Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Best Laid Plans

Okie dokie, folks. Here's a great book recommendation for your weekend entertainment. Tamara Mataya, aka @FeakySnucker, aka my very first critique partner and the most effective Pants Kicker I've ever encountered, is officially PUBLISHED! *everyone stand up and celebrate with a brief sexy dance* *trust me, this is the most appropriate response*

The Best Laid Plans

So if the cover alone isn't enough to grab you, let me share my feelings.

I adore this story. Malcolm and Jayne each have their own motivations when they meet at an office party, but there's more to their instant chemistry than either of them realize. Malcolm knows exactly who Jayne is: the high school classmate who he feels was responsible for instigating years of bullying he suffered through. He thinks running in to her again might be the perfect opportunity for revenge. He intends to seduce her with the sole purpose of crushing her emotionally. Jayne, however, only knows him as the incredibly sexy successful musician he's become after leaving behind his old identity. She's trusting a little book of dating advice to give her the confidence to go out and snag herself a scorchingly good time, and thinks Malcolm might be the man for the job. Let the games begin!

Not only is this possibly the freaking hottest thing I've read all year, but the steaminess of their romance is just the beginning. It doesn't hurt that Malcolm is good enough to eat, or that Jayne is one smart cookie herself. Each of them starts off with their own secret and devious plan for the other, and as the title implies, things quickly go awry for both of them.

I am so tempted right now to just shake you by the shoulders and make you read it, because otherwise I'll start yelling incoherently and pointing in an effort to keep from squealing out all my favorite bits. I try to stay spoiler-free here. Tam would appreciate that. She hates spoilers. So just go read, dearies, and enjoy. I'll just be over here ready with the fan and a glass of ice water for when you get all hot and bothered.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Howdy, Mushrooms! I know it's been a really long time, but today I have more to say than will fit in a simple tweet or tumble (and I have more planned for the very near future, including some book reviews and some exciting developments over at a most excellent and exciting venture I've been invited to participate in!).

First of all, I'm lucky enough to know some AMAZING writers, and some of us have gotten together to form a fantastic and spooktacular venture called The Midnight Type. It launched today, on the creepiest day of the year, appropriately enough, so please go check it out!

On a more personal note, this might be the last year I get to go trick or treating with the kid. She's going to be in High School next year, and that's really pushing the age limit for candy begging, so we made the most of it this year. She dressed as Castiel from Supernatural.

Lucifer as Castiel
We took bets on how many people would guess who she was. Five. The winning answer was five. Out of about a hundred. Most frequent guesses were Harry Potter (?) and Doctor Who.

Three or four houses in, we sort of realized we'd made it a family Supernatural outing. Tim was wearing his Crowley t-shirt, and I was wearing plaid flannel and an army green jacket (and drinking a beer) a la Dean. So. We sort of worked out without even trying. The few people who picked up on it were ecstatic. We even introduced a few enthusiastic new viewers to check out the show. Mission accomplished.

The three of us are actually kind of sad now. We spent about 50% of our conversation indulging in quotes from the show.

Every year these two are wearing different costumes.
The best part, far and away, of the whole night for me was when I corrected a Star Wars reference Tim made. You don't understand. He saw the original in the theater, and actually wore out his old copies of the VHS tapes. Compared to him, I'm a total n00b. I danced half way down the street chanting "I'M A JEDI" over and over again. This is a first, people. I feel victorious.

I had a dozen other anecdotes I recall being amused by at the time during our walk through the steady drizzle tonight, but one of the houses we visited was handing out mulled wine and hard cider. TRICK OR TREAT FOR GROWN-UPS IS AWESOME. I don't really recall most of the entertaining moments from the evening. Oh, well. I'll have more updates in the days to follow. Stay tuned, and don't eat all your candy at once. :)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Long time no see on the bloggity

First of all, I did survive GISHWHES, in case anyone was wondering. It was an amazing week, but since then, I've been so distracted by other things, I haven't bothered to write any of them down here. For the most part, I've been putting my strange thoughts into tumblr posts as they occur to me, rather than saving everything up for a big post here.

