Sunday, December 30, 2012

Recent Reunions

Well, there have been a few developments in the last few days.

First off, the get-together with my high school friend went great. We did some catching up before and after the movie, and she said she's going to start training soon for a medieval reenactment troop that puts on jousting tournaments. They're supposed to start this coming Spring, and they'll be touring the country. She wants to try getting together with me and a few of our other high school friends again really soon, so there may be some more fun reunions in the near future.

We also both liked The Hobbit again.

I had a little scare on the way out of the theater, though. We were walking back to my Volkswagen in the parking lot when the car next to it backed out, and we heard this loud CRUNCH sound. I ran over to the Volkswagen in a panic, and it turned out there was a huge chunk of ice in the space next to it that the other car backed over. No harm done to the Bug. I give a big thank-you to the other driver for stopping anyway to make sure she didn't hit it.

I also talked to my college friend yesterday about his movie that I'm helping to write. We've mostly been e-mailing each other back and forth so far, and that wasn't helping to clear up my confusion about his story idea, so I finally called him up and got the whole thing straightened up. He's living on a farm in Reading, PA, and it sounds like he's going to mail me an external harddrive with some of his footage on it to help me piece together the story. His movie is part documentary, so he was able to film that part of it this past summer. While I'm waiting for the doc footage, I can start writing one of the scripted portions.

Speaking of writing, I finished the third draft of my sci-fi/fantasy novel today. It probably won't be the end of the editing process, since I'm bound to get some suggestions from the people I recruit to read the manuscript. In the meantime, I'll have plenty of other writing projects to keep me busy.

But first I'm going to karaoke!

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Busy Paid Author

It's been busy at Michaels these past few days. You'd think things would calm down a little after the holidays, and even though the customers have gone down in number considerably, we are by no means  relaxed at work. That's because as soon as the Christmas merchandise stops coming in, the Spring merchandise and the Valentine's Day merchandise starts coming in instead.

Today was especially crazy. We had a supply truck come in this morning, and instead of being all regular items or all seasonal items, it was both -- a double load. I think we had eight or nine people in by the end to help unload the truck and stock everything. Usually only four of us come on Friday mornings.

Just as expected, my latest paycheck deposited today and I got my first payment from Kindle! That means I'm now officially a paid author!

On a somewhat related note, the deer showed up in our yard again today.

They've been passing through the neighborhood a lot lately since this is where all the food is. They're eating everything that fell out of our bird feeder in this picture. I still think they're more creepy than cute.

Last but not least, my high school friend and I are still on to see The Hobbit tonight. We're going to stop at Panera first for a quick meal, then we'll probably polish off my giant 2012 popcorn bucket over the course of the movie. I figured I might as well get one more use out of that one before moving onto my new 2013 one.

So that' all for today. See you tomorrow, folks!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Post-Christmas Blizzard

Well, it's the day after Christmas, and that means a bittersweet dose of holiday whiplash. It's a drag that the main festivities are over and you have to go back to work, but then again, at least the radio stations are done playing Christmas music. Seriously, working in retail has made me so sick of Christmas songs this year. I don't ever want to hear another Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers duet, and as far as I'm concerned, NO ONE can make "Baby It's Cold Outside" sound good. My radio alarm went off at 4:00 AM this morning, and I woke up to the wonderful sound of "Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye.

My shift at Michaels went by surprisingly quickly today. They had me straightening up the ribbon aisle (one of my favorite things to do) and there were hardly any customers in the store this morning. As it turned out, that was because a massive snowstorm had begun raging while I was in the building. I didn't even recognize the parking lot when I walked outside. Lucky thing I drive a Volkswagen Beetle; all I had to do was look for the perfectly round pile of snow at the far end of the lot.

This was our neighborhood at 11:30 this morning. As soon as anyone finished shoveling their driveway, the snow had it covered again. It figures that this would happen on the day we were expecting company rather than yesterday, when we stayed home and didn't have any visitors. Since my cousins' family is from Erie though, driving in the snow wasn't nearly as big a deal for them.

That's right! We finally got together with my mother's side of the family! It was a shorter visit than we would have liked, but we made the most of it. I gave my cousin Holly a Jillian Michaels yoga DVD and she gave me a tear-off "Someecards" calendar. It offers beautifully illustrated daily sentiments such as "If it wasn't for my incredible willpower, I would be exercising right now," and "I'm worried that my guardian angel is a crack head." She totally gets my sense of humor. :)

I also got the soundtrack for The Hobbit, an iTunes card, and The Wizard of Oz on DVD. I know, I know, but that's another timeless classic. Their family left around 4:30 since both of my cousins have to work tomorrow and they wanted to beat the snowstorm out of Pittsburgh. It's about 7:20 right now, and since it's just my parents and me in the house again, I should be able to get a little more editing done tonight. Every little bit helps.

The worse of the snow is supposed to be over now. That means a more peaceful drive to and from work tomorrow. Even in the event that something does go horribly wrong while I'm driving, at least I won't be listening to Christmas music on the radio when it happens.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everybody!

We don't have many holiday traditions here at the Rushe house, but the one thing that we HAVE to do every year is watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation on Christmas Eve. Do I even have to give a review of that one? Most of you have probably seen it and love it too. It's a timeless classic that's still funny no matter how many times I watch it, and I will forever refer to trapper hats as "Cousin Eddie hats" (see left) because of it.

I also ate my entire Christmas bonus from Michaels during the movie last night. Right on schedule. :)

On to today's festivities! My parents and I stayed home since my mother and I are both kind of sick at the moment. We normally visit my father's side of the family for dinner on Christmas, but we should still be having my mother's side over tomorrow afternoon. Not having to get ready for any get-togethers made for a very laid-back, relaxing holiday--ideal conditions for book editing.

This was also a good gift year. I got some visual guide books for The Hobbit, some new sneakers, and a 2013 popcorn bucket for Carmike Cinemas, among other things. I also got the book I'll Mature When I'm Dead by Dave Barry, whose writing is downright impossible to read out loud with a straight face. Seriously, I've been reading his stuff since before I was old enough to even get all of his jokes.

