Friday, December 31, 2010

Year in Review, and Writing Update: “Blind Ambition” accepted by RBE

I’ll admit 2010 had its ups and downs, but it’s saying ‘sayonara’ on a high note.

One, I’m officially finished with school. All that’s left is my exit interview next week, with the board exam to follow shortly thereafter. After a bumpy start last April with my occupational therapy fieldwork, having to endure an atrocious clinical instructor (CI) with ulterior motives, my next two rotations were abso-smurfly wonderful. My home health CI challenged me to think quickly and clinically and to always be prepared. And my behavioral health CI truly validated me, convincing me that, yes, I am a damn good therapist. Plus, I’ve found my niche in geriatric psych—something I never even considered when asked what field I was considering, but I love it.

Two, my focus on getting more stuff published is moving along—I just had another short story accepted! I really didn’t have much time for self-indulgence while in school, meaning time to write… well, I wrote… but theoretical case studies and treatment intervention plans aren’t as rousing as “action & adventure” fantasy fiction. Unless you’re REALLY into therapy. Or just plain weird!

I’m looking forward to having a couple weeks off now to work on some old projects. It starts off on a positive note too, as I just had my short story, “Blind Ambition,” (see snippet below) accepted by Jason M. Waltz, the publisher of Rogue Blades Entertianment (a.k.a. RBE), purveyors of heroic adventure fiction in the vein of R.E. Howard, Michael Moorcock, and David Gemmell, with an “xtreme” edge, which, if you know me, is right up my dark and sordid alley. I’m all about heroes and monsters and blades, the triumph of the anti-hero, basically fantasy with a dark and bloody aura.

For more about the ASSASSINS anthology, click here.

For more about Rogue Blades Entertainment, click here.

I’m also working full bore on my other short story (which is pushing novella length) called “A Jagged Line.” I’m currently powering through draft #3, which by my account will bring the story into form for submission to the L. Ron Hubbard’s “Writers of the Future” contest. Wish me luck.

On that note, I should probably get back to it. Happy New Year, blog followers, fellow writers, therapists, friends, etcetera and what-have-you and so on and so forth! Tally ho!


SNIPPET: To pique your curiosity, here’s a miniscule snippet from “Blind Ambition,” [clean version]:

“YOU DAFT B-----D,” Ulrich said as he watched the sneer fade from the dying man’s face. “All I wanted was answers.”

“Buh… buh-trayer…” the man gurgled through blood-stained lips.

“You f-----g righteous piece of…! Do you know how many good men are dead back th—” Ulrich’s head darted up as the steel-reinforced timber door ricocheted open.

Guards spilled into the bedchamber, their faces immediately paling. He could only imagine how it looked: he, their High Marshal, reported dead by the very officer whose body he now crouched over. He looked the part of an assassin in the dimly lit room, withdrawing a dark wet blade from a contorted form on the chill floor, a pool of blood widening, its ribbonlike rivulets inking through the runnels between the flagstones.

More guards edged into the room—first three, then four, then five. A couple of them, he recognized. Outside the room, someone barked orders, then came the sound of the warning bell in the yard.

Ulrich stood as they fanned out, warily approaching. He dashed for the casement, whipping the heavy curtains aside and leaping into the darkness. The guards and their shouts of “halt!” and “stop!” pursued him out the very window he’d just entered moments ago.

And as he plummeted through the frosty night air he thought, how in the nine hells did I come to this?


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Action Comics #1!

coverEver been curious to see what those boys Siegel and Shuster were up to in June of 1938? What do you mean you weren’t even around then? That doesn’t mean it didn’t exist now, does it?

Do you even know what I’m talking about?

Alright then, you see, Jerome Siegel and Joel Shuster are the two men responsible for one of the most recognizable icons in global history. No, not Coca-Cola. I’m talking about SUPERMAN!

Clark Kent made his debut in June, 1938, in the pages of ACTION COMICS #1. Very few people have had the pleasure to read it, but I share it now with you, my good friends, eBook style. Read ACTION COMICS #1 online, right here, right now.

