Joan Marie Verba
BLOG.JOANMARIEVERBA.COM

Kickstarter Project: Machine Washable Shoulder and Specialty Bags and Accessories

Break the Curse of the Dirty Purse with Machine Washable Shoulder Bags

Need a Clean Handbag? Try a Machine Washable Shoulder Bag

Hi, I'm Joan Marie Verba and I sew the shoulder bags you see on the page. I started using these because I found that whenever I purchased a purse, it would not be long before the purse became stained or dirty, or something spilled on it. Then I'd either have to try to clean it, or I'd have to throw it away. After throwing away a lot of purses, I decided that I needed a purse that I could simply wash when either the inside or outside was dirty. That's when I started using these, which are machine washable. They're durable, roomy, comfortable to wear, and have a lot of pockets. I believe you'll find them as useful as I have. They can be tossed in a washing machine when they get dirty and dried in a standard dryer. The bags come in a variety of colors, patterns, and sizes.

Where can you find these bags? They're currently featured in a Kickstarter project, and can be found at the site for the bags as well. (Kickstarter link: http://kck.st/188ycdt )

Joan Marie Verba learned sewing from her mother, who maintained a home-based sewing business for over 40 years. She has been sewing shoulder bags for herself for decades, and has recently expanded the line to include other useful washable accessories as well.

Update: this project was funded, but you can order shoulder bags and accessories at any time at:

washableshoulderbags.com

Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013) movie comments

Star Trek: Into Darkness review

Joan Marie Verba

(Yes, there are spoilers, so don't read this if you don't want them.)

Before this movie was released, I read an article that said the studio and production staff wanted this movie to appeal to more than Star Trek fans. This is understandable, and it can be done (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home managed it). However, though this movie did have elements that definitely appealed to the long-time Star Trek fans, it also had some discontinuities where it was not…quite…Trek.

Even so, I felt this movie was better than the 2009 one (and I found the 2009 Star Trek to be satisfactory). ST:ID avoided silliness such as the 2009 scene where a large beast chases Kirk across a snow-covered plain and into a cave, or Scott being beamed into a water tube.. Star Trek: Into Darkness is serious throughout, and that's a strength.

From the publicity before the movie, I also feared a couple of developments, which, fortunately, did not appear . The first was the statement that ST:ID was set mostly on Earth. Maybe if someone timed it, there were more minutes spent on Earth, but to me, the bulk of the movie seemed to be in space, where it belonged (you know, the "Space…the final frontier…" sort of thing?). Roddenberry deliberately avoided Earth in the original series, and Star Trek seldom went to Earth even after that. The second was the movie poster showing the Enterprise descending into a planetary atmosphere. When I saw this, I groaned inwardly, thinking that they were going to go for cheap dramatics and destroy the Enterprise yet again. Well, they didn't. Good for them.

There's also been some complaining about ST:ID being a remake of  Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. So what? The 2009 Star Trek was a remake of The Wrath of Khan (you know, the bad guy wants revenge for losing his wife and picks a member of the Enterprise crew as the primary object of his revenge?). For that matter, Star Trek: Nemesis (which I enjoyed, in contrast to about 90% of other Star Trek fans) was a remake of The Wrath of Khan, with Data in the place of Spock. I find it contradictory for fans who didn't protest those films copying Wrath of Khan to complain now.

The movie starts with Kirk disobeying the Prime Directive by (a) saving a planet from destruction and (b) allowing the Enterprise to be seen by a non-spacefaring culture. As a result, he's demoted. Really? How often did Kirk violate the Prime Directive in the original series and get away with it? And since when is it a violation of the Prime Directive to save a planet from total destruction? Seems to me that the Enterprise did that a lot (in both original series and in TNG), and why? Because it was the moral thing to do, that's why. Once you've saved the planet from total destruction, you've already artificially changed the course of history, so allowing the planetary residents to see the ship is a negligible event. Kirk should have demanded a hearing and hired Sam Cogley to advocate his case.