Last but not least, I got a new battery for my flip phone. Now I can take it to Verizon and get all of my contacts transferred onto my new phone! My mother ordered the battery off of eBay, but the funny thing was, she actually couldn't find it by itself to buy. She had to buy a car charger that had the battery included with it as a bonus item. I mean dang, I knew my phone was outdated, but I had no idea that the accessories for it had become rare antiques. I should film the Verizon clerks' reactions to seeing it when I go in to get my contacts transfered.

My mother had sort of a Batman-themed Christmas this year. She's been obsessed with him ever since The Dark Knight Rises filmed in Pittsburgh last summer and we were extras in the football stadium scene. I got her the DVD and a Pittsburgh Pirates-style jacket that says Batman across the back. The size of the jacket is a little off though, so hopefully we can get it exchanged without any trouble. Hot Topic might have to specially order the new one since they don't seem to have them in the store anymore.

My father had a Beatles-themed Christmas. That happens pretty much every year.

So that was December 25th, 2012 for our family. There wasn't any snow today, although that's supposed to come either tonight or tomorrow morning. With any luck, that won't interfere with anything. Tomorrow will also likely be the start of a massive post-holiday sale at Michaels. I have no idea what to expect from the customers in that scenario. If it does turn out to be crazy, at least I'll have one more story for our visitors tomorrow.

Merry Christmas, folks!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Catching Up

It's been a few days since my last post. Things are kind of slow for me right now, so I figured I might as well wait until I had enough things to say before I made another blog entry.

First off, I was going to see The Hobbit again last night with a friend from high school, but we had to reschedule for Friday the 28th. I'm fine with that, since my 2012 Carmike popcorn bucket and a theater coupon I found will still be good until the end of the month. I should also be getting my next Michaels paycheck AND my first Kindle payment on the 28th, so those will come in handy too.

Speaking of Michaels, this was my last work day before Christmas. It was also the day that I got my Christmas bonus:

It's a candy bar. 100% real chocolate. I give it until noon tomorrow to last me.

I go back to work on December 26th, which is also the day when my cousins from Erie should finally be coming down to visit us. I can't even remember the last time our families got together; Thanksgiving didn't work out for us this year, and we didn't even get to see each other all summer. Come to think of it, we might not have seen each other since last Christmas. At least this way my cousin Holly and I will definitely have some stories to tell each other.

There still isn't much to report on the writing front. I'm 2/3 of the way through editing my next novel, and I'm hoping to be done with it by January. After that, I'll give copies of the manuscript to a few friends and relatives to test it out. In the meantime, it'll be on to Part II in the series for me.

And last but not least, we all survived the apocalypse on December 21st. Hooray! The movie 2012 is obsolete now! I don't know what I'm gonna do with all that spam I bought, though.

So that's all the news from the past few days. I might venture to Duke's Station tonight since I haven't been to karaoke for a while. We'll see how much editing I get done first.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

K. Ru. on Skype

Well, I'm one step closer to catching up with the modern world!

I've been e-mailing my college friend back and forth about his script for the last few days, but I find it difficult to carry a productive conversation that way. Since a few of my friends have recommended Skype to me lately, I finally decided to set up an account. My mother set up an account too just so we try a test call. That went off without a hitch, so it looks like I'm set to go.

The only difficulty I've run into so far is finding friends on Skype. You can type in their names and get results, but sometimes you get multiple results for the same name and most will either have to profile picture or a picture of something other than the user. It's the same problem I have when trying to find people on Facebook. The big difference is that Facebook is pretty universal, so more likely than not, the person you're looking for will be of the results that comes up. When you do a cold search for someone on Skype, you don't even know if they have an account there at all. Guess I'll just have to ask around.

I also got an invoice from Kindle the other day. I should be receiving my first royalty payment by the end of this month! It won't be for much, but it's a start, and it'll be the first time I've received direct payment for any of my books. It that doesn't motivate you to write more, then I don't know what does!

I wonder how effective Skype is for networking...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Employee Discounts

Michaels currently has a 40% employee discount on all regular priced items. Because of that, I caved and bought this Hobbit poster:

It's kind of funny; our poster section is mainly one of those display racks where they're hung in metal frames that you can page through, but we also have some free-standing boxes of posters for specific movies, video games, and musicians. Those boxes are always in the way no matter where you put them on the sale floor, so in the three months that I've been working at Michaels, they've migrated all over the store. Right now they're in the hallway with the restrooms.

I also used my 40% discount to buy some sheets of papyrus-looking paper and burlap. I might have use for them in a couple of future book covers. Even if I don't end up going with those ideas, at least the materials were really cheap.

This is probably the first time I've had an employee discount that was useful. My first job out of school was at a dollar store, where 25% off of $1.07 doesn't make a huge difference. After that, I worked at a gym and had free membership, but I never took advantage because I didn't want to spend my days off there. Then for a brief time, I worked at a plus-sized clothing store where everything was too big to fit me. All I ever bought was one shirt on my last day, just because it seemed like something that could look baggy in a stylish way.

There's not much else to say right now. I've got another cold, I'm still editing my next book, and I'm done Christmas shopping for the year. There's supposed to be a Christmas party at Duke's Station on Wednesday, and with any luck, both of the people that I have gifts for will show up.

This is it! Nine days until December 25th!

Friday, December 14, 2012


It's here! The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey finally came out today! I saw it at 3:30 PM today, and unlike most movies, I walked out of it knowing exactly how I felt about it. I've been building up to this review for half a month now, so let's dive right into it!

First off, you've probably guessed by now that I'm a huge Lord of the Rings fan. I keep count of how many times I've seen each movie, I have all the character bookmarks and Burger King toys, and I've been to two symphonies that performed the soundtrack scores. I even celebrate my anniversary with the trilogy every year; it's on October 26th, and I call it "Fellowfest." And if you still don't think that's excessive, check this guy out:

I've had that cut-out in my bedroom for almost nine years.

Bottom line, the Lord of the Rings trilogy is why I love writing and filmmaking, so when I heard that New Line was going to adapt The Hobbit...I was worried. With movies like the Star Wars prequels, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and The Godfather Part III out there, Hollywood's gotten pretty notorious for making bad follow-ups to great movies. I also didn't know what to think of them stretching it out to three films and incorporating subplots that weren't in the book. Now that I've seen it though, what did I think of it?

Well, I definitely liked The Hobbit. I just didn't like it as much as Lord of the Rings.

For starters, this movie has a much lighter tone. There's a lot more humor, it relies more on magical elements and less on realism, the villains and the action scenes are more cartoony in nature, and although there's a lot of emotional weight given to the dwarves' quest to reclaim their city, there isn't nearly as much at stake this time as there was in LotR. It won't be the end of the world if this quest fails. Don't get me wrong, The Hobbit still holds up very well as an action/adventure fantasy, and I don't think there's anything wrong with giving it a lighter tone than LotR. It just doesn't pull you into the world of the story as much when there's less drama.

I think a big part of that "problem" is the size of the cast. There were only nine characters in the Fellowship, so it was easier to flesh out each one and examine their relationships with each other. There are fifteen characters in Bilbo's group, himself included, and while the film does a VERY good job of making each dwarf unique, there's only a handful that you really feel like you know by the end. Heck, some of the dwarves never even get a line, so it's hard to get fully invested in everyone. Then again, there's nothing to hate about any of them, and you can certainly speculate a lot about their personalities judging from their character designs, so I do think you'd feel some sense of loss if any of them died. But here's the thing: since this is only a third of an adaptation, none of them do die in this movie. They just wander from one set-piece to the next without suffering any setbacks. At least LotR gave us some tragedy to deal with one movie in.

And that's probably my biggest hangup about The Hobbit. With the exception of Bilbo finding the Ring, it kind of feels like nothing happens in this movie. To be fair though, the same could be said about Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, so maybe I shouldn't fault this installment too much for that. These movies have always been more about atmosphere and spectacle than rapid-fire storytelling, and The Hobbit does have a lot of atmosphere and spectacle. I didn't get as immersed in it as I did in LotR, but I still highly recommend it. I'll give it an "A" grade. It might take a few more viewings for me to bump it up to an "A+" like its predecessors.

Good thing I plan to see it again within the week.

We must return to the city of Erebor! Our $#!%&er is full!

PS: Here's a commercial I made back in high school where my Gollum cut-out makes a cameo: BPTV Commercial - Gollum

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Working and Writing

I was supposed to be off today, but I got a call yesterday asking me to come in to Michaels this morning and straighten up the ribbon and paint aisles. Those seem to be my niche areas now, so that's a really good sign. Getting paid for five and a half more hours this week was also very nice.

In other news, I went back to that company that I visited on Monday. I never got a phone call saying whether or not I'd been chosen to return for a personal interview, so I figured asking them face-to-face was the surest way to hear their decision. Turns out that they passed on my resume. I kind of figured that was the case, but at least now I know. Luckily, I'm still in the running for another job in Cranberry.

On the writing front, one of my college buddies contacted me the other day asking for help on a documentary screenplay that he's writing. He sent me some footage and basic info about the film, and he's trying to finish a rough draft of the script to send to me next. On top of that, Deer Lake, Love Hurts, and A Very Slagel Christmas have each sold a copy this week. It's pretty exciting stuff!

I've also resumed editing my other novel. With any luck, I'll be done by the end of this month and will start outlining and writing the sequel in January.

That's all the news for today. I'm working another midnight shift, so I'm trying to staying awake by editing and watching "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" Netflix is great.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman

I recently rented Snow White and the Huntsman from Netflix. I saw it once before in theaters, and I wasn't really sure what to think of it at the time. My feelings had nothing to do with the whole Kristen Stewart/Rupert Sanders scandal because I was lucky enough to see the movie before all that came out. Since that story overshadows the movie itself nowadays, I might as well get my thoughts on that out of the way first.

You see, I never quite bought that Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson were actually dating in real life. The whole thing felt like a huge publicity stunt for Twilight, in which (according to the reviews I've watched) the two show no chemistry whatsoever. I don't know, maybe I've just seen Singin' in the Rain too many times. Bottom line, I didn't care about the supposed affair and breakup, and I have no idea what the status of their relationship is now. I know even less about Rupert Sanders, so I care even less about his end of the aftermath.

As for Kristen Stewart as an actress, this is the only movie of hers that I've ever seen, and I didn't hate her in it. That's because she was such a non-entity that she didn't trigger any emotional response whatsoever. In fact, that's how I'd describe pretty much every performance in this movie, so Stewart didn't leave any especially negative impressions on me.

And that's ultimately what I've decided about Snow White and the Huntsman: it's a non-entity. I don't love it or hate it. It's just something to stare at for two hours. The story is a confusing mess, the editing sometimes makes things even more confusing, and the pace is so rushed that you never have time to connect with anyone in the story.

There was an option on the DVD to watch the extended cut of the movie instead, but get this - when you select it, a message comes up saying that you can't watch that version on a rental DVD. You have to buy the movie to have access to both cuts of the film. I didn't even know DVD distributors did that. Can anyone tell me if the extended version is any better?

Anyway, back to the review.

For as weak as the script is, I'll admit it's a good twist to have Snow White sort of fall for the huntsman instead of the prince in this version. He's always been the more conflicted and interesting character of the two, and let's face it, he risks and sacrifices a lot more for Snow White than the prince ever does. I always wanted to know what happened to him after he decided not to kill her, so kudos to this film for exploring that. I just wish it could have tied up the love triangle instead of leaving it wide open for a sequel.

The only other thing the film has going for it are the visuals, which are extremely stunning and imaginative. I love that the queen turns into a flock of crows to get from place to place. I love that the trees and rocks in the dark forest morph into monsters that attack the characters. I love that the magic mirror melts and stands up to looks like a person underneath a shiny cloak. The only problem is that there's such a lifeless, jumbled narrative stringing all these images together that you're too busy asking questions to fully admire them.

