Tuesday, December 31, 2013

23 Things I Did Before Getting Engaged at 23

Today happens to mark one year since I got engaged at the age of 23. Fittingly, an article popped up yesterday titled “23 Things to do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23.” Now usually these types of articles can be cute, witty, and even provide you with some great things to put on your bucket list. This article though just left a bad taste in my mouth. That’s completely fine if you think 23 is too young to be engaged. If you want to be single and go off and do those things wonderful, go do them, but don’t put down the people that chose to get engaged at a young age.

Now I realize there are exceptions and there are many people out there who do rush into engagements and marriage at a young age without thinking. There are also those people, like myself, who have done many things already before the age of 23 and have reached the point that engagement and marriage is right for them. Additionally, why would being engaged/married stop you from doing those things in the article? One of the awesome things about having someone to spend the rest of your life with is you have someone TO DO those things with!

So in response to this article I give you the 23 things I did before I got engaged at 23:

1. Had my first piece of writing published: a poem in an anthology.
2. Attended a poetry convention in Orlando and received an award for my poetry.
3. Became Webmaster of my high school’s website.
4. Figured out my true religious path.
5. Went out of state (and out of my comfort zone) to college.
6. Designed a website for an international conference (and got a grant for it).
7. Interned for the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives.
8. Became a Spanish Tutor.
9. Became President of The Young Republicans and The Lion Ambassadors at Penn State MA.
10. Got a job as a lab technician at an archaeology lab.
11. Went on my first archaeological dig (and subsequently got lyme disease).
12. Started my undergraduate research at the Matson Museum of Anthropology at Penn State.
13. Designed my first museum exhibit (A discovery timeline on evolution).
14. Interviewed at my dream job: an exhibit designer for the Smithsonian (didn’t get it).
15. Completely re-configured my career plans and started working at Radius Technology Group.
16. Was accepted into the Geospatial Science Graduate Program at University of Maryland.
17. Moved into my first “real” apartment.
18. Received my Top Secret Clearance.
19. Was promoted to Project Control Specialist and Facility Security Officer.
20. Overcame my anxiety problems.
21. Started my own publishing company.
22. Published my first two books (Kindle format).
23. Went out of the country for the first time (Canada).

Now it’s your turn. I want to hear the 23 things that YOU have done before the age of 23 (or if you are younger, before the age you are now). Doesn’t matter if you are married, single, engaged, or in a relationship, list out your 23 accomplishments.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Evolution Made Easy

There are many people out there who deny the existence of evolution. They just flat out deny it, and then cite the Bible as the reason why it doesn’t exist. This never has, nor ever will be a valid argument. Evolution is something that we see around us every day. Animals, plants, and the entire earth are evolving every day at all different rates. The fact that we are still alive and breathing on this planet is a testament to our own evolution.

Let me break it down in simple terms that everyone can understand. First, let’s start with the definition of evolution: “a theory that the differences between modern plants and animals are because of changes that happened by a natural process over a very long time” (Merriam-Webster). Just from the definition we can see that this in fact a true process. You can even see the difference between plants and animals now and less than 100 years ago. To survive, living organisms must change to fit in with their environment. Adaptation is key to any survival and there is no denying that.

As far as human evolution goes it is the same. We have evolved from other hominids in order to adapt to our environment. As the years, climate, and environment changes man evolved into what we are now and we are still evolving. Many of you have seen the famous image of the ape gradually changing into a human (the image above). Where that is somewhat true it is much more extensive than that. Evolution isn’t linear. There isn’t just one ape that evolved into a lesser ape, that evolved into a hominid, that evolved into a humanoid, that evolved into the modern day man. It’s like any family tree: there are branches. There are some apes that continued to evolve into other types of apes and we see them today. Others evolved into hominids that quickly died out because they couldn’t survive in the environment. Even others evolved, adapted, and survived to create the humans that we now see every day (Tattersall).

The greatest example of the progress from ape to hominid is ardipithecus ramidus. I use this example mainly because I had the distinct pleasure of being taught by Dr. Alan Walker who was on the team with Tim White who discovered this hominid fossil. “Ardi” as he is referred to, has been hailed as one of the clearest examples of the link between apes and humans. Ardi was a bipedal hominid but he had a “hallux” which is the big toe that apes have for grasping trees. What Ardi shows is that at some point hominids were still in the trees but then adapted to walking on two feet. This reflects the change of environment 4.4 million years ago (which Ardi is dated to): that hominids had to adapt from climbing around in the trees to walking on flat plains (White).

That is of course a very basic explanation of human evolution but you get the point: evolution, even human evolution, is necessary for survival. To ignore or deny it really makes no sense as you are denying your own right to adapt to the still changing environment.


White, Tim D.; Asfaw, Berhane; Beyene, Yonas; Haile-Selassie, Yohannes; Lovejoy, C. Owen; Suwa, Gen; WoldeGabriel, Giday (2009). "Ardipithecus ramidus and the Paleobiology of Early Hominids". Science 326 (5949): 75–86.


“The Fossil Trail” by Ian Tattersall

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Drawing the Line

Two weeks ago I talked about blurred lines in my writing: how sometimes things get too real even in the fiction writing realm. Where I love the character of Loose and love her journey, I think it’s time to step away from her for a little while. I finally found the courage to write the catalyst for her whole existence: her rape at 16. Once again this is an example of me taking the things that happened to me and placing them into my writing. Once again it’s becoming a little too real.

I’ve come to a bit of a crossroads with her stories that consequently are also dramatized and expanded versions of my own stories. With the path that she’s going down it’s not going to end well. My path though completely turned around almost 3 years ago when I got over all my anxiety, issues, and emotional blockage. I finally started talking about my past and sharing with people those internal problems that before I only got across in my writing. That’s also when I started actually publishing my writing. So before when I said writing was my coping mechanism I was right; it has proved to be more healthy than otherwise.

At this point in time “Loose” is nowhere near ready to be published. In fact, I’ve been toying with the idea of leaving it unpublished. Even though in the last three years I’ve gotten a lot better at not bottling my emotions, I’m not sure I’m ready for the literary world to see that side of me. Instead, I’m going to finish up the current story of hers I’m working on and then let her sit for a while. I’ll let her figure out what course she wants to take: stay in this violent, complicated, and loveless life or move on to something more.