It is time, however, for a BIG POST HERE. So, it is, a big post.

I finally finished editing Torn, and wrote a query letter, and I'm making my list and checking it 93,572 times before sending out queries. Riiiiight. Finished-- as if there is such a thing as finishing when it comes to editing. It's more like resigning from the task after conceding detente. Continuing would lead to mutually assured destruction, so the manuscript and I shook hands and bought each other a few drinks. We'll spend the next few weeks glaring suspiciously at one another while we wait to hear back from agents.

In the meantime, there are other exciting things in the works. Things that are in their infancy. Things that are not yet identifiable as infants, but more as three-headed-demon-raptors, howling into the night from their nests in the rafters of the attic. We (in the nebulous, mysterious sense of the word "we" because there are other "people" involved in this endeavor. I won't name them yet for fear of drawing down the wrath of heaven upon us all for plotting such a diabolical... plot) are nursing them along on a steady diet of secret potions and the blood of innocents. All will be revealed in good time. *chuckles maliciously* In good time.

The next step is to start writing the next thing now. It is my most favorite, and also my least favorite, part of writing. The thrill of a new plotline and new characters, and the thrilling agony of research, the hesitating stop-start-stop of molding a new world into a sensible story, and hoping I can keep flinging myself forward to the end. I can already feel my heart racing. It might be a caffeine overdose, but I don't think so. I think it's ecstatic terror that grips me every time I start a new story.

So I'm off to stave off the inevitable heart attack by draining off the bad mojo through my fingertips. I'll be back with updates as soon as the demon raptors are weaned and ready to take flight. Until then, beware of strange screeching noises from the attic.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

GISHWHES, That's All, Nothing Else

The time is almost upon us. It's the most wonderful time of the year. It's GISHWHES week!

This photograph is a highly accurate, scientific representation of GISHWHES, the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. If you don't know what it is, if you've never heard of this gleeful insanity, go check out the website. (It's too late to register for this year, but maybe you'll want to consider it for next year, hmmm?)

While the hunt itself is a lot of fun, it's also a lot of hard work and creative dedication. I am participating this year, with my most excellent team, Team AngrySandwich.

Thanks to @mixeduppainter for the glorious (and highly accurate, scientific representation of our team).

The fifteen of us will be doing insane things for the next week.While you will get to mostly sit back and enjoy (or regret) our lapse into frantic madness, there may come a time when I or my fellow Sandwiches ask for a little help. Maybe you live near something we need a photograph of. Maybe you know how to build a seagull out of sanitary napkins and this is how you enjoy spending Tuesday evenings. Perhaps you have some other arcane skill that we might be able to put to good use, and the good humor enough to share your time and energy. Who knows, you might just have some fun.

I'll update our progress through the tweeties. There might be a LOT of tweeties, or not very many at all. GISHWHES isn't exactly something you can plan for in advance.

Feel free to ignore us. Feel free to ask for updates. Feel free to jump in and rebel against normalcy with us.

Just be warned, for the next week or so, for me, there really is nothing else. Hang on tight.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Long Vacations and GISHWHES

Wow, howdy! It's been a while, hasn't it?

Between finishing and editing the manuscript that's currently out with my CP's, and the craziness of summer, dividing my time between Tumblr (where I've been posting my "untweetworthy" snippets and other little observations, as well as exploring my current obsession with Supernatural) and Twitter (where I get quite silly sometimes).

Summer camp was sort of a bust this year. I lasted three days before The Plague made its way around camp. Of course my daughter was among the victims. And of course I'd spend the second half of the week dying of it, too.

Now that summer is drawing to a close, the next big deal for me is GISHWHES, or The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. (at time of writing, you have 9 hours left to register if you want to join in!).

What is GISHWHES? Well, go check that link for details. It's a week-long festival of insanity created by Misha Collins to have some fun and do some good. The main goal (other than the fun) is to show people how easy it is to change someone else's life with a small act of kindness. It doesn't need to take a mountain of money or time to do something good for someone. It can be as simple as holding the door for someone who has their arms full. Basically, it's a reminder that what seems like a small thing to you might mean the world to someone else. KINDNESS RULES. Check out the charity, Random Acts, for more info there.

