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.

GO BUY IT AT AMAZON RTFN!

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.

Photo
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, uh...here 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*

HARD DAY'S NIGHT


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...

This brings us right up to today: TUESDAY, also known as IN MY TIME OF DYING, and I COMPLETELY OFFERED TO EXORCISE THE CAMP SUNDAY AFTER SOMEONE DIDN"T FEEL WELL, AND THEY BRUSHED IT OFF LIKE I WAS JOKING, AND THEY'RE SORRY ABOUT IT NOW.

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

Edit-Ing

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

Landing

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.

TO THE EDITMOBILE!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Updatathon!

Update-athon? Up-date-a-thon? Up-data-thon? Whatever. Here's information!

I finished my draft! *pauses to skip like a ninny*

While I'm waiting for the draft to marinate for a few days, I've been catching up on other important things, like sleeping and watching tv. My life, it is a never-ending glamour-fest.

I actually feel guilty that I haven't written a single word, outside of tweets, in THREE WHOLE DAYS. I'm starting to get twitchy, but I can't draft the next idea until I smooth all the bumps out of the last one.

For me, a first edit isn't as bad as it could be. I tend to self-edit quite a bit while drafting. *please feel free to slap my hand here if you are one of the VOMIT OUT THE DRAFT, STOP EDITING NAO types. Yes, yes. I know that's how it works for you, but I can't do that and stay sane. Which brings me around to writing advice.

DISCLAIMER: This part of the post veers into "advice." This advice is not to be taken internally. The "you" addressed in the following paragraphs is actually "me," meaning Mittens. Yes, I'm talking to myself. Shut up. Don't look at me like that. Point is, please don't assume I'm actually talking to YOU, reader person. Unless you agree with me, of course. Then feel free. Thanks.

If I listened to every bit of writing advice as if it were WRITING LAW, I'd have jumped off the roof in hopeless desperation by now. I break so many rules, I'm sure the Writing Police would've arrested me ages ago if they knew my secrets. I'd certainly be up on indecency charges for being a pantser instead of writing a formal outline.

I'm fascinated by the idea of fast drafting, but I know that requires a detailed outline. My brain just doesn't think that way. There is absolutely no reason for me to force it to try. It makes me miserable, and provides less than satisfactory outcomes. It reminds me of the joke about teaching a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. Well, dangit. The last thing I need is an irritated pig. It might make the bacon taste funny.

And you know what? There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Meaning ignoring writing advice, not the bacon thing. There's nothing RIGHT about funny bacon.

The best writing advice is to listen closely to what works for everyone else, and then pick and choose which strategies will work best for you. Then, live by them. Perhaps your Favorite Writer Ever insists that you not touch one word when drafting, just keep going no matter the issues you might run across. Then you read something from another writer you admire the next day that says just the opposite. It doesn't matter if Famous Author Person only writes on odd numbered days, and while wearing a hat made of chicken feathers, if writing on even numbered days while wearing roller skates works for you. See how silly these sorts of things can get?

The only way you'll find your own absolutely unique set of advice that applies directly to you and your writing is to keep trying until you hit your groove. You'll churn out more words, better words, words that make your little heart sing, if you stop trying to live up to every last bit of advice. That's all there is to it.

So now I've justified taking another few days off writing to watch Supernatural, because my brain is enjoying the simple distraction. It's like clearing the cache on the computer. I was so gummed up from drafting that I would never spot the problems when I went back to revise. I needed a brain purge, and Supernatural is proving to be an excellent health tonic. I can't believe I've never watched this before. I understand many of you would like to express dismay at my former Sam and Dean neglect. Feel free to form a line. I'll be over in the other window watching the next episode.

Until next time, sweeties!


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Tweetgarble: everything I wanted to tweet today, but couldn't.

It has been a WEIRD day, folks. SO MANY THINGS happened that I wanted to share on twitter, but couldn't because I was stuck in the Hot Corner Grill for the duration of an interminable baseball game. Fifteen innings. We still lost. Ugh.

At any rate, here's the weird summation:

Lulu complained of feeling ill this morning. I had to get to work, and I worried about leaving a sick kid home alone. Helper Monkey was due home by 9, so if she was really sick, she could call and he'd go get her. She was, and he did. I felt like Mother of the Year.

I got to work by 8, and there were some film crews there getting shots of the stadium. I asked what they were filming, and they said they were studying broadcast journalism at Fort Meade (one was Army, the other Air Force), and were making a B roll for a class project about food service. Okey dokey. I wished them luck, and told them if they wanted to watch me count beer cups and french fry boats, they were welcome to observe the seedy underbelly of the food service industry. Heavens to Betsy, but about ten minutes later, there they were.

Before I knew what was happening, I'd been selected as the star of their film, forced to wear a microphone, and had two cameras on me for the first four innings of the game. I hope I didn't do anything inappropriate, since this video will ostensibly be viewed by other members of the U.S. Military. I honestly have no freaking idea what to make of this. It was surreal.
Me, in my classy spillproof work shirt and Mr. Microphone. Dang. I really wish I'd thrown on some lipstick. And what a great shot of my nostrils, too! Ugh.

On top of the game running 15 innings, about 5 hours, it was the last game of the homestand, which meant everything in our stand had to be disassembled, washed, and reassembled. It's...a really big job. Especially for six people. We usually have 14. So. We were there for A WHILE. Talk about dishpan hands.

I thought it would be nice to get something to cheer Lulu up, so I stopped at the grocery store. She loves blue Gatorade, so I got her some. I also got myself some gelato, because damn. My feet hurt. Which, obviously, translates to an extreme need for gelato.

