Monday, April 28, 2008

M. B. Weston’s Events for the Week: 04/28/08 to 05/04/08

Here are my author and radio events this week:

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Final Cut in Movies Episodes Now Available as Podcasts!

I've been promising to do it, and I've finally done it. All of the episodes from The Final Cut in Movies are now available as podcasts--meaning you can download the mp3 files and listen to them on your computer or in your iPod--(your choice) whenever you want instead of only from 2:00 to 3:00am and pm!

You can access the previous files two ways:

  1. Visit my podcasting blog (M. B. Weston's Podcasts--cheesy title, but whatever) at and click on the downloadable files for each episode.
  2. Download the shows by clicking the links below...

Here are my previous shows. Each podcast is about 30MB, so it might take a while to download.

  • 02/29/08 Spiderwick Chronicles and the (Elitist) Academy Awards: On tonight's show, we'll be discussing The Spiderwick Chronicles, the 2008 Academy Awards, and other science fiction & fantasy news. Click here to download.
  • 03/07/08: All Things Star Wars (Blue Harvest Edition): On tonight's show, we'll be discussing the differences between The Original Star Wars and The New Star Wars, and--as always, other science fiction and fantasy movie news. Let's see how much I can cram into an hour... Well, 36 actual talking minutes. Click here to download.
  • 03/28/08 10,000 BC: This week on The Final Cut in Movies, I'll be discussing 10,000 BC. Find out my opinion on the caveman non-documentary that seems to be doing well despite critical reviews and other science fiction & fantasy news. Click here to download.
  • 04/04/08 I am Legend and Real Men: On this week’s show, I'll be discussing Will Smith's I Am Legend (now out on DVD), frogs, coral snakes, how to sweep your attacker's leg, a little bit of Sun Tzu, my thoughts on Nim's Island and The Ruins, and science fiction & fantasy news. (I think I even go on a rant on how Hollywood and commercials tend to blast men too much, so it should be fun...) Click here to download.
  • 04/11/07 Nim's Island & Improbable Human Behavior: On this week’s show, I'll be discussing Nim's Island, staring Jodie Foster, Abigail Breslin, and the 300's King Leonidas (Gerard Butler). (Yes, I do refer to him more as Leonidas than Gerard. Leonidas makes him sound tougher.) Tune in to hear my opinion on the movie, my thoughts on the latest Science Fiction & Fantasy news, and my little rant against the bobbleheads (my pet name for movie reviewers) and why I really don't care what they think. (For more of my terms, you'll have to visit my "Final Cut Lingo" page, which I just updated.) Click here to download.
  • 04/19/08: Batman Begins & What Makes a Hero: On this week’s show, I'll be discussing Batman Begins (to prepare for The Dark Knight's release in July), real men, the four types of people in the world, what it takes to be a hero, and other science fiction & fantasy news. (This one's got a lot of rants, so it should be interesting, provocative, and even slightly controversial.) Click here to download.
  • 04/25/08: The Forbidden Kingdom: On this week’s show, I'll be discussing The Forbidden Kingdom, starring Jackie Chan and Jet Li, a new, exciting development regarding Peter Jackson and The Hobbit, and other science fiction & fantasy news. Click here to download.

If you have trouble downloading any of the files, visit the podcasting blog and download the files from there.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Michelle the Klutz Strikes Again!

Or Why I Can’t Pull Off “Glamorous”

I'm not quite sure where I was when God handed out grace and poise to all the girls. I might have been climbing a tree pretending to be a detective spying on my next door neighbors (who were, in fact, drug dealers whose massive estate was the half-way point for their drug runners) or I might have been in the pool pretending to be a mermaid. Either way, got skipped.

If you haven’t figured it out by reading some of my other blogs, I’m one of the world’s biggest klutzes. Part of my klutz problem is due to my scoliosis (see the blog on that), which throws off my balance, causing me to trip when others might not, etc. However, my twisted back doesn’t explain how I stub my toes all the time and constantly bruise my hips from bumping into random pieces of furniture—usually the corners. (The size of my hips compared to the rest of my body might have something to do with that, but it also has to do with not “being aware of my surroundings”….) I usually have a bruise somewhere on me, and half the time, I don’t even remember where it came from. It doesn’t matter how fancy you dress me, I’m not going to pull off “glamorous,” and I’m okay with that. (One has to know one’s limitations.) I’ve become comfortable with my lack of poise and grace, especially since I understand that my little slips and trips give others immense entertainment, and you know how much I like to entertain.

Yesterday while I was cleaning, I “pulled a Michelle,” and it was vintage Michelle. I was standing in a hall and realized I had forgotten something, so I spun around. Now, when I move—spin—whatever, it’s a comedy of errors waiting to happen because I don’t really pay attention to where all the parts of my body are or where they’re going (hence my bruised my hips and stubbed toes) and my limbs tend to flail every which-a-way. As I spun around, my arms flailed.

In classic Michelle form, I failed to notice the granite-topped table next to me in the already squished hall.

The back of my right hand—mainly the tendon that connects my middle finger to my wrist as well as the bone underneath it—slammed into the granite table’s sharp corner.

I have a question. If you are in freakish pain, a lump is starting to form on your hand, and you let out a non-understandable long, low groan-gasp-thing that if recorded and played at high speed might sound suspiciously like the F-Bomb…can you still be considered a lady?

