If You Took the Zombies Out of “Dead of Winter”

Boring Background: I’m a board gamer and been thinking recently about how some games, especially co-op ones, remind me of real life. After all, isn’t daily life all about maximizing your resources and trying to get everything done before time runs out? So this lead me to:

If You Took the Zombies Out of “Dead of Winter”:

Dead of Winter

1. New theme = College Kids Sharing a House For a Year.

2. All the stuff about needing enough food every week stays the same. Most of the locations won’t change (in real life, you still need to go to the grocery store, gas station, library, etc.)–instead of weapons, you have textbooks.

3. You still have massive hoards outside your door. They’re just now called Visitors instead of zombies. They’re all at your house to party. Luckily, textbooks scare them away!

4. Instead of wounds and frostbite, you take hits to your energy and sanity. “Medicine” is now Coffee!

5. Instead of Biting a character….hmmm…maybe the guests traumatize the character so bad that the person “moves away”?

6. Instead of helpless survivors, you have babies (silly college kids should’ve used protection) and lazy friends/relatives who come to live with you.

7. Taking out the trash is still vitally important.

What’d I miss?

Bottom line: I suppose this little thought experiment just goes to show how much of an introvert I am ;-). I’m also pretty sure, this non-zombie Dead of Winter would basically be a board game version of The Sims.


Technically “Resolutions”…I guess

This was going to be a facebook status and then it got long, so I figured I’d just stick it on my blog.

As many of you know, R and I have a monthly meeting that we like to call “High Council”. It’s a time for us to check-in with each other about life. We cover finances, our relationship, chores, socializing, etc. The new year brought tons of new stuff to discuss, like whether to renew our lease and how to use our vacation time, so we kicked off 2015 with an “Annual Grand Summit”, as we’ve named it.

As a rule, I don’t make New Years Resolutions. If I have a goal, I don’t like waiting for January 1 to set it, and I don’t like have a deadline so far away. However, I did set some big pictures year-long goals for myself, which are basically the same thing as Resolutions…So here they are:

1. Become un-ignorant about local politics so I can have an educated opinion in the next election (anyone have any resources to help me?)

2. Become un-ignorant about my car by reading “Car Repair for Dummies” and practicing its teachings.

3. Donate $20/month to charity/nonprofit/artist. If I’m going to run a magazine that relies on donations, it only seems right to support other endeavors like mine.

4. Save for a downpayment on a condo. I really like renting our apartment and have no real desire to buy a house. It would just be too much money for more room than we need. However, I am aware that property is a wise investment, especially in Austin because the market value is almost guaranteed to increase in this city. If we wait, housing may become unaffordable. So we’re going to give it a shot. We’ll see.

5. Convince husband that we should get a kitty…possibly the most unrealistic of my goals.

The PR of Happiness (or “Disneyland Nightmares”)


Part 1: In the months before my wedding, I had nightmares about visiting Disneyland. Since Disney was our honeymoon destination, it was something thought about constantly during my waking hours. In my dreams, I would always arrive late or forget my ticket and the whole day would be ruined.

I soon realized that my dreams had broader implications. On a deeper level, I was worried that all my marriage plans, not just the honeymoon, wouldn’t live up to my expectations. I was making a lifelong commitment and it didn’t matter how confident I was that I’d picked the right person, there was no guarantee my plans for happiness would pan out. Would I arrive at my “happy ever after” only to realize I’d forgotten my ticket? 

Luckily, our Disneyland trip was awesome and so was our marriage. And then a year later, the Disney dreams came back, but different this time.ticket_to_happiness

Part 2: Lately, I’ve started dreaming that I’m introducing Disneyland to my parents for the first time. They’ve never been big fans of Disneyland, but I’m convinced I can show it to them in a thoughtful way that will make them love it as much as I do. If I just keep a relaxed pace, then they won’t get tired out…except that something always goes wrong.

The broader meaning here? Well, now that I’ve gotten my “happy ever after”, I’ve been struggling to share it with my friends/family. Since we moved to Texas, the only way to stay in touch with them is through facebook and phone calls. I worry that constant “I’m so happy” posting on facebook will become annoying, or worse, not believed. When I tell my mom anecdotes from my life, I’m worried she’ll think I’m censoring out the bad stories.

Because everyone knows that marriages aren’t actually happy, right? All that stuff about marriage leading to happiness is a hollywood myth and couples who look happy are just good at hiding their misery. Anyone who buys into “happy ever after” is delusional, so I feel like a fake whenever I tell people the truth: R and I get along amazingly. Or I feel like I’m rubbing my happiness in their faces. So I try to tone it down–limit my mushy gushy posts, balance them out with tales of little frustrations we’ve encountered because it sounds more grounded. 

Now, please don’t comment with “Don’t worry what other people think” because that’s not my point. I’m just trying to be both transparent and sensitive to my audience. Sometimes it’s just more complicated than others. 

Part 3: So what I’m trying to say is, “I swear I’m not lying about being happy.” And if you’re a close friend or family member reading this, I can promise that I wouldn’t try to hide it from you if my relationship with R did sour. That doesn’t mean I’ll complain about it on facebook because that wouldn’t be fair to R, but I won’t stuff my troubles under the bed…errr, in the closet…err…under the rug! Hopefully rugs don’t have any innuendo in them…

As a counterpoint to this post, here is a breathtaking article thread about relationship envy and how we publicly present our relationships. I have re-read about 6 times in the past year because it’s so relevant. Essentially the bottom line is “don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outside.” But it goes even deeper than that. Check it out: http://apracticalwedding.com/2013/04/relationship-comparisons-online/ and then the writer’s followup later: http://apracticalwedding.com/2014/04/everyday-kindness/ 


Timeless Tales Issue #2 (Pandora’s Box) is LIVE!