Then there's the matter of John Harrison. As "John Harrison, terrorist," the character works. As Khan Noonian Singh, he doesn't. I don't know whether Benedict Cumberbatch (whose performances I enjoyed in Sherlock and Amazing Grace) saw "Space Seed" or The Wrath of Khan before assuming the rule of Harrsion, but he's not channeling Khan. The personalities are entirely different. It would have been better to cast either Antonio Banderas or Lou Diamond Phillips or Naveen Andrews in the role if they wanted Khan. We needed an actor who projected the viciousness of Khan (as Cumberbatch did), as well as his egomaniacal rants and his explosive anger (which Cumberbatch didn't). Banderas also has the advantage of having acted with Ricardo Montalban before and could capture his acting style (which Cumberbatch didn't). It would have been far better for the character to remain John Harrison, terrorist, and say he either was genetically enhanced on Earth (remember, the technique was not lost, it was simply illegal, as we see in Dr. Julian Bashir on DS9), or another crewmember of the Botany Bay. The non-Star Trek viewers of ST:ID won't notice the difference, of course. But the original Trek fans will.

(There's a similar mistake with Carol Marcus. Alice Eve simply does not project the strength of character we saw in The Wrath of Khan. Sarah Michelle Gellar would have been a better choice.)

Even so, again, I enjoyed the movie overall, and thought it had some nice touches. I was glad that Uhura had more to do, although putting Chekov in charge of engineering was far above his pay grade. I would have preferred to see Sulu get more screen time than he did. McCoy and Scotty seemed just right. They also put in "Cupcake" from the previous movie as a red shirt, and he seemed to have survived the movie!

What I thought was the best of the movie was the conflict between the idea of Starfleet as a science/exploration fleet or Starfleet as a war fleet, and I'm glad the movie ended with the idea that it should be exploratory. Spock convinces Kirk that killing Harrison (sorry, the guy's not Khan), with a drone is NOT something they should do, and Kirk agrees. This was a wise move not only because executing Harrison without a trial would be a bad precedent, but also because a drone strike on the Klingon homeworld could have started a war (whether it was in inhabited territory or not) and because it would have killed 72 of Harrison's associates. And, the ending wrapped up the theme very well: "There will always be those who mean to do us harm. To stop them, we risk awakening the same evil within ourselves. Our first instinct is to seek revenge when those we love are taken from us. But that’s not who we are…" – Capt. James T. Kirk

Back to the story: upon the Enterprise crew leaving the Klingon homeworld, Admiral Marcus shows up with his super-ship and decides if Kirk won't abandon his and Starfleet's principles, Kirk (and his crew) have to go, and he (Marcus) will make sure that Starfleet goes to war. Montgomery Scott, who made his moral choice earlier, sticks to his principles and helps the Enterprise. (Speaking of Scott, there's an astronomical error when Scott discovers the super-ship: Jupiter's clouds are in constant motion, and the movie's special effects department put in a still photo of Jupiter as background instead of having the clouds move, as they correctly did in the movie 2010). I wondered why Scott didn't disable the super-ship's weapons systems before Marcus fired on the Enterprise, but at least he was still there to help when needed. I also appreciated the realization of the factor of inertia when Kirk and Harrison arrive and slide across the floor quite a distance before they can stop. I also thought it was nice that Spock contacted his counterpart to ask about Khan. Smart move. 

When they get to Earth, they correctly say that the Enterprise is in danger if it re-enters the atmosphere, and it did show the heat of re-entry, but unless there was some sort of shielding at work, re-entry would probably have caused even more damage, if not catastrophic damage, before the Enterprise hit the cloud tops. (I was delighted to see that the Enterprise finally got seat belts for its crew, even though some seat restraints were seen in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.)  I presume the super-ship, which was intact, survived re-entry because of shielding.

Back on the Enterprise, the warp core needed attention, and this time it's Kirk that  sacrifices his life to fix things (though I wondered why Kirk didn't bring any tools in with him). Spock then releases his anger in an all-out chase to get Harrison (J. J. Abrams seems to think Spock needs to have an anger release every so often). I didn't have a problem with reviving Kirk with Harrison's blood (though I agree with the observers who said that any of Harrison's genetically engineered associates could have been the blood donor), because it saves us from having another movie on the order of The Search for Spock.  I did miss, however, Kirk saying, "Out there. Thataway!" in response to being asked where to take the ship next.

In brief, yeah, it wasn't perfect, it had problems, but in its own awkward way, it got to where it needed to go: putting the Enterprise on a five-year mission "to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, and to boldly go where no one has gone before." We can only hope that will be the case in the next movie.

What We Need To Give Up To Lose Weight

Here we go again.

Yet another study has been published, saying that people would give up a job promotion to lose 10-20 pounds. Earlier studies showed that people would give up a house or a job to get thin and stay thin.