Now that I have entertained you with my little “Michelle the Klutz” story, I figured I may as well dip into the vault and pull out some of the top “Classic Michelle Moments” for your reading pleasure. (This is a once in a lifetime experience, folks, where I'm going to bear my soul to make yours smile and maybe even laugh.) So here they are:

  • The summer before my sophomore year, I was playing basketball on a mission trip in the Dominican Republic, and I landed directly on my ankle after getting a rebound. I had to hobble around for a week because no one wanted to take me to a third world hospital. (Don’t blame them. We had to send one guy to the hospital for a rabies shot after a rat bit him while he was sleeping, and we heard some really bad stuff…)
  • Three months later, I rolled on the same ankle while stealing the ball from a guy during a pickup basketball game. (After having to hobble around school for six weeks, volleyball became my favorite sport.)
  • On another mission trip in Ecuador, our group hiked up part of Mt. Cotopaxi—the world’s highest active volcano. We were all exhausted—especially our legs—because we were at such a high altitude that we could barely walk ten feet without stopping for a break. Later that day, I saw a pack of llamas. I really wanted a picture of the llamas, so I ran after them, leaping over a chain that hung across the path. My tired legs couldn’t make the leap, my toes connected with the chain. I fell face-first on the gravel.
  • Once when I was jogging, my shoelace came untied. The track was gravel, and the palms of my hands and knees were bleeding once I finished executing the fall--arms and legs flailing.
  • On a backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail, I tripped and banged my knee on a rock. (It really hurts when you’ve got 20 pounds of extra weight in a backpack full of a week’s supplies on your back.) 15 minutes later, one of the guys in our group turned around and gasped. I looked down and saw that I had split my knee open. (Did you know that applying alcohol to a wound hurts more than hydrogen peroxide?)
  • On a different backpacking trip, I tripped and fell face-first in the dirt. My backpack was so top-heavy that I couldn't get up. The group I was with had a good five-minute laugh before one of them pulled me up by my backpack.
  • During a four square game with some high schoolers, I dove after the ball—directly into the corner of a wall. (If I’m going to play, I’m going to play hard.) Fortunately, I didn’t break my arm, but I jarred my left shoulder, and my rotator cuff hasn’t been the same since.
  • I was playing beach volleyball with our church youth group a few years ago, and one of the members of our team hit the ball in the air out of bounds. I raced after the ball, keeping focus on its trajectory, and I dove, knocking the ball back into play and keeping our team alive. I rolled over and saw the youth pastor, Tom, standing over me in panic. That’s when I noticed a stake that kept the volleyball net secure poking out of the sand right next to my inner thigh. Tom thought I had impaled myself on it. Then I noticed another stake had taken a chunk of skin out of my right knee. (What can I say? If you're gonna dive into a stake to rescue a volleyball, dive into two!)
  • Never try to walk a golden retriever while wearing roller-blades.
  • During a game of flashlight tag in the rain two years ago, my right foot slipped, and I strained the meniscus in my knee, which involved a month of walking around in an immobilizer and then physical therapy.
  • You’ve probably read the story of how I broke a windshield trying to kill a spider.
  • I almost did pull off “glamorous” during my Senior Homecoming, until the small slit in the back of my knee-length dress began to tear—up. My friends, Sasha and Suzy, got me off the dance floor before a potentially life-scarring, humiliating experience could occur.
  • My senior year, I was part of our high school band’s rifle guard. During a pep rally routine, I tossed my wooden rifle in the air and for some reason, I froze. (I think it was because the audience was already snickering at us. It’s a poise thing.) My rifle landed on the ground instead of in my hands—and the entire school booed me. I would probably still be crying in the auxiliary room if one of the band members had not come in and told me how much he respected me for continuing the routine even though everyone in the crowd was making fun of me (except for Sasha and Suzy, who were trapped in the stands, unable to march out on the field and rescue me that time).

So that’s why I'll never pull off glamorous. And if you see me sporting a bruise, you know I’ve probably just “pulled another Michelle.”

Memiors of a Cleaning Lady III: Special Operative Frogs

Yes, Special Operative frogs exist. They're part of the elite Land, Earth, Air & Pond (LEAP) division, and they work closely with the FAJs (Froggy Airborne Jumpers).

One such LEAPer--I'll call him Kermit--had taken the territory behind the stalls in the ladies' bathroom at one of the properties I clean on Fridays. (Same frog that attacked me twice last time...) Kermit had not only dug in fast, but he laid bunch of Plasma Odor & Ooze Package land mines that dribbled down the stall doors. POOP mines are easy to spot but difficult to remove without the correct equipment.

Since I'm POOP mine removal qualified, Weston Commercial Cleaning sent me in to clean it up.

Kermit maintained his position behind the stall door as I began disabling and eliminating the POOP mines, but LEAPers don't give up without a fight. He took flight and landed in my cleaning supply bucket--blocking my access to the necessary POOP removal equipment.

My only weapon was the bottle of disinfectant that I was holding before Kermit took control of my ammunition supply. Even though disinfectant is a surefire way to force a frog out of hiding, the use of such chemical weapons violates the Geneva Convention's rules regarding Frog/Human warfare. Aside from the fact that I'm a nice girl and don't want to hurt any frogs, I also knew that utilizing my disinfectant would cater to Kermit's strengths by causing him to go airborne, which would expose my main weakness--screaming like a girl. (After all, I am a girl...)

That gave me an idea. I decided to turn the tables on Kermit by taking advantage of his main weakness--his amphibious nature. If I took could place my cleaning supply bucket in direct sunlight while I cleaned the lawn chairs on the pool deck, the sun would heat the bucket and send Kermit searching for more shady territory. Of course, moving the bucket would involve the risk of Kermit going airborne--a risk I was willing to take since this particular LEAPer had already shown a tendency to stay in hiding.

