore—no thanks!

Don't forget to pick up your copy of "Sucked In" today! 

As always, if you need to track me down, I can be found on Facebook, Twitter (@Allison Hawn) and Goodreads!  

Friday, October 3, 2014

Tattoos, Charity and... Oh My...

Hello! I hope all your weeks have been more marvelous than the thought of "Whistle While I Work It" performed by pugs dressed as the Avengers.

Can you guess what song may have come on my Pandora playlist while writing this post? (And yes, I did the dance.)

You know what also makes me dance? Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor is almost a month old and so far the reviews have been awesome!

If you haven't snagged a copy don't fret can head on over to Amazon to get one.

So anyone who has met me pretty quickly discovers two things about me:

1. I like supporting various non-profits via volunteer work and fundraising.

2. I have a slight addiction to tattoos (and by "slight" I mean I'm up to ten pieces thus far).

Seriously, if you have tats, look up this group!
 Where these two things intersect is The Modified Dolls.

The Modified Dolls is a international organization of tattooed and modified women out to break down the negative stereotypes around body art by volunteering and supporting charities and our communities.

To that end another Spokane Doll, Melissa, and I hopped in a car and went down to the Tri-Cities for the Three Rivers Tattoo Convention to raise money for the Boys and Girls Club of America.

It was absolutely rad. We met some awesome people, watched some people get some excellent artwork done and raised over $250 for the charity.

Of course, my presence there, as the magnet for all things weird in the universe, meant that we got all the bizarre crazy people too!

There was the guy who wandered up to our booth, stared at us, didn't say a word, then just ambled away. We were graced with his silent creepy presence about six or so times.

This is What Nerds do at Tattoo Conventions
Then there was the girl in the parking lot who asked my caffeine delivering savior, Caleb, and I our opinions of Oregon strip clubs, bars and casinos (keep in mind, the convention was in Washington).

The one who takes the cake, however, I met, well kinda met, out in the parking lot when I stepped outside for a quick breather.

Drunk at 11:00 am on a Sunday, this train wreck on heels staggered up to me, said, "Hi," and koala bear attached herself to me.

There were plenty of people in the parking lot from both my convention and the two others that were going on that day, but no, she decided that I was the best person to latch onto.

I stood there, quasi-stunned, as this woman, definitely half a foot taller than I, let all of her sloshed weight hang on me like the most rum-soaked Christmas ornament ever.

I sighed and started to see if I could talk my way out of this, "Can I get my arm back? No? How about my torso? Can I get that back? No? Okay..."

I slowly began to pry her off of me. I got her legs back on the ground, and was working on getting her arms unwrapped from my body when she suddenly said, "We should go to a strip club!"

It was at this point that her friends found us, one of whom asked, "Hey! Who is your new friend!?"

I glared at him and he said, "Oh..." and coaxed her back to her own conference.

What lessons can we learn from our disorderly friend?

1. There are usually several social steps between, "I've just met you," and, "Hey, let's go to a strip club!" that shouldn't be ignored.

2. It's not the people at the tattoo convention you have to worry about... it's those bankers at the banking convention that should make you concerned.

As always, you can follow my adventures on Facebook, Twitter (@Allison Hawn) and Goodreads!

Oh! One last thing! My brothers, Jonathan and Donovan turned 21 yesterday!!! ...And now I feel old. Happy Birthday you two! Just remember, I knew you when you were younger, I remember what you did and I have proof!

And this is pretty much how I'll always remember you: