Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back Pocket Bling

It's true, I sit here, chained to the chair, in my comfy yoga pants most days. No need for fashion at this end of the cul-de-sac, right? Haha. I may not have anywhere to go (right now), but I'd still like to have something nice to wear if say... I want to present myself as a hip YA writer. My Talbots work wardrobe probably counts against me in that category.

Anyhoo, this past summer, my husband's cousin was here for a visit from Paris. So being the diligent, thoughtful host that I am, I spent many days as a shopping spree guide. (Stuff is more expensive in Paris.) As I shopped with her, I visited some places out of my usual SOI (in this case, sphere of income), out of my usual shopping territory, veering into Buckle , and into a pair of Rock Revival jeans. Bling included. (The buttons are ginormous crystals.)

Confession: Wearing them makes me feel like at least ten years younger - which would make me twenty-something. :D

The very next week, this CNN article pops up on my screen : Why Are Moms Dressing Like Their Teen Daughters?  

Hmmm. I don't have any daughters. So why is my cursor going over there Scroll, scroll, scroll.

Damn it. Girls don't like it when we steal there sense of style? We're not supposed to shop in their stores?

What? Like they never take stuff out of their (incredibly stylish) mother's closet anymore? Like a girl could afford these jeans? (<rant> I thought Abercrombie was expensive. The cousin and I spent a good amount of time in there too, but I only got jeans for my son. I wasn't on a spree just for me, you know. Although, why couldn't I be on a spree just for me? I work my derrière off revising and editing and </rant>.)

My point: I do not fit into anything Abercrombie because Ambercrombie is made to fit juniors. For example, if I wore jeggings (perish the thought) I would probably look like something in a bad Youtube video. I do not want to wear my daughter's clothes, but that doesn't mean I need to wear "mom jeans".

To me, the fact that my derrière fits into Rock Revival must mean those jeans are made for women. Yes? No? Maybe? Yet the models in the ads are distinctly younger than I am. Are they really marketing to the twenty-something crowd? When I was twenty-something, I was saving quarters for the laundry and eating Ramen noodles, not buying haute-designer jeans.

Gosh! How does this relate to writing YA?

Here's how: I'm a mom, pushing forty, trying to tap into the YA girl's psyche on a full time basis. I've noticed a bunch of other author/writers are in a similar demographic. Are we reliving our YA  years- without having to actually relive them? *ducks* Why not? The right to such fabulous back pocket bling comes only with experience. :)

Gentlemen, I'll give you an example so you can empathize. When you were little boys, you dreamt of this:

And when you grow up you want this:

2012 Carrera image via
Imagine being a teen and driving a Porsche. Hmmm. Nice, huh? Except what would you have to look forward to later? When you get the keys to your shiny new 911, don't you want to feel like you've earned it?

BTW, on the way out of Nordstrom Rack the other day, I saw a new mom in Rock Revivals pushing a baby carriage. I don't think that daughter was the one who spilled the bling.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Büyükada Orphanage

image via
This past summer, I was swarmed by shiny new ideas, distracting me like fireflies. I suppose that's a good thing. I've got a couple of really decent ones that I'm planning to sit down and write a synopsis for in the not too distant future. Here's one location that's hovering around in my head, because setting is always my initial inspiration: Büyükada Orphanage, perched on the second highest point of the island.

Known to locals as the Red Palace, the orphanage was originally built by a French company as the Prinkipo Palas hotel. The luxury property was well equipped with a theater, dining hall, library, chapel, and (the Achilles heel) a game room for a planned casino on par with Monte Carlo. The hotel never opened because gambling is forbidden under Islamic law.

How on earth did someone think they could build a casino in the clearly Islamic Ottoman empire? There was a golden age of European investment in Turkey around the fin de siècle, amazing hotels included, but there seems to have been a change in local leadership by the time the hotel was being completed. Everybody's plans ran amok.

From what I can translate:

The Greek Orthodox community gathered funds, facilitated with a large grant and initiative by a banker's widow, purchased and then gifted the building to the Phanar Greek Orthodox Patriarchate for use as an orphanage. By 1964, the dwindling Greek orthodox population had no need for a 206 room structure. (Claimed to be the largest wooden structure in Europe - I read 85,000 sq. ft/26,000 sq. m) The site has been closed ever since.

The Turkish government reinstated the deed to the Patriarchate last November. Hopefully, this means someone will pick up a paint brush and save this amazing piece of architecture. Wouldn't it be nice if it were a grand hotel once more?

Image: Realleo via

This is what the view should resemble, though this was taken down the hill a bit.

Image: Mert 16 via

Google maps has a brilliant bird's eye perspective on this, with all sorts of zoomable pics. Anyone know how to embed that kind of stuff?

Büyükada Orphanage in Istanbul to be Transferred to Greek Patriarchate - Hurriyet Daily News

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Battle Techniques

Battle scenes are not something that come to me naturally, so I read. I watch. I learn.

Last week, a new trailer was released for Assassin's Creed Revelations. It reminded me to include something besides sword swinging in my writing: movement.

I do have movement, of course, but it's not as fluid as I'd like it to be. My biggest challenge is probably keeping everyone focused on the character I'm describing at each specific moment. Not confusing who did what, if you will. I find that includes at lot of naming names, which I don't love.

Does anyone have any tips for this problem?

Anyhoo, here is the awesome trailer. Lots of stuff going on in this one. Plenty of Ottoman? Istanbul. Or perhaps the last days of Constantinople? I'm not entirely sure.

What I do see is a perfect midway point between the tales of Al Tair and Ezio Auditore, the Bosporos Strait, circa 1453.

One of these days I'll have to make a post about Al Tair. Did you know Al Tair is also the brighest star in the Aquila constellation. Aquila being the eagle.

Monday, August 22, 2011


image via
He has a new album this year - Aşk ve Gurur (Love and Pride) (2011), yet Teoman, beloved and troubled musician that he is, has decided to leave the music business. Disillusioned.

He wrote his concerned fans a letter explaining his reasons. This is his official statement:

‘Dear friends,

 I leave music for a very, very long time, or probably, never, never to return. The concert in Berlin on September 3 will be my last.’

In his farewell letter, he says not all of his songs made it to a recording studio. I wonder how much of his authenticity has been censored out of existence. Perhaps the nature of his musician's soul is simply more angst than anyone could handle.

Good luck to him.

Teoman is known for his acoustic rock, which is pretty tame, but my favorites have a little bit more of a fatalistic edge to it. Like the man himself.

Kupa Kizi Ve Sinek Valesi (Queen of Hearts and the Jack of Clubs) is one that I listen to the most.

Content warning: This is an animated clip, but there are scenes with a woman in the shower, in bed, etc. Little bit more than PG-13.

We were destined to each other by a card fortunetelling,
she was the beautiful queen of hearts, me being the jack of clubs..
That thursday by midnight I've met her by chance over the bridge,
I told her not to cry, but she kept on crying so far as she stepped down the banisters.

Is your hair soaking wet or the life is itself wet?
Does the wind always carry along rain within for you?
Are you gazing at the space or are you bored of the questions I've asked:
Does this autumn never ever leave your eyes behind?

Let you be a snowflake to perch on the tip of my tongue,
Be a snowflake to melt in my mouth...

She was dripping wet, she got undressed, touched my body
she found my living cells in my little coarse skin...
I was happy as she fell asleep I clasped her on my arms,
as she wandered in her sleep all those unknown names laying down all naked...

I was proud in my dream, " I've known it from the beginning" I murmured,
the card fortunes are surrprisingly meant to be something to believe in...
Then I woke up and froze imn wonder staring at the writing left on my misty glass by almost a ghost finger:

 translation by Lyrics Translate

One that I listen to before I write for Sybil:

Senden Once, Senden Sonra (Before You, After You)

these screaming aloud waves
and gloomy beautiful gulls
keep crushing into wind
and (they) come to fill in my heart.

I'm alone on the edge of the cliff
between the life and death.
all my life passes away
under my feet.

how many more bodies should I have
to forget you?

before you, after you...

translation by Lyrics Translate

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


image via Wikipedia
Ever felt like you were out of ink and inspiration? That was me these past few days. Until yesterday.
I went to writeoncon's annual online conference.

That's where I am today, and you should be there too. Have you seen the list of impressive people slated to be there? I'll catch you up.