I accomplished my bucket-moving mission, and once I finished cleaning the lawn chairs, Kermit had indeed vacated my cleaning supply bucket.

Unfortunately, new intelligence showed that Kermit had returned to the ladies' bathroom and resumed laying POOP mines. That's when I called in Weston Commercial Cleaning's FEST (Frog Extraction Strike Team)--my husband, who relocated Kermit to the neighboring golf course.

Friday, April 25, 2008

This Week’s Final Cut in Movies show (04/25/08): The Forbidden Kingdom

Click here to listen to tonight's show.

On this week’s The Final Cut in Movies show, I'll be discussing The Forbidden Kingdom, starring Jackie Chan and Jet Li, a new, exciting development regarding Peter Jackson and The Hobbit, and other science fiction & fantasy news.

The show will air from 2:00-3:00am & pm and re-air throughout the week at the same times on

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Michelle's Travel Adventures Continue...

MapQuest is my hero. I know a lot of people don't like it, but MapQuest speaks my language, and since I often travel to places I've never been--almost always alone--I use it all the time. I enter my home address and my destination, and it gives me directions, complete with the mileage I'll be driving on each street. It's a thing of beauty.

Now before I embark into another "Michelle the flake" story, let me explain a few things...

First, something happened to my car's console lighting when I had the tires changed after my tire blowout incident. When I turn on my headlights, my console lighting dims much more than it used to before said tire change, meaning it's difficult to see my radio/CD player settings, my speed, and my odometer--especially at night when I'm supposed to be using the headlights.

Second, I have 3 odometer settings: lifetime mileage, Trip A, and Trip B. (Don't you just love computerized odometers? You have no idea if you're looking at your car's lifetime mileage or your trip mileage, and which trip were you using anyway?) I can toggle between each setting using a little button on my dashboard. I usually use either Trip A or Trip B so I can record my mileage for tax purposes, and the beauty is that I simply look at my MapQuest directions (turn right on State Road 80, 12.4 miles), check my odometer, and add 12.4 miles--meaning I know my street is coming up when my odometer hits that number. Again, it's a thing of beauty.

So this morning, I started driving my 55.17 miles to Alva Middle School--with only 4 hours of sleep (which is quickly becoming a pre-speaking tradition). I'm a safe driver, so I've turned on my headlights. Then I turned east on State Road 80--heading right into the rising sun. I squinted as I checked my mileage 4740.6 (or something like that), added 12.4 miles, and the knew I could relax for a while until the odometer hit 4751. (I start looking for my next turn about a mile ahead of time so I don't miss it.) About 10 minutes later, I knew it was time to check the odometer: 4741.5 (or something like that).

Wait! I've only gone a mile? I've been driving for ten minutes going at least 50.

I looked back at my odometer--squinting because of the sun and because of the bad lighting on my console--and my stomach sank when I realized:

My car's lifetime mileage setting doesn't use decimal points. The Trip A and Trip B settings use decimal points, but for some reason, the lifetime mileage setting uses integers only.

I had been driving for who knows how long and who knows how far. I hadn't been paying attention because I was relying on my odometer, which I couldn't see clearly, to tell me how far I had gone. Silly, I know. Relying on an odometer...

Oh, and did I mention that I only had ten minutes to make it to the school before I had to speak?

My saving grace: I spoken at the school once before, and I knew I had yet to pass one of the landmarks I was keeping an eye out for. If I had never been to the school, I would have been forced to pull into the nearest gas station to ask for directions, and you know how much I hate stopping at gas stations.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Memiors of a Cleaning Lady: Part II

Or, The Top Ten (or more) Things I've Learned From Commercial Cleaning

Click here for "Memoirs of a Cleaning Lady: Part I".

As many of you know, my husband and I own a commercial cleaning business. When A Prophecy Forgotten first came out, I helped out with the actual cleaning. (I've blogged about it, too. See "Memoirs of a Cleaning Lady" and "Don't Blush While Wearing Concealer.") For a while, I was able to quit the cleaning part and concentrate on writing and promotion. With this economy the way it is, however, I have again taken up the mop and toilet brush--only this time, the labor has intensified.

We have taken on outside cleaning of property associations--mainly cleaning condo railings, corners, pools, pool baths, and exercise rooms. This means a lot of outside work, which involves 70 SPF sunscreen (I hate tanning.), a silly bucket cap (which I make look cute with pig tails), and a whole lot of elbow grease. I work about 15 hours a week--11 of it on Fridays. I probably clean over 20 toilets, and I wipe down and remove cobwebs from railings, which involves stairs. On a typical Friday, I will clean about 40 flights of stairs. It's actually fun. I take two damp rags--one in each hand--and clean the railings as I run up the stairs. (Running gives me quite a leg workout.) Of course, I live down in South Florida, so the wildlife outside can be insane--especially since we rarely have a good bug-killing freeze.

As much as I dislike Fridays (and Wednesday nights when I clean office buildings), I can say that I have learned a lot from cleaning. (Lessons in life are always around. You just have to look for them.) So here's a list of things that I've learned so far...