When I finally dragged my carcass home, SURPRISE! Lulu was hanging out in our driveway with half the middle-schoolers in our neighborhood, having a regular little party. So much for being sick. Apparently a six hour nap and a shower is now a cure for illness so awful she had to come home from school early.

Helper Monkey agreed she looked awful this morning, so I can only assume a MIRACULOUS HEALING occurred while I was at work. At least she has some nice friends.

Helper Monkey was helpful today, and had done most of the laundry. He warned me, before I went into the bedroom, that it was awfully sparkly in there, and I thought, "OOH! DID HE CLEAN, TOO?!" Nope. Lulu accidentally knocked a jar of glitter into her laundry hamper, and when Monkey dumped it out to sort, GLITTERPOCALYPSE!

So my bedroom rug looks like a unicorn threw up all over it, but hey. Unicorns are magical.

So that brings us up to this moment. My ears are ringing, I feel dizzy and slightly sick. My feet hurt. My back is sore. I just want to curl up in a little ball and sleep for about 12 hours. I don't know if I can finish this draft tonight. I think I'm going to be kind to myself, and do it tomorrow. I'll have ALL DAY, and it's going to be Friday Write Club! Guaranteed finish tomorrow. Because other things are starting to pile up behind it (like EXCITING CP manuscripts that I can't wait to read!)

So there you go. My weird day.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

EYRE HOUSE Cover Reveal!!! Feast your eyes on THIS!



How fantastic is this?! *hint: really, really fantastic!

What a perfect cover for Cait's gorgeous EYRE HOUSE. Since every description running through my head sounds like a horrible cliche, here's what you need to know, straight from the source!

When eighteen-year-old orphan Evan Richardson signed up to work at Eyre House, on the sleepy tourist getaway of Edisto Island, SC, he never expected to find himself dodging ghosts. But Eyre House seems to have more than its fair share of things that go bump in the night, and most of them seem to surround his employer’s daughter.

Back from her freshman year of college, Ginny Eyre is dangerous from word one. She’s a bad girl with ghosts of her own, and trouble seems to follow her everywhere she goes. But living or dead, trouble isn’t just stalking Ginny. When her ex-boyfriend is found murdered in the pool, Evan knows he’s got two choices – figure out what’s going on, or become the next ghost to haunt Ginny Eyre.


If you enjoy a good Southern Gothic story full of mystery, romance, and treachery, go add it to your Goodreads right now. I'll wait.

Done? Good. Now try to hang on until July. :) In the mean time, follow Cait on Twitter for updates, or check out her blog for more details (and a few teasers).

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How I changed The Future by writing about The Past

Well, hello there. *sizes you up in a marginally creepy, yet obviously inept and comedic fashion*

I had so many plans for this post over the last few days, but finally decided that if I posted everything that was squishing around in my brain, it would be linked to in the dictionary definition of tl:dr. So I might someday blog some of that other squish as part of an Untweetworthy, or a new segment I've been considering entitled something clever like "RANTY PANTS" or "I LIKE TO YELL SOMETIMES, AND HERE'S WHY." I'm still thinking that one over.

For now, I want to post something about writing. Specifically, about what I am writing right now, and how I've shocked and confused myself about half a dozen times this week by the unfolding events. If you are not interested in my writing posts and only show up here hoping to point and laugh at my life, then please to be enjoying this gif of a baby turtle who thinks he can fly. I promise I'll make it up to you soon.

If you're still with me, then thank you! I will try to make this as entertaining and free of angst as possible. Like everything to do with writing, there is a dollop of angst, though, so please bear with me. I will reward you at the end.

When I set out to write what is essentially my main character's origin story, I was extremely excited. I mean, I'd already written THREE novels about her (one done and ready, one half way through edits, and one in first-draft-rough-as-hell form). I've had a year and a half to think about her, her history, her life, where she was born, and the events that made her into the person (well, shapeshifting dragon, but she thinks of herself as a person) she is today. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BE EASIER?!

Performing an appendectomy on myself with a rusty spoon would probably be easier, and possibly less painful.

You may think I am crazy. You'd be right, but that's beside the point. If I already know everything that happens in her long history, all I have to do is write it all down, right? It's like writing from the most complete outline ever! True, but writing something about a character that already exists (at least for me, I feel like she's a real person{DON'T JUDGE ME, I KNOW YOU DO THIS, TOO}), writing about the events that shape her into the person she becomes, feels like time travel. PAGING THE DOCTOR, CAN YOU PRESCRIBE SOMETHING FOR THE WIBBLY-WOBBLIES?



Time travel creates paradoxes. If you go to the past, you could potentially change history and warp events in such a way that you'd never been born. So then how could you have traveled back in time in the first place? Then those events that prevented your birth would never have happened, and you would've been born, then traveled back in time preventing your birth... and so on, ad nauseum. Paradox.

Writing this prequel (tentatively titled TORN), I've had a chance to travel back into the distant past and tinker with things. I've been able to flesh out details I'd only considered in passing before. Sometimes that fleshing out has created weird lumps and loops that I never saw coming. Some of them will change details of the "later" novels I've already written. Nothing big, nothing earth-shattering, but a few personal relationships will be different, and so will some of the magic. I can handle that. It will make her a stronger character in the long run. It will also give more history to a few other important characters. Always good.

The real problems hit me last night and this morning. Here they are in better detail:

1. Every novel I've written to this point (this will be my sixth complete novel) has clocked in around 100k words. When I started writing TORN, I assumed it would fit into the same mold. It doesn't. It's sitting at about 65k right now, and is at least 3/4 done.  All told, it will probably land right about 80k. Revisions probably won't change that total much. When I realized this last night, I had a near panic attack. THIS IS FANTASY. FANTASY NEEDS TO BE LONGER. Then I calmed down. Nope. Fantasy doesn't need to be longer. It needs to be exactly how long the story requires it to be. This story needs to be about 80k. I am okay with that now.