This year, I'm proud to be on Team AngrySandwich. From August 11-17, I might pop in here, twitter, tumblr, or even into your crawlspace. Wait, scratch that last one. I haven't mastered teleportation yet. Drat. Where was I? OH! Right. I might ask for a few favors.

DO NOT BE ALARMED. THESE FAVORS WILL BE EASY TO PERFORM! AND THEY MIGHT CAUSE YOUR HEART TO GROW A FEW SIZES TOO! Well, metaphorical heart growth. No physical hearts will be harmed in the making of this GISHWHES. I hope.

So the next update you see from me might be a strange request, or an odd picture, or a little slice of the crazy. Please to be enjoying.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

It must be Tuesday...

So I've been to camp. And now I'm home. Three days early. Oh, my.

I shall tell this tale with headings that really encapsulate the microcosm that each day was. It all started Sunday... *insert flashback music/wavery image here*


We worked from noon to midnight setting up for camp. I unloaded ALL THE KAYAKS EVER from the trailers (since I am the kayaking instructor), and set up the lake. Granted, I took some liberties and went for a nice long paddle all alone on the quiet lake, but I swear, the rest of the day was basically an extended exercise in endurance labor. I built six wigwams from plumbing parts, helped set up the kitchen, helped check in all the staffers, and moved seven ancient (and heavy) camp bunk beds into a new cabin after the first one flooded in a huge rain storm, and built the camp store twice (it also blew over in the storm).  By the time I got to bed around 2 am, I was thoroughly pack-muled out.

It was hard work, but essentially uneventful (plus, remember the nice peaceful paddle).

This brings us to MONDAY. I DON'T HAVE ANY FUN-DAY.

Monday morning started out with a bang. One of the counselors woke up having been sick during the night, and didn't want to tell anyone. She kept it secret because the previous night at the counselor meeting, one of the directors announced not to eat too much candy, because candy makes you puke, and pukers get sent home. It's just her funny way of warning the kids off eating too much junk and making themselves sick. Well, this girl went to FUCKING GREAT LENGTHS to hide her illness, not realizing she'd basically contaminated the entire camp with GODFORSAKEN ROTAVIRUS. So we had Typhoid Mary walking around all day, leaving her germity germs of death EVERYWHERE. When we realized she was sick Monday afternoon and sent her home, we were worried, but not too worried. We should have been...


The dominos began to fall. We had a few girls get sick by lunch time. Then a few more. By the time my kid succumbed at 7:30 this evening, there were 15 sick girls, and a few more who looked green around the gills. In the span of an hour, we went from a fully functional camp to a CDC quarantine zone. For crying out loud. So we had to shut down camp. I brought my little puker home, and I've been rewarded with not having thrown up, and by having access to the internet. At least until tomorrow night. If they decide to reopen for the final two days of camp, I'll go back, but I think the kid is done.

I taught exactly three kayaking classes. I was supposed to teach fifteen. Oh, well. Maybe next year.

So I'm home, and now I can get back to work, because editing is all but impossible at camp when you're surrounded by 75 girls who all need your attention RIGHT THE FUCK NOW. Read a sentence, change some punctuation, THEN HERE'S ANOTHER EMERGENCY HANDLE IT NOW. It's not even worth turning on the computer. So I'm secretly thrilled that my kid's sick. How awful of a human being does that make me?

In fact, the poor thing's curled up on the bathroom floor with a pillow and her kindle. :(

So hopefully the rest of the week is an improvement. I'm done.

Friday, July 5, 2013

My Annual Self-Flagellation Week, AKA Purgatory

It's been a really long time since I posted anything here. I won't blah blah you to death with how busy I've been or anything stupid like that. Really, it comes down to the fact I didn't really have anything to say. No point in talking just to hear the sound of my own voice. Or in this case, to hear the sound of my own typing.

