Monday, May 30, 2011

How to Treat a Bad Mood in Three Short Steps

Do you have a bad mood? Listen up!
Peel an orange. You won’t just energize yourself with its bright orange color, you’ll also inhale its sweet scent.
Do you do morning exercise? No? Start doing it! And it doesn’t just have to be in the morning, but whenever you want to.
Dance. Don’t want to? Can’t do it? Try. Turn on your favorite energizing music and force yourself to get moving.
If you do it a lot, you’ll see how your mood improves.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Interview with Mark Stone

We’d like to welcome Mark Everett Stone, an amazing new fiction writer from Camel Press and author of Things to Do in Denver When You’re Un-Dead; he can be contacted at

Things to Do in Denver When You’re Un-Dead is a disastrously sarcastic take on the fight against things that go bump in the night. As Kal Hakala, the senior agent from the Bureau of Supernatural Investigations, battles ghouls, magicians, and Green Peas—trust me, they’re not exactly made of pleasant—his need to avenge his sister’s death brings him to a shocking confrontation with the biggest baddy of all. And did we mention he’s slightly insane?

Just, you know, slightly.

Nicole: When did you start writing? Has writing always been a big part of your life? Will it continue to be?

Mark: I started writing when I was very young, before my teens and continued into college, but when I realized Journalism didn’t pay well, I branched out into my second love, the bar business. Slinging drinks and managing bars served me well for many years, but it’s not something you can do when you marry and expect kids. As of a year ago, I became a full-time writer and that’s all I want to be until the sun sets on my life.

N: What inspired you to begin writing?

M: Reading such works as the Odyssey, the Iliad and Beowulf. They were my first literary inspirations.

N: Name your favorite book. What is it about it you like?

M: Ringworld by Larry Niven is my all time fave book. The sheer imagination and scope was unlike anything I’d ever read.

N: Tell us about your favorite (of your characters). What are his/her motives? Why is s/he your favorite?

M: My favorite character has to be Odysseus, from Living Legend, which I’m hoping will be optioned soon. His motives are simple: Love of family, love of his people. Although he is complex and soul hurt, his passion for his wife rings a chord with me. It’s how I feel about my wife.

N: Tell us about your least favorite (of your characters). What are his/her motives? Why is s/he your least favorite?

M: Least favorite? Wow…tough one. I would have to say Agamemnon, the king of Mycenae from Living Legend. His motives are also very simple: Greed, ambition and revenge. He’s a man who would sacrifice anything/anyone to achieve his ends and I consider him rather soulless.

N: What genre is your favorite to read? To write? Why?

M: Sci/Fi, Fantasy to both questions because it requires you to use your imagination in ways that commercial literature doesn’t. It provides me with a real challenge

N: If you could become one of your characters, who would it be and why? What would you do differently in your story?

M: Odysseus, no ifs ands or buts. I wrote him to be the type of man I want to be, even with his flaws. And he’s deviously clever, which I enjoy. I wouldn’t do anything differently because when I wrote his actions, they were actions I wanted to take.

N: How do you write? Do you have a special place, do you listen to music, how much do you write a day, etc.?

M: I can’t tell you how I write because I don’t know, I just sit down and write. If pressed, I would say that I obsess about a story until I have most of it fleshed out in my mind then fire up Microsoft Word. I do, however, jot down notes one a couple of sheets of laminated 3x2 paper with a dry-erase marker. Those sheets are stapled to wall in my den. I guess I write anywhere from 1500-3000 words a day, give or take.

N: What has been your great success in writing? How did you feel?

M: My first published book, of course. Oh, man, when Catherine Treadgold from Camel Press informed me that she loved my book, I was over the moon in two seconds flat. There’s nothing like being appreciated for your hard work to soothe the heart, especially after receiving so many rejections from agents. It was the best drink of water I’d ever had after such a long drought.

N: If you could go back five (or ten or twenty) years in time, what writing advice would you give yourself?

M: Good one….hmm…I would say, if given the TARDIS, I would tell my old self to develop and hone my selfp-discipline, because I believe that technically good writing comes from discipline. And I would tell the younger, more foolish, me to write and re-write and then re-write some more until I felt I had a worthwhile product. AND don’t fear rejection. You need to have a thick skin in this business.

Things to Do in Denver When You’re Un-Dead will be released on, Barnes and Noble, etc. on July 15, 2011. You’d better catch it before the Bureau does. =P

Friday, May 20, 2011

Cyberbullying, Part Two

Being on the Internet makes you feel stronger. More powerful. Because you’re anonymous. They can’t touch you. Ever.
So someone uploaded a video to YouTube complaining about that great movie you loved. That doesn’t mean you have to post a comment saying that the uploader of the video is a “retard” and “doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” It’s better not to put anything at all. Yet, you cannot say that you have never done something of the like. Maybe you unfriended someone on Facebook or disliked a video. Perhaps you made a sarcastic remark, not realizing who might see it. It is within the bounds of imagination that you even wrote a kind comment that others might identify as sarcasm.
And yet there is another, worse way of cyberbullying.
You see on a website that someone has posted an insensitive, rude comment, and you think to yourself how much of a bully that person is; however, you do nothing, merely go on to the next page. As with real bullying, bystanders often wield more power than the bullies themselves.
So how can we stop cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is real, and it will be around for as long as we have technology. It can cause depression. It can cause suicide.
Think before you write. If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Realize that nothing on the Internet can ever be private. If you’re just sharing a joke between friends, it could very well turn into a nasty conversation that hurts everyone. Be mindful. Use the “report” button wisely—if you see an inappropriate comment, report it. Keep track of the behavior of your friends and family. Never hesitate to ask. Don’t forward “funny” emails and text messages without thinking. Don’t dislike something for no reason. And never, ever be a bystander. Write something nice.
It’s up to you and me to stop cyberbullying.
What are you doing about it?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cyberbullying, Part One