2. I was weirded out to discover that, despite the rest of the books in this series being firmly in the Adult Urban Fantasy genre, this one is probably closer to NA. So thank the elements that NA is an Official Thing now, at least according to Publisher's Marketplace. So, phew! What makes this NA as opposed to Adult? Well, it's an origin story. It takes place at a pivotal moment in the MC's life, where she has her first taste of what it means to be an adult. She has to spread her wings and fly on her own. Literally even, since she's a dragon, and has actual wings, and flies. :D

3. I told Helper Monkey about the Word Count Panic Attack this morning. As is my wont, my innocent remark led to a 10 minute babble session, during which I continued talking at the poor man until I realized what was really bugging me. I found a different kind of time travel paradox. Since I know this character and her world so well, is TORN a full enough novel to relate to for a reader who has never read the other books? Is it so short because it doesn't need to be longer in my mind, even though a new reader would be left scratching their head? I guess the only way to find out is to finish writing it, and then let someone read it. No reason to get all angsty about it until then, right? *nervous laughter*

So there you go. My weekly writing dilemmas.

If you're still reading at this point, I can only imagine you are also a writer, or just curious about writing. How ya doing? What are you writing, and what sort of ledges have you had to talk yourself down off of recently? All writing involves walking precariously close to the edges of cliffs. As long as you don't fall off, everything else can be edited. :D

And your reward for sticking through this with me? Here you go:


Friday, April 19, 2013

Coping

Like most Americans, I've had an emotional roller coaster of a week. There's been an awful lot of awful. I've gone back and forth, through shock, mourning, anger, helplessness, fascination, rage, grief, and the occasional smile at the spirit of us as a people to keep getting back up when we get knocked down. It's been hard.

I wanted to share my love and pain for the city of Boston. My mom grew up there, and I spent summers as a child there. I have family there. I love the city. I even made it my Main Character's home.

Then there is the tragic explosion in Texas. And the failure of Congress to pass legislation to regulate the sales of firearms. And a dozen other little things, some personal and some national, that have worn on me all week, to the point where I don't know whether to shit or go bowling, as Helper Monkey likes to say.

I've decided to go bowling. Not really, but I've decided I need a brain-breather. I've also decided I won't feel guilty about not being able to handle any more news right now. I just want five minutes that isn't about a tragedy. I need to smile for a few seconds right now.

To that end, here are a few funny telling snippets from my life. Maybe they'll give you a few seconds to smile, too.

Helper Monkey and I went to the grocery store today. On the way home, we were telling bad jokes. Like, How do you recognize a dogwood tree? By its bark. *insert rimshot here* This "joke" was met with derision rather than giggles, so I moved on.

A minute or two later, I told an ACTUALLY funny joke, which cracked me up so hard it apparently drove said funny thing out of my head forever. I'll ask Helper Monkey if he remembers what it was, so I can tell y'all. Until then, you'll have to pretend to laugh at the dogwood joke. Why is it always the best lines that evaporate into mental steam the moment you decide they'd make a great tweet?

Last week, Helper Monkey and I were watching Jeopardy! (remember, it's not spelled correctly without the bang!), and were incensed that none of the contestants could name the "alliterative Mongol leader." Because there were obviously so freaking many of them! Name all the Mongol leaders you can. I'll give you five seconds, and GO!

Right? I bet you got Genghis Khan, for sure. I really do hope you also knew Kublai Khan, as well. And lookie there! Alliteration! And that exhausted my knowledge of Mongol leaders. It's not like there are a confusing jumble of popular Khans to choose from. (shakes fist at sky, "KHAAAAAAAN")

In our indignation, we invented a brother for Kublai Khan. The outcast and rather reviled Kenny Khan, purveyor of dubious-quality second-hand yurts. He offers free valet yak parking, and is happy to toast your new home purchase with a cup of koumis. (Helper Monkey's dramatization of Kenny Khan was done, for reasons unknown, in a Brooklyn accent, but it was somehow funnier that way.)

(In case you don't know, a yurt is a portable tent-like home, and koumis is a common alcoholic drink in Mongolia, made from fermented mare's milk. You're welcome.)

Also, someone should reimagine the poem "Kublai Khan" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (which is one of my favorites ever), as "Kenny Khan"

In Xanadu did Kenny Khan
A stately pleasure dome decree,
Where Ralph, the yak valet will run
through yurt-fields measureless to man
down to the Sunless C.

*I'd have to explain that the Sunless C is actually a yurt model guaranteed not to let in one bit of outside light, let alone rain water or the frigid sub-Siberian winds. It is their Number One Seller, after all! It's larger than the Sunless B, but lacks some of the luxury features of the Sunless D. Kenny's ad campaign bills it as "The Pleasure Dome of Family Yurts."

And now I've run out of smiles. If you'd like an extended distraction, please feel free to finish Kenny's story in poetry. If anyone takes me up on the challenge, I'd love to read the results.

Just remember, it's okay to want to look away for a while. We aren't obligated to torture ourselves, we aren't bad people for suffering 24-hour-news-cycle-fatigue. We all need to step away once in a while. I planned to write tonight. I think I need the distraction. I will not allow myself to feel that the rest of the world will fall apart (any more than it has already) if my eyeballs aren't glued to the news.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Admitting to being a writer.

I considered titling this "Confessing to being a writer," but I think "admitting" is better. I'm not ashamed of writing, but telling other people how I spend my days invites a series of inquiries that I find horribly frustrating. After telling a few folks last night that I'm a writer, I found myself delivering the inevitable lecture about the realities of writing and publishing. I bet all the writers reading this are nodding their heads right now.