Talk about the best popular culture has to offer! Click the cover above to read the very first adventures of The Man of Steel!

And you’re welcome. Heh-heh.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Book Review: The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding

The Haunting Of Alaizabel CrayThe Haunting Of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thank you, Chris. After the disappointment that was STORM THIEF, I definitely needed THE HAUNTING OF ALAIZABEL CRAY (THoAC) to redeem my faith in you. Not that I could ever give up on you after "The Braided Path," of course. Every writer has a stinker or two (or more) in their bib. But THoAC is definitely not a stinker; in fact, it's among your best, and a five-star offering as far as I'm concerned.

You grabbed my interest with the young wych-hunter, Thaniel Fox, and never let up. I was fully invested in Thaniel's history, his relationship with Cathaline, his romantic feelings for Alaizabel, and the entire fog and gaslight, top hats and airships, post-war atmosphere of Wooding's Gothic Victorian alterna-London crawling with nocturnal wych-kin, serial killers, and clandestine cultists.

The story zipped along and gave me the same feeling I get when I read HELLBOY or Tom Sniegoski's LOBSTER JOHNSON. It's a story full of fun and engaging characters with full-on dynamic personalities. THoAC is a very cinematic ghost/action story in quasi-pulp, superhero-hybrid form. I could easily see the "movie" as it played out in my mind.

My only minor complaint is that Wooding can sometimes have a tendency to wax flowery in his prose, which can slow down the action a pace, but his descriptions are so vivid and poetic, I really can't say I mind all that much. I do wish the publisher had put a more riveting cover on this book, however. I'm sure the blah stock art and hideous typesetting impeded sales for this one on retail shelves. Too bad, because THE HAUNTING OF ALAIZABEL CRAY is definitely worth your time!

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Five stars (out of five). Highly recommended! Especially to fans of Gothic supernatural, Victorian ghost tales, Hellboy, BPRD, witches, warlocks, and pulp-style Lovecraftian weird tales stuff.

View all my reviews

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Personal Update: Two More Weeks to OT

Jeez, it’s been a long road, but the end is finally in sight. I’m talking about my decision to return to school to acquire my degree in occupational therapy, or OT. I have two weeks—just TWO weeks—left in my final clinical rotation, then all that stands between me and a new career in healthcare is the national board exam (NBCOT). Once I pass that, I’ll be a COTA, or a “certified occupational therapy assistant.”

It’s a weird feeling. After roughly eighteen years working in niche markets throughout the publishing business, I’m going to be able to rely on a totally different career and one that I’ve been trained for. In the publishing trade, I could afford to have slack days, but as a COTA I have patient outcomes that rely heavily on my job performance. Early on, this was a daunting prospect. But now that I’ve been through almost 800 total hours of clinicals—in addition to eighteen-plus months of classes—I’m feeling confident that I’m fully able to shoulder the responsibility.

One of the odder challenges OT practitioners face on a constant basis is the mere question of “What is Occupational Therapy?” I couldn’t tell you how many times my own friends and family refer to me as a physical therapist, or PT. But there’s a vast difference between the two disciplines, and it goes well beyond boiled-down simplifications such as “PT is lower body, OT is upper body,” or “PT is gross motor, OT is fine motor,” or even the dramatized remark: “PT teaches you to walk, OT teaches you to dance.”

So, in order to shed a little more light on the topic here on “Ranting and Raven,” I asked my current clinical instructor, Mrs. Brenda Cain at Mercy Hospital Western Hills, for her permission to post something she wrote about OT regarding “task analysis,” and here it is:

LOOKING THROUGH THE EYES
OF AN OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST

When someone observes an Occupational Therapist working with a patient, it may appear at times, that we are “just having fun”, “just playing a game” or “just making a craft”!

We ARE making a craft and having fun! BUT, it is most certainly not ALL we are doing! Occupational Therapists are experts in what is called TASK ANALYSIS.

We are trained to look at a task, a craft, a job and/or activity and identify the physical and cognitive components necessary for successful task completion.