Here’s what they mean: they mean that they’d give up these things if their excess weight would go *poof* and they would be instantly thin without having to work for it, and, more important, would not have to change their eating habits or their sedentary habits.

Yes, they’d be willing to give up their house or promotion or raise, but what they’re not willing to give up is mindless eating. What they’re not willing to give up is junk food. What they’re not willing to give up is a few minutes of their time each day to write down what they eat or count calories. What they’re not willing to give up is eating whenever they want, whatever they want, in whatever quantity they want.

Hey, I’ve been there! At the time I started my ultimate weight loss effort over 30 years ago, I could not imagine going the rest of my life without drinking a six-pack of cola every day. Or a bag (a large one, not a single-size one) of chips every day. I was just going to stick to the program as long as it took to lose the weight and go back to the way I was eating before.

By the time I got to my goal weight, I realized I could never go back to the way I was eating before.

Do I get nostalgic for the old days? Sure! (Check previous blog posts on the subject.)

Do I get nostalgic about being obese? No, I do not! That’s what keeps me at a healthy weight.

Bottom line: people don’t lose weight by giving up their jobs. They don’t lose weight by giving up their houses. They lose weight and keep it off when they give up the idea that they’re going to be miserable if they don’t (over)eat the way they do now for the rest of their lives.

Life can still be fun and satisfying without consuming large quantities of food. It takes time, it takes work, it takes finding other ways to comfort and entertain oneself without using food. But it can be done, and people don’t have to give up a house or a job to do it.

Two Interviews with Prof. Henry Jenkins, covering Star Trek, Boldly Writing, Thunderbirds, Thunderbirds novels

Henry Jenkins is the Provost's Professor of Communication, Journalism, and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. He recently interviewed me about Star Trek, Darkover, and Thunderbirds.  

An account of early Star Trek and Darkover fan fiction by archivist/chronicler Joan Marie Verba http://bit.ly/dvvyzg

Thunderbirds are Go and Joan Marie Verba Explains Why.
http://bit.ly/cuL8eb

I will be on Blog Talk Radio on May 4, 11 am Central time

I will be on Blog Talk Radio discussing Thunderbirds novels on Tuesday, May 4, 9 am Pacific, 11 am Central time. 

Blog Talk Radio link:   http://tobtr.com/s/1029309.

More details at:  http://tinyurl.com/2d9hyj3

A Virtual Online (Re)Launch Party for My Thunderbirds novels

On Tuesday, May 18, 2010, I'm hosting a virtual online (re)launch party for my Thunderbirds books, particularly Countdown to Action!

On that date, if you order one or more of the Thunderbirds novels, you will be able to download free bonuses!

A number of partners are helping me with this virtual party. These include:

Dan Poynter, author of the Self-Publishing Manual.

Peggy McColl, author of Your Destiny Switch and other self-help books.

Michelle Cimino, Digital Etiquette Expert.

Hasmark Services, The Heart and Soul of Book Marketing

Steve Miller and Sharon Lee, authors of the Liaden series of science fiction novels.

Henry Jenkins, popular culture expert, the author of Textual Poachers, and the Provost's Professor of Communications, Journalism, and Cinematic Art at the University of Southern California.

Put the date on your calendar so you won’t miss out on these special offers!

More information will be posted as the Countdown to the Virtual (Re)Launch continues!

Bullying Must Stop

When I heard about the death of Phoebe Prince, the student at South Hadley High School, who was bullied to death, I experienced the same anger, frustration, and grief as I have at the reported death of all the others who have been bullied to death. At the same time, I identify strongly with these tragedies, since, I, too, was bullied from the day I started kindergarten at C.S. Elementary to the day I graduated from high school. I felt the same despair as they did, and seriously considered suicide myself on more than one occasion. (Why didn’t I commit suicide? In retrospect, it was probably due to 2 factors: first, committing suicide requires effort, and that was energy I didn’t want to expend; second, I clung to hope that one day things would get better.)

When I was in high school, I reviewed my record with a counselor. She said that my elementary school teachers recorded that I cried a lot. I did. I came into school naively believing that the other students held on to the same values as I did (that is, to follow the Golden Rule to the best of one’s ability). When they taunted me, I cried to show that they had hurt my feelings, because I innocently believed that once they saw they were hurting my feelings, they would stop.

I was completely bewildered as to why anyone would bully me. After all, I had done nothing to them. I didn’t taunt them. I didn’t try to make their lives miserable. In fact, when they did bully me, I did not retaliate.