If you're not a writer, or are new to writing, here are a few informational pointers. This is intended in the spirit of loving human compassion, so I apologize in advance if parts (or vast swaths) seem to be coming from a place of snarkiness. I will keep reminding myself that not only is this information not generally known to the non-publishing public, most of this info was completely unknown to me until I'd written my first novel and began researching how to get published, just under two years ago.

The first question I get when I tell people I'm a writer (because I am, I write things, like whole book length things, 100k word novels) is invariably some variation on this sentiment: OH! WHAT HAVE YOU WRITTEN? HAVE I READ IT? WHERE CAN I BUY IT RIGHT NOW? HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU SOLD?

My response at this point is usually to turn red, stutter, and admit I've never sold a single book. This is the hardest admission for a writer, because the other person, who moments ago was all eager like a puppy with a new toy, will slump back and instantly lose about 90% of their interest in you. I mean, why wouldn't they lose interest? A second ago, at least in their minds, you were a Big Time Author, and now you're just a kook who writes stuff. A loser. At least, that's how it feels sometimes. And then I remind myself that they're only responding with disappointment because they don't know what it actually takes to write, edit, find an agent, find a publisher, edit some more, and then publish a successful novel.

After my admission, a common follow-up question is: OH, THEN HAVE YOU EVEN WRITTEN A WHOLE BOOK YET?! Because obviously, if I'd gone ahead and FINISHED a book, it would've been published by now. Riiiiight.

Again, my reply makes me feel even smaller. I have to tell them that I've written five complete novels, and I'm working on a sixth. For me, this is the most terrifying, horrifying thing to admit to anyone outside the writing and publishing world. I can see the pity filling their eyes. I just know they're thinking, "Oh, your poor, sad little creature. FIVE WHOLE NOVELS SO SPECTACULARLY BAD YOU'VE FAILED TO SELL A SINGLE COPY OF A BOOK EVER." I then imagine them patting my head like a three-year-old who just admitted in public, repeatedly, in a very loud voice, usually in mixed company, that they made poo poo in the toilet. Yeah. That's kind of how it feels.

And then I feel I have to justify myself. More on this in a moment. But first, I usually give a little lecture about the Realities of Publishing. You may find these tidbits comforting next time you find yourself in this situation, on either side of this little drama (as the writer or as the non-writer).


  • Just because you've written a WONDERFUL, GLORIOUS NOVEL doesn't mean it gets published and hits the NYT bestseller list by the following Monday. Even the most famous writers have to wait for their publication window to roll around. It can take years. Literally.
  • You don't just write that MASTERPIECE OF LITACHER and then pick an agent out of the phone book to represent you. You don't hire an agent like you'd hire an employee. It's a weird hybrid sort of position, where you kind of hire each other. You apply to agents like someone seeking a job, send a resume (in publishing this is known as a query letter) that details your book and a bit about you. Then the agent reads your stuff, and decides whether or not they want you as a client. After a little back and forth, it's still up to you whether or not you want to hire the agent.
  • There are 46 bazillion writers in the universe. (*note: this might be a slight exaggeration, but probably not) A fair portion of them are seeking representation through an agent. There are only a few thousand literary agents, and substantially fewer who even represent the genre any given writer...writes. There is a lot of competition. It's also not a quick process. It can take months between finishing the novel, querying, and hearing back from agents who are interested. This is also the worst time to field questions from people about how your writing is going. We feel adrift at sea already, and need to be peeled off the ceiling every time the phone rings or the email alert chimes. This is when those withering looks of pity and assumptions of our failures sting the most.
  • There are sometimes questions about why I haven't gone ahead and self-published by now. I mean, really. It's so easy nowadays, right? Just stick it up on Amazon or the like, and BOOM. Instant bestseller, right? Not exactly. There are thousands of self-published books being released into the universe every single day. Unless I have the time, money, and resources to spend marketing and promoting my book (which would be as much work as a full-time job, by the way), then it would likely sell a few copies to my friends and then fizzle out of existence. I want to make writing a life-long career. The goal isn't to produce a single novel that dies in obscurity just to see my name in print. I'm in no hurry. While self-pub might be the perfect option for someone else, I would be a total failure at it. I just don't have the business-marketing-promotional skills.
  • The people who ask these questions are not deliberately trying to be hurtful. They just don't know what goes into writing and publishing a successful novel. Be kind, and educate them a bit. They might turn out to be your most ardent supporters down the line!
Okay, then. Back to my justification. Five novels and not one sold? Wow, you must be a terrible writer.

No, not really, but the first two were my "practice novels," written before I learned anything about the realities of the book market. They taught me how to be a better writer. I never sought publication for them. Maybe someday, after they've been completely rewritten, but for now they live under my bed, where the world is safe from them.

Okay, but what about the other three? They're not good enough to sell, either?

Well, considering they are a SERIES, I can't sell the second two until after the first one is published. I haven't been querying the first one for the last several months. I've had some positive responses, but in the end, I was told it wasn't quite ready yet.

Then I had a revelation. One agent told me they wanted to know more about the characters. There were hints in the story about a really interesting history, a looooooong backstory. She wanted to read THAT novel, about that history. *insert flashing light bulb here* So I started writing it. I'm now about half way through that draft, but it will need editing and critiquing from my writing friends before I send it out. Maybe six weeks of work, if I get this draft done soon!

*cue renewal of interest in my writing* OH! So you're not a TOTAL failure, yet. Right? There's still hope for you?

Nope. I will only ever be a failure if I quit trying. I REPEAT: I WILL ONLY EVER BE A FAILURE IF I QUIT TRYING.