I have been posting more on Tumblr recently, though. I find the format there fits the silly snippets and pictures of my life a little more readily than a formal blog does. So for now, 99% of my postings will either be on Tumblr or Twitter. Check that out if you are on either site. I'm in and out, but I show up both places at least a few times a day.

But, the actual point of this post, is that I won't be anywhere online for most of the next week. It's my ANNUAL TRIP TO PURGATORY. *cue ominous music*

Too bad I won't actually have an angel to help me get through it. Nope. Surviving this is all on me.

What's going on? I get to spend a week helping to run a camp. I'm the kayak instructor, and general dogsbody. I'm awake before dawn, preparing for the onslaught of 200 girls aged 5 through 18, and then the day begins. Eight hours of camp activities (which boils down to eight hours of paddling for me), then another eight hours of managing the older girls' free time, followed by another four to six hours of preparing for the next day, I get between 2 and 4 hours of sleep a night. If I'm lucky. Between the intensely physical, constant activity and the complete lack of personal space or quiet, I think I'd rather be in actual purgatory for a week. And I do this 100% as a volunteer. Have done for years.

WHY?! you might ask? I love it. It IS purgatory for me. It's pure. It's a test. It pushes me to the edge of sanity, and I get to see if I can stay on this side of the line, or if I'll be dragged across into psychosis. It's the ultimate extreme sport, playing fast and loose with my own brain. Because, really, it's not that far a walk from "normal" me to "OMG SOMETHING IS FUCKING WRONG WITH YOU" me.

Last year I came about five minutes from breaking before a friend pointed out my weird behavior and sent me on a solitary hike until I could rein in the crazy. I chose the "difficult" trail up to Cunningham Falls, climbed the falls, and perched in a nook in the forest and just sat there for a few hours. I held on. I won. Victory over insanity.

Why would I put myself through that again? Because I have to. I have to prove to myself I am not the victim. I have to prove I am strong, both physically and mentally. I CAN DO THIS.

And nothing makes me feel stronger.
So wish me luck. I'll be back soon. I have a lot of editing to do, and that alone is keeping me from flipping out. At least the camp has power, if not internet. My work shall keep me sane.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Social Awareness

Howdy! Long time no see! Yes, I am aware I haven't written here in a while. It's the most wonderful time of the year again. I don't think the sarcasm conveyed properly, so here's a visual rendering of the last three weeks for you:

Well, sort of. There's been a lot of flailing and falling down. I only wish there were Winchesters.

I've put in a token appearance or two on Twitter, and paged through Tumblr once a day or so, but other than that, I haven't really been online much. I really need to pencil in some quality time with the Comfy Chair.

My absence from the interwebs has really made me think, though. So have a lot of posts I've been seeing lately on social media and online presence. Am I driving myself nutty trying to keep up with everything for nothing?

Part of the absence has been intentional, just to see what happened. I learned that if you don't blog, then nobody comes to check out your blog. That seems obvious. Without new content, what reason does anyone have to visit?

I basically use Tumblr as a distraction, rather than for any sort of research, interaction, or whatever. For me, it's where I go to look at pretty pictures and read happy things. I'm not trying to build a following there. If you follow me, thanks, and I hope you like the things I post, but mainly it's where I go to stare at things and clear my mind. I have been thinking about posting my Untweetworthy items there, and have done so a few times. That way, there will be a constant running of them, rather than waiting until I can remember enough interesting things to justify a whole blog post about them. Now I just have to remember to actually TAG the posts as Untweetworthy. :/

I have a Goodreads account, but I only use it when someone links to their new book, or when someone inexplicably asks me to be their friend there. I have more friends on Goodreads than books. Yes, I'm one of THOSE people. Part of that is I don't get enough time to read, and it's depressing to see the TBR list, to hear its mocking laughter. It's easier to bear a page at a time on my kindle. Also, while I love reading, writing reviews is hard. I look at it as akin to writing query letters, and even the thought of it just now gave me the shudders. So, the Goodreads account is languishing.