A pattern emerged: when a new person came into school, that person would be friendly to me, and maybe we’d be friendly for a while. Then the rest of the group made it clear that I was not to be associated with, and that person would drift away. One particular sign that this was happening was that my peers addressed me by my last name, and always with a sneer. In our local school culture, you called your friends by their first name, you called those you had contempt for by their last name. New students more than once expressed surprise to me that my first name was “Joan” and not “Verba.”

My parents knew what was going on. When I complained about what was happening, my parents said, “just ignore them.” This didn’t work. Nothing did. In junior high, other students taunted me for carrying my books in a briefcase. I got rid of the briefcase, believing that they would stop bothering me. They didn’t. The girls in junior high taunted me because I didn’t wear nylons (I wore socks). I started wearing nylons. They found something else to find fault with. I was always “ugly” and (until I lost some weight in high school) “fat.”

Once, my father offered to move to another state, to escape the bullying. I strongly vetoed the idea and we remained where we were. My reasoning was that as long as I stayed in that school system, I could console myself with the idea that nothing was wrong with me; I was just in a school full of losers. If, however, I went to another school and was bullied again, that would be proof positive that something WAS wrong with me and I knew the idea that I was at fault would have destroyed me.

I did have a handful of friends. These were largely students from outside my school district, daughters of friends of my parents. Our family went to a church outside the school district. My peers in Sunday School didn’t bully me, but they weren’t friendly with me, either. I had the perpetual feeling that they just wished I would go away.

I did gain one friend in junior high, who remained friendly with me until high school, when we split because we had no classes in common. She told me that the other students thought I was stuck up. I was stunned. I remember blurting out, “I always thought it was because I was ugly!” She said she didn’t think I was stuck up, and I certainly didn’t think I was stuck up, and thereafter I desperately tried to figure out what it was I did that gave people that impression and what I might do differently. (No one would tell me, and whenever I asked others to explain what it was about me that annoyed them, I’d get answers such as, “You know.” No, I didn’t. What I know now that I didn’t know then is that I had Asperger’s, and I definitely did not know that non-Asperger’s people get upset if you don’t look them in the eye, and they also get upset if you don’t say “hello” or “how are you” to them—things that were not at all obvious to my Asperger’s brain.)

I gained a BEST friend when I was a junior in high school. She was new, and a senior, and popular, and therefore immune to the pressures of my fellow students in the junior class. Once I graduated from high school, and went to college, my freshman year was astonishing. People liked me, they really liked me! They liked me a whole lot! I had never, of course, been asked out on a date in junior high or high school, but wonder of wonders, I wasn’t far along in my freshman year when not one, but two, men asked me out! That confirmed to me that I was just fine, and the others in my high school graduating class were indeed a bunch of losers.

When I got a summer job after 1 year in college, I ran into one of those rare classmates who treated me decently. She sat me down and offered an apology for not doing anything while others of our classmates bullied me. I said there was nothing to forgive, because I fully understood that the bystanders feared (and probably rightly so) that they, too, would become targets for bullies if they interfered.

Those who did torment me were still a bunch of losers when I went to my 10 year high school reunion, full of love and forgiveness in my heart, believing that my peers had grown up in those 10 years and would welcome me with open arms. They didn’t. The handful of people who treated me decently in high school still treated me decently. However, when I went up to one of my former tormentors with a smile and extended hand, he took one look at my nametag, and, with a facial expression full of disgust, pivoted on his heel and walked away. After a few more minutes sitting alone, hearing exclamations of glee and welcome as OTHERS walked in, I left for a more productive afternoon with my current friends, which assured me that the tormentors among my former high school classmates were indeed a bunch of jerks. (I went to my 20 year high school reunion with similar results. By the time my 30 year high school reunion came, I sent my regrets to the committee.)

I tell this long story to get to this point: I am glad that the Massachusetts district attorney arrested the bullies who tormented Phoebe Prince. I hope that this will set a precedent: every bully needs to be held accountable for her or his actions, and if bullies commit misdemeanors or felonies, they need to come to the attention of law enforcement.

Bullying isn’t “just kids.” Making excuses for bullies and bullying must stop. Blaming the victim must stop. The “culture of cruelty” in grade school must stop. Bullying is criminal abuse, pure and simple, and needs to be addressed as such.