So there. Have any of you had this conversation before? How did you deal with it? Because I was double-teamed on it last night. One of the participants in the conversation had known about my writing since last summer. She assumed I'd been long-published by now, and was mildly disappointed that I wasn't. The other person learned of my writing for the first time, so he was a little less disappointed in my lack of publishing credits, but I still felt the sting. Consider this post my way of dealing with their double-whammy. :)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Talking to people who can't hear you

No, not even sign language will help get your point across to characters, whether they be on film, on television, or in a book. The closest I've come to actual communication is dealing with the characters I write. I mean, they sprouted from my own head, you'd think I'd be able to make them listen to what I have to say. More on that in a minute though. First, a funny anecdote or two.

Helper Monkey and I love watching crime shows on TV. His biggest frustration with me (which I'm sure I've blogged about in the past) is Writer Brain Syndrome, in which I've figured out the bad guy and his motive long before the end of the show, and then spend the next 30 minutes mumbling, "Nope, it's not that guy," or, "You're on the right track, now just ask him about..."

In return, he sometimes likes to talk back to the characters, too. This morning, while watching an episode of Bones, he made his usual comments to Temperance. "Oh, please. Stop being so deliberately obtuse." I think he's convinced everyone else on the show has the patience of Job to deal with someone who takes everything literally.

One of our favorite past times (which we're engaging in while I write this post) is heckling the Amazing Race. It's so easy to judge when we're sitting comfortably on the couch with our feet up. But still, it's a great way to feel like a real genius. YOU DING DONG! YOU KEEP MISSING THE OSTRICH! (thanks for pointing it out for the viewers, making it look completely obvious, and accenting their failure by playing the menacing "ZHIIIIIING" sound effect, camera dude!) LOOK TO YOUR RIGHT! Bah.

Lately, I've been catching myself doing these same things while writing, as if the characters I made up inside my brain and continue to create moment by moment as I type weren't actually under my control. I'm now convinced that writers suffer from a mild form of dissociative disorder. There is a cast of thousands inside my head, but they're not aware of each other until I filter them through the keyboard and onto the page. They don't talk to each other, or to me for that matter. Their story unfolds in real time through my fingers, but since they're all coming from a real (imaginary) place inside my head, and I still can't talk to them directly, they let me know what they want as I write. Their personalities grow in ways that often surprise me.

I thought I knew everything about my main character, at least all the important details. I'm writing a prequel to the trilogy of novels I've already written, so I thought I knew her and her history. Well, SURPRISE, MOTHERFATHER! Turns out, she had something major going on with this other guy who was only supposed to be a plot device. Once I started writing him, simply as a way to carry the story forward, I realized he had a lot more going on than I wanted or needed him to.

I intended to make him irrelevant by chapter 3, a footnote in her history. Then I intended to kill him off in chapter 9. Bastard lived. All of a sudden, I can't tell this guy anything anymore. He's damned pushy. But you know what? He's right. And he's perfect for the job. Not only this job, of pushing my MC forward, of shaping her into the character I love from her later life, but he's a fighter. He won't go away, so I've had to work out a deal with him. He knows when he's going to have to bow out of the series, but he's going to enjoy his time in the spotlight.

Do y'all talk to your characters? Or the tv? Please tell me I'm not alone. Well, alone aside from all the imaginary people living in my head.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Untweetworthy: part the...whatever.

I know I used to number these. I should go figure out what number this one should be, but that seems like a lot of work. I'll just call it Bramlet. That way we can get to the fun a lot quicker!

* I was looking at this list of HI-larious autocorrect failures today, and was laughing so hard I had to take off my glasses, because tears were streaming down my face, and I believe at one point I drooled, and perhaps blew a snot bubble, too. Helper Monkey and Lulu made a few comments about how Mama broke her brain again. It was obscene. After five minutes, Lulu asked if I was STILL laughing, and if I was still breathing. I told her I was only on number 10 of 30, and she put in her ear buds and tried to pretend I didn't exist anymore.

* That moment, pouring the last cup of coffee, but it won't all fit in the mug, so you stand there slurping coffee as fast as you can, alternately topping off the mug and scalding your tongue, so you don't have to pour the last few tablespoons of the precious, precious coffee down the kitchen sink. Then for the rest of the day your tongue feels like it's being bitten by ants, and it's okay, because it reminds you how much you loved that coffee. And then you want more coffee. *and hooray for second POV*

* The cat is currently snoring so loud I thought there was a tv or radio on somewhere in the house. Also, he's using his back foot as a pillow. Cats.

How is that comfortable? At all?


* Speaking of the cat, he's learned a fun new game. It's called BOOBY TRAP. To play, he drags his water bowl into the middle of the floor, cleverly placing it in a direct line between the stairs and the garage door. Every time I walk through my office, I punt the bowl, nearly fall over, and slosh water everywhere. I guess this is his way of ensuring his food area is mopped on a regular basis. Either that, or he thinks it's funny to watch mommy curse and flail. Probably both.

* The school called today to tell me that they found a check in the hallway that Lulu was supposed to bring home to me today. This was a substantial check, for a girl scout cookie order. Thank commas it wasn't cash because I don't trust a middle-schooler would've turned in $144 in cash to the office. O_O

* I accidentally read the comments on this article by Margaret Cho about tattoos and body image. One ignorant and sickening comment (out of many such) suggested that tattoos are disgusting and offensive, and a blight on the landscape. S/he went on to say that they should be covered at all times, because the sight of them was so intolerable. Really. Tattoos. Let me tell ya, comment person, I've seen things in public that I was offended by, that I wish I could unsee (and I mean you, see-through-leggings-worn-as-pants-lady from the other night). I have rarely been offended or disgusted by a tattoo (other than hate-inspired ink, which I hope any of my Thoughtful Readers would be equally offended by). My tattoos are not the result of drunken escapades, nor youthful joie-de-vivre. Every one of them means something to me, and I wouldn't give a single one of them up. In fact, I have a list of MORE tattoos I plan to get as soon as I can.