  • Where there is a cobweb, there is usually a cob... Down here, our spiders include black widows and brown recluses (whose poison will eat through your skin and muscle if not stopped), so I'm not a big fan of spiders.
  • Don't try to kill a spider by punching at it through two railings. If you're off by half-an-inch, you could slam your thumb into one the railings instead of the spider and pop a blood vessel. (On that note, you should never try to kill a spider that is crawling on a windshield--especially if you are in karate. I aimed the heel of my hand at a spider that was crawling on a windshield once, forgetting that I have broken boards with the same move. The windshield shattered, but stayed together until we could get to a repair shop. A total accident, but I now know I can get out of a car if I'm trapped and it's sinking in 20 ft of water...)
  • All frogs are trained in the froggy airborne division.
  • If you accidentally spray a frog that is hiding behind a bathroom stall door with disinfectant, the frog will quickly become airborne. (Ask me about the frog that left an outside women's bathroom after I sprayed it only to be accidentally sprayed again after it took cover in the men's bathroom. No, I'm not making it up. The frog attacked me twice in two different bathrooms.)
  • The frog's angle of flight will usually be aimed at you.
  • Frogs feel cold and slimy on the back of your neck.
  • I hate frogs.
  • Lizards do not have airborne divisions. I therefore like lizards better than frogs.
  • If you want to make your legs feel like lead for a few days, run up 40 flights of stairs.

And things I've learned cleaning office buildings:

  • Regarding garbage cans under the desk: Most women should not play basketball. (Hey, I call it as I see it. That or most women are lazy if it's not their house. Take your pick. Either way, ladies, half your trash doesn't end up in your garbage cans, and I have to clean it up.)
  • Regarding overall bathroom cleanliness: Sorry ladies. Guys bathrooms are cleaner. Women leave paper towels all over the place (see "women and basketball" above) and have little trinkets like scented candles and lace that I have to clean around. I rarely have to clean up any paper towel messes in a guys' bathroom. I suspect it's because guys don't hang out in bathrooms; they do their business and leave. Women use bathrooms as conference rooms, costume changing rooms, make up rooms... That, and I really do believe women tend to be lazy if it's not their house.
  • Actually, let's just cut to the chase. Women are messier than men, and their cubicles are much messier than men's. Hey, I just call it as I see it--and clean it.
  • Regarding urinals and aim: A few of you guys out there simply should never take up sharp shooting.
  • The higher paying the job, the cleaner the office. I don't know why that is, but there is a definite correlation. It probably has to do with pride in one's work translating to overall office cleanliness.
  • The higher paying the job, the better the aim at the garbage can. Don't know why that is either.

Monday, April 21, 2008

M. B. Weston’s Events for the Week: 04/21/08 to 04/27/08

Here are my author and radio events this week:

  • Tuesday, April 22, 3:00pm-4:00pm: Speaking to Ms. Johnson's class at Pine Ridge Middle School.
  • Thursday, April 24, all day: Speaking to Alva Middle School.
  • Friday, April 25, 6:00 to 9:00pm: Pine Ridge Book Club.
  • Saturday, April 26, 2:00pm-3:00pm (and throughout the week at the same times): The Final Cut in Movies radio program on Ad Astra Radio. This week, we'll be discussing The Forbidden Kingdom with Jackie Chan and Jet Li. Click here to listen, and then click the blinking "Listen Live" button on the top right.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Catch Me At Borders Tomorrow!

For those of you who live in Lee County, I'll be doing a book signing at the Gulf Coast Town Center Borders (by the Bass Pro Shops off I-75) tomorrow from 2:00-4:00pm where I'll be signing copies of A Prophecy Forgotten: Book I of the Elysian Chronicles. Stop on by and say hi!

This Week’s Final Cut in Moives show (04/18/08): Batman Begins

Click here to listen to tonight's show.

On this week’s show, I'll be discussing Batman Begins (to prepare for The Dark Knight's release in July), real men, the four types of people in the world, what it takes to be a hero, and other science fiction & fantasy news. (This one's got a lot of rants, so it should be interesting, provocative, and even slightly controversial.)

The show will air from 2:00-3:00am & pm and re-air throughout the week at the same times on

Missed last week's edition of The Final Cut? Don’t worry, you can catch the re-run from 3:00 to 4:00 am & pm (just after this week’s Final Cut) at Just click the "Listen Live" button on the top right hand corner.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Ft. Myers News-Press Did an Article About Me!

I'm quite excited! The News-Press posted this article by Amy Sowder about me today, if anyone wants to check it out:

"Michelle Weston wove through the aisles of Barnes & Noble at Coconut Point. Her eyes scanned the categories and alighted upon the desired spot. She beelined for a book and snatched it off the shelf. 'It's here!' she said, delighted." For the rest of the article, click here.

It hasn't affected my Amazon rank, yet, but I'm hoping it will get people to come to my book signing this Saturday (Borders, Gulf Coast Town Center, Ft. Myers, 2-4. Be there so I don't have to do another blog about vulnerability.)

Special thanks to Amy Sowder, who wrote such a nice article and endured an interview with me high on coffee for about two hours!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Innocence of 5-Year-Olds

I spent some time with my nieces, Ella and Ava (ages 5 & 3, respectively), last night, and as is tradition, they asked their Aunt Selle (that's me) to come play with them. I usually try to indulge--playing pretend can be fun. (I especially like the game, Hide Aunt Selle in the Closet, because it means I can get a nap.)

Before we started playing, Ava disappeared and Ella and I played on the front porch.

"What are we playing?" I asked.

"We're playing 'People,'" said Ella.

Interesting name.

Ella pointed to the seven multi-colored glass lanterns on the ground. "Those are our students, and we are going to teach them to fly."

Right. But hey, I write about guardian angels, so I shouldn't have had any trouble imagining lanterns as people or teaching the lanterns to fly. (In all my years of life, I never thought I'd write that sentence.)