What this means is I’m heading back into one of my others worlds. After asking you all on my Facebook and Twitter it seems that most of you all would like to read more about Penn and Doyle from my first published work: “Dark Cell.” It has been about a year and a half since we visited them so it only seems fair that we see what they are up to. This new installment has the working title “Dark Hall” and centers on Penn and Doyle at University. Once again they find themselves in the middle of another case of murder, mystery, and magic.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Remote Sensing

No, I’m not talking about trying to sense where you’re remote control is in your living room, I’m talking about the new class I’m taking as part of my Geospatial Information Science (GIS) Master’s Program. The class is comprised of using software to process and analyze digital images from satellites. This actually may be one of my favorite classes so far. There is a fair amount of science and math behind it (especially when it comes to understanding the Electro Magnetic (EM) frequencies and the color spectrums. The formal definition of Remote Sensing is:

The science of gathering data on an object or area from a considerable distance, as with radar or infrared photography, to observe the earth or a heavenly body.

What’s really cool about Remote Sensing is it can be used for a multitude of disciplines. This week in class we discussed a few of the most common uses: crop analysis, deforestation analysis, fire restoration, land usage, and homeland security. Of course there are many other uses for Remote Sensing, like what I used it for in my undergrad: studying the landscape features of the Stonehenge area.

Many may have heard me talk about it before as part of my Landscape Archaeology class my junior year of college. My final was on the relationship of religion and landscape and I used Stonehenge as a model. Part of this was using those satellite images (like the sample LandSat image to the left) to show those henges and the other land features around them. By using this I was able to show how Stonehenge was set up as a journey to the afterlife, thus proving that religion can affect the landscape. For my current Remote Sensing class I’m thinking of expanding my old project for my final.

I’m excited to start playing around with the ENVI software for this class. To go from a very statistical heavy class it will be a nice change to play around with images and theories. Of course there is still a level of math involved in it (as with any GIS related class) but it isn’t the focal point. Additionally, this is software I haven’t used before and am anxious to get my hands on it.


remote sensing. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved December 06, 2013, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/remote sensing


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Blurred Lines

Everyone has coping mechanisms whether they are healthy or unhealthy. My coping mechanism is my writing. I can take horrible experiences/people I’ve encountered and fictionalize them. This can be a great way to get out all the bottled up emotions that I tend not to talk about. This can lead to something else though: blurring the line between fiction and reality.

Since I’ve been writing the short stories for “Loose” I’ve done just that: blurred my own reality. For these stories I take some of the horrible things that have happened to me and I fictionalize them. This allows me to work out some of my own issues while using a world that I can control. The problem with this is I recently lost sight of who I was in the process.

I was so caught up in these fictionalized accounts that for some reason I thought I was Lucy Quinn. This led me to start questioning my own identity. It has never happened to this extreme before. It really manifested itself the other day when I was at Target.

I bought myself a writing desk and was loading the box into my cart. This middle-aged man came up and asked if I needed any help. I smiled, declined, and then hoisted the box into my cart. He walked away and muttered the word “Dyke” under his breath. This stopped me in my tracks and I suddenly channeled Lucy Quinn and wanted to hit him. Instead though, I walked on.

Fast forward to me waiting in line to check out and the douche got behind me in line. I ignored that urge again and started smiling at the little boy in the line next to me. He smiled back at me and showed me his maze he finished in his coloring book, claiming it was “too easy” for him. As I moved forward in line I heard the man say something behind me. He said “Man I feel sorry for that kid.” It took me a few moments to realize why he said that. I hadn’t realized that this boy was the son of the lesbian couple that was checking out in that next aisle. This time I turned around and stared this man in the eyes. There were no words I wanted to say to him, no education, no reasoning – I wanted to punch him in the throat. Nothing else came to mind except that act. Then Sam kicked back in and realized I wasn’t about to be kicked out of Target or possibly arrested.

This is an extreme example of how those lines between fiction and reality get blurred for me. In this case if I hadn’t have snapped back I could’ve gotten into a world of trouble. These past couple days it’s become a little less innocuous – more just questioning my identity, if the labels that define who Lucy is also define me. The New Moon has set me on my right path though. I realize once again I shouldn’t feel the need to drop myself into labels or categories. I am Samantha Curtin, I am a writer who is in control of her own fictional world but am at the mercy of this very real one. And you know what? I’m okay with that. Sometimes I just need that reminder, that shove back into reality. Losing sense of reality can be a very scary thing at times.

Image URL: http://wallpoper.com/images/00/42/06/51/hands-blurry_00420651.jpg

Monday, December 2, 2013

Visages of Santa Claus

We all know him as that jolly guy in the red suit that clambers down your chimney to deliver your presents on Christmas morning. What you might not know is Santa Claus is not solely a Christian manifestation; in fact it is quite the opposite really. We know the American version of St. Nicholas, or Santa Claus, which originally came from the Dutch version called Sint Nikolaas or Sinterklaas. The Dutch settlers in New York brought this tradition (some even say cult) to America.

This version of Santa has given the current myth this current description:

A merry old man with red and white clothes. Has eight flying reindeer, later joined by Rudolph the red nosed reindeer. A home located on or near the North Pole. The habit of filling socks or stockings with presents on the night of December 24th. Also the habit of entering houses through the chimney.

The most important source for our modern day version of Santa Claus comes from the Christmas poem Visit From St. Nicholas by Clement C. Moore. Written for his children in 1823, the family poem was later published for the general public and included what became the now famous picture of Santa Claus by Thomas Nast. Actually the old "cult" of Santa Claus incorporates many traditions: Christian and Pagan, Old Catholic, Scandinavian, Dutch, German, and English. There are though many other visages of the jolly (and some not so jolly) old man from different cultures.

Grandfather Frost is the Russian equivalent to Santa and has strong Pagan ties. He is usually accompanied by his granddaughter Snegurochka (Snow girl), who helps Grandfather Frost provide a New Year party for children as well as bringing them gifts. He wears a long fur coat covered by bright beautiful cloth (blue or red) trimmed in fur. According to new tradition, Grandfather Frost and Snegurochka live in the town Veliky Ustug from which they begin their New Year journey by troika of white horses. Today Grandfather Frost is connected to New Year celebrations, but before 1917 he was seen more around Christmas time. Grandfather Frost and Snegurochka visit children asking them to sing or read a poem, sometimes asking if they were good and giving them presents as a reward.

The finish have Joulupukki which literally means: Yule Buck. This old pagan tradition remained strong in Finland but got a Christian taste to it as time went by (like most things it seems). The ancient pagans used to have festivities to ward the spirit of darkness who wore goat skins and horns. In the beginning this creature didn't give presents but demanded them. In fact the "Christmas Goat," as some referred to it, was an ugly creature and frightened children. It is unclear how this personality was transformed into the benevolent Father Christmas. Nowadays the only remaining feature is the name. Now Joulupukki consists of many personages with roles partly Christian, partly pagan: A white-bearded saint, the Devil, demons, house gnomes, whatnot. Nowadays the Joulupukki of Finland resembles the American Santa Claus.

Norway (my favorite, go figure)
Now in Norway we have two different visages, if you will, of comparability to Santa: Nisse and Julenissen. Julenissen is a specific form of a nisse that only comes out around Yule (Jul).

The Norwegian Nisse differs from both Santa Claus and St. Nicholas. In modern Norway we actually have two types of "nisser". The name Nisse most likely comes from St. Nicholas. But nisser - which are elves (or gnomes) are old figures which existed long before the birth of Christ (and that my grandmother has all over her house in the form of figurines). There are several types of "nisser" in Norway.

The most common is the Fjøsnisse (don't ask me to pronounce it, lol) which is a nisse who takes care of the animals on the farms. The Fjøsnisse is very short and often bearded and lives in a barn or a stable. He wears clothes of wool and often has a red knitted hat (seen above). The Fjøsnisse often plays tricks on people (I grew up listening to tales of why to beware of them). Sometimes he will scare people by blowing out the lights in the barn or he will scare the farm dog at night. He can become very friendly with the people that live on the farm, but one should never forget to give him a large portion of porridge on Christmas Eve - or else he will play tricks for example move the animals around in the barn, braid the horses' mane and tail, and other tricks like that.

Like I stated above, we also have a Christmas/Yule nisse (julenissen) which in most homes is more or less identical to Santa Claus. The Julenisse brings presents to all the nice children on Christmas Eve. He is not as shy as Santa though, since the julenisse delivers the presents himself. He does not come down the chimney in the middle of the night but will literally knock on your door and walk in.

In Ireland they have more or less the same as the British or Americans. Daidí na Nollag (Daddy of Christmas) in Irish, is known in Ireland as Santy or Santa. He brings presents to children in Ireland, which are opened on Christmas morning. It is traditional to leave a mince pie and a bottle or a glass of Guinness along with a carrot for Rudolph, although in recent years Guinness has been replaced with milk and mince pies with cookies (spoil sports).

Black Peter is popular in the Netherlands and is very similiar to the darker version that Finland has. In the folklore and legends of the Netherlands and Belgium, Zwarte Piet (meaning Black Pete) is a companion of Saint Nicholas whose yearly feast in the Netherlands is usually celebrated on the evening of 5 December (Sinterklaas-avond, that is, St. Nicholas Eve) and 6 December in Belgium, when they distribute sweets and presents to all good children.

The characters of Zwarte Pieten appear only in the weeks before Saint Nicholas's feast (which is today the 6th), first when the saint is welcomed with a parade as he arrives in the country (usually by boat). Zwarte Pieten mainly amuses children, and scatters pepernoten, Kruidnoten and "strooigoed" (special sinterklaas-candies) for those who come to meet the saint as he visits stores, schools, and other places.

According to the more modern Saint Nicholas legend, Zwarte Piet is a servant who tavels with Saint Nicholas. In some versions, Saint Nicholas is said to have liberated a young slave named Peter, who decided to serve Nicholas. Zwarte Piet is today commonly depicted as a black person in the colorful pantaloons, feathered cap and ruffles of a Renaissance European page, a tradition that comes from a children's book published in 1850. Many feel that this visage is racist, though.

"Santa Claus Origins and FAQ" Christmas Connection http://lnstar.com/mall/main-areas/santafaq.htm
"Christmas in Norway" http://www.stavanger-web.com/jul/christma.htm (Image from there as well)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Coming to the End of the Beginning

There are officially 5 days (including today) left in November. To say that this month was a busy one is an understatement. Between dealing with some family problems, accepting the fact that I was going to get a B in my Spatial Statistics class, and the stressful month of work, I was ready to pull my hair out. Through it all though I kept up with my month long writing sprint; some days I wrote dozens of pages and others I wrote none.

Pretty much writing “Loose” kept my sanity. I was able to take all these problems of the month (and even the past) and throw them into these stories. I ended up focusing more so on her 20s than any other age range because I feel more connected to her at that stage of her life. I attempted to write about 16 year old Loose but found myself having a hard time with it. Part of this may have to do with the catalyst for the whole series being very difficult for me to write, or more so to get in the mind frame to write.

Instead I focused on what that situation had turned her into. Lucy Quinn is one of the most intense characters that I’ve ever written. She is an outlaw, loose cannon, fighter, and lover. She fascinates me and scares the crap out of me at the same time. We’ve even got into some fights about the direction of the stories (which I outline in my last post “Loose and Stubborn”). All in all I love her and couldn’t ask for a better companion for this past month.

Most of you know that I have been writing the bulk of her stories in long hand. I’m currently at 123 pages (This does not include front and back since I’m using wide rule so one page front and back really equals one page typed) in my notebook which translates to about 20 stories. I supplemented these 123 pages of long hand with 6 short stories typed up (when the hand cramps set in). All together I’ve written about 155 pages of Loose’s stories and I’m continuing on.

My goal is to finish up the last 18 pages of my notebook by Saturday. That is not the end of Loose though. Her story is one that is multi-layered and could go on for hundreds upon hundreds of stories. Honestly I’m not sure if I’ll publish all of them, or any of them really. In this process I’ve also learned that Lucy an extension of myself, I very intense, somewhat crazy extension but an extension nonetheless. She is a poster child for fighting back and standing up for yourself – a cause that sometimes I find myself lacking on.

So until I decide what it is I’m going to do with all these stories (which could continue and continue for all I know), I thought I’d share a few of lines from my favorite “Loose” stories:

Fight Night
“Knew there was a reason we kept you around,” Tom said kissing her on the forehead and squeezing her tight, “You’re a goddess.”
“Yeah you better bow to me… I got my pretty face messed up for you,” she smiled through her now black eye and bruised neck and cheek.

“So you’re adding Good Samaritan to your resume? Does that go before or after murderer?”
A smile passed her lips, “We could go on with this witty banter all night but I got what I came for.”
“What was that exactly, the truth?”
“More like fewer lies…”

News (aka the story I had to wrestle Lucy over)
Drew then just started laughing, “Shit…”
“What?” she cracked a smile, sitting up.
“How messed up are we in the head? Could we really pull this off? The two of us?”

“Usual state?” she laughed, “Not even sure what that means anymore. Sometimes I wonder if things were easier when we were just the bad guys.”

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Loose and Stubborn

Lucy Quinn is Stubborn: that should be the title of my newest short story. Yes in fact the character out ranked the writer in this case. Lucy “Loose” Quinn is my newest obsession in my writing world. She is fierce, strong, smart, caring, and did I mention stubborn? Usually I can coerce my characters into doing what I want; I can lead the story in the direction my mind has thought of. There are times when I deviate from that but for the most part my stories start, climax, and end where I want them too. Well, there’s a reason why this short story series is called “Loose.” Lucy is a loose cannon. If she wants something she goes after it no matter what the implications are. If someone hurts any of the ones she loves she barely hesitates to slit their throats.

This has led many of her short stories to go in completely different directions then I first envisioned. In this particular short story of hers titled “News,” she sure has a lot of news for me. See her best friend who she’s known since she was 16 (she's now 31), has lived with since she was 21, and who plays a pivotal role in her outlaw life/family, decided that he was in love with her. Now the two of them getting together is just a bad idea, not to mention the fact that she doesn’t like men. They both have the same emotional issues, and at this point in their lives have both met heartache and then some. Essentially they’re way too comfortable with each other so they think they are meant to be together.

Lucy is convinced that Drew is not only her best friend but her soul mate. Drew is convinced he is in love with Lucy and has been for a long time. They’re both idiots. They are too caught up in their own heads and reeling from their recent losses (And from Lucy getting shot and almost bleeding to death) to think straight right now. They think they should be with each other because it’s something familiar; they don’t have to try and find someone. The problem is no amount of me trying to rationalize this is helping. As of now they’re drifting closer and closer together. It’s going to happen and when it does it might be something that’s great and lasts for a little while but eventually the relationship will implode.

That has been my inner struggle today: arguing with my very fictional character about her life decisions. Once again though she is too stubborn to listen to me; she will continue on this path. I’m just waiting with bated breath (as I furiously write) to see how long this lasts. My guess: one of them is going to end up very hurt or possibly even dead from blowback of their relationship.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Technology: Archaeology’s Biggest Hindrance

Technology is all around us: computers, Smart Phones, MP3 players, cars equipped with smart technology, and the list goes on and on. There are very few things in this day and age that don’t require some level of technology. This is both a good thing as well as a bad thing. Today, as I sit here on a computer that is equipped to do a plethora of tasks for me yet all the drives I usually access are down. This has rendered me unable to do my job. The very thing that allows me to do my job is hindering me. Now of course no amount of cursing or banging of my computer will help so I’m sitting here pondering the use of technology.

The use of shared drives, clouds, external hard drives, and even regular hard drives is an everyday occurrence in almost every job. We store massive amounts of information (classified information as it pertains to my job) and yet when these drives stop working, we can’t access it. So what happens if there is some kind of huge destruction of our world and all technology and media is wiped out? Then all the information is useless. For example, what if you have hard drives filled with data and databases of every news clipping dating back to the 1700s. How will we view it? If computers are wiped out, DVD players destroyed, other technologies destroyed; how will we get this information? The answer: we can’t.

So what does this mean when it comes to preserving our past for future generations? Well that’s the issue at hand. Let’s say our cities here in the US are reduced to rubble; come a thousand years from now archaeologists come along and want to learn about what our society was about. Well unlike many ancient societies, our ways of life are immortalized on disks and drives in trillions of gigabytes of data. But what’s the use if they can’t be viewed and examined? Of course archaeologists can find about our ways of life by artifacts just like past societies have been examined but how about all the news? How will they tell how our government was run? How will they even know that we had a government?

Let’s look at the Ancient Mesopotamians. We have tons of records on them that have lasted thousands of years. What’s the reason for this? They carved everything into stone. Stone beats technology every time because stone can survive brutal attacks by neighboring kings and regimes. Not only did they write out the list of kings, their economic standings, social hierarchies, and resources into stone but they also would carve scenes in history into stone.

There are many depictions of great battles carved into stone pillars on temples, in pots, and sometimes even into the ground itself. We can then see what was happening at that time and get a much better understanding of the culture. This is something that we are lacking in our society. Now am I going to take up stone carving instead of updating my Facebook status or tweeting? Well let’s be real probably not but it gives us all something to think about.

One thing we do have is our monuments. We have great monoliths like the Washington monument, the WW II memorial, other war memorials and countless engraving on plaques around our nation describing what had happened. This is our ticket to immortality as a society. We need more of this! More physical documentation near important sites around the country that will be a permanent fixture and will hopefully be preserved for future generations. We need to stop this constant inputting of data in databases and drives to “preserve” it. Chances are it won’t be preserved as well as something that is carved into the ground or on the side of a building.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Month Long Writing Sprint

There are many different writing challenges that circulate around the web this time of the year. The most notorious is the National Novel Writing Month or as it’s commonly known: NaNoWriMo. Every year I ponder participating in this, thinking that it would give me the drive to finish another novel. Then I realized that it has too many rules for me and that’s not how my writing works.

Among the rules are not having any of it already worked on. That poses a problem for me. I have tons of ideas in my head and on paper for two of my worlds I’m working on: Summer’s Hollow, and my untitled world featuring raw, unhinged Lucy “Loose” Quinn. Problem is I want to work off of some stories that I already have written; I don’t want to start something completely new. This is hindering me from participation in NaNoWriMo which saddens me because I know I’m gonna get jealous of all of you who are getting your ideas down during this month.

My solution: a month long writing sprint. My rules: there are no rules. Write as much as you want about whatever you want. I don’t care if you have half of it done already or none of it done; I just want to see how much you CAN get done. I have set a goal for myself though in the form of my notebook pictured above. There are 270 pages there that I plan to fill up. Yep that’s right, I’m literally going to write it all in long hand.

For this writing sprint I’ve decided to tackle Lucy’s story (and hopefully give it a name). I’ve explored her time as a teenager growing up around crime and corruption; I’ve explored her early 20s as she made a name for herself in the boxing world; I’ve explored when her life came crashing down the same time she became a felon; I’ve explored her life in prison. Now I want to explore her life in her later twenties – when she’s out of prison and trying to settle into her life. I’m not sure yet where her life is going but I figured this writing sprint would be the perfect opportunity to explore that.

So I’m asking my readers to pick their poison: feel free to join in NaNoWriMo or my Month Long Writing Sprint or heck make up your own writing challenge. No matter what I want to hear about it! Starting November 1 – 30th I’ll be posting updates via my Facebook Author Page and I want you all to stop by and update me on your challenges as well! On Friday November 1st I’ll sound the horn and we’ll all take off writing in whatever capacity you choose. Looking forward to hearing the updates along the way and the end results!