P.S.: Don't read the comments. Well, you can feel free to read any comments on this here blog, because I don't stand for meanies. If you want to be a meanie, that's fine, but I will delete your trolly little behind faster than you can say antidisestablishmentarianism. And yes, I know it takes a while to say that, but it's not like I sit around all day hitting refresh on my comments page. I do have a life outside of this blog, or I'd run out of things to write about pretty quick.

* Helper Monkey told me he enjoys reading my blog, because even though he's heard most of these stories, he says I write them in a way that's different from how I relate the same facts to him in the course of everyday life. I don't know why, but this makes me deliriously happy.

* One last cat story, I promise. I use my ottoman as a desk, and it gets piled up pretty high with books, paperwork, my laptop (when it's not atop my lap), and random items like ear buds and my magic wand (because you've got to keep your magic wand close to hand). The cat seems to think he has a right to share space with all that stuff and my feet (it is an ottoman, after all). The kindle was sitting atop the pile when Mr. Stinky decided he couldn't share space with everything, and gave the pile a little nudge. Of course, it landed charger-side-down, and bent the stupid pluggydoo. Granted, kindles charge on the same plug as all the cell phones in the house, as well as everything else that uses those little mini USB cables, it it's not like I don't have a spare (or twelve). It's the principle of the thing. I am clearly doomed to live a life free of nice things.

Oh, the kindle is fine. Gary Jr. survived his 18" plummet to the wood floor just fine, unlike his older deceased brother. Thank commas for that protective case I bought for it. It seemed expensive, but in the few weeks I've had the case, I've dropped it down a flight of stairs, sat on it, and now dropped it on the floor again. So. I'd say it was well worth the money.

And I think that's more than enough for one day, don't you? I hope y'all had some fun. Tune in next time when there will be more of the same, but slightly different, because otherwise, why would you bother tuning in again? This is a no-rerun kind of blog.

Monday, March 25, 2013

My Introduction to Professional Wrestling

I volunteer (to earn money for Lulu's girl scout activities) at the local baseball stadium. During the off season, I've had an opportunity to also go down to the Patriot Center at George Mason University to sell beer for charity. I love that concept. Anyhoo, last Saturday I worked the last scheduled event there before baseball season starts up again. WWE RAW.

Let me preface this tale by saying I knew ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about professional wrestling. I'd heard of the top name stars, like John Cena and The Rock, but that's about it. I knew nothing of the fans, nor the level of devotion these people feel for "their man." I'm familiar with NASCAR, and the kind of crazy people get for their driver, but the WWE fans were over the top. There were a berjillion kids, even toddlers, all decked out head to toe in stuff covered in slogans and catch phrases that I couldn't decipher. It was eye-opening.

These fans came from every walk of life, all races, ages, ability levels, and every other categorization you can think of. And they were universally polite and kind, at least the ones I saw walk past my beer stand. I was shocked. I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't the welcoming, friendly crowd I saw.

After the intermission when the stadium cut off alcohol sales, I counted out our cash drawer and headed off to the cash office to sign out for the night. I opened the door to the stairwell that went down into the bowels of the arena, and was confronted by two burly security guys asking if I needed to get through. Um, yeah, security guys, I need to get through. I was apparently the last person they allowed down that way, because there were three even larger, even burlier guys clad in black leather blocking the entire freaking hallway behind the security guards. I paid them no mind, other than noting that for guys who looked like a pornographic SWAT team, they smelled really nice.

I cashed out, signed the register, and tried to go back upstairs. I was told no. No going up those stairs again. Sigh. I had to run all the way around the arena to the opposite side's stairs, then all the way around the concourse upstairs to where my ride was waiting for me. I stopped at the ladies room, and when I came out, the three leather-clad guys were standing by the portal waiting to be announced to go in to wrestle. Suddenly their outfits made more sense. One of the guys made a funny face at me, stuck his tongue out, and I fumbled for my camera. I wanted to see if I could figure out who they were when I got home. He was announced and dashed off behind the curtains before I could get the camera app up. Dang it.

As soon as I got home, I looked up the WWE site, and immediately discovered who they were: Roman Reigns and The Shield. Okay, then. I still have no clue when it comes to the actual wrestling, but based on my little hallway encounter, and the tongue thing, I am now a Roman Reigns supporter. *fans self*

This is basically what I walked into.
In summary, I don't really understand wrestling. I don't know about the points, or the bouts, or anything. But I am impressed. The wrestlers seem to really care about their fans. From all the slogans on t-shirts I saw, a lot of them seem to promote values I can get behind, like honor, respect, and justice. They do this practically every day, somewhere around the country. It's insane. I can't even imagine that kind of life. But more power to them. Uh, and especially to The Shield. They can kick down my front door any day. *finger waves at porno SWAT guys*

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Dear Real Life,

I started out composing this as a tweet, but then I realized I had too much I needed to say to Real Life today. I would like to begin by showing you the untweeted tweet, because Real Life is a royal jerk, and I think everyone needs to keep this in mind:

Dear Real Life, will you please stop trying to interfere with my writing? It's getting annoying.
Sincerely, me

I'm just getting over a bout with the plague, and hadn't been able to write for several days. This was bad enough, but at least I'm recovered enough to attain a seated position for stretches of time again. Of course, the day I try to start writing again, the neighbor decides to have his entire wooded lot serviced by a tree trimming company. EVERYTHING GOES IN THE WOOD CHIPPER. I'm pretty sure Real Life has a twisted sense of humor.