Ella pulled out a pink feather and started pacing back in forth in front of our pretend students, her blond hair bouncing as she talked. "And today," she announced, "we're going to learn to fly with our magic feather..."

Someone has seen way too much of Disney's Dumbo.

"...and you have to make a wish when you fly with the feather," Ella continued, "or your wish won't come true."

Don't forget to remind them to make it upon a star...

Every now and then, Ella instructed me to teach the class. After I played along and sang a few Dumbo songs (Yes I have them memorized. I'm an auditory learner. Once I hear it, it sticks. Ask me to sing you some commercial jingles sometime.), I instructed Ella to tell them the rest.

"And now we're going to tell you a story about the feather," continued Ella.

Fearing my "cool aunt" status at stake, I feverishly skimmed through my memories of Dumbo so I could keep up. I can do this, I'm a fantasy writer.

Ella began telling a story about a flying elephant with a magic feather that it got from a black bird. Once the elephant began flying, she turned to me to continue the story.

Wouldn't it be cool if Dumbo encountered a dragon during his flights?

I couldn't help it. Dumbo always bored me as a kid (except for the Pink Elephant song, which freaked me out).

"And then," I began, "the elephant encountered an animal he had never seen before." Ella's blue eyes grew big with excitement--a reaction I love when I tell a story. "It was huge," I continued, "and it looked like a lizard but with wings!" I turned to Ella. "Do you know what it was?"

Ella nodded. She stood up straight and proudly stated, "A flying squirrel."

I seem to remember the lanterns laughing at me.

Monday, April 14, 2008

he Difficulties of Life Without MLB Extra Innings

Budget cuts have forced the Weston household to go without cable/DSL for a while. This is great for my writing, but it is horrible for my baseball addiction. I've been forced to watch my New York Yankees on's gameday--when I've been home when they've played, which is another story altogether.

Tonight, I got my first chance to watch a baseball game at my brother-in-law's house. He does not have MLB Extra Innings, so I was stuck with whatever was on TV--ESPN Monday Night Baseball with the Boston Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians playing at the fly-infested dung hole that used to be called Jacob's Field. (What's up with this "Progressive Field" mumbo jumbo. It's The Jake! Not Progressive Field. )

Basically, Boston & Cleveland are my two of my most hated teams this year.

This put me in an interesting position. Do I cheer for the Yankees' hated rival, Boston, or do I cheer for the team that beat the Yankees in the playoffs last year (due in part to the fly- infested dung hole) and failed to beat Boston in the ALCS?

Answer: I cheered for the game. When I saw a gorgeous play (like when Coco Crisp tried for a bunt single and was thrown out-he he he), I cheered. When Varitek connected, I cheered. When the Yankees box score came up showing them beating the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, I cheered. Baseball is baseball and good baseball deserves a good cheer.

I must admit, however, that toward the end of the game, I was cheering for the Tribe. (I'm still a Yankee fan at heart.) And FYI, Jeter is back, the Yanks are winning 8-7, Mariano Rivera is pitching to B. J. Upton in the 9th with 2 outs and no one on, and Boston is down 4-3 in the 8th. *happy sigh* Life is currently beautiful--except the lack of TV thing.

P.S. Rivera just struck out Upton for a Yankees win. I'm switching to the Boston/Cleveland game...

M. B. Weston’s Events for the Week: 04/14/08

Here are my author and radio events this week:

  • Saturday, April 19th, 10:00am-12:00am: Young Writers of Naples meeting. Barnes & Noble--Waterside Shops, Naples, FL.
  • Saturday, April 19th, 2:00pm-3:00pm (and throughout the week at the same times): The Final Cut in Movies radio program on Ad Astra Radio. This week's show is still a surprise, so stay tuned.Click here to listen, and then click the blinking "Listen Live" button on the top right.
  • Saturday, April 19th, 2:00pm-4:00pm: Book Signing. Borders Books and Music--Gulf Coast Town Center, Ft. Myers, FL. (I can sign books the same time my show airs because the show is pre-recorded...)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Creating Fantasy Takes Research

I used to joke that creating fantasy was easy because it didn't require any research. That changed last weekend when I gave a talk about "Making Make-Believe Believable" at the Naples Press Club Writer's Conference, and I decided to bring all the books I used to create my fantasy world. (Or to "Surround the Extraordinary with the Ordinary" as I put it.)

For those of you who aren't familiar with The Elysian Chronicles, my main character, Davian, is a special operative guardian angel. (Think "Roman soldiers with wings" meets "Navy SEALs" or "Green Berets.") When I prepared to write A Prophecy Forgotten: Book I of the Elysian Chronicles, I wanted to take the special operative culture and add it to my Elysian military. That meant research. Last weekend, I gasped at the pile of books I've read in order to create a guardian angel special forces culture:

  • Shadow Warriors: Inside the Special Forces by Tom Clancy, GEN Carl Stiner (Ret.), and Tony Koltz
  • The Complete Idiot's Guide to The US Special Ops Forces by Marc Cerasini (Idiots and Dummies books were made for me!)
  • Inside Delta Force by founding member, Eric L. Haney (I used a lot of this to create a whole novella about Davian's RSO Training days.)
  • Marine Force Recon by Fred J. Pushies
  • U.S. Army Special Forces by Fred J. Pushies
  • US Navy SEALS by Hans Halberstadt

[Here I am at the Naples Press Club Writer's Conference holding up Shadow Warriors, Tom Clancy's non-fiction book about the US Army Special Forces.]