So, for example, when you see an Occupational Therapist working with a patient to complete a beaded bracelet, it may appear that we are making a beautiful craft and simply having a good time while we make a pretty accessory!

But, when an Occupational Therapist chooses to make a beaded bracelet…

THIS is what WE see!

1) Can the patient follow the directions to complete this task? Does it help if I provide them with a sample? Do I need to provide the directions one step at a time? Or do they need hand over hand assist?

2) Do they have the physical ability to manipulate small objects? Does it help if they are provided with larger beads?

3) Do they have the visual ability to see the lacing? Does it help if I darken the tip of the lace or does the whole lace need to be exchanged, darkened or thickened?

4) What is their frustration tolerance like? How do they handle it when the beads accidentally fall? Can they problem solve a way to secure the beads more effectively to the string?

5) What do they do when they are faced with not having enough supplies to complete the task? Do they ask for help?

6) How do they do with the sharing of the supplies? Are their social interactions with both staff and peers appropriate?

7) Are they able to attend to the task at hand or do they have trouble concentrating on the tasks completion? Does it help them to concentrate if environmental distractions are decreased?

8) Do they enjoy doing the task? Does the task help them to relax or give them a functional, purposeful way to structure their day? Is this a potential new hobby for them that might increase their life satisfaction?

Various interventions and techniques are applied throughout the craft to see what is most effective in helping the patient perform the task with the most independence and greatest success. And all the while, problem solving skills, leisure exploration, coping skills, social appropriateness, cognitive skills and self-esteem components are being observed and discussed as indicated.

See? And you thought we were just “making a bracelet”!

Hope that was enlightening, because there’s no way I could have said it any better. Wish me luck in these final two weeks. What a Christmas this will be!


”Looking Through the Eyes of an Occupational Therapist” was written by Brenda L. Cain, OTR, in December, 2010, and is reprinted with permission.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Our 2010 Christmas Photo Card

Normally every year we use Snapfish for our Christmas photo cards, but this year we made the switch to Shutterfly. They were offering a better discount, and just like Snapfish, Shutterfly has a wide variety of cards and formats. What’s convenient for me is I can also upload directly through Picasa, which is what I use to manage all my photos.
 
Below is a sample of our card we’ll be sending out this year to friends and family. The kids are way excited for Christmas this year, as you can tell, hugging and cheesing in front of the tree. I can’t wait to see these two little rascals come down the steps Christmas morning.
 
So, what photo service do you use? Give me comments!
Picture Joy Christmas
Shop Shutterfly for elegant custom Christmas photo cards.
View the entire collection of cards.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Save TERRIERS TV Show - PetitionBuzz

I’m totally bummed! FX has announced it’s cancelling one of the best shows on TV. If you’re a fan of TERRIERS, follow the link below and add your name to the petition. Their goal is 10,000 names. I added mine. Add yours.

Save Terriers TV Show – PetitionBuzz


You can also join the Facebook group to SAVE TERRIERS.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Game of Thrones…Again

So can you tell I’m excited about this? Two consecutive posts with embedded videos to get us all primed for what promises to be one of the coolest and most epic television series, like, EVER.

In the clip below, from HBO’s own Web site, George R. R. Martin himself admits that “they got it right!” He explains that so far it’s as if the makers of the series pulled the images right from his own head, saying it’s like walking into one of his own dreams.

Check out the clip (1:31) to hear him, writers Weiss and Benioff, and actor Sean Bean share some of their thoughts on the upcoming “Game of Thrones.”

Does anyone know the tentative release date yet, by the way? All I can find so far online is “2011.”

Daenerys is looking rather good to me, too, gotta admit:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Winter Is Coming

It’s December. One more month until the new year already! Let’s kick things off on ye olde blogspot with a little zoom zoom. GAME OF THRONES by George R.R. Martin is coming in 2011, and it’s the only reason I’ll be getting HBO again (which I canceled after ROME ended).

Whet your appetite with this sixty-second clip preview, courtesy of “Making Game of Thrones.
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Clip Preview