My view for the last two days, sans the EXTREMELY LOUD NOISES.
Just when I think it's safe to sit down and concentrate for a while, they crank that puppy up and RAKWWWKKGGRRRRRGRRRGRRRRR. It's like being attacked by angry bees over and over again.

I've also been helping Lulu with some projects for school. She had to build a useful object from recycled materials for her Inventions and Innovations class. This was fun, but time consuming. Have you ever tried to build a working greenhouse out of old muffin boxes and yogurt cups? She darn well better get an A on it, is all I'm saying.

Then there have been numerous errands. Numerous things to take care of. After four days in the Blanket Fort fighting the plague, all those little things start to pile up. I still have to do them. They didn't magically take care of themselves in my absence. The jerks.

All this means is that on top of feeling guilty for not writing, especially when I love my current draft, I also feel quite paranoid that I'm still not caught up on all the necessities. Anxiety is not a frame of mind that's conducive to focused writing. So then I feel even more guilt, which adds to the anxiety, and you see the horrible pattern emerge.

What I realized today was that Real Life wasn't causing my problem. I can't stop that bus. I either grab on and go for the ride, just like everyone else, or sit on the bench and never get anywhere. Nope. I realized that *I* am causing my problem.

Not much I can do about all the piddly stuff. I'm getting caught up as fast as possible. And I wrote more than a thousand new words last night. Progress is progress, and I will choose to be happy about it. Sure, it's not the 10,000 words I could have written while I was sick, but didn't. It is 1,000 more words than I had yesterday at this time.

There's also a pile of boring, mundane crap I need to do. Pay bills. Collect Girl Scout Cookie money and deposit it. Paperwork for summer camp registration. Balance the checkbook. Correspondence that needs to be handled (most sincere apologies if you're waiting for email from me). But I'm working my way through that, too.

There are things that will always need to be done, but I have to keep reminding myself that I can't do everything all at once. I'll just do as much as I can, and try not to let it get to me. Even with Real Life throwing wood chippers in my way.

The words will come. I'll give them as much time as they need, within reason. So now, to the store to pick up the forgotten items from the list, and then home again just in time for the Evening Rush to start up here. Homework, dinner, tv, family. It might interfere with my writing, but I only have one family, and they deserve some of my time, too. Eventually, hopefully by 7 or 8 tonight, they'll leave me alone to play with the words again. It's all I ask from today.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Report From The Blanket Fort

I just realized it's been more than a week since I posted anything. I'd feel worse about that if I didn't already feel so awful. I spent the last few days battling the plague, and today took the cake.

I had to go grocery shopping. When you're sick, feeling queasy, and just want to curl up into a ball and die, NOTHING is worse than being surrounded by food. Even the smell of fresh baked bread couldn't help me today. For better or worse, to fend off starvation, someone had to shop. Someone, at least in this household, means me.

I'm not sure I actually bought any nutritionally valid foods (not true, I bought fruits AND vegetables), but I know we won't run out of comfort foods for a good long time to come. Cupcakes, brownie mix, blueberry muffins, Pirate's Booty, pudding, chocolate, ice cream... need I go on? Because I could. I could go on and on.

So even though I felt DISGUSTING, and haven't had an appetite in DAYS, I knew I still had to provide food for my family. I'm sure they'll be able to cobble together a few days' worth of decent meals out of the bizarro conglomeration of food I brought home. At the very least, they won't starve to death before I get well enough to remember how the food pyramid works.

This is correct, right? Because I thought caffeine was one of the lower foundation blocks.

I feel the same way about my writing after the last few days. I had a headache so awful I couldn't even wear my glasses. It was pleasant to just let the world go fuzzy and out of focus. It actually hurt to see clearly. Not being able to wear my glasses meant not being able to read anything on the computer, unless I felt like sitting with my face six inches from the screen. I've been mostly off Twitter and the rest of the interwebs for several days now, and all I've been able to do is read on the kindle. I can easily hold that six inches away from my face for long periods of time. :D

I may have indulged in a reading binge, but I haven't been able to write. This saddens me to no end. I love the draft I'm working on, but the scene I'm at is one of those pivotal scenes where everything has to work out exactly right, not just for this novel, but for the other three I've already written in this series, and which take place AFTER this novel. This is the BIG EVENT that defines the rest of my MC's life, and I'd be turning to jelly inside writing it even if I wasn't already feeling quite gelatinous due to the plague.

For anyone who is at all familiar with Running Down the Dragon, I'm writing the events from Thalia's early life that basically define the next 2,000 years for her. So, no pressure there, right? :/

If only I wasn't so unbelievably miserable. I'm going to crawl back inside the Blanket Fort of Infinite Decrepitude, and I'll hopefully see y'all again soon, back in the world of the living. Keep everything cozy out there.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Untweetworthy, Part the Fifth

It's been a while since I've done one of these, but I actually remembered a few of the anecdotes I wanted to share, and figured I'd write them down before they fall into the Black Hole of Lost Notions.

First of all, I've completed all outstanding CP reads, which means I get to go back to drafting! Wheeee! Since it's been a few weeks since I actively worked on the WIP, I decided to read through from the beginning to make sure I remembered all the necessary details. There were only 30 pages or so, about 7500 words, so it didn't seem to be much of a burden. Of course, once I started reading, I started editing. I can't help myself. By the time I stopped last night, I'd written another 700 words. So that project is getting off the ground like a zeppelin: lumbering and floaty, with just a hint of hot gas. I take that all to be a good sign of progress.