Holly Root was talking Myths and Misconceptions with some editors. Suzie Townsend, Sara Megibow, and Jessica Shinsheimer were there for LIVE Q&A sessions. Steven Malk opened a thread for questions, and a bunch of others amazing agents are still waiting in the wings. Plus there are Ninja Agents lurking in the forums.

And the authors? Talk about inspiration! Make sure you stop in to see Beth Revis' vlog. I literally had to grab a tissue. I picked up some great info on Magical Realism from Nova Ren Suma and Compelling Settings from Jessi Kirby. I tell you, it's a who's who of YA lit in there. AND there are amazing prizes. Critiques, ARCs, signed copies, etc.

Yesterday I only missed two or three sessions and I'm preparing to glue myself to the screen today.

Did I mention all this awesome is free? Well, a donation would be nice.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sumela Monastery

image via Wikipedia

The history of Sumela Monastery began in 386 AD, when a couple of priests found a black Madonna hidden in a cave behind the amazing 1860 facade we see here. Why they were clinging to a cliff hundreds of feet above the Altindere River is a mystery to me, but caves and especially monasteries seem to like remote locations. You can't tell how high up it is in that picture, so here's another to give you a better idea.

Image via Wikipedia
While the Black Madonna ties goddess culture nicely into my story again, I just adore the location for my Peri. Forests and secret places are a specialty for them, and I'm picturing my character going up the mountain through one of the famous fogs of the area, looking for sanctuary.

Anyhoo, my brain is so far from useful lately, where writing is concerned. Too much vacation has made my synapses rusty. The kids go back to school soon, though, and Ramadan will be over, so I'll be able to get back into a normal rhythm. I hope. I signed myself up for a critique at the Charlotte SCBWI conference in September, so I'll need to get the ole rear in gear to get myself ready for that. I'm going to spend this week getting back into the blogosphere and commenting. I think some of you are starting to wonder where I went...

Visit Sumela Monastery in Turkey by 5minTravel

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


That's not Gulliver and this is not the land of the Lilliputians. Just thought I'd clear that up right now.

Ever try to fit a landmark in the crop marks of your camera lens? I can never capture the sense of place in a picture. Sometimes the words even escape me. (Imagine that!) Miniaturk is a pretty good way to get that difficult shot. It's Turkey in miniature - scale models of sights around the country, all in one convenient location. Bet Minaturk is pretty amazing during the Tulip Festival... and it's a great place to bring the kids, who just might be bored stiff from all the museums.

Here's a 360 tour.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pepper Paste - The Secret Ingredient

I found some really nice eggplant today at the store, so I'm going to make some dolmas for my dh, since it's his birthday. It got me to thinking (the dolmas - not the birthday) about the secret ingredient. Well, actually there are a couple secret ingredients, but one I can't omit is the Turkish pepper paste. Yummy stuff, I tell you.

In the villages around Mersin, women dry their peppers on a string in the sun. Then they add salt and put them though a mill, whole. Sometimes they're dried on a sheet in the fields. I buy a commercial variety in a jar which isn't quite the same, but works better than not having any at all. I get it where I get all my other Turkish stuff, on

So I'm off to stuff some eggplants... check these sites out for more ideas.

Turkish Hot Pepper Paste - Biber Salcasi

Turkish pepper paste: Magic in a bottle

Monday, August 1, 2011

Gobekli Tepe - 11,000 years and counting

via Wikipedia
Still out gallivanting with my visitors, but something dropped into the ole inbox this past week that I thought you'd like to see.

In the 1960's, Gobekli Tepe was dismissed as a medieval cemetery. Thirty plus years later, German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt believed otherwise. His 1995 dig revealed Gobekli Tepe as the world's oldest temple. It predates Stonehenge by about 6,000 years. (How many points should we give to the Cradle of Civilization?)

All this is really interesting, but the point which gave me pause is this:

To Schmidt and others, these new findings suggest a novel theory of civilization. Scholars have long believed that only after people learned to farm and live in settled communities did they have the time, organization and resources to construct temples and support complicated social structures. But Schmidt argues it was the other way around: the extensive, coordinated effort to build the monoliths literally laid the groundwork for the development of complex societies. Source: Smithsonian magazine
Go read more: and check out the interesting pictures too!

Here's a History Channel program about it.


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