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Mug Project Updates

Most of you know that there have been a lot of changes going on in my life lately so some things have been put on the back burner. Well, now that I'm starting to fall back into a normal schedule it's time to bring some of those back burner items to the forefront. The first order of business: The Mug Project. Next month (since October is filled with Samhain posts) I'm planning on posting all the images, blog posts, and emails I've gotten regarding The Mug Project. It will be one great big mug extravanganza!

If you've gotten any new mugs since I started this project, or haven't sent me your mugs yet, you have until October 31st to get them to me. Also, something I waited to mention until now: I'm doing a mug giveaway with the post! So stay tuned and watch out for the post so you can see all the lovely mugs I've gotten to see and maybe even win a new one of your very own! I'm excited to see what new mugs you all have gotten and any that I have yet to see!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Everyday Anthropology

When it comes down to it, my passion ultimately comes back to anthropology. No matter what discipline I’m studying or working with, it’s all driven by my love of this holistic discipline. My writing tends to draw a lot from it and even when I’m editing documents for the government I use a certain about of my anthropological expertise to get at what the writer was trying to say. The basis of anthropology, understanding how people interact with each other within cultures, the imprint of the cultures, and the biological aspect of what makes a person who they are (physically and mentally), is used in my everyday life.

As part of my Geospatial Information Science (GIS) Master’s Program I get to explore more about my anthropological background through my projects. For my current class, Spatial Statistics, my final is titled: Spatial Patterns of Bigfoot Sighting in Pennsylvania. In this project I’m creating a map of PA that shows where all the sightings are. Then I will run various statistical analyses using ArcGIS and CrimeStat software to determine distribution and/or clustering of these sightings. With this analysis I can then determine if these sightings show up more in populated or less populated areas, what kind of land they show up on (woods, farmland, suburbs, or urban), and if they are more prevalent during any particular time of the year. Here’s a little sneak peek at the introduction to my paper:

Bigfoot is a creature that has been sighted for over 92 years, yet has eluded cryptozoologists for most of that time. Evidence such as footprints, supposed droppings, and sighting have been found, but nothing to definitively prove this creature’s existence. This evidence has been wide spread and collected from the northeast, to the northwest, and up into Canada. Perhaps the most famous of these sighting it the 1967 Patterson film which depicts what appears to be a large ape-like creature walking through the woods. This film has been bombarded by scientists and videographers alike as either a hoax or definitive evidence that Bigfoot does in fact exist.

The fact of the matter is though, if there are all these sightings, why is it that we still can’t prove the existence? To explore this more the use of geospatial and statistical analysis must be utilized. We can use different GIS tools to determine if the sightings are evenly distributed, if they are prominent in highly populated or not as populated areas, if they are specific to any particular season, or if they are specific to any particular kind of land (i.e. forest, farm, urban, etc). To determine this, the study area that will be utilized for this project is the state of Pennsylvania. The reason this state will be used is because it has a great number of sightings as well as a variety of different types of land to study.

In addition to using my anthropological background for my Grad School projects, it crops up in my newest writing project. Currently I’m working on the sequel to Summer’s Hollow (SH). The working title is Return to Summer’s Hollow (RtSH) but I’m still playing around with it. RtSH takes place 13 years after the first one left off. Rylie is now grown up, freshly finished with her Doctorate Degree in Archaeology, starting a new job as a Professor of Marine Archaeology at the University of Maine, and she is engaged. All in all she is living the dream that she always wanted. Of course though, I write horror and following Joss Whedon’s lead, none of my characters remain happy for long.

Upon returning home for the long weekend, Rylie finds out that the Pascal House has been torn down to make way for a new dairy farm. This of course stirs up the Bloody Friday legend again and the town is thrown back into the mayhem it experienced 13 years before. This time around though, there is a new twist. Throughout this novel you’ll see more archaeology and anthropology than the first book. Of course this is all woven into the thrills, chills, dust, blood, and bones that worked so well in SH. I have to say as much as I’m in love with my first novel, I believe RtSH will be ten times better.

Image is courtesy of the Patterson Film shot by Roger Patterson on October 20, 1967

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Summer's Hollow Q&A

As part of All Hallow’s Grimm 2013 over at Pagan Culture, I’m giving away a signed copy of my book. Magaly’s post for the giveaway entitled: “Summer’s Hollow on the Bayou” really captures the essence of my book. As part of her post and consequently my giveaway, Magaly asked her readers to ask me about my writing process. I got some great questions (that I answered in the comments on her blog) that I wanted to share with you:

Q. Is the town based upon a real town?

A. The town is actually a hybrid of a couple of towns from both fiction and reality. My best friend from middle school grew up in this small farming town in Washington State. I wanted to embody that with the charm of a Puritan town in the Northeast.

Q. How does previous readings/characters fit into your life/writings… and do you have a favorite horror book or writer you are inspired by?

A. I draw a lot from both literature and pop-culture in Summer’s Hollow. I have some references to Buffy, Scream, Carrie, and various other horror movies/novels. I adore Poe, King, and Cornwell for their abilities to paint vivid pictures in your mind. Weirdly enough though the biggest inspiration for Summer’s Hollow came from my favorite novel of all time: “The Scarlet Letter.” I carry a copy of that book around with me wherever I go.

Q. What is the approximate length of time difference between poor Mary’s predicament and where Rylie’s story starts?

A. There’s about 200 years difference between Mary and Rylie’s existence.

Q. Did you become a reader at a young age? Were you drawn to any certain genres or did you read everything you could get your hands on?

A. I did! I started reading when I was young and found myself mostly drawn to fantasy and scifi growing up. Once I got to an that age I could read at a higher level I started to read the classic novels. I also found that I had a love for Shakespeare. Of course my love always lies with horror. Essentially you hit the nail on the head: I read whatever I could get my hands on – except romance. Never could get into it.

Q. Do you find yourself meeting people and filing them away to become future characters?

A. This happens all the time and not just with characters, but settings, or even events. I find myself participating in things and thinking “this would be great in my story…” A lot of the times I see people that have a unique feature (physically or otherwise) and I find myself enthralled by it and have to put it into a story. Sometimes this does come off as a little creepy if I’m just staring a people. People watching is one of my favorite activities.