My cat has a fondness for bubble wrap. I heard a weird crinkling noise, and found him popping the bubbles with his teeth. So that settles it. EVERYONE likes to pop bubble wrap.

Right now there is a barred owl sitting atop my chimney, hooting. It sounds like he's in the fireplace. It's kind of awesome, actually.

I covered the back of my new phone with glow-in-the-dark stars, but I keep forgetting to leave the phone face down to "charge" them up with light. So I haven't actually seen them glow yet. Sometimes I seriously disappoint myself.

I have now had two separate conversations on twitter, with two different people, that incorporated the phrase "scallop gonads." I blame Stephen Colbert.

Snowquestration was a serious disappointment. We got several inches of snow, but it never stuck to the ground, and turned to slush almost immediately. At least I never had to shovel anything. And it's supposed to be near 60 by the weekend. So there's that. Lousy Smarch weather.


Can anyone explain this to me? This has been bugging me for YEARS. I have flannel sheets on my bed. Really heavy, thick flannel. I also have a fuzzy blanket, one of those microplush jobbies that feels like thick velvet. Needless to say, the flannel and plush tend to stick together like velcro. You can almost hear that ripping noise when you pull them apart. All that being said, HOW does Helper Monkey always end up with all the sheets, while I don't have enough to cover myself? At least he leaves behind most of the blankets. Somehow, in his sleep, he can overcome the laws of physics, negate the friction between the sheet and blanket, and pull JUST THE SHEET until it hangs down to the floor on his side of the bed. Since he usually sleeps during the day, and I sleep at night, I'm pretty convinced that black magic is involved. I reset those damned things every night. I just have no idea what he does in his sleep. Any thoughts? Remember, this is for SCIENCE.

We made pancakes for dinner the other night, and this is one of Lulu's favorite meals to help prepare. She likes flipping them. The two of us were in the kitchen yammering on and on, and Helper Monkey was trying to watch the news in the next room. The tv got progressively louder and louder, and so did our conversation. Eventually, he gave up, came into the kitchen, and went on a little rant about how all he could hear was us talking and singing. I can't even remember his exact words (something to the effect of BLAH BLAH BLAH BUBBLES BLAH BLAH MUTANT BLAH BLAH ALBONDIGAS BLAH *and yes, this post was edited to include Albondigas, which is Spanish for meatballs. Apparently Lulu and I were going on and on about albondigas), but Lulu and I spent the next five minutes laugh-crying while the last pancake burned. I love my family.

Cookie season is almost over, which means the temptation of boxes and boxes of Girl Scout cookies lurking out in my truck is nearly gone. If someone wants to take the rest of these off my hips hands, I'd be eternally grateful.

I know there was one more blurb I wanted to write, but for the life of me, I can't remember what it was. I'm sure it will come back to me eventually. If it does, I'll add it to the list. I vaguely recall it had something to do with socks. Strangely, the Lost Untweetworthy vignette is the one that prompted me to start this post in the first place. Ain't that always the way.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled programming, which is basically me hiding out with my laptop, hopefully writing and staying off twitter. Which means, I'll see y'all on twitter real soon. Urg.

In the meantime, please enjoy this sloth sinking the Titanic.


Friday, March 1, 2013

A Grand Day Out

I've been trying to get to local author events and book signings lately, especially now that Lulu is beginning to explore the YA genre, which I read a lot of, and is also showing an interest in writing. *quiet, nonthreatening squeeing from me* *wouldn't want to frighten her out of the Writermobile*

When I learned that Maureen Johnson was coming to speak at the Bethesda Library, I knew Lulu would enjoy it. *and yes, I knew I would enjoy it too*



Thursday nights are Family Night around here, since it's Helper Monkey's only night off work. We try to do something together, as a family. I asked him if he'd mind if I took Lulu to this event, and he responded that he'd actually like to come with us. I was pleasantly surprised.

Helper Monkey grew up in Bethesda, and it's also where we met 17 years ago. It was a little trip down memory lane for us. As a bonus, a friend of his works at a great Lebanese restaurant just a few blocks from the library, and he's been asking us to come for dinner forever. The plan was for us to go to the event, and then have a nice dinner out.

I half expected him to simply tolerate the book event. He's not exactly the YA book target market. Sure, he'll read a Harry Potter, or a Percy Jackson, but that's about the extent of his forays into books for non-adults.



I am now 100% convinced that Maureen Johnson is contagious, or possibly emits some sort of radioactive mutation field. In the best possible way. Helper Monkey was absolutely delighted by her, and is now following her on Twitter. He's going to read Name of the Star when he's done with whatever it is he's reading now. My reaction:

image

So the family had a lovely time. Thanks to Maureen, the Bethesda Library, and Politics and Prose. :D



Once we were done, we went for Lebanese food at Bacchus. Oh. My. Commas. It was a feast. Let's just say I wished I'd worn a skirt with an elastic waistband. On the plus side, I ate a lot of tomato slices in cucumber sauce. Nom! I apologized for stealing all the tomatoes, claiming I was in the middle of a Tomato Jones. For the rest of the evening, the family referred to me as Tomato Jones, and suggested I write a series of detective novels starring this new character. Perhaps, Tomato Jones: Sliced and Diced.

There was this:


Then there was dessert. This custard was flavored with honey and rosewater. I would like to marry this dessert. I told Helper Monkey I was leaving him for it, and told Lulu she should learn to love her new father as much as I do.

Unfortunately, I ate it all, so I decided to stay with Helper Monkey. At least until next time...

There was also Turkish coffee and baklava. Noms.

I haven't eaten that well in...years, probably. All the noms.

All told, it was truly a grand day out.