Hello, and welcome to my little corner of quirkiness. The purpose of this blog is to make it easier to connect with my readers. It's really that simple. The name of the blog, "Quirky Dreams," is relevant only in that my dreams are often quirky, unusual ones, and they are also where I get many of my writing ideas from. I dream in full-length, color, high-def story lines, and if they are remembered, I write them down. Parts or all of these dreams may enter a story. A story might be based around a single dream or an idea from a dream. Regardless of which it is, this is my writing blog, so kick back in your chair, bed, recliner, or airport terminal, and enjoy the blog.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

If I Only Had a Brain...


Lately, I've been reading more and more about blunders or problems caused by those algorithms that automatically set book prices based on competitor prices. In one case, this actually caused the price of a book to soar to over $23 million! While this is great publicity for the book, I doubt the author is making many sales, which is a problem. The issue was that two competing vendors were automatically adjusting their prices to each other according to a programmed algorithm. The result was a rapid increase in the price of the book.

Machines, and software algorithms, are brainless. The algorithm was doing what it had been programmed to do. It can't sit back, look at the price, and think, "Hmm. I might be going just a little overboard here. No one is going to buy at that price."

This is why I'm not a big fan of these algorithms.

Another issue I read about a little while back was where Kobo was having some kind of problem with bugs in its software. Book prices were getting unintentionally slashed. Not a big problem in itself. Simply contact Kobo and get the book price fixed, right? Well, kind of. The problem was that when Kobo slashed prices, Amazon's automatic pricing picked up on it, and slashed that book's prices to be slightly cheaper than Kobo. This meant that some authors lost money. In one case I read about, quite a bit.

It's a little messy. Overall, I would guess the system works as intended, given that I haven't seen a massive outcry against it, but it's good to know what risks you're taking when you put your books up for sale. Like the Scarecrow, if it only had a brain...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Goodness Gracious Great Balls of Fire!

My co-author (Mark) and I have never met. We collaborate online to write, but we live in separate states. We've never seen each other face to face, and never spoken on the phone (or Skype for that matter). We communicate solely in text.

That said, I have more fun writing with a co-author than I ever had writing alone. Why? The answer is simple. Mundane things become hilarious.

Mark and I were writing a tear-jerker scene. Without giving too much away, a character was speaking with someone dear to him who had died. It was a little heart-wrenching. Especially when they started parting ways. Then, right at the most poignant part, what do I see Mark writing?

"And then, she burst into a fireball."

I nearly died laughing.

Now I can't stop writing, "And then X burst into a fireball," to Mark's dismay. I say it in conversations, which surprisingly enough works to elicit laughter.

Because I tease him so harshly, and because I have so much fun at his expense, and because he's so easygoing about it, every now and then, I just have to say thank you to Mark for making writing so much fun!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

How to Train/Kill Your Dragon?

First of all, Happy Easter! Hope everyone's enjoying chocolate bunnies, marshmallow peeps, and...cadbury eggs (I wait all year for those).

Recently, I've been reading the How to Train Your Dragon series. It's a cute series. Probably a little too young for me, but I'm still enjoying it.

However, I have to point out that while I expect movies to take liberties when they are based on a book, How to Train Your Dragon took the cake. It's VERY loosely based on the book. Without any spoilers, let me point out one of the biggest differences: The Vikings never kill dragons in the book unless they happen to be dangerous ones. There is no war with the dragons. In fact, they really do catch and train them to do tasks for them.

Stoic is much...much...less intelligent in the book, and Gobber is much, much meaner. So far, I've not seen a single dragon called a "Nightfury," and I'm on the third book right now, but we'll see. Hiccup isn't half as impressive as his alter-ego in the movie, and Fishlegs definitely plays a bigger part. No Astrid exists in the book either (so far). I guess Hollywood thought the movie would be better if there was a romantic interest.

Honestly, to enjoy both book and movie, I had to treat them like they're completely separate stories, but I'm liking both now.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Amazing Brain

It's really weird when you're in a dream, looking at something from reality that has found its way into the dream, and thinking Hey, that looks familiar. Where have I seen that before?

Last night, I had a very disturbing dream that I hope isn't a vision of things to come. My friend Kevin would point me toward this video that tells me it's all mathematical chance if I have prophetic dreams, but this is probably more of my brain playing out possible scenarios for the future.

Anyway, back to the point. In part the dream, I saw a garden consisting of solely pea plants. I was trying to figure out why I knew that their flowers should be white or purple, because that isn't something I normally go and find out unless I have a reason. I woke up, and thought, "Oh yeah, because that monk guy who was the father of genetics worked with peas, and I was reading about him." Another part of the dream involved these little cars that work as a team. I had seen them on the show Numbers. That was pretty cool...until the little cars started working to find people to hurt them. I saw a museum, which ended up being a random museum I've never seen in my life. Some of my own personal worries and stresses manifested too.