It's also worth mentioning that this movie goes to a lot of lengths to look like a Lord of the Rings film. Seriously, there's a scene where Snow White is being chased through a forest on horseback by several knights dressed in black, and it looks like they took the chase with Arwen and the Black Riders and Photoshopped Kristen Stewart's face over Liv Tyler's. And just look at Snow White's battle gear at the end and tell me she didn't steal it from Gondor. I find it kind of interesting that Lord of the Rings is still influencing the genre so heavily eleven years after it came out.

And okay, there's actually one more thing this movie has going for it. I find Chris Hemsworth attempting a Scottish accent to be extremely funny. The harder he tries to sound Scottish, the more noticeable his Australian accent becomes. It's like someone put Paul Hogan and Craig Ferguson in a blender and their voices started battling for dominance.

That's not a knock on Hemsworth's performance though. He's actually one of the better actors in the whole cast, or at least he's one of the few who really tries to do a good job. And you know what? I admire him a lot for that. I don't know what it is, but there's just something about him that I always find very likeable.

No! That's not what it is!

...Although that certainly doesn't hurt.

So those are my thoughts on Snow White and the Huntsman. Overall, I say either skip it or just watch it once for a laugh. It's a "C" at best for this one.

Hopefully I'll be seeing a much better fantasy film on Friday.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

RIP My Eight-Year-Old Flip Phone

Well, my cell phone died today. It was my very first phone, and I got it back in 2004. It didn't have Internet, it didn't have a camera, and it only had twelve buttons on the keypad. That made texting pretty annoying. The main reason I held onto the phone so long was because I just didn't feel the need to have all those other fancy gadgets. As long as it could call people, it was good enough to keep.

So naturally, on the day when I'm expecting a call from a potential employer, it stops working all together.

Actually, the battery just ran out of power and needed to be replaced. The only problem is that Verizon stores don't carry batteries for eight-year-old models anymore, so it would take about a week to get one shipped in. Since I've been eligible for a discount on a new phone anyway, I finally decided to upgrade. So here it is:

My mother has almost the exact same kind, so figuring out the technicals of it was fairly easy. I never heard from the company I went to yesterday, so I'll have to call them tomorrow and find out what the deal is. I also have to find a way to turn my old phone back on for a few minutes so I can transfer all of my contacts over to the new one. Batteries Plus might be the place to visit.

On a less stressful note, Open Mic Night went fine yesterday. We didn't end up performing "Bent," but I ended up performing "Lookin' Out My Back Door" by CCR with one of the guys in Jackie's band. There was some confusion at first since I didn't have a karaoke machine to time everything out for me, but all in all, the song went fairly well.

I also told a few people about my new Kindle books, so hopefully I'll start to see sales for "A Very Slagel Christmas." "Love Hurts" has already sold five copies!

It's about 9:30 PM now. I'm thinking of going to karaoke again tonight since I don't have to work tomorrow. Maybe I'll call ahead on my new phone to see who's going to be there...

Monday, December 10, 2012

"Slagel Christmas" available!

Alright! "A Very Slagel Christmas" is now officially available on Kindle! Here's the link to it:

"A Very Slagel Christmas"


After hitting it off in Jacqueline Druga's "The Nerdfly," single parents Joe Slagel and Emily Stevenson decide to spend Christmas together. Unfortunately, they have seven problems standing in the way of their happy holiday: their children. Joe's sons Frank, Jimmy, Hal, and Robbie are enough of a handful, but when Emily's mischievous brood joins the equation, families collide and hijinks ensue.

Can the Slagels maintain peace and good will towards their guests, or will this be their most disastrous—and hilarious—Christmas of all time?


I spent most of today working on the cover for another book. The book isn't one of mine, but it's an old favorite, so I'm petty excited to be working on this. I'm done with the line art and am in the process of coloring it in Photoshop (an extremely tedious process), but it should be finished tomorrow.

I also had that job "interview" this afternoon. It was actually more like an open-house lecture for several candidates at once. The people conducting it will decide tomorrow which candidates they want to bring back, and that will lead to an actual one-on-one interview on Thursday. Supposedly, they'll call me with their decision regardless of whether or not they pick me, so I can look forward to some feedback tomorrow. I don't want to jinx it by talking about it anymore.

And that's that for today. I'm going to open-mic night again in a few minutes. This is the night that I'm supposed to help Drew and Noah perform "Bent" by Matchbox Twenty. Again, I have no idea what to expect. I just hope that somebody films it.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Very Slagal Christmas

Okay! I've posted my third book on Kindle! "A Very Slagel Christmas" will be available for $0.99 in exactly twelve hours. Be sure to look for it if you're in the mood for something light-hearted and funny to read for the holidays!

Here's the cover I made for the book:

Special thanks to Jackie Druga for authorizing this tribute to her classic characters, as well as for all of her help in reformatting the text.

As for my test drive to the company in Greentree, it managed to go relatively smoothly. I had to do a few figure-eights on the way over because I couldn't tell exactly when my GPS wanted me to turn off of the main road. The way back was a little crazier, because the GPS kept telling me to make left turns onto roads that had "No Left Turn" signs. All that matters is that I know how to get to the company's building in a timely manner; I can waste all the time I want trying to find my way home after the interview tomorrow.

In the meantime, onto my next creative undertaking...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

There were no more blackouts last night. I had several alarms set on my cell phone as backup, just in case. I go into work at 5 AM tomorrow too, then I'm supposed to be off from Monday through Thursday. I'll probably spend two of those four days catching up on my sleep from this past week.

My author website is still under construction. So is my next book cover, along with a few other projects. Since I don't have anything current to share today, I decided to post some links to our team's entry for the 48 Hour Film Project this past summer. It's a six-minute, black and white adventure serial about two crime fighters named Captain Stoplight and Beam Boy.