Back then, we just had to worry about bullying.
Now it’s cyberbullying.
Since I spend a good deal of my time on the Internet, I’ve seen quite a bit of cyberbullying, so I know about what I’m talking. I’ve seen it, stopped it, been victimized by it, and even caused it unintentionally.
So here’s part one of my Cyberbullying Special.
How do you know when someone is being cyerbullied?
Most of the symptoms are the same for actual bullying—like being depressed, angry, and withdrawn and not talking to friends or family. Similarly, the bullied victim may have a drop in grades—I know I would—and will likely refuse to go to school, especially if the cyberbullies are people they know from school.
A big one is pretending to be sick. Granted, the person might just want to skip school. But if the victim always claims s/he is ill, there’s a chance s/he is being bullied.
And, of course, there’s the cyber part.
The victim probably becomes upset, enraged, or simply depressed while surfing the Internet or talking on a cell phone. Or maybe even afterwards. Either way, the person has mood swings that correspond to cyber-use.
Take it from me.
This concludes part one. Stay tuned . . .
~Nicole Izmaylov

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I’m Your Desire Fulfillment Facilitator!

Hands up. Who remembered the quote—and where it came from?

You have four choices:
a)      Inception
b)      New Moon
c)       The Last Airbender
d)      Wakko’s Wish

If you guessed “d,” you’re correct!

Okay. Hands up again. Now who remembers what Wakko’s Wish is?

Welcome to A Quick Timeline of Kiddy Cartoons, from the “golden age” to today.

Sadly, the “golden age” of kids’ cartoons has left us. I can’t say I was there during most of the golden age. After all, I was born in 1997. However, I do remember what I did see.

Every Saturday morning, I would wake up at six o’clock, running as fast as I could to the television, moving into a comfortable position, grabbing my bowl of Cheerios, pressing the remote, and gluing myself to a world of animated violence, talking animals, and nonsensical flibber-flabber.

Today’s cartoons lack something. Something . . . crazy. The “cartoon show of yore” focused on every episode a shining jewel, and the non-sequiturs and plot holes somehow made it funnier. Take a staple: Tom and Jerry. Who cared if the episodes have little or nothing to do with each other? I distinctly remember the unbelievably cute cry of the little gray mouse from the parody of the Three Musketeers as he squealed, “Monsieur Pussycat!” The violence of the cartoons, such as in the end of that particular episode, in which Tom, the cat, is executed off-screen, was subdued by the cartoons’ hilarity. Most cartoons also managed to attract both younger children and adult audiences, using double entendre or (often thinly) veiled jokes.

There were shows like Dexter’s Laboratory, Ed Edd n Eddy, and Rocko’s Modern Life. My mother often wistfully says that she wishes they still ran those cartoons. Occasionally, one does see reruns, but somehow they’re been all but forgotten. Shows like Cow and Chicken, Johnny Bravo, and CatDog though premiering at different times, entranced many in their promises of sidesplitting, fantastical gobbledygook, each moment funnier than the last. Though they premiered long ago, I still remember them fondly.

Moving right along. Remember the “friendly kid shows?” I’m not talking about Dora the Explora. I’m talking about the “friendly” ones. Shows like Arthur (thankfully still on!) and Rolie Polie Olie excited the imagination and gave valuable lessons. There were also music shows like The Wiggles. Who here remembers PB&J Otter and Franklin? Sadly, few do. The memories have all been blown away by the evil corporate demons trying to make money.

The next three things to hit big were the “animated action-comedy show,” the “old show that had survived,” and the “CGI show.” Shows like The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, originally little shorts, survived. The animated action-comedy show, such as Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends and Camp Lazlo as well as ChalkZone and Catscratch took over cartoony broadcasting, at least for the time being. These slowly morphed into more “surreal” cartoons like Chowder and The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack. The CGI show, unfortunately still around, was perhaps a harbinger of the future. Then there was Codename: Kids Next Door, which, interestingly, is the kids’ cartoon show with the most episodes produced on Cartoon Network, at eighty-one.

This next category covers a great span of time. There were the “actual action” action shows. This included anime from Japan (which is defined as “a Japanese style of animated cartoon, often with violent or explicit content”) such as YuYu Hakusho and Pok√©mon, traditionally American animated plot-based stories like Samurai Jack and later Teen Titans and Ben 10, “dramatic” series like Animorphs and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, slightly more serious “animated emphasis-on-action-comedy show,” such as Danny Phantom. Also in this “barrel” is the highly acclaimed Avatar: The Last Airbender (also known as Avatar: The Legend of Aang), which according to several surveys has generally come to be called, amongst some demographics, “the last good show on Nick.” The celebrated programming block Toonami fits right in here.
And then there are the shows of today.

While a few good ones are still around—for example, Cartoon Network is showing reruns—most of the new shows on previously kiddy networks are either completely surreal nonsense or just plain live-action. Where are my beautiful cartoons?!

What do you guys think? What were your favorite “oldie” cartoons and why, and do you like any of the new cartoons?

Now, I’m off to watch episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender on DVD. Anyone coming with me?

~Nicole S. Izmaylov