Of course, it's not enough to read about Special Forces. I also need to understand warfare in general, hence:

  • The Art of War by Sun Tzu (Best book about warfare I've ever read, and it had made me a phenomenal Risk and Hold 'Em player.)
  • Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden (for dialogue as much as anything)
  • FM 21-76 US Army Survival Manual (Everyone should read this just in case.)
  • The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Vietnam War by Timothy P. Maga, PhD
  • Battles of the Medieval World by...a bunch of people. (I'm still working on this one.)

And I need to know about weapons and armor if I'm going to create my own, hence:

  • Weapons: An International Encyclopedia from 5000 BC to 2000 AD by The Diagram Group
  • The Lord of the Rings: Weapons and Warfare by Chris Smith (just to see what the costume designers were thinking when they designed the weapons and armor)

Since part of Out of the Shadows: Book II of the Elysian Chronicles takes place at The United States Naval Academy...

  • United States Naval Academy: Annapolis by Linda Foster w/ pictures by Roger Miller (amazing pics, by the way)
  • Plebe Summer at the U.S. Naval Academy by Pete Souza
  • Reef Points (2006-2007)
  • Brief Points (3rd Edition) by Ross H. MacKenzie

And Book III of the Elysian Chronicles will take place in Norway and draws on Norwegian Mythology and folklore:

  • Lost Worlds: Vikings by J. M. Clements
  • Nordic Gods and Heroes by Padraic Colum
  • Historical Atlas of the Vikings by John Haywood
  • Norwegian Troll Tales by Joanne Asala
  • The Troll with No Heart in His Body and Other Tales of Trolls From Norway by Lise Lunge-Larsen
  • Say it in Norwegian
  • DK Eyewitness Travel Guides: Norway
  • Insight Guides: Scandinavia

And of course, you can't write fantasy without knowing classical mythology, legends, and mythological creatures.

  • Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You by Holly Black
  • The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythological Creatures
  • The Complete Idiot's Guide to Classical Mythology
  • Bulfinch's Mythology (which includes all sorts of cool stuff!)

I've also done a few interviews with USNA graduates, Navy pilots, Air Force airmen, and US Army soldiers, and I've visited the Naval Academy as well.

So, the moral of the story is: Don't decide to write fantasy because it sounds easier than writing historical fiction. Oh, and don't pile all of your hard cover books into two bags and try to carry them to where you're speaking all by yourself. You'll throw your back out--especially if you already have a bad foot.

Friday, April 11, 2008

A View From Inside the Back of a Police Car: Michelle's Road Adventures Continue

It's usually not good to start a road trip on only 4 hours of sleep--especially if it's the 5th nigtht in a row of only 4 hours of sleep. The last time I only had four hours of sleep before a road trip, I pumped diesel instead of gas into my Toyota Camry, which my family will not let me live down. It's about a month after the diesel experience, so it would only be fitting that today would give me fodder for yet another humourous story.

I spoke at Varsity Lakes Middle School today for their "Extra, Extra Read All About It!" event designed to encourage kids to read. It's about 43.28 miles away from my house (MapQuest is the greatest invention known to man!!!), and I woke up at 6:30 to complete my Final Cut in Movies news updates. I made the drive without coffee, following MapQuest exactly, and I turned down a road with a big sign that said Varsity Lakes Middle School.

The problem? Two other buildings are on that road--unmarked. One is a library, which looks like a small school, and the other is a high school. I got a little nervous because I couldn't tell if the library was Varsity Lakes Middle School or the high school was Varsity Lakes Middle School, but middle schools don't have Tennis teams, so I was thinking of turning around and heading back to the library buildings. As I turned my head, looking for signs, my car veered--ever so slightly--to the edge of the road...

...which happened to be the only edge of asphalt on the entire street with a pothole. My tire fell off the road, and the sharp edges of the pothole ripped a 2-by-4 inch hole into the tire. (I'm not making it up!)

The air left my tire immediately. I'm told I'm lucky I wasn't driving fast.

I pulled over and called the school. The receptionist first told me that there were no other buildings on the road until I described one to her and she said, "Oh, that's the high school." Then, she told me I was about quarter-of-a-mile away from Varsity Lakes Middle School. (Do I need to go further, or have I made my point about Lee County signage?) I grabbed a copy of A Prophecy Forgotten and some pamplets out of the car and proceeded to walk toward Varsity Lakes. Of course, they didn't have a sidewalk, so my heels were sinking into the sand that we Floridians pretend is dirt. It was probably a very funny picture, come to think about it.

Before I go on, please understand two things. First, I'm a goal-oriented individual. If I really want to get something done, I don't let much stop me. Second, getting somewhere on time is very important to me. It's professional, it shows the person you are meeting that you care about his/her schedule, and it's just the right thing to do. As I was walking, I began to worry about getting to the school on time. Now that we are all on the same page, what I did next will not seem so insanely stupid.

A random truck driving away from the school stopped next to me, and the driver asked if I needed a ride. Please understand, he was clean cut and the truck was brand new (I think it was a Ford 350 or something like that) and spotless. So I did what any respectable author on a schedule would do. I said yes and hopped in.

(I know. I know. Twice in a week now, I've put myself in an incredibly dangerous situation. I know. If any teenage young ladies are reading this, don't ever get into the car of a complete stranger. It's insanely stupid.)