 

My novel Deadly Danger is a 2010 Scribe Award Finalist

Wednesday, March 17, 2010
2010 Scribe Award Finalists Announced
The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers is pleased to announce the finalists for the fourth annual Scribe Awards, which honors excellence in the field of media tie-in writing for books published in 2009.  The winners will be announced at a ceremony to be held at Comic-Con International July 22-25 in San Diego.

BEST YOUNG ADULT (ORIGINAL & ADAPTED)

CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS by Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon
BANDSLAM: THE NOVEL by Aaron Rosenberg
THUNDERBIRDS: DEADLY DANGER by Joan Marie Verba

BEST NOVEL (GENERAL FICTION)

AS THE WORLD TURNS: THE MAN FROM OAKDALE by "Henry Coleman" & Alina Adams
CSI: BRASS IN POCKET by Jeff Mariotte
PSYCH: A MIND IS A TERRIBLE THING TO READ by William Rabkin

BEST NOVEL (SPECULATIVE FICTION)

STAR TREK VANGUARD: OPEN SECRETS by Dayton Ward
STAR TREK: A SINGULAR DESTINY by Keith R.A. DeCandido
WARHAMMER: SHAMANSLAYER—A GOTREK AND FELIX NOVEL by Nathan Long
TERMINATOR SALVATION: COLD WAR by Greg Cox
ENEMIES & ALLIES by Kevin J. Anderson

BEST ADAPTATION (GENERAL & SPECULATIVE)

COUNTDOWN by Greg Cox
GI JOE: RISE OF THE COBRA by Max Allan Collins
THE TUDORS: THY WILL BE DONE  by Elizabeth Massie

GRANDMASTER:  WILLIAM JOHNSTON

 

My Books Available for Read an E-Book Week

I am participating in Read an Ebook week, March 7-13 2010. For this week only, 3 of my books are free in e-book format, and one is discounted. You can find them at  Smashwords (www.Smashwords.com).


Autumn World Coupon Code:
Promotional price: $0.00
Coupon Code: WQ75L
Expires: March 13, 2010

Boldly Writing Coupon Code:
Promotional price: $0.00
Coupon Code: NK68J
Expires: March 13, 2010

Weight Loss Success Coupon Code:
Promotional price: $0.00
Coupon Code: HY76G
Expires: March 13, 2010

Voyager Coupon Code:
Promotional price: $2.48
Coupon Code: EU44T
Expires: March 18, 2010

Why I am happy that my novel Action Alert won a Mom's Choice Award

I am thrilled to report that my novel, Thunderbirds: Action Alert, is a Mom’s Choice Awards® (Silver recipient) for 2010. The Mom’s Choice Award is given to books the judges feel represent the best in family-friendly entertainment. I am proud of this because it is my goal to create novels that are family-friendly, and this award confirms that I have met that goal.

My novel Countdown to Action! won the same award last year, so I am doubly pleased to get another award this year.

Most of the time, I find that others are pleased and impressed when one of my books gets an award. Other times, the response isn’t as favorable.

There seems to be a thought among the unfavorable responses that some awards are better than others. Last year, for instance, when I called the local newspaper to ask if they’d announce I’d won this award, I was told, “I haven’t heard of this award.”

Well, so what? The fact that I won an award means that someone who I do not know, have never met, and am not related to thinks that my book has merit. Really, almost any award, better known Hugo Awards, etc., has this characteristic. Hugo Awards, for instance, are reader awards, and most voting for the award are not literary professionals. Even so, the Hugo Award has prestige and significance.

Last year, I read a blog from a professional book critic who slammed one of the lesser-known awards. She claimed that this award (and this wasn’t the Mom’s Choice Award, by the way) had a paid entry fee and that everyone who paid the fee got some sort of award. Not true. I have entered my books for this particular award. The award granters state very clearly that they get on the order of 1000 entries, and maybe 50 titles get an award. That means 95% of the books entered don’t get an award. 

There may indeed be “vanity” awards; I have heard of them, though I’ve never entered my books in one of these to my knowledge. Almost all the awards that I enter are judged by professionals (and if not professionals, they are readers, such as the people who voted on the Hugos are). Some have fees, some don’t. I don’t necessarily think paying a fee to be considered devalues the award. Before I enter any award, I check to see (and the reputable awards committees provide this information up front) who is judging, what standards are used, etc.

Therefore, when I win an award, I’m happy, no matter what anyone else thinks!

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