The interesting thing is how the brain can just piece together random elements from both reality and your imagination. It's like it pulls images and concepts from wherever seems best. Not only that, but it was complete with an entire plot line, mystery, twists and turns. I have no idea how you manage to keep a mystery from yourself, but my brain did a great job of that last night. I wish that worked for writing too!

Friday, April 15, 2011

More On Short Stories

The next short story I'm working on is outlined, and I'm prepping to write. Lots of goblins, lots of garbage, and lots of fun. I feel like I have to make up for the sad story I wrote last time. I'm a bit of a hypocrite that way I guess. I hate sad stories, but it's okay if I write them. When I write them, it doesn't reduce me to a puddle of quivering goo, because I'm too busy looking at the story analytically.

I much prefer humor though. I read a book called Karl and the Prankster God a little while ago, and while it had typos, and I found the start of it a little slow, the book was really great. The idea of Princess Di riding a golf cart around in Heaven and trying to whack paparazzi with a golf club is priceless. I definitely recommend the book if you like religious satire.

Back to humor though: I'll admit, I write it better than I speak it. I have my own quirky sense of humor that sometimes people just don't get when it's spoken. It seems to do alright when written though. The Three Irks is riddled with it.

Anyway, looking forward to writing this short story, and hopefully I can put together a decent cover for it too.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Conversation Questions

Sometimes, I really enjoy bringing certain questions up in a conversation because they can really get a fun and interesting discussion going. You never know what will pop up from them (including story ideas).

  1. If you were going to a deserted island, and you could only bring X number of things, what would you bring?
  2. What weapons would you use if there was a zombie apocalypse? How would you survive?
  3. What year were you born? (Followed by proceeding to check which Chinese astrology sign they are)
  4. If you had a million dollars, what would you do?
  5. If you had X amount of time to live, what would you do?
  6. How would you commit the perfect murder?
  7. If you could eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I could go on and on with these, and I'm sure a lot of people have been asked at least one of them. I enjoy these conversations because it not only elicits creative responses, it's almost social research. What do people do? Why do they do it? All very important things for writing.

Happy chatting!

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Character Paradox

One of the things I read all the time when I'm trying to work on my character design is that you have to treat your characters like tools. This is something I can understand. If you get too fond of your characters, you can't bear to kill them off, everything good and wonderful happens to them, nothing very bad ever occurs in their lives, and overall, they can end up being hollow shells of characters, as opposed to deep and believable people.

The other side of the coin is that once you've created a character, you need to get into the character's head and act out what the character would do. It's a little like role playing, for those of you who play Dungeons & Dragons. You're constantly thinking, "Okay, I'm X. How does X react to Y? What do I do?" Eventually, you learn to slip into the mindset of the character very easily. You can sympathize with him/her/it. You share their emotions, their hopes, their dreams...all because you need to get into the character's head to write consistently with your character design.

So what do you do? Do you stay emotionally detached and clinical with your characters? Or do you throw yourself into them?

I've come to realize that the trick (at least for me) is to find a middle road. I design characters who do not think or act like me. Kind of. I might throw little parts of me into them, but if I do, it's small enough that I can't mistake the character for being just like me. This huge difference between the character and me helps me regard them more objectively. I make a character profile. The profile gives me a guideline to follow for the character so that if it ever feels like I'm deviating from the true essence of the character, I can go back and look at the profile (this is something I learned to do from playing role playing games online).

As far as getting into the head of the character(s), it's often a bit tricky. One of the biggest problems I saw in role playing games was the inability to separate the "you" out of the game and the "you" in the game. This goes for any role playing game.

Writing isn't so different. Writing is just a role playing game where you play all the characters, so it's very easy to have a favorite character and easy to get the urge to make everything go well for this character, because it can become a projection of you, your thoughts, your feelings, your beliefs, etc.

This second part is the most difficult. I have to be able to get into my character's head without becoming attached to the character. To be honest, I hate killing off my characters or finding other ways to get rid of them. I don't mind throwing problems at them, because in truth, there is no story without problems for the character to solve. I do have some attachment to my characters, but this is necessary (to an extent) I think, because it tends to be a side-effect from playing the character and staying true to the character design. The trick, and I think the method is probably different for everyone (but who knows!), is to walk that fine line between attachment and detachment.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tsunami Debris

So according to a CNN article, the debris that was washed into the ocean from the Japan tsunami is predicted to cross the Pacific, pass Hawaii, swirl around the west coast of the US for a time, then boomerang back and finally settle near Hawaii.