Q. How do your characters come into existence? Do you chose them or do they choose you?

A. This kind of goes in line with the last question. I definitely find qualities in people to use for my characters but ultimate it’s as I write that my characters become who they are. They do in fact most of the time choose me. This is especially true about their names. For example in my second published work: “Deal with the Devil” I was going to name my main character Kris (before she turned into the vampire Aer) but she decided that she was going to be named Jordan. I found myself writing a scene between her and a customer and they called her Jordan. I had to stop and realize that it meant that was her name now. Though in that case the point was really her name didn’t matter before she became a vampire.

If any of my readers have any other questions please feel free to ask them in the comments below!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Picking Up the Pieces

This morning I was looking at my blog and I realized the last post I wrote was back on September 27th. I wrote about what the word normal is. Well the past 16 days have been nothing close to normal for me. The reason I've been scarce on the blog scene (besides my posts over on the Samhain's Sirens page) is because I've fallen a bit into a funk during this government shutdown. I figured if I wrote anything it would either be a) bitching about Congress, b) complaining about how I'm losing money, or c) a horrible bloody short story to vent my feelings.

All those feeling though of sadness, anger, and anxiety have been replaced by apathy. Never in my life have I felt so apathetic. I've found a numbness has just washed over me as I remain waiting in the wings for Congress to get its act together. This apathy isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's allowed me to just continue with what I'm doing and figure out how to supplement what I've lost by being out of work for this long.

So what have I been doing during this Congressional tantrum? Well while this would've been a great time to get to work on Return to Summer's Hollow I've found myself lacking inspiration. Instead I binge watched Sons of Anarchy for about a week and a half in between going to visit my Dad who is having health issues. Let me just say if you haven't watched Sons of Anarchy go to Netflix and start watching now. I'm pretty stuck in my ways on what my favorite shows are but this show definitely breaks into my top 3 all time favorite shows. It has also given me the inspiration to write some new short stories that deviate away from my usual horror genre and to the crime/corruption genre (which I dip into in my first book: Dark Cell).

As far as work is concerned, I've been able to pick up a couple of hours at my old company to at least pay off some bills. My book sales for Summer's Hollow have been slowly growing so that's another source of at least spending money (and we all know when I say that I mean coffee money). I'm better off than a lot of people out there since thankfully Grant is private sector. Still, being a contractor and therefore not being paid unless I work, we are hurting during this time. Let's face it Grad School, a Wedding, and a house aren't exactly cheap things. I'm hanging in there, just feeling very numb to all of it.

I've lost all faith in the leaders of this country to be quite honest. But life must go on. I've got plenty of things to keep me occupied during this stalemate and I know the financial stuff will work itself out. Until then I'll just keep working out for obscene amounts each day and keeping my head buried in my eternal loop of Sons of Anarchy episodes and my new short story series.

Friday, September 27, 2013

What is Normal?

This is a question I ask myself a lot. I have never considered myself “normal” and don’t think I ever would. In reality though, what does normal mean? We throw around phrases like “the normal girl next door”, “normal teenager”, “normal business man”, and so on. In this case normal almost has the connotation of being boring.

The fact is, what is normal in one society may not be the norm in another. Normal among the indigenous people of Papua New Guinea is to live in mud huts and hunt and gather your food. Essentially the word normal then becomes obsolete. It’s based on perspective and has neither good nor bad connotations.

This being said, I’ve noticed a trend with my characters: none of them are “normal” in their worlds. This is of course if we go by the definition of normal off dictionary.com: “Usual: conforming to the usual standard, type, or custom.” Most of my characters go out of their way to not be normal and in some cases places in a situation that pummels the normalcy out of them. In the midst of all my characters, perhaps the most normal is Penn from “Dark Cell.” He is a typical Gorgon teenager who has powers. In the mystical land I made up, where everyone had magical powers, he is the norm. What sets him apart is his quest to save Ness from being executed.

In Summer’s Hollow the word normal comes up a handful of times. Rylie talks about her less than normal family, her not so normal hobbies, and of course the fact that her life gets turned upside down when the town is attacked by dark spirits. In the new installment (which I’m currently working on) explores more into that feeling of normalcy or lack thereof.The sequel takes place 13 years after the first book. Rylie is now in her career, has found her true love, and has all around moved passed what had happened in the first book. She thinks she is finally normal once again. That is until she journeys back to Summer’s Hollow for a long weekend. Interestingly enough the setting of Summer’s Hollow itself is referred to as a “normal small farm town” but once again has deep, dark secrets that set it apart from other “normal towns.”

Emma Carmichael is pretty much the embodiment of what is not normal. The very fact that the series is called “Chronicles of a Freak” tells you that nothing about her is normal. In her world there are monsters, spirits, demons, and all other things that get bump in the night. The problem is there are only a couple of people that actually believe in those things. As a result she has made it her mission to save the ignorant while somehow still maintaining her life. We see the biggest impact when she is in high school. There are times where she does try to be the normal teenager: goes out on dates, attends school functions, and joins the volleyball team. It seems though every time that she tries to get involved “things” crop up out of nowhere. She takes the new boy in school out to a movie festival – they’re attacked by a monster. She has her first sexual encounter - it's broken up by a venegeful spirit. All of these impeded her from living out that so called normal life.

These are just some examples from my writing. I’m interested to see everyone else take on normal or not so normal characters in other books.

The image above is from http://youthvoices.net/discussion/normal which is a really poignant post from a teenager on what normal is.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Where in the World is Sam?

I know you all have been thinking it. Well to ease your minds, I have not been sucked into a black hole or have been eaten by zombies. The real world has just hit me a little hard the past month (in both good and bad ways) – hence the blog hiatus. The good news: things are looking up!

Last week I started a new job where I’m editing classified documents for the Defense Security Services (DSS). So far I love it – especially the commute since I’m going against traffic. I’ve realized that sometimes I enjoy editing more so than writing (in the technical space at least). I love getting to play around with word choice, grammar, and sentence structure. What is even greater about my job is it’s all classified information. This means I get to feel ultra-cool with my CAC card and access to different systems. Of course this also means most of the documents I edit I can’t talk about with you guys.

In addition to the new job, I’m also doing consulting work for my former employer, taking Spatial Statistics for Grad School, planning the wedding, and something I know my readers will like: working on the sequel to Summer’s Hollow. Between all of this I’m sticking with my writing, work outs, and of course my favorite TV shows. Sometimes I find I work best when I am so busy. In fact, I don’t know what I’d do if I wasn’t busy!