It has a very Adam West Batman vibe to it. We wanted to stay true to the era and make it as campy as possible.

 30-Second Trailer

"Adventures of Captain Stoplight and Beam Boy"

My main job was to film and edit the movie, although I do make a brief cameo in the beginning.

Posing with Jackie and Beam Boy
at the 48 Hour Screening
I also posted this animation from my college days on YouTube today, just so I could send a link to a production company that's looking to hire a graphics operator.

So that's all for now. I should have more to say tomorrow; I've got a job interview scheduled on Monday and I want to take a test drive to the place before the big day. Knowing me, finding the building might be more of an ordeal than the actual interview.

Friday, December 7, 2012

This might turn out to be a shorter blog entry than most. The power in our house has been going on and off for the last few minutes, and I could lose my wireless internet at any moment.

I had a job interview over the phone this afternoon. The position is a full-time customer service representative, and the training for it would begin around the end of January. I think the interview went fairly well, but the person I spoke too said they'll contact me either way after they make their hiring positions. So far, I already like this place more than 90% of the other companies I've applied to in the past four months.

In other news, my mother and I made some Christmas cookies:

I had a cover idea for my next short story, and it involved Christmas cookies. We didn't have any left over from last year, and since my mother was planning to make some anyway, we got to work and churned out ten dozen this evening. I took the pictures that I needed for the book cover, and that was that. Now I just have to do some touch-ups on Photoshop and add in the title.

The story is called "A Very Slagal Christmas." I wrote it when I was twelve years old about the Slagal boys, the main characters in Jackie's Beginnings series.The story was going to be in that Christmas collection book, but since that isn't happening anymore, Jackie's given me permission to use her characters in this stand-alone piece. I've already reformatted it (here's hoping I did everything right on my own the first time), and all I have left to do is add a disclaimer and the cover art. Keep your eyes out for that on Kindle very soon!

That's all for tonight, folks. Between working, preparing for my interview, and all the other things on my crazy agenda, I think I've managed to get six hours of sleep in the last two days. I'll probably fall right to sleep tonight.

And if the power goes out again and shuts off my alarm clock, I'll probably stay asleep for a very long time.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Okay folks, here you go: "Love Hurts and Other Short Stories" is now available for purchase on Kindle.

"Love Hurts and Other Short Stories"


"Love Hurts" tells a classic story: boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, girl tries to break up with boy, boy can't take a hint, and so girl decides to murder boy in any way she can think of. This whacky tale follows Al and his endless affection for Heather, the "wonderful woman" who never leaves his side despite all of the mysterious accidents that befall him. If ignorance is bliss, then Al is the happiest man in the world. The question is how long he'll manage to stay in the world...

This story and several others come together in a funny, suspenseful, and otherworldly collection that is sure to keep you turning the pages for more.


Take a look at "Love Hurts," give it a read, and be sure to post a review!

That's all for now. I went to karaoke last night, and I've been resting for most of the day to prepare for another midnight shift at Michaels. It's still a rough shift to work, but at least I get out before the store opens and the customer mob comes in.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Six Hours to Go!

Okay folks! The countdown has begun! Not the Hobbit countdown; the countdown for "Love Hurts and Other Short Stories"! 

I reformatted the file last night with a lot of help from Jackie, and I uploaded it to Kindle this afternoon. The download will cost 99 cents and it should become available for purchase around 2:30 AM. Be sure to look for it on if you're in the market for something to read!

In addition to that, I'll also have a holiday-themed short story coming out very soon. I originally submitted it for a collection of Christmas stories, but since that idea didn't work out, I can publish my contribution as a stand-alone piece. It's already edited, so the only things left to do are to reformat it and come up with an idea for the cover.

In the meantime, I'm continuing to edit my full-length novel and tinker with some other ideas. It's a great time to be a writer!

Speaking of books, there's an entire Hobbit/Lord of the Rings section set up in Barnes & Noble now. It looks like I've finally got some ideas for my Christmas list. :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Open Mic Night

Okay, so I went to Open Mic Night at Duke's yesterday. It's not a competition between local bands after all, just a casual event where local bands just take turns performing. Sort of like karaoke, except everyone sings well and they play their own music.
Drew and Noah were both there, along with Drew's wife Joanna. My friend Jackie and her band Middle Aged were also there, and they did a few songs. Here's a video of one of their performances that they posted on Facebook:

"Knock On Wood" - Middle Aged

There was also a solo performer named Bucky there who played "In The Air Tonight" by Phil Collins. On top of singing it, he managed to play the strings and percussion all on one acoustic guitar. I was impressed enough that he did that song, since "In The Air Tonight" was my inspiration song while writing "Deer Lake," but he really delivered on the performance too.

All in all, I'd say I liked Open Mic Night even more than karaoke. It turns out their hours are from 8pm to midnight, which works a lot better with my work schedule.It's also less crowded, which means less smokers. Second-hand smoke has always been a problem for me, and it's especially rough this time of year because it's cold outside and no one wants to open the doors to air out the building. I wore three layers of clothes last night just in case I had to go out to breathe, but it wasn't necessary. I might do that again next time, just in case a fight ever erupts at the bar. Stuff just bounces right off of you when you're that heavily insulated.

I'll definitely go back next Monday, because I might be helping Drew and Noah with a song then. Jackie told me to pick a new song for them to learn, and I said "Bent" by Matchbox Twenty since I'm curious to hear how that would translate onto acoustic guitar. At the end of the night, I was told I'd be singing backups for it. Good thing I picked a song that I really like. :)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Crazy Customers

There was a line of at least ten people standing outside Michaels this morning, just waiting for the store to open. It wasn't really distracting, but every time a coworker would show up for their shift before business hours, you practically had to fight back a mob of customers who'd try to barge in behind them. I have a feeling we stock our wrapping paper tubes so close to the front door so we can use them as weapons in such scenarios.