Now, I know that no one wants an island of garbage forming in what is usually considered a tropical paradise, but I can't help but be fascinated by nature.

The place the garbage is predicted to settle is the North Pacific Garbage Patch. It's a nice big whirlpool where garbage grinds against garbage until there's almost nothing left of it. It amazes me that our waters can basically turn a heap of trash into a natural blender.

One thing I worry about is how much trash this whirlpool can handle. Will the "garbage island" be ground down over years and years? Or will it just clog the drain so to speak? Too many questions. Not enough answers. I suppose we'll find out within the coming years.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pets, Part 2

We got a new parakeet (Blackberry) as a companion for our first one (Kiwi). This time I made sure to pick a bird that looked bright-eyed, alert, clean, energetic, and confident. I even paid a little extra for what they call a "rare" parakeet just to get one that looked healthier than the rest. A "rare" parakeet is a nice little marketing scheme that means a parakeet bred to be a different color from the standard blue and green parakeets. I'm convinced it's an excuse to charge a little more for the animal, since I often see these "rare" parakeets mixed in with normal parakeets and going for the same price as the normal ones...but okay. Fine. I saw a very healthy looking bird and paid the extra $7 for it.

This is an experiment to see if my co-author is right. Perhaps I really don't check them thoroughly enough before purchase, or perhaps I just gravitate toward animals that need help.

I'm also hoping that a very healthy bird can teach Kiwi a few things. Like maybe what a cuttlebone is really for. I don't want to traumatize the little bird by taking her to get her beak trimmed. She's barely hand-trained.

So, let the experiment commence!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


I have the strangest luck with pets.

I always seem to get the pets that have something wrong with them. I'm not sure if it's that I somehow can sense an animal that needs special attention, or if they can sense that I'm the poor sap who can't look the other way when they need help, but every pet of mine has had an issue, whether physical or mental.

Cat #1 (Luna): Stomach problems, weight problems, and a victim personality. I actually had to train the poor thing to use the litterbox.

Cat #2 (Sinbad): Aggression issues, behavior issues. This cat actually sent me to the hospital, earning a grudging respect.

Cat #3 (Link): Anxiety issues and knee issues. Poor thing freaks at the slightest thing, tries to run off, and his knees pop. Then he limps painfully away. It's going to require surgery, the vet says.

Parakeet: Refuses to use the cuttlebone, refuses to come out of the cage most of the time, and dumps her food on the floor. Takes a sadistic joy in squawking loudly to wake everyone up on weekend mornings.

Ball Python: Shedding issues. The poor girl just cannot shed properly and constantly ends up with patches of skin covering her eyeballs. I have to help her out of her birthday suit.

2 Hamsters and 2 Gerbils: Perfectly normal little rodents, but this is because they belong to my boyfriend. Not me.

I don't think I have even once had a normal pet with no issues who behaves as a pet should. It always involves more than the usual amount of effort for me to take care of them. Not that I'm complaining. I love my pets, and I wouldn't trade them for all the money in the world. I'm just boggling at how I always end up with the difficult cases. Two of the cats I didn't even choose for myself. My grandfather picked out Luna, and I agreed to take Sinbad from a coworker before even seeing him (he was found in a parking lot, all alone, just a little orange fuzz ball).

Even before all this, I somehow found a kitty that was born with one kidney. She routinely had UTI problems and eventually died from kidney failure, despite everything we did.

There has to be some explanation. One day, I will figure out what that is!

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Return of the "Typo King"

So that title was my co-author's exact wording when he let me know he was back from his vacation. Writing can now resume since he has returned from his exile into the lands of dial-up connections. I didn't know people still used dial-up myself. Learn something new every day.

Writing for me isn't half as fun without Mark around, even when I'm writing my own stuff. There aren't the endless puns to groan at, the odd scenes that don't make any sense to stamp out, and there's no joking around with his wife at Mark's expense. No fun at all.

I'll admit, I've even been slacking in my writing. I recently got a Kindle, so I've been reading instead, and pretty voraciously too. I've never liked the idea of not being able to hold a book in my hands, but the Kindle has changed my mind. The only thing better, in my opinion anyway, is a hardcover book. I tend to destroy my favorite paperbacks simply from reading and re-reading, and I still enjoy the feel of a real book. But for books I'd probably buy in paperback anyway, the Kindle is great. I no longer destroy them.

This week though, it's back to writing. I think I needed a break myself. Proofreading and editing two books in a row can really wear you down.

So, anyway, welcome back, Mark. Now write, dammit! ;-)