This isn’t hot off the presses news anymore, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t forget to announce it. Since this is my personal blog, I want to write something more than a simple promo for our latest issue, but honestly, I’m a bit burned out. I’ve been doing full time data entry this month, which has meant I’ve thrown all my evenings and weekends into the magazine so I could publish in time. I always underestimate the headache of formatting the stories–when will someone make it possible to use “Tab” for indentations in online text fields? For some reason, when I copy/paste from Microsoft Word, the indents always get lost. Some sites include an indent button (thank you WordPress), but not all. Having to add the space manually every paragraph is such a pain. And sometimes I wonder if I should scrap having author bios because while I want to promote my writers, it takes forever to manually add links and check them all.


For this issue, I put more effort into a social media blitz the week before publishing, which meant designing a bunch of graphic promos. I must say, I’m absurdly proud of my seven facebook teaser pics, which I whipped together in 1-2 evenings. I’m trying to brand T.T. as modern and urban despite our whimsical theme, so I try to stay away from the typical “Ye Olde” and glitter visuals. I prefer either an infographic style or a rough/gritty style. It seems to have worked because the average views on my Facebook posts tripled that week! Even though TT has over 650 likes, my Facebook posts have typically only gotten 20-30 views, which is disappointingly low. Since my seven teaser graphics, I’ve consistently gotten 80-120 views on each. That gives me hope for reaching new readers.


My favorite of the facebook promos I created.

My favorite of the facebook promos I created.

I’m not quite ready to jump back into things yet, but in order to publish Issue #3 by late October, I’ll need to open submissions in early July, so looks like my break will be short lived. I am excited to see what writers do with The Twelve Dancing Princesses. It seems like a tricky fairy tale to retell.

The Perks of Boredom

Since arriving in Austin three months ago, I’ve found an amazing temp agency that hooks me up with assignments between interviews for permanent jobs. So far, I’ve spent full days packing jewelry in a warehouse, checking purses at a University track meet,  answering phones in offices that only get like 6 calls a day, and  my current assignment: data entry for a local real estate company.


The common thread between them all? They’re all mind numbingly boring.

As a creative intellectual, my mind rebels at stagnation. I need input. INPUT! (Short Circuit, anyone?). So I find workarounds to make the hours bearable. I listen to audiobooks and music while I do data entry. When I’m somewhere I can’t use my iPod, I will chat the ear off anyone around me. The receptionist jobs have been the best, though, because I can get mountains of Timeless Tales work done in between calls (don’t worry, they gave me permission to play on the internet!).

But beyond that, the boredom has freed my mind in ways I haven’t felt since I was in high school. My imagination used to be so sharp, but years of being surrounded by mentally stimulating college classes, friends, and activities has actually weakened my ability to access the daydreamy part of my mind. I could still be creative–I wrote several good short stories during those years–but I haven’t been able to immerse myself the way I once could.

This is particularly significant in regards to my novel. I may have written four drafts of it, but since I wrote draft #1 the summer before college, I haven’t given it the mental space it needs to develop properly. If I’m ever going to sell it, I need to live the scenes and hear the characters in my head before I can write them correctly. I used to rehearse scenes in class, while mowing the lawn, and before I fell asleep every night. I can’t say I want this to be my life long-term, but I’m glad I have a beautiful coping mechanism to deal with it.


Exclusive Freebie Offer For Writers

Professor SJ Murray

Professor SJ Murray

Update: We were having difficulties with the code earlier, but it should be working now. Leave me a comment if you have any trouble.

Your story’s structure makes or breaks your story & box office. It is your novel’s (or screenplay’s) foundation and framework. To help you nail your story structure, using the classic three act model, we are giving away FREE copies of an online course called Three Act What?.

Written by my friend, Dr. SJ Murray, it walks you through every step of how to make the bones of your story strong. SJ teaches writing at Baylor University’s Honors College and travels around the world offering classes and consultations in screenwriting, so she is quite the expert.

Just click HERE and use the code Q2014 to get your free copy now!phpThumb_generated_thumbnailjpg

Dear Canva: Where Have You Been All My Life?

Canva-Logo-1-250x200 Yesterday, I raved about how Wix is the only reason Timeless Tales is a reality. However, even with Wix, there’s still one element of my website I struggle with on a daily basis: Graphics.

Hands down, the biggest time sink running T.T. is trolling the internet for public domain images to crop/filter/layer into something that will hopefully give my website more personality and polish. It’s exhausting! Especially because I’ve never learned any design programs (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc.).

Considering Wix isn’t in the graphics business, it does a great job providing stock photos and clipart. However, it doesn’t let you customize its clipart much (no color swapping). Besides, this is an area where there is simply no such thing as enough.

Cue Canva! A free site I found just this week. Canva both supplies tons of customizable clipart/stock photos and is a tool to stick them together for projects. And don’t get me started on their font selection! Time for a website makeover!





531 x 230 Pandora's Box



Puss in Boots Cover



PussSlider 530x230 second


Before (cover page for TT’s facebook page):


imágenes-vintage-gratis-fondo - Copy



TT FB Cover Page

Before (TT’s facebook profile pic):





180 x 180 TT FB Profile Pic


I rest my case.

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