Speaking of busy, Summer’s Hollow is doing great! At this point I’ve broken even with what I put into the book. It was a labor of love and I’m glad that everyone seems to be enjoying it so far. If you haven’t yet gotten your copy, head over to Amazon to purchase either the eBook or print version. Also, just like last year, I’m participating in Samhain’s Sirens! Starting October 1st there will be tons of blog posts, crafts, recipes, song, folklore, and giveaways. So head on over to the Samhain's Sirens page to keep updated!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Summer's Hollow is Here!

Happy Friday the 13th! Today's the day a lot of you have been waiting for: Summer's Hollow is available! To say I am doing a happy dance is an understatement. I've been waiting for this day for many years and I can't wait for you all to get your hands on it! Below are the three different way to order it.

Kindle/Print Version on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0615804861

Print Version on CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/4249379 

Signed Print Version: Send me an email if you're interested and I will send you a Paypal Invoice.

If you have any questions, comments, or just want to tell me how much you love Summer's Hollow please feel free to email me: curtinall89[at]gmail[dot]com. Happy Haunting! ;)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Novel vs. The Short Story

Yesterday on my Author Page I posed the question:  Which do you prefer to read: novels, novellas, or short stories? I was expecting to have a smattering of answers but I noticed that most people said that they prefer the novel. There were different reasons given for liking the novel such as getting lost in a longer story and being emotionally involved with the characters. A couple of people said they don't have a preference and I would put myself in that group.

My good friend Pherin I think said it best: "A good story is a good story regardless of its length." That's exactly what I strive to produce when I write: a good story no matter the length. The fact is, when it comes to writing, I prefer short stories. When it comes to reading, I like reading pretty much anything if I can get sucked into it. The mark of a good writer is to suck the readers in no matter if the story is three pages long or five hundred pages long. 

Summer's Hollow is my first full length novel but I prefer writing shorter stories even if they are part of a larger series. Now that Summer's Hollow is published and set to be released September 13th, I have already started to work on the sequel (hey it's a horror story what did you expect?). What I am debating though is what length to make it? Do I spend years crafting another long novel (the first one took eight years) or do I treat it more like a novella or even a couple short stories put together? For the time being I'm leaning more towards another novel since I do have a lot of ideas; surely I'd be able to fill up a couple hundred pages.

I've joked since I was younger that I wanted to be the next Stephen King: to write novels and short stories. The feeling of having my full length novel in my hands is one of the highlights of my life; it's something I haven't felt when writing and publishing short stories as eBooks. Of course the biggest change is that it is print. Perhaps I'll feel different if I published a short story anthology in print? I've been musing the idea of adding a few more stories to "Deal with the Devil" and publishing it in print. 

Regardless of the questions going on in my brain you can bet that I'll be writing many more short stories and maybe even a few more novels. All I can hope is that my faithful readers are enjoying my stories no matter what length they usually prefer. In the end if one person likes my writing I can go to sleep happy. 

The photo above is of two of my favorite books: An anthology of Poe works and a Scarpetta Novel by Patricia Cornwell.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

This is Madness...

Most of us are taught from a very young age not to copy other people's work. In first grade you wouldn't take another student's Popsicle stick puppet and claim it was yours. In sixth grade you wouldn't copy spark notes and claim it was a book report. In college you wouldn't copy and paste a scholarly article and claim you had some brand new theory. So the question is, as an adult on social media, why would you claim something is yours when it isn't?

You would think this would all be common sense: that if you shared something from someone else you would attribute it to them. It's really not that hard to add a sentence or even just a few words explaining where you got it from. As a writer, blogger, and a decent human being it leaves a bad taste in my mouth when I see people blatantly claiming other people's art, writing, or even ideas as their own.

Yes, I realize that sometimes it's not done intentionally but doing a simple Google search can save you a lot of grief. There are times when I find passages or quotes that explain ideas covering the topic much better than I can. The simple solution is to put that passage in quotes and write a short citation on where I found that. I use quotes a lot on my social media pages and it takes me maybe 2 extra minutes to properly attribute them.

So here's my plea to my readers: if you are sharing something that isn't yours take that extra few minutes and give the originator credit. In addition if you know of someone who is plagiarizing whether intentionally or otherwise point it out to them. Lastly, if you know of people who are constantly stealing others' ideas, artwork, or writing, report them. We can't let this run rampant; as social media grows bigger and bigger it is my fear that it will.

The image above is from the blog: http://stopiptheft.blogspot.com.au/. Visit the blog to learn more about plagiarism on Facebook and other social media. (see what that so hard?)

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Wait is (Almost) Over!

After eight years of writing, two rewrites, three complete edits, four separate pairs of eyes, and one tired writer, Summer's Hollow is OFFICIALLY in publishing mode! Now I know you all are thinking: that I'm the girl who cried wolf here after what happened this past May. This time though, it's for real! I can't thank my friends and family enough for their support (especially my fiance who dealt with my breakdowns and torching my failed attempt at publishing).

As it turns, out my failed first attempt was probably the best thing that ever happened to Summer's Hollow. During the last rewrite I got to know my characters better, had the chance to scare the readers more, and added some essential pieces that were missing to the back story. All in all I am even more proud of how great it has turned out and can't wait for you all to read it! (Seriously I'm bouncing in my seat right now while typing this). So without further ado I give you the OFFICIAL release date of my first full length and print novel, Summer's Hollow:

                           Friday, September 13th, 2013!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Spirit Journal

As a writer, I have many journals with ideas for stories, lists for things for school and work, and wedding planning. Perhaps my favorite of my journals is my spirit journal (yeah yeah I know it's a little cutesy but I like the bones). This is the journal that I write down every spirit encounter that I have. Lately I've been writing in it practically every other day. I'll write anything from doors opening and closing by themselves to full bodies apparitions like the one I experienced last night. As part of the Samhain's Sirens Blog Party in October I will be writing a post about these spirit encounters. Today, I want to give you all a preview.

As Fall approaches and the weather changes I've found that spirit activity tends to pick up. The past couple of days I've seen a influx of spirits around me. Last night was the icing on a cake. I encountered one of the more creepier of spirits that even gave me the chills. Yesterday was the annual Corn Roast at my Grandparent's church which is the church we're getting married in.

It's a very old church built in the mid 1800s so it has its share of ghost stories. The most popular is of a young girl who hung herself in the basement because she didn't want to be married off. I've seen her once before when I ran the haunted house at the church when I was younger - thought she was one of the kids who was going through the haunted house. Of course once I followed her to scold her not to venture into the closet in the basement hallway and she disappeared as soon as I went to touch her shoulder. Last night I believe saw her again; it left me with a chill that I still feel this morning.