This is only the second time I've ever worked retail in December, but I'm already noticing a trend in the way customers behave during the holiday season. They obviously flock to the stores in higher numbers and tend to get more aggressive and less patient, but despite all of that, less of them actually know what they want to buy when they come into the store. I can't go a whole day anymore without someone asking me to come up with gift ideas for them!

Take today for instance. A woman told me she was looking for a craft kit for a 12-year-old girl. She didn't say what kind of a craft kit she was looking for, she just wanted me to show her every single kit in the store that I thought a 12-year-old girl would like. It also had to be less than $15. And after I came up with something, she said if I found anything "better" while she was still in the store, I should bring it to her.

Is it just me, or does it sound like this woman pretty much wanted me to do her Christmas shopping for her? Suffice to say, I didn't find anything "better" than the first kit I came up with for her.

One of my funnier customer encounters was about two months ago. A woman said she was looking for something to stick a poster to a wall with, and I showed her a box of adhesive squares. I kid you not, she held the item in her hand, read the description on the box, and said, "Adhesive on both sides, removable, and doesn't damage wall or poster. That sounds good. Where can I find something like that?"

I don't even remember what I said in response to that. If I ever make a Top 10 list of memorable work moments, that will probably make the top 3.

So that was my rant on work for the day. I'm rested up, and I think I'll go to Open Mic Night at Duke's Station this evening. It's supposed to be a battle of the bands type of event, and Jackie's sons Drew and Noah will most likely be there. See you tomorrow, folks!

11 days until The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey...

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Since I've posted the link to my online portfolio, I should also post the link to my author website. There's not much on the site right now, since I only have one book published so far, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to share:

Katelyn Rushe - Self-Published Author

I'm expecting to update it as soon as "Love Hurts and Other Short Stories" is released. I'm in the process of reformatting the file for Kindle, but I'm having a few issues finding all of the necessary settings on my version of Microsoft Word. No major obstacles, as of right now.

...And since I'm in a posting mood, here's an installment of Conan O'Brien's "Fan Corrections" that I was featured in back in February. Conan made a comment about the Hulk being part of the Fantastic Four, and several viewers pointed out the error. As you'll see, CoCo had some wicked revenge in store for all of us.

There's not much else to talk about today. Work was uneventful and I spent most of my afternoon trying to catch up on sleep. I also got an e-mail from saying that my local Michaels store is hiring for the season. Helpful as always, Snagajob.

12 more days until The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

13 days until The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey!

Not much to report from these last few days. I added another story to "Love Hurts and Other Short Stories" and have been putting the final editing touches on the manuscript. I've also started the third draft of my other book. In the meantime, I've tinkering with a few other ideas for novels and even doing some research for one. Those ideas probably won't see the light of day (or the page of a Microsoft Word document) for a while though.

Mostly I've been job hunting. I've been searching for more creative positions lately, most of which are listed on career search engine types of sites. The application process has been relatively manageable for most of them, although one position required a link of my online portfolio. Seems reasonable enough, except for the fact that I had no online resume at the time. Well, it was the evening before one of my midnight - 8:00 AM work shifts, so I was able to stay up all night making a website of my work just for that job application.

Katelyn Rushe Online Portfolio

I've sent the link to a few other companies since then, so I'd say that creating it was a smart undertaking. Let's just hope that it pays off now!

I realized today that I never came back with a more in-depth analysis of the movie Lincoln. Unfortunately, I haven't given it much more thought since the day I saw it, and the details have faded a bit from my mind. As I said last time, this isn't the type of film that I normally prefer to see, as evidenced by the countdown at the top of this blog entry. While I'm certainly open-minded to historical drama, I'm not going to have the same appreciation for it as a fan of the genre would. All in all, I say the movie is worth seeing.

So that's it, folks. I've got another early work day tomorrow and I didn't get much sleep this afternoon. I'll be back with another entry tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Okay! I just finished the cover for my short story collection last night. I would have posted it then, but I kept dozing off at my computer and eventually fell asleep around 10:30. These early morning work shifts are brutal. Anyway, here's a sneak peek at the cover:

I changed the title, obviously. "Getting Out of Love" didn't give a clear idea of what the featured story was about, so now it's called "Love Hurts." All of the things coming out of the broken heart are objects (and animals) that make appearances in the story. I drew the line-work by hand in pencil, then scanned it and colored it on Photoshop.

As for the short stories themselves, I'm still editing. My mother read them over and pointed out a few things for me to fix and adjust. Otherwise, I could see this book coming out as early as this weekend.

I'll keep you posted!

Friday, November 23, 2012

And here I thought I was joking about the turkeys going into hiding for the holidays. The picture says it all, folks. A grand total of thirteen turkeys came flocking to our yard the day after Thanksgiving to eat all of the bread crumbs my mother threw out there yesterday. My theory is that they're fattening up now to go back into hiding for the Christmas season.

You see, President Obama? This is how the turkeys of our nation have to live when you only pardon two of them a year!

Working today wasn't as bad as I was expecting it to be. Michaels probably lucked out since not many Black Friday shoppers are in a frenzy to buy art supplies. The real treat today was that, for some reason, no inventory truck came this morning. We just shelved all of the items that came in on Wednesday. There's been word going around the store that we're not getting anymore holiday items, so maybe we'll go back to getting one truck a week. I guess that was our Christmas present from the upper management.

I also went to see the movie Lincoln this afternoon. Again, I'll need some time to think before I can properly analyze it. The film was enjoyable overall, but I think you'd need to be a huge American history buff to fully appreciate it, and to be honest, I'm not.

It's probably not one I'll watch again, but I'll still give this movie an "A" just because it does have a lot of very effective surprise moments and it shows a very funny, human side of the sixteenth president that history books tend to ignore.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Dinner For Three

My family's having a very different Thanksgiving this year. It used to be that my mother's side of the family would come to our house for dinner and then stay with us for a few days. Since one of my cousins started working at a casino though, she's always had to work on Thanksgiving, so my parents and I would drive to Erie to have dinner at their house instead.