I love the Twitters. I can't give up the twitters. It's the one place where I actually engage in conversations with people I like. I just feel like I haven't been able to do it justice lately. I aim to be more engaging, but it's hard. For some reason, the people I live with demand my attention in the evenings, when most of y'all are on the tweeties. After the family gets sick of my company, I use the quiet time to write. That's when I'm a viking. And I don't want to give up too much of my viking time.

It's a matter of priorities. Right now, number one on the list is editing. I need to get this MS into shape, so I can write the next thing trying to push its way out of my brain. :)

I suppose in the end, what I really wanted to say was thanks. Thanks to every last one of you I interact with online. If you've been feeling underappreciated by yours truly, please try to remember, even if I forget to say it, that I love y'all, and I have no idea what I'd do without you. I might be too busy to say it sometimes, but I never want any of you to forget it.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


There are several metric crap-tons of editing advice online. I've spent a LOT of time reading it, but every time I make another pass over one of my manuscripts, I seem to forget everything I've ever known about English and the rules of grammar. *please note that this post is strictly about sentence construction and grammar, and not editing for plot or character or voice or anything else* Luckily for me, I usually reach a point (today it happened on page 243) when the lights come back on and I can see all the WTF-ery for what it is. At that moment, I have two choices.

I could always go right back to the beginning with my newly-remembered knowledge and fix all the offending passages, or keep slogging along until I reach the end. I could save the fixes for the next pass. I need to make another pass anyway, even if only to write the synopsis. *that sentence makes perfect sense if you know how I write synopsises. Synopsize? Synoptopodes? Whatever.*

Today I chose to keep going. It's only Editing Round One. I like to look at it as Drafting Round Two. One common bit of drafting advice I've seen is to just keep writing. No matter what problems you think you've run in to, keep churning out words. Everything can be fixed later, as long as all the words are there on paper (or on the computer) to fix.

If I'm in Drafting Round Two, I'm still swinging. I'll keep punching my way to the end, and live to fight again tomorrow.

I'm keeping a list of issues I need to check when I start Round Three. Here's a sampler of problems I need to evaluate. These might have you nodding along, or might inspire pointing and laughing. Everyone has their own writing demons that plague them. These are some of mine. Yours are probably completely different.

Some people are befuddled by commas. Others have a sentence structure they love, and cling to it like little word monkeys. We all have pet words we use over and over again, because we can't help ourselves. This last one is a giant thumbtack in my patootie.

I use some words over and over again, but they're completely unnecessary, and often irritating. Just (200 times in 305 pages). That (already hacked out a few hundred of them). Simply (surprisingly curtailed in this draft at only 30 uses).

I use the "find" feature in Word and search for words I know I use too often. You can even search for word fragments, such as "ing." I nearly fell down dead when I ran that search this morning, before I remembered SOME WORDS HAVE "ING" IN THEM BUT AREN'T BAD VERBS.

Almost every post on general editing warns against using too many -ing verbs. They can turn your writing passive faster than a chipmunk stuffing nuts into its little cheeks. See? Just like that. (there's the evil JUST again, too!). Sometimes, the verb ending in ING is the absolutely correct choice to make. Other times, the "ing" the search tool finds isn't a passive verb at all. Like "morning," "evening," "sing," "sting," "fling," "spring," etc.

When I saw there were nearly 3,000 instances of "ing" in this MS, I wanted to cry. I pride myself on my passive-voice avoidance radar. My CP's know laser beams shoot out of my eyes when I find it. *pew pew pew*

I started subtracting all the *okay* uses of "ing" from the total, and started to feel better immediately. It turns out I used "morning" 22 times. After that, I couldn't stop myself. I do love a good statistic. Without much effort, I found more than 2000 perfectly acceptable uses of "ing." 500 of them were variants of "thing," such as "something," "anything," "nothing," etc. I'm sure there are other words I could deduct from the grand total, but I'd proved my point and picking out the rest of the individual offenders seemed silly.