The nice man dropped me off in front of the office, and I arrived on time. (Yay!) I spoke to the kids and managed to make it so I didn't have to read from my book (you know how nervous I was about that). Then I returned to the Media Center where I met the school's deputy named Andrew Penny (I hope I got that right). (We actually met before the event, but I didn't have time to go into that in the blog.) Officer Penny just happens to be a science fiction/fantasy fan, and we had some great conversations about how the 300 actually wore armor and other really cool things. He volunteered to help me change my tire, and he said he'd drive me to my car.

My mystery-genre-loving heart skipped a beat. My moment had arrived. I had, in my hands, the chance to fulfill the dream of every author who has ever wanted to write adventure or detective stories.

"Can I sit in the back of the car????" I asked. (I have a lot of weird things that I really want to do. For instance, I want Roger Clemons hit me in the ribs with one of his fastballs, just to see what it would feel like, but I don't think he'd go for it. It's because I believe Major League Baseball should let pitchers retaliate, but I want to know what it feels like before I--never mind the baseball tangent. On with the story.)

Officer Penny said yes, and I got to ride in the back of the police car! (I'm easily entertained.) During the ride, the poor guy had to endure all of my questions:

  • "What's the plexiglass in front of your head for?"
  • "Is it bullet proof?"
  • "What happened to the seat belts?"
  • "So have you ever done a 'brake test'?"
  • "If the car falls in the river, I can't get out, can I?"

I also tried shaking all the bars to see if I could get out (I couldn't.), and I pretended I was in handcuffs to see if I could flip my arms under my legs and bring my hands forward. (I couldn't.) Come to think of it, the deputy probably wished he had a hyperactive 7-year-old named Tommy in the back seat instead of me high on two cups of coffee...

Another deputy, a sergeant, arrived as Officer Penny was starting to change my tire, and I started asking him questions.

  • "What sidearm do you use?"
  • "Why do you have a shotgun in the back of your car?"
  • "Would you rather use a shotgun or your sidearm?" (A stupid question. The shotgun, but I wanted confirmation.)
  • "What's the hardest thing about being a cop?"
  • "Can I go an hour on this tire once it's on?"

When I got back to Naples, my husband met me at Sears so they could put four new tires on the car. (Two of them were almost bald--I have no idea how I made it alive to Alabama and back.) So there you have it. Michelle's costly mistake for this month *sigh* --except that the car needed new tires, so it was kind of okay.

I would like to give special thanks to:

  • the nice guy who took me to the school and introduced himself but I forgot his name because I was kind of nervous
  • Officer Andrew Penny, who changed my tire so I didn't have to call AAA. And who let me ride in the back of his cop car!

This Week’s Final Cut In Moives show (04/11/07): Nim's Island

Click here to listen to tonight's show.

On this week’s Final Cut in Movies show, I'll be discussing Nim's Island, staring Jodie Foster, Abigail Breslin, and the 300's King Leonidas (Gerard Butler). (Yes, I do refer to him more as Leonidas than Gerard. Leonidas makes him sound tougher.) Tune in to hear my opinion on the movie, my thoughts on the latest Science Fiction & Fantasy news, and my little rant against the bobbleheads (my pet name for movie reviewers) and why I really don't care what they think. (For more of my terms, you'll have to visit my "Final Cut Lingo" page, which I just updated.)

The show will air from 2:00-3:00am & pm and re-air throughout the week at the same times on

Missed last week's edition of The Final Cut? Don’t worry, you can catch the re-run from 3:00 to 4:00 am & pm (just after this week’s Final Cut) at Just click the "Listen Live" button on the top right hand corner.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Regarding Nim's Island: Not All Authors are Eccentric

Okay, maybe we're a little eccentric... *Shhhh. Don't tell anyone.*

I watched Nim's Island last night in order to prepare for this week's radio program on my show, The Final Cut in Movies. In the movie, Jodie Foster plays Alexandra Rover, an agoraphobic author of a popular young-adult adventure series.

First, I hate sitting in the movie theater watching stories about authors--usually because I'm the only one laughing at a joke that no one else really gets. Case in point, remember National Treasure 2 when the kid (whose name currently escapes me) is sitting at a book signing that no one is attending (see my earlier blog regarding those), and then he's trying to walk home holding all of his advertising paraphernalia including his life-sized poster of himself? Yeah, I was dying of asphyxiation in the theater, unable to inhale from laughing so hard, while the rest of the audience was yawning. (Many of you have seen my big movie-theater-style 2' by 3' heavy, awkward poster of my book cover that I haul around everywhere. I can't tell you how many times that thing has given me tons of problems.)

But back to the subject. Jodie Foster plays an eccentric author, and watching her made me think of the typical "eccentric author afraid to go out of the house" cliche that so many movies use. (See Jack Nicholson's character in As Good As It Gets for more details.) Some of the things she did were very eccentric--not like me at all--and then some of the things... Let's just say they hit a little to close to home.

So I've decided to compare myself to Alexandra Rover to see if I'm really as nutty as Hollywood says I should be. We'll start from the nuttiest to the not so nuttiest.