This year, I'm working Thursday night into Friday morning; Thanksgiving into Black Friday. Because of that, both of our families are now tied up and having dinner by ourselves. I have no idea what our three-person household is going to do with a dinner intended for seven people, but I guess most of your traditional Thanksgiving dishes keep for a long time. I know what we'll still be eating for dinner next Thursday!

Actually, I'll probably need to eat as much turkey as possible today so I can get all my sleep in early. That's the only way you can make these midnight-to-8:00 AM shifts work.

Speaking of turkey, I've noticed a curious lack of wild ones roaming in our neighborhood these past few days. I mother threw out some bread crumbs for them (stuffing, I guess you could call it) today, but there haven't been any takers. How much do you want to bet that they've turned the space under our porch into a holiday bird bunker and won't be coming out again until january?

In other news, I've finished the second draft of my next book. It's going to need another run-through on the editing, so in the meantime, I've been collecting some of my old writing pieces and preparing a compilation book for Kindle. As it stands, the title will be "Getting Out of Love and Other Short Stories," and the book will be available in two weeks at the latest.

The biggest delay will be drawing the cover, because I can't imagine finding anything on Getty Images or Fotolia that would sufficiently represent the twisted dark comedy that is "Getting Out of Love."

Happy Thanksgiving, folks. And good luck shopping tomorrow! This will be the first time I've ever been in a retail store on Black Friday.

Let's see how many customers ask me tomorrow if I really work there...

Friday, November 16, 2012

I went to karaoke at Duke's Station this past Wednesday night. I used to go there two or three times a week, but thanks to my early morning work schedule, I've had to cut back lately. It's almost funny, because the one day that I thought I'd be able to go last week was the day I ended up getting Pink Eye. Someone upstairs must have a real problem with me singing CCR songs in a bar.

Anyway, my friend Jackie's son Drew was DJ'ing at Duke's on Wednesday. His wife Jo and few more friends were there too, along with maybe ten other people. This was one of the smallest rotations I've ever seen at karaoke. Every twenty minutes, it was my turn to sing again. I couldn't come up with songs to do fast enough! Why can't every night be like that? :)

There was also some  slideshow of random music facts showing on the TV behind the bar that night. Apparently, two members of the band Matchbox Twenty are nicknamed "Hashbrown" and "Pookie." I just felt the need to share that because I like Matchbox Twenty.

On the writing front, I just finished editing Chapter 38 out of 41 in my novel. I think I'm going to hold off on publishing it once the editing's finished though, because I'd like to be pretty far along in the sequel by the time this book gets released. The second book is supposed to pick up right where this one leaves off, so I'd like the installments to come out as close to each other as possible. In the meantime, I've got plenty of older works that may be Kindle-ready.

Gotta go. I've got to get up at 4:00 AM for work tomorrow and I want to at least get started editing Chapter 39.

Rock on!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sorry for the lack of updates this past week. I've been trying to edit a chapter a day in my book, work has been crazy, and now to top it all off, I've managed to come down with a cold and Pink Eye at the same time. Right now, that all seems to be under control. I'm on Chapter 37 of 41 in my editing, and once this second draft is done, the third one shouldn't take very long.

Well, I've had some more time to think about Wreck-It Ralph. While I maintain that it's a great movie, there is one little part of it that I kind of have to take issue with. This requires a bit of setup though.


The synopsis for the movie is that Wreck-It Ralph is the bad guy in an archade video game called "Fix-It Felix Jr." (and no, they never say what or where the regular, original version of "Fix-It Felix" is). The twist is that Ralph's not really bad; wrecking stuff is just his job in the game, and there's an understanding in the video game community that it's good for games to have a designated "bad guy." However, on "Fix-It Felix Jr.'s" 30th anniversary, all the other characters throw a party but don't invite Ralph. He ends up crashing the party and getting into a big argument with is gamemates, and they all make it clear that they resent him for being the "bad guy" and don't respect how pivotal he is to the game.

Long story short, Ralph sneaks into some other games to prove how heroic and admirable he can be, he ends up really making a mess of things there, "Fix-It Felix Jr." is deemed out of order because there's no more bad guy to fight, and Ralph comes home to find all of his gamemates packing to leave. As he tries to apologize and explain his actions, one of the side characters chews him out for only thinking about himself and for not appreciating what a good thing he had in the beginning, and the movie indicates that this character is right.

That's what I kind of have to take issue with.

I'm failing to see the "good thing" that Ralph had in the beginning. There was no silver lining to his life; the other characters were genuinely taking him for granted. They didn't appreciate at all how important he was when they should have, and they literally treated him like garbage. And yet the movie's trying to tell us now that he's entirely the one in the wrong. To be fair, I do think that Ralph behaved selfishly in the other video games, but most of the really bad stuff was done unknowingly or because of a misunderstanding. Plus, I never got the sense that anyone in "Fix-It Felix Jr." knew about the things that he did in those other games. So what are they mad about? That he got tired of poor treatment that he didn't deserve and they found out the hard way that he had a point?

To be fair again, the actual character Fix-It Felix has an epiphany where he realizes how unfair everyone's been to Ralph, and the side characters do show their appreciation at the very end of the movie. I just really don't think Ralph's guilt or the resentment we're supposed to have for him in the chewing-out scene was merited.

I might need to see the movie again to make sure I have all my facts straight. That shouldn't be too much of a chore since I still like it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Interviews and a Movie

I had a couple job interviews this week. They were both at marketing companies in Greentree that got my resume from I know virtually nothing about marketing, I'm probably not qualified to work in that field, and it's a pretty safe guess that neither of the companies that interviewed me are interested in hiring me.

This is what my job search has become. Totally worth the four years of college that lead up to it. In the meantime, all I can do is keep working the graveyard shift at Michaels and editing my stories for Kindle.

If there's anything at all that I've learned sine graduation, it's that the only way to get by at all in today's economy is to make your own luck. No one in the entire work force cares if you're a part of it or not, and none of them is going to help you. That's why I have to stick to my guns and focus on becoming an author. I can do 99.9% of that job by myself.