The bathrooms of the church are in the basement and are kind of creepy all by themselves but last night they were even more so. I had finished using the bathroom and was washing my hands when a coldness settled around me. Usually it wouldn't be that odd for the basement to be cool but just moments before it had been humid and sticky; I almost welcomed the coldness until the next thing happened. As I leaned up from washing my hands I saw someone dart behind me but I felt no movement. The bathroom is pretty cramped so if someone was there they would've brushed against me.

This figure went into the last stall and I heard a bang as the door shut. I dried my hands off and slowly crept down to the stall looking beneath to see if there was anyone. I saw nothing so I just shrugged it off and started to leave. Then the door banged back open, hitting the old radiator, and I looked to see a dark figure standing parallel to the open door. I couldn't tell if it was a girl or a boy as the features weren't very defined and the hair was shoulder length. The figure moved forward and just stared at the wall. I stood there not moving just watching as the figure kid of teetered on the spot.

In my mind I was reminded of the scene in The Ring 2 when Samara stood by the wall scratching the paint off. This caused me to half expect the figure to turn and make some creepy face at me. She (I'm assuming it was the girl) turned around to face the wall that the radiator was at and then promptly vanished. I walked over to where she had been and peered inside the stall. There was nothing and that chill in the air was gone, replaced by the sticky air.

Sadness washed over me during the encounter and only left after I climbed the steps back up to the fellowship hall. Whoever that child was seemed in a lot of pain which is something I don't remember those years ago when I had encountered the girl in the basement hallway. This of course is one of many of my regular encounters that will only double with the approach of Samhain.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Conversations with Mug People

Yes I know, the blog has been very mug-centric lately but I'm just having way too much fun with The Mug Project! Not only do I get to see inside people's cabinets but I'm meeting new friends and having great conversations. One new friend in particular is Kaz, the woman may all know as the Cheeky Witch. She actually designs mugs (and other merchandise) and sells them. 

She had some great insight on the project. We've been corresponding through email and yesterday she was talking about her giveaway on her site. Here's what she had to say not only about mugs, but about her mug giveaway:
I cannot believe the response I have had - over a thousand so far - so many people want to win the mug. That particular mug is definitely the favourite one of all my designs (closely followed by "Hell Hath No Fury Like a Menopausal Witch"!)

Interesting maybe for your mug project? Why are so many people desperate to win it? Is it because so many people identify with the saying on the mug? Or because everyone likes the chance of getting some for free? Or because they share my sense of humour? Is it a 'statement' drinking from a mug that tells everyone else that they are a witch? Or a coffee addict??

Just a few thoughts!

These are some really interesting questions and they're things that I have observed while doing this mug project. I've seen a handful of mugs (including my own) that bare humorous sayings. How many of you have mugs that say something funny or state that you are a coffee addict? If you don't have any head on over and visit Kaz's many sites to see her "cheeky" work:

FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/TheCheekyWitch

Websites: http://www.cheekywitch.co.uk  and http://www.cheekywitch.com (zazzle store which is running a 50% off promotion using the code: BTSMUGCANPOS)

She even has a blog too: http://thedailydivination.blogspot.co.uk/

(picture above is my mug for the day)

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Mug Project Update

First I want to say how awesome it is to have my email inbox, Facebook wall, and Facebook inbox flooded with pictures of mugs! I feel like I'm getting a tour of everyone's cupboards and I'm loving it! Currently still in data gathering mode so continue to send me all your mug pictures! I'm planning on compiling them all into a album to go along with a blog post with the notion that I'll use it in a future Grad School project.

I've realized that there's so much more that goes into this than meets the eye. When my friend Kara first brought up the notion that you can tell a lot from people's mug designs I thought that that alone was an awesome project idea. However, from the data that I've gathered so far I've realized there are TONS of variables that go into telling who a person is from their mugs. I've narrowed it down to a couple of variables/characteristics of people's mugs from what they've told me about them:
  • Mugs used for coffee vs. tea or other beverages (or even food as Grant uses his mugs for cereal)
  • Mugs that never get used
  • Mugs that only that person can use
  • Mugs that are used by company
  • Holiday Mugs (been getting an in flux of Halloween mugs)
  • Work mugs vs. home mugs
  • Travel Mugs 
  • Gift Mugs used around the person that gave them to you
All these factors are extremely intriguing and add more to the fun of this project. Plus, as Danni over at The Whimsical Cottage said, we just like to be nosy and see people's mugs. So fuel my nosiness and lend to the project continue sending me your mugs! If you feel the call to blog about it send me the link! I leave you with the coffee mug I'm currently drinking out of! Happy mugging ;)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Techy Tuesday

Most of you know that I detest math. I use it a lot in everyday life, work, and school but I still can't stand it. That being said, I love numbers; I love being able to quantify things. This especially applies to working out. I have never been one to work out without no how much, how far, or how long I have gone. Before I used pedometers, google maps trails, the counters on elliptical/bike, and other tools to measure my workouts.

Two weeks ago I got a new gadget: a FitBit. It is a wireless device (seen to the right) that connects to an app on my phone and records my activity. It tracks everything from how many steps I take, calories I burn, how many miles I've walked, how many calories I can eat, and even my sleep pattern.I can set goals for myself for how far I want to go each day and how much weight I want to lose. It then comes up with a "plan" for me and then tracks me to make sure I'm staying with my goal.

It's also a great tool for tracking my food consumption as well. It has an endless database of food that I can look up and add to my daily intake. It then calculates how many calories I've eaten with how many calories I have burned and let's me know how many more I can eat in that day. It is very cool! On the flip side though it shows me when I go over like on when we go out. Grant and I went to Chevy's (Tex-Mex) one night and I had the seafood enchiladas. Yeah... I went about 1,000 calories over my daily goal.

The other part that I really like about this gadget is how it tracks my sleep. I can set it to go into "sleep mode" when I lay down and then press "I'm awake" when I wake up (it even has it's own vibrating alarm to wake me up). It monitors my movement when I sleep, how many times I wake up, and for how long I'm asleep straight. Have to say that even I was a little taken back by how restless my sleep is. Last night for example I said I went to bed a 10pm but I didn't fall asleep until around 10:30 and I woke up about 18 times.

All in all I'm so happy that I spent the money ($99 through amazon and got free shipping) to get my Fitbit. It is a great tool to be able to see those numbers and outputs that I crave. It's also really fun to see how much I do just on a daily basis. If you have the money to get one I'd highly recommend it! There is also two other models that they have all ranging in price. To learn more or to order your own visit their website: http://www.fitbit.com/. Happy tracking ;)