  • Having living, breathing A-Beautiful-Mind-esque conversations with a non-existent character. Nope. I'm safe there. My characters have never appeared before me in flesh and blood. And they don't talk to me, either. I do have some author friends who say their characters talk to them and tell them things like "I'm not going to do that," but mine don't. I have to figure them out on my own.
  • Being afraid to leave the house. Um, ah, define the terms please. Honestly, I'm not afraid to leave the house, but I am driven to write. Therefore, I can technically spend two to three days inside my house and never go out except to jog and literally never speak to anyone except my husband. A few years ago, we moved to Orlando for a few months, and I made no friends because I stayed inside and wrote the whole time (and I finished the first draft of A Prophecy Forgotten: Book I of the Elysian Chronicles). (This is why I force myself to do things with other people--so I won't become Hollywood-cliche-author.)
  • Obsession with hand sanitizer. Nope. Not me. I actually had another author tell me I should use it more at Science Fiction/Fantasy Conventions because I'm shaking so many hands (that was after I caught a cold at OmegaCon), but I prefer exercising my immune system to encumbering myself with smelly spray.
  • Dancing for inspiration. I have as much rhythm as the character Alexandra Rover, so do you really think I'm going put whatever flies are on the wall watching me through that kind of torture? For inspiration, I go to Starbucks or PJ's Coffee and watch all of you fine people meander about.
  • Obsession with Progresso soup. Oh dear. Here we go. Let me explain. Soup in a can doesn't go bad; it doesn't need to be refrigerated; and it only takes 2 minutes to heat. (It also makes you feel warm and cozy.) So just because I used to keep over twenty cans of Campbell's Home-style Chicken Noodle Soup hidden in my cubicle at work, complete with my bowl, spoon, and a various assortment of fine teas, does not mean that I am eccentric! It was just an easy way to make lunch--and it was low-fat and tasty. (Seriously, I almost died when they showed the Progresso soup thing.)
  • The need to have everything on the desk straight. When I'm in work mode, every inch of space within a ten foot radius of me gets destroyed. That being said, however, I have to admit that when I saw Jodie Foster adjust some of the stuff on her desk... See, I have this OCD side of me that only a few of you know about. (Stuart Clark, no comments.) On my desk right now, I've got all of my "to do" stuff stuffed into my to-do box. I've also got my sandwich plate from dinner, a cup, a stapler, an important CD about conspiracy theories and secret societies that I have to look at for Book III (and some of Out of the Shadows), my computer, and my time-management calender open so it can watch me rebel against it by blogging instead of "doing taxes." (Don't say a word, Sasha.) Oh, and a little bowl that held wasabi peas this morning. (Do you know if you put five wasabi peas in your mouth at once and keep your lips closed, you will enter another dimension?) So all that stuff is normal stuff, meaning I'm not eccentric... Okay, okay! I'll talk! I admit it! I forgot to tell you about the four round Republic of Tea canisters (which I bought so they would all match) that hold--separately, it must be separately and none of them can mix--my red editing pens (Paper Mate Flare ONLY), colored pencils, blue and black BIC ball point pens (only BIC--NOTHING else because that would tilt the earth off its axis and kill us all) and my mechanical pencils, which I allow to be different long as they are all Pentel. And all four canisters are positioned around the computer symmetrically--I actually put my Bobby Richardson signed baseball somewhere else to preserve the balance. Oh, and I have a little two sided ceramic paper clip holder that holds jumbo paper clips on one side and regular paper clips on the other--no plastic ones and no colored rubber-coated ones, no gold executive ones, ONLY SILVER! I do not accept any paper clips that aren't silver.And the paper clip sizes can't mix or... I've never found out what would happen if they mixed, but it would be worse than the world tilting off its axis.
  • Motion Sickness. That has nothing to do with being eccentric! It has to do with having ear problems when I was a kid and then breaking my nose ten years ago! Get a life. Who do you think you are, anyway? (Oh dear, now I'm holding an imaginary conversation with myself...)

Monday, April 07, 2008

M. B. Weston’s Events for the Week: 04/07/08-04/13/08

Here are my author and radio events this week:

  • Friday, April 11th, 9:30am-10:30am: Reading excerpts of A Prophecy Forgotten to classrooms at Varsity Lakes Middle School's "Extra Extra Read All About It" event.
  • Saturday, April 12, 2:00pm-3:00pm (and throughout the week at the same times): The Final Cut in Movies radio program on Ad Astra Radio. Topic: Nim's Island. Click here to listen, and then click the blinking "Listen Live" button on the top right.

Friday, April 04, 2008

This Week’s show (04/04/08): I Am Legend

Click here to listen to tonight's show.

On this week’s show, I'll be discussing Will Smith's I Am Legend (now out on DVD), frogs, coral snakes, how to sweep your attacker's leg, a little bit of Sun Tsu, my thoughts on Nim's Island and The Ruins, and science fiction & fantasy news. (I think I even go on a rant on how Hollywood and comercials tend to blast men too much, so it should be fun...)

The show will air from 2:00-3:00am & pm and re-air throughout the week at the same times on

Missed last week's edition of The Final Cut? Don’t worry, you can catch the re-run from 3:00 to 4:00 am & pm (just after this week’s Final Cut) at Just click the "Listen Live" button on the top right hand corner.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Ice Ice Baby

The Good News: I'm almost able to walk 100% again!

My right foot is doing great. My right knee, however, wasn't doing so great two days ago. (Old knee injury about three years ago. Flash light tag in the rain. Don't ask.) So I decided enough was enough and grabbed an ice back. I alternated between my right knee and cantankerous left foot 20 minutes each for about four hours--and it worked!!! Well, at least on my knee. That left foot is still sore. I've never really had the old ice bag trick actually work, but that's because putting ice on a freshly strained right knee meniscus after you basically bent it sideways on a wet, grassy hill during flashlight tag just isn't going to do much. Your knee will swell, you won't be able to bend it, and then if you have a bad left foot, you will be confined to yet another wheel chair the day before your knee immobilizer comes off. But ice works on old knee strains!

The Bad News: I've got to wear heels all weekend at the writer's conference I'll be speaking at. This could be interesting...