My morning panic was essentially for naught. It was a good splash of cold water to the face, and I am keeping a closer eye on repeated words now, but I still guarantee my CP's will have their slapping-fish at the ready to hit me in the face with all the WTF-ery I overlooked.

I'll make at least one more pass before I subject anyone else to this story. I know I said this was the first round of edits, but in reality it's probably the third or fourth. Remember that drafting gem from the top of this post? The one that said to JUST KEEP WRITING, don't stop to edit until the draft is done? Yeah. I don't pay much attention to that little rule, either. It's excellent advice, but at the end of the day, nothing I wrote would be sensible or coherent if I didn't go back and reread what I wrote from day to day.

That being said, you probably shouldn't heed any writing advice from me, either. :)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


For the last few weeks, I've technically been on self-imposed vacation. I didn't go anywhere, the rest of our lives kept right on going as usual, but I forced myself to stay away from writing and editing. With excellent reason!

Since the beginning of the year, I've essentially written two first drafts, one was originally planned as the third novel in this series, and the second is the NEW first novel. A prequel. This will eventually make that first draft I wrote the new book 6 in the series, whenever I finally get back around to working on it again. Lots of other stuff to do first, including drafting the new books 2 and 3, but at least the general idea is out on paper.

Writing that new prequel really took it out of me in ways I never expected. Since the next draft up in the queue is going to be an even bigger emotional wringer, and the one after that will be a "pit of despair" type affair for my characters, I knew I couldn't edit that first draft until I got myself into the appropriate frame of mind. Hence, the vacation.

What did I do to take my mind of all my own writing? The original goal was to read, read, and read some more. What actually happened? I watched the first five seasons of Supernatural and refinished my deck. The deck refinishing left me with a pinched nerve in my shoulder, which got better after a few days of rest. Watching five seasons of Supernatural in two and a half weeks? That sort of messed with my mind a little bit more.

Really, I love this show. For a lot of reasons. First of all, their depiction of some mythological creatures gave me a little more confidence in the way I warped some mythology for my own writing. It's always good to remember that fantasy is flexible. Like, octopus-level flexible.

Unsurprisingly, cramming more than a hundred episodes of a show has affected me in a few other ways. I present, for your entertainment, the several biggest ways Supernatural has warped my gelatinous thinker. ***If you haven't seen Supernatural, I advise watching it immediately. Some of what's written below might be considered "spoilery." If you don't want to get spoiled for an 8 year old tv show, you might want to skip down below the next gif. You've been warned.***

First of all, the song Carry On My Wayward Son now inspires a feeling of indescribable dread and feels.

The sound of insects buzzing inspires a similar sense of dread. How lucky that I live in a forest. Just going outside is a traumatic experience now.

Other innocuous nighttime noises make me reach for the salt shaker. THE FLOOR CREAKED. QUICK. SALT THE WINDOWSILLS AND GRAB THE IRON FIREPLACE POKER.

My vocabulary has expanded. I now say "bitch" way too often. Also, "assbutt." And "ganked." I will do my best to keep this out of my writing, but it's going to be hard. Revising the entire series will probably result in adding a lot more swearing. Not necessarily a bad thing.

So, that's where my brain is. At the end of Season Five. The Winchesters' world has officially fallen apart.

***end spoilery section***

I am now so far from the mindset I need to edit, I think I just need to cut myself off from the world for a week and do nothing else but edit. I've been sucked into an alternate reality, and need to find my way back to my OWN alternate reality. :)

Now, one of you nice people come over here and close the Netflix window so I don't jump right back into season six. I keep closing it, but it keeps opening back up. I THINK IT'S A GHOST. POSSIBLY A DEMON. *flings holy water at computer* *black smoke issues forth* YES. IT WAS OBVIOUSLY A DEMON.

So there you are. The state of my so-called life.

What I need now is a kick in the pants. I have three more seasons of Supernatural (only two of which are currently on Netflix). I'm holding them in reserve for when I finish this edit. As of this moment, I'm officially off vacation and back to reality. I guess I just needed to get this all out in writing. Now that I have, the desire to write is once again strong.