On a more pleasant note, I saw Wreck-It Ralph today.

I'll probably have a lot more to say about this movie after I give it time to all sink in, but overall, it's worth seeing. The animation is very impressive, it has a lot of clever homages and spoofs of classic video games, and the way the writers utilize the worlds in each game for humor is just great. You can tell they especially had a ball coming up with candy-related jokes for the "Sugar Rush" racing game that Ralph gets lost in. It's a very imaginative, inspired movie that's very inspiring in turn.

I'll admit, it surprised me a little that John C. Reilly was cast as the lead. He isn't really an obscure actor, especially not since he got an Oscar nomination for Chicago, but I don't think he's really the kind of box office draw that you'd expect a studio like Disney to have starring in something like this. I'm VERY glad that he was cast though, because I've been a fan of his for a while and I hope that this movie turns him into a much bigger name than he currently is. In my opinion, he deserves a lot better than being known as "the other guy in Step Brothers."

In short, I give Wreck-It Ralph an "A."

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Well folks, it's down to the wire. Obama just won New Hampshire and Wisconsin by a narrow margin.He's also won Pennsylvania and seems to be winning Ohio.

I'm not going to pretend to know a lot about this election. The truth of the matter is that I've never paid much attention to politics before this year. As a full-time student with no job who lived with her parents, none of it ever really affected me before. Now that I'm out of school and struggling to find work, I've got a dog in that fight. Admittedly, I'm not a huge fan of either candidate, but since Romney plans to take me off of my parents' health care plan if he's elected, I have to side with Obama.

So this is what life in the grown-up world is like: always settling for the lesser of two bad choices because there are no good ones. I've got to say, I miss being a college bum so far.

And dangit! All these suspenseful news updates keep distracting me from my book editing!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Halloween Part II

This was our postponed trick-or-treat night in Bethel Park. There really aren't any kids on our street anymore, so the number of trick-or-treaters on our street has been on the decline for several years. At best, we get seven kids, and they're usually too young to even know what my costume is.

This year was a different one from most. We got 11 trick-or-treaters, and they were all teenagers. And I don't mean 13-year-olds either. We had all 16- and 17-year-olds coming to our house asking for candy.


Honestly, I don't know what to think of that. I certainly did my share of off-the-wall things when I was in high school (I'll save those stories for other posts) but there just seems to be something a little...I don't about people that age trick-or-treating. Maybe it's just the fact that 11 people that age in three separate groups did it. Is this becoming a trend now? Is it hip to go around collecting free candy instead of going to parties on Halloween? I guess there's really nothing to object to, since it's always better to get stuff for free. To each his own, I guess.

Anyway, we gave out two pieces of candy and a bag of chips to each person. That's usually what we do, except for last year. We were a little low on our giveaways for one reason or another, and I didn't want to look like I was intentionally short-changing the trick-or-treaters, so I asked each one if they preferred Elvis or the Beatles. The Elvis fans got one less piece than the Beatles fans.

So not much other news on Halloween Part II. My second midnight shift in a row at Michaels went fine, more or less, and another copy of "Deer Lake" sold this week. I don't have to work until 5:00 AM tomorrow, and since we're getting an extra hour from Daylight Savings tonight, I think I can afford to go to karaoke.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Frankenstorm Schedule Shifts

Hurricane Sandy's been messing with my work hours all week. It's the holiday season at Michaels, which means we're supposed to get two inventory deliveries a week. Both of this week's were postponed by a day because the trucks couldn't leave headquarters. What's the issue with this? Well, on normal days, my shift is from 5:00am to 10:30am.

On delivery days, it starts at midnight.

Now, here's what I was always taught: when the clock strikes midnight, 12:00pm, it becomes the next day. The current day ends and a new one begins. So when I was told that this week's second supply truck would be coming in at midnight on Friday, I presumed that I was supposed to be at work at the crack of dawn today. I slept all day yesterday, stayed up all night, and loaded myself on coffee and Coca-Cola. It was a good strategy, but it was 24 hours too early. Since there was no truck to unload this morning, I ended up down-stocking for my entire shift. Lucky thing my hours are flexible at Michaels; I get to add today's accidental extra hours to my payroll.

Unfortunately, I have to go back to work at Tomorrow morning? Whatever. The next time the clock strikes 12:00pm.

Better crank up that coffee machine.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

I'm sorry, it's been a while since my last post. It's easy for these blogs to slip your mind when you've had as much going on as I have. Anyway, on to some news!

Yesterday was technically Halloween, even though Frankenstorm had the trick-or-treating postponed. I won't complain, because these storm delays caused one of the supply trucks for Michaels Arts & Crafts to be canceled yesterday, so I got to "sleep in" until 4:00 AM. Trust me, that's late when you're a replenishment clerk.

Another plus was that having no trick-or-treaters freed me up for last night. Local restaurant Freddy's II was having a Halloween party, and I dug out my old "Alien" crewmember costume—complete with my homemade chestburster named Edgar—for the occasion!

Sorry dude, but Edgar has a real taste for man flesh. Luckily Thor showed up last night and kept him in line with the hammer after this happened. Photo courtesy of fellow writer Jacqueline Druga, who came dressed as Black Widow from "The Avengers." 

There was also a costume contest. Mine didn't place, although it got quite a few compliments from the DJ and some other party-goers. Third place went to a Malibu Barbie who actually works with me at Michaels, second place went to the Frito Bandito, and a zombie couple won first place. The prizes were all gift cards for Freddy's II.

In other news, "Deer Lake" continues to make weekly sales on Kindle and I'm over halfway through editing my second novel. I recently found the files for all of my old short stories, so expect to see a Katelyn Rushe anthology or two on Amazon in the near future!

Happy Halloween Part 1, folks! I'll have more to say on Halloween Part 2  this Saturday!

As a final treat, here's a drawing I posted on my DeviantArt account yesterday. It's the stitchpunks from Shane Acker's movie "9" dressed as characters from Tim Burton's "Ed Wood."